Having thus briefly glanced at the events immediately connected with the conception, preparation and adoption of the Declaration of Independence, we now propose to examine, and prove the truth, of the various specific charges made therein against the King of Great Britain. It must be borne in mind that the royal governorsthe King's deputiesacting as his representatives, were regarded, in these charges, as the King himself; and, whenever they were guilty of a sin of omission or commission, in the exercise of their authority, it was considered as the act of the Sovereign.
I. He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
After the conclusion of a general peace in 1763, between Great Britain and the states of Europe with which she had been at war for seven long years, the conduct of the government toward its American colonies was very materially altered. Whether it arose from avarice, or from a jealousy of the power of the colonies so signally displayed during the war just closed, or a fear that a knowledge of that power would make the colonists aspire to political independence, it is not easy to determine. It is probable that these several causes combined engendered those acts of direct and indirect oppression, which finally impelled the colonies to open rebellion.
The growing commercial importance of the colonies, and their rapidly accumulating wealth and more rapid increase of population, required new laws to be enacted, from time to time, to meet the exigencies which these natural increments produced. The colonial assemblies made several enactments touching their commercial operations, the emission of a colonial currency, and colonial representation in the imperial parliament, all of which would have been highly beneficial to the colonies, and not at all prejudicial to the best interests of Great Britain. But the jealousies of weak or wicked ministers, excited by the still stronger jealousies of colonial governors, interposed between the King and his American subjects, and to these laws, so .wholesome and necessary for the public good," he refused his royal assent. When the excitements produced by the .Stamp Act" resulted in popular tumults, and public property was destroyed, and royal authority was defied, the home government, through Secretary Conway, informed the Americans that these things should be overlooked, provided the assemblies should, by appropriations, make full compensation for all losses thus sustained. This requisition the assemblies complied with; but in Massachusetts, where most of the indemnification was to be made, the legislature, in authorizing the payment thereof, granted free pardon to all concerned in the tumults, desiring thus to test the sincerity of the proposition of the Crown to forgive the offenders. This act was "wholesome and necessary for the public good," for it would have produced quiet, and a return of confidence in the promises of the King. But the King and his council disallowed the acthe "refused his assent."
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