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A line by line historical analysis of the accusations of the Declaration of Independence.

V. He has dissolved, representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

In January, 1768, the assembly of Massachusetts addressed a circular to all the other colonies, asking their co-operation with them in asserting and maintaining the principle that Great Britain had no right to tax the colonies without their consent. This was a bold measure, and more than all others displeased the British ministry. As soon as intelligence of this proceeding reached the ministry, Lord Hillsborough, the secretary for foreign affairs, was directed to send a letter to Bernard, the Governor of Massachusetts, in which it was declared, that "his majesty considers this step as evidently tending to create unwarrantable combinations, to excite unjustifiable opposition to the constitutional authority of parliament;" and then he added, "It is the King's pleasure, that as soon as the general court is again assembled, at the time prescribed by the charter, you require of the house of representatives, in his majesty's name, to rescind the resolutions which gave birth to the circular letter from the speaker, and to declare their disapprobation of, and dissent to, that rash and hasty proceeding. If the new assembly should refuse to comply with his majesty's reasonable expectations, it is the King's pleasure that you should immediately dissolve them."

In accordance with his instructions, Governor Bernard required the assembly to rescind the resolutions. To this requisition, the house replied: "If the votes of this house are to be controlled by the direction of a minister, we have left us but a vain semblance of liberty. We have now only to inform you that this house have voted not to rescind, and, that on a division on the question, there were ninety-two yeas and seventeen nays." The Governor at once proceeded to dissolve the assembly; but before the act was accomplished, that body had prepared a list of serious accusations against him, and a petition to the King for his removal. Counter circulars were sent to the several colonies, warning them to beware imitating the factious and rebellious conduct of Massachusetts; but they entirely failed to produce the intended effect, and the assemblies in several of the colonies were dissolved by the respective governors.

In 1769, the assemblies of Virginia and North Carolina were dissolved by their governors, for adopting resolutions boldly denying the right of the King and parliament to tax the colonies—to remove offenders out of the country for trial—and other acts which infringed upon the sacred rights of the people.

In 1774, when the various colonial assemblies entertained the proposition for a general congress, they were nearly all dissolved by the respective governors, to prevent the adoption of the scheme and the election of delegates to that national council. But the people assembled in popular conventions, assumed legislative powers, and their delegates to a General Congress, in spite of the efforts of royal millions to restrain them. These dissolutions of "representative houses repeatedly" only tended to inflame the minds of the people and widen the breach between them and their rulers.


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