(A line by line historical analysis of the accusations of the Declaration of Independence.)
XIII. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.
One of the most prominent acts, obnoxious to this serious charge, was the establishment by act of Parliament, under the sanction of the King, of a Board of Trade in the colonies, independent of colonial legislation: and the creation of resident commissioners of customs, to enforce strictly the revenue laws. This act was passed in July, 1767; and when the news of its adoption reached America, it produced a perfect tornado of indignation throughout the Colonies. The people perceived clearly that they were now not only to be subjected to the annoyance of unqualified assertions that Parliament had "a right to bind the colonies "in all cases whatsoever," but that they were to be subject to the actual control of persons appointed to carry out these principles avowed by the British Ministry.
The establishment of this Board of Trade in the colonies, unto whom was given power to regulate the customs and secure the revenue--the modeling of the admiralty courts upon a basis which quite excluded trial by jury therein--and the supremacy given to the military power in 1774, as alluded to in the next preceding charge--are all evidences that prove the truth and justice of this charge.
The Commissioners of Customs arrived in May, 1768, and at Boston they entered vigorously upon their duties; and the riots which ensued on the seizure by them of a vessel belonging to John Hancock, attest the deep feeling of resistance in the hearts of the people to a "jurisdiction foreign to their constitution, and unacknowledged by their laws."
The powers which the Commissioners possessed, in connexion with the Board of Trade, in the appointment of an indefinite number of subordinates, and in controlling legislative action, were dangerous to the liberties of the people; for they claimed the right of adjudicating in all matters connected with the customs. The jurisdiction, too, of the newly-modeled Courts of Admiralty, where, in many cases, a trial by jury was denied, was " foreign to their constitution, and unacknowledged by their laws."
When, in 1774, the charter of Massachusetts was altered, the character of the colonial council was changed. Before that time, the members of the council, (answering to our senate,) were chosen by the general assembly, but, in the alteration, it was provided that after the first of August of that year they should be chosen by the King, to consist of not more than thirty-six, nor less than twelve ; and to hold their office during his pleasure. To the Governor was given almost unlimited power, and the people were subjected to "a jurisdiction foreign to their constitution," and the assent of the King was given to the acts of "pretended legislation," made by these crown-chosen senators.
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