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Correspondence of Governor Sharpe, 1757-1761
Volume 9, Preface 7   View pdf image (33K)
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                             Preface.                   vii




        that they were of a narrow, bigoted, and turbulent spirit. They had

        two chief aims in view: one to thwart the will of the Proprietary,

        encroach on his rights, and discredit his officers as far as possible, and

        the other, to render the proprietary government odious in England, that,

        either by revocation of the charter or without it, the Province might be

        taken and governed by the Crown.

         Their motives are apparent in their action on the supply-bills for the

        prosecution of the war. While professing a dutiful readiness to raise

        the necessary funds, and to draw up a bill for the purpose, they

        invariably inserted in these bills conditions which they knew the Gov

        ernor and the Upper House could not possibly accept, and when the bill

        was rejected they put on the airs of loyal and patriotic subjects, ready

        to sacrifice themselves for the general good, but prevented by the

        selfishness of the Proprietary and his representatives.

         The chief objections to these bills were, first, that they proposed to tax

        the Proprietary's reserved but unoccupied lands, which yielded him no

        revenue, at the same rate as occupied lands.

         That a tax should be laid on non-residents, and a duty on imports

        from England.

         That non-jurors, including the Catholics, should pay a double tax.

         That the Lower House alone had the right to appoint the commis

        sioners to carry out the law and to audit claims and accounts under it,

        while the collection of the taxes was thrown upon the Proprietary's


         The Lower House, indeed, had got into their heads (as had their

        predecessors of 1669) that they were a House of Commons, and they

        did not scruple to speak of the Upper House as a useless appendage

        to the government.

         In 1759 the Proprietary laid a copy of the proposed bill before

        Attorney-General Pratt, asking his opinion on it, which was given at

        length. The most important points were:

         That the right to nominate the commissioners belonged to neither

        House alone, but to both Houses conjointly.

         That the tax on unoccupied lands was unreasonable and should be


         That the tax on non-residents was illegal, and that Parliament would

        never allow duties to be laid on imports, as such duties might amount

        to a prohibition.

         That the double tax on non-jurors was not only unjust, but” a breach

        of faith, and tended to subvert the very foundations of the Maryland


         “As to the power of the Lower House,” the Attorney-General

        remarks, “to examine claims and accounts, the Upper House are right

        in making a stand to this clause in the Bill, and should take care how

        they admit encroachments of this kind, when they are supported by

        arguments drawn from the exercise of like rights in the House of Com

        mons here. The constitutions of the two assemblies differ fundamentally



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Correspondence of Governor Sharpe, 1757-1761
Volume 9, Preface 7   View pdf image (33K)
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