Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Circular letter from William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth to the American governors
Dartmouth, William Legge, Earl of, 1731 - 1801
March 03, 1775
Volume 09, Pages 1138-1140

-------------------- page 1138 --------------------
[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: Vol. 279.]
Circular to the Governor of North Carolina and to other Governors.

Whitehall, 3rd March, 1775.

You will have seen in the King's answer to the joint Address of both Houses of Parliament on the 7th February, which Address and Answer have already been transmitted to you, how much attention His Majesty was graciously pleased to give to the assurance held out in that Address, of the readiness of Parliament to afford every just and reasonable indulgence to the Colonies, whenever they should make a proper application on the ground of any real grievance they might have to complain of, and therefore I have the less occasion now to enlarge upon the satisfaction it hath given His Majesty to see that Address followed by the inclosed Resolution of the House of Commons, which, whatever may be the effect of it (I trust a happy one) will forever remain an evidence of their justice and moderation and manifest the temper which has accompanied their deliberations upon that question which has been the source of so much disquiet to His Majesty's Subjects in America, and the pretence for Acts of such criminal disorder and disturbance.

His Majesty ardently wishing to see reconciliation of the unhappy differences which have produced those disorders, by every means through which it may be obtained without prejudice to the just authority of Parliament, which His Majesty will never suffer to be violated, approves the resolution of His faithful Commons and commands me to transmit it to you, not doubting that this happy disposition to comply with every just and reasonable wish of the King's Subjects in America, will meet with such a return of duty and affection on their part as will lead to a happy issue of the present disputes, and to a re-establishment of the public tranquility on those grounds of equity, justice and moderation which this resolution holds forth.

The King has the greater satisfaction in this resolution, and the greater confidence in the good effects of it, from having seen, that amidst all the intemperance into wch a people jealous of their liberties have been unfortunately misled, they have nevertheless avowed the justice, the equity and the propriety of subjects of the same State contributing according to their abilities and situation to the

-------------------- page 1139 --------------------
public Burthen; and I think I am warranted in saying, that this resolution holds no proposition beyond that.

I am unwilling to suppose that any of the King's Subjects in the Colonies, can have so far forgot the benefits they have received from the parent State, as not to acknowledge that it is to her support, held forth at the expence of her blood and Treasure, that they principally owe that security which hath raised them to their present state of opulence and importance; in this situation, therefore, justice requires that they should in return contribute according to their respective abilities, to the common Defence, and their own welfare, and interest demand that their civil Establishment should be supported with a becoming dignity. It has been the care, and I am persuaded it is the firm determination of Parliament, to see that both these ends are answered; and their wisdom and moderation have suggested the propriety of leaving to each Colony to judge of the ways and means of making due Provision for these purposes, reserving to themselves a discretionary. power of approving or disapproving what shall be offered.

The resolution neither points out what the Civil Establishment should be nor demands any specific sum in aid of the public burthens. In both these respects it leaves full scope for that justice and liberality which may be expected from Colonies, that, under all their prejudices, have never been wanting in expressions of an affectionate attachment to the Mother Country, and a zealous regard for the general welfare of the British Empire & therefore the King trusts that the provision they will engage to make for the support of Civil Government will be adequate to the Rank and Station of every necessary Officer, and that the sum to be given in contribution to the common Defence will be offered on such terms and proposed in such a way, as to increase or diminish according as the publick Burthens of this Kingdom are from time to time augmented or reduced, in so far as those Burthens consist of Taxes and Duties, which are not a security for the National debt. By such a mode of contribution the Colonies will have full security that they can never be required to tax themselves without Parliament's taxing the Subjects of this Kingdom in a far greater proportion, and there can be no doubt that any proposition of this nature, made by any of the Colonies, and accompanied with such a state of their faculties and abilities as may evince the equity of the Proposal, will be received with every possible indulgence, provided it be at the same

-------------------- page 1140 --------------------
time unaccompanied with any Declarations, and unmixed with any claims, which will make it impossible for the King, consistent with his own dignity, or for Parliament, consistent with their constitutional rights, to receive it.

But, I will not suppose that any of the Colonies will, after this example of the Temper and moderation in Parliament, adopt such a conduct. On the contrary I will cherish the pleasing hope that the Public Peace will be restored, and that the Colonies forgetting all other trivial and groundless complaints, which ill humour hath produced, will enter into the consideration of the Resolution of the House of Commons with that calmness and deliberation which the importance of it demands, and with that good will and inclination to a reconciliation, which are due to the candor and justice with which Parliament has taken up this business, and at once declared to the Colonies what will be ultimately expected from them.

I have already said that the King entirely approves the Resolution of the House of Commons and His Majesty commands me to say that a compliance therewith by the General Assembly of —— will be most graciously considered by His Majesty, not only as a Testimony of their reverence for Parliament, but also as a mark of their duty and attachment to their Sovereign, who has no object nearer to his heart than the peace and prosperity of His Subjects in every part of His dominions. At the same time His Majesty considers himself as bound by every tye to exert those means the Constitution has placed in his hands for preserving that Constitution entire, and to resist with firmness every attempt to violate the Rights of Parliament to distress and obstruct the lawfull Commerce of His subjects, and to encourage in the Colonies ideas of Independence, inconsistent with their connection with this Kingdom.

I am &c.,