John Dickinson's Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania


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Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania
by John Dickinson (excerpt)

HistoryWiz Primary Source

John Dickinson's Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer, were written in protest to the passage of the Townshend Duties. Dickinson was a Philadelphia lawyer.  This is an excerpt from his defense of the legal rights of free-born Englishmen. 

1768

There is [a] late act of Parliament, which seems to me to be
. . . destructive to the liberty of these colonies, . . . that is the act for
granting duties on paper, glass, etc. It appears to me to be
unconstitutional. 

The Parliament unquestionably possesses a legal authority to regulate
the trade of Great Britain and all its colonies. Such an authority is
essential to the relation between a mother country and its colonies and
necessary for the common good of all. He who considers these provinces
as states distinct from the British Empire has very slender notions of
justice or of their interests. We are but parts of a whole; and therefore
there must exist a power somewhere to preside, and preserve the
connection in due order. This power is lodged in the Parliament, and we
are as much dependent on Great Britain as a perfectly free people can
be on another. 

 
 
 

I have looked over every statute relating to these colonies, from their first
settlement to this time; and I find every one of them founded on this
principle till the Stamp Act administration. All before are calculated to
preserve or promote a mutually beneficial intercourse between the several
constituent parts of the Empire. And though many of them imposed
duties on trade, yet those duties were always imposed with design to
restrain the commerce of one part that was injurious to another, and thus
to promote the general welfare. . . . Never did the British Parliament, till
the period abovementioned, think of imposing duties in American for the
purpose of raising a revenue. . . . This I call an innovation, and a most
dangerous innovation. 

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