Being grateful to Publius and this group I feel compelled to try to give something in return and as is often necessary to have my understanding improved in the process.
The subject title is partially taken from a series of news articles written by John Adams and the Kings Attorney General in which they debate our claim for independence.
This equivalent to our modern blogs took place in 1774 and 75 and ended with the signing of our Declaration of Independence. As a firsthand account of the struggle that ultimately produced our Constitution it is so far as I know unparalleled. If I step out of bounds please forgive the analogy, this original work is to the Declaration of Independence what the Federalist Papers are to the Constitution.
Here is the LINK to the book. It is free, searchable and downloadable. At the very least take a look at the preface. If you’re not interested in reading at length then use the search tools to explore this work as a reference.
There are some really amazing things in there. When, by whom and to whom it was written gave me an appreciation for the Declaration of Independence like nothing else I’ve seen.
Concerning the “The principle points of controversy between Great Britain and Her Colonies”. Once again I’m in debt to a very good friend of mine who brought this short tract to my attention.
ADDRESSED TO THE
ON THE AFPAIRS OF
THE MISTAKES IN THE ABBE'S ACCOUNT
REVOLUTION OF AMERICA,
ARE CORRECTED AND CLEARED UP
by Thomas Paine
As indicated by the title, what follows is Mr. Paine’s rebuttal of an account of the causes of the American Revolution. I’ve never seen this document before and was fascinated to find him asserting the same point made previously in this thread. Namely, the colonist’s principle concern with Parliament’s determination to legislatively bind them “in all cases whatsoever” rather than taxes per se (as we have been taught). According to Abbe the whole affair summed up to this.
“…the whole question was reduced to the knowing whether the mother country had, or had not a right to lay, directly or indirectly, a slight tax upon the colonies."
Paine, at the outset of his rebuttal utterly rejects the idea this was the sum cause of America’s case for independence. After pointing out inconsistencies in the authors claim he makes the following observation regarding the Stamp and Declaratory Acts.
“The Stamp Act, it is true, was repealed in two years after it was passed; but it was immediately followed by one of infinitely more mischievous magnitude, I mean the Declaratory Act, which asserted the right… of the British Parliament, “to bind America in all cases whatsoever”.
“…the Declaratory Act left them no rights at all; and contained the full grown seeds of the most despotic Government that ever existed in the world. It placed America not only in the lowest, but in the basest state of vassalage; because it demanded an unconditional submission in everything, or, as the Act expresses it, in all cases whatsoever…”
“…the Abbe likewise states the case exceedingly wrong and injuriously, when he says, "the whole question was reduced to the knowing whether the mother country had, or had not, a right to lay, directly or indirectly, a slight tax upon the colonies." This was not the whole of the question; neither was the quantity of the tax the object, either to the Ministry, or to the Americans.”
“It was the principle, of which the tax made but a part, and the quantity still less, that formed the ground on which America opposed.”
“The tax on tea, which is the tax here alluded to, was neither more or less than an experiment to establish the practice of the Declaratory Law upon; modeled into the more fashionable phrase of the universal supremacy of Parliament.”
“Therefore the whole question with America, in the opening of the dispute, was, shall we be bound in all cases whatsoever by the British Parliament, or shall we not? For submission to the tea or tax act, implied an acknowledgement of the Declaratory Act, or, in other words, to the universal supremacy of Parliament, which, as they never intended to do, it was necessary they should oppose it, in its first stage of execution.”
Boy I can’t wait until my kids have to share their first paper on the Boston Tea Party. I may just have to take the day off and go to class with them. If they ever let me back in class maybe I’ll get to hear the kid’s next paper titled:
The effects of the Declaratory Act of 1766 and the U.S. Congresses open ended misuse of the commerce clause compared.
Just got a chance to read this. I just love this stuff! "In all cases whatsoever" is found four times in that one document. Though I have never heard the phrase discussed, prior to your postings, it does appear that this is a major issue, if not thee major issue of the time.
Notice how, at that time, they were willing and able to suffer some wrongs, taxes, etc.; up to the point where "all cases whatsoever" comes into the picture. Once that happened, they knew that if they were to ever have liberty that the beginning stages of this oppression was the time to act.
If we had done the same, the U.S. would be a much better place right now. Instead, we have continued to agree to suffer under a heavier and heavier load of oppression. Now, we have the government which believes they have the right to burden us "in all cases whatsover"!
Quickly restating my disclaimer; I’m no expert at any of this, just a concerned father. I very much appreciate the opportunity Publius allows me to publish this pre-constitutional material. It is not my intent to instruct anyone rather it’s my hope that she and other well versed members of this group will constructively critique this material. Effectively, I’m here with hat in hand and appreciating the guidance and input anyone here is willing to offer. My goal is to augment/correct what my children will be taught (in school) about our Republic.
My reasoning in focusing on this particular phrase is because, invariably my kids will be taught about the Boston tea party and that the fight for independence was over the idea of “no taxation without representation”. Implicit in this is the idea that they need not question its authority because we now have representation. Coincidental or not this ends up being rather convenient for an education system whose goal is to produce what they call “good” citizens.
Concerning your observation, I would not call this “the” only issue. However to the informed it was a major issue, enough so to be included as the 22nd complaint in the Declaration of Independence.
“For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.”
In my estimation focus on this lays the ground work for a discussion (with the kids) about the limits of governments “power to legislate”. A critical discussion, that I hope makes it more clear to them why they must defend their Constitution.
Your comment, “Notice how, at that time, they were willing and able to suffer some wrongs, taxes, etc...” provides segue to the “see and feel” phrase I commented on earlier in this thread IE; folks have to “see and feel” calamity before doing anything about it.
Interestingly this “see and feel” phenomenon may account for the prevalence “no taxation without representation” over “in all cases whatsoever” in the history books. On the one hand many of the colonists could “see and feel” the taxes while the idea of Parliament claiming the power to legislate “in all cases whatsoever” is quite a bit more abstract. In fact I have read that the colonies didn’t react to the latter issue in part precisely because it was so abstract.
It is clear the colonist at large was very happy with the repeal of the Stamp Act. It is also clear those paying attention (like Adams, Paine and Jefferson) viewed this “in all cases whatsoever” business as a direct threat.
So in summation once again it seems history is repeating. Those of us (here) learning about and paying attention to what our legislators are doing to our Constitution are trying to explain the threat to those who are not paying attention, at least not yet they aren't...
Thank you for the response Mike!
Could it be that our forefathers objected to the phrase because it left them as slaves to the government since the government could do as it pleased in “all cases”? You have a great study going, Jon
As lawyers Men like Adams and James Otis had to understand the implication of this terminology. Clearly they understood it was intended to lay very dangerous legal grounds for future purposes. I'm not a lawyer and even I get the sense of danger reading it. Here's the full text.
March 18, 1766
AN ACT for the better securing the dependency of his Majesty's dominions in America upon the crown and parliament of Great Britain.
WHEREAS several of the houses of representatives in his Majesty's colonies and plantations in America, have of late, against law, claimed to themselves, or to the general assemblies of the same, the sole and exclusive right of imposing duties and taxes upon his Majesty's subjects in the said colonies and plantations; and have, in pursuance of such claim, passed certain votes, resolutions, and orders, derogatory to the legislative authority of parliament, and inconsistent with the dependency of the said colonies and plantations upon the crown of Great Britain: ... be it declared ...,
That the said colonies and plantations in America have been, are, and of right ought to be. subordinate unto, and dependent upon the imperial crown and parliament of Great Britain; and that the King's majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons of Great Britain, in parliament assembled, had, has, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.
II. And be it further declared ..., That all resolutions, votes, orders, and proceedings, in any of the said colonies or plantations, whereby the power and authority of the parliament of Great Britain, to make laws and statutes as aforesaid, is denied, or drawn into question, are, and are hereby declared to be, utterly null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever.
How did the great State of Maryland feel about Parliaments claim of all legislative power? Here's the Preamble of their Constitution.
"THE parliament of Great Britain, by a declaratory act, having assumed a right to make laws to bind the Colonies in all cases whatsoever, and, in pursuance of such claim, endeavoured, by force of arms, to subjugate the United Colonies to an unconditional submission to their will and power..."
It seems from a review of their Constitution the Virginian’s not only did not like the English claim of authority to bind them “in all cases whatsoever” they didn’t like anything they did. To that end they included the entire Declaration of Independence in their Constitution.
Hey you Virginian's, next time one of your State representatives says the Declaration of Independence isn't law you might want to show a copy of your original Constitution. I'd love to see the look on their face, so if you think you might get the chance to do this make sure to bring a video camera ; ^)
Here’s the whatsoever reference:
"For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever"
I’d never heard of William Henry Drayton until I came across this letter. It’s clear he made an impression on Mr. Laurens. What’s really interesting is the accomplishment Mr. Laurens asked his son to remember about Mr. Drayton. Here’s the letter, more on the Judge to come.
Henry Laurens to John Laurens, 5 May 1778
My Dear Son, Mr. Chief Justice Drayton will tell you everything that is going forward here, I request you to wait upon him to the General, introduce him [as the]... Character of Chief Justice of South Carolina [and] a Delegate in Congress from that State, and my friend…
Remember he is the Man who upon the Bench had the wisdom and fortitude to Indict the King and Parliament of Great Britain for attempting to bind America in all Cases whatsoever and Rob her of her Rights and privileges. God bless you.
I went fishing for a little more insight into “The principle points of controversy between Great Britain and Her Colonies” and man I pulled out a whopper!
On October 14, 1774, the Continental Congress issued its Declaration and Resolves in response to Parliament’s legislative retaliation for the Boston Tea Party. Shortly thereafter the Reverend Samuel Seabury published an attack on the Resolves castigating the non-importation association as a “brood of scorpions. The author of this essay began speaking at the liberty pole erected by the New York Sons of Liberty and published his response to Seabury on December 15, 1774.
I’ve uploaded the entire thirty five page essay for your reading pleasure but pulled a couple of excerpts highlighting the author’s view of the “points of controversy”.
“What, then, is the subject of our controversy with the mother country? It is this: Whether we shall preserve that security to our lives and properties, which the law of nature, the genius of the British constitution, and our charters, afford us…”
“What can actuate those men who labor to delude any of us into an opinion that the object of contention between the parent state and the colonies is only three pence duty upon tea...”
"The Parliament claims a right to tax us in all cases whatsoever; its late acts are in virtue of that claim. How ridiculous, then, is it to affirm that we are quarrelling for the trifling sum of three pence a pound on tea…”
“…some people try to make you believe we are disputing about the foolish trifle of three pence duty upon tea. They may as well tell you that black is white..”
“ Surely you can judge for yourselves. Is a dispute, whether the Parliament of Great Britain shall make what laws and impose what taxes they please upon us, or not; I say, is this a dispute about three pence duty upon tea? The man that affirms it deserves to be laughed at.”
“It is true, we are denying to pay the duty upon tea; but it is not for the value of the thing itself. It is because we cannot submit to that without acknowledging the principle upon which it is founded; and that principle is, a right to tax us in all cases whatsoever.”
So what do you think? Was the principle cause taxation without representation, or was it Parliaments claim it could make any law “whatsoever”?
Oh before I forget, in 1774 the author of this essay was a just a young man at the time but he would go on to render great service to his country. His name was Alexander Hamilton.
The document I posted was written at a time when long S's were in use. They kind of look like a lowercase f and they make reading a bit of a challange. Here's the document minus the long S's.
Please forgive lack of attendance. I’ve been acting on my own advise and busy working on an important local level election.
Here is an amazing book written by an amazing woman, Mercy Otis Warren. It hasn’t been translated into modern English (written with long S’s) but I had to take the time to remove them from the following excerpt. It is lengthy so please Google her name and decide her character for yourself.
1783 CHAPTER XXX - A Survey of the Situation of America on the Conclusion of the War with Britain - Observations on the Declaration of Independence.
WE have seen the banners of Albion displayed, and the pendants of her proud navy waving over the waters of the western world, and threatening terror, servitude, or desolation, to resisting millions…
At the same time that these wayward appearances began early to threaten their internal felicity, the inhabitants of America were in general sensible, that the freedom of the people, the virtue of society, and the stability of their commonwealth, could only be preserved by the strictest union; and that the independence of the United States must be secured by an undeviating adherence to the principles that produced the revolution.
These principles were grounded on the natural equality of man, their right of adopting their own modes of government, the dignity of the people, and that sovereignty which cannot be ceded either to representatives or to kings. But, as a certain writer has expressed it, "Powers may be delegated for particular purposes; but the omnipotence of society, if any where, is in itself. Princes, senates, or parliaments, are not proprietors or masters; they are subject: to the people, who form and support that society, by an eternal law of nature, which has ever subjected a part to the whole."
These were opinions congenial to the feelings, and were disseminated by the pens, of political writers; of Otis, Dickinson, Quincy and many others, who with pathos and energy had defended the liberties of America, previous to the commencement of hostilities.
On these principles, a due respect must ever be paid to the general will; to the right in the people, to dispose of their own monies by a representative voice; and to liberty of conscience without religious tests: on these principles, frequent elections, and rotations of office, were generally thought necessary, without precluding the indispensable subordination and obedience due to rulers of their own choice. From the principles, manners, habits, and education of the Americans, they expected from their rulers, economy in expenditure, (both public and private) simplicity of manners, pure morals, and undeviating probity. These they considered as the emanations of virtue, grounded on a sense of duty, and a veneration for the Supreme Governor of the universe, to whom the dictates of nature teach all mankind to pay homage, and whom they had been taught to worship according to revelation, and the divine precepts of the gospel. Their ancestors had rejected and fled from the impositions and restrictions of men, vested either with princely or priestly authority: they equally claimed the exercise of private judgment, and the rights of conscience, unfettered by religious establishments in favor of particular denominations.
They expected a simplification of law; clearly defined distinctions between executive, legislative, and judiciary powers: the right of trial by jury, and a sacred regard to personal liberty and the protection of private property, were opinions embraced by all who had any just ideas of government, law, equity, or morals.
These were the rights of men, the privileges of Eng1ishmen, and the claim of Americans: these were the principles of the Saxon ancestry of the British Empire, and of all the free nations of Europe, previous to the corrupt systems introduced by intriguing and ambitious individuals.
These were the opinions of Ludlow and Sydney, of Milton and Harrington: these were principles defended by the pen of the learned, enlightened, and renowned Locke; and even judge Blackstone, in his excellent commentaries on the laws of England, has observed, "that trial by jury and the liberties of the people went out together." Indeed, most of the learned and virtuous writers that have adorned the pages of literature from generation to generation, in an island celebrated for the erudite and comprehensive genius of its inhabitants, have enforced there rational and liberal opinions.
These were the principles which the ancestors of the inhabitants of the United States brought with them from the polished shores of Europe, to the dark wilds of America: these opinions were deeply infixed in the bosoms of their posterity, and nurtured with zeal, until necessity obliged them to announce the declaration of the independence of the United States. We have seen that the instrument which announced the final separation of the American colonies from Great Britain was drawn by the elegant and energetic pen of Jefferson, with that correct judgment, precision, and dignity, which have ever marked his character.
The declaration of independence, which has done so much honor to the, then existing congress, to the inhabitants of the United States; and to the genius and heart of, the gentlemen who drew it, in the belief, and under the awe, of the Divine providence, ought to be frequently read by the rising youth of the American states, as a palladium of which they should never lose sight, so long as they wish to continue a free and independent people.
This celebrated paper, which will be admired in the annals of every historian, begins with an assertion, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, which nature and nature's God entitle them to claim; and, after appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of their intentions, it concludes in the name of the good people of the colonies, by their representatives assembled in congress, they publish and declare, that they are, and of right ought to be,
Free and Independent States: in the name of the people, the fountain of all just authority, relying on the protection of Divine Providence, they mutually pledged themselves to maintain these rights, with their lives, fortunes, and honor.
These principles the Sons of Columbia had supported by argument, defended by the sword, and have now secured by negotiation, as far as the pledges of national faith and honor will bind society to a strict adherence to equity. This however is seldom longer than it appears to be the interest of nations, or designing individuals of influence and power. Virtue in the sublimest sense operates only on the minds of a chosen few: in their breasts it will ever find its own reward.
In all ages, mankind are governed less by reason and justice, than by interest and passion: the caprice of a day, or the impulse of a moment, will blow them about as with a whirlwind, and bear them down the current of folly, until awakened by their misery: by these they are often led to breaches of the most solemn engagements, the consequences of which may involve whole nations in wretchedness. It is devoutly to be hoped, that the conduct of America will never stand upon record as a striking example of the truth of this observation. She has fought for her liberties; she has purchased them by the most costly sacrifices: we have seen her embark in the enterprise, with a spirit that gained her the applause of mankind. The United States have procured their own emancipation from foreign thraldom, by the sacrifice of their heroes and their friends: they are now ushered on to the temple of peace, who holds out her wand, and beckons them to make the wisest improvement of the advantages they had acquired, by their patience, perseverance, and valor.
I believe she beckons still and in the face of todays calamity, it now falls to us, to our generation “to make the wisest improvement of the advantages they had acquired" by our own "patience, perseverance, and valor”.
May God bless us all.