BLTC Press Titles

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Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

The Characters of Theophrastus


Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)

A History of Georgia

by William Bacon Stevens


It would not come within the province of this history to trace the progress of free principles in America, yet a brief review of their development is necessary to a full understanding of the revolutionary history of Georgia.

It is not saying too much to declare, that the fundamental doctrines of civil and religious freedom were better understood in the American colonies than in any other portion of the globe. Their several charters conferred upon them rights and immunities which they cherished with peculiar tenacity, and which strengthened them in that spirit of liberty which manifested itself so often during their colonial existence. From the time that the Virginians, under the wise administration of Sir George Yeardly, in 1619, gave the New World the first example of representative legislation, onward to the eventful epoch of American independence, the leading principles of political liberty were boldly proclaimed and firmly supported. Of these principles, that which recognized resistance to taxation without representation, was the first developed, and the soonest tested.

When Virginia capitulated to the commonwealth of Cromwell, in 1652, it was expressly stated in the deed of surrender, that no taxes or customs should be levied, except by their own representatives.

When the "West India Company" attempted to tax the inhabitants of New Netherlands (now New York), the province drew up a remonstrance, which declared, "We, who have transformed the wilderness into fruitful farms, demand that no new laws shall be enacted, but with consent of the people;" and they refused to pay them.

When the tyrannical Lovelace insisted upon taxing the people of New York, even for the ostensive purpose of defence, seven villages entered their protest to an act which took from them the rights and privileges of Englishmen; and, though the votes of these towns against this arbitrary decree of the Governor were, by his order, publicly burned in the streets of New York, yet the spirit which cast them remained unchecked.

The efforts of Sir Edmund Andros, in 1688-9, to levy a tax at the pleasure of himself and council, though seconded by imprisonment and fines, resulted in a revolution which overthrew his government, and reinstated on its ruins their old and equitable charter rights.

Not only did the attempt to tax the colonists without representation provoke resistance, but legislative enactments were passed, declaring, with all the emphasis which charters and laws could give, that taxation without representation was contrary to the rights and privileges of Englishmen, and subversive of the liberties of the people.

The frequent agitation of these measures implanted in the minds of the colonists the clearest ideas of their rights as subjects and as men, and prepared the way for resisting, on a broader arena, the flagitious schemes of Parliament in 1765.

One of the results of the English Revolution of 1688, was the recognition of that principle which Magna Charta, signed at Runnymede nearly five hundred years before, had dimly shadowed forth, that property could not be taxed, but with the consent of its proper representatives; and the royal Assembly of New York, catching the spirit of this fundamental principle, resolved, three years after, that no tax whatever shall be levied on his majesty's subjects in the province, or on their estates, on any pretence whatever, but by the act and consent of the representatives of the people in General Assembly convened. The act, indeed, was rejected by King William, and severe taskmasters were sent over to discipline them into obedience, but the very efforts to eradicate or coerce this spirit, only caused it to take deeper root and acquire greater strength.

In 1696, a pamphlet appeared in England, asserting the power of Parliament to tax the colonies, and recommending the plan; but it was immediately answered from this side of the Atlantic by several replies, which denied the right and reprobated the design. It is indeed remarkable, when the tendency of the Americans to self-government was so early discovered, that a different course was not pursued, rather than those oppressive subjugating measures, which the common experience of humanity should have taught the Cabinet could only result in resistance and alienation.

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