Saturday, July 2, 2016

1766 Revolution Rising - The Declaratory Act

 The Declaratory Act stated that Parliament had the authority to pass laws on all matters relating to the governance of the colonies. Passed after the repeal of the Stamp Act, the measure was designed to show that members of Parliament still believed they had ultimate authority over the colonies, even with regard to taxation.

A VIEW OF THE HOUSE OF PEERS 1755 This image depicts a meeting of the British Parliament at Westminster Palace. The hereditary House of Lords (or Peers) occupies the center of the great hall. Members of the elected House of Commons stand & sit along the room's edges. King George II is on his throne. The King, Lords, & Commons together governed Britain & its American colonies.

The Declaratory Act of 1766 was passed in mid March by the Parliament of Great Britain, that was passed at the same time that the Stamp Act was repealed. The colonists celebrated the repeal of the Stamp Act and their political victory but the the passing of the Declaratory Act was the beginning of more trouble.  

The Declaratory Act was passed by the British parliament to affirm its power to legislate for the colonies “in all cases whatsoever”. The declaration stated that Parliament's authority was the same in America as in Britain and asserted Parliament's authority to pass laws that were binding on the American colonies. The colonies did not dispute the notion of Parliamentary supremacy over the law. But the ability to tax without representation was another matter. The Declaratory Act made no such distinction.  The Declaratory Act of 1766 that asserted Parliament's authority to pass binding laws on the colonies contained the phrase “in all cases whatsoever” which could surely be taken to mean the power to tax. The Declaratory Act of 1766 was almost an exact copy of the 1719 Irish Declaratory Act which forced Ireland into total submission under the Crown.

The Declaratory Act 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, hash, 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.