Background of the American Revolution
Following the Boston Tea Party, Dr. Jonathan Shipley—Bishop of St. Asaph—writes a speech intended for the debate in the House of Lords over altering the charter for Massachusetts. Subsequently published, Benjamin Franklin—his good friend—deems it “a masterpiece of eloquence.”
Let us be content with the spoils and the destruction of the east. If your lordships can see no impropriety in it, let the plunderer and oppressor still go free. But let not the love of liberty be the only crime you think worthy of punishment. I fear we shall soon make it a part of our national character, to ruin every thing that has the misfortune to depend upon us.
Bishop of St. Asaph.
A Speech intended to have been spoken on the Bill for altering the Charters of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay.
IT is of such great importance to compose, or even to moderate, the dissensions which subsist at present between our unhappy country and her colonies, that I cannot help endeavoring, from the faint prospect I have of contributing something to so good an end. to overcome the inexpressible reluctance I feel at uttering my thoughts before the most respectable of all audiences.
The true object of all our deliberations on this occasion, which I hope we shall never lose sight of, is a full and cordial reconciliation with North America. Now I own, my lords, I have many doubts whether the terrors and punishments we hang out to them at present are the surest means of producing this reconciliation. Let us at least do this justice to the people of North America, to own that we can all remember a time when they were much better friends than at present to their mother country. They are neither our natural nor our determined enemies. Before the stamp-act, we considered them in the light of as good subjects as the natives of any county in England.