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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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Memorandum concerning a colonial agent's responsibilities in England
No Author
Volume 05, Page 747

-------------------- page 747 --------------------
[From MSS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
Proceedings in England on Acts of Assembly passed in America, & sent home for the Royal Assent.

The Act is in the first place transmitted by the Governor to the Secretary of State for America.

It afterwards comes before the Lords of Trade, & is by them referred to an officer called the Reporting Counsel to the Board of Trade, for him to consider and report his opinion, & reasons, whether his Majesty be advised in favor of the Act, or the Contrary. The Fate of the Act depends in a great measure on this Gentleman's Report; & which Report must again entirely depend upon the Idea, & Information he receives of the reasons, circumstances & views with which the Act was passed in the provincial Assembly. Here is the heavy and useful part of the duty of an Agent; to attend the Reporting Counsel, to explain circumstances, & lead his Opinion to a Report favorable to the wishes of the Province for which he acts; as a person in the Reporting Counsel's situation must be unacquainted with a thousand things an Agent can explain, & consequently without his Information be liable to many Mistakes.

The Act then comes back to the Lords of Trade, where it is again considered, & the Agent noticed to attend in all matters of consequence.

On the Report of the Lords of Trade, it then comes before the Lords of the Council, upon whose final report its fate depends.

The great Officers of State will not take the vague Information of Individuals; but transact all business with the several Provinces by asking & knowing their Sentiments by means of their Attorneys or Agents. Without some person in that Character their business in England must sleep. Memorials, Addresses, Petitions pass thro' his hands. The Assent or Dissent of his Representatives to any measure intended, is asked & known thro' him. Every opening for encouragement to the Trade of America, it is the Agent's business to improve: equally so to endeavor to obviate any Scheme that may hurt it. For this purpose, he is to watch the Intentions of Parliament; & hence, Attendances, Solicitations, & Fatigues, Gentlemen living here have little Idea of.

The Continuance of an Agent's appointment rests in the breasts of the Assembly; he is their Servant, & therefore ought not to wish to be out of their controll; tho' it is to be observed, that if he is intrusted with his appointment for 6 or 5 years, he might form many connections very advantageous to the Province which on a shorter time Prudence would not permit.


For the perusal of the gentlemen at Mr. Heath's.