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Letter from Alexander Elmsley to Samuel Johnston
Elmsley, Alexander, 1730-1797
December 22, 1774
Volume 09, Pages 1092-1095

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[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
Letter from Alexander Elmsly to Samuel Johnston.

London 22d Decr 1774

Dear Sir,

I have your favor by Capt. Barter, the packet and Dollars are not yet come to hand but we expect them daily to be forward from Pool, Mr Barker bids me tell you that if in future you have Occasion to send any Dollars he wishes them to come by the way of London, and to be previously advised that he may insure them.

I wish we may be able to render the Province service in the affair of your Court Laws, Coll Tryon who is now here, told me he intended to speak to Mr Jackson on the affair, as soon as we receive your papers I shall wait on the Govr to know what passed on the Occasion; I told him that my principal Objection agt the attachments would be removed if care was taken that upon the Event of a Bankruptcy in England we should have the same justice as the Creditors in America, and that I believed every body else would be satisfied. His answer was that some Gents in England held large tracts of Land in America which they would wish exempted from attachments.

Our new parliament is just met but we do not yet know what steps are to be taken with respect to America, the Kings speech still breaths resentment and by far the greatest numbers of the new parliament are on the side of administration, the Patriots (except in London and Bristol) being every where unsuccessfull. We had a Contested Election for Westminster. Mr. Wilks set up Lord Mount Morris an Irish peer and Lord Mahon eldest Son of Earl Stanope agnst Earl Percey and Lord Thomas Pelham Clinton, one the son of the Duke of Northumberland the other of the D. of Newcastle. The Election lasted fifteen Days. The Dukes of Portland and Devonshire supported the patriots, But 40 or 50 thousand pounds spent annually in Westminster by the Dukes of Newcastle & Northumberland gave their sons an Interest with the Inhabitants not to be shaken, for on the Close of the poll they had a majority of about 2500 votes.

The patriots also against every Bodys expectation lost Sir Jos. Manley for the County of Surrey, he might have represented the Borough of Southwark as before, but as more honourable, he was proposed for the County and Mr. Lee a Virginian, was to have his

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seat for Southwark. The Consequence was they were both disappointed and two ministerial members returned in their Room

But in return they carried three out of four members for the City, and no two men could be found in the three Kingdoms to set up agnst Wilkes and Glyn for Middlesex so they were returned without opposition much to the mortification of the ministry and the mob, who like to carry their points of opposition. We have not yet heard from your Congress, But doubt not from the immense quantity of Goods lately shipped to America and principally to the Northward, that the members will resolve at least against future Importations, in which Case our Politicians say they will cut off your Trade with all other places, except the West Indies & G. Britain At present no Body yet complains the manufacturers having lately had more Orders than it was possible to supply, but there is now an End to them and if remittances are stopped from America we shall have another 1772 to encounter again.

I wrote you mine and Mr. Barker's sentiments on this subject some time ago, and still think your people in the wrong not on the principal point, but for confounding two Questions not related to each other, whatever may be the Rights of the Colonys, this Country has at least hers also, and one of them is to be treated with Decency by those people whom her arms so lately saved from slavery; for most certainly half a Dozen 70 Gun Ships on your Sea Coast, with a thousand Frenchmen on board of each of them would soon have done the Business of your Towns for you; I would therefore in contending for your rights have had you set out with allowing us ours, and immediately ordered Compensation to be made for the Tea and then pursue all necessary measures for securing your Rights and Libertys in future, which however I think you put on a wrong Foundation also, you acknowlege yourselves subjects of our King, at least for the present, now this King is King only in Virtue of an Act of Parliament, it seems strange to acknowlege the King but deny his Title (For I consider all distinction between Laws to tax and Laws to regulate Trade &c, as absolute chicane) and it is an incontroverted principal in the Constitution that our King Quasi King can and ought to have no subjects that are not bound by Laws made by Parliament; were it otherways, Our Libertys here might be in Danger as well as yours. But the grand argument in favor of America is an argument that could not till lately have an Existance, it is in my Opinion your Numbers and importance that gives

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you Consequence and every other argument in your favor teems with absurdity. While you were of no Consequence either to the State or to yourselves we did not improperly Consider you as we do at this time Alderney Jersey and the Isle of Man, but as Circumstances alter you have a right to expect an alteration of Treatment, and it appears obvious to me that there are but two ways of adjusting the Difference Betwixt us

1st To incorporate by an Act similar to the act of Union with a Clause in favour of America in respect to her proportion of future Taxes and her Exemption as to past ones, as had Scotland, which has hitherto been religiously Observed; agnst this you Object that you cannot get members to represent you, to this I answer that there are more Jamaica men alone in England than will be sufficient for all America and if you dont like to trust your concerns in their hands pay your members well and send them from your own Colonies and let them be elected for a time of years instead of being bound by Dissolutions &c. Your friends here, (for all the patriots are on your side) say that you would be outnumbered and oppressed by a majority, Scotland said the same thing seventy years ago, but it was without Foundation, and should Experience at any future period of time furnish any Instance of an Infringement on the Terms of Union you are just where you was, or perhaps in a better situation to do what you're doing at present evidently agnst your own Interest and upon principles incompatible with every Idea of propriety.

The 2d plan of accomodation is to let you remain as you are waiving all right of binding you by our Laws, the Consequence is, you establish, in the Room of one firm Solid compact respectable impenetrable Empire, about four or five & twenty divided disjoined discordant jarring contemptible little States in the nature of a many limbed monster without a Head, or if you please many monsters having only one head amongst them.

If you don't like these my Ideas, you may console yourself with the thought of their being only mine, for I give you my word very few people here were they to be proposed would approve of them, and I dare say they would meet with no Quarter in your Kingdom, though I think were terms similar to them offered on your side and rejected on ours as doubtless they would be, it would give much additional weight and support to your pretensions.

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And: Knox sent me an Order but it came too late no Ships will now take in Goods for Virginia, you must therefore give me your Orders if you would have me send them, to Carolina for they continue to ship goods still to your Province.

God bless you and yours

ALEXr ELMSLY.