October 26th, 1775 was a busy day for the British Parliament.
They last time parliament met to discuss the colonies in America was on May 24th, 1775.
In the 6 month period between the 2 meetings a lot had changed!
The King’s Address to Parliament
This meeting began with a letter from King George III.
During the period of time between the two meetings, the people of America had begun “to infuse into their Minds a System of Opinions repugnant to the true Constitution of the colonies.”
According to the notes of the proceedings, the colonists had begun to raise armies, built a navy and began to seize publick revenue.
The king declared that the colonies were too valuable to simply let go of. And that Britain would send troops to so that the “may be applied to the Maintenance of its (Britain’s) Authority.”
Despite the hostility the Britain faced from the revolutionists, it was such ordered that they would receive “mercy” once they realized their error.
“When the unhappy and deluded Multitude, against whom this Force will be directed, shall become sensible of their Error, I shall be ready to receive the Mislead with Tenderness and Mercy.”-King George III
After the king had opened the procedures, the parliament deliberated.
After speaking of the “great Tenderness with which his Majesty has proceeded” in regards to the kings willingness to forgive the uprising. Saying that they would like to prevent the “effusion of their Fellow subjects” if possible.
Parliament Addresses the Kings Speech
Surprising to me, even as the parliament deliberated on sending forces to quell the American uprising, they spoke of the Americans as their “fellow subjects” or “fellow Britain’s” and not as enemies. They simply felt that the revolutionists were misinformed or mislead.
An Alternative to War is Proposed
One, The Duke of Grafton asserted that rather than sending troops, they repeal every act which was relative to America(of which he believed there were 13) since 1963.
“This I will venture to assert, will answer every end; and nothing less will effect any effectual purpose, without scenes of ruin and destruction, which I cannot think on without the utmost grief and horror”-Duke of Grafton
Lord Lyttelton concurred with his call to repeal the acts passed since 1963, after noting the Boston had become a “hospital” where more died from famine and want of care than at the point of a sword.
The Bishop of Peterborough also joined in consenting to the Duke of Grafton’s proposal after noting that sending a garrison of 10,000 troops had previously not intimidated a single colony. Nor had strict restraints on commerce.
How Big Should the Next Garrison Be?
The Earl of Effingham, turned the conversation back to the size of the garrison that should be sent and asked Lord Viscount Townsend if he thought a garrison of “60’000 men would be sufficient to recover America, and entirely subdue it.”
To which the Viscount replied that he could not venture to answer.
To be continued…
Parliment last met to discuss the colonies in America was on May 24th, 1775. At this meeting they were responding to the “Petition and Appeal of Benjamin Franklin of Westminister County of Middlesex”. However, this petition was in regards to a property of Benjamin Franklin’s located in London.
Source: Simmons, R. C., & Thomas, P. D. (1987). October 26th 1775. In Proceedings and debates of the British Parliaments respecting North America, 1754-1783 (pp. 69-122). White Plains, NY: Kraus International Publications.