Saturday, February 9, 2013

February 10: The Greatest Tyranny

   In Parliamentary proceedings of February 10, 1775, Sir William Meredith urged a repeal of the Declaratory Act (1766), “which asserts a right in parliament to make laws to bind American in all cases whatsoever.”  Either quoting or paraphrasing Sir William’s argument, the account read, “The power of God himself was bounded within the limits of strict justice; a power to bind, in all cases whatsoever, had never been claimed by the greatest tyrant on earth, not by any earthly power, before the declaratory act.”   The ominous language of the Declaratory Act provided ammunition for American propagandists.  In Number 1 of The American Crisis, Thomas Paine wrote, “Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but 'to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER,' and if being bound in that manner is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth.  Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can belong only to GOD.”   The account of Parliamentary proceedings appeared in The New-York Gazette; and the Weekly Mercury (New York City), 24 April 1775; The American Crisis, Number I, appeared in The Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia), 31 December 1776, attributed only to “the Author of COMMON SENSE.  
   Parliament only repealed The
American Colonies Act (1766), or the Declaratory Act, with the Statute Law Revision Act (1964).  Sir William was right to consider the Declaratory Act's language unprecedented and unparalleled  Studying the constitutional history of the Australian state of Victoria, Greg Taylor found that the Constitution Acts of 1855 and 1975 gave the Victoria Parliament 
power to make laws in and for Victoria in all cases whatsoever. 
   Other than Victoria's parliamentary powers for its own state and Britain's Parliamentary power claimed for the American colonies, Congress's Constitutional authority over the District of Columbia, Taylor found that the phrase all cases whatsoever” apparently has no counterparts anywhere else.  Greg Taylor, The Constitution of Victoria (Annandale, New South Wales: The Federal Press, 2006), pages 209 and 210note46. 
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