Adam Smith's Simplified Wealth of Nations, Book 4, Chapter 7j: Colony assemblies and Representation

Chapter 7j: Colony assemblies and Representation

151 Under the present system of management, Great Britain only derives loss from her colonies.

152 The following proposal never was and never will be adopted by any nation: No nation ever voluntarily gave up the dominion of any province no matter how:
Such sacrifices are always mortifying to the pride of every nation.
153 For any province to be advantageous to its empire, it should afford a peacetime revenue sufficient for:
"Every province necessarily contributes to increase the expence of that general government."


Colony Assemblies

154 The colonies may be taxed by their own assemblies or by the British parliament. 155 It seems improbable that the colony assemblies can ever levy a public revenue sufficient to: It took a long time before even the parliament of England, under the eye of the sovereign, could be:

Such a system of management could only be established in the English parliament by distributing among the parliament members a part of:

But it is difficult for the sovereign to manage the colony assemblies in the same way as the parliament due to their:

It would be absolutely impossible to distribute among all the leading members of all the colony assemblies a share of the offices of the general government of the British empire.

  • Almost the whole emoluments were divided among people who were strangers to them.
  • The following renders such a system of management unfeasible:
  • 156"The colony assemblies cannot be the proper judges of what is necessary for the defence and support of the whole empire."

  • The assembly of a province, like the vestry of a parish, may judge very properly concerning the affairs of its own district.
  • Only an assembly which inspects and superintends the affairs of the whole empire can judge:


  • Taxing by requisition

    157 It has been proposed that the colonies should be taxed by requisition. 158 There are many examples of empires where all the provinces are taxed not in one mass.
  • In some French provinces, the king imposes the taxes and the way it is to be levied and assessed.
  • According to the scheme of taxing by requisition, the British parliament would be in the same situation towards the colony assemblies as the king of France is towards the French provinces.
  • 159 According to this scheme, the colonies have no reason to fear that their share of taxation should exceed those of their fellow-citizens at home.
  • If a French war breaks out, 10 millions must immediately be raised to defend Great Britain.
  • Would people readily advance their money on the credit of a fund which partly depended on the good humour of all those assemblies?
  • Since the world began, Great Britain is perhaps the only state which increased its expences without once increasing its resources while extending its empire.
  • To put Great Britain equal with her own colonies on the scheme of taxing them by requisition, it is necessary that parliament have the means to immediately make its requisitions effectual.
  • 160
    If the British parliament establishes the right of taxing the colonies, the independence and importance of their own assemblies, and all the leading men of British America would end.
    161 Towards the decline of the Roman republic, the allies of Rome bore the principal burden of defending and extending the empire. 162 President Henaut remarked that the many little events of the Catholic League [1589] were not very important. 163
    The idea of representation was unknown in ancient times.
    164 We British are afraid that the multitude of American representatives should overturn the balance of the constitution. 165 The Americans are afraid that their distance from the seat of government might expose them to many oppressions. Next: Chapter 7k: Economic Karma