Miscelleaneous Representations Relative to Our Concerns in America
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Miscellaneous Representations Relative to
Our Concerns in America

Submitted [in 1761] to the Earl of Bute, by Henry McCulloh


The idea of stamp duties as a means of revenue in the American colonies did not originate with George Grenville. It had, in fact, been recommended a number of times before the framing of the Stamp Act of 1765. The measure was suggested by Archibald Cummings, a customs official of Boston, in 1716 and 1717, and he recurred to it again in 1722. Stamp duties were also recommended in 1728 and 1742 by Sir William Keith, sometime Deputy Governor of Pennsylvania, and that the policy was seriously considered in the latter year is evident from the fact that Governor Clinton of New York advised against it. At the time of the Seven Years War, the levy of stamp duties was seriously contemplated by the Newcastle ministry; William Pitt favored such a policy, as did also Governor Sharpe of Maryland. However, the individual to whom George Grenville was especially indebted for the policy made famous by the Stamp Act was Henry McCulloh, a holder of vast tracts of land in North Carolina and once a special agent of His Majesty’s Government in the Carolinas.

McCulloh was a typical adventurer in the realm of colonial politics and economics. He is said to have been a merchant of London, and his home was at Turnham Green, Middlesex County. He probably became interested in North Carolina through his relations with Gabriel Johnston, to whom he advanced considerable sums of money between 1726 and 1733; indeed, when Johnston, in the latter year, was appointed Governor of North Carolina, McCulloh loaned him the funds to pay for his commission and to purchase the equipment necessary for his new station in life. In the meantime, McCulloh developed an interest in general questions of public administration and in 1733 his name appears in the Treasury Records. Some five years later, in 1738, he presented to the Treasury two memorials concerning the evils in the quit rent and land system of North Carolina, and asked to be employed to correct abuses and make improvements. These memorials came at an opportune time, for His Majesty’s Government had not been able to secure satisfactory legislation on quit rents from the Carolina Assemblies nor to break up land speculations by the official classes. It was therefore decided to send McCulloh as a special representative of the Crown with power to reform the administration of the land offices and to bring about better methods in the collection of the rents in North Carolina and South Carolina. He arrived in the latter colony in March 1741, and in September proceeded to North Carolina. It is not necessary here to give an account of his mission, save to note that it was a failure; he antagonized the official classes in both provinces and he did not secure the cooperation of the Assemblies. In 1747 he returned to England after an extended tour of other colonies. His experience in the Carolinas stimulated his interest in questions of colonial administration. In England he defended the protest of the Albemarle counties of North Carolina against the act of 1746, which had reduced their representation. He seems also to have been appointed naval officer at Cape Breton, an office which was vacated after the return of Cape Breton to the French in 1748. A few years later, specifically in 1763, he applied to Lord Halifax and the Duke of Newcastle for an appointment either as Secretary of North Carolina or Naval Officer for the Lower James River District. The former appointment he received in 1754, and in the same year, his friend Arthur Dobbs becoming Governor of the province, he was also appointed a member of the Council and appeared in that body in March 1755. However, he did not long remain in North Carolina; he probably returned to England in the same year to attend to business relating to his land grants. Certainly he was there in 1761, for in that year he sent his son, Henry Eustace McCulloh, to North Carolina to represent his business interests in the colony.

McCulloh’s deepest interest in the New World was that of a land speculator. In 1737 the Crown delivered to Murray Crymble and James Huey, trustees for McCulloh, warrants for 1,200,000 acres in North Carolina, on condition that 6,000 foreign Protestants should be colonized. In 1745 the lands were surveyed in tracts of 100,000 acres, which lay on the upper Pee Dee, Cape Fear, and Neuse rivers. Two of the tracts were assigned to John Selwyn and two to Arthur Dobbs, later to be Governor of the province. All grantees were exempt from quit rents until 1756, by which time it was expected that settlements would be completed. Quite naturally there were difficulties in administration. It was found that 475,000 acres were included in the Granville District, and in 1755 a compromise was reached by which McCulloh was to become the tenant of Granville, paying him an annual lump sum until 1760, and thereafter four shillings per hundred acres for land actually settled, and releasing all claims to land not settled. This was the business that probably caused McCulloh to return to England in 1755. With the Crown, also, there were difficulties. By 1754 the number of settlers was only 854, instead of the thousands contemplated in 1737, but on account of the Cherokee War the period at which quit rents were to begin was extended to 1760. There were difficulties in carrying out this agreement, but in 1762 it was decided that McCulloh and his associates should retain the lands actually colonized at the rate of 200 acres for each settler, and that they should surrender all claim for the remainder. But when commissioners began to make a census of the settlers, they met bitter opposition, for many who lived near the South Carolina line claimed land under grants from that province, and others produced grants from the North Carolina land office. In Anson County the authority of the sheriff was invoked by the commissioners, but such was the temper of the people that all effort to apportion lands between the Crown and McCulloh failed. During the Revolution all property rights of McCulloh to lands in North Carolina were confiscated.

Such are the broad outlines of McCulloh’s relations with the Carolinas. His experiences and observations caused him to think seriously concerning two problems of imperial administration. The first was the need of a stable colonial currency; so in 1755 he submitted to the Earl of Halifax a bill for creating and issuing bills of credit under the denomination of exchequer bills of Union, to be in general use in His Majesty’s colonies. If this measure had been adopted, it would not only have solved the practical currency problems of the Seven Years War in America, but might have driven from circulation colonial currency. The other problem which concerned him was that of the terms of the peace that followed the war. This was the subject of a memorial submitted in 1761 to the Earl of Bute, entitled Miscellaneous Representations Relative to Our Concerns in America. Its theme is that England should not be satisfied with taking from the French merely Canada or Guadaloupe, for Canada would be a liability if Louisiana remained a French possession and Guadaloupe a hindrance to mercantilist ideas of trade unless the neighboring neutral islands were also acquired. As this meant that England, under terms of the peace, should take everything in sight, McCulloh was indeed and in truth a territorial imperialist. But given the increase of territory, there remained the problem of imperial relations. It was his opinion that the whole system of administration should be reorganized. The Indian trade should be regulated, and to finance an Indian establishment in the colonies a “stamp duty on vellum and paper” should be imposed. The colonial currency must be regulated and made uniform. Improved channels of official communication between the colonies and England were necessary, and procedure in financial and judicial matters needed reform. A better illustration of the ideals of the new British imperialism that was soon to dominate colonial policy can hardly be found.

And this memorial was not the end of McCulloh’s activity. In July 1763, he addressed a letter to Henry Jenkinson, Secretary of the Treasury in the Grenville Cabinet, in which he gave an account of the taxes collected in the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, noted that a stamp duty at the rates of six, twelve, and eighteen pence per sheet would raise £60,000, and enclosed two bills—one for stamp duties, and one for exchequer bills of credit. This communication was fruitful, for in the following October a comparative statement of stamp duties, including those recommended by McCulloh, those in force in England, and those proposed by the Treasury, was submitted to Grenville, and two days later (October 12) there was a conference between McCulloh and Grenville. Of all this the outcome was the adoption of the Stamp Act as a part of Grenville’s program for colonial administration. Thereafter McCulloh is lost sight of; the date of his death is unknown, but he is referred to as living by his son, Henry Eustace McCulloh, as late as 1768.

The Miscellaneous Representations was discovered by the late William A. Shaw, editor of the Calendar of Treasury Books and Papers, and was published in a small edition some years ago by George Harding, notod English bookseller and bibliophile. It is now reprinted with the permission of Mr. Harding. All the known facts concerning McCulloh may be gathered from Mr. Shaw’s excellent introduction, the Colonial Records of North Carolina, Mr. Bond’s Quit Rents in the American Colonies, Gipson’s Jared Ingersoll, (pp. 116-117), and Smith’s Grenville Papers (Vol. II, p. 373).



Our Concerns in America

In Order to form a right Judgment of the Importance of Canada, with respect to its Trade and Commerce, it may be proper to consider an Estimate of the Profits which heretofore accrued to France, from the said Commerce.

The Furr and Skin Trades was farmed out to particular Persons, [2] who thereby had an exclusive Right to the said Trade; and the Couriers des Bois acted under Licenses, which they purchased from them: the Amount of which Trade, according to the best Information I have been able to get, was one Year with another, about £240,000.

Their Trade in Shipbuilding, Corn, Tobacco, and Lumber sent to France and to their Islands, amounted to about £180,000 per Ann.

Their Fishery at Cape Breton, the Coasts of Gaspesie, and the Coasts of Newfoundland, amounted to upwards of £400,000 more per Ann.

The Freight upon all the aforesaid Trade, upon a moderate Computatn amounted to upwards of £220,000 per Ann. And there were annually employed in the [3] said Fishery and Trade, upwards of 9000 Seamen.

In this View of the French Trade from Canada and the Parts adjacent, it will be found, that, after all the immense Expense the French Government put themselves to, in supporting that Colony, the principal Advantages arising to them therefrom was in the Fishery, and in having a large Nursery for Seamen: But their Views extended further, as their Design was to form a Line of Communication between Canada and Mississippi; and if possible afterwards to open some Ports upon the Western Ocean. But as they have miscarried in those Views; and that we have now the Government of Canada in our Possession, it may be proper to inquire into the Situation of the French in the Mississippi or Louisiana Government, and to endeavor to demonstrate, [4] that, if they even ceded to us the whole Governmt of Canada and afterwards exerted their whole Force in the Louisiana Government, they would be still able to annoy us, and to carry on a large and extensive Trade with the Indian Nations, which border upon the 5 Great Lakes, as well as those which lie between the Mississippi and the Apalatian Mountains.

Before the French made any Settlement on the Mississippi, the Indian Trade as before observed was farmed out to Private Persons who resided in the Canada Government; and several of those Farms were hereditary: which excluded those in the Mississippi Government from having any Share in the Trade in Skins and Furrs with the Ouabacs; the Illinese; the Kikapese; the Puants; the Outagamese; the [5] Malamonese; or any of the Indian Nations to the North and East of the Mississippi. But it is to be presumed that if the French ceded to us the Whole Government of Canada, they would renew their Licenses to such as live in the Province of Louisiana, and use all the Methods in their Power to cultivate a Friendship with the said Indians. And considering the great Emnity that has always subsisted between the Nations of Indians in their Interest, and in ours it is more than probable that the French would be still able to continue the said Indians in their Interest; and to make use of them in annoying our Frontier Settlements, unless we fortify and navigate three of the 5 Great Lakes; which may be a good and effectual Means, under proper Regulations in [6] the Indian Trade, to draw several of the said Indians into our Views and Interest.

In this Light as conceived it will appear, that, if the French are left in Possession of Louisiana, our having Possession of Canada will not free our Frontier Settlements from being annoyed by the Indians, unless we regulate our Commerce with them, and fortify the Lakes: and that if we have Possession of the Lakes and the Territories belonging thereto, and also the whole Province of Acadia, the Remainder of Canada exclusive of the Fishery is not an Object of any great Moment to this Kingdom.

Guardeloupe is an Island of great Importance, and capable of Improvement; and yet if it should be ceded to us, the French Settlers having a Right to all the Lands in [7] said Island, and being from their religious as well as political Principles strongly prejudiced in favour of France, great Part of the Advantages arising from said Island would from those Causes center in France; and many Kinds of French Commodities might be introduced among them by means of their Connections with the neighbourg French Islands. And it might not only have an ill effect in this respect, but the sd Island might also be made a Storehouse for the introduction of many French Goods amongst the English Settlements in the West Indies, and on the Main of America. Therefore, I apprehend that if the 4 neutral Islands of St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Dominica, and Tobago (in which we have a Foundation of Right) were entirely surrendered to us, it might have a better effect, than even the keeping [8] of Guardeloupe upon the aforesaid Terms. And if the Lands settled by the French in the said Islands were disposed of, in the Manner the French Lands were in St. Christophers, they would produce several hundred thousand Pounds to the Crown.

Goree and Senegall are not of that Importance the Public considered them at first, yet, in many Respects, it might be for our Interest to continue them in our Possession; but if it is thought necessary upon any future Treaty to surrender them to the French, as humbly concd, great Care should be taken to word it, so as to prevent the French from claiming an exclusive Right of trading along that Coast. And as the French have for many Years claimed an exclusive Trade to the Gum Coast, great Care should likewise [9] be taken to regulate their Pretensions on that Head.

The Acquisitions we have made in the East Indies are of great Importance, even more than is generally conceived. For, as we are enlarging our Settlements in America, and as the Planters there, as they grow rich, increase in Luxury and Expence, it will be found, that America will in time be a most profitable Mart for the Commodities of the East, and that vast Quantities of them will be consumed there.

Under this general View of Things it will appear evident, that as a trading Nation, it is our Interest to preserve Part of most of the Acquisitions we have made, and not to be content with any one Part, (such as Canada) in consideration of all the Rest. Especially, [10] as the enlarging our Footing in distant Parts of the World will enlarge our Navigation, and assist us in our general Commerce by making one Part of Use in the Improvement of another.

By the Treaty of Utretch, there was a great Enlargement intended to our Territories in America; by allowing us all the Lands which of right then belonged to the 5 Indian Nations, which included the 5 Great Lakes and the Territories thereunto belonging: but by neglecting to form a System in American Affairs, all the Advantages which might have arisen to us, by wise and proper Regulations, were lost; and the French were thereby encouraged to make those Incroachments which gave rise to the present War. Therefore as the want of System was the main Inlet to the present War, if we do not [11] regulate, or establish a proper Course or Rule of Proceeding, all the Advantages we fondly hope for, will vanish into Air. And in the Consideration of this Point, there are several Matters to be attended to, which have a necessary Connection with, and Dependance upon each other. So, that if any one Part is neglected, the whole may fall to the Ground.

The 1st is, To ascertain our Bounds in America, and to have the Sovereignty of the Indians who fall within the said Bounds.

Secondly, To form a System of Indian Affairs, in regulating the Trade carried on with them; in which, particular Care ought to be taken to have all the Colonies act upon one system. And as it will require considerable Sums to make Presents to the Indians, and to put those Concerns upon a proper [12] Footing, it will be absolutely necessary to establish proper funds in America, by a Stamp Duty on Vellum and Paper; and also by regulating and lowering the Duties upon French Rum and Molasses.

Thirdly, If Funds are established to answer the Expence of the Government in America, it will be also necessary to regulate the Currency in the respective Colonies, and to have it the same in all. And if this is done, it becomes equally necessary, to regulate the Course to be observed in collecting and accompting for the Revenues in America; as there are at present Openings for many shamefull Abuses.

Fourthly, As all lesser Systems must depend upon the System observed in the Mother Country, nothing proposed can have its due Effect, unless the Offices abroad are [13] so regulated as to transmit every Matter of Importance, either with respect to the Revenue or any other Matter in America, to the Plantation Office: And then, the Success of the whole depends upon the Rt Honbl the Lords of Trade and Plantations making a due and full Report to the Crown of all Matters that come under their Inspection. For, if the Channels of Information can be obstructed, or varied by different Modes of Application, it will leave Room for Connections which may defeat the whole of what is proposed.

Fifthly, In the forming of new Systems of Government in distant Colonies, many Difficulties may arise with respect to the Prerogatives of the Great Boards here; therefore, as humbly conceived, if anything of this Nature takes effect, it must arise from the Wisdom and [14] Goodness of the Sovereign, in appointing Special Committees for those Purposes.*

The System of the Great Offices here, with respect to America, ought likewise to be attended to; for, if our Course of Proceeding at Home is found to be irregular, it is impossible to redress the Grievances compld of in America. Whereupon I pray leave to observe, that by the System or Course of Proceeding in the Exchequer, the Lord High Treasurer or Treasury [Lords] when in Commission, have not (as hbly concd) a Power to take Cognizance of any Matter but what is properly within the View of the said Court. And from this Cause it was, that all the Officers employed in the Collection of the [15] Revenues of the Crown in Normandy, were obliged to accompt in the Exchequer as the Lord High Treasurer was not at that Time thought to have any Power or Direction over such Officers as were not brought within the View of the sd Court. But from Custom of long standing, and from the Want of forming a System in American Affairs, the Receivers of His Majesty’s Chief Rents in America, and the Auditor General of the Plantations are not brought within the View of the Exchequer, nor is there any regular Check or Restraint upon the said Officers, so as effectually to guard the Revenues of the Crown, and the Property of the Subject. And there are Openings left whereby they may be at liberty to do many Acts both prejudicial to the Rights of the Crown, and those of private Persons. [16] Now as the Auditor General of the Plantations, and the Receivers of His Majesty’s Chief Rents in America, do not give in Bond in the Exchequer for the due Execution of the Trust reposed in them; nor bring in their Accompts to be passed and cleared according to the Rules of the said Court, it puts it in the Power of the said Officers, to oppress and harrass such Persons as may be liable to their Resentment. A recent Instance of which may be given in a present Attempt agst me.

There is another Thing, which as humbly conceived, ought to be carefully attended to, and which has hitherto stood in need of great Redress; vizt That in Petitions of Complaint arising in America, there is no settled Course of Proceeding with respect to the Method of Form which ought to be observed. [17] As they are at present usually referred, and put into a Course of Justice, without first examining (which as conceived, should always be done) whether the Persons preferring the Complaints are properly Parties, and aggrieved by the Matters complained of; or in Case the Complaint arises from Officers of the Crown, whether the Matters complained of come properly within the View of their respective Offices. The omission of which previous Examination is often productive of great Injury to the Innocent; and leaves an Opening for many litigious and ill disposed Persons to injure such as are exposed to their Resentment. For altho’ the Matters may be really false, yet the Delay and Expence given in getting rid of such false Charges, may prove ruinous to the Innocent Party accused. And for [18] this evil, there is not, as I know of, any Remedy or Compensation: For the Courts of Law in the Plantations cannot take Cognizance of a Matter which has undergone the Consideratn of the Council Board; nor does His Majesty in Council ever grant Damages in those Cases to the Party aggrieved; nor do Matters of this Nature come within the Rules or Redress of our Courts of Law here. And this Course of Proceeding has still a further ill Tendency: For when Factions are raised against His Majesty’s Governors in the Plantations, if such factious Persons proceed in an undue and irregular Manner, it is in fact a Suspension of the Govrs Power, and obstructs him in the Executn of his Duty. Therefore if the Complaints against Governors arise only from such as have received no immediate [19] Damages thereby; or if the Matters complained of are only from loose and general Suggestions, in these Cases, as humbly concd, there should be the greatest Care taken to discountenance and silence such Reports, and to put a stop to them in the first Instance. But, on the other Hand, if any Persons were really injured by the Govrs acting contrary to his Instructions, or by his obstructing the due and legal Course of Business, the Subject ought to meet with Encouragement and Relief. But in order to do this, and to distinguish properly between those who have been oppressed, and those who act from factious Principles, all Complaints should be originally lodged at the Plantation Office, where the Records from the Plantations are supposed to center. And this seems to have been the Intention of Lord Sommers in [20] his Plan of a Board of Commerce, and of the Crown in making all the principal Officers of State extra Members of the said Board.

The preferring of Petitions of Complaint to His Majesty in Council, or to the King by the Hands of the Secretary of Slate, and afterwards referring them to the Plantation Office, may in many Cases have an ill Effect, as it is apprehended, that the Rt Honbl the Lords for Trade and Plantation, are thereby in a great Measure limited with respect to their Report: As they have not, (and as humbly concd cannot upon those Occasions) reported upon any Matter that is not within such References. But in the other Course of Proceeding, as their Lordships would judge by the Records, they would be able to distinguish properly between Complaints which arise from Oppression, [21] and those which arise from factious Principles.

By a Statute of 38th Edward the 3d, Chapt. the 9th, it is enacted, that whosoever made Complaints to the King, and could not prove them against the Defendant, should be imprisoned, until he satisfied the Damages and the Slander suffered upon such Occasions, and after make Fine and Ransom to the King. There is likewise a Statute of the 11th and 12th Wm the 3d for the Punishment of bad Conduct in His Majesty’s Govrs which wants much to be explained. The first-mentioned Statute cannot now be put in force, because such Matters were originally determinable before the King in Council, or before the Star Chamber. But these Acts, if renewed and enforced, under proper Regulations, might have an exceeding good Effect with respect [22] to the Course of Proceeding in Complaints preferred to His Majesty in Council. And if the Regulations above mentioned are carried into Execution, it will be likewise necessary to obtain a Law to enable the Sovereign to punish all such Officers of the Crown as deviate from their Duty under such Regulations.

* In 1667, Special Committees were appointed for Matters of State and Grievances, and if renewed may be of infinite use in establishing a System of action in American Affairs.

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