Stephen Hopkins

Parliament is Abusing the Rights of Americans (1764)

Role of Government and Rights

Stephen Hopkins argued that men submit themselves to a government and laws because it gives them safety, even though they have to give up personal liberties. Those who are governed by others against their will, and forced by laws to part with all of their property, are not citizens. Rather, they are slaves. The people who first settled the American colonies did so by the permission of their king, and made colonies out of the wilderness out of their own expenses, sweat, and tears. They were British citizens, they were to receive protection and all the rights and privileges of Englishmen, as do their children. The colonial governments granted them allowed them to make laws for their own government. There are very few people who are willing to endure all these hardships to leave their native countries and having to replant themselves, and all for the sake of losing their freedom. The British subjects in America, have equal rights with those in Britain, they don't act like they are privileged or enjoy them as a grace and favor bestowed, but possess them as an inherent right.

Faithful Subjects

The second point that Hopkins make is that the Americans have been faithful subjects and don't deserve to be treated in this manner. Previously they had been allowed to make laws for their own government, purchase lands, acquire goods, and participate in trade; they pay, as an acknowledgement to the crown, a fifth of the money found in the colonies at any time. These rights have been granted by several kings and Parliament. Parliament’s move to extensively tax the colonists has greatly alarmed them; England might shift their focus from making revenue from taxes in England to taxing the colonists, and by all rights it appeared as if it would happen. Men who are taxed at pleasure by others would not have any property left; rather than freed men, they would be slaves. The colonists, though, have always been faithful subjects of the crown: they have raised money, clothed and housed soldiers, along with providing their own men to fight in wars, and their reward is slavery and taxes.