Document 2: Taxation No Tyranny, 1775

Samuel Johnson was a famous 18th century English writer, literary critic, and essayist. He is most well known for writing a dictionary, but he also wrote several political pamphlets in support of the British right to tax the colonies including "Taxation No Tyranny."

Directions: As you read, consider the perspective of Great Britain and the reasons given for the right to tax.

A tax is a payment, exacted (required) by authority, from part of the community, for the benefit of the whole... Of every empire all the subordinate (dependent) communities are liable to taxation, because they all share the benefits of government, and, therefore, ought all to furnish their proportion of the expense.

Our colonies, therefore, however distant, have been, hitherto, treated as constituent parts of the British empire. The inhabitants incorporated by English charters are entitled to all the rights of Englishmen. They are governed by English laws, entitled to English dignities, regulated by English counsels, and protected by English arms; and it seems to follow, by consequence not easily avoided, that they are subject to English government, and chargeable by English taxation.

The Americans are telling one another...That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property; and that they have never ceded (given up) to any sovereign power whatever a right to dispose of either without their consent."... He, who goes voluntarily to America, cannot complain of losing what he leaves in Europe. He, perhaps, had a right to vote for a knight or burgess; by crossing the Atlantic, he has not nullified (cancelled) his right; but he has made its exertion no longer possible. By his own choice he has left a country, where he had a vote and little property, for another, where he has great property, but no vote...Of the consequences of his own act he has no cause to complain; he has chosen, or intended to choose, the greater good; he is represented, as himself desired, in the general representation...It must always be remembered, that they [American colonists] are represented by the same virtual representation as the greater part of Englishmen... [1]

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