Speech On American Taxation "Falsehood Has A Perennial Spring"

Edmund Burke

"Falsehood Has A Perennial Spring"

Context: In the second part of his address to Parliament on American taxation, Edmund Burke, who was a foe to its wrongful imposition and a friend to the American Colonies, gives a history of the subject in America. He points out that at the time of the first American Revenue Act, in 1764, the colonists did not object to port duties and that statements made in Parliament itself showed that the colonists had not entered into controversy with the British government on the first excuse, that the colonists had actually been pushed into rebellion by the actions of Parliament. Burke goes on to point out that several falsehoods about the Americans had been widespread, in addition to the lie that they had been looking for controversy. Burke specifically mentions the false story that George Grenville, the author of the Stamp Act, had proposed to the Colonies that they tax themselves and that they had subsequently refused. Burke then proceeds to dispose of another false report–that no one in Parliament had known of the colonists' dislike for port duties:

Thus, Sir, I have disposed of this falsehood. But falsehood has a perennial spring. It is said, that no conjecture could be made of the dislike of the Colonies to the principle. This is as untrue as the other. After the resolution of the House, and before the passing of the Stamp Act, the Colonies of Massachusetts Bay and New York did send remonstrances, objecting to this mode of Parliamentary taxation. What was the consequence? They were suppressed; they were put under the table, notwithstanding an Order of Council to the contrary, by the Ministry which composed the very Council that had made the Order: and thus the House proceeded to its business of taxing without the least regular knowledge of the objections that were made to it. . . .