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Thoughts on the Letter of Edmund Burke

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Thoughts on the Letter of Edmund Burke

Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon

This pamphlet was published by the 4th Earl of Abingdon as a riposte to Edmund Burke's April 1777 letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol On the Affairs of America. Abingdon and Burke both opposed the war against Britain's rebelling American colonies. In his letter, Burke contended that the most productive means of protest against the American policies of the administration led by Lord North, was for the opposition to abstain from parliamentary debates. It was a stance that Abingdon opposed. In this pamphlet, he argues that by debating and amending the administration's American legislation, the opposition could soften its effects. He reasons that "the physician that stops the progress of a disease, may, at one time or another, hope for its cure; but he that leaves the disease to the efforts of nature alone, trusts to a cause that is very unsure in the effect." Abingdon also declares his belief that if the American colonists were British subjects then parliamentary representation for the purposes of taxation was their "hereditary indispensible privilege." He proceeds to attack the Declaratory Act of 1766 whereby Parliament asserted its right to legislate for the American colonies. He denounces it to be "subversive of the Constitution" and to have "tyranized" the Americans.

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