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Colonial Agents

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COLONIAL AGENTS. Most of the British colonies have agents in England, whose duties do not appear to be very accurately defined. The act of 1843, appointing an agent for Jamaica, recites, "that it is necessary the inhabitants of this island should have a person in Great Britain fitly qualified and fully em powered to solicit the passing of laws and to transact other public matters committed to his care for the good of the island." In this case the salary of the agent is 1000/. per annum. A person called " the agent-general" acts for the crown colonies; but where there is a local legislature the appointment is generally made by it. Previously to the separation of the North American colonies most of them bad a special agent in England for the management of their affairs, to whom a salary was given. They were appointed by the Assemblies, and sometimes con firmed by the governor. Sometimes, as in Massachusetts, the legislative council and the Assembly had each its own agent. The persons generally selected were dis tinguished lawyers or merchants, usually the former, and often members of parlia ment. William Knox, under-secretary

of state, was agent for Georgia in 1764 ; John Sharpe, M.P., was agent for Massa chusetts in 1755 ; Charles Garth, M.P., acted for South Carolina from 1765 to 1775, and his correspondence during this period contains a full account of the pro ceedings of the Imperial Parliament. Richard Jackson, M.P., acted for Connec ticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, about the year 1774. Edmund Burke was appointed agent, by the House of Assembly alone, for New York, Decem ber 21, 1770, with a salary of 5001. a year, and continued to act until 1775, when all intercourse with the colony was suspended. The House of Assembly of Lower Canada several times appointed special agents, the last of whom was Mr. Roebuck, M.P., who in that ca pacity, but not at the time an M.P., was heard at the bar of both Houses of Parliament in opposition to the Bill to suspend the constitution of Lower Ca nada. (Pamphlet On the Nomination of Agents formerly aprinted to act in Eng land for the Colonies of North America, 1844.)