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:14 PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
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A MERICAN REVOLUTION
THE triumphant issue of the contest with France seemed to have placed the British empire in America on a foundation at once solid and permanent. The possession of the whole eastern coast, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic ocean, secured it almost completely against any other European power, without whose support the natives could make only a very feeble and desultory resistance. The population, the wealth, and advancing commerce of these colonies, inspired sanguine and indeed chimerical hopes of future advantage. They had co-operated most cordially, by strenuous efforts and great sacrifices, in the arduous contest waged on their soil by Britain and her powerful rival; and the exultation of common success cemented still more closely the mutual ties. The most friendly feelings appeared to be mutually cherished ; and nothing indicated the approach of that fatal crisis which was to rend the empire asunder, and to begin the separation between the Old and the New Worlds.
There were not wanting, indeed, circumstances secretly tending toward this result. The colonies had always professed a firm and zealous allegiance to the king; and even Mr. Marshall admits, that to the very latest period they did not generally dispute the supreme legislative power of parliament: yet they had at the same time shown an extreme anxiety to manage their affairs in their own way; and during their silent growth, when communication was tedious and unfrequent, they generally attained this object. Occasionally the monarchs were seized with jealous feelings, and sent out strict and imperious mandates; but the planters, by delay, coupled with firm and respectful remonstrance, usually contrived to evade their execution. The discouragement to their manufactures, though unfair, was of little consequence, when such branches of industry would at all events have been premature. The monopoly of their commerce, though a more serious evil, was so accordant with the contracted views of the age, that they never thought of disputing the right, or expecting it not to be enforced. It was, besides, executed with so much laxness, that the most lucrative dealings were carried on clandestinely with very little interruption. On this point British jealousy was at length roused ; customhouses were erected, and cruisers stationed along the coast.
In Great Britain, meanwhile, the light under which the colonies were viewed underwent a material alteration. Free nations, it has been often observed, are peculiarly apt to domineer over subject states. The people regarded with the highest complacency their sway over a vast transatlantic empire: according to Lord Chatham, even the chimney-sweepers on the streets talked boastingly of their subjects in America. The entire subservience of the settlers, the power of parliament to impose upon them both laws and taxes, had always at home been held undisputed. In their infant state, however, when struggling with poverty and danger, there had been neither motive nor disposition to enforce these claims; and the occasional attempts to subvert their privileges, having been made in a violent inanner by arbitrary and unpopular monarchs, had excited sympathy among the great body of the nation. The case was altered, when they had attained a degree of prosperity which enabled them undoubtedly to make a certain contribution toward the general interests of the empire; and some benefit might reasonably be expected from the vast exertions made in order
derangement of the national finances. The budget of 1764 exhibited an expenditure hitherto unprecedented, leaving a deficiency of about three millions, which was with difficulty supplied by temporary resources and by encroachment on the sinking fund. Successive changes in the ministry had raised to its head George Grenville, an honest statesman, of great political knowledge and indefatigable application ; but his mind, according to the able view of his character drawn by Burke, could not extend beyond the circle of official routine, and was unable to estimate the result of untried measures. He saw only the emptiness of the British exchequer, the capability of the Americans to pay a certain revenue, and the supposed unquestionable right to levy it.
Under these views, the minister, on the 10th March, 1764, introduced a series of resolutions, asserting the right and expediency of requiring America to contribute to the general exigencies of the empire, and specifying a stamp-duty as an eligible mode. These formidable propositions, which were to shake Europe and America to their foundations, were passed by parliament in the most thoughtless and careless manner. There is no record of speech or vote against them in either house. Mr. Grenville proceeded, on the 5th May, with as little opposition as before, to bring in an act imposing the intended duty. He showed considerable indulgence toward the colonies, having, on the first moving of the resolutions, sent for their agents, and stated his intention not to push the measure through that session, but to give them an opportunity of passing it themselves,
These resolutions, being transmitted to America, excited the strongest and most hostile feeling; and the colonial assemblies almost unanimously advanced the claim of having the sole right of imposing taxes on their fellow-citizens. They maintained that recent duties on imported goods had materially encroached on this right, which the proposed act would entirely extinguish, and thus reduce them completely to the condition of slaves. The assembly of Massachusetts, however, after passing resolutions to the full extent of this principle, were induced by Mr. Hutchinson so to modify them as to rest their opposition solely on the ground of expediency. The other states, particularly Virginia and New York, took also a decided part, and petitions of the same tenor were forwarded from many of them to Great Britian. Dr. Franklin, already a highly distinguished person, appeared in London as agent for Pennsylvania. He and the others endeavored to impress strongly upon the minister the hopelessness of the Americans ever submitting to this arbitrary mode of taxation.
Mr. Grenville, early in February, 1765, brought his Stamp Act again before parliament. Voices, few indeed, but loud, were now raised against it. General Conway and Alderman Beckford denied the right of taxing America: Colonel Barré, with others, condemned it only as highly inexpedient, and even unjust, while the monopoly of her trade was retained. The latter gentleman began a course of most energetic and persevering opposition to the measure. He repelled the alleged obligations of the colonies to the mother country, describing
FIG. 47.-Portrait of Colonel Barré. them as driven from her bosom by persecution, and raised up by their own energies amid many oppressions; as a people at once noble and truly loyal, but jealous of their liberties, which they were determined to vindicate. The act, however, passed in the Commons by a majority of 250 to 50, and in the Lords with scarcely any opposition. The petitions had been generally rejected, on account of their denying the parliamentary right of taxation ; that of New York was so intemperate, that no one dared to present it. The act received the royal assent on the 22d March, though it was not to take effect till November following.
Virginia had always been an aristocratic colony, and hitherto considered peculiarly loyal ; but her opulent planters now appeared animated by a most daring spirit of independence. The assembly being then in session, Patrick Henry, at that time one of the most eloquent men in America, brought forward a series of resolutions against the proposed measure, supported by a speech, in which he said, “ Cæsar had his Brutus, Charles I. his Cromwell, and George III.-" being interrupted by loud cries of treason, he added, “ may profit by their example.". The resolutions were modified, and different versions are given of those finally adopted ; but they certainly denied, in the most unqualified terms, the right of taxation claimed. Similar sentiments flew like lightning through the other states, which had at first displayed some degree of apathy. The most momentous step was taken by the assembly of Massachusetts, which, on the 6th June, 1766, circulated among the others the proposition for a general congress, to meet at New York, and arrange in concert the means of averting the threalened evil. Nine colonies responded to this call, the others being prevented chiefly by the difficulty of convoking their assemblies. The deputies from Boston, on their arrival, waited upon the governor, and, representing their meeting as regular, informed him of its object and nature. He warned them against it as quite unconstitutional, and which could in no shape be sanctioned; yet without attempting to obstruct the proceedings. In a series of fourteen resolutions they denounced the injustice and ruinous consequences of their being taxed without being represented ; a privilege which, from their distance, they declared
FIG. 48.- Portrait of Patrick Henry: it impossible for them to enjoy. They did not intimate any willingness to raise a revenue themselves, but maintained that the great advantages derived by Britain from the monopoly of American commerce formed an ample contribution. In an address to the throne, and petitions to both houses of parliament, these sentiments were forcibly expressed; yet they declared that their connexion with the empire formed their greatest happiness and security, and that its harmonious maintenance was the object of their most ardent desire. These documents were signed by only six commissioners; while others had authority only to report to their state assemblies. All those bodies, however, ultimately approved the proceedings; and this first united act of the colonies against the mother country bore certainly a most portentous aspect.
But the dreaded crisis arose when the first cargo of stamped paper was landed upon the American shores. Boston was the centre of tumult. On the 15th of August, the multitude hung on a tree the effigy of Mr. Oliver, the stamp-master; and the sheriff, when ordered to take it down, declared it was impossible, without hazarding the lives of those employed. At dusk, the people carried the figure to the town-house, where the council were assembled, and raised three loud huzzas in token of defiance. They then took it to the front of his house, where they cut off the head, after which, notwithstanding the defence made by his friends, they burst open the door, proclaiming their intention to seize him; but he had escaped. The council, having sent orders to a colonel of militia to beat an alarm, was told that it would signify nothing, for the drummer would be knocked down, and that probably every one belonging to the regiment was among the mob. Next morning, Mr. Oliver, to save his life, resigned his office, and whenever any one was heard of who defended or was likely to succeed him, a day was fixed for mobbing his house ; a measure which was preceded by a bonfire in front of the dwelling, and cries of “liberty and property.” The mob, meeting no resistance, proceeded to still greater extremities. On the 26th they demolished the residences of the registrar-deputy and comptroller of the customs; after which they hastened to that of the governor, who not having the slightest apprehension, was with difficulty persuaded by his family do quit it. The peo