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under the operation of the same strong moral influences, traits of character nearly uniform. By far the largest proportion of the population, even in the southern plantations, was received directly from Great Britain, or from the northen British settlements. The English language, English customs, habits of thought and political theories, prevailed over every other; and emigrants from all other nations were soon fused into the general mass of English descendants.
The laws, opinions, and institutions, which these had brought with them, were derived from the British constitution, itself the freest in Europe, and were made necessarily more liberal by the democratic tendencies and peculiar condition of those by whom they were re-established. To the theoretical freedom, for which first the Puritans in England, and after them the Whigs contended, they superadded an impatience of restraint, and a repugnance to royal and ecclesiastical prerogative, which were continually strengthened by the absence of all visible signs and memorials of these arbitrary institutions; by the equality of condition existing among themselves; by their peculiar occupation as agriculturalists, and by their physical position in the midst of an almost untenanted continent; and were finally aggravated to resistance and revolution by violent assaults. At the distance of three thousand miles from the pomp of courts, the seductive influences of luxury, the ostentatious pretensions of fashion and wealth, the aristocracy and the peerage ; for the most part simple cultivators of the soil or hardy navigators ;---with no distinctions of rank among them, except sent them in foreign rulers, and were, in consequence, more repulsive to their feelings—with no differences of condition, except in degrees of competence, as they were individually more or less industrious, frugal, austere, laborious, pious, continually spreading over the country fresh settlements
, still more widely removed from connexion with England; and knowing little of her except in the orders and governors she sent them :-nothing existed naturally to conciliate their feel. ings towards the institutions of monarchy. Had no extraordinary dissensions broken out to precipitate the course of events, it would have been not the less impossible for such a people, so situated and trained, and of such dispositions, to remain subject to a foreign power. Everything in their position and character tended invariably to independence; and not only to independence, but to democratic institutions. So
clear was this tendency, while they were yet in their infancy, that when the Commission was appointed, in 1664, by Charles II., to "settle the peace of the Colonies," the famous Earl of Clarendon, in his draught of their instructions, added as a commentary upon the stubborn spirit of the Colonies— They are already hardened into republics."
Though a peaceable separation must inevitably have taken place at some day, not far distant, as surely as the child discovers his capacity to take care of himself, and becomes independent of his parents; it might have happened, as is often the case in the same domestic relation, that dependence would be protracted long after any necessity existed on either side for mutual aid. Affection would certainly have done much to preserve, in America, tender recollections and grateful def. erence, long after power would have failed to exact obedience, or the comparative resources of the two countries would have justified any claim to superiority on the part of Great Britain.
But such was not the relation between Great Britain and the - Colonies. As the parent country, she was, from the begin
ning, an unnatural parent; one who neglected her offspring; - left them to their own exertions for preservation and support;
and never inquired into their welfare, until she thought it time to put in a technical claim to a portion of their earnings. Nothing in her conduct towards them in their weakness was designed or calculated to touch their affections with a sense of gratitude, and fortunately for them, they thus escaped the sense of dependence. They were fugitives from a tyranny, practised under the forms of her constitution, into the wilderness; and no relenting kindness followed them into exile, to sustain them in their labours, or sympathize in their sufferings. With their own means they escaped from her persecutions;
with their own hands they hewed out for themselves habita• tions in the forests; fought their own way to power; built
up commonwealths; established governments; endowed col1 leges, and carried on, at prodigious expense, warlike cam
paigns against their enemies and hers, with scarcely so much } remuneration from her resources as would defray the cost of
her own part of the military establishment, though the quarrels s in the several French wars, were, with slight exceptions, en
tirely her own. They spent vast sums, and lost the flower of I their population, -not to insist upon their claims upon her for i the heroism of their actions, altogether for British objects; in
return for which, they only got empty thanks in the first in
stance, and obloquy and persecution afterwards. Not till they had established a commerce, the monopoly of which was an object of gain to British merchants, were they deemed worthy of attention; and they accordingly thrived on their own strength and industry. History records the jealousy of selfestimation with which they rejected offers of aid, at times when their own means were tasked, and the contest ought to have been exclusively British. Never was anything more foreign to recorded facts, or more revolting to the true spirit of the Americans, than the boast so frequently made during the discussions just before the declaration of independence, by British orators, of the protection, indulgence, and bounty of Great Britain, and the ingratitude of the Colonies. We cannot better describe the true nature of these relations, than in the words of David Hartley, a British Whig of high reputation, who was subsequently one of the British Commissioners for concluding the peace of 1783. Our extract is part of a vigorous speech, which he made in defence of America, in the British House of Commons, in 1775, and is interesting both as an historical item of interest, recapitulating authentic facts, which have an important bearing on the course of events we are describing, and as sustaining, on the best British authority, the fact of the actual independence of the Colonies, of all aid from Great Britain, in the times of their weakness. He said:
“ Whenever Great Britain has declared war, they (the Colonies) have taken their part. They were engaged in king William's wars, and queen Anne's, even in their infancy. They conquered Acadia in the last century, for us; and we then gave it up. Again, in queen Anne's war, they conquered Nova Scotia, which, from that time, has always belonged to Great Britain. They have been engaged in more than one expedition to Canada, ever foremost to partake of honour and danger with the mother country.”
“Well, Sir, what have we done for them? Have we conquered the country for them from the Indians? Have we cleared it? Have we drained it? Have we made it habitable? What have we done for them? I believe, precisely nothing at all, but just keeping watch and ward over their trade, that they should receive nothing but from ourselves, at our own price. I will not positively say that we have spent nothing; though I do not recollect any such article upon our journals: but I mean any material expense in set
ting them out as Colonists. The royal military government of Nova Scotia cost, indeed, not a little sum; abově £500,000 for its plantation, and its first years. Had your other colonies cost anything similar either in their outset or support, there would have been something to say on that side; but, instead of that, they have been left to themselves for one hundred or one hundred and fifty years, upon the fortune and capital of private adventurers, to encounter every difficulty and danger. What towns have we built for them? What desert have we cleared ? What country have we conquered for them from the Indians ? Name the officers name the troops—the expeditions their dates. Where are they to be found ? Not in the journals of this kingdom. They are nowhere to be found."
"In all the wars which have been common to us and them, they have taken their full share. But in all their own dangers, in the difficulties belonging separately to their situation, in all the Indian wars which did not immediately concern us, we left them to themselves to struggle their way through. For the whim of a minister, you can bestow half a million to build a town, and to plant a royal colony of Nova Scotia; a greater sum than you have bestowed upon every other colony together."
*And notwithstanding all these, which are the real facts, now that they have struggled through their difficulties, and begin to hold up their heads, and to show that empire which promises to be the foremost in the world, we claim them and theirs, as implicitly belonging to us, without any consideration of their own rights. We charge them with ingratitude, without the least regard to truth, just as if this kingdom had for a century and a half, attended to no other object; as if all our revenue, all our power, all our thought had been bestowed upon them, and all our national debt had been contracted in the Indian wars of America; totally forgetting the subordination in commerce and manufactures, in which we have bound them, and for which, at least, we owe them help towards their protection.”
“Look at the preamble of the act of navigation, and every American act, and see if the interest of this country is not the avowed object. If they make a hat or a piece of steel, an act of parliament calls it a nuisance; a tilting hammer, a steel furnace, must be abated in America as a nuisance. Sir, I speak from facts. I call your books of statutes and journals
to witness; with the least recollection, every one must acknowledge the truth of these facts."
Thus this wise and upright statesman bore testimony to the spirit and courage of the Colonies, and vindicated their claim to a character for noble independence, at the very time when the ministry was insisting that they should be, in his
forcible description of British legislation, “taxed and talliaged, ; to pay for the rod of iron” preparing for them.
Under such circumstances, physical, religious, ard political, as we have attempted thus cursorily to describe, the peculiar character of the Colonies, as it existed in the middle of the eighteenth century, was formed. Without taking into consideration those active causes of distrust, which were constantly occurring to weaken the feelings of attachment between the two countries, some of which we shall shortly recapitulate, it is obvious, that in a people of such a temper, with so fine a country and but a feeble political connexion with a distant power, existed all the elements of an independent nation. Proud, enterprising, hardy, virtuous-rapidly growing in wealth and consequence, by the expansive nature of their own energies—entirely unrestricted in territory, and untrammelled by ancient errors, they had but few points in common with any other nation; and every year seemed to separate them more distinctly, as prepared for a new and peculiar frame of government.
Notwithstanding these lines of separation gradually diverging more and more widely, and notwithstanding all the original bitterness of feeling and personal disappointments, which the first Colonists carried over with them, it is beyond doubt, that their descendants, for several generations, entertained a lively affection for the land of their European ancestors. Under the severest trials from the aggressions of Great Britain, they still spoke of her with tendemess as of a parent, harsh through a noble temper, misguided by evil counsellors. Most of them had foresight enough to see the tendency of her measures, when they invaded colonial rights, and firmness enough to meet them with instant remonstrance and zealous opposition; yet few ever attributed them to a settled design upon the liberties of America, until the Stamp Act and its successors were passed. Even at a very late period of their dissensions, a revolution formed no part of their scheme of redress; and wise, honest, and fearless men doubted to the very day that independence was