Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

proclaimed. The principal men in the Colonies had received their education in England, and the endearing appellation of the "mother country," commonly used in speaking of her, shows how kindly she was remembered in after life. A voyage to England was familiarly called, going “home." These connexions were numerous in every colony, and the first and best educated men, everywhere in America, were attached to England and Englishmen by personal ties of blood and intimate relations of friendship. Their attachments were strengthened still more by a community of party feeling. The Colonists felt with, and uniformly aided, the

popular party in England, to the extent of their power, and ** sympathized with them in all their adversities, as brethren and

fellow sufferers. To the Tories and high-church men who were

the advocates of arbitrary power in England, were opposed e the Puritans and Whigs, and their descendants, kindred in I blood and in sentiment to the first settlers in this country,

The oppressions of America, whether by the Charleses, or James the II., or the administrations that followed his expulsion, had generally a resisting minority in England; friends

of America, who took up her cause as one of their domestic dis- putes. The violent invasions of the charters, that were so

ably resisted, created no national discord between the countries, because both were struggling in a common cause, for the establishment of common principles, and the same con

stitutional doctrines. The Magna Charta-the Bill of Rights, - and the theoretic freedom of the British constitution, were e invariably appealed to by America, in all cases of controversy

between the colonial legislatures and the lords proprietaries, , or the royal governors. Community of language and litera- ture added new force to these ties; and, what was subse

quently complained of as a great grievance, the close intimacy of commercial intercourse, under the operation of restrictive duties and the navigation acts, had originally, by no means an unfavourable effect. The principles of trade and commerce were not then understood as they are now. The restraining acts of the British parliament, which monopolized the navigation and trade of America, and prohibited many important branches of manufacture, had no sensible effect upon the prosperity of the Colonies, and were deemed to be within the legitimate powers of government. The colonial system was such as the contemporaneous practice of all na. tions and all experience seemed to justify; and without much

critical inquiry, feeling no immediate evil, owing to the laxity with which it was administered, they acquiesced in it; receiving as an apparent remuneration, the protection of the British flag, and the use of English capital. It was not until the commencement of the year 1764, when, under the bold schemes of taxation and subjection, adopted by the ministry, political rights began to be so keenly discussed, that the commercial question was seriously investigated with a hostile spirit. Some of the relaxations of the strict system, which had been tolerated through motives of prudence, were about that time suddenly and capriciously suspended. The Colonies soon learnt, under the smart of this infliction, that however the theory of the British constitution might create a distinction between the two kinds of taxation-for revenue and for the regulation of commerce-both were, in fact, equally repugnant to their natural rights, as well as unworthy of their powerful and prosperous condition. Men's minds then began to stir themselves, in acute inquiries into the whole history of the British policy towards America, and the whole theory of British supremacy. An attempt to raise taxes for revenue, as well as for commercial regulations, ended in the denial of the right to do either; and the affirmance of the power of parliament, to bind “in all cases whatsoever," resulted in the total loss of power. Till the Peace of Paris, in 1763, neither the collisions that had taken place, nor the selfish and oppressive laws which had been enacted, from time to time, had affected seriously the general good disposition of the Colonies to the mother country. Those dispositions continued, subject only to the gradual weakening arising from change of circumstances,-occasionally wounded by some glaring act of tyranny, but never altogether alienated, until the projects of the Grenville ministry, commencing in 17634, which roused the resentment of all America, and united them in the rejection of all political dependence whatever on Great Britain.

It is foreign to the purpose of this work to trace the alternate diminutions and partial restoration of these kindly sentiments, or to detail the various modes, and numerous instances in which the spirit of independence displayed it. self in their actions and principles. Those who are familiar with the colonial annals, know how replete they are with anecdotes of personal and public virtue and heroism-how they abound in the best examples of patient industry, and grave sobriety of deportment, united to the liveliest sensibility to noble actions and motives, and the keenest watchfulness in defence of civil liberty. They must be studied attentively by all who desire a just acquaintance with the facts of colonial history, and the character of the colonists. The limits of the present volume will not permit more than the general sketch, made thus briefly of the principles and motives, and their sources, to which the world owes the establishment of American Liberty by the revolution. Still confining our selves, though less strictly, to results rather than details of fact, to the course of events bearing directly upon the relations between Great Britain and her Colonies, rather chan to a mere narrative of consécutive facts,—the French war of 1756, ending in 1763, at the Peace of Paris, will occupy the ensuing chapter. In it will be found, many of the proximate causes and provocations, which operating on the American Colonies, hastened the separation of the two countries.

2

CHAPTER III.

The Peace of Paris, which, after a century and a half of warfare between Great Britain and France, for supremacy

in America, established completely the British ascendency, was signed at Paris by the ministers of Great Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal, on the 10th of February, 1763. France lost by it all her ancient possessions in America, except the town of New Orleans, and a few scattering settlements on the Mississippi. England gained from France a renunciation and guarantee of Nova Scotia, (then called Acadie, Canada, and the islands in the river and Gulf of St. Lawrence; and from Spain a cession and guarantee of Florida, and all Spanish claims and possessions in North America, east and south-east of the Mississippi. The British American dominions, therefore, extended from the north-eastern extremity of the continent to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Mississippi to the Atlantic; a mighty territory, acquired by immense labour and after many expensive wars, which was destined to be lost to the crown of Britain, in a few years, by its own folly and cupidity. The new acquisitions were erected, by proclamation, in October of the same year, into three new governments, under the titles of Quebec, East Florida, and West Florida. The policy of the English cabinet towards the Colonies then took that decided tone, which had occasionally appeared before, but had never been persevered in against their prompt remonstrances, while the French were in such dangerous proximity. Relieved now from this apprehension, and no longer requiring their aid to maintain the ascendency of the British arms, they commenced that system of government and taxation, which provoked the resistance of America and separated the empire.

What added to the anxiety of Great Britain to strengthen her power over the Colonies, was the great resources they had displayed during that war. They had, in fact, made prodigious exertions-raised troops and money, and continued to raise them, year after year, with unexpected spirit, and far beyond their proportion of service, as part of the British nation. One year with another, they kept twenty

five thousand men in the field, during the whole seven years. When the elder. Pitt, in 1758, called upon the colonial governors for the largest lévies the population would allow, three colonies, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, voted him fifteen thousand men. In one day £20,000 sterling were subscribed by individuals in the town of Boston alone, to encourage enlistment. Minot estimates the cost of that campaign to the colonial treasury of Massachusetts, at £120,000, and to private persons, at £60,000 more. In one year Massachusetts had in the field 7,000 troops, “a greater levy," says Minot, “for a single province, than the three kingdoms had made, collectively, since the revolution," seventy years before. Such was the intrepidity of that ancient and “unterrified” commonwealth—the more commendable, as we shall see, because she was, at the same time, stoutly contending for her privileges against the king's prerogative. The other colonies showed a similar spirit. There were seven thousand provincial troops in the campaign under Winslow, in 1756. In the next year, the Earl of Loudon, the commander-in-chief, made a requisition of four thousand troops, which were supplied immediately from New England. But eighteen hundred of the number were apportioned to Massachusetts, because she had already so many soldiers in the field; yet, when four additional companies were called for in the next year, they too were furnished. Half of the army of Amherst, that made the northern campaign, in which Quebec was taken by Wolfe, was composed of provincials. They were present and active at the capture of Louisburgh-they took the Island of Cape Breton-they conquered Forts Frontenac and Duquesne. We have the testimony of the same Mr. Hartley, from whom we quoted before, in favour of the vast importance of these services to the issue of the war, by which Great Britain gained so much. " The Americans," he said, " turned the success of the war at both ends of the line. General Monckton took Beausejour in Nova Scotia, with fifteen hundred provincial troops, and about two hundred regulars. Sir William Johnson, in the other part of America, changed the face of the war to success, with a provincial army, which took Baron Dieskau prisoner. But, Sir, the glories of the war under the united British and, ; American arms, are recent in every one's memory. Suffice it to decide this question, that the Americans bore, even in our judgment, more than their full proportion; that this i

« AnteriorContinuar »