« AnteriorContinuar »
House did annually vote them an acknowledgment of their zeal and strenuous efforts and compensation for the EXCESS of their zeal and expenses, above their due proportion."
A large continental force was at the reduction of Martinique, in 1762, and Spain having joined in the war, they helped largely in the capture of Havana for England. By sea, too, they were no less zealous. It is on record, that their own ships were stripped of sailors to man the navy of Great Britain. It was admitted, in debate, in the House of Commons, in 1775, that ten thousand American seamen were in the British nával service, in the war of 1756. Four hundred armed vessels issued from their ports against the commerce of France and Spain.
For these services and exertions, which are cited as evidence of their warm attachment of Great Britain, they · received tardy thanks and slower remuneration. It is com
puted that they had a just claim upon the British government for £3,000,000 more than the sums voted as indemnity. They bore, in fact, the burden of the conflict, by which an immense territory was won for Great Britain, and a formidable rival finally discomfited.
The return of the government for these services and sufferings would have chilled the warmest affections. It had a strong effect, when subsequently mixed up with more direct aggressions, irf alienating the feelings of the Colonists. The jealousy which had more than once been manifested in England, against the growth of the Colonies, provoked by their political intrepidity, was aggravated into settled prejudice by the strength and resources they had exhibited. Instead of gratitude for the zeal and bravery by which a peace so advantageous had been won, the peace itself had opposers, because it relieved the Colonies from French hostility, and thus lessened their dependence on Great Britain. While the negotiations were pending, a project was seriously entertained, and defended in ministerial pamphlets, to restore Canada to France in exchange for some of her possessions elsewhere, for the avowed purpose of keeping the Colonies in check by an enemy. It was on this occasion that Dr. Franklin's celebrated Canada pamphlet was written to expose the injustice and illiberality of such a treaty. The royal proclamation which followed the peace, regulating the new conquests, contained a provision aimed against the further growth of the colonies westward. It forbade strictly
all settlements in the old colonies, beyond the heads of the rivers that run eastwardly into the Atlantic. Consistent with this same policy, selfish and ungrateful as it was, every discouragement and prohibition was opposed to the formation of inland settlements, with the express design of confining the Colonies, as the Board of Trade, in a subsequent report, officially stated, "within reach of the trade and commerce of Great Britain."
Such was the temper with which the war of 1756 was concluded. Its commencement had been signalized by a similar line of policy, manifested in another mode. The history of the Albany plan of Union, projected in 1754, and which failed from the same unreasonable jealousy of America, is worthy to be quoted here, both in pursuance of our plan of bringing together the principal provocations which led to American resistance, and the proximate causes which disturbed the harmony between the two countries, and as an interesting item of colonial history
War with France had become inevitable, although not declared. Orders were accordingly dispatched from England for the Colonies to hold themselves in readiness. These were accompanied by a recommendation from the Board of Trade, to form a confederation for joint defence, and an alliance with the Indians. Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts, recommended a convention, which was accordingly held at Albany, and a plan of union, drawn up by Benjamin Franklin, was adopted, . and, singularly enough, signed on the 4th of July. It proposed to apply to parliament for an act to establish a general government in the Colonies, to be administered by a President General, appointed by the king, to possess the whole executive power, with a veto power on all laws, and be assisted by a Grand Council elected by the Colonies. They were to have the joint power of declaring war and making peace;' to conclude treaties with the Indian tribes, regulate trade with them, and purchase their lands either in the name of the Crown or of the Union; to settle new colonies and make laws concerning them, until erected into separate govern.' ments; to raise troops, build forts, fit out armed vessels, and use other means for national defence. For these purposes they were to be empowered to lay and collect taxes, &c.'
The Colonies undertook, if this plan were accepted, to defend themselves against the French, without any assistance from Great Britain. Connecticut dissented in convention
from the plan, as depriving the separate colonies of their taxing power, and it was rejected by the king in council, as an attempt to establish too much independence. The counter project, drawn up by the ministry, and transmitted for the consideration of the Colonies, was artfully devised to obtain a general sanction by the Colonies themselves of the parliamentary right of taxation for revenue. It proposed a sort of congress of the
and some members of the councils to act for all the Colonies, and to draw, in the first instance, for the expenditures on the British treasury, reimbursable by "a tax to be laid on the Colonies by act of parliament.” This would have been an unqualified surrender of the revenue power to the discretion of men, for the most part, appointed by the ministry; and it was ably exposed in Dr. Franklin's celebrated letter to Governor Shirley. He therein, after touching the constitutional difficulties, made a bold and convincing summary of the benefits enjoyed by Great Britain in her monopoly of American commerce and manufactures—benefits which he estimated to cost America more for the gain of England, than any fair proportion of the taxes of the United Kingdom. Public attention was keenly awakened by the discussion in that letter, which embodied, in a sententious manner, many argu-/ ments subsequently employed against British supremacy. The projected plan failed on both sides, and Great Britain, however reluctantly, was obliged to bring her own forces into the field, and bear some portion of the cost.
Minor controversies between the royal and colonial authorities also constantly occurred during the war, that tended to irritate and renew old irritations. Though not of importance enough, considered separately, to have permanently affected the relations of the two countries, yet taken in connexion with circumstances immediately preceding, and followed up by grosser aggravations, they were, in a subsequent review of the conduct of Great Britain, believed to be the fruits and the evidence of an inveterate prejudice against the Americans, and a settled hostility against their principles. The royal regulation concerning the
relative rank of colonial officers and the regular troops, created great disgust and dissatisfaction, especially in Virginia, where, but for the magnanimity of the Virginia officers, it would have totally broken up the campaign of 1756, under Generals Winslow, and Abercrombie, and the Earl of Loudon. In the subsequent year, a controversy
of great asperity was carried on between the Massachusetts general court and the British commander-in-chief, Lord Loudon. He undertook to insist upon their providing quarters for the British troops, pursuant to the acts of the British parliament. The demand was at first complied with, warily, and with the protestation that it was granted, not as a "matter of right,” but as a free-will advance of money on the "national account.” Upon a repetition of the claim, the magistrates refused compliance, and were sustained by the legislature, in the spirit and on the principles that afterwards produced the revolution. They told him that the magistrates were responsible to them, and bound only by the laws of the
colony of Massachusetts, and that the acts of parliament, in i question, were not binding in Amèrica. By their charter El they claimed all civil power, the enjoyment of which privi
leges they told him “was their support under all burdens.”
The same year was distinguished by angry contests concerni ing the right of taxation, between the Governor and Assembly
of Pennsylvania. The agert in England, who managed the e controversy for the colony against the proprietaries, was i Benjamin Franklin ; and in that field of inquiry, involving the principles of taxation and representation, his acute mind was trained for the noble part which he was afterwards called T upon to sustain in the revolution. E Other colonies were similarly vexed; but the dispute in + Massachusetts, in 1761, between the prerogative party,
headed by Governor Bernard and Lieutenant Governor (then - Chief Justice) Hutchinson, on the one side, and the people
of Boston on the other, concerning writs of assistance, is deserving of more particular notice, by reason of the boldness
of the doctrines advanced on the colonial side, and their sinfluence on subsequent events. Opposition already existed
to the revenue laws, as administered, and the custom-house officers, representing themselves to be obstructed in the performance of their duties, applied for writs, of assistance, according to the usage of the exchequer in England. The material question arose, whether the practice of the English Exchequer was obligatory on colonial courts, and thence the argument turned upon the character of the process prayed for. James Otis, who was Advocate General for the Admiralty, resigned his office, to appear in behalf of the citizens of Boston, in opposition to the claim. His speech has been quoted by Ex-President, the first Adams, as a masterly
exposition of colonial rights, under the charters, and of human rights, independently of all charters, against all assumptions of unjust power in every form, whether by force of precedents, the usurpations of monarchy, or the decisions of legal tribunals against the principles of liberty. He went over the history of the charters, and those who founded the colony "by the sweat of their brows; at the hazard and sacrifice of their lives; without the smallest aid, assistance, or comfort from the government of England, or from England as a nation-On the contrary, meeting with constant jealousy, envy, and intrigue against their charter, their religion, and all their privileges," and " reproached the nation, parliament, and king with injustice, illiberality, ingratitude, and oppression in their conduct.”
His courageous argument and spirited invective carried the point in favour of popular rights. The demand for the writ was in effect defeated. If granted by the court at all
, which is an uncertain point, it never was formally announced, and they certainly were never used. Mr. Adams, who heard the oration of Otis, thought it the ablest he ever knew, and ranked it among the principal preparatory events to the revolution. He adds, “I do say, in the most solemn manner, that Mr. Otis' oration against writs of assistance breathed into this nation the breath of life.”
The records of those times furnish us with many similar instances which we might quote, of harshness and unkind. ness on the one side, and resentment and remonstrance on the other; of power occasionally assuming the port of tyranny, and resistance rising almost to independence. They may also be traced, fewer and less palpable in their effects, back through the whole colonial history. We cite them here partly as signs of the prevailing temper of the Colonies; but chietly to mark the disposition of the mother country towards them, under circumstances calling for grateful indulgence and support. At the very time when Americans were pouring out their best blood in every part of the continent, for her glory and advantage,- in Canada, on the Ohio, in the West Indies; fighting her battles and conquering for her, possessions larger in extent than the whole United Kingdom; she was, without compunction, prosecuting, as fast as her own share of these dangers gave her leisure, a scheme to deprive them of rights earned by two centuries of patient industry and indomitable courage.
We have seen that in the peace