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The acts respecting new taxes, the quartering of troops, judicial proceedings, the embargo on Boston, &c. : it was also necessary to repeal.*

To this effect an able and eloquent address was drawn up to the inhabitants of Great Britain, and also an address to the king; but at the same time-in order to give greater weight to these measures-all commercial intercourse with Great Britain was broken off until their grievances should be removed. Still the assurance was repeated, that nothing new was meditated ; and that all they sought was the restoration and preservation of heir former peace, liberty, and safety.

When the congress had thus performed its task, with seriousness, moderation, order, and prudence, it dissolved itself on the 26th of October; but not until it had made the necessary arrangements for a second meeting. Every where its orders were readily obeyed; and while the old forms of government still subsisted, they had in fact entirely lost their power and efficacy. One spirit seemed to animate all, and the enthusiasm on behalf of the public welfare exceeded all calculation. The merchants and country people submitted without demur to very strict regulations respecting trade, and the exportation of their produce; and each individual assented to unwonted deprivations and new obligations. A cheerful gaiety was exhibited in the midst of all these sufferings; for the attainment of freedom seemed worthy of all price. Thus all were exalted above themselves to a pitch of self-denial, devotion, and courage, which the cold prudence of quiet times can scarcely comprehend.

Yet instructive and warning as these events and manifestations must have been to every unprejudiced observer, the Parliament newly assembled in November, 1774, agreed with the former one: thus proving that a people may be very jealous of its own liberties, while, unhappily, it seeks to destroy those of another. Individual members, it is true, pointed out to ministers, that their anticipations of an easy suppression of disturbances had turned out erroneous, and that they were threatened with the dangers of a civil war; but the majority were still in favor of severe measures; and, among others, Lord Sandwich, the head of the admiralty, spoke in the most contemptuous manner of the sentiments and power of the Americans. The partial resolutions of the congress, he asserted, would not be supported by the people; or, at any rate, they would easily be annulled by the superior power of England. These erroneous views were in a good measure owing to the fact, that the government received their accounts of what was going on, almost exclusively from their own officials; who were either imperfectly cognizant of the true

* Ramsay, i. 248.

state of things, or else sought to enhance the value and merits of their vigilance by slandering the Americans.

No one censured the views and proceedings of the ministry with greater severity and vehemence than Lord Chatham. He pledged his honor, and declared that he would own himself an idiot, if the resolutions that had been passed would not have to be repealed. When ministers retorted, that it was easy to find fault, but difficult to make more judicious propositions, he brought in a Bill, on the 20th of January, 1775, which was designed to effect a reconciliation with the colonies. It asserted the right of the king to send a moderate army at all times into all parts of his dominions; but declared that military force should never be employed to violate and destroy the just rights of the people. The legal constitution and charters should remain untouched, several harsh measures should be rescinded, and an amnesty declared for all that had taken place. A congress might assemble to acknowledge the rights of Parliament over the colonies, and grant a tax to the king, which Parliament might then dispose of Direct local taxation should belong to the Americans; from which, however, the general measures necessary for the regulation of commerce in a great kingdom were essentially distinct. “ As to the metaphysical refinements,” said Chatham," attempting to show that the Americans are equally free from legislative control and commercial restraint, as from taxation for the purpose of revenue, I pronounce them futile, frivolous, and ground

Lord Sandwich's declaration, that Chatham's bill seemed rather the work of an American (turning to Franklin, who was present) than of a British nobleman, was certainly unfounded; since the colonists, for the reasons already mentioned would have been but little gratified with the measures proposed: but be that as it may, it is a proof of passion and hastiness, that this and similar propositions of the greatest statesman in England, should be rejected at once, and without serious deliberation.

The new Parliament, which, without subjecting itself to censure, might have repealed many of the acts of the former one, on the contrary proceeded with hasty steps in the same course, prohibited the reception of any more petitions from the Americans, and declared their acts rebellious. Yet notwithstanding this more than dubious proceeding, Lord North said: "I have not the least doubt that the dispute with America will be ended speedily, happily, and without bloodshed.”

By way of nearer approach to this peaceful consummation, commands were issued to increase the number of troops in Boston, and to place a .general embargo on American trade, including

* Belsham, vi. 102, 104. Genz, l. c. p. 40.


the fisheries in Newfoundland. It was, indeed, remarked by some, that the restraints on the fisheries would operate also to the serious injury of Great Britain; that such proceedings were more cruel than were customary, even against enemies; that they would drive the American fishermen to the extremities of famine, compel them to become soldiers, &c. But the majority replied: The Americans themselves have given occasion for the measures complained of, and commenced hostilities against English trade. They must be shown that England is not more powerless than they; and members must not shrink from adopting such means as are the best, because leading most speedily to the desired result.

Still, in order not to put an end to all thoughts of an accommodation, or with the design of creating differences between the colonies, Lord North, in February, 1775, made the proposition, that if any of the colonies would grant and place at the disposal of Parliament a proportionate sum for the common defence of the empire, and make provision for the support of the civil government and the administration of justice within their confines, and if such grants and provisions should be approved of by the king and Parliament, then during such contributions the duties should be taken off

, excepting such as might seem necessary for the regulation of trade, and the income from these should be expended for their benefit.

The ministers maintained, that in case the opposition of the Americans was founded solely on the grounds which they professed, they must necessarily accept the proposition made them; a rejection of which would completely prove that they cherished other and criminal designs. The whole proposition, however, met with but little acceptance even in England, and much less in America. The claims of Parliament to unconditional power, it was here said, are but awkwardly concealed; it desires to treat with single states, in order that it may work on some by fear and on others by self-interest, and thus dissolve their union. Assent to a permanent tax leads to tyranny. England's monopoly of trade comprises within itself a taxation of America; and if the mother-country desires to obtain still more, Americans must be allowed to carry on their trade as freely as Britons. The proposition, it was continued, contains no renunciation of the rights of taxation, and forgets that the internal government and administration of justice are wholly under the direction of American assemblies. On these and similar grounds, Lord North's proposition, which had been carried in the House of Commons by a vote of 274 to 88,* was in America unanimously rejected. Milder proposals on the part of Edmund Burke, to redress the well-founded complaints of the Americans and acknowledge their right of self-taxation, were rejected by a vote of 184 to 51.*

* Belsham, vi. 124.

Prophetically he said: “ Force in the long run can never succeed, its effect is always uncertain. It is impossible to change opinions arising from descent, education, religion, position, &c.; two millions of men cannot be brought before a criminal court, but we must take things as they are, and hold fast to undeniable facts. Shall we destroy that which made the colonies great, destroy them to bring them to obedience ? On the contrary the Americans must be won to the constitution of the British empire.

This does not require the reception of their deputies in the English House of Commons, but the recognition of their own constitutions and of the right of self-taxation. It is by no means impossible to find out a proper position to be occupied by the American constitutions with regard to that of Great Britain; and the fear that in case of such a concession no more money would be granted by the Americans, appears, as England itself demonstrates, wholly unfounded. But after all, the idea of drawing money from America to England is certainly preposterous. American taxes must be expended in America, and it must not be forgotten that the colonies are still of use, directly in commerce and indirectly in war.”

In the meantime New York, which it had been sought to gain over by a milder treatment than common, was striving after the same rights as the other states; and the increasing distress, arising in great measure from the suppression of the fisheries, aug. mented the hatred against England. The Americans, however, with great prudence and foresight, avoided the appearance of being the aggressors; they wished to awaken sympathy for their righteous cause, and not by passionate errors to diminish the number of their friends. But when General Gage undertook to destroy their arms and ammunition, a skirmish took place at Lexington between the king's troops and the Americans: the first blood of citizens flowed on the 19th of April, 1775, the immediate cause of war being the claim to impose a tax from which it was well known there could remain no surplus for England.

The English relied upon their ascendency by land and sea, their wealth, military stores, and experience in warfare, upon their government directed from a single point, and the knowledge of the art of war possessed by their generals and admirals. The Americans took into the account the weakening effect of the listance between England and themselves, their more accurate * Belsham, vi. 74. Burkeon Amer. Conciliation, 224 March, 1775. Works, iii. 23. Ramsay, i. 367.

knowledge of their own country, and above all the righteousness of their good cause. The enthusiasm in favor of the war, not against the king but against the English ministry, was universal; and preachers, judges, public officers, the press, all labored unanimously for the same object. In a greater battle fought at Bunker Hill

, near Boston, on the 17th of June, 1775, the English it is true gained the victory over the undisciplined American troops; but they met with such an obstinate resistance, and suffered so heavy a loss, that it furnished serious occasion to new councils and deliberations on both sides.

On the 10th of May preceding this event, the congress had met a second time, and had drawn up vindicatory addresses to Great Britain, Ireland, and Jamaica, and also a suitable petition to the king. To this last no answer was vouchsafed, because the rebels made no offer of subjection, and had in view only to gain time. This rejection embittered even the moderate party, who, although aiming at the establishment and recognition of a free constitution, did not regard as desirable an entire dissolution of the connection with Great Britain.

The motion of the Duke of Richmond on the 10th of November, 1775, that the representations of the congress to the king presented an opportunity for new negotiations and a settlement of differences, was rejected as before.* The old tories, the high church zealots, and the whigs, with whom the maxim of the omnipotence of Parliament outweighed all other considerations, stood united against the smaller number of those who were styled American democrats.t

Five months later, on the 17th of March, 1776, Boston was taken by the Americans; and a few weeks afterwards, almost all the governors had fled, and the royal authority had become loosened to such an extent, that on the 7th of June, Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, moved in congress to declare the independence of the North American states. A document was soon after drawn up by Thomas Jefferson, entitled the Declaration of Independence, and submitted to the examination of a committee. It was then taken up by the congress; and having, after an earnest debate, been altered in a few points, it was almost unanimously adopted on the 4th day of July.

It enumerates all the evils, oppressions, and wrongs, which the Americans considered themselves to have suffered from England and especially from the king and government, and declares the eternal and inalienable rights which God has given to his creatures, namely life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

* Belsham, vi. 181, 204.

† Dr. Johnson said: “The Americans are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for any thing we allow them short of hanging.” M'Gregor's America, i. 30.

| The only opponent was Mr. Dickinson.

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