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gained the victory, and thus obtained possession of the country from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. Up to that time (1763) the people had been growing in prosperity, in intelligence, and in the determination to maintain all those rights to which as English colonists they were justly entitled.
Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.” — Motion made in the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, June 7, 1776, by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, seconded by John Adams of Massachusetts.
THE REVOLUTION; THE CONSTITUTION.
1. THE COLONISTS RESIST TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION,
1764-1775. 2. THE COLONISTS MAKE WAR AGAINST ENGLAND IN DEFENCE OF
THEIR RIGHTS AS ENGLISH SUBJECTS, 1775-JULY 4, 1776. 3. THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, JULY 4, 1776-1783. 4. THE FORMATION AND ADOPTION OF THE CONSTITUTION, 1787–
154. American Commerce; the New King ; George III.; how he interfered with Trade. — Up to the close of the war by which England had compelled the French to give up their hold on America the people of this country had prospered. During the war, and for a long time before it, the laws which forbade the colonists to trade with any country except Great Britain had not been enforced. The result was that the New Englanders had made a great deal of money by trading with the French and the Spanish West Indies — sending them lumber and fish, and bringing back molasses and sugar from the French islanders, and bags of silver dollars from the Spaniards.
Now, all this profitable commerce was to stop. A new king George III. — had come to the throne in England. He was
conscientious but narrow-minded, obstinate, and at times crazy. The new government was determined that the old laws should be carried out. Ships of war were stationed along the American coast to stop free trade with the French and the Spaniards. In Boston and other large towns the king's officers began to break into men's houses and shops and search them for smuggled goods.? They did not ask for proof of guilt ; they entered and searched when and where they pleased. New England saw her trade broken up. It began to look as though the king and his “ friends meant to ruin every merchant and ship-builder in the country. James Otis and other leading citizens of Boston protested, but it was useless.
155. The King proposes to tax the Colonies; Object of the Tax; Protest of the Americans. - This, however, was only the beginning of evil. The cost of the late war had been enormous and English tax-payers groaned at the thought of paying out any more money. But the king was determined to send at least ten thousand troops to America, to protect, as he said, the colonies against the Indians and the French. In order to raise money to pay these soldiers - whom the Americans did not want George III. and his “friends” proposed an entirely new
that was to tax the people of this country. But the colonists believed that according to the principles of English law
1 The king had his first attack of insanity- - a mild one — - in 1765, while the Stamp Act was under discussion. In 1788 he felt that his mind was seriously affected; bursting into tears, he exclaimed that “ He wished to God he might die, for he was going mad." He soon became so.
2 The officers did this by general warrants called “Writs of Assistance." These were search-warrants in blank. In an ordinary search-warrant the person applying to the magistrate for it must swear that he has good reason for suspecting the person he accuses, and must have his name, and no other, inserted by the magistrate in the warrant. In the case of the “Writs of Assistance" it was entirely different. The officers wrote any name they pleased in the warrants, and then entered and rummaged the man's house from attic to cellar. Sometimes this was done purely out of spite.
3 Those who supported the king in England were called the "King's Friends,"
the king had no just power to demand his people's money except by consent of the men whom they should elect to represent them in Parliament. The Americans had no such representatives, and, what is more, they were not permitted to send any. For this reason they protested against the tax as a direct and open violation of their rights. The best men in Parliament such men as William Pitt? and Edmund Burke – took the side of the colonists. Burke said that if the king undertook to tax the Americans against their will he would find it as hard a job as the farmer did who tried to shear a wolf instead of a sheep.
156. The Stamp Act. But the king and his friends," with many others, thought that the Americans were like lambs and that they would stand any amount of shearing without even showing their teeth. Accordingly, Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765. That act required that the colonists should use stamps — resembling our postage-stamps - on all important law and business papers, and also on pamphlets and
B newspapers. The stamps cost all the way
I STILLING fram a half penny (one cent) up to ten pounds (fifty dollars). Such a law, if en
British Stamp. forced, would tax everybody in spite of himself; for every one would have to pay it when he bought a newspaper or an almanac, took out a policy of insurance on his house or made his will.
157. Resistance of the Colonists. — Benjamin Franklin,who was in London as agent for the colonies when the law was proposed, fought against it with all his might, but, as he said, he might as well have tried to stop the sun from setting. In Boston, Samuel Adams, the “Father of the Revolution," denounced the act at a town meeting held in Faneuil Hall — the “Cradle of Liberty," as it was called. But the law passed, and the colonists got the news in the spring of 1765. Then the indignation of the people blazed out in an unmis
i The British Parliament, which sits in London, is to England what Congress is to the United States. It is a law that no tax shall be levied on the British people except by members of Parliament elected by the people as their representatives.
2 See Paragraph 142.
8 Pitt thought it was not right to tax America; Burke thought it was not wise to do so.
4 See page 131, note 1.
takable manner. James Otis ? had already declared that “Taxation without represertation is tyranny."
The “Sons of Liberty" in Boston emphasized this declaration by pulling down the building where the stamps were to be sold, and by hanging and then burning a stuffed figure of the officer appointed to sell them. Similar riotous demonstrations occurred all over the country.
158. Repeal of the Stamp Act; the Declaratory Act;
the “ Boston Massacre"; Faneuil Hall, the "Cradle of Liberty."
Destruction of the Gaspee.
- When news of these vigorous proceedings reached London, William Pitt* said in Parliament, “In my opinion, this kingdom has no right to lay a tax on the colonies. I rejoice that America has resisted.” The Stamp Act was speedily repealed (1 766), much to the delight
1 Faneuil: commonly pronounced Fanʼil. 2 See Paragraph 154.
8 See note 1, page 151. 4 See Paragraphs 142 and 155.
5 All dates in parentheses (as in this case (1766)] are given simply to enable the pupil to follow the order of time readily; dates not so enclosed, for instance, 1765, on this page, should, as a rule, be committed to memory.