‘The Colonies must assert their liberties whenever
Chap. XLIX.} 1773.
the opportunity offers;’ wrote Dickinson
The opportunity was nearer than he thought; in England Chatham
saw plainly, that ‘things were hastening to a crisis at Boston
, and looked forward to the issue with very painful anxiety.’2
It was the King
who precipitated the conflict.
He had no dread of the interposition of France
, for that power, under the Ministry of the day, feared lest the enfranchisement of the Anglo-American Colonies
should create a dangerous rival power to itself,3
and was eager to fortify the good understanding with England
by a defensive treaty, or at least by a treaty of commerce.4
Louis the Fifteenth was resolved at all events to avoid war.5
From the time therefore that the Representatives
avowed their legislative Independence, the King
dismissed the thought of obtaining obedience ‘by argument and persuasion.’6
The most thorough search was made into every Colonial law that checked or even seemed to check the Slave-trade; and an Act of Virginia
, which put no more obstructions upon it, than had existed for a generation, was negatived.7
Parliamentary taxation was also to be enforced.
The continued refusal of North America
to receive tea from England
, had brought distress upon the