's American taxes were received by France
.—coalition of the King
and the aristocracy.
the anarchy in the Ministry was agreeable
to the King
, for it enabled him to govern as well as to reign.
made no tedious speeches in the closet, and had approved the late American regulations; persuading himself even that the choice of tea as the subject of taxation was his own;1
that the law, suspending the legislative functions of New-York
, was marked by moderation and dignity;2
and that abrogating the Charters of the American Colonies
would be their emancipation from ‘fetters.’3
, who wished to retain Conway
in office and had looked into his heart to know how to wind and govern him, attached him by the semblance of perfect trust; showing him all Chatham
giving him leave to treat with his own old associates,
desired to effect through Gower
a junction with the friends of Bedford
, who never opened his eyes to the light that was springing from the increased intelligence of the masses, and left out of view that all his glory as a statesman had come from his opposition to Grenville
, governed himself exclusively by the ancient principle of his party ‘to fight up against the King
and against the people,’6
and set about forming a Ministry by cementing the shattered fragments of the old Whig aristocracy.
He began with Bedford
are one,’ said Rigby
, by authority; ‘and neither of them will ever depart from the ground taken, to assert and establish the entire sovereignty of Great Britain
over her Colonies.’7
avoided all detail as to measures and as to men, and according to the old fashion, satisfied himself by declaring for a ‘wide and comprehensive’ system.
After a week's negotiation,8
and with no plan but to support privilege against prerogative, he announced to Grafton9
his readiness to form a new Administration.
had now to encounter, was greatly his superior in sagacity and consistency of conduct.
Remaining implacable towards
he surveyed calmly the condition of the
chequered factions, which had been so freshly and so loosely put together; he saw that his own consent to their union would set them at variance among themselves11
and he gave Rockingham
leave to revive, if he could, the exclusive rule of the great Whig families.
He knew that he was master of the field.
may make a page first Minister,’12
said Lord Holland.
The day was past when England
was to be governed by Privilege alone; but with the decline of the aristocracy, the people not less than the King
increased in authority; demanded more and more to know what was passing in Parliament; and prepared to enforce their right to intervene.
All that could be done through the press in their support, was done with alacrity.13
‘Power,’ thought a French observer,14
‘has passed into the hands of the populace and the merchants.
The country is exceedingly jealous of its liberty.’
, self-deluded as to the purposes of his associates,15
summoned his political allies to London
, Shelburne was quieting the controversy with America
respecting the Billeting Act
had foreseen the storm, and without recognising the binding force of the British Statute
, or yet conforming to its provisions, it
had made a grant of money16
for the use of the
army, without specifications.
This, by the advice of the Attorney General
and Solicitor General
Shelburne received as a sufficient compliance,18
and the Assembly went on as though nothing had happened.
The health of Chatham
was all the while growing worse; and his life began to be despaired of. His letters were kept from him.19
Of the transactions that were going forward, he was scarce even a spectator, and seemed to be unconcerned in the event.20
About nine o'clock in the evening of the twentieth, the leaders of the two branches of the Oligarchy met at Newcastle House.
had explained the purpose of the meeting, Bedford
, on behalf of Temple
declared their readiness to support a comprehensive administration, provided it adopted the capital measure of asserting and establishing the sovereignty of Great Britain
over its Colonies.
At this, Rockingham
flew into a violent passion, and22
complained of their calling on him and his friends for a declaration on American affairs; whatever answer he might give, they would throw a construction on his conduct to his disadvantage before the public.23
insisted with firmness on the declaration.
‘We may as well demand one from you,’ cried Rich-
‘that you never will disturb that country again.’
interposed to reconcile the difference25
by substituting an ambiguity for the explicit language of Grenville
Yet the same difficulty recurred on discussing the division of employments.
In the House of Commons the lead must belong to Conway
Against the latter Rockingham
was inflexible; and Bedford
equally determined against the former.
So at one o'clock at night the meeting broke up without any result, though the Duke
of New Castle
, in his vain entreaties, had been moved to tears.26
The next day Newcastle
, whom forty years experience had accomplished as an adept in the art of constructing Ministries by compromise, made an effort to revive the system which had flourished during his long career; and the two parties met once more at his house.
But the difficulty about America
could not be got over.
again avowed his distrust of Grenville27
, and insisted on Conway
's taking the lead in the House of Commons.
This left no possibility of agreement; ‘and we broke up,’ says Bedford
, ‘with our all declaring ourselves free from all engagements to one another, and to be as before this negotiation began.’
During the suspense the King
, who had never been in earnest for a change,28
would not admit Rockingham
to an audience; now that he had failed, he
was received to make confession, that the country required a strong, united, and permanent administration and that he himself could not form one of any kind.
He did not omit to add some reproaches about the past; but the King
was in the best humor.
He bowed very graciously, and Rockingham
bowed, and so they parted.
‘What did the King
say to you?’
eagerly, as Rockingham
came out; and the only answer he could make was— ‘Nothing.’
Once more Rockingham
was urged to join with the friends of Chatham
but he was unaccommodating and impracticable.30
‘He has managed it ill,’ thought Hardwicke
and others were anxious and uneasy.32
A leader of a party had never
done so much to diminish its influence.
Very honest, truly liberal, of a merciful and generous nature, his intellect bore no comparison to his virtues, his conduct no analogy to his good intentions.
Deceived by his reverence for the past, without ability to plan a system suited to his age, he left the field open to those who wished ill to liberty in America
and in England
His enemies were pleased, for he had acted exactly as their interests required; the King
was never in better spirits.33
, too, obtained the credit of moderation by his seeming readiness to retire; and, after the rejection of all his offers to Rockingham
, people saw
him at the head of the Treasury with less dissatisfac-
He retained the confident expectation of an alliance34
, who could not keep his party together without official patronage;35
but for the moment, he relied on Townshend
So Charles Townshend
remained in the cabinet, treating every thing in jest,37
scattering ridicule with full hands, and careless on whom it fell.
was apparently the Chief
; but the King
held the helm, and as the dissolution of Parliament drew near, was the more happy in a dependent Ministry.
The patronage of the Crown amounted to an annual disbursement of six millions sterling,38
and the secret service money was employed to cover the expenses of elections, at a time when less than ten thousand voters chose a majority of the House of Commons.
As merchants and adventurers, rich with the profits of trade or the spoils of India
competed for boroughs, the price of votes within twenty years had increased three-fold.
grumbled as usual.
grumbled also, because the moneyed men of his party did not engage more of ‘the venal boroughs.’40
In the great contest with oppression, he had no better reliance than on the English
constitution as it was, and the charitable purchase of venal boroughs by opulent noblemen of his connection.
‘May the anarchy in the British
for ages,’ wrote Choiseul
‘Your prayer will be
heard,’ answered Durand
, then in London
‘The opposition during this reign will always be strong, for the cabinet will always be divided; but the genius of the nation, concentrating itself on commerce and Colonies, compensates the inferiority of the men in power, and makes great advances without their guidance.’
‘My position,’ observed Choiseul
as he contemplated, alike in Asia
and in America
, the undisputed ascendency of the nation which he called his ‘enemy,’43
‘is the most vexatious possible; I see the ill; I do not see the remedy.’
Anxious to send none but the most accurate accounts, Durand
made many inquiries of Franklin
, and asked for all his political writings.
‘That intriguing nation,’ said Franklin
‘would like very well to blow up the coals between Britain and her Colonies; but I hope we shall give them no opportunity.’
,’ observed Durand
‘there is no one who does not own that its American Colonies will one day form a separate State.
are jealous of their liberty and will always wish to extend it. The taste for independence must prevail among them.
Yet the fears of England
will retard its coming, for she will shun whatever can unite them.’—‘Let her but attempt to establish taxes in them,’ rejoined Choiseul
, ‘and those countries,
greater than England
in extent, and perhaps becom-
ing more populous, having fisheries, forests, shipping, corn, iron and the like, will easily and fearlessly separate themselves from the mother country.’
‘Do not calculate,’ replied Durand
‘on a near revolution in the American Colonies
They aspire not to independence but to equality of rights with the mother country.
A plan of union will always be a means in reserve by which England
may shun the greater evil.—When the separation comes, the other Colonies of Europe
will be the prey of those, whom excessive vigor may have detached from their parent stock.
The loss of the Colonies of France
and of Spain
will be the consequence of the revolution in the Colonies of England
The idea of emancipating the whole colonial world was alluring to Choiseul
; and he judged correctly of the nearness of the conflict.
‘The die is thrown,’ said men in Boston
, on hearing the Revenue Act
had been carried through.
—‘We will form one universal combination,’ it was whispered, ‘to eat nothing, drink nothing, and wear nothing imported from Great Britain
The Fourteenth of August was commemorated as the Anniversary of the first resistance to the Stamp Act.50
The intended appropriation of the new revenue, to make the crown officers independent of the people, stung the patriots to madness.
‘Such counsels,’ they said, ‘will deprive
who now sways the British
of millions of free subjects.’51
And when it was con– sidered, that Mansfield and the Ministry declared Aug. some of the grants in colonial Charters to be nugatory on the ground of their extent, the press of Boston
, in concert with New-York
following the precedent set by Molineux
in his argument for Ireland
, reasoned the matter through to its logical conclusion.
‘Liberty,’ said the earnest writer,53
‘is the inherent right of all mankind.
has its own Parliament and makes laws; and English statutes do not bind them, says Lord Coke, because they send no knights to Parliament.
The same reason holds good as to America
Consent only gives human laws their force.
Therefore the Parliament of England cannot extend their jurisdiction beyond their constituents.
Advancing the powers of the Parliament of England, by breaking the rights of the Parliaments of America
, may in time have its effects.’
‘If this writer succeeds,’ said Bernard
, ‘a civil war must ensue;’54
and the prediction was well founded, for the King
, on his part, was irrevocably bent on giving effect to the new system.55
The Act suspending the legislative functions of New-York
increased the discontent.
The danger of the example was understood; and while patriots of Boston
encouraged one another to justify themselves
in the eye of the present and of coming generations,56
they added, ‘Our strength consists in union.
Let us, above all, be of one heart and one mind.—Call on our sister Colonies to join with us.—Should our righteous opposition to slavery be named rebellion,57
yet pursue duty with firmness, and leave the event to Heaven.’58
An intimate correspondence grew up between New-York
They would nullify Townshend
's Revenue Act by consuming nothing on which he had laid a duty; and avenge themselves on England
by importing no more British goods.
At the beginning of this excitement, Charles Townshend
was seized with fever, and after a short illness, during which he met danger with the unconcerned levity that had marked his conduct of the most serious affairs,59
he died at the age of forty-one, famed alike for incomparable talents, and extreme instability.60
Where were now his gibes?61
Where his flashes of merriment that set the table in a roar; his brilliant eloquence which made him the wonder of Parliament?
If his indiscretion forbade esteem, his good-humor dissipated hate.
He had been courted by all parties, but never possessed the confidence of any. He followed no guide, and he had no plan of his own. No one wished him as an adversary; no one trusted him as an associate.
spoke with boldness; but at heart he was as
timid as he was versatile.
He had clear conceptions, depth of understanding, great knowledge of every branch of administration,62
and indefatigable assiduity in business.
During the last session of Parliament, his career had been splendid and successful.
He had just obtained the Lord Lieutenancy
for his brother, and a Peerage for his wife, to descend to his children;63
and with power, fortune, affection, and honors clustering around him, he fell in the bloom of manhood, the most celebrated statesman who has left nothing but errors to account for his fame.
The choice of his successor would decide on the continuance of the Ministry, of which his death seemed to presage the overthrow.
a good judge, esteemed Grenville
by far the ablest financier in England
, and greatly feared his return to office.
It was believed, that on the day of Townshend
's death, Grafton
advised the recall of Grenville
; and that the King
replied with strong emotion, ‘Never speak to me again of that man; for I never, my life long, will see him.’65
himself has the greatest distrust of those who would rule him, so that he never will let any one prevail,’ said the Princess Amelia; ‘were Bute
and the Princess
no more, Ministers would not be more stable.’66
own sure instinct, he directed that the vacant place
should be offered to Lord North.
Receiving the summons, North hastened to London
, declined the office from fear of his inability to cope with Grenville
on questions of finance, returned to the country, and changed his mind just in season to accept67
before the appointment of another.
At that time Lord North was thirty-five years old, having seen the light in the same year with Washington
While the great Virginian
employed himself as a careful planter, or fulfilled his trust as a colonial legislator, or, in his hour of leisure, leaning against the primeval oaks on the lawn at Mount Vernon
, in full view of the thickly forested hill which now bears the Capitol
, mused on the destinies of his country and resolved to preserve its liberty, Lord North entered the cabinet, in which he was to remain for fifteen of the most eventful years in the history of Britain.
He was a Minister after the King
's own heart; not brilliant, but of varied and extensive knowledge; good-humored and able; opposed to republicanism, to reform, and to every popular measure.
He had voted for the Stamp Act, and against its repeal;68
and had been foremost in the pursuit of Wilkes
Though choleric, he was of an easy temperament; a friend to peace, yet not fearing war; of great personal courage, which however partook something of apathy; rarely violent; never enterprising; of such moderation in his ambition, his
wishes and his demands, that he seemed even disin-
His judgment was clear and his perceptions quick; but his power of will was feeble; a weakness which only endeared him the more to his royal master, making his presence soothing, not by arts of flattery, but by the qualities of his nature.
He took a leading part in the conduct of affairs, just as the people of America
were discussing the character of the new Revenue Act, which the King
had not suggested; which no living member of the cabinet would own; which Grafton
, the Prime Minister
, described as ‘absurd;’ but which was left as the fatal bequest of Charles Townshend
to his successors and his country.69
The new taxes were not to be collected till the twentieth of November; and should the Sons of Liberty effect a universal agreement to send for no more goods from Britain, no customs would, even then, fall due. ‘But such a confederacy,’ said Bernard
‘will be impracticable without violence;’ and he advised a regiment of soldiers as the surest way of ‘inspiring notions of acquiescence and submission.’
‘Ships of war and a regiment,’ said Paxton
‘are needed to ensure tranquillity.’
Never was a community more distressed or
divided by fear and hope, than that of Boston
There the American Board of the Commissioners
of the Customs was to be established; and to that town the continent was looking for an example.
words were spoken,72
rash counsels conceived.
Commissioners,’ said the more hasty, ‘must not be allowed to land.’—‘Paxton
must, like Oliver
, be taken to Liberty Tree
or the gallows, and obliged to resign.’—‘Should we be told to perceive our inability to oppose the mother country,’ cried the youthful Quincy
, ‘we boldly answer, that in defence of our civil and religious rights, with the God of armies on our side, we fear not the hour of trial; though the host of our enemies should cover the field like locusts, yet the sword of the Lord
As the lawyers of England
all now decided, that American taxation by Parliament was legal and constitutional, the press of Boston
sought support in something more firm than human opinion, and more obligatory than the acts of irresponsible legislation.
‘The law of nature,’ said they,74
‘is the law of God, irreversible itself and superseding all human law. It perfectly reconciles the true interest and happiness of every individual, with the true interest and happiness of the universal whole.
The laws and constitution of the English Government
are the best in the world, because they approach nearest to the laws God has established in our nature.
Those who have attempted this barbarous violation of the most sacred rights of their country, deserve the name of rebels and traitors, not only against the laws of their country and their King
, but against Heaven itself.’
Province called to province.
‘A revolution must
inevitably ensue,’ said a great student of scripture prophecies,75
in a village of Connecticut
‘We have discouraging tidings from a mother country,’ thought Trumbull
have been firmly attached to Great Britain
; nothing but severity will dissolve the union.’
, revolution was rapidly advancing.
Faith in the integrity of Parliament was undermined;77
men were convinced that arbitrary will might be made the sole rule of government by a concert with Parliament; and they called to mind the words of Locke
, that when the constitution is broken by the obstinacy of the Prince
, ‘the people must appeal to Heaven.’78
The nation had the right to resist; and they who deserved to enjoy liberty would find the means.
A petition to the Governor79
to convene the Legislature having been rejected with ‘contempt,’80
the inhabitants of Boston
, ever sensitive to ‘the sound of Liberty,’81
assembled on the twenty-eighth of October, in Town Meeting
, and voted to forbear the importation and use of a great number of articles of British produce and manufacture.
They appointed a committee for obtaining a general subscription to such an agreement, and, to extend the confederacy, ordered
their resolves to be sent to all the towns in the Pro-
vince and also to the other Colonies.82
It was observable that Otis
, heretofore so fervid, on this occasion recommended caution, and warned against giving offence to Great Britain
Even the twentieth of November passed away in quiet.
Images and placards were exhibited; but they were removed by the friends of the people.
A Town Meeting
was convened to discountenance riot.
, in a long speech, which was said to have been entirely on the side of Government,84
went so far as to assert the King
's right to appoint officers of the customs in what manner and by what denominations he pleased; and he advised the Town
to make no opposition to the new duties.
But months elapsed before any ship arrived laden with goods that were dutiable.
The prospect of having their avarice gratified, blinded Hutchinson
The latter reported that the faction ‘dared not show its face,’ that ‘the Province would recover its former reputation’ for loyalty.
‘Our incendiaries seem discouraged,’ wrote Hutchinson
; and as he travelled the Circuit
, he spread it through the country, that the New-Yorkers were all for peace, that the people of Boston
would be left alone.
But on the banks of the Delaware
the illustrious Farmer, John Dickinson
, of Pennsylvania
, who had been taught from his infancy to love humanity and liberty, came forth before the Continent as the champion
of American rights.
He was an enthusiast in
his love for England
, and accepted the undefined relations of the Parliament to the Colonies as a perpetual compromise, which neither party was to disturb by pursuing an abstract theory to its ultimate conclusions.
His words carried the more weight, because he argued against the new Port Duties, only as a conservative.
‘If once we are separated from the mother country,’ he asked in the sincerity of sorrow, ‘what new form of government shall we adopt?
or where shall we find another Britain to supply our loss?
Torn from the body to which we were united by religion, liberty, laws, affections, relation, language, and commerce, we must bleed at every vein.’85
He admitted that Parliament possessed a legal authority to regulate the trade of every part of the empire.
Examining all the statutes relating to America
from its first settlement, he found every one of them based on that principle till the administration of Grenville
Never before did the British Commons
think of imposing duties in the Colonies for the purpose of raising a revenue.
first asserted in the Preamble of one Act, that it was ‘just and necessary’ for them to give and grant such duties; and in the Preamble of another, that it was ‘just and necessary’ to raise a further revenue in the same way; while the Preamble of the last Act granting duties upon paper, glass, colors, and tea, disregarding ancient precedents under cover of these modern ones, declared that it was moreover ‘expedient,’ that a revenue should be so raised.
‘This,’ said the Farmer
is an Innovation and a
most dangerous innovation.
We being obliged to take commodities from Great Britain, special duties on their exportation to us are as much taxes upon us as those imposed by the Stamp Act. Great Britain claims and exercises the right to prohibit manufactures in America.
Once admit that she may lay duties upon her exportations to us, for the purpose of levying money on us only, she then will have nothing to do but to lay those duties on the articles which she prohibits us to manufacture, and the tragedy of American liberty is finished.
We are in the situation of a besieged city, surrounded in every part but one.
If that is closed up, no step can be taken but to surrender at discretion.
I would persuade the people of these Colonies immediately, vigorously, and unanimously, to exert themselves in the most firm, but the most peaceable manner, for obtaining relief.
If an inveterate resolution is formed to annihilate the liberties of the governed, English history affords examples of resistance by force.
The Farmer's Letters carried conviction through the Thirteen Colonies; the men whose fathers came to the wilderness for freedom to say their prayers, would not fear to take up arms against a Preamble which implied their servitude.