By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: The Eve of the Revolution; A Chronicle of the Breach with England
Author: Becker, Carl L. (Carl Lotus), 1873-1945
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Eve of the Revolution; A Chronicle of the Breach with England" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

University, and Alev Akman



By Carl Becker


In this brief sketch I have chiefly endeavored to convey to the reader,
not a record of what men did, but a sense of how they thought and felt
about what they did. To give the quality and texture of the state of
mind and feeling of an individual or class, to create for the reader the
illusion (not DELUSION, O able Critic!) of the intellectual atmosphere
of past times, I have as a matter of course introduced many quotations;
but I have also ventured to resort frequently to the literary device
(this, I know, gives the whole thing away) of telling the story by
means of a rather free paraphrase of what some imagined spectator or
participant might have thought or said about the matter in hand. If
the critic says that the product of such methods is not history, I am
willing to call it by any name that is better; the point of greatest
relevance being the truth and effectiveness of the illusion aimed
at--the extent to which it reproduces the quality of the thought and
feeling of those days, the extent to which it enables the reader to
enter into such states of mind and feeling. The truth of such history
(or whatever the critic wishes to call it) cannot of course be
determined by a mere verification of references.

To one of my colleagues, who has read the entire manuscript, I am under
obligations for many suggestions and corrections in matters of detail;
and I would gladly mention his name if it could be supposed that an
historian of established reputation would wish to be associated, even in
any slight way, with an enterprise of questionable orthodoxy.

Carl Becker.

Ithaca, New York, January 6, 1918.


     I.   A PATRIOT OF 1768



CHAPTER I. A Patriot Of 1763

     His Majesty's reign... I predict will be happy and truly
     glorious.--Benjamin Franklin.

The 29th of January, 1757, was a notable day in the life of Ben Franklin
of Philadelphia, well known in the metropolis of America as printer and
politician, and famous abroad as a scientist and Friend of the Human
Race. It was on that day that the Assembly of Pennsylvania commissioned
him as its agent to repair to London in support of its petition
against the Proprietors of the Province, who were charged with having
"obstinately persisted in manacling their deputies [the Governors
of Pennsylvania] with instructions inconsistent not only with the
privileges of the people, but with the service of the Crown." We may,
therefore, if we choose, imagine the philosopher on that day, being then
in his fifty-first year, walking through the streets of this metropolis
of America (a town of something less than twenty thousand inhabitants)
to his modest home, and there informing his "Dear Debby" that her
husband, now apparently become a great man in a small world, was ordered
immediately "home to England."

In those leisurely days, going home to England was no slight
undertaking; and immediately, when there was any question of a great
journey, meant as soon as the gods might bring it to pass. "I had agreed
with Captain Morris, of the Pacquet at New York, for my passage," he
writes in the "Autobiography," "and my stores were put on board, when
Lord Loudoun arrived at Philadelphia, expressly, as he told me, to
endeavor an accommodation between the Governor and the Assembly, that
his Majesty's service might not be obstructed by their dissentions."
Franklin was the very man to effect an accommodation, when he set his
mind to it, as he did on this occasion; but "in the mean time," he
relates, "the Pacquet had sailed with my sea stores, which was some loss
to me, and my only recompence was his Lordship's thanks for my service,
all the credit for obtaining the accommodation falling to his share."

It was now war time, and the packets were at the disposal of Lord
Loudoun, commander of the forces in America. The General was good enough
to inform his accommodating friend that of the two packets then at New
York, one was given out to sail on Saturday, the 12th of April--"but,"
the great man added very confidentially, "I may let you know, entre
nous, that if you are there by Monday morning, you will be in time, but
do not delay longer." As early as the 4th of April, accordingly, the
provincial printer and Friend of the Human Race, accompanied by many
neighbors "to see him out of the province," left Philadelphia. He
arrived at Trenton "well before night," and expected, in case "the roads
were no worse," to reach Woodbridge by the night following. In crossing
over to New York on the Monday, some accident at the ferry delayed him,
so that he did not reach the city till nearly noon, and he feared
that he might miss the packet after all--Lord Loudoun had so precisely
mentioned Monday morning. Happily, no such thing! The packet was still
there. It did not sail that day, or the next either; and as late as the
29th of April Franklin was still hanging about waiting to be off. For it
was war time and the packets waited the orders of General Loudoun, who,
ready in promises but slow in execution, was said to be "like St. George
on the signs, always on horseback but never rides on."

Franklin himself was a deliberate man, and at the last moment he
decided, for some reason or other, not to take the first packet. Behold
him, therefore, waiting for the second through the month of May and
the greater part of June! "This tedious state of uncertainty and long
waiting," during which the agent of the Province of Pennsylvania,
running back and forth from New York to Woodbridge, spent his time more
uselessly than ever he remembered, was duly credited to the perversity
of the British General. But at last they were off, and on the 26th
of July, three and a half months after leaving Philadelphia, Franklin
arrived in London to take up the work of his mission; and there he
remained, always expecting to return shortly, but always delayed, for
something more than five years.

These were glorious days in the history of Old England, the most heroic
since the reign of Good Queen Bess. When the provincial printer arrived
in London, the King and the politicians had already been forced, through
multiplied reverses in every part of the world, to confer power upon
William Pitt, a disagreeable man indeed, but still a great genius and
War Lord, who soon turned defeat into victory. It was the privilege of
Franklin, here in the capital of the Empire, to share the exaltation
engendered by those successive conquests that gave India and America
to the little island kingdom, and made Englishmen, in Horace Walpole's
phrase, "heirs apparent of the Romans." No Briton rejoiced more
sincerely than this provincial American in the extension of the Empire.
He labored with good will and good humor, and doubtless with good
effect, to remove popular prejudice against his countrymen; and he wrote
a masterly pamphlet to prove the wisdom of retaining Canada rather than
Guadaloupe at the close of the war, confidently assuring his readers
that the colonies would never, even when once the French danger was
removed, "unite against their own nation, which protects and encourages
them, with which they have so many connections and ties of blood,
interest, and affection, and which 'tis well known they all love much
more than they love one another." Franklin, at least, loved Old England,
and it might well be maintained that these were the happiest years of
his life. He was mentally so cosmopolitan, so much at ease in the
world, that here in London he readily found himself at home indeed. The
business of his particular mission, strictly attended to, occupied no
great part of his time. He devoted long days to his beloved scientific
experiments, and carried on a voluminous correspondence with David Hume
and Lord Kames, and with many other men of note in England, France, and
Italy. He made journeys, to Holland, to Cambridge, to ancestral places
and the homes of surviving relatives; but mostly, one may imagine,
he gave himself to a steady flow of that "agreeable and instructive
conversation" of which he was so much the master and the devotee. He was
more famous than he knew, and the reception that everywhere awaited him
was flattering, and as agreeable to his unwarped and emancipated mind
as it was flattering. "The regard and friendship I meet with," he
confesses, "and the conversation of ingenious men, give me no small
pleasure"; and at Cambridge, "my vanity was not a little gratified by
the particular regard shown me by the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor of
the University, and the Heads of the Colleges." As the years passed,
the sense of being at ease among friends grew stronger; the serene and
placid letters to "Dear Debby" became rather less frequent; the desire
to return to America was much attenuated.

How delightful, indeed, was this Old England! "Of all the enviable
things England has," he writes, "I envy it most its people.... Why
should this little island enjoy in almost every neighborhood more
sensible, virtuous, and elegant minds, than we can collect in ranging
one hundred leagues of our vast forests?" What a proper place for a
philosopher to spin out the remnant of his days! The idea had occurred
to him; he was persistently urged by his friend William Strahan to carry
it into effect; and his other friend, David Hume, made him a pretty
compliment on the same theme: "America has sent us many good things,
gold, silver, sugar, tobacco; but you are the first philosopher for whom
we are beholden to her. It is our own fault that we have not kept him;
whence it appears that we do not agree with Solomon, that wisdom is
above gold; for we take good care never to send back an ounce of the
latter, which we once lay our fingers upon." The philosopher was willing
enough to remain; and of the two objections which he mentioned to
Strahan, the rooted aversion of his wife to embarking on the ocean and
his love for Philadelphia, the latter for the moment clearly gave him
less difficulty than the former. "I cannot leave this happy island and
my friends in it without extreme regret," he writes at the moment of
departure. "I am going from the old world to the new; and I fancy I
feel like those who are leaving this world for the next; grief at the
parting; fear of the passage; hope for the future."

When, on the 1st of November, 1762, Franklin quietly slipped into
Philadelphia, he found that the new world had not forgotten him. For
many days his house was filled from morning till night with a succession
of friends, old and new, come to congratulate him on his return;
excellent people all, no doubt, and yet presenting, one may suppose, a
rather sharp contrast to the "virtuous and elegant minds" from whom
he had recently parted in England. The letters he wrote, immediately
following his return to America, to his friends William Strahan and Mary
Stevenson lack something of the cheerful and contented good humor which
is Franklin's most characteristic tone. His thoughts, like those of a
homesick man, are ever dwelling on his English friends, and he still
nourishes the fond hope of returning, bag and baggage, to England for
good and all. The very letter which he begins by relating the cordiality
of his reception in Philadelphia he closes by assuring Strahan that "in
two years at fartherest I hope to settle all my affairs in such manner
as that I may then conveniently remove to England--provided," he adds as
an afterthought, "we can persuade the good woman to cross the sea. That
will be the great difficulty."

It is not known whether it was this difficulty that prevented the
eminent doctor, revered in two continents for his wisdom, from changing
the place of his residence. Dear Debby, as docile as a child in most
respects, very likely had her settled prejudices, of which the desire to
remain on dry land may have been one, and one of the most obstinate.
Or it may be that Franklin found himself too much occupied, too much
involved in affairs after his long absence, to make even a beginning in
his cherished plan; or else, as the months passed and he settled once
more to the familiar, humdrum life of the American metropolis, sober
second thought may have revealed to him what was doubtless a higher
wisdom. "Business, public and private, devours my time," he writes in
March, 1764. "I must return to England for repose. With such thoughts I
flatter myself, and need some kind friend to put me often in mind THAT
was this kind friend; in which case Americans must all, to this day, be
much indebted to the good woman.

At least it was no apprehension of difficulties arising between England
and the colonies that induced Franklin to remain in America. The Peace
of Paris he regarded as "the most advantageous" of any recorded in
British annals, very fitting to mark the close of a successful war, and
well suited to usher in the long period of prosperous felicity which
should properly distinguish the reign of a virtuous prince. Never
before, in Franklin's opinion, were the relations between Britain and
her colonies more happy; and there could be, he thought, no good reason
to fear that the excellent young King would be distressed, or his
prerogative diminished, by factitious parliamentary opposition.

"You now fear for our virtuous young King, that the faction forming will
overpower him and render his reign uncomfortable [he writes to Strahan].
On the contrary, I am of opinion that his virtue and the consciousness
of his sincere intentions to make his people happy will give him
firmness and steadiness in his measures and in the support of the honest
friends he has chosen to serve him; and when that firmness is fully
perceived, faction will dissolve and be dissipated like a morning fog
before the rising sun, leaving the rest of the day clear with a sky
serene and cloudless. Such after a few of the first years will be the
future course of his Majesty's reign, which I predict will be happy
and truly glorious. A new war I cannot yet see reason to apprehend. The
peace will I think long continue, and your nation be as happy as they
deserve to be."

CHAPTER II. The Burden Of Empire

     Nothing of note in Parliament, except one slight day on the
     American taxes.--Horace Walpole.

There were plenty of men in England, any time before 1763, who found
that an excellent arrangement which permitted them to hold office in the
colonies while continuing to reside in London. They were thereby enabled
to make debts, and sometimes even to pay them, without troubling much
about their duties; and one may easily think of them, over their claret,
as Mr. Trevelyan says, lamenting the cruelty of a secretary of state
who hinted that, for form's sake at least, they had best show themselves
once in a while in America. They might have replied with Junius: "It was
not Virginia that wanted a governor, but a court favorite that wanted a
salary." Certainly Virginia could do with a minimum of royal officials;
but most court favorites wanted salaries, for without salaries unendowed
gentlemen could not conveniently live in London.

One of these gentlemen, in the year 1763, was Mr. Grosvenor Bedford.
He was not, to be sure, a court favorite, but a man, now well along in
years, who had long ago been appointed to be Collector of the Customs
at the port of Philadelphia. The appointment had been made by the great
minister, Robert Walpole, for whom Mr. Bedford had unquestionably
done some service or other, and of whose son, Horace Walpole, the
letter-writer, he had continued from that day to be a kind of dependent
or protege, being precisely the sort of unobtrusive factotum which that
fastidious eccentric needed to manage his mundane affairs. But now,
after this long time, when the King's business was placed in the hands
of George Grenville, who entertained the odd notion that a Collector of
the Customs should reside at the port of entry where the customs were
collected rather than in London where he drew his salary, it was being
noised about, and was presently reported at Strawberry Hill, that Mr.
Bedford, along with many other estimable gentlemen, was forthwith to be
turned out of his office.

To Horace Walpole it was a point of more than academic importance to
know whether gentlemen were to be unceremoniously turned out of their
offices. As far back as 1738, while still a lad, he had himself been
appointed to be Usher of the Exchequer; and as soon as he came of age,
he says, "I took possession of two other little patent places in
the Exchequer, called Comptroller of the Pipe, and Clerk of the
Estreats"--all these places having been procured for him through the
generosity of his father. The duties of these offices, one may suppose,
were not arduous, for it seems that they were competently administered
by Mr. Grosvenor Bedford, in addition to his duties as Collector of the
Customs at the port of Philadelphia; so well administered, indeed, that
Horace Walpole's income from them, which in 1740 was perhaps not more
than 1500 pounds a year, nearly doubled in the course of a generation.
And this income, together with another thousand which he had annually
from the Collector's place in the Custom House, added to the interest
of 20,000 pounds which he had inherited, enabled him to live very
well, with immense leisure for writing odd books, and letters full
of extremely interesting comment on the levity and low aims of his

And so Horace Walpole, good patron that he was and competent
letter-writer, very naturally, hearing that Mr. Bedford was to lose an
office to which in the course of years he had become much accustomed,
sat down and wrote a letter to Mr. George Grenville in behalf of his
friend and servant. "Though I am sensible I have no pretensions for
asking you a favour,... yet I flatter myself I shall not be thought quite
impertinent in interceding for a person, who I can answer has neither
been to blame nor any way deserved punishment, and therefore I think
you, Sir, will be ready to save him from prejudice. The person I mean is
my deputy, Mr. Grosvenor Bedford, who, above five and twenty years ago,
was appointed Collector of the Customs in Philadelphia by my father. I
hear he is threatened to be turned out. If the least fault can be laid
to his charge, I do not desire to have him protected. If there cannot,
I am too well persuaded, Sir, of your justice not to be sure you will be
pleased to protect him."

George Grenville, a dry, precise man of great knowledge and industry,
almost always right in little matters and very patient of the
misapprehensions of less exact people, wrote in reply a letter which
many would think entirely adequate to the matter in hand: "I have never
heard [he began] of any complaint against Mr. Grosvenor Bedford, or of
any desire to turn him out; but by the office which you tell me he holds
in North America, I believe I know the state of the case, which I will
inform you of, that you may be enabled to judge of it yourself. Heavy
complaints were last year made in Parliament of the state of our
revenues in North America which amount to between 1,000 pounds and 9,000
pounds a year, the collecting of which costs upon the establishment of
the Customs in Great Britain between 7,000 pounds and 8,000 pounds
a year. This, it was urged, arose from the making all these offices
sinecures in England. When I came to the Treasury * I directed the
Commissioners of the Customs to be written to, that they might inform
us how the revenue might be improved, and to what causes they attributed
the present diminished state of it.... The principal cause which they
assigned was the absence of the officers who lived in England by
leave of the Treasury, which they proposed should be recalled. This we
complied with, and ordered them all to their duty, and the Commissioners
of the Customs to present others in the room of such as should not obey.
I take it for granted that this is Mr. Bedford's case. If it is, it will
be attended with difficulty to make an exception, as they are every one
of them applying to be excepted out of the orders.... If it is not so,
or if Mr. Bedford can suggest to me any proper means of obviating it
without overturning the whole regulation, he will do me a sensible

     * On the resignation of Lord Bute in April, 1763, Grenville
     formed a ministry, himself taking the two offices of First
     Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

There is no evidence to show that Mr. Bedford was able to do Mr.
Grenville this "sensible pleasure." The incident, apparently closed, was
one of many indications that a new policy for dealing with America was
about to be inaugurated; and although Grenville had been made minister
for reasons that were remote enough from any question of efficiency
in government, no better man could have been chosen for applying to
colonial administration the principles of good business management. His
connection with the Treasury, as well as the natural bent of his mind,
had made him "confessedly the ablest man of business in the House of
Commons." The Governors of the Bank of England, very efficient men
certainly, held it a great point in the minister's favor that they
"could never do business with any man with the same ease they had done
it with him." Undoubtedly the first axiom of business is that one's
accounts should be kept straight, one's books nicely balanced;
the second, that one's assets should exceed one's liabilities. Mr.
Grenville, accordingly, "had studied the revenues with professional
assiduity, and something of professional ideas seemed to mingle in all
his regulations concerning them." He "felt the weight of debt, amounting
at this time to one hundred and fifty-eight millions, which oppressed
his country, and he looked to the amelioration of the revenue as the
only mode of relieving it."

It is true there were some untouched sources of revenue still available
in England. As sinecures went in that day, Mr. Grosvenor Bedford's was
not of the best; and on any consideration of the matter from the point
of view of revenue only, Grenville might well have turned his attention
to a different class of officials; for example, to the Master of the
Rolls in Ireland, Mr. Rigby, who was also Paymaster of the Forces, and
to whose credit there stood at the Bank of England, as Mr. Trevelyan
assures us, a million pounds of the public money, the interest of which
was paid to him "or to his creditors." This was a much better thing than
Grosvenor Bedford had with his paltry collectorship at Philadelphia;
and the interest on a million pounds, more or less, had it been diverted
from Mr. Rigby's pocket to the public treasury, would perhaps have
equaled the entire increase in the revenue to be expected from even
the most efficient administration of the customs in all the ports of,
America. In addition, it should perhaps be said that Mr. Rigby, although
excelled by none, was by no means the only man in high place with a good
degree of talent for exploiting the common chest.

The reform of such practices, very likely, was work for a statesman
rather than for a man of business. A good man of business, called upon
to manage the King's affairs, was likely to find many obstacles in the
way of depriving the Paymaster of the Forces of his customary sources
of income, and Mr. Grenville, at least, never attempted anything so
hazardous. Scurrilous pamphleteers, in fact, had made it a charge
against the minister that he had increased rather than diminished the
evil of sinecures--"It had been written in pamphlets that 400,000
pounds a year was dealt out in pensions"; from which charge the able
Chancellor, on the occasion of opening his first budget in the House of
Commons, the 9th of March, 1764, defended himself by denying that the
sums were "so great as alleged." It was scarcely an adequate defense;
but the truth is that Grenville was sure to be less distressed by a
bad custom, no law forbidding, than by a law, good or bad, not strictly
enforced, particularly if the law was intended to bring in a revenue.

Instinctively, therefore, the minister turned to America, where it was
a notorious fact that there were revenue laws that had not been enforced
these many years. Mr. Grenville, we may suppose, since it was charged
against him in a famous epigram, read the American dispatches with
considerable care, so that it is quite possible he may have chanced
to see and to shake his head over the sworn statement of Mr. Sampson
Toovey, a statement which throws much light upon colonial liberties and
the practices of English officials in those days:

"I, Sampson Toovey [so the statement runs], Clerk to James Cockle, Esq.,
Collector of His Majesty's Customs for the Port of Salem, do declare on
oath, that ever since I have been in the office, it hath been customary
for said Cockle to receive of the masters of vessels entering from
Lisbon, casks of wine, boxes of fruit, etc., which was a gratuity for
suffering their vessels to be entered with salt or ballast only, and
passing over unnoticed such cargoes of wine, fruit, etc., which are
prohibited to be imported into His Majesty's Plantations. Part of which
wine, fruit, etc., the said James Cockle used to share with Governor
Bernard. And I further declare that I used to be the negotiator of
this business, and receive the wine, fruit, etc., and dispose of them
agreeable to Mr. Cockle's orders. Witness my hand. Sampson Toovey."

The curious historian would like much to know, in case Mr. Grenville did
see the declaration of Sampson Toovey, whether he saw also a letter
in which Governor Bernard gave it as his opinion that if the colonial
governments were to be refashioned it should be on a new plan, since
"there is no system in North America fit to be made a module of."

Secretary Grenville, whether or not he ever saw this letter from
Governor Bernard, was familiar with the ideas which inspired it.
Most crown officials in America, and the governors above all, finding
themselves little more than executive agents of the colonial assemblies,
had long clamored for the remodeling of colonial governments: the
charters, they said, should be recalled; the functions of the assemblies
should be limited and more precisely defined; judges should be appointed
at the pleasure of the King; and judges and governors alike should be
paid out of a permanent civil list in England drawn from revenue raised
in America. In urging these changes, crown officials in America were
powerfully supported by men of influence in England; by Halifax since
the day, some fifteen years before, when he was appointed to the office
of Colonial Secretary; by the brilliant Charles Townshend who, in
the year 1763, as first Lord of the Treasury in Bute's ministry, had
formulated a bill which would have been highly pleasing to Governor
Bernard had it been passed into law. And now similar schemes were being
urged upon Grenville by his own colleagues, notably by the Earl of
Halifax, who is said to have become, in a formal interview with the
first minister, extremely heated and eager in the matter.

But all to no purpose. Mr. Grenville was well content with the form of
the colonial governments, being probably of Pope's opinion that "the
system that is best administered is best." In Grenville's opinion, the
Massachusetts government was good enough, and all the trouble arose from
the inattention of royal officials to their manifest duties and from
the pleasant custom of depositing at Governor Bernard's back door sundry
pipes of wine with the compliments of Mr. Cockle. Most men in England
agreed that such pleasant customs had been tolerated long enough.
To their suppression the first minister accordingly gave his best
attention; and while Mr. Rigby continued to enjoy great perquisites in
England, many obscure customs officials, such as Grosvenor Bedford,
were ordered to their posts to prevent small peculations in America.
To assist them, or their successors, in this business, ships of war were
stationed conveniently for the intercepting of smugglers, general writs
were authorized to facilitate the search for goods illegally entered,
and the governors, His Excellency Governor Bernard among the number,
were newly instructed to give their best efforts to the enforcement of
the trade acts.

All this was but an incident, to be sure, in the minister's general
scheme for "ameliorating the revenue." It was not until the 9th of
March, 1764, that Grenville, "not disguising how much he was hurt
by abuse," opened his first budget, "fully, for brevity was not his
failing," and still with great "art and ability." Although ministers
were to be congratulated, he thought, "on the revenue being managed with
more frugality than in the late reign," the House scarcely need be
told that the war had greatly increased the debt, an increase not to
be placed at a lower figure than some seventy odd millions; and so, on
account of this great increase in the debt, and in spite of gratifying
advances in the customs duties and the salutary cutting off of the
German subsidies, taxes were now, the House would easily understand,
necessarily much higher than formerly--"our taxes," he said, "exceeded
by three millions what they were in 1754." Much money, doubtless, could
still be raised on the land tax, if the House was at all disposed to put
on another half shilling in the pound. Ministers could take it quite for
granted, however, that country squires, sitting on the benches, would
not be disposed to increase the land tax, but would much prefer some
skillful manipulation of the colonial customs, provided only there was
some one who understood that art well enough to explain to the House
where such duties were meant to fall and how much they might reasonably
be expected to bring in. And there, in fact, was Mr. Grenville
explaining it all with "art and ability," for which task, indeed, there
could be none superior to his Majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer, who
had so long "studied the revenue with professional assiduity."

The items of the budget, rather dull reading now and none too
illuminating, fell pleasantly upon the ears of country squires
sitting there on the benches; and the particular taxes no doubt seemed
reasonably clear to them, even if they had no perfect understanding of
the laws of incidence, inasmuch as sundry of the new duties apparently
fell upon the distant Americans, who were known to be rich and were
generally thought, on no less an authority than Jasper Mauduit, agent of
the Province of Massachusetts Bay, to be easily able and not unwilling
to pay considerable sums towards ameliorating the revenue. It was odd,
perhaps, that Americans should be willing to pay; but that was no great
matter, if they were able, since no one could deny their obligation. And
so country squires, and London merchants too, listened comfortably to
the reading of the budget so well designed to relieve the one of taxes
and swell the profits flowing into the coffers of the other.

"That a duty of 2 pounds 19s. 9d. per cwt. avoirdupois, be laid upon all
foreign coffee, imported from any place (except Great Britain) into
the British colonies and plantations in America. That a duty of 6d. per
pound weight be laid upon all foreign indigo, imported into the said
colonies and plantations. That a duty of 7 pounds per ton be laid upon
all wine of the growth of the Madeiras, or of any other island or place,
lawfully imported from the respective place of the growth of such wine,
into the said colonies and plantations. That a duty of 10s. per ton be
laid upon all Portugal, Spanish, or other wine (except French wine),
imported from Great Britain into the said colonies and plantations. That
a duty of 2s. per pound weight be laid upon all wrought silks, Bengals,
and stuffs mixed with silk or herbs; of the manufacture of Persia,
China, or East India, imported from Great Britain into the said colonies
and plantations. That a duty of 2s. 6d. per piece be laid upon all
callicoes...." The list no doubt was a long one; and quite right, too,
thought country squires, all of whom, to a man, were willing to pay no
more land tax.

Other men besides country squires were interested in Mr. Grenville's
budget, notably the West Indian sugar planters, virtually and actually
represented in the House of Commons and voting there this day. Many of
them were rich men no doubt; but sugar planting, they would assure you
in confidence, was not what it had been; and if they were well off after
a fashion, they might have been much better off but for the shameless
frauds which for thirty years had made a dead letter of the Molasses Act
of 1733. It was notorious that the merchants of the northern and middle
colonies, regarding neither the Acts of Trade nor the dictates of
nature, had every year carried their provisions and fish to the foreign
islands, receiving in exchange molasses, cochineal, "medical druggs,"
and "gold and silver in bullion and coin." With molasses the thrifty New
Englanders made great quantities of inferior rum, the common drink of
that day, regarded as essential to the health of sailors engaged in
fishing off the Grand Banks, and by far the cheapest and most effective
instrument for procuring negroes in Africa or for inducing the western
Indians to surrender their valuable furs for some trumpery of colored
cloth or spangled bracelet. All this thriving traffic did not benefit
British planters, who had molasses of their own and a superior quality
of rum which they were not unwilling to sell.

Such traffic, since it did not benefit them, British planters were
disposed to think must be bad for England. They were therefore willing
to support Mr. Grenville's budget, which proposed that the importation
of foreign rum into any British colony be prohibited in future; and
which further proposed that the Act of 6 George II, c. 13, be continued,
with modifications to make it effective, the modifications of chief
importance being the additional duty of twenty-two shillings per
hundredweight upon all sugar and the reduction by one half of the
prohibitive duty of sixpence on all foreign molasses imported into the
British plantations. It was a matter of minor importance doubtless, but
one to which they had no objections since the minister made a point of
it, that the produce of all the duties which should be raised by virtue
of the said act, made in the sixth year of His late Majesty's reign, "be
paid into the receipt of His Majesty's Exchequer, and there reserved,
to be from time to time disposed of by Parliament, towards defraying the
necessary expences of defending, protecting, and securing the British
colonies and plantations in America."

With singularly little debate, honorable and right honorable members
were ready to vote this new Sugar Act, having the minister's word for
it that it would be enforced, the revenue thereby much improved, and a
sudden stop put to the long-established illicit traffic with the
foreign islands, a traffic so beneficial to the northern colonies, so
prejudicial to the Empire and the pockets of planters. Thus it was that
Mr. Grenville came opportunely to the aid of the Spanish authorities,
who for many years had employed their guarda costas in a vain effort to
suppress this very traffic, conceiving it, oddly enough, to be injurious
to Spain and highly advantageous to Britain.

It may be that the Spanish authorities regarded the West Indian trade
as a commercial system rather than as a means of revenue. This aspect of
the matter, the commercial effects of his measures, Mr. Grenville at all
events managed not to take sufficiently into account, which was rather
odd, seeing that he professed to hold the commercial system embodied in
the Navigation and Trade Acts in such high esteem, as a kind of
"English Palladium." No one could have wished less than Grenville to lay
sacrilegious hands on this Palladium, have less intended to throw sand
into the nicely adjusted bearings of the Empire's smoothly working
commercial system. If he managed nevertheless to do something of this
sort, it was doubtless by virtue of being such a "good man of business,"
by virtue of viewing the art of government too narrowly as a question of
revenue only. For the moment, preoccupied as they were with the quest of
revenue, the new measures seemed to Mr. Grenville and to the squires
and planters who voted them well adapted to raising a moderate sum,
part only of some 350,000 pounds, for the just and laudable purpose of
"defraying the necessary expences of defending, protecting, and securing
the British colonies and plantations in America."

The problem of colonial defense, so closely connected with the question
of revenue, was none of Grenville's making but was a legacy of the war
and of that Peace of Paris which had added an immense territory to the
Empire. When the diplomats of England and France at last discovered, in
some mysterious manner, that it had "pleased the Most High to diffuse
the spirit of union and concord among the Princes," the world was
informed that, as the price of "a Christian, universal; and perpetual
peace," France would cede to England what had remained to her of Nova
Scotia, Canada, and all the possessions of France on the left bank of
the Mississippi except the City of New Orleans and the island on which
it stands; that she would cede also the islands of Grenada and the
Grenadines, the islands of St. Vincent, Dominica, and Tobago, and the
River Senegal with all of its forts and factories; and that she would
for the future be content, so far as her activities in India were
concerned, with the five factories which she possessed there at the
beginning of the year 1749.

The average Briton, as well as honorable and right honorable members of
the House, had known that England possessed colonies and had understood
that colonies, as a matter of course, existed to supply him with sugar
and rice, indigo and tobacco, and in return to buy at a good price
whatever he might himself wish to sell. Beyond all this he had given
slight attention to the matter of colonies until the great Pitt had
somewhat stirred his slow imagination with talk of empire and destiny.
It was doubtless a liberalizing as well as a sobering revelation to
be told that he was the "heir apparent of the Romans," with the
responsibilities that are implied in having a high mission in the
world. Now that his attention was called to the matter, it seemed to the
average Briton that in meeting the obligation of this high mission and
in dealing with this far-flung empire, a policy of efficiency such as
that advocated by Mr. Grenville might well replace a policy of salutary
neglect; and if the national debt had doubled during the war, as he was
authoritatively assured, why indeed should not the Americans, grown rich
under the fostering care of England and lately freed from the menace of
France by the force of British arms, be expected to observe the Trade
Acts and to contribute their fair share to the defense of that new world
of which they were the chief beneficiaries?

If Americans were quite ready in their easy going way to take chances in
the matter of defense, hoping that things would turn out for the best
in the future as they had in the past, British statesmen and right
honorable members of the House, viewing the question broadly and without
provincial illusions, understood that a policy of preparedness was the
only salvation; a policy of muddling through would no longer suffice
as it had done in the good old days before country squires and London
merchants realized that their country was a world power. In those days,
when the shrewd Robert Walpole refused to meddle with schemes for taxing
America, the accepted theory of defense was a simple one. If Britain
policed the sea and kept the Bourbons in their place, it was thought
that the colonies might be left to manage the Indians; fur traders,
whose lure the red man could not resist, and settlers occupying the
lands beyond the mountains, so it was said, would do the business. In
1749, five hundred thousand acres of land had been granted to the Ohio
Company "in the King's interest" and "to cultivate a friendship with
the nations of Indians inhabiting those parts"; and as late as 1754 the
Board of Trade was still encouraging the rapid settling of the West,
"inasmuch as nothing can more effectively tend to defeat the dangerous
designs of the French."

On the eve of the last French war it may well have seemed to the Board
of Trade that this policy was being attended with gratifying results.
In the year 1749, La Galissomere, the acting Governor of Canada,
commissioned Celoron de Blainville to take possession of the Ohio
Valley, which he did in form, descending the river to the Maumee, and so
to Lake Erie and home again, having at convenient points proclaimed
the sovereignty of Louis XV over that country, and having laid down,
as evidence of the accomplished fact, certain lead plates bearing
awe-inspiring inscriptions, some of which have been discovered and
are preserved to this day. It was none the less a dangerous junket.
Everywhere Blainville found the Indians of hostile mind; everywhere, in
every village almost, he found English traders plying their traffic and
"cultivating a friendship with the Indians"; so that upon his return
in 1750, in spite of the lead plates so securely buried, he must needs
write in his journal: "All I can say is that the nations of those
countries are ill disposed towards the French and devoted to the

During the first years of the war all this devotion was nevertheless
seen to be of little worth. Like Providence, the Indians were sure to
side with the big battalions. For want of a few effective garrisons at
the beginning, the English found themselves deserted by their quondam
allies, and although they recovered this facile allegiance as soon as
the French garrisons were taken, it was evident enough in the late years
of the war that fear alone inspired the red man's loyalty. The Indian
apparently did not realize at this early date that his was an inferior
race destined to be supplanted. Of a primitive and uncultivated
intelligence, it was not possible for him to foresee the beneficent
designs of the Ohio Company or to observe with friendly curiosity the
surveyors who came to draw imaginary lines through the virgin forest.
And therefore, even in an age when the natural rights of man were being
loudly proclaimed, the "Nations of Indians inhabiting those parts" were
only too ready to believe what the Virginia traders told them of
the Pennsylvanians, what the Pennsylvania traders told them of the
Virginians--that the fair words of the English were but a kind of mask
to conceal the greed of men who had no other desire than to deprive the
red man of his beloved hunting grounds.

Thus it was that the industrious men with pedantic minds who day by day
read the dispatches that accumulated in the office of the Board of Trade
became aware, during the years from 1758 to 1761, that the old policy
of defense was not altogether adequate. "The granting of lands hitherto
unsettled," so the Board reported in 1761, "appears to be a measure of
the most dangerous tendency." In December of the same year all governors
were accordingly forbidden "to pass grants... or encourage settlements
upon any lands within the said colonies which may interfere with the
Indians bordering upon them."

The policy thus initiated found final expression in the famous
Proclamation of 1763, in the early months of Grenville's ministry. By
the terms of the Proclamation no further grants were to be made within
lands "which, not having been ceded to, or purchased by us, are reserved
to the said Indians"--that is to say, "all the lands lying to the
westward of the sources of the rivers which fall into the sea from
the west or the northwest." All persons who had "either willfully or
inadvertently seated themselves" on the reserved lands were required
"forthwith to remove themselves"; and for the future no man was to
presume to trade with the Indians without first giving bond to observe
such regulations as "we shall at any time think fit to... direct for the
benefit of the said trade." All these provisions were designed "to the
end that the Indians may be convinced of our justice and determined
resolution to remove all reasonable cause of discontent." By royal act
the territory west of the Alleghanies to the Mississippi, from Florida
to 50 degrees north latitude, was thus closed to settlement "for the
present" and "reserved to the Indians."

Having thus taken measures to protect the Indians against the colonists,
the mother country was quite ready to protect the colonists against the
Indians. Rash Americans were apt to say the danger was over now that the
French were "expelled from Canada." This statement was childish
enough in view of the late Pontiac uprising which was with such
great difficulty suppressed--if indeed one could say that it was
suppressed--by a general as efficient even as Amherst, with seasoned
British troops at his command. The red man, even if he submitted
outwardly, harbored in his vengeful heart the rankling memory of many
griefs, real or imaginary; and he was still easily swayed by his ancient
but now humiliated French friends, who had been "expelled from Canada"
only indeed in a political sense but were still very much there as
promoters of trouble. What folly, therefore, to talk of withdrawing
the troops from America! No sane man but could see that, under the
circumstances, such a move was quite out of the question.

It would materially change the circumstances, undoubtedly, if Americans
could ever be induced to undertake, in any systematic and adequate
manner, to provide for their own defense in their own way. In that case
the mother country would be only too glad to withdraw her troops, of
which indeed she had none too many. But it was well known what the
colonists could be relied upon to do, or rather what they could be
relied upon not to do, in the way of cooperative effort. Ministers had
not forgotten that on the eve of the last war, at the very climax of the
danger, the colonial assemblies had rejected a Plan of Union prepared
by Benjamin Franklin, the one man, if any man there was, to bring the
colonies together. They had rejected the plan as involving too great
concentration of authority, and they were unwilling to barter the
veriest jot or tittle of their much prized provincial liberty for any
amount of protection. And if they rejected this plan--a very mild and
harmless plan, ministers were bound to think--it was not likely they
could be induced, in time of peace, to adopt any plan that might be
thought adequate in England. Such a plan, for example, was that prepared
by the Board of Trade, by which commissioners appointed by the governors
were empowered to determine the military establishment and to apportion
the expense of maintaining it among the several colonies on the basis
of wealth and population. Assemblies which for years past had
systematically deprived governors of all discretionary power to expend
money raised by the assemblies themselves would surely never surrender
to governors the power of determining how much assemblies should raise
for governors to expend.

Doubtless it might be said with truth that the colonies had voluntarily
contributed more than their fair share in the last war; but it was also
true that Pitt, and Pitt alone, could get them to do this. The King
could not always count on there being in England a great genius like
Pitt, and besides he did not always find it convenient, for reasons
which could be given, to employ a great genius like Pitt. A system
of defense had to be designed for normal times and normal men; and in
normal times with normal men at the helm, ministers were agreed,
the American attitude towards defense was very cleverly described by
Franklin: "Everyone cries, a Union is absolutely necessary, but when
it comes to the manner and form of the Union, their weak noddles are
perfectly distracted."

Noddles of ministers, however, were in no way distracted but saw clearly
that, if Americans could not agree on any plan of defense, there was no
alternative but "an interposition of the authority of Parliament." Such
interposition, recommended by the Board of Trade and already proposed
by Charles Townshend in the last ministry, was now taken in hand by
Grenville. The troops were to remain in America; the Mutiny Act, which
required soldiers in barracks to be furnished with provisions and
utensils by local authorities, and which as a matter of course went
where the army went, was supplemented by the Quartering Act, which
made further provision for the billeting and supplying of the troops
in America. And for raising some part of the general maintenance fund
ministers could think of no tax more equitable, or easier to be levied
and collected, than a stamp tax. Some such tax, stamp tax or poll tax,
had often been recommended by colonial governors, as a means of bringing
the colonies "to a sense of their duty to the King, to awaken them to
take care of their lives and their fortunes." A crown officer in North
Carolina, Mr. M'Culloh, was good enough to assure Mr. Charles Jenkinson,
one of the Secretaries of the Treasury, backing up his assertion
with sundry statistical exhibits, that a stamp tax on the continental
colonies would easily yield 60,000 pounds, and twice that sum if
extended to the West Indies. As early as September 23, 1763, Mr.
Jenkinson, acting on an authorization of the Treasury Board, accordingly
wrote to the Commissioners of Stamped Duties, directing them "to
prepare, for their Lordships' consideration, a draft of an act for
imposing proper stamp duties on His Majesty's subjects in America and
the West Indies."

Mr. Grenville, who was not in any case the man to do things in a hurry,
nevertheless proceeded very leisurely in the matter. He knew very well
that Pitt had refused to "burn his fingers" with any stamp tax; and
some men, such as his friend and secretary, Mr. Jackson, for example,
and the Earl of Hillsborough, advised him to abandon the project
altogether, while others urged delay at least, in order that Americans
might have an opportunity to present their objections, if they had
any. It was decided therefore to postpone the matter for a year; and in
presenting the budget on March 9, 1764, the first minister merely gave
notice that "it maybe proper to charge certain stamp duties in the said
colonies and plantations." Of all the plans for taxing America, he said,
this one seemed to him the best; yet he was not wedded to it, and would
willingly adopt any other preferred by the colonists, if they could
suggest any other of equal efficacy. Meanwhile, he wished only to call
upon honorable members of the House to say now, if any were so minded,
that Parliament had not the right to impose any tax, external or
internal, upon the colonies; to which solemn question, asked in full
house, there was not one negative, nor any reply except Alderman
Beckford saying: "As we are stout, I hope we shall be merciful."

It soon appeared that Americans did have objections to a stamp tax.
Whether it were equitable or not, they would rather it should not be
laid, really preferring not to be dished up in any sauce whatever,
however fine. The tax might, as ministers said, be easily collected, or
its collection might perhaps be attended with certain difficulties;
in either case it would remain, for reasons which they were ready to
advance, a most objectionable tax. Certain colonial agents then in
England accordingly sought an interview with the first minister in order
to convince him, if possible, of this fact. Grenville was very likely
more than ready to grant them an interview, relying upon the strength of
his position, on his "tenderness for the subjects in America," and
upon his well-known powers of persuasion, to bring them to his way
of thinking. To get from the colonial agents a kind of assent to his
measure would be to win a point of no slight strategic value, there
being at least a modicum of truth in the notion that just government
springs from the consent of the governed.

"I have proposed the resolution [the minister explained to the agents]
from a real regard and tenderness for the subjects in the colonies. It
is highly reasonable they should contribute something towards the charge
of protecting themselves, and in aid of the great expense Great Britain
has put herself to on their account. No tax appears to me so easy and
equitable as a stamp duty. It will fall only upon property, will be
collected by the fewest officers, and will be equally spread over
America and the West Indies.... It does not require any number of
officers vested with extraordinary powers of entering houses, or extend
a sort of influence which I never wished to increase. The colonists
now have it in their power, by agreeing to this tax, to establish a
precedent for their being consulted before any tax is imposed upon them
by Parliament; for their approbation of it being signified to Parliament
next year... will afford a forcible argument for the like proceeding
in all such cases. If they think of any other mode of taxation more
convenient to them, and make any proposition of equal efficacy with the
stamp duty, I will give it all due consideration."

The agents appear at least to have been silenced by this speech, which
was, one must admit, so fatherly and so very reasonable in tone; and
doubtless Grenville thought them convinced, too, since he always so
perfectly convinced himself. At all events, he found it possible, for
this or for some other reason, to put the whole matter out of his mind
until the next year. The patriotic American historian, well instructed
in the importance of the Stamp Act, has at first a difficulty in
understanding how it could occupy, among the things that interested
English statesmen at this time, a strictly subordinate place; and
he wonders greatly, as he runs with eager interest through the
correspondence of Grenville for the year 1764, to find it barely
mentioned there. Whether the King received him less coldly today than
the day before yesterday was apparently more on the minister's mind than
any possibility that the Stamp Act might be received rather warmly in
the colonies. The contemporaries of Grenville, even Pitt himself, have
almost as little to say about the coming great event; all of which
compels the historian, reviewing the matter judiciously, to reflect
sadly that Englishmen of that day were not as fully aware of the
importance of the measure before it was passed as good patriots have
since become.

There is much to confirm this notion in the circumstances attending the
passage of the bill through Parliament in the winter of 1765. Grenville
was perhaps further reassured, in spite of persistent rumors of much
high talk in America, by the results of a second interview which he had
with the colonial agents just before introducing the measure into
the House of Commons. "I take no pleasure," he again explained in his
reasonable way, "in bringing upon myself their resentments; it is my
duty to manage the revenue. I have really been made to believe that,
considering the whole circumstances of the mother country and the
colonies, the latter can and ought to pay something to the common cause.
I know of no better way than that now pursuing to lay such a tax. If you
can tell of a better, I will adopt it."

Franklin, who was present with the others on this occasion, ventured
to suggest that the "usual constitutional way" of obtaining colonial
support, through the King's requisition, would be better. "Can you
agree," asked Grenville, "on the proportions each colony should raise?"
No, they could not agree, as Franklin was bound to admit, knowing the
fact better than most men. And if no adequate answer was forthcoming
from Franklin, a man so ready in expedients and so practiced in the
subtleties of dialectic, it is no great wonder that Grenville thought
the agents now fully convinced by his reasoning, which after all was
only an impersonal formulation of the inexorable logic of the situation.

Proceeding thus leisurely, having taken so much pains to elicit
reasonable objection and none being forthcoming, Grenville, quite
sure of his ground, brought in from the Ways and Means Committee, in
February, 1765, the fifty-five resolutions which required that stamped
paper, printed by the government and sold by officers appointed for that
purpose, be used for nearly all legal documents, for all customs papers,
for appointments to all offices carrying a salary of 20 pounds
except military and judicial offices, for all grants of privilege and
franchises made by the colonial assemblies, for Licenses to retail
liquors, for all pamphlets, advertisements, handbills, newspapers,
almanacs, and calendars, and for the sale of packages containing playing
cards and dice. The expediency of the act was now explained to the
House, as it had been explained to the agents. That the act was legal,
which few people in fact denied, Grenville, doing everything thoroughly
and with system, proceeded to demonstrate also. The colonies claim, he
said, "the privilege of all British subjects of being taxed only with
their own consent." Well, for his part, he hoped they might always enjoy
that privilege. "May this sacred pledge of liberty," cried the minister
with unwonted eloquence, "be preserved inviolate to the utmost verge
of our dominions and to the latest pages of our history." But Americans
were clearly wrong in supposing the Stamp Act would deprive them of the
rights of Englishmen, for, upon any ground on which it could be said
that Englishmen were represented, it could be maintained, and he was
free to assert, that Americans were represented, in Parliament, which
was the common council of the whole Empire.

The measure was well received. Mr. Jackson supposed that Parliament
had a right to tax America, but he much doubted the expediency of the
present act. If it was necessary, as ministers claimed, to tax the
colonies, the latter should be permitted to elect some part of the
Parliament, "otherwise the liberties of America, I do not say will be
lost, but will be in danger." The one notable event of this "slight day"
was occasioned by a remark of Charles Townshend, who asked with
some asperity whether "these American children, planted by our care,
nourished up by our indulgence to a degree of strength and opulence,
and protected by our arms," would now be so unfilial as to "grudge to
contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy burden under which we
lie?" Upon which Colonel Isaac Barre sprang to his feet and delivered
an impassioned, unpremeditated reply which stirred the dull House for
perhaps three minutes.

"They planted by YOUR care! No; your oppression planted them in America.
They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated, inhospitable
country, where they exposed themselves to almost all the hardships to
which human nature is liable.... They nourished up by your indulgence!
They grew by your neglect of them. As soon as you began to care about
them, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule them in one
department and another, who were, perhaps, the deputies of deputies
to some members of this house, sent to spy out their liberties, to
misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon them; men whose behaviour
on many occasions has caused the blood of these sons of liberty to
recoil within them.... They protected by your arms! They have nobly
taken up arms in your defense; have exerted a valor amidst their
constant and laborious industry, for the defense of a country whose
frontier was drenched in blood, while its interior parts yielded all its
little savings to your emolument."

A very warm speech, and a capital hit, too, thought the honorable
members of the House, as they settled comfortably back again to endure
the routine of a dull day. Towards midnight, after seven hours of
languid debate, an adjournment was carried, as everyone foresaw it would
be, by a great majority--205 to 49 in support of the ministry. On the
13th of February the Stamp Act bill was introduced and read for the
first time, without debate. It passed the House on the 27th; on the
8th of March it was approved by the Lords without protest, amendment,
debate, or division; and two weeks later, the King being then
temporarily out of his mind, the bill received the royal assent by

At a later day, when the fatal effects of the Act were but too apparent,
it was made a charge against the ministers that they had persisted in
passing the measure in the face of strong opposition. But it was not so.
"As to the fact of a strenuous opposition to the Stamp Act," said Burke,
in his famous speech on American taxation, "I sat as a stranger in your
gallery when it was under consideration. Far from anything inflammatory,
I never heard a more languid debate in this house.... In fact, the
affair passed with so very, very little noise, that in town they
scarcely knew the nature of what you were doing." So far as men
concerned themselves with the doings of Parliament, the colonial
measures of Grenville were greatly applauded; and that not alone by
men who were ignorant of America. Thomas Pownall, once Governor of
Massachusetts, well acquainted with the colonies and no bad friend
of their liberties, published in April, 1764, a pamphlet on the
"Administration of the Colonies" which he dedicated to George Grenville,
"the great minister," who he desired might live to see the "power,
prosperity, and honor that must be given to his country, by so great
and important an event as the interweaving the administration of the
colonies into the British administration."

CHAPTER III. The Rights Of A Nation

     British subjects, by removing to America, cultivating a
     wilderness, extending the domain, and increasing the wealth,
     commerce, and power of the mother country, at the hazard of
     their lives and fortunes, ought not, and in fact do not
     thereby lose their native rights.--Benjamin Franklin.

It was the misfortune of Grenville that this "interweaving," as Pownall
described it, should have been undertaken at a most inopportune time,
when the very conditions which made Englishmen conscious of the burden
of empire were giving to Americans a new and highly stimulating sense
of power and independence. The marvelous growth of the colonies in
population and wealth, much commented upon by all observers and asserted
by ministers as one principal reason why Americans should pay taxes,
was indeed well worth some consideration. A million and a half of people
spread over the Atlantic seaboard might be thought no great number; but
it was a new thing in the world, well worth noting--which had in fact
been carefully noted by Benjamin Franklin in a pamphlet on "The Increase
of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc."--that within three-quarters of
a century the population of the continental colonies had doubled every
twenty-five years, whereas the population of Old England during a
hundred years past had not doubled once and now stood at only some six
and a half millions. If this should go on--and, considering the immense
stretches of free land beyond the mountains, no one could suppose that
the present rate of increase would soon fall off--it was not unlikely
that in another century the center of empire, following the course of
the sun, would come to rest in the New World. With these facts in mind,
one might indeed say that a people with so much vitality and expansive
power was abundantly able to pay taxes; but perhaps it was also a fair
inference, if any one was disposed to press the matter, that, unless it
was so minded, such a people was already, or assuredly soon would be,
equally able not to pay them.

People in new countries, being called provincial, being often told in
effect that having made their bed they may lie in it, easily maintain
their self-respect if they are able to say that the bed is indeed a very
comfortable one. If, therefore, Americans had been given to boasting,
their growing wealth was not, any more than their increasing numbers, a
thing to be passed over in silence. In every colony the "starving time,"
even if it had ever existed, was now no more than an ancient tradition.
"Every man of industry has it in his power to live well," according to
William Smith of New York, "and many are the instances of persons who
came here distressed in their poverty who now enjoy easy and plentiful
fortunes." If Americans were not always aware that they were rich men
individually, they were at all events well instructed, by old-world
visitors who came to observe them with a certain air of condescension,
that collectively at least their material prosperity was a thing to be
envied even by more advanced and more civilized peoples. Therefore any
man called upon to pay a penny tax and finding his pocket bare might
take a decent pride in the fact, which none need doubt since foreigners
like Peter Kalm found it so, that "the English colonies in this part of
the world have increased so much in... their riches, that they almost vie
with old England."

That the colonies might possibly "vie with old England," was a notion
which good Americans could contemplate with much equanimity; and even if
the Swedish traveler, according to a habit of travelers, had stretched
the facts a point or two, it was still abundantly clear that the
continental colonies were thought to be, even by Englishmen themselves,
of far greater importance to the mother country than they had formerly
been. Very old men could remember the time when English statesmen and
economists, viewing colonies as providentially designed to promote the
increase of trade, had regarded the northern colonies as little better
than heavy incumbrances on the Empire, and their commerce scarcely worth
the cost of protection. It was no longer so; it could no longer be said
that two-thirds of colonial commerce was with the tobacco and sugar
plantations, or that Jamaica took off more English exports than the
middle and northern colonies combined; but it could be said, and was now
being loudly proclaimed--when it was a point of debate whether to keep
Canada or Guadeloupe--that the northern colonies had already outstripped
the islands as consumers of English commodities.

Of this fact Americans themselves were well aware. The question whether
it was for the interest of England to keep Canada or Guadeloupe, which
was much discussed in 1760, called forth the notable pamphlet from
Franklin, entitled "The Interest of Great Britain Considered," in which
he arranged in convenient form for the benefit of Englishmen certain
statistics of trade. From these statistics it appeared that, whereas
in 1748 English exports to the northern colonies and to the West Indies
stood at some 830,000 pounds and 730,000 pounds respectively, ten years
later the exports to the West Indies were still no more than 877,571
pounds while those to the northern colonies had advanced to nearly two
millions. Nor was it likely that this rate of increase would fall off in
the future. "The trade to our northern colonies," said Franklin, "is not
only greater but yearly increasing with the increase of the people....
The occasion for English goods in North America, and the inclination to
have and use them, is and must be for ages to come, much greater than
the ability of the people to buy them." For English merchants the
prospect was therefore an inviting one; and if Canada rather than
Guadeloupe was kept at the close of the war, it was because statesmen
and economists were coming to estimate the value of colonies in terms
of what they could buy, and not merely, as of old, in terms of what they
could sell. From this point of view, the superiority of the continental
over the insular colonies was not to be doubted. Americans might well
find great satisfaction in this disposition of the mother country to
regard her continental colonies so highly and to think their trade of so
much moment to her; all of which, nevertheless, doubtless inclined them
sometimes to speculate on the delicate question whether, in case they
were so important to the mother country, they were not perhaps more
important to her than she was to them.

The consciousness of rapidly increasing material power, which was
greatly strengthened by the last French war, did nothing to dull the
sense of rights, but it was, on the contrary, a marked stimulus to
the mind in formulating a plausible, if theoretical, justification of
desired aims. Doubtless no American would say that being able to pay
taxes was a good reason for not paying them, or that obligations
might rightly be ignored as soon as one was in a position to do so
successfully; but that he should not "lose his native rights" any
American could more readily understand when he recalled that his
ancestors had without assistance from the mother country transformed a
wilderness into populous and thriving communities whose trade was now
becoming indispensable to Britain. Therefore, in the summer of 1764,
before the doctrine of colonial rights had been very clearly stated
or much refined, every American knew that the Sugar Act and also the
proposed Stamp Act were grievously burdensome, and that in some way or
other and for reasons which he might not be able to give with precision,
they involved an infringement of essential English liberties. Most men
in the colonies, at this early date, would doubtless have agreed with
the views expressed in a letter written to a friend in England by Thomas
Hutchinson of Boston, who was later so well hated by his compatriots for
not having changed his views with the progress of events.

"The colonists [said Hutchinson] claim a power of making laws, and
a privilege of exemption from taxes, unless voted by their own
representatives.... Nor are the privileges of the people less affected
by duties laid for the sake of the money arising from them than by an
internal tax. Not one tenth part of the people of Great Britain have a
voice in the elections to Parliament; and, therefore, the colonies can
have no claim to it; but every man of property in England may have his
voice, if he will. Besides, acts of Parliament do not generally affect
individuals, and every interest is represented. But the colonies have
an interest distinct from the interest of the nation; and shall the
Parliament be at once party and judge?...

"The nation treats her colonies as a father who should sell the services
of his sons to reimburse him what they had cost him, but without the
same reason; for none of the colonies, except Georgia and Halifax,
occasioned any charge to the Crown or kingdom in the settlement of
them. The people of New England fled for the sake of civil and religious
liberty; multitudes flocked to America with this dependence, that their
liberties should be safe. They and their posterity have enjoyed them to
their content, and therefore have endured with greater cheerfulness all
the hardships of settling new countries. No ill use has been made
of these privileges; but the domain and wealth of Great Britain have
received amazing addition. Surely the services we have rendered the
nation have not subjected us to any forfeitures.

"I know it is said the colonies are a charge to the nation, and they
should contribute to their own defense and protection. But during the
last war they annually contributed so largely that the Parliament was
convinced the burden would be insupportable; and from year to year made
them compensation; in several of the colonies for several years together
more men were raised, in proportion, than by the nation. In the trading
towns, one fourth part of the profit of trade, besides imposts and
excise, was annually paid to the support of the war and public charges;
in the country towns, a farm which would hardly rent for twenty pounds
a year, paid ten pounds in taxes. If the inhabitants of Britain had paid
in the same proportion, there would have been no great increase in the
national debt."

Nor is there occasion for any national expense in America. For one
hundred years together the New England colonies received no aid in their
wars with the Indians, assisted by the French. Those governments now
molested are as able to defend their respective frontiers; and had
rather do the whole of it by a tax of their own raising, than pay their
proportion in any other way. Moreover, it must be prejudicial to the
national interest to impose parliamentary taxes. The advantages promised
by an increase of the revenue are all fallacious and delusive. You will
lose more than you will gain. Britain already reaps the profit of all
their trade, and of the increase of their substance. By cherishing their
present turn of mind, you will serve your interest more than by your
present schemes.

Thomas Hutchinson, or any other man, might write a private letter
without committing his country, or, with due caution to his
correspondent, even himself; but for effective public and official
protest the colonial assemblies were the proper channels, and very
expert they were in the business, after having for half a century and
more devoted themselves with singleness of purpose to the guardianship
of colonial liberties. Until now, liberties had been chiefly threatened
by the insidious designs of colonial governors, who were for the most
part appointed by the Crown and very likely therefore to be infected
with the spirit of prerogative than which nothing could be more
dangerous, as everyone must know who recalled the great events of the
last century. With those great events, the eminent men who directed the
colonial assemblies--heads or scions or proteges of the best families in
America, men of wealth and not without reading--were entirely familiar;
they knew as well as any man that the liberties of Englishmen had been
vindicated against royal prerogative only by depriving one king of his
head and another of his crown; and they needed no instruction in the
significance of the "glorious revolution," the high justification of
which was to be found in the political gospel of John Locke, whose
book they had commonly bought and conveniently placed on their library

More often than not, it is true, colonial governors were but ordinary
Englishmen with neither the instinct nor the capacity for tyranny,
intent mainly upon getting their salaries paid and laying by a
competence against the day when they might return to England. But if
they were not kings, at least they had certain royal characteristics;
and a certain flavor of despotism, clinging as it were to their official
robes and reviving in sensitive provincial minds the memory of bygone
parliamentary battles, was an ever-present stimulus to the eternal
vigilance which was well known to be the price of liberty.

And so, throughout the eighteenth century, little colonial aristocracies
played their part, in imagination clothing their governors in the
decaying vesture of old-world tyrants and themselves assuming the
homespun garb, half Roman and half Puritan, of a virtuous republicanism.
Small matters were thus stamped with great character. To debate a point
of procedure in the Boston or Williamsburg assembly was not, to be sure,
as high a privilege as to obstruct legislation in Westminster; but men
of the best American families, fashioning their minds as well as their
houses on good English models, thought of themselves, in withholding a
governor's salary or limiting his executive power, as but reenacting
on a lesser stage the great parliamentary struggles of the seventeenth
century. It was the illusion of sharing in great events rather than any
low mercenary motive that made Americans guard with jealous care their
legislative independence; a certain hypersensitiveness in matters of
taxation they knew to be the virtue of men standing for liberties which
Englishmen had once won and might lose before they were aware.

As a matter of course, therefore, the colonial assemblies protested
against the measures of Grenville. The General Court of Massachusetts
instructed its agent to say that the Sugar Act would ruin the New
England fisheries upon which the industrial prosperity of the northern
colonies depended. What they would lose was set down with some care,
in precise figures: the fishing trade, "estimated at 164,000 pounds per
annum; the vessels employed in it, which would be nearly useless, at
100,000 pounds; the provisions used in it, the casks for packing fish,
and other articles, at 22,700 pounds and upwards: to all which there
was to be added the loss of the advantage of sending lumber, horses,
provisions, and other commodities to the foreign plantations as cargoes,
the vessels employed to carry the fish to Spain and Portugal, the
dismissing of 5,000 seamen from their employment," besides many other
losses, all arising from the very simple fact that the British islands
to which the trade of the colonies was virtually confined by the Sugar
Act could furnish no sufficient market for the products of New England,
to say nothing of the middle colonies, nor a tithe of the molasses and
other commodities now imported from the foreign islands in exchange.

Of the things taken in exchange, silver, in coin and bullion, was not
the least important, since it was essential for the "remittances to
England for goods imported into the provinces," remittances which during
the last eighteen months, it was said, "had been made in specie to the
amount of 150,000 pounds besides 90,000 pounds in Treasurer's bills for
the reimbursement money." Any man must thus see, since even Governor
Bernard was convinced of it, that the new duties would drain the colony
of all its hard money, and so, as the Governor said, "There will be an
end of the specie currency in Massachusetts." And with her trade half
gone and her hard money entirely so, the old Bay colony would have to
manufacture for herself those very commodities which English merchants
were so desirous of selling in America.

The Sugar Act was thus made out to be, even from the point of view of
English merchants, an economic blunder; but in the eyes of vigilant
Bostonians it was something more, and much worse than an economic
blunder. Vigilant Bostonians assembled in Town Meeting in May, 1764, in
order to instruct their representatives how they ought to act in these
serious times; and knowing that they ought to protest but perhaps not
knowing precisely on what grounds, they committed the drafting of their
instructions to Samuel Adams, a middle-aged man who had given much time
to the consideration of political questions, and above all to this very
question of taxation, upon which he had wonderfully clarified his ideas
by much meditation and the writing of effective political pieces for the

Through the eyes of Samuel Adams, therefore, vigilant Bostonians saw
clearly that the Sugar Act, to say nothing of the Stamp Act, was not
only an economic blunder but a menace to political liberty as well. "If
our trade may be taxed," so the instructions ran, "why not our lands?
Why not the produce of our lands, and everything we possess or make use
of? This we apprehend annihilates our charter right to govern and tax
ourselves. It strikes at our British privileges which, as we have never
forfeited them, we hold in common with our fellow-subjects who are
natives of Great Britain. If taxes are laid upon us in any shape without
our having a legal representative where they are laid, are we not
reduced from the character of free subjects to the miserable state of
tributary slaves?" Very formidable questions, couched in high-sounding
phrases, and representing well enough in form and in substance the state
of mind of colonial assemblies in the summer of 1764 in respect to the
Sugar Act and the proposed Stamp Act.

Yet these resounding phrases doubtless meant something less to Americans
of 1764 than one is apt to suppose. The rights of freemen had so often,
in the proceedings of colonial assemblies as well as in the newspaper
communications of many a Brutus and Cato, been made to depend upon
withholding a governor's salary or defining precisely how he should
expend a hundred pounds or so, that moderate terms could hardly be
trusted to cope with the serious business of parliamentary taxation.
"Reduced from the character of free subjects to the miserable state
of tributary slaves" was in fact hardly more than a conventional and
dignified way of expressing a firm but entirely respectful protest.

The truth is, therefore, that while everyone protested in such spirited
terms as might occur to him, few men in these early days supposed the
new laws would not take effect, and fewer still counseled the right
or believed in the practicability of forcible resistance. "We yield
obedience to the act granting duties," declared the Massachusetts
Assembly. "Let Parliament lay what duties they please on us," said James
Otis; "it is our duty to submit and patiently bear them till they be
pleased to relieve us." Franklin assured his friends that the passage
of the Stamp Act could not have been prevented any more easily than the
sun's setting, recommended that they endure the one mischance with the
same equanimity with which they faced the other necessity, and even saw
certain advantages in the way of self-discipline which might come of
it through the practice of a greater frugality. Not yet perceiving the
dishonor attaching to the function of distributing stamps, he did
his two friends, Jared Ingersoll of Connecticut and John Hughes of
Pennsylvania, the service of procuring for them the appointment to the
new office; and Richard Henry Lee, as good a patriot as any man and
therefore of necessity at some pains later to explain his motives in the
matter, applied for the position in Virginia.

Richard Henry Lee was no friend of tyrants, but an American freeman,
less distinguished as yet than his name, which was a famous one and not
without offense to be omitted from any list of the Old Dominion's "best
families." The best families of the Old Dominion, tide-water tobacco
planters of considerable estates, admirers and imitators of the minor
aristocracy of England, took it as a matter of course that the political
fortunes of the province were committed to their care and for many
generations had successfully maintained the public interest against the
double danger of executive tyranny and popular licentiousness. It
is therefore not surprising that the many obscure freeholders, minor
planters, and lesser men who filled the House of Burgesses had followed
the able leadership of that little coterie of interrelated families
comprising the Virginia aristocracy. John Robinson, Speaker of the House
and Treasurer of the colony, of good repute still in the spring of 1765,
was doubtless the head and front of this aristocracy, the inner circle
of which would also include Peyton Randolph, then King's Attorney, and
Edmund Pendleton, well known for his cool persuasiveness in debate, the
learned constitutional lawyer, Richard Bland, the sturdy and honest but
ungraceful Robert Carter Nicholas, and George Wythe, noblest Roman of
them all, steeped in classical lore, with the thin, sharp face of
a Caesar and for virtuous integrity a very Cato. Conscious of their
English heritage, they were at once proud of their loyalty to
Britain and jealous of their well-won provincial liberties. As became
British-American freemen, they had already drawn a proper Memorial
against the Sugar Act and were now, as they leisurely gathered at
Williamsburg in the early weeks of May, 1765, unwilling to protest again
at present, for they had not as yet received any reply to their former
dignified and respectful petition.

To this assembly of the burgesses in 1765, there came from the
back-country beyond the first falls of the Virginia rivers, the frontier
of that day, many deputies who must have presented, in dress and manners
as well as in ideas, a sharp contrast to the eminent leaders of the
aristocracy. Among them was Thomas Marshall, father of a famous son, and
Patrick Henry, a young man of twenty-nine years, a heaven-born orator
and destined to be the leader and interpreter of the silent "simple
folk" of the Old Dominion. In Hanover County, in which this tribune of
the people was born and reared and which he now represented, there were,
as in all the backcountry counties, few great estates and few slaves,
no notable country-seats with pretension to architectural excellence,
no modishly dressed aristocracy with leisure for reading and the
cultivation of manners becoming a gentleman. Beyond the tide-water, men
for the most part earned their bread by the sweat of their brows, lived
the life and esteemed the virtues of a primitive society, and braced
their minds with the tonic of Calvin's theology--a tonic somewhat
tempered in these late enlightened days by a more humane philosophy and
the friendly emotionalism of simple folk living close to nature.

Free burgesses from the back-country, set apart in dress and manners
from the great planters, less learned and less practiced in oratory and
the subtle art of condescension and patronage than the cultivated men
of the inner circle, were nevertheless staunch defenders of liberty and
American rights and were perhaps beginning to question, in these days of
popular discussion, whether liberty could very well flourish among men
whose wealth was derived from the labor of negro slaves, or be well
guarded under all circumstances by those who, regarding themselves as
superior to the general run of men, might be in danger of mistaking
their particular interests for the common welfare. And indeed it
now seemed that these great men who sent their sons to London to be
educated, who every year shipped their tobacco to England and bought
their clothes of English merchants with whom their credit was always
good, were grown something too timid, on account of their loyalty to
Britain, in the great question of asserting the rights of America.

Jean Jacques Rousseau would have well understood Patrick Henry, one of
those passionate temperaments whose reason functions not in the service
of knowledge but of good instincts and fine emotions; a nature to be
easily possessed of an exalted enthusiasm for popular rights and for
celebrating the virtues of the industrious poor. This enthusiasm in the
case of Patrick Henry was intensified by his own eloquence, which had
been so effectively exhibited in the famous Parson's Cause, and in
opposition to the shady scheme which the old leaders in the House of
Burgesses had contrived to protect John Robinson, the Treasurer, from
being exposed to a charge of embezzlement. Such courageous exploits,
widely noised abroad, had won for the young man great applause and had
got him a kind of party of devoted followers in the backcountry and
among the yeomanry and young men throughout the province, so that to
take the lead and to stand boldly forth as the champion of liberty
and the submerged rights of mankind seemed to Patrick Henry a kind of
mission laid upon him, in virtue of his heavenly gift of speech, by that
Providence which shapes the destinies of men.

It was said that Mr. Henry was not learned in the law; but he had read
in "Coke upon Littleton" that an Act of Parliament against Magna Carta,
or common right, or reason, is void--which was clearly the case of the
Stamp Act. On the flyleaf of an old copy of that book this unlearned
lawyer accordingly wrote out some resolutions of protest which he showed
to his friends, George Johnston and John Fleming, for their approval.
Their approval once obtained, Mr. Johnston moved, with Mr. Henry as
second, that the House of Burgesses should go into committee of the
whole, "to consider the steps necessary to be taken in consequence of
the resolutions... charging certain Stamp Duties in the colonies";
which was accordingly done on the 29th of May, upon which day Mr. Henry
presented his resolutions.

The 29th of May was late in that session of the Virginia House of
Burgesses; and most likely the resolutions would have been rejected if
some two-thirds of the members, who knew nothing of Mr. Henry's plans
and supposed the business of the Assembly finished, had not already gone
home. Among those who had thus departed, it is not likely that there
were many of Patrick Henry's followers. Yet even so there was much
opposition. The resolutions were apparently refashioned in committee of
the whole, for a preamble was omitted outright and four "Resolves"
were made over into five which were presented to the House on the day

Young Mr. Jefferson, at that time a law student and naturally much
interested in the business of lawmaking, heard the whole of this day's
famous debate from the door of communication between the House and the
lobby. The five resolutions, he afterwards remembered, were "opposed by
Randolph, Bland, Pendleton, Nicholas, Wythe, and all the old members,
whose influence in the House had, till then, been unbroken;... not from
any question of our rights, but on the ground that the same sentiments
had been, at their preceding session, expressed in a more conciliatory
form, to which the answers were not yet received. But torrents of
sublime eloquence from Mr. Henry, backed by the solid reasoning of
Johnston, prevailed." It was in connection with the fifth resolution,
upon which the debate was "most bloody," that Patrick Henry is said to
have declared that "Tarquin and Caesar had each his Brutus, Charles
the First his Cromwell, and George the Third--"; upon which cries of
"Treason" were heard from every part of the House. Treason or not, the
resolution was carried, although by one vote only; and the young law
student standing at the door of the House heard Peyton Randolph say,
as he came hastily out into the lobby: "By God, I would have given 500
guineas for a single vote." And no doubt he would, at that moment, being
then much heated.

Next day Mr. Randolph was probably much cooler; and so apparently were
some others who, in the enthusiasm of debate and under the compelling
eye of Patrick Henry, had voted for the last defiant resolution.
Thinking the matter settled, Patrick Henry had already gone home "to
recommend himself to his constituents," as his enemies thought, "by
spreading treason."

But the matter was not yet settled. Early on that morning of the 31st,
before the House assembled, the young law student who was so curious
about the business of lawmaking saw Colonel Peter Randolph, of his
Majesty's Council, standing at the Clerk's table, "thumbing over the
volumes of journals to find a precedent for expunging a vote of the
House." Whether the precedent was found the young law student did not
afterwards recollect; but it is known that on motion of Peyton Randolph
the fifth resolution was that day erased from the record. Mr. Henry was
not then present. He had been seen, on the afternoon before, "passing
along the street, on his way to his home in Louisa, clad in a pair of
leather breeches, his saddle-bags on his arm, leading a lean horse." The
four resolutions thus adopted as the deliberate and formal protest
of the Old Dominion were as mild and harmless as could well be. They
asserted no more than that the first adventurers and settlers of
Virginia brought with them and transmitted to their posterity all the
privileges at any time enjoyed by the people of Great Britain; that
by two royal charters they had been formally declared to be as surely
possessed of these privileges as if they had been born and were then
abiding within the realm; that the taxation of the people by themselves
or by persons chosen by themselves to represent them "is the only
security against a burthensome taxation, and the distinguishing
characteristick of British freedom, without which the ancient
constitution cannot exist"; and that the loyal colony of Virginia had
in fact without interruption enjoyed this inestimable right, which had
never been forfeited or surrendered nor ever hitherto denied by the
kings or the people of Britain. No treason here, expressed or implied;
nor any occasion for 500 guineas passing from one hand to another to
prove that the province of Virginia was still the ancient and loyal Old

But Fate, or Providence, or whatever it is that presides at the
destinies of nations, has a way of setting aside with ironical smile the
most deliberate actions of men. And so, on this occasion, it turned out
that the hard-won victory of Messrs. Randolph, Bland, Pendleton, and
Wythe was of no avail. William Gordon tells us, without mentioning the
source of his information, that "a manuscript of the unrevised resolves
soon reached Philadelphia, having been sent off immediately upon their
passing, that the earliest information of what had been done might
be obtained by the Sons of Liberty." From Philadelphia a copy was
forwarded, on June 17, to New York, in which loyal city the resolutions
were thought "so treasonable that their possessors declined printing
them"; but an Irish gentleman from Connecticut, who was then in town,
inquired after them and was with great precaution permitted to take a
copy, which he straightway carried to New England. All this may be true
or not; but certain it is that six resolutions purporting to come from
Virginia were printed in the Newport "Mercury" on June 24, 1765, and
afterwards, on July 1, in many Boston papers.

The document thus printed did not indeed include the famous fifth
resolution upon which the debate in the House of Burgesses was "most
bloody" and which had been there adopted by a single vote and afterwards
erased from the record; but it included two others much stronger than
that eminently treasonable one:

"Resolved, That his Majesty's Liege people, the inhabitants of this
colony, are not bound to yield obedience to any law or ordinance
whatever, designed to impose any taxation whatsoever upon them,
other than the laws and ordinances of the General Assembly aforesaid.
Resolved, That any person who shall, by speaking or writing, assert or
maintain that any person or persons, other than the General Assembly
of this colony, have any right or power to impose any taxation on the
people here, shall be deemed an enemy to his Majesty's colony."

These resolutions, which Governor Fauquier had not seen, and which were
perhaps never debated in the House of Burgesses, were now circulated far
and wide as part of the mature decision of the Virginia Assembly. On the
14th of September, Messrs. Randolph, Wythe, and Nicholas were appointed
a committee to apprise the Assembly's agent "of a spurious copy of the
resolves of the last Assembly..." being dispersed and printed in the News
Papers and to send him a true copy of the votes on that occasion." In
those days of slow and difficult communication, the truth, three months
late, could not easily overtake the falsehood or ever effectively
replace it. In later years, when it was thought an honor to have begun
the Revolution, many men denied the decisive effect of the Virginia
Resolutions in convincing the colonists that the Stamp Act might be
successfully resisted. But contemporaries were agreed in according them
that glory or that infamy. "Two or three months ago," said Governor
Bernard, "I thought that this people would submit to the Stamp Act."
Murmurs were indeed continually heard, but they seemed to be such
as would die away. The publishing the Virginia Resolutions proved an
alarm-bell to the disaffected. "We read the resolutions," said Jonathan
Sewell, "with wonder. They savored of independence; they flattered the
human passions; the reasoning was specious; we wished it conclusive.
The transition to believing it so was easy, and we, almost all America,
followed their example in resolving that the Parliament had no such
right." And the good patriot John Adams, who afterwards attributed the
honor to James Otis, said in 1776 that the "author of the first Virginia
Resolutions against the Stamp Act... will have the glory with posterity
of beginning... this great Revolution. *

     * Upon the death of George II, 1760, the collectors of the
     customs at Boston applied for new writs of assistance. The
     grant was opposed by the merchants, and the question was
     argued before the Superior Court. It was on this occasion
     that James Otis made a speech in favor of the rights of the
     colonists as men and Englishmen. All that is known of it is
     contained in some rough notes taken at the time by John
     Adams ("Works of John Adams," ii., 125). An elaboration of
     these notes was printed in the "Massachusetts Spy," April
     29, 1778, and with corrections by Adams fifty years after
     the event in William Tudor's "Life of James Otis," chs. 5-7.
     This is the speech to which Adams, at a later date,
     attributed the beginning of the Revolution.

James Otis in 1765 declared the Virginia Resolutions to be treasonable.
It was precisely their treasonable flavor that electrified the country,
while the fact that they came from the Old Dominion made men think that
a union of the colonies, so essential to successful resistance, might be
achieved in spite of all. The Old Dominion, counted the most English of
the colonies in respect to her institutions and her sympathies, had a
character for loyalty that, in any matter of opposition to Britain,
gave double weight to her action. Easy-going tobacco-planters, Church of
England men all, were well known not to be great admirers of the precise
Puritans of New England, whose moral fervor and conscious rectitude
seemed to them a species of fanaticism savoring more of canting
hypocrisy than of that natural virtue affected by men of parts. Franklin
may well have had Virginia and Massachusetts in mind when he said, but
a few years earlier, no one need fear that the colonies "will unite
against their own nation... which 'tis well known they all love much more
than they love one another." Nor could anyone have supposed that the
"Ancient and Loyal Colony of Virginia" would out-Boston Boston in
asserting the rights of America. Yet this was what had come to pass, the
evidence of which was the printed resolutions now circulating far and
wide and being read in this month of July when it was being noised about
that a Congress was proposed for the coming October. The proposal had
in fact come from Massachusetts Bay in the form of a circular letter
inviting all the colonies to send delegates to New York for the purpose
of preparing a loyal and humble "representation of their condition," and
of imploring relief from the King and Parliament of Great Britain.

No very encouraging response was immediately forthcoming. The Assembly
of New Jersey unanimously declined to send any delegates, although it
declared itself "not without a just sensibility respecting the late acts
of Parliament," and wished "such other colonies as think proper to be
active every success they can loyally and reasonably desire." For two
months there was no indication that any colony would think it "proper
to be active"; but during August and September the assemblies of six
colonies chose deputies to the congress, and when that body finally
assembled in October, less formally designated representatives from
three other colonies appeared upon the scene. The Assembly of New
Hampshire declined to take part. Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina
were also unrepresented, which was perhaps due to the fact that the
governors of those provinces refused to call the assemblies together
to consider the Massachusetts circular letter. Of the 27 members of
the Stamp Act Congress, few if any were inclined to rash or venturesome
measures. It is reported that Lord Melbourne, as Prime Minister of
England, once remarked to his Cabinet, "It doesn't matter what we say,
but we must all say the same thing." What the Stamp Act Congress said
was to be sure of some importance, but that it should say something
which all could agree to was of even greater importance. "There ought
to be no New England man, no New Yorker, known on the continent," wrote
Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina, "but all of us Americans." New
Yorkers and New England men could not indeed be so easily transformed
over night; but the Stamp Act Congress was significant as marking a kind
of beginning in that slow and difficult process. After eleven days of
debate, in which sharp differences of opinion were no doubt revealed, a
declaration of rights and grievances was at last adopted; a declaration
which was so cautiously and loyally phrased that all could subscribe to
it, and which was perhaps for that very reason not quite satisfactory to

His Majesty's subjects in the colonies, the declaration affirmed, are
entitled to those "inherent rights and liberties" which are enjoyed by
"his natural born subjects" in Great Britain; among which rights is that
most important one of "not being taxed without their own consent"; and
since the people of the colonies, "from local circumstances, cannot be
represented in the House of Commons," it follows that taxes cannot be
"imposed upon them, but by their respective legislatures." The Stamp
Act, being a direct tax, was therefore declared to have a "manifest
tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the colonies." Of the
Sugar Act, which was not a direct tax, so much could not be said; but
this act was at least "burthensome and grievous," being subversive of
trade if not of liberty. No one was likely to be profoundly stirred by
the declaration of the Stamp Act Congress, in this month of October when
the spirited Virginia Resolutions were everywhere well known.

"The frozen politicians of a more northern government," according to
the "Boston Gazette," "say they [the people of Virginia] have spoken
treason"; but the "Boston Gazette," for its part, thought they had
"spoken very sensibly." With much reading of the resolutions and of
the commendatory remarks with which they were everywhere received,
the treasonable flavor of their boldest phrases no doubt grew less
pronounced, and high talk took on more and more the character of good
sense. During the summer of 1765 the happy phrase of Isaac Barre--"these
sons of liberty"--was everywhere repeated, and was put on as a kind
of protective coloring by strong patriots, who henceforth thought of
themselves as Sons of Liberty and no traitors at all. Rather were they
traitors who would in any way justify an act of tyranny; most of all
those so-called Americans, accepting the office of Stamp Master, who
cunningly aspired to make a farthing profit out of the hateful business
of enslaving their own countrymen.

Who these gentry might be was not certainly known until early August,
when Jared Ingersoll, himself as it turned out one of the miscreants,
brought the commissions over from London, whereupon the names were all
printed in the papers. It then appeared that the gentleman appointed
to distribute the stamps in Massachusetts was Andrew Oliver, a man very
well connected in that province and of great influence with the beet
people, not infrequently entrusted with high office and perquisites, and
but recently elected by the unsuspecting Bostonians to represent them in
the council of Massachusetts Bay Colony. It seemed inconsistent that a
man so often honored by the people should meanwhile pledge himself to
destroy their liberties; and so on the morning of the 14th of August,
Mr. Oliver's effigy, together with a horned devil's head peeping out of
an old boot, was to be seen hanging from the Liberty Tree at the south
end of Boston, near the distillery of Thomas Chase, brewer and warm
Son of Liberty. During the day people stopped to make merry over the
spectacle; and in the evening, after work hours, a great crowd gathered
to see what would happen. When the effigy was cut down and carried away,
the crowd very naturally followed along through the streets and through
the Town House, justifying themselves--many respectable people were
in the crowd--for being there by calling out, "Liberty and Property
forever; no Stamp." And what with tramping and shouting in the warm
August evening, the whole crowd became much heated and ever more
enthusiastic, so that, the line of march by some chance lying past
the new stamp office and Mr. Oliver's house, the people were not to be
restrained from destroying the former and breaking in the windows of the
latter, in detestation of the hated Stamp Act and of the principle that
property might be taken without consent. Mr. Oliver hastened to resign
his office, which doubtless led many people to think the methods taken
to induce him to do so were very good ones and such as might well be
made further use of. It was in fact not long afterwards, about dusk of
the evening of the 26th of August, that a mob of men, more deliberately
organized than before, ransacked the office of William Story, Deputy
Registrar of the Court of Admiralty, and, after burning the obnoxious
records kept there, they forcibly entered the house, and the cellar too,
of Benjamin Hallowell, Comptroller of the Customs. "Then the Monsters,"
says Deacon Tudor, "being enflam'd with Rum & Wine which they got in sd.
Hallowell's cellar, proceeded with Shouts to the Dwelling House of the
Hon-l. Thos. Hutchinson, Esq., Lieut. Governor, & enter'd in a voyalent
manner." At that moment the Lieutenant-Governor was sitting comfortably
at dinner and had barely time to escape with his family before the
massive front door was broken in with axes. As young Mr. Hutchinson
went out by the back way he heard someone say: "Damn him, he's upstairs,
we'll have him yet." They did not indeed accomplish this purpose; but
when the morning broke the splendid house was seen to be completely
gutted, the partition walls broken in, the roof partly off, and the
priceless possessions of the owner ruined past repair: mahogany and
walnut furniture finished in morocco and crimson damask, tapestries and
Turkey carpets, rare paintings, cabinets of fine glass and old china,
stores of immaculate linen, India paduasoy gowns and red Genoa robes, a
choice collection of books richly bound in leather and many manuscript
documents, the fruit of thirty years' labor in collecting--all broken
and cut and cast about to make a rubbish heap and a bonfire. From the
mire of the street there was afterwards picked up a manuscript history
of Massachusetts which is preserved to this day, the soiled pages of
which may still be seen in the Boston library. Mr. Hutchinson was no
friend of the Stamp Act; but he was a rich man, Lieutenant-Governor of
the province, and brother-in-law of Andrew Oliver.

Government offered the usual rewards--which were never claimed--for
evidence leading to the detection of any persons concerned in the riots.
Men of repute, including the staunchest patriots such as Samuel Adams
and Jonathan Mayhew, expressed their abhorrence of mobs and of all
licentious proceedings in general; but many were nevertheless disposed
to think, with good Deacon Tudor, that in this particular instance
"the universal Obhorrance of the Stamp Act was the cause of the Mob's
riseing." It would be well to punish the mob, but punishing the mob
would not cure the evil which was the cause of the mob; for where there
was oppression the lower sort of people, as was well known, would
be sure to express opposition in the way commonly practiced by them
everywhere, in London as well as in Boston, by gathering in the streets
in crowds, in which event some deplorable excesses were bound to follow,
however much deprecated by men of substance and standing. If ministers
wished the people to be tranquil, let them repeal the Stamp Act; if
they were determined to persist in it, and should attempt to land and
distribute the stamps, loyal and law-abiding citizens, however much they
might regret the fact, could only say that similar disorders were very
likely to become even more frequent and more serious in the future than
they had been in the past.

As the first of November approached, that being the day set for the
levying of the tax, attention and discussion came naturally to center
on the stamps rather than on the Stamp Act. Crowds of curious people
gathered wherever there seemed a prospect of catching a glimpse of
the bundles of stamped papers. Upon their arrival the papers had to be
landed; they could therefore be seen; and the mere sight of them was
likely to be a sufficient challenge to action. It seemed a simple matter
to resist a law which could be of no effect without the existence
of certain papers, paper being a substance easily disposed of. And
everywhere in fact the stamps were disposed of--disposed of by mobs,
with the tacit consent and impalpable encouragement of many men who,
having a reputable position to maintain, would themselves by no means
endure to be seen in a common crowd; men of good estate whom no one
could think of as countenancers of violence, but who were, on this
occasion, as Mr. Livingston said, "not averse to a little rioting"
on condition that it be kept within bounds and well directed to the
attainment of their just rights.

A little rioting, so easy to be set on foot, was difficult to keep
within reasonable bounds, as Mr. Livingston and his friends in New York
soon discovered, somewhat to their chagrin. In New York, even after the
stamps were surrendered by Lieutenant-Governor Colden and safely lodged
in the Town House, there were many excesses wholly unnecessary to the
attainment of the original object. Mr. Colden's new chariot, certainly
never designed to carry the stamps, was burned; and on repeated
occasions windows were broken and "particulars" threatened that their
houses would presently be pulled down. Mr. Livingston was himself the
owner of houses, had an immense respect for property rights and for the
law that guaranteed them, and therefore wished very much that the lower
sort of people would give over their mobbish practices now that the
stamps had been disposed of. Since the law could not now operate without
stamps, what more was necessary except to wait in good order, patiently
denying themselves those activities that involved a violation of the
law, until the law should be repealed? The Stamp Act Congress had
protested in a proper and becoming manner; merchants had agreed not to
import British goods; the Governor had closed the courts. Stopping of
business would doubtless be annoying and might very likely produce
some distress. But it would be legal and it would be effective: the
government would get no revenue; British merchants no profit; and
Americans could not be charged with violating a law the failure of
which was primarily due to the fact that papers indispensable to its
application were, for one reason or another, not forthcoming.

Mr. Livingston, happily possessed of the conservative temperament, was
disposed to achieve desired ends with the least possible disturbance of
his own affairs and those of his country; and most men of independent
means, landowners and merchants of considerable estates, moneyed men and
high salaried officials whose incomes were not greatly affected by any
temporary business depression, were likely to be of Mr. Livingston's
opinion, particularly in this matter of the Stamp Act. Sitting
comfortably at dinner every day and well knowing where they could lay
hands on money to pay current bills, they enjoyed a high sense of
being defenders of liberty and at the same time eminently law-abiding
citizens. They professed a decided preference for nullifying the Stamp
Act without violating it. Sitting at dinner over their wine, they swore
that they would let ships lie in harbor and rot there if necessary, and
would let the courts close for a year or two years, rather than employ
taxed papers to collect their just debts; with a round oath they bound
themselves to it, sealing the pledge, very likely, by sipping another
glass of Madeira. In the defense of just rights, Mr. Livingston and his
conservative friends were willing to sacrifice much: they foresaw some
months of business stagnation, which they nevertheless contemplated with
equanimity, being prepared to tide over the dull time by living in a
diminished manner, if necessary even dispensing with customary bottles
of Madeira at dinner.

Men of radical temperament, having generally less regard for the status
quo, are quick to see ulterior motives back of conservative timidity and
solemn profession of respect for law and order. It was so in the case of
the Stamp Act. Small shopkeepers who were soon sold out and had no great
stock of "old moth-eaten goods" to offer at enhanced prices, rising
young lawyers whose fees ceased with the closing of the courts, artisans
and laborers who bought their dinners (no Madeira included) with their
daily wage--these, and indeed all the lower sort of people, contemplated
the stopping of business with much alarm. Mr. John Adams, a young lawyer
of Braintree and Boston, was greatly interested in the question of the
courts of justice. Were the courts to be closed on the ground that no
legal business could be done without stamped papers? Or were they to go
on trying cases, enforcing the 'collection of debts, and probating wills
precisely as if no Stamp Act had ever been heard of? The Boston superior
court was being adjourned continuously, for a fortnight at a time,
through the influence of Messrs. Hutchinson and Oliver, to the great
and steadily rising wrath of young Mr. Adams. The courts must soon be
opened, he said to himself; their inactivity "will make a large chasm
in my affairs, if it should not reduce me to distress." Young Mr. Adams,
who had, no less than Mr. Oliver, a family to support and children to
provide for, was just at the point of making a reputation and winning a
competence "when this execrable project was set on foot for my ruin as
well as that of America in general." And therefore Mr. Adams, and Mr.
Samuel Adams, and Mr. Otis, and Mr. Gridley, in order to avert the ruin
of America in general, were "very warm" to have the courts open and
very bitter against Messrs. Hutchinson and Oliver whose "insolence and
impudence and chicanery" in the matter were obvious, and whose secret
motives might easily be inferred. Little wonder if these men, who had
managed by hook or crook to get into their own hands or into the hands
of their families nearly all the lucrative offices in the province, now
sought to curry favor with ministers in order to maintain their amazing

When the Stamp Act was passed, all men in America had professed
themselves, and were thought to be, Sons of Liberty. Even Mr. Hutchinson
had declared himself against ministerial measures. But scarce a month
had elapsed since the law was to have gone into effect before it was
clear to the discerning that, for all their professions, most of
the "better sort" were not genuine Sons of Liberty at all, but timid
sycophants, pliant instruments of despotism, far more intent upon the
ruin of Mr. Adams and of America in general than any minister could
be shown to be. For the policy of dispensing with activities requiring
stamped papers, much lauded by these gentry as an effective and
constitutional means of defeating the law, was after all nothing but "a
sort of admittance of the legality of the Stamp Act, and had a tendency
to enforce it, since there was just reason to apprehend that the
secret enemies of liberty had actually a design to introduce it by
the necessity to which the people would be reduced by the cessation of
business." It was well, therefore, in view of such insidious designs of
secret enemies, that the people, even to the lowest ranks, should become
"more attentive to their liberties, and more inquisitive about them, and
more determined to defend them, than they were ever before known or had
occasion to be."

To defend their liberties, not against ministers but against ministerial
tools, who were secret betrayers of America, true patriots accordingly
banded themselves in societies which took to themselves the name of Sons
of Liberty and of which the object was, by "putting business in motion
again, in the usual channels, without stamps," to prevent the Stamp Act
ever being enforced. Such a society composed mainly of the lower orders
of people and led by rising young lawyers, was formed in New York. On
January 7, at Mr. Howard's coffee house, abandoning the secrecy which
had hitherto veiled their activities, its members declared to the world
their principles and the motives that would determine their action in
the future:

"Resolved: That we will go to the last extremity and venture our lives
and fortunes effectively to prevent the said Stamp Act from ever taking
place in this city and province; Resolved: That any person who
shall deliver out or receive any instrument of writing upon stamped
paper... shall incur the highest resentment of this society, and be
branded with everlasting infamy; Resolved: That the people who carry
on business as formerly on unstamped Paper... shall be protected to the
utmost power of this society."

Malicious men said that the Sons of Liberty were "much concerned that
the gentlemen of fortune don't publically join them," for which reason
the society "formed a committee of correspondence with the Liberty Boys
in the neighboring provinces." In February, the society did in fact
appoint such a committee, which sent out letters to all the counties of
New York and to all the colonies except Georgia, proposing the formation
of an intercolonial association of the true Sons of Liberty; to which
letters many replies were received, some of which are still preserved
among the papers of the secretary, Mr. John Lamb. The general sense
of these letters was that an intercolonial association and close
correspondence were highly necessary in view of the presence, in nearly
every colony, of many "secret and inveterate enemies of liberty," and of
the desirability of keeping "a watchful eye over all those who, from
the nature of their offices, vocations, or dispositions, may be the most
likely to introduce the use of stamped paper, to the total subversion of
the British constitution."

No doubt the society kept its watchful eye on every unusual activity and
all suspicious characters, but to what extent it succeeded in "putting
business in motion again, in the usual channels, without stamps," cannot
be said. Both before and after the society was founded, much business
was carried on in violation of the law: newspapers and pamphlets
continued to flourish in the land; the inferior courts at least were
sooner or later opened in nearly every colony; and not infrequently
unstamped clearance papers were issued to shipmasters willing to take
the risk of seizure in London or elsewhere. Mr. John Hancock, easily
persuading himself that there should be no risk, shipped a cargo of oil
with the Boston packet in December. "I am under no apprehensions," he
wrote his London agent. "Should there be any Difficulty in London as
to Marshall's clearance, You will please to represent the circumstances
that no stamps could be obtained,... in which case I think I am to be
justified, & am not liable to a seizure, or even run any risque at all,
as I have taken the Step of the Law, and made application for clearance,
& can get no other."

Notwithstanding such practices, which were frequent enough, it was a
dull winter, with little profit flowing into the coffers of Mr. Hancock,
with low wages or none at all for worthy artisans and laborers; so that
it must often have seemed, as Governor Moore said, "morally impossible
that the people here can subsist any time under such inconveniences
as they have brought on themselves." Such inconveniences became more
irksome as time passed, with the result that, during the cold and
dreary months of February and March, it became every day a more pressing
question, particularly for the poor, to know whether the bad times would
end at last in the repeal or the admission of the tyrannical act.

Confronted with this difficult dilemma, the faithful Sons of Liberty
were preparing in April to assemble a continental congress as a last
resort, when rumors began to spread that Parliament was on the point
of carrying the repeal. The project of a congress was accordingly
abandoned, and everywhere recrimination gave place to rejoicing. On
April 21, 1766, the vigilant Boston Sons voted that when the rumors
should be confirmed they would celebrate the momentous event in a
befitting manner--would celebrate it "Under the deepest Sense of Duty
and Loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign King George, and in respect
and Gratitude to the Patriotic Ministry, Mr. Pitt, and the Glorious
Majority of both Houses of Parliament, by whose Influence, under Divine
Providence, against a most strenuous Opposition, a happy Repeal of the
Stamp Act, so unconstitutional as well as Grievous to His Majesty's good
Subjects of America, is attained; whereby our incontestible Right of
Internal Taxation remains to us inviolate."

CHAPTER IV. Defining The Issue

     A pepper-corn, in acknowledgement of the right, is of more
     value than millions without it.--George Grenville.

     A perpetual jealousy respecting liberty, is absolutely
     requisite in all free states.--John Dickinson.

Good Americans everywhere celebrated the repeal of the Stamp Act with
much festivity and joyful noises in the streets, and with "genteel
entertainments" in taverns, where innumerable toasts were drunk to
Liberty and to its English defenders. Before his house on Beacon Hill,
Mr. John Hancock, on occasion a generous man, erected a platform and
placed there a pipe of Madeira which was broached for all comers. At
Colonel Ingersoll's, where twenty-eight gentlemen attended to take
dinner, fifteen toasts were drunk, "and very loyal they were, and suited
to the occasion"; upon which occasion, we are told, Mr. Hancock again
"treated every person with cheerfulness." Throughout the land men with
literary gifts, or instincts, delivered themselves of vigorous free
verse, founded upon the antithesis of Freedom and Tyranny, and enforcing
the universal truth that "in the unequal war Oppressors fall, the hate,
contempt, and endless curse of all." In New York, on the occasion of the
King's birthday, an ox was roasted whole in the Fields, and twenty
kegs of beer were opened for a great dinner at the King's Arms; and
afterwards, through the generosity of the Assembly of that province,
there was erected on the Bowling Green a mounted statue--made of lead
but without present intention of being turned into bullets representing
His Majesty King George the Third, of ever glorious memory, the Restorer
of Liberty.

The joyful Americans could not know how little King George aspired to
be thought the Restorer of Liberty. In reality he was extremely sulky
in his silent, stubborn way over the repeal of the Stamp Act, and vexed
most particularly at the part which he himself had been forced to
play in it. The idea of a Patriot King, conceived by Lord Bolingbroke
(one-time Jacobite exile) and instilled into the mind of the young
Hanoverian monarch by an ambitious mother, had little to do with
liberty, either British or colonial, but had much to do with authority.
The Patriot King was to be a king indeed, seeking advice of all virtuous
men of whatever connections, without being bound by any man or faction
of men. It was not to restore liberty, nor yet to destroy it, but to
destroy factions, that the King was ambitious; and for this purpose he
desired a ministry that would do his bidding without too much question.
If Mr. Grenville did not satisfy His Majesty, it was not on account
of the Stamp Act, in respect to which the King was wholly of Mr.
Grenville's opinion that it was a just law and ought to be enforced. In
July, 1765, when Mr. Grenville was dismissed, there had indeed as yet
been no open resistance in America; and if the King had been somewhat
annoyed by the high talk of his loyal subjects in Virginia, he had been
annoyed much more by Mr. Grenville, who was disposed, in spite of his
outward air of humility and solemn protestations of respect, to be very
firm with His Majesty in the matter of ministerial prerogative, reading
him from time to time carefully prepared pedantic little curtain
lectures on the customs of the Constitution and the duties of kings
under particular circumstances.

Unable to endure Mr. Grenville longer, the King turned to Mr. Pitt. This
statesman, although extremely domineering in the House, was much subdued
in the presence of his sovereign, and along with many defects had one
great virtue in his Majesty's eyes, which was that he shared the King's
desire to destroy the factions. The King was accordingly ready to
receive the Great Commoner, even though he insisted on bringing "the
Constitution," and Earl Temple into the bargain, with him to St. James's
Palace. But when it appeared that Earl Temple was opposed to the repeal
of the Stamp Act, Mr. Pitt declined after all to come to St. James's on
any terms, even with his beloved Constitution; whereupon the harassed
young King, rather than submit again to Mr. Grenville's lectures,
surrendered himself, temporarily, to the old-line Whigs under the lead
of the Marquis of Rockingham. In all the negotiations which ended in
this unpromising arrangement of the King's business, the Stamp Act had
apparently not been once mentioned; except that Mr. Grenville, upon
retiring, had ventured to say to His Majesty, as a kind of abbreviated
parting homily, that if "any man ventured to defeat the regulations
laid down for the colonies, by a slackness in the execution, he [Mr.
Grenville] should look upon him as a criminal and the betrayer of his

The Marquis of Rockingham and his friends had no intention of betraying
their country. They had, perhaps, when they were thus accidentally
lifted to power, no very definite intentions of any sort. Respecting the
Stamp Act, as most alarming reports began to come in from America,
His Majesty's Opposition, backed by the landed interest and led by
Mr. Grenville and the Duke of Bedford, knew its mind much sooner than
ministers knew theirs. America was in open rebellion, they said, and so
far from doing anything about it ministers were not even prepared, four
months after disturbances began, to lay necessary information before
the House. Under pressure of such talk, the Marquis of Rockingham had
to make up his mind. It would be odd and contrary to well-established
precedent for ministers to adopt a policy already outlined by
Opposition; and in view of the facts that good Whig tradition, even
if somewhat obscured in latter days, committed them to some kind of
liberalism, that the City and the mercantile interest thought Mr.
Grenville's measures disastrous to trade, and that they were much in
need of Mr. Pitt's eloquence to carry them through, ministers at last,
in January, 1766, declared for the repeal.

Now that it was a question of repealing Mr. Grenville's measures,
serious attention was given to them; and honorable members, in the
notable debate of 1766, learned much about America and the rights of
Englishmen which they had not known before. Lord Mansfield, the most
eminent legal authority in England, argued that the Stamp Act was
clearly within the power of Parliament, while Lord Camden, whose opinion
was by no means to be despised, staked his reputation that the law was
unconstitutional. Mr. Grenville, in his precise way, laid it down
as axiomatic that since "Great Britain protects America, America is
therefore bound to yield obedience"; if not; he desired to know when
Americans were emancipated. Whereupon Mr. Pitt, springing up, desired
to know when they were made slaves. The Great Commoner rejoiced that
America had resisted, and expressed the belief that three millions of
people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit
to be made slaves would be very fit instruments to make slaves of all

Honorable members were more disposed to listen to Mr. Pitt than to vote
with him; and were doubtless less influenced by his hot eloquence than
by the representations of English merchants to the effect that trade was
being ruined by Mr. Grenville's measures. Sir George Seville, honorable
member for Yorkshire, spoke the practical mind of business men when he
wrote to Lord Rockingham: "Our trade is hurt; what the devil have you
been doing? For our part, we don't pretend to understand your politics
and American matters, but our trade is hurt: pray remedy it, and a
plague of you if you won't." This was not so eloquent as Mr. Pitt's
speech, but still very eloquent in its way and more easily followed
than Mr. Pitt's theory that "taxation is no part of the governing or
legislative power."

Constitutional arguments, evenly balanced pro and con, were not certain
to change many minds, while such brief statements as that of Sir George
Seville, although clearly revealing the opinion of that gentleman,
did little to enlighten the House on the merits of the question. That
members might have every opportunity to inform themselves about America,
the ministers thought it worth while to have Benjamin Franklin of
Philadelphia, printer and Friend of the Human Race, brought before the
bar of the House to make such statements of fact or opinion as might be
desired of him. The examination was a long one; the questions very much
to the point; the replies very ready and often more to the point than
the questions. With much exact information the provincial printer
maintained that the colonists, having taxed themselves heavily in
support of the last war, were not well able to pay more taxes, and that,
even if they were abundantly able, the sugar duties and the stamp
tax were improper measures. The stamps, in remote districts, would
frequently require more in postage to obtain than the value of the tax.
The sugar duties had already greatly diminished the volume of colonial
trade, while both the duties and the tax, having to be paid in silver,
were draining America of its specie and thus making it impossible for
merchants to import from England to the same extent as formerly. It
was well known that at the moment Americans were indebted to English
merchants to the amount of several million pounds sterling, which they
were indeed willing, as English merchants themselves said, but unable
to pay. Necessarily, therefore, Americans were beginning to manufacture
their own cloth, which they could very well do. Before their old clothes
were worn out they "would have new ones of their own making."

Against the Stamp Act, honorable members were reminded, there was a
special objection to be urged. It was thought with good reason to be
unconstitutional, which would make its application difficult, if not
impossible. Troops might no doubt be sent to enforce it, but troops
would find no enemy to contend with, no men in arms; they would find no
rebellion in America, although they might indeed create one. Pressed by
Mr. Townshend to say whether the colonies might not, on the ground of
Magna Carta, as well deny the validity of external as internal taxes,
the Doctor was not ready to commit himself on that point. It was true
many arguments had lately been used in England to show Americans that,
if Parliament has no right to tax them internally, it has none to tax
them externally, or to make any other law to bind them; in reply to
which, he could only say that "at present they do not reason so, but in
time they may possibly be convinced by these, arguments."

Whether the Parliament was truly enlightened and resolved by statistical
information and lofty constitutional argument is not certainly known;
but it is known that the King, whose steady mind did not readily change,
was still opposed to the repeal, a fact supposed to be not without
influence in unsettling the opinions of some honorable members. Lord
Mansfield had discreetly advised His Majesty that although it was
contrary to the spirit of the constitution to "endeavour by His
Majesty's name to carry questions in Parliament, yet where the lawful
rights of the King and Parliament were to be asserted and maintained, he
thought the making His Majesty's opinion in support of those rights to
be known, was very fit and becoming."

The distinction was subtle, but perhaps not too subtle for a great
lawyer. It was apparently not too subtle for a Patriot King, since
certain noble lords who could be counted on to know the King's wishes
conveyed information to the proper persons that those who found it
against their conscience to vote for the repeal would not for that
reason be received coldly at St. James's Palace. In order to preserve
the constitution as well as to settle the question of the repeal on its
merits, Lord Rockingham and the Earl of Shelburne obtained an interview
with the King at which they pointed out to him the manifest irregularity
of such a procedure, and in addition expressed their conviction that, on
account of the high excitement in the City, failure to repeal the
Stamp Act would be attended with very serious consequences. Whether to
preserve the Constitution, or to allow the repeal to be determined on
its merits, or for some other reason, the King at last gave in writing
his consent to the ministers' measure. On February 22, by a vote of
275 to 167, Mr. Conway was given leave to bring in the bill for a total
repeal of the Stamp Act. The bill was accordingly brought in, passed by
both houses, and on March 18 assented to by the King.

In the colonies the repeal was thought to be a victory for true
principles of government, at least a tacit admission by the mother
country that the American interpretation of the Constitution was the
correct one. No Englishman denied that the repeal was an American
victory; and there were some, like Pitt and Camden, who preferred
the constitutional theories of Daniel Dulaney * to those of George
Grenville. But most Englishmen who took the trouble to have any views on
such recondite matters, having in general a poor opinion of provincial
logic, easily dismissed the whole matter with the convincing phrase of
Charles Townshend that the distinction between internal and external
taxes was "perfect nonsense." The average Briton, taking it for granted
that all the subtle legal aspects of the question had been thoroughly
gone into by Lord Mansfield, was content to read Mr. Soame Jenyns, a
writer of verse and member of the Board of Trade, who in a leisure hour
had recently turned his versatile mind to the consideration of colonial
rights with the happiest results. In twenty-three very small pages
he had disposed of the "Objections to the Taxation of Our American
Colonies" in a manner highly satisfactory to himself and doubtless also
to the average reading Briton, who understood constitutional questions
best when they were "briefly considered," and when they were humorously
expounded in pamphlets that could be had for sixpence.

     *Daniel Dulaney, of Maryland, was the author of a pamphlet
     entitled "Considerations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes
     on the British Colonies." Pitt, in his speech on the repeal
     of the Stamp Act, referred to in this pamphlet as a masterly

Having a logical mind, Mr. Jenyns easily perceived that taxes could
be objected to on two grounds: the ground of right and the ground of
expediency. In his opinion the right of Parliament to lay taxes on
America and the expediency of doing so at the present moment were
propositions so clear that any man, in order not to bring his
intelligence in question, needed to apologize for undertaking to defend
them. Mr. Jenyns wished it known that he was not the man to carry owls
to Athens, and that he would never have thought it necessary to prove
either the right or the expediency of taxing our American colonies, "had
not many arguments been lately flung out... which with insolence equal
to their absurdity deny them both." With this conciliatory preliminary
disclaimer of any lack of intelligence on his own part, Mr. Jenyns
proceeded to point out, in his most happy vein, how unsubstantial
American reasoning really appeared when, brushing aside befogging
irrelevancies, you once got to the heart of the question.

The heart of the question was the proposition that there should be no
taxation without representation; upon which principle it was necessary
to observe only that many individuals in England, such as copyholders
and leaseholders, and many communities, such as Manchester and
Birmingham, were taxed in Parliament without being represented there. If
Americans quoted you "Lock, Sidney, Selden, and many other great names
to prove that every Englishman ... is still represented in Parliament,"
he would only ask why, since Englishmen are all represented in
Parliament, are not all Americans represented in exactly the same way?
Either Manchester is not represented or Massachusetts is. "Are Americans
not British subjects? Are they not Englishmen? Or are they only
Englishmen when they solicit protection, but not Englishmen when taxes
are required to enable this country to protect them?" Americans said
they had Assemblies of their own to tax them, which was a privilege
granted them by charter, without which "that liberty which every
Englishman has a right to is torn from them, they are all slaves, and
all is lost." Colonial charters were, however, "undoubtedly no more than
those of all corporations, which empower them to make bye-laws." As for
"liberty," the word had so many meanings," having within a few years
been used as a synonymous term for Blasphemy, Bawdy, Treason, Libels,
Strong Beer, and Cyder," that Mr. Jenyns could not presume to say what
it meant.

Against the expediency of the taxes, Mr. Jenyns found that two
objections had been raised: that the time was improper and the manner
wrong as to the manner, the colonies themselves had in a way prescribed
it, since they had not been able at the request of ministers to suggest
any other. The time Mr. Jenyns thought most propitious, a point upon
which he grew warm and almost serious.

"Can any time be more proper to require some assistance from our
colonies, to preserve to themselves their present safety, than when this
country is almost undone by procuring it? Can any time be more proper to
impose some tax upon their trade, than when they are enabled to rival us
in their manufactures by the encouragement and protection which we
have given them? Can any time be more proper to oblige them to settle
handsome incomes on their governors, than when we find them unable to
procure a subsistence on any other terms than those of breaking all
their instructions, and betraying the rights of their Sovereign?... Can
there be a more proper time to force them to maintain an army at their
expence, than when that army is necessary for their own protection, and
we are utterly unable to support it? Lastly, can there be a more proper
time for this mother country to leave off feeding out of her own vitals
these children whom she has nursed up, than when they are arrived at
such strength and maturity as to be well able to provide for themselves,
and ought rather with filial duty to give some assistance to her

Americans, after all, were not the only ones who might claim to have a

It was upon a lighter note, not to end in anticlimax, that Mr. Jenyns
concluded his able pamphlet. He had heard it hinted that allowing the
colonies representation in Parliament would be a simple plan for making
taxes legal. The impracticability of this plan, he would not go into,
since the plan itself had nowhere been seriously pressed, but he would,
upon that head, offer the following consideration:

"I have lately seen so many specimens of the great powers of speech
of which these American gentlemen are possessed, that I should be much
afraid that the sudden importation of so much eloquence at once would
greatly endanger the safety of the government of this country.... If we
can avail ourselves of these taxes on no other condition, I shall never
look upon it as a measure of frugality, being perfectly satisfied that
in the end, it will be much cheaper for us to pay their army than their

Mr. Jenyns's pamphlet, which could be had for sixpence, was widely read,
with much appreciation for its capital wit and extraordinary common
sense; more widely read in England than Mr. James Otis's "Rights of
the British Colonies Asserted and Proved" or Daniel Dulaney's
"Considerations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes on the British
Colonies"; and it therefore did much more than these able pamphlets to
clarify English opinion on the rights of Parliament and the expediency
of taxing America. No one could deny that Government had yielded in
the face of noisy clamor and forcible resistance. To yield under the
circumstances may have been wise or not; but Government had not yielded
on any ground of right, but had on the contrary most expressly affirmed,
in the Declaratory Act, that "the King's Majesty, by and with the advice
of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons of Great Britain, in
Parliament assembled, had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power
and authority to make such laws and statutes of sufficient force and
validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the
Crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever." Government had not
even denied the expediency of taxing America, the total repeal of the
Stamp Act and the modification of the Sugar Act having been carried on a
consideration of the inexpediency of these particular taxes only. Taxes
not open to the same objection might in future be found, and doubtless
must be found, inasmuch as the troops were still retained in America and
the Quartering Act continued in force there. For new taxes, however, it
would doubtless be necessary to await the formation of a new ministry.

The formation of a new ministry was not an unusual occurrence in
the early years of King George the Third. No one supposed that Lord
Rockingham could hold on many months; and as early as July, 1766, all
London knew that Mr. Pitt had been sent for. The coming and going
of great men in times of ministerial crisis was always a matter of
interest; but the formation of that ministry of all the factions which
the Patriot King had long desired was something out of the ordinary, the
point of greatest speculation being how many irreconcilables Mr. Pitt
(the Earl of Chatham he was now) could manage to get seated about a
single table. From the point of view of irreconcilability, no one was
more eligible than Mr. Charles Townshend, at that moment Paymaster
of the Forces, a kind of enfant terrible of English politics, of whom
Horace Walpole could say, with every likelihood of being believed,
that "his speech of last Friday, made while half drunk, was all wit and
indiscretion; nobody but he could have made it, nobody but he would
have made it if he could. He beat Lord Chatham in language, Burke in
metaphors, Grenville in presumption, Rigby in impudence, himself in
folly, and everybody in good humour."

This gentleman, much to his astonishment, one day received the following
note from Lord Chatham: "Sir: You are too great a magnitude not to be
in a responsible place; I intend to propose you for Chancellor of the
Exchequer, and must desire to have your answer by nine o'clock tonight."
Mr. Townshend was dismayed as well as astonished, his dismay arising
from the fact that the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer was worth
but 2700 pounds, which was precisely 4300 pounds less than he was then
receiving as Paymaster of the Forces. To be a great magnitude on small
pay had its disadvantages, and Mr. Townshend, after remaining home all
day in great distress of mind, begged Mr. Pitt to be allowed to retain
the office of Paymaster; which was no sooner granted than he changed his
mind and begged Mr. Pitt to be allowed to accept the Exchequer place,
which Mr. Pitt at first refused and was only persuaded to grant finally
upon the intercession of the Duke of Grafton. The day following, Mr.
Townshend accordingly informed the King that he had decided, in view of
the urgent representations of the Earl of Chatham, to accept the office
of Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Majesty's new ministry.

No one supposed, least of all himself, that this delightful man would
have any influence in formulating the policies of the Chatham ministry.
Lord Chatham's policies were likely to be his own; and in the present
case, so far as America was concerned, they were not such as could be
readily associated with Mr. Townshend's views, so far as those views
were known or were not inconsistent. For dealing with America, the
Earl of Shelburne, because of his sympathetic understanding of colonial
matters, had been brought into the ministry to formulate a comprehensive
and conciliatory plan; as for the revenue, always the least part of Lord
Chatham's difficulties as it was the chief of Mr. Grenville's, it was
thought that the possessions of the East India Company, if taken over by
the Government, would bring into the Treasury sums quite sufficient to
pay the debt as well as to relieve the people, in England and America
at least, of those heavy taxes which Mr. Grenville and his party had
thought necessarily involved in the extension of empire. It was a
curious chapter of accidents that brought all these well laid plans
to nought. Scarcely was the ministry formed when the Earl of Chatham,
incapacitated by the gout, retired into a seclusion that soon became
impenetrable; and "even before this resplendent orb was entirely set,
and while the western horizon was in a blaze with his descending glory,
on the opposite quarter of the heavens arose another luminary, and, for
his hour, became lord of the ascendant." This luminary was Mr. Charles

Mr. Townshend was the "delight and ornament" of the House, as Edmund
Burke said. Never was a man in any country of "more pointed and finished
wit, or (where his passions were not concerned) of a more refined,
exquisite, and penetrating judgment"; never a man to excel him in
"luminous explanation and display of his subject," nor ever one less
tedious or better able to conform himself exactly to the temper of the
House which he seemed to guide because he was always sure to follow it.
In 1765 Mr. Townshend had voted for the Stamp Act, but in 1766, when the
Stamp Act began to be no favorite, he voted for the repeal, and would
have spoken for it too, if an illness had not prevented him. And now,
in 1767, Mr. Townshend was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and as such
responsible for the revenue; a man without any of that temperamental
obstinacy which persists in opinions once formed, and without any fixed
opinions to persist in; but quite disposed, according to habit, to
"hit the House just between wind and water," and to win its applause by
speaking for the majority, or by "haranguing inimitably on both sides"
when the majority was somewhat uncertain.

In January, 1767, when Lord Chatham was absent and the majority was
very uncertain, Mr. Grenville took occasion, in the debate upon the
extraordinaries for the army in England and America, to move that
America, like Ireland, should support its own establishment. The
opportunity was one which Mr. Townshend could not let pass. Much to the
astonishment of every one and most of all to that of his colleagues in
the ministry, he supported Mr. Grenville's resolution, declaring himself
now in favor of the Stamp Act which he had voted to repeal, treating
"Lord Chatham's distinction between internal and external taxation as
contemptuously as Mr. Grenville had done," and pledging himself able, if
necessary, to find a revenue in America nearly adequate to the proposed
project. The Earl of Shelburne, in great distress of mind, at once wrote
to Lord Chatham, relating the strange if characteristic conduct of the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and declaring himself entirely ignorant of
the intentions of his colleagues. It was indeed an anomalous situation.
If Lord Chatham's policies were still to be considered those of
the ministry, Mr. Townshend might be said to be in opposition, a
circumstance which made "many people think Lord Chatham ill at St.
James's" only.

Lord Chatham was not ill at St. James's. He was most likely very well
at St. James's, being unable to appear there, thus leaving the divided
ministry amenable to the King's management or helpless before a factious
Opposition. The opportunity of the Opposition came when the Chancellor
of the Exchequer, in February, proposed to continue the land tax at four
shillings for one year more, after which time, he thought, it might be
reduced to three shillings in view of additional revenues to be obtained
from the East India Company. But Opposition saw no reason why, in
view of the revenue which Mr. Townshend had pledged himself to find in
America, a shilling might not be taken from the land at once, a proposal
which Mr. Dowdeswell moved should be done, and which was accordingly
voted through the influence of Mr. Grenville and the Duke of Bedford,
who had formerly carried the Stamp Act, aided by the Rockingham Whigs
who had formerly repealed it. If Lord Chatham was ill at St. James's,
this was a proper time to resign. It was doubtless a proper time to
resign in any case. But Lord Chatham did not resign: In March he came
to London, endeavored to replace Mr. Townshend by Lord North, which he
failed to do, and then retired to Bath to be seen no more, leaving Mr.
Townshend more than ever "master of the revels."

Mr. Townshend did not resign either, but continued in office, quite
undisturbed by the fact that a cardinal measure of the ministry had been
decisively voted down. Mr. Townshend reasoned that if Opposition would
not support the ministry, all difficulties would be straightened out by
the ministry's supporting the Opposition. This was the more reasonable
since Opposition had perhaps been right after all, so far as the
colonies were concerned. Late reports from that quarter seemed to
indicate that the repeal of the Stamp Act, far from satisfying the
Americans, had only confirmed that umbrageous people in a spirit of
licentiousness, which was precisely what Opposition had predicted as
the sure result of any weak concession. The New York Assembly, it now
appeared, refused to make provision for the troops according to the
terms of the Quartering Act; New York merchants were petitioning for
a further modification of the trade acts; the precious Bostonians,
wrangling refined doctrinaire points with Governor Bernard, were making
interminable difficulties about compensating the sufferers from the
Stamp Act riots. If Lord Chatham, in February, 1767, could go so far
as to say that the colonies had "drunk deep of the baneful cup of
infatuation," Mr. Townshend, having voted for the Stamp Act and for its
repeal, might well think, in May, that the time was ripe for a return to
rigorous measures.

On May 13, in a speech which charmed the House, Mr. Townshend opened
his plan for settling the colonial question. The growing spirit of
insubordination, which must be patent to all, he thought could be most
effectively checked by making an example of New York, where defiance
was at present most open; for which purpose it was proposed that the
meetings of the Assembly of that province be totally suspended until
it should have complied with the terms of the Mutiny Act. As one chief
source of power in colonial assemblies which contributed greatly to make
them insubordinate was the dependence of executive officials upon them
for salaries, Mr. Townshend now renewed the proposal, which he had
formerly brought forward in 1763, to create an independent civil list
for the payment of governors and judges from England. The revenue fox
such a civil list would naturally be raised in America. Mr. Townshend
would not, however, venture to renew the Stamp Act, which had been so
opposed on the ground of its being an internal tax. He was free to say
that the distinction between internal and external taxes was perfect
nonsense; but; since the logical Americans thought otherwise, he would
concede the point and would accordingly humor them by laying only
external duties, which he thought might well be on various kinds of
glass and paper, on red and white lead, and upon teas, the duties to be
collected in colonial ports upon the importation of these commodities
from England. It was estimated that the duties might altogether make
about 40,000 pounds, if the collection were properly attended to; and
in order that the collection might be properly attended to, and for the
more efficient administration of the American customs in general, Mr.
Townshend further recommended that a Board of Customs Commissioners be
created and established in Massachusetts Bay. With slight opposition,
all these recommendations were enacted into law; and the Commissioners
of the Customs, shortly afterward appointed by the King, arrived in
Boston in November, 1767.

At Boston, the Commissioners found much to be done in the way of
collecting the customs, particularly in the matter of Madeira wines.
Madeira wines were much drunk in the old Bay colony, being commonly
imported directly from the islands, without too much attention to
the duty of 7 pounds per ton lawfully required in that case. Mr. John
Hancock, a popular Boston merchant, did a thriving business in this way;
and his sloop Liberty, in the ordinary course of trade, carrying six
pipes of "good saleable Madeira" for the coffeehouse retailers, four
pipes of the "very best" for his own table, and "two pipes more of the
best... for the Treasurer of the province," entered the harbor on May
9, 1768. In the evening Mr. Thomas Kirk, tide-waiter, acting for the
Commissioners, boarded the sloop, where he found the captain, Nat
Bernard, and also, by some chance, another of Mr. Hancock's skippers,
young James Marshall, together with half a dozen of his friends. They
sat with punch served by the captain all round until nine o'clock, when
young James Marshall casually asked if a few casks might not as well be
set on shore that evening. Mr. Kirk replied that it could not be done
with his leave; whereupon he found himself "hoved down" into the cabin
and confined there for three hours, from which point of disadvantage
he could distinctly hear overhead "a noise of many people at work,
a-hoisting out of goods." In due time Mr. Kirk was released, having
suffered no injury, except perhaps a little in his official character.
Next day Mr. Hancock's cargo was duly entered, no pipes of Madeira
listed; and to all appearance the only serious aspect of the affair
was that young James Marshall died before morning, it was thought from
overexertion and excitement.

Very likely few people in Boston knew anything about this interesting
episode; and a month later much excitement was accordingly raised by
the news that Mr. Hancock's sloop Liberty had been ordered seized for
nonpayment of customs. A crowd watched the ship towed, for safe-keeping,
under the guns of the Romney in the harbor. When the Commissioners, who
had come down to see the thing done, left the wharf they were roughly
handled by the incensed people; and in the evening windows of some of
their houses were broken, and a boat belonging to a collector was hauled
on shore and burnt on the Common. Governor Bernard at last informed the
Commissioners that he could not protect them in Boston, whereupon they
retired with their families to the Romney, and later to Castle William.
There they continued, under difficulties, the work of systematizing the
American customs; and not without success, inasmuch as the income from
the duties during the years from 1768 to 1774 averaged about 30,000
pounds sterling, at an annual cost to the revenue of not more than
13,000 pounds. This saving was nevertheless not effected without the
establishment at Boston, on the recommendation of the Commissioners,
of two regiments of the line which arrived September 28, 1768, and were
landed under the guns of eight men-of-war, without opposition. The cost
of maintaining the two regiments in Boston was doubtless not included
in the 13,000 pounds charged to the revenue as the annual expense of
collecting 30,000 pounds of customs.

In spite of the two regiments of the line, with artillery, Boston was
not quiet in this year 1768. The soldiers acted decently enough, no
doubt; but their manners were very British and their coats were red,
and "their simple presence," conveying every day the suggestion of
compulsion, was "an intolerable grievance." Every small matter was
magnified. The people, says Hutchinson, "had been used to answer to the
call of the town watch in the night, yet they did not like to answer to
the frequent calls of the centinels posted at the barracks;... and either
a refusal to answer, or an answer accompanied with irritating language,
endangered the peace of the town." On Sundays, especially, the Boston
mind found something irreverent, something at the very least irrelevant,
in the presence of the bright colored and highly secular coats; while
the noise of fife and drum, so disturbing to the sabbath calm, called
forth from the Selectmen a respectful petition to the general requesting
him to "dispense with the band."

These were but slight matters; but as time passed little grievances
accumulated on both sides until the relation between the people and the
soldiers was one of settled hostility, and at last, after two years, the
tense situation culminated in the famous Boston Massacre. On the evening
of March 5, 1770, there was an alarm of fire, false as it turned out,
which brought many people into the streets, especially boys, whom one
may easily imagine catching up, as they ran, handfuls of damp snow to
make snowballs. For snowballs, there could be no better target than
red-coated sentinels standing erect and motionless at the post of duty;
and it chanced that one of these individuals, stationed before the
Customs House door, was pelted with the close-packed missiles. Being
several times struck, he called for aid, the guard turned out, and a
crowd gathered. One of the soldiers was presently knocked down, another
was hit by a club, and at last six or seven shots were fired, with or
without orders, the result of which was four citizens lying dead on the
snow-covered streets of Boston.

The Boston Massacre was not as serious as the Massacre of Saint
Bartholomew or the Sicilian Vespers; but it served to raise passion to
a white heat in the little provincial town. On the next day there was
assembled, under the skillful leadership of Samuel Adams, a great town
meeting which demanded in no uncertain terms the removal of the troops
from Boston. Under the circumstances, six hundred British soldiers would
have fared badly in Boston; and in order to prevent further bloodshed,
acting Governor Hutchinson finally gave the order. Within a fortnight,
the two small regiments retired to Castle William. Seven months later
Captain Preston and other soldiers implicated in the riot were tried
before a Boston jury. Ably defended by John Adams and Josiah Quincy,
they were all acquitted on the evidence, except two who were convicted
and lightly punished for manslaughter.

As it happened, the Boston Massacre occurred on the 5th of March, 1770,
which was the very day that Lord North rose in the House of Commons to
propose the partial repeal of the Townshend duties. This outcome was not
unconnected with events that had occurred in America during the eighteen
months since the landing of the troops in Boston in September, 1768. In
1768, John Adams could not have foretold the Boston Massacre, or have
foreseen that he would himself incur popular displeasure for having
defended the soldiers. But he could, even at that early date, divine the
motives of the British government in sending the troops to Boston. To
his mind, "the very appearance of the troops in Boston was a strong
proof that the determination of Great Britain to subjugate us was too
deep and inveterate to be altered." All the measures of ministry seemed
indeed to confirm that view. Mr. Townshend's condescension in accepting
the colonial distinction between internal and external taxes was clearly
only a subtle maneuver designed to conceal an attack upon liberty far
more dangerous than the former attempts of Mr. Grenville. After all,
Mr. Townshend was probably right in thinking the distinction of no
importance, the main point being whether, as Lord Chatham had said, the
Parliament could by any kind of taxes "take money out of their pockets
without their consent."

Duties on glass and tea certainly would take money out of their pockets
without their consent, and therefore it must be true that taxes could be
rightly laid only by colonial assemblies, in which alone Americans could
be represented. But of what value was it to preserve the abstract
right of taxation by colonial assemblies if meanwhile the assemblies
themselves might, by act of Parliament, be abolished? And had not the
New York Assembly been suspended by act of Parliament? And were not
the new duties to be used to pay governors and judges, thus by subtle
indirection undermining the very basis of legislative independence?
And now, in the year 1768, the Massachusetts Assembly, having sent a
circular letter to the other colonies requesting concerted action in
defense of their liberties, was directed by Lord Hillsborough, speaking
in his Majesty's name, "to rescind the resolution which gave birth
to the circular letter from the Speaker, and to declare their
disapprobation of, and dissent to, that rash and hasty proceeding."
Clearly, it was no mere question of taxation but the larger question of
legislative independence that now confronted Americans.

A more skillful dialectic was required to defend American rights against
the Townshend duties than against the Stamp Act. It was a somewhat
stubborn fact that Parliament had for more than a hundred years passed
laws effectively regulating colonial trade, and for regulating trade had
imposed duties, some of which had brought into the Exchequer a certain
revenue. Americans, wishing to be thought logical as well as loyal,
could not well say at this late date that Parliament had no right to lay
duties in regulation of trade. Must they then submit to the Townshend
duties? Or was it possible to draw a line, making a distinction, rather
more subtle than the old one between internal and external taxes,
between duties for regulation and duties for revenue? This latter feat
was undertaken by Mr. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, anonymously, under
the guise of a simple but intelligent and virtuous farmer whose arcadian
existence had confirmed in him an instinctive love of liberty and had
supplied him with the leisure to meditate at large upon human welfare
and the excellent British Constitution.

Mr. Dickinson readily granted America to be dependent upon Great
Britain, "as much dependent upon Great Britain as one perfectly
free people can be on another." But it appeared axiomatic to the
unsophisticated mind of a simple farmer that no people could be free if
taxed without its consent, and that Parliament had accordingly no right
to lay any taxes upon the colonies; from which it followed that the
sole question in respect to duties laid on trade was whether they were
intended for revenue or for regulation. Intention in such matters was
of primary importance, since all duties were likely to be regulative
to some extent. It might be objected that "it will be difficult for any
persons but the makers of the laws to determine which of them are made
for regulation of trade, and which for raising a revenue." This was
true enough but at present of academic importance only, inasmuch as the
makers of the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, and the Townshend duties had
conveniently and very clearly proclaimed their intention to be the
raising of a revenue. Yet this question, academic now, might soon become
extremely practical. The makers of laws might not always express their
intention so explicitly; they might, with intention to raise a revenue,
pass acts professing to be for regulation only; and therefore, since
"names will not change the nature of things," Americans ought "firmly
to believe... that unless the most watchful attention be exerted, a
new servitude may be slipped upon us under the sanction of usual and
respectable terms." In such case the intention should be inferred from
the nature of the act; and the Farmer, for his part, sincerely hoped
that his countrymen "would never, to their latest existence, want
understanding sufficient to discover the intentions of those who rule
over them."

Mr. Dickinson's "Farmer's Letters" were widely read and highly
commended. The argument, subtle but clear, deriving the nature of an act
from the intention of its makers, and the intention of its makers from
the nature of the act, contributed more than any other exposition to
convince Americans that they "have the same right that all states have,
of judging when their privileges are invaded."

"As much dependent on Great Britain as one perfectly free people can be
on another," the Farmer said. Englishmen might be excused for desiring
a more precise delimitation of parliamentary jurisdiction than could
be found in this phrase, as well as for asking what clear legal ground
there was for making any delimitation at all. To the first point, Mr.
Dickinson said in effect that Parliament had not the right to tax the
colonies and that it had not the right to abolish their assemblies
through which they alone could tax themselves. The second point Mr.
Dickinson did not clearly answer, although it was undoubtedly most
fundamental. To this point Mr. Samuel Adams had given much thought;
and in letters which he drafted for the Massachusetts Assembly, in
the famous circular letter particularly, and in the letter of January
12,1769, sent to the Assembly's agent in England, Mr. Dennys De Berdt,
Mr. Adams formulated a theory designed to show that the colonies
were "subordinate" but not subject to the British Parliament. The
delimitation of colonial and parliamentary jurisdictions Mr. Adams
achieved by subordinating all legislative authority to an authority
higher than any positive law, an authority deriving its sanction from
the fixed and universal law of nature. This higher authority, which no
legislature could "overleap without destroying its own foundation," was
the British Constitution.

Mr. Adams spoke of the British Constitution with immense confidence, as
something singularly definite and well known, the provisions of which
were clearly ascertainable; which singular effect doubtless came from
the fact that he thought of it, not indeed as something written down
on paper and deposited in archives of state, but as a series of
propositions which, as they were saying in France, were indelibly
"written in the hearts of all men." The British Constitution, he said,
like the constitution of every free state, "is fixed," having its
foundation not in positive law, which would indeed give Parliament an
ultimate and therefore a despotic authority, but in "the law of God
and nature." There were in the British Empire many legislatures, all
deriving their authority from, and all finding their limitations in,
the Constitution. Parliament had certainly a supreme or superintending
legislative authority in the Empire, as the colonial assemblies had
a "subordinate," in the sense of a local, legislative authority; but
neither the Parliament nor any colonial assembly could "overleap the
Constitution without destroying its own foundation." And therefore,
since the Constitution is founded "in the law of God and nature," and
since "it is an essential natural right that a man shall quietly enjoy
and have the sole disposal of his property," the Americans must enjoy
this right equally with Englishmen, and Parliament must be bound to
respect this right in the colonies as well as in England; from which it
followed irresistibly that the consent of the colonies to any taxation
must be sought exclusively in their own assemblies, it being manifestly
impossible for that consent to be "constitutionally had in Parliament."

It was commonly thought in America that Mr. Adams, although not a judge,
had a singular gift for constitutional interpretation. Far-sighted men
could nevertheless believe that a powerful party in England, inspired by
inveterate hatred of America and irretrievably bent upon her ruin, would
pronounce all his careful distinctions ridiculous and would still reply
to every argument by the mere assertion, as a fact behind which one
could not go, that Parliament had always had and must therefore still
have full power to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever. If Britain
would not budge from this position, Americans would soon be confronted
with the alternative of admitting Parliament to have full power or
denying it to have any.

With that sharp-set alternative in prospect, it would be well to keep in
mind the fact that arguments lost carrying power in proportion to their
subtlety; and in the opinion of so good a judge as Benjamin Franklin the
reasoning of Mr. Adams and Mr. Dickinson was perhaps not free from this
grave disadvantage.

"I am not yet master [he was free to confess] of the idea
these... writers have of the relation between Britain and her colonies.
I know not what the Boston people mean by the "subordination" they
acknowledge in their Assembly to Parliament, while they deny its power
to make laws for them, nor what bounds the Farmer sets to the power he
acknowledges in Parliament to "regulate the trade of the colonies," it
being difficult to draw lines between duties for regulation and those
for revenue; and, if the Parliament is to be the judge, it seems to me
that establishing such a principle of distinction will amount to little.
The more I have thought and read on the subject, the more I find myself
confirmed in opinion, that no middle ground can be well maintained, I
mean not clearly with intelligible arguments. Something might be made of
either of the extremes: that Parliament has a power to make ALL LAWS
for us, or that it has a power to make NO LAWS for us; and I think the
arguments for the latter more numerous and weighty, than those for the

The good Doctor had apparently read and thought a great deal about the
matter since the day when Mr. Grenville had called him in to learn if
there were good objections to be urged against the Stamp Act.

Practical men were meanwhile willing to allow the argument to take
whatever direction the exigencies of the situation might require, being
ready to believe that Mr. Dickinson counseled well and that Mr. Franklin
counseled well; being nevertheless firmly convinced from past experience
that an Englishman's ability to see reason was never great except when
his pocket was touched. Practical men were therefore generally of the
opinion that they could best demonstrate their rights by exhibiting
their power. This happily, they could do by bringing pressure to bear
upon English merchants by taking money out of THEIR pockets--without
their consent to be sure but in a manner strictly legal--by means of
non-importation agreements voluntarily entered into.

As early as October, 1767, the Boston merchants entered into such an
agreement, which was however not very drastic and proved to be of no
effect, as it was at first unsupported by the merchants in any other
colony. In April, 1768, the merchants of New York, seeing the necessity
of concerted action, agreed not to import "any goods [save a very few
enumerated articles] which shall be shipped from Great Britain after the
first of October next; provided Boston and Philadelphia adopt similar
measures by the first of June." Philadelphia merchants said they were
not opposed to the principle of nonimportation, but greatly feared the
New York plan would serve to create a monopoly by enabling men of means
to lay in a large stock of goods before the agreement went into effect.
This was very true; but the objection, if it was an objection, proved
not to be an insurmountable one. Before the year was out, in the late
summer for the most part, the merchants in all the commercial towns had
subscribed to agreements, differing somewhat in detail, of which the
substance was that they would neither import from Great Britain any
commodities, nor buy or sell any which might inadvertently find their
way in, until the duties imposed by the Townshend act should have been

The merchants' agreements were, for whatever reason, much better
observed in some places than in others. Imports from Great Britain to
New York fell during the year 1769 from about 482,000 pounds to about
74,000 pounds. Imports into New England and into Pennsylvania declined a
little more than one half; whereas in the southern colonies there was no
decline at all, but on the contrary an increase, slight in the case of
Maryland and Virginia and rather marked in the Carolinas. In spite of
these defections, the experiment was not without effect upon English
merchants. English merchants, but little interested in the decline or
increase of trade to particular colonies, were chiefly aware that the
total exportation to America was nearly a million pounds less in 1769
than in 1768. Understanding little about colonial rights, but knowing
only, as in 1766, that their "trade was hurt," they accordingly applied
once more to Parliament for relief. The commerce with America which was
"so essential to afford employment and subsistence to the manufactures
of these kingdoms, to augment the public revenue, to serve as a nursery
for seamen, and to increase our navigation and maritime strength"--this
commerce, said the Merchants and Traders of the City of London Trading
to America, "is at present in an alarming state of suspension"; and
the Merchants and Traders of the City of London therefore humbly
prayed Parliament to repeal the duties which were the occasion of their

The petition of the London merchants came before the House on March 5,
1770, that being the day fixed by Lord North for proposing, on behalf
of the ministry, certain measures for America. No one, said the first
minister, could be more free than himself to recognize the importance
of American trade or more disposed to meet the wishes of the London
merchants as far as possible. The inconveniences under which that trade
now labored were manifest, but he could not think, with the petitioners,
that these inconveniences arose from "the nature of the duties" so much
as "through the medium of the dissatisfaction of the Americans,
and those combinations and associations of which we have
heard"--associations and combinations which had been called, in an
address to the House, "unwarrantable," but which he for his part would
go so far as to call illegal. These illegal combinations in America
were obviously what caused the inconveniences of which the merchants
complained. To the pressure of illegal combinations alone Parliament
ought never to yield; and ministers wished it clearly understood that,
if they were about to propose a repeal of some of the duties, they were
not led to take this step from any consideration of the disturbances in
the colonies.

On the contrary, the duties which it was now proposed to repeal--the
duties on lead, glass, and paper--were to be repealed strictly on
the ground that they ought never to have been laid, because duties on
British manufactures were contrary to true commercial principles. Last
year, when ministers had expressed, in a letter of Lord Hillsborough to
the governors, their intention to repeal these duties, some members had
been in favor of repealing all the duties and some were still in favor
of doing so. As to that, the first minister could only say that he had
not formerly been opposed to it and would not now be opposed to it,
had the Americans, in response to the Earl of Hillsborough's letter,
exhibited any disposition to cease their illegal disturbances or
renounce their combinations. But the fact was that conditions in America
had grown steadily worse since the Earl of Hillsborough's letter, and
never had been so bad as now; in view of which fact ministers could not
but think it wise to maintain some tax as a matter of principle purely.
They would therefore recommend that the tax on tea, no burden certainly
on anyone, be continued as a concrete application of the right of
Parliament to tax the colonies.

In so far as they were designed to bring pressure to bear upon the
mother country, the merchants' agreements were clearly not without a
measure of success, having helped perhaps to bring Parliament to the
point of repealing the duties on lead, glass, and paper, as well as
to bring ministers to the point of keeping the duty on tea. Americans
generally were doubtless well pleased with this effect; but not all
Americans were able to regard the experiment in non-importation with
unqualified approval in other respects. Non-importation, by diminishing
the quantity and increasing the price of commodities, involved a certain
amount of personal sacrifice. This sacrifice, however, fell chiefly on
the consumers, the non-importation not being under certain circumstances
altogether without advantage to merchants who faithfully observed their
pledges as well as to those who observed them only occasionally. So long
as their warehouses, well stocked in advance, contained anything that
could be sold at a higher price than formerly, non-importation was no
bad thing even for those merchants who observed the agreement. For those
who did not observe the agreement, as well as for those who engaged in
the smuggling trade from Holland, it was no bad thing at any time,
and it promised to become an increasingly excellent thing in exact
proportion to the exhaustion of the fair trader's stock and the
consequent advance in prices. As time passed, therefore, the fair
trader became aware that the non-importation experiment, practically
considered, was open to certain objections; whereas the unfair trader
was more in favor of the experiment the longer it endured, being every
day more convinced that the non-importation agreement ought to be
continued and strictly adhered to as essential to the maintenance of
American liberties.

The practical defects of non-importation were likely to be understood,
by those who could ever understand them, in proportion to the decay of
business; and in the spring of 1770 they were nowhere better understood
than in New York, where the decay of business was most marked. This
decrease was greatest in New York, so the merchants maintained, because
that city had been most faithful in observing the agreement, importation
having there fallen from 482,000 pounds to 74,000 pounds during the
year. It is possible, however, that the decay of business in New York
was due in part and perhaps primarily to the retirement, in November,
1768, of the last issues of the old Bills of Credit, according to
the terms of the Paper Currency Act passed by Parliament during Mr.
Grenville's administration. As a result of this retirement of all the
paper money in the province, money of any sort was exceedingly scarce
during the years 1769 and 1770. Lyon dollars were rarely seen; and the
quantity of Spanish silver brought into the colony through the trade
with the foreign islands, formerly considerable but now greatly
diminished by, they, stricter enforcement of the Townshend Trade Acts,
was hardly sufficient for local exchange alone, to say nothing of
settling heavy balances in London, although, fortunately perhaps, there
were in the year 1769 no heavy London balances to be settled on account
of the faithful observance of the non-importation agreement by the
merchants. The lack of money was therefore doubtless a chief cause
of the great decay of business in New York; and some there were who
maintained that the faithful observance of the non-importation agreement
by the merchants was due to the decay of trade rather than the decay
of trade being due to the faithful observance of the non-importation

Whatever the true explanation of this academic point might be, it was an
undoubted fact that business was more nearly at a standstill in New
York than elsewhere. Accordingly, in the spring of 1770, when money was
rarely to be seen and debtors were selling their property at one-half
or one-third of its former value in order to discharge obligations long
overdue, the fair trading merchants of New York were not disposed to
continue an experiment of which, as they said, they had borne the chief
burden to the advantage of others and to their own impending ruin.
Zealous Sons of Liberty, such as Alexander MacDougall and John Lamb,
popular leaders of the "Inhabitants" of the city, were on the other
hand determined that the non-importation agreement should be maintained
unimpaired. The hard times, they said, were due chiefly to the monopoly
prices exacted by the wealthy merchants, who were not ruined at all, who
had on the contrary made a good thing out of the non-importation as long
as they had anything to sell, and whose patriotism (God save the mark!)
had now suddenly grown lukewarm only because they had disposed of all
their goods, including "old moth-eaten clothes that had been rotting in
the shops for years."

These aspersions the merchants knew how to ignore. Their determination
not to continue the non-importation was nevertheless sufficiently
indicated in connection with the annual celebration, in March, of the
repeal of the Stamp Act. On this occasion the merchants refused to meet
as formerly with the Sons of Liberty, but made provision for a dinner of
their own at another place, where all the Friends of Liberty and Trade
were invited to be present. Both dinners were well attended, and at both
the repeal of the Stamp Act was celebrated with patriotic enthusiasm,
the main difference being that whereas the Sons of Liberty drank a toast
to Mr. MacDougall and to "a continuance of the non-importation agreement
until the revenue acts are repealed," the Friends of Liberty and Trade
ignored Mr. MacDougall and drank to "trade and navigation and a speedy
removal of their embarrassments."

In the determination not to continue the old agreement, the Friends of
Liberty and Trade were meanwhile strongly confirmed when it was learned
that Britain was willing on her part to make concessions. By the middle
of May it was known that the Townshend duties (except the duty on tea)
had been repealed; and in June it was learned that Parliament had at
last, after many representations from the Assembly, passed a special
act permitting New York to issue 120,000 pounds in Bills of Credit
receivable at the Treasury. It was thought that concession on the part
of Great Britain ought in justice to meet with concession on the part
of America. Accordingly, on the ground that other towns, and Boston in
particular, were more active "in resolving what they ought to do than
in doing what they had resolved," and on the ground that the present
non-importation agreement no longer served "any other purpose than
tying the hands of honest men, to let rogues, smugglers, and men of no
character plunder their country," the New York merchants, on July 9,
1770, resolved that for the future they would import from Great Britain
all kinds of commodities except such as might be subject to duties
imposed by Parliament.

The New York merchants were on every hand loudly denounced for having
betrayed the cause of liberty; but before the year was out the old
agreement was everywhere set aside. Yet everywhere, as at New York, the
merchants bound themselves not to import any British teas. The duty
on British teas was slight. Americans might have paid the duty without
increasing the price of their much prized luxury; ministers might have
collected the same duty in England to the advantage of the Exchequer.
That Britain should have insisted on this peppercorn in acknowledgement
of her right, that America should have refused it in vindication of her
liberty, may be taken as a high tribute from two eminently, practical
peoples to the power of abstract ideas.

CHAPTER V. A Little Discreet Conduct

     It has been his [Thomas Hutchinson's] principle from a boy
     that mankind are to be governed by the discerning few, and
     it has been ever since his ambition to be the hero of the
     few.--Samuel Adams.

     We have not been so quiet these five years.... If it were
     not for two or three Adamses, we should do well enough.--
     Thomas Hutchinson.

In December, 1771, Horace Walpole, a persistent if not an infallible
political prophet, was of opinion that all the storms that for a decade
had distressed the Empire were at last happily blown over; among which
storms he included, as relatively of minor importance, the disputes with
the colonies. During two years following, this prediction might well
have appeared to moderate minded men entirely justified. American
affairs were barely mentioned in Parliament, and a few paragraphs in
the "Annual Register" were thought sufficient to chronicle for English
readers events of interest occurring across the Atlantic. In the
colonies themselves an unwonted tranquillity prevailed. Rioting, as an
established social custom, disappeared in most of the places where it
had formerly been so much practised. The Sons of Liberty, retaining the
semblance of an organization, were rarely in the public eye save at
the annual celebrations of the repeal of the Stamp Act, quite harmless
occasions devoted to the expression of patriotic sentiments. Merchants
and landowners, again prosperous, were content to fall back into
accustomed habits of life, conscious of duty done without too much
stress, readily believing their liberties finally vindicated against
encroachments from abroad and their privileges secure against
unwarranted and dangerous pretensions at home. "The people appear to be
weary of their altercations with the mother country," Mr. Johnson, the
Connecticut agent, wrote to Wedderburn, in October, 1771; "a little
discreet conduct on both sides would perfectly reestablish that warm
affection and respect towards Great Britain for which this country was
once remarkable."

Discreet conduct was nowhere more necessary than in Massachusetts, where
the people, perhaps because they were much accustomed to them, grew
weary of altercations less easily than in most colonies. Yet even in
Massachusetts there was a marked waning of enthusiasm after the high
excitement occasioned by the Boston Massacre, a certain disintegration
of the patriot party. James Otis recovered from a temporary fit of
insanity only to grow strangely suspicious of Samuel Adams. Mr. Hancock,
discreetly holding his peace, attended to his many thriving and very
profitable business ventures. John Adams, somewhat unpopular for having
defended and procured the acquittal of the soldiers implicated in the
Massacre, retired in high dudgeon from public affairs to the practice
of his profession; in high dudgeon with everyone concerned--with himself
first of all, and with the people who so easily forgot their interests
and those who had, served them, and with the British Government and all
fawning tools of ministers, of whom Mr. Thomas Hutchinson was chief.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hutchinson, so roughly handled in the secret diary of the
rising young lawyer, was the recipient of new honors, having been made
Governor of the province to succeed Francis Bernard. For once finding
himself almost popular, he thought he perceived a disposition in all
the colonies, and even in Massachusetts, to let the controversy subside.
"Though there are a small majority sour enough, yet when they seek
matter for protests, remonstrances, they are puzzled where to charge
the grievances which they look for." The new Governor looked forward to
happier days and an easy administration. "Hancock and most of the party
are quiet," he said, "and all of them, except Adams, abate of their
virulence. Adams would push the Continent into a rebellion tomorrow, if
it was in his power."

No one, in the year 1770, was better fitted than Samuel Adams, either by
talent and temperament or the circumstances of his position, to push the
continent into a rebellion. Unlike most of his patriot friends, he had
neither private business nor private profession to fall back upon when
public affairs grew tame, his only business being, as one might say,
the public business, his only profession the definition and defense of
popular rights. In this profession, by dint of single-minded devotion
to it through a course of years, he had indeed become wonderfully expert
and had already achieved for himself the enviable position of known and
named leader in every movement of opposition to royal or magisterial
prerogative. In this connection no exploit had brought him so much
distinction as his skillful management of the popular uprising which had
recently forced Governor Hutchinson to withdraw the troops from Boston.
The event was no by-play in the life of Samuel Adams, no amateur
achievement accomplished on the side, but the serious business of a man
who during ten years had abandoned all private pursuits and had embraced
poverty to become a tribune of the people.

Samuel Adams had not inherited poverty nor had he, after all, exactly
embraced it, but had as it were naturally drifted into it through
indifference to worldly gain, the indifference which men of single and
fixed purpose have for all irrelevant matters. The elder Samuel Adams
was a merchant of substance and of such consequence in the town of
Boston that in Harvard College, where students were named according to
the prominence of their families, his son's name was fifth in a class
of twenty-two. In 1748, upon the death of his father, Samuel Junior
accordingly inherited a very decent property, considered so at least
in that day--a spacious old house in Purchase Street together with a
well-established malt business. For business, however, the young man,
and not so young either, was without any aptitude whatever, being
entirely devoid of the acquisitive instinct and neither possessing nor
ever being able to acquire any skill in the fine art of inducing people
to give for things more than it cost to make them. These deficiencies
the younger Adams had already exhibited before the death of his father,
from whom he received on one occasion a thousand pounds, half of which
he promptly loaned to an impecunious friend, and which he would in any
case doubtless have lost, as he soon did the other half, on his own
account. In such incompetent hands the malt business soon fell to be a
liability rather than an asset. Other liabilities accumulated, notably
one incurred by the tax collectors of the town of Boston, of whom Samuel
Adams was one during the years from 1756 to 1764. For one reason or
another, on Adams's part certainly on account of his humane feelings and
general business inefficiency, the collectors fell every year a little
behind in the collections, and one day found themselves declared on the
official records to be indebted to the town in the sum of 9,878 pounds.
This indebtedness Mr. Hutchinson and other gentlemen not well disposed
towards Samuel Adams conveniently and frequently referred to in later
years as a "defalcation."

In this year of 1764, when he had lost his entire patrimony except the
old house in Purchase Street, now somewhat rusty for want of repair,
Samuel Adams was married to Elizabeth Wells. It was his second marriage,
the first having taken place in 1749, of which the fruit was a son and
a daughter. Samuel Adams was then--it was the year of the Sugar
Act--forty-two years old; that is to say, at the age when a man's hair
begins to turn gray, when his character is fixed, when his powers, such
as they are, are fully matured; well known as a "poor provider," an
improvident man who had lost a fair estate, had failed in business, and
was barely able, and sometimes not able, to support his small family.
These mundane matters concerned Samuel Adams but little. To John Adams
he said on one occasion that "he never looked forward in life; never
planned, laid a scheme, or formed a design for laying up anything for
himself or others after him." This was the truth, inexplicable as it
must have seemed to his more provident cousin. It was even less than
the truth: during the years following 1764, Samuel Adams renounced all
pretense of private business, giving himself wholly to public affairs,
while his good wife, with excellent management, made his stipend
as clerk of the Assembly serve for food, and obtained, through the
generosity of friends or her own ingenious labors, indispensable clothes
for the family. Frugality, that much lauded virtue in the eighteenth
century, needed not to be preached in the old Purchase Street home;
but life went on there, somehow or other, decently enough, not without
geniality yet with evident piety. The old Bible is still preserved from
which each evening some member of the family read a chapter, and at
every meal the head of the house said grace, returning thanks for God's

If Samuel Adams at the age of forty-two was known for a man who could
not successfully manage his own affairs, he was also known, and very
well known, for a man with a singular talent for managing the affairs of
the community; he could manage successfully, for example, town meetings
and every sort of business, great or small, incidental to local
politics. This talent he may have inherited from his father, who was
himself a notable of the neighborhood,--one of the organizers of the
"New South" church, and prominent about 1724 in a club popularly known
as the "Caulkers' Club," formed for the purpose of laying "plans for
introducing certain persons into places of trust and power," and was
himself from time to time introduced into such places of trust and power
as justice of the peace, deacon, selectman, and member of the provincial
assembly. From an early age, the younger Samuel exhibited a marked
aptitude for this sort of activity, and was less likely to be found
"in his countinghouse a-counting of his money" than in some hospitable
tavern or back shop discussing town topics with local worthies. Samuel
Adams was born to serve on committees. He had the innate slant of
mind that properly belongs to a moderator of mass meetings called to
aggravate a crisis. With the soul of a Jacobin, he was most at home in
clubs, secret clubs of which everyone had heard and few were members,
designed at best to accomplish some particular good for the people, at
all events meeting regularly to sniff the approach of tyranny in the
abstract, academically safeguarding the commonwealth by discussing the
first principles of government.

From the days of Anne Hutchinson, Boston never lacked clubs; and
the Caulkers' Club was the prototype of many, rather more secular and
political than religious or transcendental, which flourished in the
years preceding the Revolution. John Adams, in that Diary which tells us
so much that we wish to know, gives us a peep inside one of these clubs,
the "Caucus Club," which met regularly at one period in the garret of
Tom Dawes's house. "There they smoke tobacco till you cannot see from
one end of the garret to the other. There they drink flip, I suppose,
and there they choose a moderator who puts questions to the vote
regularly; and selectmen, assessors, collectors, wardens, fire-wards,
and representatives are regularly chosen before they are chosen in
the town. Uncle Fairfield, Story, Ruddock, Adams, Cooper, and a rudis
indigestaque moles of others are members. They send committees to wait
on the merchants' club, and to propose and join in the choice of men
and measures." The artist Copley, in the familiar portrait by which
posterity knows Samuel Adams, chose to represent him in conventional
garb, on a public and dramatic occasion, standing erect, eyes flashing
and mouth firmset, pointing with admonitory finger to the Charter of
Massachusetts Bay--a portrait well suited to hang in the Art Museum or
in the meeting place of the Daughters of the Revolution. A different
effect would have been produced if the man had been placed in Tom
Dawes's garret, dimly seen through tobacco smoke, sitting, with coat
off, drinking flip, in the midst of Uncle Fairfield, Story, Cooper, and
a rudis indigestaque moles. This was his native habitat, an environment
precisely suited to his peculiar talent.

Samuel Adams had a peculiar talent, that indispensable combination of
qualities possessed by all great revolutionists of the crusading type,
such as Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Brown, or Mazzini. When a man
abandons his business or job and complacently leaves the clothing of his
children to wife or neighbors in order to drink flip and talk politics,
ordinary folk are content to call him a lazy lout, ne'er-do-well,
worthless fellow, or scamp. Samuel Adams was not a scamp. He might have
been no more than a ne'er-do-well, perhaps, if cosmic forces had not
opportunely provided him with an occupation which his contemporaries and
posterity could regard as a high service to humanity. In his own eyes,
this was the view of the situation which justified his conduct. When
he was about to depart for the first Continental Congress, a number of
friends contributed funds to furnish him forthwith presentable apparel:
a suit of clothes, new wig, new hat, "six pair of the best silk hose,
six pair of fine thread ditto,....six pair of shoes"; and, it being
"modestly inquired of him whether his finances were not rather low than
otherwise, he replied it was true that was the case, but HE WAS VERY
SERVICE TO THE PUBLIC; upon which the gentleman obliged him to accept
a purse containing about fifteen or twenty Johannes." To accept so much
and still preserve one's self-respect would be impossible to ordinary
men under ordinary circumstances. Fate had so ordered the affairs
of Samuel Adams that integrity of character required him to be an
extraordinary man acting under extraordinary circumstances.

The character of his mind, as well as the outward circumstances of
his life, predisposed Samuel Adams to think that a great crisis in the
history of America and of the world confronted the men of Boston. There
was in him some innate scholastic quality, some strain of doctrinaire
Puritan inheritance diverted to secular interests, that gave direction
to all his thinking. In 1743, upon receiving the degree of Master of
Arts from Harvard College, he argued the thesis, "Whether it be lawful
to resist the Supreme Magistrate, if the Commonwealth cannot otherwise
be preserved." We may suppose that the young man acquitted himself
well, reasoning with great nicety in favor of the legality of an illegal
action, doubtless to the edification of Governor Shirley, who was
present and who perhaps felt sufficiently remote from the performance,
being himself only an actual supreme magistrate presiding over a real
commonwealth. And indeed for most young men a college thesis is but an
exercise for sharpening the wits, rarely dangerous in its later
effects. But in the case of Samuel Adams, the ability to distinguish
the speculative from the actual reality seemed to diminish as the years
passed. After 1764, relieved of the pressure of life's anxieties
and daily nourishing his mind on premises and conclusions reasonably
abstracted from the relative and the conditioned circumstance, he
acquired in a high degree the faculty of identifying reality with
propositions about it; so that, for example, Liberty seemed threatened
if improperly defined, and a false inference from an axiom of politics
appeared the same as evil intent to take away a people's rights. Thus it
was that from an early date, in respect to the controversy between
the colonies and the mother country, Samuel Adams became possessed of
settled convictions that were capable of clear and concise presentation
and that were at once impersonal and highly subjective, for which
outward events--the Stamp Act, the Townshend duties, the appointment
of Thomas Hutchinson as Governor, or whatever--furnished as it were the
suggestion only, the convictions themselves being largely the result of
inward brooding, the finespun product of his own ratiocinative mind.

The crisis which thus threatened--in the mind of Samuel Adams--was not
an ordinary one: no mere complication of affairs, or creaking of wornout
institutions, or honest difference of opinion about the expediency or
the legality of measures. It was a crisis engendered deliberately by
men of evil purpose, public enemies well known and often named. Samuel
Adams, who had perhaps not heard of even one of the many materialistic
interpretations of history, thought of the past as chiefly instructive
in connection with certain great epochal conflicts between Liberty and
Tyranny--a political Manicheanism, in which the principle of Liberty was
embodied in the virtuous many and the principle of Tyranny in the wicked
few. Those who read history must know it for a notorious fact that
ancient peoples had lost their liberties at the hands of designing men,
leagued and self-conscious conspirators against the welfare of the human
race. Thus the yoke was fastened upon the Romans, "millions... enslaved
by a few." Now, in the year 1771, another of these epochal conflicts was
come upon the world, and Samuel Adams, living in heroic days, was
bound to stand in the forefront of the virtuous against "restless
Adversaries... forming the most dangerous Plans for the Ruin of the
Reputation of the People, in order to build their own Greatness upon the
Destruction of their liberties."

A superficial observer might easily fall into the error of supposing
that the restless adversaries and designing conspirators against whom
patriots had to contend were all in England; on the contrary, the most
persistent enemies of Liberty were Americans residing in the midst
of the people whom they sought to despoil. One might believe that in
England "the general inclination is to wish that we may preserve our
liberties; and perhaps even the ministry could for some reasons find it
in their hearts to be willing that we should be restored to the state
we were in before the passing of the Stamp Act." Even Lord Hillsborough,
richly meriting the "curses of the disinterested and better part of
the colonists," was by no means "to be reckoned the most inveterate and
active of all the Conspirators against our rights. There are others on
this side of the Atlantick who have been more insidious in plotting
the Ruin of our Liberties than even he, and they are the more infamous,
because the country they would enslave, is that very Country in which
(to use the words of their Adulators and Expectants) they were 'born and
educated.'" Of all these restless adversaries and infamous plotters of
ruin, the chief, in the mind of Samuel Adams, was probably Mr. Thomas

Judged only by what he did and said and by such other sources of
information as are open to the historian, Thomas Hutchinson does not
appear to have been, prior to 1771, an Enemy of the Human Race. One of
his ancestors, Mistress Anne Hutchinson, poor woman, had indeed been--it
was as far back as 1637--an enemy of the Boston Church; but as a family
the Hutchinsons appear to have kept themselves singularly free from
notoriety or other grave reproach. Thomas Hutchinson himself was born
in 1711 in Garden Court Street, Boston, of rich but honest parents, a
difficult character which he managed for many years to maintain with
reasonable credit. In 1771, he was a grave, elderly man of sixty years,
more distinguished than any of his forebears had been, having since
the age of twenty-six been honored with every important elective and
appointive office in the province, including that of governor, which
he had with seeming reluctance just accepted. It may be that Thomas
Hutchinson was ambitious; but if he elbowed his way into office by
solicitation or by the mean arts of an intriguer the fact was well
concealed. He was not a member of the "Caulkers' Club." So far as is
known, he was not a member of any club designed "to introduce certain
persons into places of trust and power"; except indeed of the club,
if one may call it such, composed of the "best families," closely
interrelated by marriage and social intercourse, mostly wealthy,
enjoying the leisure and the disposition to occupy themselves with
affairs, and commonly regarding themselves as forming a kind of natural
aristocracy whose vested duty it was to manage the commonwealth. To this
club Mr. Hutchinson belonged; and it was no doubt partly through its
influence, without any need of solicitation on his part, that offices
were thrust upon him.

One morning in September, 1760--it was the day following the death of
Chief Justice Sewall--Mr. Hutchinson was stopped in the street by the
first lawyer in the province, Jeremiah Gridley, who assured him that
he, Mr. Hutchinson, must be Mr. Sewall's successor; and it soon appeared
that other principal lawyers, together with the surviving judge of the
Superior Court, were of the same opinion as Mr. Gridley. Although the
place was an attractive one, Mr. Hutchinson distrusted his ability to
discharge competently the duties of a Chief Justice, since he had never
had any systematic training as a lawyer. Besides, as he was aware, James
Otis, Sr., who desired the place and made no secret of the fact that he
had formerly been promised it by Governor Shirley, at once became active
in pressing his claims upon the attention of Governor Bernard. In this
solicitation he was joined by his son, James Otis, Jr. Mr. Hutchinson,
on the contrary, refrained from all solicitation, so he tells us at
least, and even warned Governor Bernard that it would perhaps be wiser
to avoid any trouble which the Otises might be disposed to make in
case they were disappointed. This line of conduct may have been only a
shrewder form of solicitation, the proof of which, to some minds, would
be that Mr. Hutchinson was in fact appointed to be Chief Justice. This
appointment was afterwards recalled as one of Mr. Hutchinson's
many offenses, although at the time it seems to have given general
satisfaction, especially to the lawyers.

The lawyers may well have been pleased, for the new Chief Justice was
a man whose outstanding abilities, even more than his place in society,
marked him for responsible position. Thomas Hutchinson possessed the
efficient mind. No one surpassed him in wide and exact knowledge, always
at command, of the history of the province, of its laws and customs, of
past and present practice in respect to the procedure of administration.
Industrious and systematic in his habits of work, conscientious in the
performance of his duties down to the last jot and tittle of the law,
he was preeminently fitted for the neat and expeditious dispatch of
official business; and his sane and trenchant mind, habituated by long
practice to the easy mastery of details, was prompt to pass upon any
practical matter, however complicated, an intelligent and just judgment.
It was doubtless thought, in an age when the law was not too highly
specialized to be understood by any but the indoctrinated, that
these traits would make him a good judge, as they had made him a good
councilor. Not all people, it is true, are attracted by the efficient
mind; and Mr. Hutchinson in the course of years had made enemies, among
whom were many who still thought of him as the man chiefly responsible
for the abolition, some eleven years before, of what was probably the
most vicious system of currency known to colonial America. Nevertheless,
in the days before the passing of the Stamp Act, Mr. Hutchinson was
commonly well thought of, both for character and ability, and might
still without offense be mentioned as a useful and honored public

Mr. Hutchinson did not, at any time in his life, regard himself as
an Enemy of the Human Race, or of America, or even of liberty rightly
considered. Perhaps he had not the fine enthusiasm for the Human Race
that Herder or Jean Jacques Rousseau had; but at least he wished it
well; and to America, the country in which he was born and educated and
in which he had always lived, he was profoundly attached. Of America he
was as proud as a cultivated and unbigoted man well could be, extremely
jealous of her good name abroad and prompt to stand, in any way that was
appropriate and customary, in defense of her rights and liberties. To
rights and liberties in general, and to those of America in particular,
he had given long and careful thought. It was perhaps characteristic
of his practical mind to distinguish the word liberty from the various
things which it might conceivably represent, and to think that of these
various things some were worth more than others, what any of them was
worth being a relative matter depending largely upon circumstances.
Speaking generally, liberty in the abstract, apart from particular and
known conditions, was only a phrase, a brassy tinkle in Mr. Hutchinson's
ear, meaning nothing unless it meant mere absence of all constraint.
The liberty which Mr. Hutchinson prized was not the same as freedom from
constraint. Not liberty in this sense, or in any sense, but the welfare
of a people neatly ordered for them by good government, was what he took
to be the chief end of politics; and from this conception it followed
that "in a remove from a state of nature to the most perfect state of
government there must be a great restraint of natural liberty."

The limitations proper to be placed upon natural liberty could scarcely
be determined by abstract speculation or with mathematical precision,
but would obviously vary according to the character and circumstances
of a people, always keeping in mind the "peace and good order" of the
particular community as the prime object. In all such matters reasonable
men would seek enlightenment not in the Utopias of philosophers but in
the history of nations; and, taking a large view of history, the history
more particularly of the British Empire and of Massachusetts Bay,
it seemed to Mr. Hutchinson, as it seemed to John Locke and to Baron
Montesquieu, that a proper balance between liberty and authority had
been very nearly attained in the British Constitution, as nearly
perhaps as common human frailty would permit. The prevailing "thirst
for liberty," which seemed to be "the ruling passion of the age,"
Mr. Hutchinson was therefore able to contemplate with much sanity and
detachment. "In governments under arbitrary rule" such a passion for
liberty might, he admitted, "have a salutary effect; but in governments
in which as much freedom is enjoyed as can consist with the ends of
government, as was the case in this Province, it must work anarchy and
confusion unless there be some external power to restrain it."

In 1771, Thomas Hutchinson was perfectly convinced that this passion for
liberty, during several years rising steadily in the heads of the most
unstable part of the population, the most unstable "both for character
and estates," had brought Massachusetts Bay to a state not far removed
from anarchy. Not that he was unaware of the mistakes of ministers. The
measures of Mr. Grenville he had regarded as unwise from every point
of view. In behalf of the traditional privileges of the
colonies--privileges which their conduct had well justified--and in
behalf of the welfare of the Empire, he had protested against these
measures, as also later against the measures of Mr. Townshend; and of
all these measures he still held the same opinion, that they were unwise
measures. Nevertheless, Parliament had undoubtedly a legal right other
rights in the political sense, Mr. Hutchinson knew nothing of to pass
them; and the passing of legal measures, however unwise, was not to his
mind clear evidence of a conspiracy to establish absolute despotism
on the ruins of English liberty. Mr. Hutchinson was doubtless
temperamentally less inclined to fear tyranny than anarchy. Of the
two evils, he doubtless preferred such oppression as might result from
parliamentary taxation to any sort of liberty the attainment of which
might seem to require the looting of his ancestral mansion by a Boston
mob. In 1771, at the time of his accession to the governorship, Mr.
Hutchinson was therefore of opinion that "there must be an abridgment of
WHAT IS CALLED English liberty."

The liberty Thomas Hutchinson enjoyed least and desired most to have
abridged was the liberty of being governed, in that province where he
had formerly been happy in the competent discharge of official duties,
by a self-constituted and illegal popular government intrenched in the
town of Boston. In a letter which he wrote in 1765 but did not send, he

"It will be some amusement to you to have a more circumstantial account
of the model of government among us. I will begin with the lowest
branch, partly legislative, partly executive. This consists of the
rabble of the town of Boston, headed by one Mackintosh, who, I, imagine,
you never heard of. He is a bold fellow, and as likely for a Masaniello
as you can well conceive. When there is occasion to burn or hang
effigies or pull down houses, these are employed; but since government
has been brought to a system, they are somewhat controlled by a superior
set consisting of the mastermasons, and carpenters, etc., of the town of
Boston. When anything of more importance is to be determined, as opening
the custom-house on any matter of trade, these are under the direction
of a committee of the merchants, Mr. Rowe at their head, then Molyneaux,
Soloman Davis, etc.: but all affairs of a general nature, opening of
the courts of law, etc., this is proper for a general meeting of the
inhabitants of Boston, where Otis, with his mob-high eloquence, prevails
in every motion, and the town first determine what is necessary to be
done, and then apply either to the Governor or Council, or resolve that
it is necessary for the General Court to correct it; and it would be a
very extraordinary resolve indeed that is not carried into execution."

This was in 1765. In 1770, the matter had ceased to be amusing, for
every year the model government was brought to a greater perfection,
so that at last the Town Meeting, prescriptively composed of certain
qualified voters and confined to the determination of strictly local
matters, had not only usurped all the functions of government in the
province, which was bad enough, but was completely under the thumb
of every Tom, Dick, and Harry who might wish to attend, which was
manifestly still worse. "There is a Town Meeting, no sort of regard
being had to any qualification of voters, but all the inferior people
meet together; and at a late meeting the inhabitants of other towns who
happened to be in town, mixed with them, and made, they say themselves,
near 3000,--their newspapers say 4000, when it is not likely there are
1500 legal voters in the town. It is in other words being under the
government of a mob. This has given the lower part of the people such a
sense of their importance that a gentleman does not meet with what used
to be common civility, and we are sinking into perfect barbarism....
The spirit of anarchy which prevails in Boston is more than I am able to
cope with." The instigators of the mob, it was well known, were certain
artful and self-seeking demagogues, of whom the chief had formerly been
dames Otis; but in late years Mr. Otis, "with his mob-high eloquence,"
had given way to an abler man, Samuel Adams, than whom, Mr. Hutchinson
thought, there was not "a greater incendiary in the King's dominion,
or a man of greater malignity of heart, [or one] who less scruples any
measure however criminal to accomplish his purposes."

The letter, undated and undirected, in which Thomas Hutchinson
pronounced this deliberate judgment on Samuel Adams, was probably
written about the time of his accession to the Governorship; that is to
say, about the time when Mr. Johnson, the Connecticut Agent, was writing
to Wedderburn that "the people seem to grow weary of altercations," and
that "a little discreet conduct on both sides" would perfectly restore
cordial relations between Britain and her colonies. In the way of "a
little discreet conduct," even a very little, not much was to be hoped
for from either Governor Hutchinson or Samuel Adams in their dealings
with each other. Unfortunately, they HAD dealings with each other:
in the performance of official functions, their incommensurable and
repellent minds were necessarily brought to bear upon the same matters
of public concern. Both, unfortunately, lived in Boston and were likely
any day to come face to face round the corner of some or other narrow
street of that small town. That reciprocal exasperation engendered by
reasonable propinquity, so essential to the life of altercations, was
therefore a perpetual stimulus to both men, confirming each in his
obstinate opinion of the other as a malicious and dangerous enemy of
all that men hold dear. Thus it was that during the years 1771 and
1772, when if ever it appeared that others were "growing weary of
altercations," these honorable men and trusted leaders did what they
could to perpetuate the controversy. By giving or taking occasion
to recall ancient grudges or revive fruitless disputes, wittingly or
unwittingly they together managed during this time of calm to keep the
dying embers alive against the day when some rising wind might blow them
into devouring flames.

With Samuel Adams it was a point of principle to avoid discreet conduct
as much as possible. In his opinion, the great crisis which was his
soul's abiding place, wherein he nourished his mind and fortified his
will, admitted of no compromise. Good will was of no avail in dealing
with the "Conspirators against our Liberties," the very essence of whose
tactics it was to assume the mask of benevolence, and so divide, and
by dividing disarm, the people; "flattering those who are pleased with
flattery; forming connections with them, introducing Levity, Luxury, and
Indolence, and assuring them that if they are quiet the Ministry will
alter their Measures." During these years there was no power in the
course of events or in the tongue of man to move him in the conviction
that "if the Liberties of America are ever completely ruined, it will
in all probability be the consequence of a mistaken notion of prudence,
which leads men to acquiesce in measures of the most destructive
tendency for the sake of present ease." Never, therefore, were "the
political affairs of America in a more dangerous state" than when the
people had seemingly grown weary of altercations and Parliament could
endure an entire session "without one offensive measure." The chief
danger of all was that the people would think there was no danger.
Millions could never be enslaved by a few "if all possessed the
independent spirit of BRUTUS who to his immortal honor expelled the
proud Tyrant of Rome." During the years of apathy and indifference
Samuel Adams accordingly gave his days and nights, with undiminished
enthusiasm and a more trenchant acerbity, to the task of making Brutuses
of the men of Boston that the fate of Rome might not befall America.

They were assured in many an essay by this new Candidus that

"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution,
are worth defending at all hazards: and it is our duty to defend them
against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from
our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger
and expense of treasure and blood; and transmitted them to us with care
and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy upon the
present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to
be wrested from us by violence without a struggle; or be cheated out of
them by the artifices of false and designing men. Of the latter we
are in most danger at present. Let us therefore be aware of it. Let us
contemplate our forefathers and posterity; and resolve to maintain the
rights bequeathed to us from the former, for the sake of the latter.
Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made,
WHICH IS THE WISH OF OUR ENEMIES, the necessity of the times, more than
ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude and
perseverance. Let us remember that "if we suffer tamely a lawless attack
upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom!" It
is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds,

These were days when many a former Brutus seemed ready to betray the
cause. Deserted by James Otis, whom he had supplanted, and by John
Hancock, whose great influence he had formerly exploited and whom he
had "led about like an ape," as was currently reported, Samuel Adams
suffered a measure of eclipse. The Assembly would no longer do his
bidding in respect to the vital question of whether the General Court
might be called by the Governor to meet outside of Boston; and it
even imposed upon him, as one of a committee, the humiliating task of
presenting an address to Mr. Hutchinson, acknowledging his right to
remove the legislature to any place he liked--"to Housatonic, in the
western extreme of the province," if he thought fit. There was even
grave danger that the Governor would be satisfied with this concession
and would recall the Court to sit in Boston. Boston was indeed the very
place where Samuel Adams wished to have it sit; but to attain a right
end in a wrong manner would be to suffer a double defeat, losing at once
the point of principle and the grievance necessary for maintaining the
contention. Friends of the Government were much elated at the waning
influence of the Chief Incendiary; and Mr. Sparhawk condescended to
express a certain sympathy for their common enemy, now that he was so
much diminished, "harassed, dependent, in their power." It was indeed
under great difficulties, during these years when Massachusetts was
almost without annals, that Samuel Adams labored to make Brutuses of the
men of Boston.

So far deserted by his friends, Samuel Adams might never have succeeded
in overcoming these difficulties without the assistance presently
rendered by his enemies. Of those who were of invaluable aid to him in
this way, Thomas Hutchinson was one. The good Governor, having read his
instructions, knew what his duties were. One of them manifestly was to
stand in defense of Government; and, when Government was every day being
argumentatively attacked, to provide, as a counter-irritant, arguments
in defense of Government. Imagining that facts determined conclusions
and conclusions directed conduct, Mr. Hutchinson hoped to diminish the
influence of Samuel Adams by showing that the latter's facts were wrong,
and that his inferences, however logically deduced, were therefore not
to be taken seriously. "I have taken much pains," he says, "to procure
writers to answer the pieces in the newspapers which do so much mischief
among the people, and have two or three engaged with Draper, besides a
new press, and a young printer who says he will not be frightened, and I
hope for some good effect."

The Governor had read his instructions, but not the mind of Samuel
Adams or the minds of the many men who, like the Chief Incendiary, Were
prepared "to cultivate the sensations of freedom." Perhaps the only
"good effect" of his "pieces" was to furnish excellent theses for Samuel
Adams to dispute upon, which he did with unrivaled shrewdness each week
in the "Boston Gazette" under the thin disguise of Candidus, Valerius
Poplicola, or Vindex. To this last name, Vindex, Mr. Hutchinson thought
there might appropriately have been added another, such as Malignus
or Invidus. And indeed of all these disputative essays, in the Boston
Gazette or in Mr. Draper's paper, one may say that the apparent aim was
to win a dialectic victory and the obvious result to prove that ill will
existed by exhibiting it.

Thomas Hutchinson's faith in the value of disputation was not easily
disturbed; and after two years, when it appeared that his able
lieutenants writing in Mr. Draper's newspaper were still as far as
ever from bringing the controversy to a conclusion, he could no longer
refrain from trying his own practiced hand at an argument--which he did
in a carefully prepared address to the General Court, delivered January
6, 1773. "I have pleased myself for several years," he said, "with
hopes that the cause [of the "present disturbed and disordered state"
of government] would cease of itself, and the effect with it, but I am
disappointed; and I may not any longer, consistent with my duty to
the King, and my regard to the interests of the province, delay
communicating my sentiments to you upon a matter of so great
importance." The cause of their present difficulties Mr. Hutchinson
thought as evident as the fact itself: a disturbed state of government
having always followed, must have been caused by the denial of the
authority of Parliament to make laws binding the province. Upon a right
resolution of this question everything depended.

The Governor accordingly confined himself to presenting, all in good
temper, a concise and remarkably well-articulated argument to prove that
"no line can be drawn between the supreme authority of Parliament
and the total independence of the colonies"; of which argument the
conclusion must be, inasmuch as the total independence of the colonies
was not conceivably any one's thought, that supreme authority rested
with Parliament. This conclusion once admitted, it was reasonable
to suppose that disturbances would cease; for "if the supremacy of
Parliament shall no longer be denied, it will follow that the mere
exercise of its authority can be no matter of grievance." In closing,
his Excellency expressed the desire, in case the two Houses did not
agree with his exposition of the Constitution, to know their objections.
"They may be convincing to me, or I may be able to satisfy you of the
insufficiency of them. In either case, I hope we shall put an end to
those irregularities which ever will be the portion of a government
where the supreme authority is controverted." In this roundabout way,
Governor Hutchinson finally reached as a conclusion the prepossession
with which he began; namely, that whereas a disturbed state of
government is, ex hypothesi, a vital evil, assertions or denials which
tend to cause the evil must be unfounded.

It happened that both Houses, the lower House especially, remained
unconvinced by the Governor's exposition of the Constitution; and both
Houses took advantage of his invitation to present their objections.
The committee which the lower House appointed to formulate a reply found
their task no slight one, not from any doubt that Mr. Hutchinson was in
error, but from the difficulty of constructing an argument that might be
regarded as polemically adequate. At the request of Major Hawley,
John Adams was accordingly "invited, requested, and urged to meet the
committee, which he did every evening till the report was finished."
When the first draft of a reply, probably drawn by Dr. Joseph Warren,
was presented to Mr. Adams for his criticism, he "modestly suggested to
them the expediency of leaving out many popular and eloquent periods,
and of discussing the question with the Governor upon principles more
especially legal and constitutional," there being in this first
draft, so Mr. Adams thought, "no answer, nor any attempt to answer the
Governor's legal and constitutional arguments, such as they were." And
so, being "very civilly requested" by the committee to make such changes
in the draft as seemed to him desirable, Mr. Adams "drew a line over the
most eloquent parts of the oration they had before them, and introduced
those legal and historical authorities which appear on the record."

The reply, prepared in this way and finally adopted by the Assembly,
was longer and more erudite than Mr. Hutchinson's address. To meet the
Governor's major premise and thus undermine his entire argument, legal
precedents and the facts of history were freely drawn upon to prove
that the colonies were properly "outside of the Realm," and therefore,
although parts of the Empire by virtue of being under the special
jurisdiction of the Crown, not subject in all matters to parliamentary
legislation. Law and history thus supported the contention, contrary to
the Governor's assertion, that a line not only could be but always had
been "drawn between the supreme authority of Parliament and the total
independence of the colonies." Apart from any question of law or fact,
the Assembly thought it of high practical importance that this line
should be maintained in the future as in the past; for, "if there be no
such line," none could deny the Governor's inference that "either
the colonies are vassals of the Parliament, or they are totally
independent"; upon which the Assembly would observe only that, "as it
cannot be supposed to have been the intention of the parties in
the compact that we should be reduced to a state of vassalage, the
conclusion is that it was their sense that we were thus independent."
With very few exceptions, everyone who was of the patriot way of
thinking regarded the Assembly's reply as a complete refutation of the
argument presented in Governor Hutchinson's address.

In the Governor's opinion, the disturbed state of government to which
he had referred in his address was at this time brought to the
highest pitch by the committees of correspondence recently established
throughout the province--an event long desired and now brought to pass
by Samuel Adams. That something might be done by a coordinated system of
local committees was an "undigested thought" that dropped from Adams's
mind while writing a letter to Arthur Lee in September, 1771. At that
time, such was the general apathy of the people, it would clearly "be an
arduous task for any man to attempt to awaken a sufficient Number in
the colonies to so grand an undertaking." But Samuel Adams, who thought
"nothing should be despaired of," took upon himself the performance of
this arduous task. Such committees, if they were anywhere needed, were
certainly needed in Massachusetts, where the people labored under a
"state of perfect Despotism," daily submitting to be ruled--by a native
Governor who refused to accept a grant from the General Court, received
his salary from London, and governed the province according to his
instructions. "Is it not enough," asked Valerius Poplicola in the
"Gazette" "to have a Governor... PENSIONED by those on whom his existence
depends?... Is Life, Property, and Every Thing dear and sacred, to be
now submitted to the Decisions of PENSION'D JUDGES, holding their places
during the pleasure of SUCH a Governor, and a Council PERHAPS overawed?"

Confronted by so unprecedented a situation, it occurred to Samuel Adams
that perhaps Mr. Hutchinson himself might be induced to come to his
assistance. Late in 1772 he accordingly got the Boston town meeting
to present to the Governor an address expressing great alarm at the
establishment of salaries for judges, and praying that the legislature,
which was to meet the 2d of December, might not be prorogued. It
was possible that in replying the Governor might take a "high tone,"
refusing the request as an interference with his own prerogative; but,
as it was clearly the right of the people to petition, for the Governor
to refuse would be, Samuel Adams thought, to "put himself IN THE WRONG,
in the opinion of every honest and sensible man; the consequence of
which will be that such measures as the people may determine upon to
save themselves... will be the more reconcilable even to cautious minds,
and thus we may expect that unanimity which we wish for." The Governor,
in a tone that might be called "high," did in fact object to the request
as not properly a function of town meetings and thus furnished the
occasion for organizing the committees which he thought so disturbing to
the state of government.

It was on November 2, 1772, upon a motion of Samuel Adams, that a
committee was appointed by a town meeting in Faneuil Hall "to state the
Rights of the colonies and of this Province in particular, as Men, as
Christians, and as Subjects; to communicate and publish the same to the
several Towns in this Province and to the World as the sense of this
Town, with the Infringements and Violations thereof that have been,
or from time to time may be made... requesting of each Town a free
communication of their Sentiments on this Subject." The report of the
committee, adopted November 20, announced to the world that, as men, the
colonists, and those of Massachusetts in particular, were possessed of
certain "Natural Rights," among them the right to life, liberty, and
property; and that, inasmuch as "men enter into Society... by voluntary
consent," they still retained "every Natural Right not expressly given
up or by the nature of the Social Compact necessarily ceded." Being
Christians as well as men, the colonists enjoyed also those rights
formulated in "the institutes of the great Lawgiver and head of the
Christian Church,... written and promulgated in the New Testament."
Lastly, being Englishmen, the colonists were, "by the Common Law of
England, EXCLUSIVE OF ALL CHARTERS FROM THE CROWN,... entitled, and by
the acts of the British Parliament... declared to be entitled to all
the Liberties and Privileges of Subjects born... within the Realm."
The infringements which had been made upon these rights, although
well known, were once more stated at length; and all the towns of the
province were requested, in case they agreed with the sentiments of the
Town of Boston, to unite in a common effort "to rescue from impending
ruin our happy and glorious Constitution." For its part, the Town of
Boston was confident that the wisdom of the other towns, as well as
their regard for themselves and the rising generation, would not suffer
them "to dose, or set supinely indifferent on the brink of destruction,
while the Iron hand of oppression is daily tearing the choicest Fruit
from the fair Tree of Liberty."

Moderate men might think, in the winter of 1773, that "the Iron hand of
oppression tearing the choicest Fruit from the Fair Tree of Liberty" was
a figure of speech which did not shape itself with nice flexibility to
the exact form and pressure of observable facts. It is the limitation
of moderate men to be much governed by observable facts; and if the
majority could not at once rise to the rhetoric of Samuel Adams, it
was doubtless because they had not his instinctive sense of the Arch
Conspirator's truly implacable enmity to America. The full measure of
this enmity Mr. Adams lived in the hope of some day revealing.

It was of course well known that Mr. Bernard had formerly written home
letters most injurious to the province; and in 1770 there "was abundant
reason to be jealous," as Samuel Adams, writing on behalf of the Town
of Boston, assured Benjamin Franklin, "that the most mischievous and
virulent accounts have been lately sent to Administration from Castle
William," no doubt from the Commissioners of the Customs. Conveying
malicious and unfounded misrepresentations of America under the seal of
official correspondence had indeed long been a favorite means of mending
the fortunes of those decayed gentlemen and bankrupt politicians whose
ambition it was to rise in office by playing the sycophant to some great
man in England. Mr. Bernard had "played this game," and had been found
out at it, as every one knew. But Mr. Bernard was no American; and it
was scarcely to be imagined that Mr. Hutchinson, who boasted "that his
Ancestors were of the first Rank and figure in the Country, who... had
all the Honors lavished upon him which his Fellow-Citizens had it in
their power to bestow, who professed the strongest attachment to his
native Country and the most tender feelings for its Rights,... should be
so lost to all sense of Gratitude and public Love as to aid the Designs
of despotick power for the sake of rising a single step higher."

This was indeed scarcely to be imagined, yet Samuel Adams imagined it
perfectly. Before there was any material evidence of the fact, he was
able, by reasonable inference, to erect well-grounded suspicions into
a kind of working hypothesis. Mr. Hutchinson, Governor of the Province,
was an Enemy of Liberty with many English friends; he would be required
by official duty and led by personal inclination to maintain a regular
correspondence with high officials in England; from which the conclusion
was that Thomas Hutchinson, professed friend of America, was a traitor,
in secret alienating the affections of the King from his loyal subjects.
Samuel Adams knew this well; and now, after all these years, the
material evidence necessary to convince men of little faith was at
hand. Under circumstances that might be regarded as providential, Thomas
Hutchinson was at last unmasked.

The prelude to this dramatic performance was pronounced in the
Massachusetts Assembly, one day in June, 1773, by Mr. John Hancock, who
darkly declared that within eight and forty hours a discovery of great
pith and moment would be made to the House. On the next day but one,
Samuel Adams arose and desired the galleries cleared, as there were
matters to lay before the members which the members only had a right
to know of. When the galleries were cleared he informed the House that
certain letters, written by high officials in the province and extremely
hostile to the rights and liberties of America, had been procured in
England and transmitted to a gentleman who had in turn placed them in
his, Mr. Adams's, hands, but with the strictest injunction that they be
returned without being copied or pitted. Mr. Adams had given his pledge
to this effect; and, if the House would receive them on these terms, he
would be glad to read the letters, no restriction having been placed
on their being read. They were read accordingly; and a committee having
been appointed to make recommendations, it was at length resolved by
the House of Assembly that certain letters presented to it by Mr. Samuel
Adams tended and were manifestly designed to undermine the Constitution
and establish a despotic power in the province. The proceedings of the
House being spread abroad, it soon became everywhere known that only
the pledged word of the House stood in the way of revelations highly
damaging to the public character of Governor Hutchinson.

This outcome of the matter, however gratifying to Samuel Adams, did
not satisfy Governor Hutchinson. After there had been "buzzed about for
three or four months a story of something that would amaze everybody,"
and these dark rumors being "spread through all the towns in the
province and everybody's expectations... raised," it was exasperating to
his pragmatic nature to have nothing more definite transpire than that
the something which would amaze everybody would indeed amaze everybody
if only it could be made known. It should at least be made known to the
person most concerned. The Governor therefore requested the Assembly
to furnish him copies of the letters which were attributed to him and
declared by the House to "be destructive of the Constitution." In reply,
the House sent certain dates only. The House was of opinion that the
Governor could easily make authentic copies of whatever letters he had
written at these dates, if he had written any; and such copies, being
furnished to the Assembly, might be published, and the whole matter thus
cleared up without violating the pledged word of anyone.

With this request the Governor refused to comply, on the ground that it
would be improper to reveal his private correspondence and contrary to
instructions to reveal that of a public nature. He would say, however,
that he had written letters on the days mentioned, but in these letters
there was no statement of fact or expression of opinion not already well
known. What his opinions were the Assembly and the world might very well
gather from his published speeches and his "History of Massachusetts
Bay". It could scarcely be maintained that he had ever lacked frankness
in the expression of his opinions; and while his opinions might be
thought destructive of the Constitution, it was rather late to be amazed
at them. In any case, the Assembly was assured by the Governor that
his letters neither tended "nor were designed to subvert, but rather to
preserve entire the constitution of government" as established by the
charter of the province.

A great many people besides the Governor desired to see letters the
substance of which could be so differently understood. Samuel Adams
probably preferred not to be forced to print them knowing their
contents, he may have thought that here was a case of those "dangers
which, being known, lose half their power for evil"; besides, having
pledged his word, he wished to keep it. Yet the pressure of public
opinion, becoming every day greater, was difficult to resist,
particularly by men who were firm believers in the wisdom of the people.
Moreover, it presently appeared that there was no longer any point in
refusing to publish the letters, inasmuch as Mr. Hancock assured the
House that men on the street were, in some way not known, possessed of
copies, some of which had been placed in his hands. Mr. Hancock's copies
being found on comparison to be accurate rescripts of the letters which
had been read in the House, a committee was accordingly appointed to
consider how the House might come into honorable possession of the
originals; from which committee Mr. Hawley soon reported that Samuel
Adams had informed them that the gentleman from whom he had received
the letters now consented to their being copied, seeing that they had
already been copied, and printed, seeing that they were already widely
circulated; whereupon the House, considering itself in honorable
possession, ordered the letters all published.

Nevertheless it was thought expedient, before issuing the letters, to
print and circulate such a series of "Resolves" as might prepare the
public mind for what was to come later. This was accordingly done. The
"Resolves," bearing date of June 16, 1773, indicated clearly and at
length the precise significance of the letters; declared it to be the
humble opinion of the House that it was not to the interest of the Crown
to continue in high places persons "who are known to have, with great
industry, though secretly, endeavored to undermine, alter, and overthrow
the Constitution of the province"; and concluded by praying "that
his Majesty would be pleased to remove... forever from the government
thereof" the Honorable Andrew Oliver and his Excellency Thomas

His Majesty did not remove Mr. Hutchinson; but the Governor's
usefulness, from every point of view, was at an end. When the notorious
letters were finally printed, it appeared that there were seventeen in
all, of which six were written by Mr. Hutchinson in the years 1768 and
1769. These latter documents did not in fact add anything to the world's
stock of knowledge; but they had been so heralded, ushered in with so
much portentous explication that they scarcely needed to be read to be
understood. "Had they been Chevy Chase," the Governor said, the people
would have believed them "full of evil and treason." It was indeed the
perfect fruit of Samuel Adams's labors that the significance of Mr.
Hutchinson's letters had in some manner become independent of their
contents. So awake were the people to the danger of being deceived, that
whatever the Governor now said or ever had written was taken to be but
the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Meanwhile, the attention of all patriots was diverted from the letters
to a far more serious matter; and when, on December 16, 1773, a cargo
of the East India Company's tea, consigned among others to Thomas and
Elisha Hutchinson, was thrown into Boston harbor, the great crisis,
which Samuel Adams had done so much to make inevitable by virtue of
thinking it so, was at last a reality. It was a limitation of Thomas
Hutchinson's excellent administrative mind that lie was wholly unaware
of this crisis. In February of the next year, finding that "a little
discreet conduct," or indeed any conduct on his part, was altogether
without good effect, the Governor announced that he had "obtained leave
from the King to go to England." On the 1st of June, driving from his
home to the foot of Dorchester Heights, he embarked on the Minerva and
arrived in London one month later. It was his expectation that after a
brief absence, when General Gage by a show of military force should have
brought the province to a reasonable frame of mind, he would return and
assume again the responsibilities of his office. He never returned, but
died in England on June 3, 1780, an unhappy and a homesick exile from
the country which he loved.

CHAPTER VI. Testing The Issue

     The die is now cast; the colonies must either submit or
     triumph.--George III.

     We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are
     created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
     certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
     Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.--Thomas Jefferson.

Two months and ten days after Mr. Hutchinson embarked for England, John
Adams, the Hon. Thomas Cushing, Mr. Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine
set out "from Boston, from Mr. Cushing's house, and rode to Coolidge's,
where they dined... with a large company of gentlemen, who went out and
prepared an entertainment for them at that place. A most kindly and
affectionate meeting we had, and about four in the afternoon we took
leave of them, amidst the kindest wishes and fervent prayers of every
man in the company for our health and success. The scene was truly
affecting, beyond all description affecting." The four men who in
this manner left Boston on the 10th of August, 1774, were bound for
Philadelphia to attend the first Continental Congress. Even Samuel
Adams, in excellent spirits, a little resplendent and doubtless a little
uncomfortable in his new suit and new silk hose, could scarcely have
known that they were about to share in one of the decisive events in the
history of the modern world.

The calling of the Continental Congress had followed hard upon those
recent measures of the British Government which no reasonable man could
doubt were designed to reduce the colonies to a state of slavery. In
May, 1773, the East India Company, whose privileges in India had just
been greatly restricted, was given permission to export tea from its
English warehouses directly to America, free of all English customs and
excise duties. The three-penny duty in America was indeed retained; but
this small tax would not prevent the Company from selling its teas
in America at a lower price than other importers, either smugglers or
legitimate traders, could afford. It was true the Americans were opposed
to the three-penny tax, and they had bound themselves not to import
any dutied tea; yet neither the opposition to the tax nor the
non-importation agreements entered into had prevented American merchants
from importing, during the last three years, about 580,831 pounds of
English tea, upon which the duty had been paid without occasioning much

With these facts in mind, hard-headed American merchants, to whom the
Company applied for information about the state of the tea trade in the
colonies, assured the directors that the Americans drank a great deal
of tea, which hitherto had been largely smuggled from Holland; and that,
although they were in principle much opposed to the tax, "mankind in
general are bound by interest," and "the Company can afford their teas
cheaper than the Americans can smuggle them from foreigners, which puts
the success of the design beyond a doubt."

The hard-headed merchants were doubtless much surprised at the universal
outcry which was raised when it became known that the East India
Company was preparing to import its teas into the colonies; and yet the
strenuous opposition everywhere exhibited rather confirmed than refuted
the philosophical reflection that "mankind in general are bound by
interest." Neither the New York and Philadelphia merchants who smuggled
tea from Holland, nor the Boston and Charleston merchants who imported
dutied tea from England, could see any advantage to them in having this
profitable business taken over by the East India Company. Mr. Hancock,
for example, was one of the Boston merchants who imported a good deal of
dutied tea from England, a fact which was better known then than it has
been since; and at Philadelphia John Adams was questioned rather closely
about Mr. Hancock's violation of the non-importation agreement, in reply
to which he could only say: "Mr. Hancock, I believe, is justifiable,
but I am not certain whether he is strictly so." Justifiable or not,
Mr. Hancock would not wish to see the entire tea trade of America in the
hands of the East India Company.

And indeed to whose interest would it be to have an English company
granted a monopoly of a thriving branch of American trade? To those,
doubtless, who were the consignees of the Company, such as the sons of
Thomas Hutchinson, or Mr. Abram Lott of New York. Certainly no private
merchant "who is acquainted with the operation of a monopoly... will send
out or order tea to America when those who have it at first hand send
to the same market." And therefore, since the Company have the whole
supply, America will "ultimately be at their mercy to extort what price
they please for their tea. And when they find their success in this
article, they will obtain liberty to export their spices, silks,
etc." This was the light in which the matter appeared to the New York
Committee of Correspondence.

John Dickinson saw the matter in the same light, a light which his
superior abilities enabled him to portray in more lurid colors. The
conduct of the East India Company in Asia, he said,

"has given ample proof how little they regard the laws of nations,
the rights, liberties, or lives of men. They have levied war, excited
rebellions, dethroned princes, and sacrificed millions for the sake of
gain. The revenues of mighty kingdoms have centered in their coffers.
And these not being sufficient to glut their avarice, they have, by the
most unparalleled barbarities, extortions, and monopolies, stripped the
miserable inhabitants of their property and reduced whole provinces to
indigence and ruin.... Thus having drained the sources of that immense
wealth... they now, it seems, cast their eyes on America, a new theater,
whereon to exercise their talents of rapine, oppression, and cruelty.
The monopoly of tea, is, I dare say, but a small part of the plan they
have formed to strip us of our property. But thank God we are not Sea
Poys, nor Marattas, but British subjects, who are born to liberty, who
know its worth, and who prize it high."

For all of these reasons, therefore--because they were in principle
opposed to taxation without consent, and by interest opposed to an
English company monopolizing the tea trade, and perhaps because they
desired to give a signal demonstration of the fact that they were
neither Sea Poys nor Marattas--Americans were willing to resort to the
use of force in order to maintain their own rights by depriving the East
India Company of its privileges.

When Capt. Curling's ship arrived in Charleston, the people in that
town, assembled to deal with the grave crisis, were somewhat uncertain
what to do with the Company's tea. On the very ship which brought the
Company's tea, there were some chests consigned to private merchants;
and certain enthusiastic patriots attending the meeting of citizens
affirmed that the importation of dutied tea by private merchants
contrary to the non-importation agreement was no less destructive to
liberty than the importation of tea by the East India Company. "All
this," it was said, "evinced a desire of not entering hastily into
measures." In the end, the Company's tea was seized by the Collector and
stored in the vaults under the Exchange. At New York and Philadelphia,
the Company's tea ships were required to return to England without
landing; and it was only at Boston, where Governor Hutchinson, whose
sons had been appointed by the Company as its consignees, refused return
clearance papers, that the tea, some 14,000 pounds worth of it, was
thrown into the harbor.

Throwing the tea into the harbor raised a sharp sense of resentment in
the minds of Britons. The common feeling was that, unless the British
Government was prepared to renounce all pretense of governing the
colonies, something must be done. There were a few, such as Josiah
Tucker, who thought that the thing to do was to give up the colonies;
in their opinion, colonies were in any case more of a burden than an
advantage, the supposed advantages of colonies being bound up with
restrictions on trade, and restrictions on trade being contrary to the
natural law by which commerce should be free. But the natural law was
only a recent discovery not yet widely accepted in England; and it did
not occur to the average Briton that the colonies should be given up.
The colonies, he supposed, were English colonies; and he thought the
time had come to establish that fact. He had heard that the colonies had
grievances. All he knew was that the Government had good-naturedly made
concessions for the last ten years; and as for this new grievance about
tea, the average Briton made out only that the Americans could buy their
tea cheaper than he could himself.

Obviously the time had come for Old England to set the colonies right by
showing less concession and more power. Four regiments, as General
Gage said, would do the business. The average Briton therefore gave his
cordial approval to four "coercive" measures, passed by overwhelming
majorities in Parliament, which remodeled the Massachusetts charter,
authorized the Governor to transfer to courts in other colonies or to
England any cases involving a breach of the peace or the conduct of
public officers, provided for quartering troops on the inhabitants, and
closed the port of Boston until the East India Company should have been
compensated for the loss of its tea. In order to make these measures
effective, General Gage, commander of the American forces, was made
Governor of Massachussetts. To what extent he would find it necessary
to use the military depended upon the Bostonians. "The die is now
cast," the King wrote to Lord North; "the colonies must either submit
or triumph." The King's judgment was not always good; but it must be
conceded that in this instance he had penetrated to the very center of
the situation.

Massachusetts, very naturally, wished not to submit, but whether she
could triumph without the support of the other colonies was more than
doubtful; and it was to obtain this support, to devise if possible
a method of resistance agreeable to all, that the Congress was now
assembling at Philadelphia. The spirit in which the colonies received
the news of the Boston Port Bill augured well for union, for in every
colony it was felt that this was a challenge which could not be evaded
without giving the lie to ten years of high talk about the inalienable
rights of Englishmen. As Charles James Fox said, "all were taught to
consider the town of Boston as suffering in the common cause." This
sentiment John Adams found everywhere expressed--found everywhere, as
he took his leisurely journey southward, that people were "very firm" in
their determination to support Massachusetts against the oppression of
the British Government.

In respect to the measures which should be adopted to achieve the end
desired, there was not the same unanimity. Mr. Adams, at the age of
thirty-eight years, never having been out of New England, kept his
eyes very wide open as he entered the foreign colonies of New York
and Pennsylvania. In New York he was much impressed with the "elegant
country seats," with the bountiful hospitality, and the lavish way of
living. "A more elegant breakfast I never saw"--this was at Mr. Scott's
house--"rich plate, a very large silver coffee-pot, a very large silver
tea-pot, napkins of the finest materials, toast, and bread and butter
in great perfection," and then, to top it off, "a plate of beautiful
peaches, another of pears, and another of plums, and a musk-melon were
placed upon the table." Nevertheless, in spite of the friendliness
shown to him personally, in spite of the sympathy which, abstractly
considered, the New Yorkers expressed for the sad state of Boston, Mr.
Adams was made to understand that if it came to practical measures
for the support of Massachusetts, many diverse currents of opinion and
interest would make themselves felt.

New York was "very firm" in the cause, certainly, but "Mr. MacDougall
gave a caution to avoid every expression which looked like an allusion
to the last appeal. He says there is a powerful party here who are
intimidated by fears of a civil war, and they have been induced to
acquiesce by assurances that there was no danger, and that a peaceful
cessation of commerce would effect relief. Another party, he says, are
intimidated lest the leveling spirit of the New England colonies
should propagate itself into New York. Another party are instigated by
Episcopalian prejudices against New England. Another party are
merchants largely concerned in navigation, and therefore afraid of
non-importation, nonconsumption, and non-exportation agreements. Another
party are those who are looking up to Government for favors."

These interests were doubtless well enough represented by the New York
deputies to the Congress, whom Mr. Adams now saw for the first time. Mr.
Jay, it was said, was a good student of the law and a hard worker. Mr.
Low, "they say, will profess attachment to the cause of liberty, but his
sincerity is doubted." Mr. Alsop was thought to be of good heart, but
unequal, as Mr. Scott affirmed, "to the trust in point of abilities."
Mr. Duane--this was Mr. Adams's own impression--"has a sly, surveying
eye,... very sensible, I think, and very artful." And finally there was
Mr. Livingston, "a downright, straightforward many" who reminded Mr.
Adams that Massachusetts had once hung some Quakers, affirmed positively
that civil war would follow the renunciation of allegiance to Britain,
and threw out vague hints of the Goths and Vandals.

Confiding these matters to his "Diary" and keeping his own opinion,
Mr. Adams passed on to Philadelphia. There the Massachusetts men were
cordially welcomed, twice over, but straightway cautioned against two
gentlemen, one of whom was "Dr. Smith, the Provost of the College, who
is looking up to Government for an American Episcopate and a pair
of lawn sleeves"--a very soft, polite man, "insinuating, adulating,
sensible, learned, insidious, indefatigable," with art enough, "and
refinement upon art, to make impressions even upon Mr. Dickinson and Mr.
Reed." In Pennsylvania, as in every colony, Mr. Adams found, there was
a tribe of people "exactly like the tribe, in the Massachusetts, of
Hutchinsonian Addressers." Some of this tribe had managed to elbow their
way into the committees of deputies to the Congress, at least from the
middle colonies, and probably from South Carolina as well.

The "most spirited and consistent of any" of the deputies were the
gentlemen from Virginia, among whom were Mr. Henry and Mr. R. H. Lee,
said to be the Demosthenes and the Cicero of America. The latter, Mr.
Adams liked much, a "masterly man" who was very strong for the most
vigorous measures. But it seemed that even Mr. Lee was strong for
vigorous measures only because he was "absolutely certain that the same
ship which carries hence the resolutions will bring back the redress."
If he supposed otherwise, he "should be for exceptions."

From the first day of the Congress it was known that the Massachusetts
men were in favor of "vigorous measures;" vigorous measures
being understood to mean the adoption of strict non-importation,
non-consumption, and non-exportation agreements. There were moments
when John Adams thought even these measures tame and unheroic: "When
Demosthenes (God forgive the vanity of recollecting his example) went
ambassador from Athens to the other states of Greece, to excite a
confederacy against Phillip, he did not go to propose a Non-Importation
or Non-Consumption Agreement...." For all this, the Massachusetts men
kept themselves well in the background, knowing that there was much
jealousy and some fear of New England leadership and well aware that
the recent experience with non-importation agreements had greatly
diminished, in the mercantile colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, and
South Carolina, the enthusiasm for such experiments.

The trouble with non-importation agreements, as Major Hawley had told
John Adams, was that "they will not be faithfully observed; that the
Congress have no power to enforce obedience to their laws; that they
will be like a legislative without an executive." Did Congress have, or
could it assume, authority to compel men to observe its resolutions, to
compel them to observe, for example, a non-importation agreement? This
was a delicate question upon which opinion was divided. "We have
no legal authority," said Mr. Rutledge, "and obedience to our
determinations will only follow the reasonableness, the apparent
utility, and necessity of the measures we adopt. We have no coercive or
legislative authority." If this was so, the non-intercourse policy would
doubtless prove a broken reed. Massachusetts men were likely to be of
another opinion, were likely to agree with Patrick Henry, who said, "that
"Government is dissolved. Fleets and armies and the present state of
things show that government is dissolved. We are in a state of nature,
Sir!" If they were indeed in a state of nature, it was perhaps high time
that Congress should assume the powers of a government, in which case it
might be possible to adopt and to enforce non-intercourse measures. In
this gingerly way did the deputies lift the curtain and peer down the
road to revolution.

The deputies, like true Britons, contrived to avoid the highly
theoretical question of authority, and began straightway to concern
themselves with the practical question of whether the Congress, with
or without authority, should recommend the adoption of strict
non-intercourse agreements. Upon this question, as the chief issue, the
deputies were divided into nearly equal groups. Mr. Galloway, Mr. Duane,
and Mr. Rutledge were perhaps the leaders of those, probably a majority
at first, who were opposed to such vigorous measures, fearing that they
were intended as a cloak to cover the essentially revolutionary designs
of the shrewd New Englanders. "We have too much reason to suspect that
independence is aimed at," Mr. Low warned the Congress; and Mr. Galloway
could see that while the Massachusetts men were in "behavior very
modest, yet they are not so much so as not to throw out hints, which
like straws and feathers show from which point in the compass the wind
comes." In the early days of the Congress, if we are to believe Mr.
Hutchinson, this cold north wind was so much disliked that the New
York and New Jersey deputies, "and others," carried a vote against the
adoption of non-intercourse agreements, "agreed to present a petition
to the King," and "expected to break up, when letters arrived from Dr.
Franklin which put an end to the petition."

The Journals of the Congress do not record any vote of this kind; but
a number of things are known to have occurred in the Congress which the
Journals do not record. On September 17, the famous "Suffolk Resolves"
were laid before the deputies for their approval. The resolutions had
been adopted by a county convention in Massachusetts, and in substance
they recommended to the people of Massachusetts to form a government
independent of that of which General Gage was the Governor, urged them
meanwhile to arm themselves in their own defense, and assured them that
"no obedience is due from this province to either or any part" of the
Coercive Acts. These were indeed "vigorous measures"; and when the
resolutions came before Congress, "long and warm debates ensued between
the parties," Mr. Galloway afterwards remembered; and he says that when
the vote to approve them was finally carried, "two of the dissenting
members presumed to offer their protest to it in writing which was
negatived," and when they then insisted that the "tender of the protest
and the negative should be entered on the minutes, this was also

Later in the month, September 28, Mr. Galloway introduced his famous
plan for a "British-American Parliament" as a method for permanent
reconciliation. The motion to enter the plan on the minutes and to refer
it for further consideration gave rise to "long and warm debates," the
motion being carried by a majority of one colony; but subsequently,
probably on October 21, it was voted to expunge the plan, together with
all resolutions referring to it, from the minutes. Nothing, as Benjamin
Franklin wrote from England, could so encourage the British Government
to persist in its oppressive policy as the knowledge that dissensions
existed in the Congress; and since these dissensions did unfortunately
exist, there was a widespread feeling that it would be the part of
wisdom to conceal them as much as possible.

No doubt a majority of the deputies, when they first read the Suffolk
Resolutions, were amazed that the rash New Englanders should venture to
pledge themselves so frankly to rebellion. Certainly no one who thought
himself a loyal subject of King George could even contemplate rebellion;
but, on the other hand, to leave Massachusetts in the lurch after so
much talk of union and the maintenance of American rights would
make loyal Americans look a little ridiculous. That would be to show
themselves lambs as soon as Britons had shown themselves lions, which
was precisely what their enemies in England boasted they would do.
Confronted by this difficult dilemma, moderate men without decided
opinions began to fix their attention less upon the exact nature of the
measures they were asked to support, and more upon the probable effect
of such measures upon the British Government. It might be true, and
all reports from England seemed to point that way, that the British
Government was only brandishing the sword in terrorem, to see whether
the Americans would not run at once to cover; in which case it would be
wiser for all loyal subjects to pledge themselves even to rebellion, the
prospect being so very good that Britain would quickly sheathe its sword
and present instead the olive branch, saying, "This is what I intended
to offer." Therefore, rather than leave Massachusetts in the lurch and
so give the lie to the boasted unity of the colonies, many moderate
and loyal subjects voted to approve the Suffolk Resolutions, which they
thought very rash and ill-advised measures.

Whatever differences still prevailed, if indeed practical men could hold
out after the accomplished fact, might be bridged and compromised
by adopting those petitions and addresses which the timid thought
sufficient and at the same time by subscribing to and "recommending"
those non-intercourse agreements which the bolder sort thought

This compromise was in fact effected. The Congress unanimously adopted
the moderate addresses which Lord Chatham afterwards praised for their
masterly exposition of true constitutional principles; but it likewise
adopted, also unanimously, a series of resolutions known as the
Association, to which the deputies subscribed their names. By signing
the Association, the deputies bound themselves, and recommended the
people in all the colonies to bind themselves, not to import, after
December 1, 1774, any commodities from Great Britain or Ireland, or
molasses, syrups, sugars, and coffee from the British plantations, or
East India Company tea from any place, or wines from Madeira, or foreign
indigo; not to consume, after March 1, 1775, any of these commodities;
and not to export, after September 10, 1775, any commodities whatever to
Great Britain, Ireland, or the West Indies, "except rice to Europe." It
was further recommended that a committee be formed in each city, town,
and county, whose business it should be to observe the conduct of all
persons, those who refused to sign the Association as well as those who
signed it, and to publish the names of all persons who did not observe
the agreements there entered into, "to the end that all such foes of
the rights of British-America may be publicly known and universally
condemned as the enemies of American liberty"; and it was likewise
recommended that the committees should inspect the customs entries
frequently, that they should seize all goods imported contrary to the
recommendation of the Association and reship them, or, if the owner
preferred, sell them at public auction, the owner to be recompensed for
the first costs, the profits, if any, to be devoted to relieving the
people of Boston.

Having thus adopted a Petition to the King, a Memorial to the
Inhabitants of the British Colonies, and an Address to the People of
Great Britain, and having recommended a certain line of conduct to
be followed by all loyal Americans, the first Continental Congress
adjourned. It had assumed no "coercive or legislative authority";
obedience to its determinations would doubtless depend, as Mr. Rutledge
had said, upon "the reasonableness, the apparent utility and necessity"
of its recommendations.

"There can be no doubt," the Earl of Dartmouth is reported to have said,
"that every one who had signed the Association was guilty of treason."
The Earl of Dartmouth was not counted one of the enemies of America; and
if this was his opinion of the action of the first Continental Congress,
Lord North's supporters in Parliament, a great majority since the
recent elections, were not likely to take a more favorable view of it.
Nevertheless, when the American question came up for consideration in
the winter of 1776, "conciliation" was a word frequently heard on all
sides, and even corrupt ministers were understood to be dallying with
schemes of accommodation. In January and February great men were sending
agents, and even coming themselves, to Dr. Franklin to learn what in his
opinion the colonies would be satisfied with. Lord Chatham, as might
be guessed, was meditating a plan. On the 29th of January, he came to
Craven Street and showed it to Franklin, who made notes upon it, and
later went out to Hayes, two hours' ride from London, where he remained
for four hours listening to the easy flow of the Great Commoner's
eloquence without being able to get any of his own ideas presented.

Fortified by the presence if not by the advice of Franklin, Lord Chatham
laid his plan before Parliament on the 1st of February. He would have an
explicit declaration of the dependence of the colonies on the Crown and
Parliament in all matters of trade and an equally explicit declaration
that no tag should be imposed upon the colonies without their consent;
and when the Congress at Philadelphia should have acknowledged the
supremacy of the Crown and Parliament and should have made a free and
perpetual grant of revenue, then he would have all the obnoxious acts
passed since 1764, and especially the Coercive Acts, totally repealed.
Lord Sandwich, in a warm speech, moved to reject these proposals at
once; and when the vote was taken it was found that 61 noble lords were
in favor of rejecting them at once, while only 31 were opposed to so

Lord North was perhaps less opposed to reconciliation than other noble
lords were. A few days later Franklin was approached by Admiral Howe,
who was understood to know the First Minister's mind, to learn whether
he might not suggest something for the Government to go upon. The
venerable Friend of the Human Race was willing enough to set down on
paper some "Hints" which Admiral Howe might think advisable to show
to ministers. It happened, however, that the "Hints" went far beyond
anything the Government had in mind. Ministers would perhaps be willing
to repeal the Tea Act and the Boston Port Bill; but they felt strongly
that the act regulating the Massachusetts charter must stand as "an
example of the power of Parliament." Franklin, on the other hand, was
certain that "while Parliament claims the right of altering American
constitutions at pleasure, there can be no agreement." Since the
parties were so far apart, it seemed useless to continue the informal
negotiation, and on February 20, Lord North laid before Parliament his
own plan for effecting an accommodation.

Perhaps, after all, it was not his own plan; for Lord North, much
inclined to regard himself as the King's minister, was likely to
subordinate his wishes to those of his master. King George III, at all
events, had his own ideas on conciliation. "I am a friend to holding
out the olive branch," he wrote in February, "yet I believe that,
when vigorous measures appear to be the only means, the colonies will
submit." Knowing the King's ideas, as well as those of Dr. Franklin,
Lord North accordingly introduced into Parliament the Resolution on
Conciliation, which provided that when any colony should make provision
"for contributing their proportion to the common defense,.. and for the
support of the civil government, and the administration of justice in
such province,... it will be proper,... for so long as such provision
shall be made,... to forbear, in respect of such province,... to levy any
Duty, Tax, or Assessment,... except...  for the regulation of commerce."
The minister's resolution, although by most of his supporters thought to
be useless, was adopted by a vote of 274 to 88.

It was not the intention of the Government to hold out the olive branch
by itself. Lord North, and perhaps the King also, hoped the colonies
would accept it; but by all maxims of politics an olive branch was more
likely to be accepted if the shining sword was presented at the same
time as the only alternative. As early as the 10th of February, Lord
North had introduced into Parliament a bill, finally passed March 30,
"to restrain the trade and commerce" of the New England colonies to
"Great Britain, Ireland, and the British islands in the West Indies,"
and to exclude these colonies from "carrying on any fishery on the banks
of Newfoundland," it being "highly unfit that the inhabitants of the
said provinces... should enjoy the same privileges of trade... to
which his Majesty's faithful and obedient subjects are entitled." The
provisions of this act were extended to the other colonies in April; and
meantime measures were taken to strengthen the naval forces.

The first certain information that Lord North had extended the olive
branch reached New York April 24, 1775, two weeks before the day fixed
for the meeting of the second Continental Congress. Important changes
had taken place since the first Congress, six months earlier, had sent
forth its resolutions. In every colony there was a sufficient number
of patriots who saw "the reasonableness, the apparent utility, and
necessity" of forming the committees which the Association recommended;
and these committees everywhere, with a marked degree of success,
immediately set about convincing their neighbors of the utility and
necessity of signing the non-importation agreement, or at least of
observing it even if they were not disposed to sign it. To deny the
reasonableness of the Association was now indeed much more difficult
than it would have been before the Congress assembled; for the Congress,
having published certain resolutions unanimously entered into, had come
to be the symbol of America united in defense of its rights; and what
American, if indeed one might call him such, would wish to be thought
disloyal to America or an enemy of its liberties? It required a degree
of assurance for any man to set up his individual judgment against the
deliberate and united judgment of the chosen representatives of all the
colonies; and that must be indeed a very subtle mind which could draw
the distinction between an enemy of liberty and a friend of liberty who
was unwilling to observe the Association.

Some such subtle minds there were--a considerable number in most
colonies who declared themselves friends of liberty but not of the
Association, loyal to America but not to the Congress. One of these was
Samuel Seabury, an Episcopalian clergyman living in Westchester
County, New York, a vigorous, downright man, who at once expressed his
sentiments in a forcible and logical manner, and with much sarcastic
humor, in a series of pamphlets which were widely read and much
commended by those who found in them their own views so effectively
expressed. This Westchester Farmer--for so he signed himself--proclaimed
that he had always been, and was still, a friend of liberty in general
and of American liberty in particular. The late British measures he
thought unwise and il-liberal, and he had hoped that the Congress
would be able to obtain redress, and perhaps even to effect a permanent
reconciliation. But, these hopes were seen to be vain from the day when
the Congress approved the Suffolk Resolutions and, instead of adopting
Mr. Galloway's plan, adopted the Association. For no sane man could
doubt that, under the thin disguise of "recommendations," Congress had
assumed the powers of government and counseled rebellion. The obvious
conclusion from this was that, if one could not be a loyal American
without submitting to Congress, then it was impossible to be at the same
time a loyal American and a loyal British subject.

But, if the problem were rightly considered, Mr. Seabury thought one
might be loyal to America in the best sense without supporting Congress;
for, apart from any question of legality, the Association was highly
inexpedient, inasmuch as non-importation would injure America more than
it injured England, and, for this reason if for no others, it would be
found impossible to "bully and frighten the supreme government of the
nation." Yet all this was beside the main point, which was that the
action of Congress, whether expedient or not, was illegal. It was
illegal because it authorized the committees to enforce the Association
upon all alike, upon those who never agreed to observe it as well as
upon those who did; and these committees, as everyone knew, were so
enforcing it and were "imposing penalties upon those who have presumed
to violate it." The Congress talked loudly of the tyranny of the British
Government. Tyranny! Good Heavens! Was any tyranny worse than that of
self-constituted committees which, in the name of liberty, were daily
conducting the most hateful inquisition into the private affairs of free
British subjects? "Will you choose such committees? Will you submit
to them should they be chosen by the weak, foolish, turbulent part of
the... people? I will not. No. If I must be enslaved, let it be by a KING
at least, and not by a parcel of upstart, lawless committeemen."

The Massachusetts men were meanwhile showing no disposition to submit
to the King. In that colony a Provincial Congress, organized at Salem
in October, 1774, and afterwards removed to Cambridge, had assumed
all powers of government in spite of General Gage and contrary to the
provisions of the act by which Parliament had presumed to remodel the
Massachusetts charter. Outside of Boston at least, the allegiance of the
people was freely given to this extra-legal government; and under its
direction the towns began to prepare for defense by organizing the
militia and procuring and storing arms and ammunition.

To destroy such stores of ammunition seemed to General Gage quite the
most obvious of his duties; and Colonel Smith was accordingly ordered to
proceed to the little village of Concord, some eighteen miles northwest
of Boston, and destroy the magazines which were known to be collected
there. The night of the 18th of April was the time fixed for this
expedition; and in the evening of that day patriots in Boston noted
with alarm that bodies of troops were moving towards the waterside. Dr.
Joseph Warren, knowing or easily guessing the destination of the troops,
at once despatched William Dawes, and later in the evening Paul Revere
also, to Lexington and Concord to spread the alarm. As the little army
of Colonel Smith--a thousand men, more or less--left Boston and marched
up into the country, church bells and the booming of cannon announced
their coming. Day was breaking when the British troops approached the
town of Lexington; and there on the green they could see, in the
early morning light, perhaps half a hundred men standing in military
array--fifty against a thousand! The British rushed forward with huzzas,
in the midst of which shots were heard; and when the little band of
minutemen was dispersed eight of the fifty lay dead upon the village

The battle of Lexington was begun, but it was not yet finished. Pushing
on to Concord, the thousand disciplined British regulars captured and
destroyed the military stores collected there. This was easily done; but
the return from Concord to Lexington, and from Lexington to Cambridge,
proved a disastrous retreat. The British found indeed no minutemen drawn
up in military array to block their path; but they found themselves
subject to the deadly fire of men concealed behind the trees and rocks
and clumps of shrubs that everywhere conveniently lined the open road.
With this method of warfare, not learned in books, the British were
unfamiliar. Discipline was but a handicap; and the fifteen hundred
soldiers that General Gage sent out to Lexington to rescue Colonel Smith
served only to make the disaster greater in the end. When the retreating
army finally reached the shelter of Cambridge, it had lost, in
killed and wounded, 247 men; while the Americans, of whom it had been
confidently asserted in England that they would not stand against
British regulars, had lost but 88.

The courier announcing the news of Lexington passed through New York
on the 23d of April. Twenty-four hours later, during the height of the
excitement occasioned by that event, intelligence arrived from England
that Parliament had approved Lord North's Resolution on Conciliation.
For extending the olive branch, the time was inauspicious; and when the
second Continental Congress assembled, two weeks later, on the 10th of
May, men were everywhere wrathfully declaring that the blood shed at
Lexington made allegiance to Britain forever impossible.

It might indeed have seemed that the time had come when every man must
decide, once for all, whether he would submit unreservedly to the King
or stand without question for the defense of America. Yet not all men,
not a majority of men in the second Continental Congress, were of that

The second Congress was filled with moderate minded men who would not
believe the time had come when that decision had to be made--men who
were bound to sign themselves British-Americans till the last possible
moment, many of whom could not now have told whether in the end they
would sign themselves Britons or Americans. Surely, they said, we need
not make the decision yet. We have the best of reasons for knowing that
Britain will not press matters to extremities. Can we not handle the
olive branch and the sword as well as Lord North? A little fighting, to
convince ministers that we can't be frightened, and all will be well. We
shall have been neither rebels nor slaves. The second Congress was full
of men who were, as yet, "Neither-Nor."

There was Joseph Galloway, once more elected to represent Pennsylvania,
ready to do what he could to keep Congress from hasty action, hoping
for the best yet rather expecting the worst, discreetly retiring, at an
early date, within the ranks of the British loyalists. John Alsop, the
"soft, sweet" man, was also there, active enough in his mild way until
the very last--until the Declaration of Independence, as he said,
"closed the last door to reconciliation." There, too, was James Duane,
with never so great need of his "surveying eye" to enable him to size up
the situation. He is more discreet than any one, and sits quietly in his
seat, on those days when he finds it convenient to attend, which is not
too often--especially after November, at which time he moved his effects
to Duanesborough, and so very soon disappears from sight, except perhaps
vicariously in the person of his servant, James Brattle, whom we see
flitting obscurely from Philadelphia to New York conveying secret
information to Governor Tryon. John Jay, the hard-reading young
lawyer, who favored Mr. Galloway's plan but in the end signed the
Association--here he is again, edging his way carefully along, watching
his step, crossing no bridges beforehand, well over indeed before
he seems aware of any gulf to be crossed. And here is the famous
Pennsylvania Farmer, leader of all moderate men, John Dickinson; only
too well aware of the gulf opening up before him, fervently praying
that it may close again of its own accord. Mr. Dickinson has no mind
for anything but conciliation, to obtain which he will go the length of
donning a Colonel's uniform, or at least a Colonel's title, perfecting
himself and his neighbors in the manual of arms against the day when
the King would graciously listen to the loyal and humble petition of the

Mr. Dickinson, staking all on the petition, was distressed at the rash
talk that went on out of doors; and in this respect, no one distressed
him more than his old friend, John Adams, who thought and said that
a petition was a waste of time and who was all for the most vigorous
measures (such, doubtless, as Demosthenes might have counseled),--the
seizure of all crown officers, the formation of state governments, the
raising of an army, and negotiations for obtaining the assistance of
France. When Mr. Dickinson, having marshaled his followers from
the middle colonies and South Carolina, got his petition before the
Congress, John Adams, as a matter of course, made "an opposition to it
in as long a speech as I commonly made... in answer to all the arguments
that had been urged." And Adams relates in his "Diary" how, being
shortly called out of Congress Hall, he was followed by Mr. Dickinson,
who broke out upon him in great anger. "What is the reason, Mr. Adams,
that you New-England men oppose our measures of reconciliation? There
now is Sullivan, in a long harangue, following you in a determined
opposition to our petition to the King. Look ye! If you don't concur
with us in our pacific system, I and a number of us will break off from
you in New England, and we will carry on the opposition by ourselves in
our own way." At that moment it chanced that John Adams was "in a very
happy temper" (which was not always the case), and so, he says, was able
to reply very coolly. "Mr. Dickinson, there are many things that I can
very cheerfully sacrifice to harmony, and even to unanimity; but I am
not to be threatened into an express adoption or approbation of measures
which my judgment reprobates. Congress must judge, and if they pronounce
against me, I must submit, as, if they determine against you, you ought
to acquiesce."

The Congress did decide. It decided to adopt Mr. Dickinson's petition;
and to this measure John Adams submitted. But the Congress also decided
to raise a Continental army to assist Massachusetts in driving
the British forces out of Boston, of which army it appointed, as
Commander-in-Chief, George Washington, Esq.; and in justification of
these measures it published a "Declaration of the Causes and Necessity
of Taking up Arms":

"Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources
are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly
attainable.... Fortified with these animating reflections, we... declare
that... the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to as same, we
will... employ for the preservation of our liberties, being with one
mind resolved to die freemen rather than live as slaves.... We have
not raised armies with ambitious designs of separating from Great
Britain.... We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the
part of the aggressors.... With an humble confidence in the mercies of
the supreme and impartial Judge and Ruler of the Universe, we... implore
his divine goodness to protect us happily through this great conflict,
to dispose our adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and
thereby to relieve the empire from the calamities of civil war."

In these measures Mr. Dickinson acquiesced, as John Adams had submitted
to the petition. The "perfect" union which was thus attained was
nevertheless a union of wills rather than of opinions; and on July 24,
1775, in a letter to James Warren, John Adams gave a frank account of
the state of mind to which the perfect union had reduced him:

"In confidence, I am determined to write freely to you this time. A
certain great Fortune and piddling Genius, whose Fame has been trumpeted
so loudly, has given a silly Cast to our whole Doings. We are between
Hawk and Buzzard. We ought to have had in our Hands a month ago the
whole Legislative, executive, and judicial of the whole Continent, and
have completely modeled a Constitution; to have raised a naval Power,
and opened our Ports wide; to have arrested every Friend of Government
on the Continent and held them as Hostages for the poor Victims of
Boston, and then opened the Door as wide as possible for Peace and
Reconciliation. After that they might have petitioned, and negotiated,
and addressed, etc., if they would. Is all this extravagant? Is it wild?
Is it not the soundest Policy?"

It seems that Mr. Adams would have presented the sword boldly, keeping
the olive branch carefully concealed behind his back. His letter,
intercepted by the British Government, and printed about the time when
Mr. Dickinson's petition was received in London, did nothing to make
the union in America more perfect, or to facilitate the opening of that
refractory "Door... for Peace and Reconciliation."

The truth is that John Adams no longer believed in the possibility of
opening this door, even by the tiniest crack; and even those who still
had faith in the petition as a means to that end found it somewhat
difficult to keep their faith alive during the weary month of October
while they waited for the King's reply. Mr. Chase, although he had
"not absolutely discarded every glimpse of a hope of reconciliation,"
admitted that "the prospect was gloomy." Mr. Zubly assured Congress that
he "did hope for a reconciliation and that this winter may bring it";
and he added, as if justifying himself against sceptical shrugs of
shoulders, "I may enjoy my hopes for reconciliation; others may enjoy
theirs that none will take place." It might almost seem that the idea
of reconciliation, in this October of 1775, was a vanishing image to be
enjoyed retrospectively rather than anything substantial to build upon
for the future. This it was, perhaps, that gave especial point to Mr.
Zubly's oft-repeated assertion that Congress must speedily obtain one
of two things--"a reconciliation with Great Britain, or the means of
carrying on the war."

Reconciliation OR war! This was surely a new antithesis. Had not arms
been taken up for the purpose precisely of disposing their adversaries
"to reconciliation on reasonable terms"? Does Mr. Zubly mean to say then
that war is an alternative to reconciliation--an alternative which
will lead the colonies away from compromise towards that which all
have professed not to desire? Is Mr. Zubly hinting at independence even
before the King has replied to the petition? No. This is not what Mr.
Zubly meant. What he had in the back of his mind, and what the Congress
was coming to have in the back of its mind, if one may judge from the
abbreviated notes which John Adams took of the debates in the fall of
1775, was that if the colonies could not obtain reconciliation by means
of the non-intercourse measures very soon--this very winter as Mr.
Zubly hoped--they would have to rely for reconciliation upon a vigorous
prosecution of the war; in which case the non-intercourse measures were
likely to prove an obstacle rather than an advantage, since they would
make it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the "means of carrying
on the war."

The non-intercourse measures had been designed to obtain conciliation
by forcing Great Britain to make concessions; but if Great Britain would
make no concessions, then the non-intercourse measures, by destroying
the trade and prosperity of the colonies, would have no other effect
than to bring about conciliation by forcing the colonies to make
concessions themselves. This was not the kind of conciliation that any
one wanted; and so the real antithesis which now confronted Congress
was between war and non-intercourse. Mr. Livingston put the situation
clearly when he said: "We are between hawk and buzzard; we puzzle
ourselves between the commercial and warlike opposition."

Through long debates Congress puzzled itself over the difficult task of
maintaining the Association and of obtaining the means for carrying on
the war. Doubtless a simple way out would be for Congress to allow
so much exportation only as might be necessary to pay for arms and
ammunition; and still not so simple either, since it would at once
excite many jealousies. "To get powder," Mr. Jay observed, "we keep a
secret law that produce may be exported. Then come the wrangles among
the people. A vessel is seen loading--a fellow runs to the committee."
Well, it could not be helped; let the fellow run to the committee, and
let the committee reassure him--that was the business of the committee;
and so the Congress authorized the several colonies to export as much
"produce, except horned cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry, as they may
deem necessary for the importation of arms, ammunition, sulphur, and
saltpetre." Thus powder might be obtained.

Nevertheless, war could not live by powder alone. The imponderable moral
factors had to be considered, chief of which was the popular support or
opposition which Congress and the army might count upon under certain
circumstances. No doubt people were patriotic and wished to maintain
their rights; but no doubt people would be more patriotic and more
enthusiastic and practically active in their support of both Congress
and the army, if they were reasonably prosperous and contented than if
they were not. Self-denying ordinances were, by their very nature, of
temporary and limited efficacy; and it was pertinent to inquire how long
the people would be content with the total stoppage of trade and the
decay of business which was becoming every day more marked. "We can live
on acorns; but will we?" It would perhaps be prudent not to expect "more
virtue... from our people than any people ever had"; it would be prudent
"not to put virtue to too severe a test,... lest we wear it out." And it
might well be asked what would wear it out and "disunite us more than
the decay of all business? The people will feel, and will say, that
Congress tax them and oppress them more than Parliament." If the people
were to be asked to fight for their rights, they must at all hazards not
be allowed to say that Congress oppressed them more than Parliament!

For the moment all this was no more than a confession that the
Association, originally designed as a finely chiseled stepping-stone to
reconciliation, was likely to prove a stumbling-block unless the King
graciously extended his royal hand to give a hearty lift. It presently
appeared that the King refused to extend his hand. October 31, 1775,
information reached America that Richard Penn and Arthur Lee, having
presented the petition to Lord Dartmouth, were informed that the King
would not receive them, and furthermore that no answer would be returned
to the Congress. Ignoring the petition was to exhibit only one degree
more of contempt for that carefully prepared document than the Congress
had shown for Lord North's Resolution on Conciliation; and now that the
olive branch had been spurned on both sides, it was a little difficult
to see how either side could possibly refuse the sword.

That the colonies would refuse the sword was not very likely; but, as
if to make a refusal impossible, the British Government, on December 22,
1775, decided to thrust the sword into their hands. This at all events
was thought by many men to be the effect of the Prohibitory Act, which
declared the colonies outside the protection of the Crown, and which,
for the purpose of reducing them to submission, laid an embargo upon all
their trade and proclaimed their ports in a state of blockade.

"I know not [John Adams wrote] whether you have seen the Act of
Parliament called the Restraining Act or Prohibitory Act, or Piratical
Act, or Act of Independency--for by all these titles is it called. I
think the most apposite is the Act of Independency; the King, Lords,
and Commons have united in sundering this country from that, I think,
forever. It is a complete dismemberment of the British Empire. It throws
thirteen colonies out of the royal protection, and makes us independent
in spite of supplications and entreaties. It may be fortunate that the
act of Independency should come from the British Parliament rather than
from the American Congress; but it is very odd that Americans should
hesitate at accepting such a gift from them."

The majority of those who refused to accept it--and the number was
large--retired, with saddened hearts for the most part, into the ranks
of the British Loyalists; only a few, with John Dickinson at their head,
could still visualize the vanishing image of reconciliation. Whether the
Prohibitory Act made reconciliation impossible or not, one thing at all
events it made clear: if Britain was bent on forcing the colonies to
submit by ruining their trade, it could scarcely be good policy for the
colonies to help her do it; of which the reasonable conclusion seemed
to be that, since the Parliament wished to close the ports of America to
the world, Congress would do well to open them to the world. On February
16, 1776, Congress accordingly took into "consideration the propriety of
opening the ports." To declare the ports open to the world was no doubt
easily done; but the main thing after all was to carry on trade with the
world; and this was not so easy since British naval vessels were there
to prevent it. "We can't carry on a beneficial trade, as our enemies
will take our ships"; so Mr. Sherman said, and of this he thought the
obvious inference was that "a treaty with a foreign power is necessary,
before we open our trade, to protect it.

"A treaty with a foreign power"--Mr. Wythe also mentioned this as a
possible way of reviving the trade of the colonies; but a treaty with a
foreign power was easier conceived of than made, and Mr. Wythe thought
"other things are to be considered before we adopt such a measure."
In considering these "other things," Mr. Wythe asked and answered the
fundamental question: "In what character shall we treat?--as subjects of
Great Britain--as rebels?... If we should offer our trade to the court
of France, would they take notice of it any more than if Bristol or
Liverpool should offer theirs, while we profess to be subjects? No.
We must declare ourselves a free people." Thus it appeared that the
character of British subjects, no less than the Association, was a
stumblingblock in the way of obtaining "the means of carrying on the
war." The sword, as an instrument for maintaining rights, could after
all not be effectively wielded by America so long as her hand was
shackled by even the half-broken ties of a professed allegiance to
Britain. Therefore, when the Congress, on the 6th of April, opened the
ports of the colonies to the world, the Declaration of Independence was
a foregone conclusion.

The idea of independence, for many months past, had hovered like a
disembodied hope or menace about the entrance ways of controversy. A few
clear-sighted men, such as John Adams and Samuel Seabury, had so long
contemplated the idea without blinking that it had taken on familiar
form and substance. But the great majority had steadily refused to
consider it, except as a possible alternative not needing for the
present to be embraced. All these moderate, middle-of-the-way men
had now to bring this idea into the focus of attention, for the great
illusion that Britain would not push matters to extremities was rapidly
dissolving, and the time was come when it was no longer possible for any
man to be a British-American and when every man must decide whether it
was better to be an American even at the price of rebellion or a Briton
even at the price of submission. It is true that many never made up
their minds on this point, being quite content to swear allegiance
to whichever cause, according to time or place, happened to be in the
ascendant. But of all those thinking men whose minds could be made up
to stay, perhaps a third--this is the estimate of John Adams--joined
the ranks of the British Loyalists; while the rest, with more or
less reluctance, gave their support, little or great, to the cause of

When one has made, with whatever reluctance, an irrevocable decision, it
is doubtless well to become adjusted to it as rapidly as possible; and
this he can best do by thinking of the decision as a wise one--the only
one, in fact, which a sensible person could have made. Thus it was that
the idea of independence, embraced by most men with reluctance as a last
resort and a necessary evil, rapidly lost, in proportion as it seemed
necessary, its character of evil, took on the character of the highest
wisdom, and so came to be regarded as a predestined event which all
honest patriots must rejoice in having had a hand in bringing about.

This change in the point of view would doubtless have been made in any
case; but in rapidly investing the idea of independence with the shining
virtues of an absolute good to be embraced joyously, a great influence
must be ascribed to the little pamphlet entitled "Common Sense", written
by a man then known to good patriots as Thomas Paine, and printed in
January, 1776. Intrinsically considered, "Common Sense" was indeed no
great performance. The matter, thin at best, was neither profoundly nor
subtly reasoned; the manner could hardly be described by even the most
complacent critic as humane or engaging. Yet "Common Sense" had its
brief hour of fame. Its good fortune was to come at the psychological
moment; and being everywhere read during the months from January to
July, 1776, it was precisely suited to convince men, not so much that
they ought to declare independence, as that they ought to declare
it gladly, ought to cast off lightly their former false and mawkish
affection for the "mother country" and once for all to make an end of
backward yearning looks over the shoulder at this burning Sodom.

To a militant patriot like Thomas Paine it was profoundly humiliating
to recall that for ten years past Americans had professed themselves
"humble and loyal subjects" and "dutiful children," yielding to none in
"admiration" for the "excellent British Constitution," desiring only to
live and die as free citizens under the protecting wing of the mother
country. Recalling all this sickening sentimentalism, Mr. Paine uttered
a loud and ringing BOSH! Let us clear our minds of cant, he said in
effect, and ask ourselves what is the nature of government in general
and of the famous British Constitution in particular. Like the Abbe
Sieyes, Mr. Paine had completely mastered the science of government,
which was in fact extremely simple. Men form societies, he said,
to satisfy their wants, and then find that governments have to
be established to restrain their wickedness; and therefore, since
government is obviously a necessary evil, that government is best which
is simplest.

Just consider then this "excellent British Constitution," and say
whether it is simple. On the contrary, it is the most complicated,
irrational, and ridiculous contrivance ever devised as a government of
enlightened men. Its admirers say that this complexity is a virtue, on
account of the nice balance of powers between King, Lords, and Commons,
which guarantees a kind of liberty through the resulting inertia of the
whole. The Lords check the Commons and the Commons check the King. But
how comes it that the King needs to be checked? Can he not be trusted?
This is really the secret of the whole business--that Monarchy naturally
tends to despotism; so that the complication of the British Constitution
is a virtue only because its basic principle is false and vicious. If
Americans still accept the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, well
and good; if not, then in Heaven's name let them cease to bow down in
abject admiration of the British Constitution!

And in ceasing to admire the British Constitution, Americans should
also, Thomas Paine thought, give up that other fatal error, the
superstition that up to the present unhappy moment the colonies had
derived great benefits from living under the protecting wing of the
mother country. Protection! "We have boasted the protection of
Great Britain, without considering that her motive was interest not
attachment; and that she did not protect us from our enemies ON OUR OWN
ACCOUNT, but from her enemies ON HER OWN ACCOUNT, from those who have no
quarrel with us on any other account, and who will always be our enemies
ON THE SAME ACCOUNT." An odd sort of protection that, which served
only to entangle the colonies in the toils of European intrigues and
rivalries, and to make enemies of those who would otherwise befriends!
"Our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instructs us to
renounce the alliance: because, any submission to, or dependence upon,
Great Britain, tends directly to involve this continent in European wars
and quarrels, and set us at variance with nations who would otherwise
seek our friendship and against whom we have neither anger nor

What foolishness then to seek reconciliation, even if it were possible!
Reconciliation at this stage would be the ruin of America. If King
George were indeed clever, he would eagerly repeal all the obnoxious
acts and make every concession; for when the colonies had once become
reconciled he could accomplish by "craft and subtlety, in the long run,
what he cannot do by force and violence in the short one." The colonies,
having come to maturity, cannot always remain subject to tutelage; like
the youth who has reached his majority, they must sooner or later go
their own way. Why not now? Beware of reconciliation and of all those
who advocate it, for they are either "interested men, who are not to be
trusted, weak men who cannot see, prejudiced men who will not see, or a
certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than
it deserves."

Such arguments were indeed precisely suited to convince men that
independence, so far from being an event in which they had become
entangled by the fatal network of circumstance, was an event which they
freely willed. "Read by almost every American, and recommended as a work
replete with truth, against which none but the partial and prejudiced
can form any objection,... it satisfied multitudes that it is their true
interest immediately to cut the Gordian knot by which the... colonists
have been bound to Great Britain, and to open their commerce, as an
independent people, to all the nations of the world." In April and
May, after the Congress had opened the ports, the tide set strongly and
irresistibly in the direction of the formal declaration. "Every post
and every day rolls in upon us," John Adams said, "Independence like a
torrent." It was on the 7th of June that Richard Henry Lee, in behalf
of the Virginia delegation and in obedience to the instructions from the
Virginia Convention, moved "that these United Colonies are, and of
right ought to be, free and independent State...; that it is expedient
forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign
Alliances;... and that a plan of confederation be prepared and
transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and

The "resolution respecting independency," debated at length, was
postponed till the 1st of July, when it was again brought up for
consideration. It was still, on that day, opposed by many, chiefly by
John Dickinson, who now said that he should not be against independence
ultimately, but that he could not consent to it at the present moment
because it would serve to divide rather than to unite the colonies. At
the close of the debate on the 1st of July, there seemed little prospect
of carrying the resolution by a unanimous vote. The Delaware deputies
were evenly divided, the third member, Caesar Rodney, not being at the
moment in Philadelphia; the Pennsylvania deputies were opposed to the
resolution, three against two; while the New York and South Carolina
deputies were not in a position to vote at all, having, as they said,
no instructions. The final vote was therefore again postponed until the
following day.

Which of the deputies slept this night is not known. But it is known
that Caesar Rodney, hastily summoned, mounted his horse and rode
post-haste to Philadelphia, arriving in time to cast the vote of
Delaware in favor of independence; it is known that John Dickinson
and Robert Morris remained away from Independence Hall, and that James
Wilson changed his mind and voted with Franklin and Morton; and it is
known that the South Carolina deputies came somehow to the conclusion,
over night, that their instructions were after all sufficient. Thus
it was that on July 2, 1776, twelve colonies voted that "these United
Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States."
One week later, the New York deputies, having been properly instructed,
cast the vote of their colony for the resolution also.

Meanwhile, a committee had been appointed to prepare a formal
declaration, setting forth the circumstances and the motives which might
justify them, in the judgment of mankind, in taking this momentous step.
The committee had many meetings to discuss the matter, and, when the
main points had been agreed upon, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were
instructed to "draw them up in form, and clothe them in a proper dress."
Many years afterwards, in 1822, John Adams related, as accurately as he
could, the conversation which took place when these two met to perform
the task assigned them. "Jefferson proposed to me to make the draught. I
said, 'I will not.' 'You should do it.' 'Oh! no.' 'Why will you not?
You ought to do it.' 'I will not.' 'Why?' 'Reasons enough.' 'What can be
your reasons?' 'Reason first--You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought
to appear at the head of this business. Reason second--I am obnoxious,
suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third--You
can write ten times better than I can.' 'Well,' said Jefferson, 'if you
are decided, I will do as well as I can.'" In some such manner as
this it came about that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of
Independence, no doubt doing, as he said, the best he could.

It is the judgment of posterity that Mr. Jefferson did very well--which
was doubtless due partly to the fact that he could write, if not ten
times better, at least better than John Adams. Yet the happy phrasing of
a brief paragraph or two could scarcely By itself have won so much fame
for the author; and perhaps much Of the success of this famous paper
came from the circumstance That ten years of controversy over the
question of political rights had forced Americans to abandon, step by
step, the restricted ground of the positive and prescriptive rights of
Englishmen and to take their stand on the broader ground of the natural
and inherent rights of man. To have said, "We hold this truth to
be self-evident: that all Englishmen are endowed by the British
Constitution with the customary right of taxing themselves internally"
would probably have made no great impression on the sophisticated
European mind. It was Thomas Jefferson's good fortune, in voicing the
prevailing sentiment in America, to give classic expression to those
fundamental principles of a political faith which was destined, in the
course of a hundred years, to win the allegiance of the greater part of
the western world.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of
Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among
Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed. That,
whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is
the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new
Government, laying its foundation on such Principles and organizing its
Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their
Safety and Happiness."

It is to these principles--for a generation somewhat obscured, it must
be confessed, by the Shining Sword and the Almighty Dollar, by the
lengthening shadow of Imperialism and the soporific haze of Historic
Rights and the Survival of the Fittest--it is to these principles, these
"glittering generalities," that the minds of men are turning again in
this day of desolation as a refuge from the cult of efficiency and from
faith in "that which is just by the judgment of experience."


Contemporary Writings; Many of the most important documents for this
period are in the following brief collections: W. Macdonald, "Select
Charters and Other Documents," 1906; H. W. Preston, "Documents
Illustrative of American History," 5th ed., 1900; H. Niles, "Principles
and Acts of the Revolution in America," 1822; J. Almon, "Collection of
Papers Relative to the Dispute between Great Britain and America," 1777
(commonly cited as "Prior Documents"). The spirit of the times is
best seen in the contemporary newspapers, many extracts from which
are printed in F. Moore, "Diary of the American Revolution from
the Newspapers and Original Documents," 1863. Of the numberless
controversial pamphlets, the following are noteworthy: J. Otis,
"Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved," 1764; D. Dulaney,
"Considerations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes on the British
Colonies" 1765; J. Dickinson, "Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania
to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies," 1768 (also in "Writings of
John Dickinson," 3 vols. 1895); W. Knox, "The Controversy between Great
Britain and her Colonies Reviewed," 1769 (excellent pro-British reply to
Dickinson); S. Jenyns, "The Objections to the Taxation of Our American
Colonies ... Briefly Considered," 1765; J. Wilson, "Considerations on
the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British
Parliament," 1774 (also in "The Works of James Wilson," 2 vols. 1896);
S. Seabury, "Free Thoughts on the Proceedings of the Continental
Congress," 1774; T. Paine, "Common Sense," 1776 (also in "Writings of
Thomas Paine," 4 vols. 1894-96). These pamphlets are not available to
most readers, but all of them, together with many others, have been
admirably described and summarized in M. C. Tyler, "The Literary History
of the American Revolution," 2 vols. 1897. The letters and public papers
of the leaders of the Revolution have been mostly printed, among which
some of the most valuable and interesting collections are: C. F. Adams,
"The Works of John Adams," 10 vols. 1856 (vol. II); J. Adams, "Familiar
Letters of John Adams and his Wife Abigail Adams," 1875; W. C. Ford,
"The Warren-Adams Letters," 1917 (vol. I); A. H. Smyth, "The Writing's
of Benjamin Franklin," 10 vols. 1905-1907 (vols. IV-VI); P. L. Ford,
"The Writings of John Dickinson," 3 vols. 1895; H. A. Cushing, "The
Writings of Samuel Adams," 4 vols. 1904-1908; P. O. Hutchinson, "Diary
and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," 2 vols. 1884. The following works
give the history of the time as it appeared to various contemporaries:
W. Gordon, "History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of American
Independence," 4 vols. 1788 (parts of the work taken bodily from the
"Annual Register"); D. Ramsey, "History of the Revolution of South
Carolina," 2 vols. 1785; A. Graydon, "Memoirs of His Own Times," 1846;
T. Hutchinson, "History of Massachusetts Bay," 3 vols. 1795-1828 (based
on documents collected by the author, some of which were destroyed
in the Stamp Act riots); Mercy Warren, "History of the American
Revolution," 3 vols. 1805 (author was a sister of James Otis); VP.
Moultrie, "Memoirs of the American Revolution so far as it Related to
North and South Carolina," 2 vols. 1802; J. Drayton, "Memoirs of the
American Revolution," 2 vols. 1821; T. Jones, "History of New York in
the Revolutionary War," 2 vols. 1879 (by a prominent New York Loyalist);
"The Annual Register," 1765-1776 (an English annual giving summaries
of political events supposed to have been prepared by Edmund Burke); H.
Walpole, "Memoirs of the Reign of George the Third," 4 vols. 1894.

Secondary Works: The best single volume on the Revolution is W. E.
H. Lecky, "The American Revolution," 1912. Other good accounts: E.
Charming, "History of the United States," vol. III, 1912; G. Howard,
"Preliminaries of the American Revolution," 1905; S. G. Fisher,
"Struggle for American Independence," 2 vols. 1908 (controverts many
traditional ideas. Interesting book by a man who has been bored by the
laudation of the heroic and patriotic side of the Revolution). Of the
more detailed histories, the best are: G. Bancroft, "History of the
United States," 10 vols. 1834-1874 (vols. V-VIII deal with the period
1765-1776. Strongly prejudiced but accurate as to facts; based on
documents collected in European archives, some of which are not easily
obtainable elsewhere. Revised ed., 6 vols. 1885, omits notes and
references, and therefore not so valuable as the original edition); G.
O. Trevelyan, "The American Revolution," 6 vols. 1899 1914 (brilliantly
written by an Englishman of Liberal sympathies. On the whole the work
on the Revolution best worth reading). Studies of the beginnings of
the Revolution in particular colonies: C. H. Lincoln, "Revolutionary
Movement in Pennsylvania," 1901; H. J. Eckenrode, "The Revolution in
Virginia," 1916; C. L. Becker, "History of political Parties in New
York,1760-1776," 1909. The best account of the British policy leading
up to the Grenville measures is G. L: Beer, "British Colonial Policy,
1754-1765", 1907. The interesting and important subject of the
Loyalists is sketched in C. H. Van Tyne, "The Loyalists of the American
Revolution," 1902. Interesting biographies well worth reading: W. W.
Henry, "Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence, and Speeches," 3 vols.
1891; J. K. Hosmer, "Life of Thomas Hutchinson," 1896; J. K. Hosmer,
"Samuel Adams," 1893; M. Chamberlin, "John Adams," 1884; C. J. Stille,
"The Life and Times of John Dickinson," 1891; D. D. Wallace, "Life of
Henry Laurens," 1915; P. L. Ford, "The Many-Sided Franklin," 1899; J.
Parton, "Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin," 2 vols. 1867.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Eve of the Revolution; A Chronicle of the Breach with England" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.