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FORMATION OF THE UNION
ALBERT BUSHNELL HART, PH.D.
To the Memory
THOMAS H. LAMSON,
_A GENEROUS FRIEND OF LEARNING._
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The second volume of the EPOCHS OF AMERICAN HISTORY aims to follow out the
principles laid down for "THE COLONIES,"--the study of causes rather than
of events, the development of the American nation out of scattered and
inharmonious colonies. The throwing off of English control, the growth out
of narrow political conditions, the struggle against foreign domination,
and the extension of popular government, are all parts of the
uninterrupted process of the Formation of the Union.
So mighty a development can be treated only in its elements in this small
volume. Much matter is thrown into graphic form in the maps; the
Suggestions for Readers and Teachers, and the bibliographies at the heads
of the chapters are meant to lead to more detailed accounts, both of
events and of social and economic conditions. Although the book includes
three serious wars, there is no military history in it. To the soldier,
the movement of troops is a professional question of great significance;
the layman needs to know, rather, what were the means, the character, and
the spirit of the two combatants in each case, and why one succeeded where
the other was defeated.
To my colleague, Professor Edward Channing, I am indebted for many
suggestions on the first four chapters.
ALBERT BUSHNELL HART.
CAMBRIDGE, July 1, 1892.
PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.
During the five years since this volume of the _Epochs of American
History_ was first issued, the literature of the subject has made
constant advances; and hence the Suggestions for Readers and Teachers and
the bibliographies at the head of each chapter have been pruned, enlarged,
and rewritten. The text has undergone fewer changes. The good-will of
users of the book has pointed out some errors and inaccuracies, which have
been corrected from time to time; and new light has in some cases dawned
upon the author. I shall always be grateful for corrections of fact or of
ALBERT BUSHNELL HART
CAMBRIDGE, July 1, 1897.
SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS AND TEACHERS.
Each of the volumes in the series is intended to be complete in itself,
and to furnish an account of the period it covers sufficient for the
general reader or student. Those who wish to supplement this book by
additional reading or study will find useful the bibliographies at the
heads of the chapters.
For the use of teachers the following method is recommended. A chapter at
a time may be given out to the class for their preliminary reading, or the
paragraph numbers may be used in assigning lessons. From the references at
the head of the chapter a report may then be prepared by one or more
members of the class on each of the numbered sections included in that
chapter; these reports may be filed, or may be read in class when the
topic is reached in the more detailed exercises. Pupils take a singular
interest in such work, and the details thus obtained will add a local
color to the necessarily brief statements of the text.
STUDENTS' REFERENCE LIBRARY.
The following brief works will be found useful for reference and
comparison, or for the preparation of topics. The set should cost not more
than twelve dollars. Of these books, Lodge's _Washington_, Morse's
_Jefferson_, and Schurz's _Clay_, read in succession, make up a
brief narrative history of the whole period.
1. EDWARD CHANNING: _The United States of America, 1765-1865_. New
York: Macmillan Co., 1896.--Excellent survey of conditions and causes.
2. ALEXANDER JOHNSTON: _History of American Politics_. 2d ed. New
York: Holt, 1890.--Lucid account of political events in brief space.
3, 4. HENRY CABOT LODGE: _George Washington_ (_American Statesmen
Series_). 2 vols. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1889.--Covers the
5. JOHN T. MORSE, JR.: _Thomas Jefferson_ (_American Statesmen Series_).
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1883.--Covers the period 1750-1809.
6. CARL SCHURZ: _Henry Clay_, I. (_American Statesmen Series_).
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1887.--Covers the period 1777-1833.
7. EDWARD STANWOOD: _A History of Presidential Elections_. 3d ed.
revised. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1892.--An account of the
political events of each presidential campaign, with the platforms and a
statement of the votes.
8. SIMON STERNE: _Constitutional History and Political Development of
the United States_. 4th ed. revised. New York: Putnam's, 1888.--An
excellent brief summary of the development of the Constitution.
9. HERMANN VON HOLST: _The Constitutional and Political History of the
United States_. Vol. I. _1750-1833_. _State Sovereignty and
Slavery_. Chicago: Callaghan & Co., 1877.--Not a consecutive history,
but a philosophical analysis and discussion of the principal
SCHOOL REFERENCE LIBRARY.
The following works make up a convenient reference library of secondary
works for study on the period of this volume. The books should cost not
more than thirty-five dollars.
1-9. The brief works enumerated in the previous list.
10. EDWARD CHANNING and ALBERT BUSHNELL HART. _Guide to the Study of
American History_. Boston: Ginn & Co., 1896.--A classified bibliography,
with suggestions as to methods.
11. 12. GEORGE TICKNOR CURTIS: _Constitutional History of the United
States from their Declaration of Independence to the Close of their Civil
War_. 2 vols. New York: Harpers, 1889-1896.--Volume I. is a reprint of
Curtis's earlier _History of the Constitution_, in two volumes, and
covers the period 1774-1790. Chapters i.-vii. of Volume II. come down to
13. RICHARD FROTHINGHAM: _The Rise of the Republic of the United
States_. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1872.--A careful study of the
progress of independence, from 1750 to 1783. Indispensable.
14. SYDNEY HOWARD GAY: _James Madison (American Statesmen Series)_.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1884.
15. JUDSON S. LANDON: _The Constitutional History and Government of the
United States_. A Series of Lectures. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.,
1889.--The only recent brief constitutional history, except Sterne.
16. HENRY CABOT LODGE: _Alexander Hamilton (American Statesmen
Series)_. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1882.
17. JOHN T. MORSE, JR.: _John Adams (American Statesmen Series)_.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1885.
18. JOHN T. MORSE, JR.: _John Adams (American Statesmen Series)_.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1882.
19-21. JAMES SCHOULER: _History of the United States of America under
the Constitution_. New ed. 5 vols. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1895.--
This is the only recent and complete history which systematically covers
the whole period from 1783 to 1861. The style is very inelegant, but it is
an excellent repository of facts. Vols. I.-III. (sold separately) cover
the period 1783-1830.
22. WILLIAM MILLIGAN SLOANE: _The French War and the Revolution
(American History Series)_. New York: Scribners, 1893.--Covers the
23. FRANCIS A. WALKER: _The Making of the Nation (American History
Series)_. New York: Scribners, 1894.--Covers the period 1783-1817.
LARGER REFERENCE LIBRARY.
For school use or for extended private reading, a larger collection of the
standard works on the period 1750-1829 is necessary. The following books
ought to cost about a hundred and fifty dollars. Many may be had at
secondhand through dealers, or by advertising in the _Publishers' Weekly_.
Additional titles may be found in the bibliographies at the heads of the
chapters, and through the formal bibliographies, such as Foster's
_References to Presidential Administrations_, Winsor's _Narrative
and Critical History_, Bowker and Iles's _Reader's Guide_, and Channing
and Hart's _Guide_.
1-23. The books enumerated in the two lists above.
24-32. HENRY ADAMS: _History of the United States of America_. 9 vols. New
York: Scribners, 1889-1891.--Period, 1801-1817. Divided into four sets,
for the first and second administrations of Jefferson and of Madison; each
set obtainable separately. The best history of the period.
33. HENRY ADAMS: _John Randolph (American Statesmen Series)_. Boston:
Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1882.
34-43. GEORGE BANCROFT: _History of the United States, from the Discovery
of the American Continent_. 10 vols. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1834-
1874.--Vols. IV.-X. cover the period 1748-1782. Of the third edition, or
"author's last revision," in six volumes (New York: Appleton, 1883-1885),
Vols. III.-VI. cover the period 1763-1789. The work is rhetorical and
lacks unity, but is valuable for facts.
44. WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT and SYDNEY HOWARD GAY: _A Popular History of
the United States_. 4 vols. New York: Scribners, 1876-1881.--Entirely
the work of Mr. Gay. Well written and well illustrated.
45,46. JOHN FISKE: _The American Revolution_. 2 vols. Boston: Houghton,
Mifflin & Co., 1891.
47. JOHN FISKE: _The Critical Period of American History_, 1783-1789.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1888.--Remarkable narrative style.
48. DANIEL C. GILMAN: _James Monroe (American Statesmen Series)_.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1883.
49-52. RICHARD HILDRETH: _The History of the United States of America_.
Two series, each 3 vols. New York: Harpers, 1849-1856 (also later editions
from the same plates).--Vols. II.-VI. cover the period 1750-1821. Very
full and accurate, but without foot-notes. Federalist standpoint.
53. JAMES K. HOSMER: _Samuel Adams (American Statesmen Series)_.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1885.
54-57. JOHN BACH MCMASTER: _A History of the People of the United
States, from the Revolution to the Civil War_. 4 vols. New York: Appleton,
1883-1895.--The four volumes published cover the period 1784-1820. The
point of view in the first volume is that of social history; in later
volumes there is more political discussion.
58. JOHN T. MORSE, JR.: _Benjamin Franklin (American Statesmen Series)_.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1889.
59, 60. FRANCIS PARKMAN: _Montcalm and Wolfe_. 2 vols. Boston: Little,
Brown & Co., 1885.
61. GEORGE PELLEW: _John Jay (American Statesmen Series)_. Boston:
Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1890.
62, 63. TIMOTHY PITKIN: _A Political and Civil History of the United
States of America, from the Year 1763 to the Close of the Administration
of President Washington, in March, 1797_. 2 vols. New Haven: Howe and
Durrie & Peck, 1828.--An old book, but well written, and suggestive as to
economic and social conditions.
64. THEODORE ROOSEVELT:_ Gouverneur Morris (American Statesmen Series)_.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1888.
65. JOHN AUSTIN STEVENS: _Albert Gallatin (American Statesmen Series)_.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1884.
66-69. GEORGE TUCKER: _The History of the United States, from their
Colonization to the End of the Twenty-Sixth Congress, in 1841_. 4 vols.
Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1856-1857.--Practically begins in 1774. Written
from a Southern standpoint.
70. MOSES COIT TYLER: _Patrick Henry (American Statesmen Series)_.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1887.
71-78. JUSTIN WINSOR: _Narrative and Critical History of America_. 8 vols.
Boston & New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1886-1889.--Vol. VI. And part
of Vol. VII. cover the period 1750-1789. The rest of Vol. VII. covers
the period 1789-1830. Remarkable for its learning and its bibliography,
but not a consecutive history.
In the above collections are not included the sources which are necessary
for proper school and college work. References will be found in the
bibliographies preceding each chapter below, and through the other
bibliographies there cited.
THE AMERICANS IN 1750.
1. References--2. Colonial geography--3. The people and their
distribution--4. Inherited institutions--5. Colonial development of
English institutions--6. Local government in the colonies--7. Colonial
government--8. English control of the colonies--9. Social and economic
conditions--10. Colonial slavery.
EXPULSION OF THE FRENCH (1750-1763).
11. References--12. Rival claims in North America (1690-1754)--13.
Collisions on the frontier (1749-1754)--14. The strength of the parties
(1754)--15. Congress of Albany (1754)--16. Military operations (1755-
1757)--17. The conquest of Canada (1758-1760)--18. Geographical results of
the war (1763)--19. The colonies during the war (1754-1763)--20. Political
effects of the war (1763).
CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION (1763-1775).
21. References--22. Condition of the British Empire (1763)--23. New
schemes of colonial regulation (1763)--24. Writs of Assistance (1761-
1764)--25. The Stamp Act (1763-1765)--26. The Stamp Act Congress (1765)--
27. Revenue acts (1767)--28. Colonial protests and repeal (1767-1770)--29.
Spirit of violence in the colonies (1770-1773)--30. Coercive acts of 1774
--31. The First Continental Congress (1774)--32. Outbreak of hostilities
(1775)--33. Justification of the Revolution.
UNION AND INDEPENDENCE (1775-1783).
34. References--35. The strength of the combatants (1775)--36. The Second
Continental Congress (1775)--37. The national government formed (1775)--
38. Independence declared (1776)--39. New State governments formed (1775-
1777)--40. The first period of the war (1775-1778)--41. Foreign relations
(1776-1780)--42. The war ended (1778-1782)--43. Finances of the Revolution
(1775-1783)--44. Internal difficulties (1775-1782)--45. Formation of a
Constitution (1776-1781)--46. Peace negotiated (1781-1783)--47. Political
effects of the war (1775-1783).
THE CONFEDERATION (1781-1788).
48. References--49. The United States in 1781--50. Form of the government
(1781-1788)--51. Disbandment of the army (1783)--52. Territorial
settlement with the States (1781-1802)--53. Finances (1781-1788)--54.
Disorders in the States (1781-1788)--55. Slavery (1777-1788)--56. Foreign
relations and commerce (1781-1788)--57. Disintegration of the Union (1786,
1787)--58. Reorganization attempted (1781-1787).
THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION (1787-1789).
59. References--60. The Federal Convention assembled (1787)--61.
Difficulties of the convention (1787)--62. Sources of the Constitution--
63. The great compromises (1787)--64. Details of the Constitution (1787)--
65. Difficulties of ratification (1787, 1788)--66. State conventions
(1787, 1788)--67. Expiration of the Confederation (1788)--68. Was the
Constitution a compact?
ORGANIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT (1789-1793).
69. References--70. Geography of the United States in 1789--71. The people
of the United States in 1789--72. Political methods in 1789--73.
Organization of Congress (1789)--74. Organization of the Executive (1789,
1790)--75. Organization of the courts (1789-1793)--76. Revenue and
protection (1789, 1790)--77. National and State debts (1789, 1790)--78.
United States Bank (1791, 1792)--79. Slavery questions (1789-1798)--80.
The success of the new government (1789-1792).
FEDERAL SUPREMACY (1793-1801).
81. References--82. Formation of political parties (1792-1794)--83. War
between France and England (1793)--84. American neutrality (1793)--85. The
Jay Treaty (1794-1796)--86. The Whiskey Rebellion (1794)--87. Election of
John Adams (1796)--88. Breach with France (1795-1798)--89. Alien and
Sedition Acts (1798)--90. Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (1798-1800)--
91. Election of 1800, 1801--92. Causes of the fall of the Federalists.
REPUBLICAN SUPREMACY (1801-1809).
93. References--94. The political revolution of 1801--95. Jefferson's
civil service (1801-1803)--96. Attack on the judiciary (1801-1805)--97.
The policy of retrenchment (1801-1809)--98. Barbary Wars (1801-1806)--99.
Annexation of Louisiana (1803)--100. Federal schemes of disunion (1803-
1809)--101. The Burr conspiracy (1806, 1807)--102. Aggressions on neutral
trade (1803-1807)--103. Policy of non resistance (1805-1807)--104. The
embargo (1807, 1808)--105. Repeal of the embargo (1809).
THE UNION IN DANGER (1809-1815)
106. References--107. Non intercourse laws (1809, 1810)--108. Fruitless
negotiations (1809-1811)--109. The war party (1811)--110. Strength of the
combatants (1812)--111. War on the northern frontier (1812, 1813)--112.
Naval war (1812-1815)--113. Disastrous campaign of 1814--114. Question of
the militia (1812-1814)--115. Secession movement in New England (1814)--
116. Peace of Ghent (1812-1814)--117. Political effects of the war (1815).
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC REORGANIZATION (1815-1824)
118. References--119. Conditions of national growth (1815)--120. The
second United States Bank (1815)--121. Internal improvements (1806-1817)--
122. The first protective tariff (1816)--123. Monroe's administration
(1817-1825)--124. Territorial extension (1805-1819)--125. Judicial
decisions (1812-1824)--126. The slavery question revived (1815-1820)--127.
The Missouri Compromises (1818-1821)--128. Relations with Latin American
States (1815-1823)--129. The Monroe Doctrine (1823).
ELEMENTS OF POLITICAL REORGANIZATION (1824-1829).
130. References--131. Political methods in 1824--132. The tariff of 1824
(1816-1824)--133. The election of 1824--134. The election of 1825--135.
The Panama Congress (1825, 1826)--136. Internal improvements (1817-1829)--
137. The Creek and Cherokee questions (1824-1829)--138. The tariff of
abominations (1828)--139. Organized opposition to Adams (1825-1829)--140.
The triumph of the people (1828).
LIST OF MAPS.
1. Territorial Growth of the United States
2. English Colonies, 1763-1775
3. The United States, 1783
4 The United States, March 4, 1801
5. The United States, March 4, 1825
FORMATION OF THE UNION.
THE AMERICANS IN 1750
BIBLIOGRAPHIES.--R. G. Thwaites, _Colonies_, §§ 39, 74, 90; notes to
Joseph Story, _Commentaries_, §§ 1-197; notes to H. C. Lodge, _Colonies,
passim_; notes to Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History_, V. chs.
ii.-vi., Channing and Hart, _Guide_, §§ 130-133.
HISTORICAL MAPS.--R. G. Thwaites, _Colonies_, Maps Nos. 1 and 4 (_Epoch
Maps_, Nos. 1 and 4); G. P. Fisher _Colonial Era_, Maps Nos. 1 and 3;
Labberton, _Atlas_, lxiii., B. A. Hinsdale, _Old Northwest_ (republished
from MacCoun's _Historical Geography_).
GENERAL ACCOUNTS.--Joseph Story _Commentaries_, §§ 146-190; W. E. H.
Lecky, _England in the Eighteenth Century_, II. 1-21, III. 267-305; T. W.
Higginson, _Larger History_, ch. ix.; Edward Channing, _The United
States_, 1765-1865 ch. i.; H. E. Scudder, _Men and Manners in America_;
Hannis Taylor, _English Constitution_, Introduction, I.; H. C. Lodge,
_Colonies_ (chapters on social life); T. Pitkin, _United States_, I.
85-138, Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History_, V. chs. ii.-vi.;
R. Frothingham, _Rise of the Republic_, chs. i., iv.; Grahame, _United
States_, III. 145-176.
SPECIAL HISTORIES.--W. B. Weeden, _Economic and Social History of New
England_, II. chs. xiv., xv.; G. E. Howard, _Local Constitutional
History_, I. chs. ii., iii., vii.-ix.; C. F. Adams, _History of Quincy_,
chs. iii.-xiv.; M. C. Tyler, _History of American Literature_, II.; Edward
Channing, _Town and County Government_, and _Navigation Acts_; F. B.
Dexter, _Estimates of Population_; C. F. Bishop, _Elections in the
Colonies_; Wm. Hill, _First Stages of the Tariff Policy_; W. E. DuBois,
_Suppression of the Slave Trade_; J. R. Brackett, _Negro in Maryland_.
CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNTS.--Benjamin Franklin, _Autobiography_ (1706-1771);
John Woolman _Journal_ (1720-1772); George Whitefield, _Journals_
(especially 1739); Kalm, _Travels_ (1748-1749); Robert Rogers, _Concise
Account of North America_ (1765); A. Burnaby, _Travels_ (1759-1760);
Edmund Burke, _European Settlements in America_; William Douglass,
_Summary_; the various colonial archives and documents.--Reprints in II.
W. Preston, _Documents Illustrative of American History_ (charters, etc.);
_New Jersey Archives_, XI., XII., XVIII. (extracts from newspapers);
_American History Leaflets_, No. 16; _Library of American Literature_,
III.; _American History told by Contemporaries_, II.
2. COLONIAL GEOGRAPHY.
[Sidenote: British America.]
By the end of the eighteenth century the term "Americans" was commonly
applied in England, and even the colonists themselves, to the English-
speaking subjects of Great Britain inhabiting the continent of North
America and the adjacent islands. The region thus occupied comprised the
Bahamas, the Bermudas, Jamaica, and some smaller West Indian islands,
Newfoundland, the outlying dependency of Belize, the territory of the
great trading corporation known as the Hudson's Bay Company, and--more
important than all the rest--the broad strip of territory running along
the coast from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Altamaha River.
It is in this continental strip, lying between the sea and the main chain
of the Appalachian range of mountains, that the formation of the Union was
accomplished. The external boundaries of this important group of colonies
were undetermined; the region west of the mountains was drained by
tributaries of the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi rivers, and both these
rivers were held in their lower course by the French. Four successive
colonial wars had not yet settled the important question of the
territorial rights of the two powers, and a fifth war was impending.
So far as the individual colonies were concerned, their boundaries were
established for them by English grants. The old charters of Massachusetts,
Virginia, and the Carolinas had given title to strips of territory
extending from the Atlantic westward to the Pacific. Those charters had
lapsed, and the only colony in 1750 of which the jurisdiction exercised
under the charter reached beyond the Appalachian mountains was
Pennsylvania. The Connecticut grant had long since been ignored; the
Pennsylvania limits included the strategic point where the Alleghany and
Monongahela rivers unite to form the Ohio. Near this point began the final
struggle between the English and the French colonies. The interior
boundaries between colonies in 1750 were matters of frequent dispute and
law-suits. Such questions were eventually brought to the decision of the
English Privy Council, or remained to vex the new national government
after the Revolution had begun.
[Sidenote: The frontiers.]
At this date, and indeed as late as the end of the Revolution, the
continental colonies were all maritime. Each of them had sea-ports
enjoying direct trade with Europe. The sea was the only national highway;
the sea-front was easily defensible. Between contiguous colonies there was
intercourse; but Nova Scotia, the last of the continental colonies to be
established, was looked upon as a sort of outlyer, and its history has
little connection with the history of the thirteen colonies farther south.
The western frontier was a source of apprehension and of danger. In
northern Maine, on the frontiers of New York, on the west and southwest,
lived tribes of Indians, often disaffected, and sometimes hostile. Behind
them lay the French, hereditary enemies of the colonists. The natural
tendency of the English was to push their frontier westward into the
Indian and French belt.
3. THE PEOPLE AND THEIR DISTRIBUTION.
This westward movement was not occasioned by the pressure of population.
All the colonies, except, perhaps, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Delaware,
had abundance of vacant and tillable land. The population in 1750 was
about 1,370,000. It ranged from less than 5,000 in Georgia to 240,000 in
Virginia. Several strains of non-English white races were included in
these numbers. There were Dutch in New York, a few Swedes in Pennsylvania
and New Jersey, Germans in New York and Pennsylvania, Scotch Irish and
Scotch Highlanders in the mountains of Pennsylvania and South Carolina, a
few Huguenots, especially in the South, and a few Irish and Jews. All the
rest of the whites were English or the descendants of English. A slow
stream of immigration poured into the colonies, chiefly from England.
Convicts were no longer deported to be sold as private servants; but
redemptioners--persons whose services were mortgaged for their passage--
were still abundant. Many years later, Washington writes to an agent
inquiring about "buying a ship-load of Germans," that is, of
redemptioners. There was another important race-element,--the negroes,
perhaps 220,000 in number; in South Carolina they far out-numbered the
whites. A brisk trade was carried on in their importation, and probably
ten thousand a year were brought into the country. This stream poured
almost entirely into the Southern colonies. North of Maryland the number
of blacks was not significant in proportion to the total population. A few
Indians were scattered among the white settlements, but they were an alien
community, and had no share in the development of the country.
[Sidenote: American character.]
The population of 1,370,000 people occupied a space which in 1890
furnished homes for more than 25,000,000. The settlements as yet rested
upon, or radiated from, the sea-coast and the watercourses; eight-tenths
of the American people lived within easy reach of streams navigable to the
sea. Settlements had crept up the Mohawk and Susquehanna valleys, but they
were still in the midst of the wilderness. Within each colony the people
had a feeling of common interest and brotherhood. Distant, outlying, and
rebellious counties were infrequent. The Americans of 1750 were in
character very like the frontiersmen of to-day, they were accustomed to
hard work, but equally accustomed to abundance of food and to a rude
comfort; they were tenacious of their rights, as became offshoots of the
Anglo-Saxon race. In dealing with their Indian neighbors and their slaves
they were masterful and relentless. In their relations with each other
they were accustomed to observe the limitations of the law. In deference
to the representatives of authority, in respect for precedent and for the
observances of unwritten custom, they went beyond their descendants on the
frontier. Circumstances in America have greatly changed in a century and a
half: the type of American character has changed less. The quieter,
longer-settled communities of that day are still fairly represented by
such islands of undisturbed American life as Cape Cod and Cape Charles.
The industrious and thriving built good houses, raised good crops, sent
their surplus abroad and bought English goods with it, went to church, and
discussed politics. In education, in refinement, in literature and art,
most of the colonists had made about the same advance as the present
farmers of Utah. The rude, restless energy of modern America was not yet
4. INHERITED INSTITUTIONS.
[Sidenote: Sources of American government.]
In comparison with other men of their time, the Americans were
distinguished by the possession of new political and social ideas, which
were destined to be the foundation of the American commonwealth. One of
the strongest and most persistent elements in national development has
been that inheritance of political traditions and usages which the new
settlers brought with them. Among the more rigid sects of New England the
example of the Hebrew theocracy, as set forth in the Scriptures, had great
influence on government; they were even more powerfully affected by the
ideas of the Christian commonwealth held by the Protestant theologians,
and particularly by John Calvin. The residence of the Plymouth settlers in
the Netherlands, and the later conquest of the Dutch colonies, had brought
the Americans into contact with the singularly wise and free institutions
of the Dutch. To some degree the colonial conception of government had
been affected by the English Commonwealth of 1649, and the English
Revolution of 1688. The chief source of the political institutions of the
colonies was everywhere the institutions with which they were familiar at
the time of the emigration from England. It is not accurate to assert that
American government is the offspring of English government. It is nearer
the truth to say that in the middle of the seventeenth century the Anglo-
Saxon race divided into two branches, each of which developed in its own
way the institutions which it received from the parent stock. From the
foundation of the colonies to 1789 the development of English government
had little influence on colonial government. So long as the colonies were
dependent they were subject to English regulation and English legal
decisions, but their institutions developed in a very different direction.
[Sidenote: Political ideas.]
Certain fundamental political ideas were common to the older and the
younger branches of the Anglo-Saxon race, and have remained common to this
day. The first was the idea of the supremacy of law, the conception that a
statute was binding on the subject, on the members of the legislative
body, and even on the sovereign. The people on both sides of the water
were accustomed to an orderly government, in which laws were made and
administered with regularity and dignity. The next force was the
conception of an unwritten law, of the binding power of custom. This idea,
although by no means peculiar to the English race, had been developed into
an elaborate "common law,"--a system of legal principles accepted as
binding on subject and on prince, even without a positive statute. Out of
these two underlying principles of law had gradually developed a third
principle, destined to be of incalculable force in modern governments,--
the conception of a superior law, higher even than the law-making body. In
England there was no written constitution, but there was a succession of
grants or charters, in which certain rights were assured to the
individual. The long struggle with the Stuart dynasty in the seventeenth
century was an assertion of these rights as against the Crown. In the
colonies during the same time those rights were asserted against all
comers,--against the colonial governors, against the sovereign, and
against Parliament. The original colonies were almost all founded on
charters, specific grants which gave them territory and directed in what
manner they should carry on government therein. These charters were held
by the colonists to be irrevocable except for cause shown to the
satisfaction of a court of law; and it was a recognized right of the
individual to plead that a colonial law was void because contrary to the
charter. Most of the grants had lapsed or had been forcibly, and even
illegally, annulled; but the principle still remained that a law was
superior to the will of the ruler, and that the constitution was superior
to the law. Thus the ground was prepared for a complicated federal
government, with a national constitution recognized as the supreme law,
and superior both to national enactments and to State constitutions or
[Sidenote: Principles of freedom.]
The growth of constitutional government, as we now understand it, was
promoted by the establishment of two different sets of machinery for
making laws and carrying on government. The older and the younger branches
of the race were alike accustomed to administer local affairs in local
assemblies, and more general affairs in a general assembly. The two
systems in both countries worked side by side without friction; hence
Americans and Englishmen were alike unused to the interference of
officials in local matters, and accustomed through their representatives
to take an educating share in larger affairs. The principle was firmly
rooted on both sides of the water that taxes were not a matter of right,
but were a gift of the people, voted directly or through their
representatives. On both sides of the water it was a principle also that a
subject was entitled to his freedom unless convicted of or charged with a
crime, and that he should have a speedy, public, and fair trial to
establish his guilt or innocence. Everywhere among the English-speaking
race criminal justice was rude, and punishments were barbarous; but the
tendency was to do away with special privileges and legal exemptions.
Before the courts and before the tax-gatherers all Englishmen stood
practically on the same basis.
5. COLONIAL DEVELOPMENT OF ENGLISH INSTITUTIONS.
Beginning at the time of colonization with substantially the same
principles of liberty and government, the two regions developed under
circumstances so different that, at the end of a century and a half, they
were as different from each other as from their prototype.
[Sidenote: Separation of departments.]
The Stuart sovereigns of England steadily attempted to strengthen their
power, and the resistance to that effort caused an immense growth of
Parliamentary influence. The colonies had little occasion to feel or to
resent direct royal prerogative. To them the Crown was represented by
governors, with whom they could quarrel without being guilty of treason,
and from whom in general they feared very little, but whom they could not
depose. Governors shifted rapidly, and colonial assemblies eventually took
over much of the executive business from the governors, or gave it to
officers whom they elected. But while, in the eighteenth century, the
system of a responsible ministry was growing up in England under the
Hanoverian kings, the colonies were accustomed to a sharp division between
the legislative and the executive departments. Situated as they were at a
great distance from the mother-country, the assemblies were obliged to
pass sweeping laws. The easiest way of checking them was to limit the
power of the assemblies by strong clauses in the charters or in the
governor's instructions; and to the very last the governors, and above the
governors the king, retained the power of royal veto, which in England was
never exercised after 1708. Thus the colonies were accustomed to see their
laws quietly and legally reversed, while Parliament was growing into the
belief that its will ought to prevail against the king or the judges. In a
wild frontier country the people were obliged to depend upon their
neighbors for defence or companionship. More emphasis was thus thrown upon
the local governments than in England. The titles of rank, which continued
to have great social and political force in England, were almost unknown
in America. The patroons in New York were in 1750 little more than great
land-owners; the fanciful system of landgraves, palsgraves, and caciques
in Carolina never had any substance. No permanent colonial nobility was
ever created, and but few titles were conferred on Americans. An American
aristocracy did grow up, founded partly on the ownership of land, and
partly on wealth acquired by trade. It existed side by side with a very
open and accessible democracy of farmers.
[Sidenote: Powers of the colonies.]
The gentlemen of the colonies were leaders; but if they accepted too many
of the governor's favors or voted for too many of that officer's measures,
they found themselves left out of the assemblies by their independent
constituents. The power over territory, the right to grant wild lands, was
also peculiar to the New World, and led to a special set of difficulties.
In New England the legislatures insisted on sharing in this power. In
Pennsylvania there was an unceasing quarrel over the proprietors' claim to
quit-rents. Farther south the governors made vast grants unquestioned by
the assemblies. In any event, colonization and the grant of lands were
provincial matters. Each colony became accustomed to planting new
settlements and to claiming new boundaries. The English common law was
accepted in all the colonies, but it was modified everywhere by statutes,
according to the need of each colony. Thus the tendency in colonial
development was toward broad legislation on all subjects; but at the same
time the limitations laid down by charters, by the governor's
instructions, or by the home government, increased and were observed.
Although the assemblies freely quarrelled with individual governors and
sheared them of as much power as they could, the people recognized that
the executive was in many respects beyond their reach. The division of the
powers of government into departments was one of the most notable things
in colonial government, and it made easier the formation of the later
state and national governments.
6. LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN THE COLONIES.
[Sidenote: English local government.]
In each colony in 1750 were to be found two sets of governing
organizations,--the local and the general. The local unit appears at
different times and in different colonies under many names; there were
towns, townships, manors, hundreds, ridings, liberties, parishes,
plantations, shires, and counties. Leaving out of account minor
variations, there were three types of local government,--town government,
county government, and a combination of the two. Each of these forms was
founded on a system with which the colonists were familiar at the time of
settlement, but each was modified to meet the changed conditions of
America. The English county in 1600 was a military and judicial
subdivision of the kingdom; but for some local purposes county taxes were
levied by the quarter sessions, a board of local government. The officers
were the lord lieutenant, who was the military commander, and the justices
of the peace, who were at the same time petty judges and members of the
administrative board. The English "town" had long since disappeared except
as a name, but its functions were in 1600 still carried out by two
political bodies which much resembled it: the first was the parish,--an
organization of persons responsible as tax-payers for the maintenance of
the church building. In some places an assembly of these tax-payers met
periodically, chose officers, and voted money for the church edifice, the
poor, roads, and like local purposes. In other places a "select vestry,"
or corporation of persons filling its own vacancies, exercised the powers
of parish government. In such cases the members were usually of the more
important persons in the parish. The other wide-spread local organization
was the manor; in origin this was a great estate, the tenants of which
formed an assembly and passed votes for their common purposes.
From these different forms of familiar local government the colonists
chose those best suited to their own conditions. New Englanders were
settled in compact little communities; they liked to live near the church,
and where they could unite for protection from enemies. They preferred the
open parish assembly, to which they gave the name of "town meeting." Since
some of the towns were organized before the colonial legislatures began to
pass comprehensive laws, the towns continued, by permission of the
colonial governments, to exercise extended powers. The proceedings of a
Boston town meeting in 1731 are thus reported:--
"After Prayer by the Revt. mr. John Webb,
"Habijah Savage Esqr. was chose to be Moderator for this meeting
"Proposed to Consider About Reparing mr. Nathaniell Williams His Kitchen
"In Answer to the Earnest Desire of the Honourable House of
"Voted an Entire Satisfaction in the Town in the late Conduct of their
Representatives in Endeavoring to preserve their Valuable Priviledges, And
Pray their further Endeavors therein--
"Voted. That the Afair of Repairing of the Wharff leading to the North
Battrey, be left with the Selectmen to do therein as they Judge best--"
The county was also organized in New England, but took on chiefly judicial
and military functions, and speedily abandoned local administration. In
the South the people settled in separate plantations, usually strung out
along the rivers. Popular assemblies were inconvenient, and for local
purposes the people adopted the English select vestry system in what they
called parishes. The county government was emphasized, and they adopted
the English system of justices of the peace, who were appointed by the
governor and endowed with large powers of county legislation. Hence in the
South the local government fell into the hands of the principal men of
each parish without election, while in New England it was in the hands of
[Sidenote: Mixed System.]
In some of the middle colonies the towns and counties were both active and
had a relation with each other which was the forerunner of the present
system of local government in the Western States. In New York each town
chose a member of the county board of supervisors; in Pennsylvania the
county officers as well as the town officers became elective. Whatever the
variations, the effect of local government throughout the colonies was the
same. The people carried on or neglected their town and county business
under a system defined by colonial laws; but no colonial officer was
charged with the supervision of local affairs. In all the changes of a
century and a half since 1750 these principles of decentralization have
7. COLONIAL GOVERNMENT.
[Sidenote: General form.]
Earlier than local governments in their development, and always superior
to them in powers, were the colonial governments. In 1750 there was a
technical distinction between the charter governments of Connecticut,
Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, the proprietary governments of
Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, and the provincial governments of
the eight other continental colonies. In the first group there were
charters which were substantially written constitutions binding on both
king and colonists, and unalterable except by mutual consent. In the
second group some subject, acting under a royal charter, appointed the
governors, granted the lands, and stood between the colonists and the
Crown. In the third group, precedent and the governor's instructions were
the only constitution. In essence, all the colonies of all three groups
had the same form of government. In each there was an elective
legislature; in each the suffrage was very limited; everywhere the
ownership of land in freehold was a requisite, just as it was in England,
for the county suffrage. In many cases there was an additional provision
that the voter must have a specified large quantity of land or must pay
specified taxes. In some colonies there was a religious requirement. The
land qualification worked very differently from the same system in
England. Any man of vigor and industry might acquire land; and thus,
without altering the letter of the law to which they were accustomed, the
colonial suffrage was practically enlarged, and the foundations of
democracy were laid. Nevertheless, the number of voters at that time was
not more than a fifth to an eighth as large in proportion to the
population as at present. In Connecticut in 1775 among 200,000 people
there were but 4,325 voters. In 1890, the fourth Connecticut district,
having about the same population, cast a vote of 36,500.
The participation of the people in their own government was the more
significant, because the colonies actually had what England only seemed to
have,--three departments of government. The legislative branch was
composed in almost all cases of two houses; the lower house was elective,
and by its control over money bills it frequently forced the passage of
measures unacceptable to the co-ordinate house. This latter, except in a
few cases, was a small body appointed by the governor, and had the
functions of the executive council as well as of an upper house. The
governor was a third part of the legislature in so far as he chose to
exercise his veto power. The only other limitation on the legislative
power of the assemblies was the general proviso that no act "was to be
contrary to the law of England, but agreeable thereto."
The governor was the head of the executive department,--sometimes a native
of the colony, as Hutchinson of Massachusetts, and Clinton of New York.
But he was often sent from over seas, as Cornbury of New York, and Dunmore
of Virginia. In Connecticut and Rhode Island the legislatures chose the
governor; but they fell in with the prevailing practice by frequently re-
electing men for a succession of years. The governor's chief power was
that of appointment, although the assemblies strove to deprive him of it
by electing treasurers and other executive officers. He had also the
prestige of his little court, and was able to form at least a small party
of adherents. As a representative of the home government he was the object
of suspicion and defiance. As the receiver and dispenser of annoying fees,
he was likely to be unpopular; and wherever it could do so, the assembly
made him feel his dependence upon it for his salary.
Colonial courts were nearly out of the reach of the assemblies, except
that their salaries might be reduced or withheld. The judges were
appointed by the governor, held during good behavior, and were reasonably
independent both of royal interference and of popular clamor. The
governor's council was commonly the highest court in the colony; hence the
question of the constitutionality of an act was seldom raised: since the
council could defeat the bill by voting against it, it was seldom
necessary to quash it by judicial process. Legal fees were high, and the
courts were the most unpopular part of the governments.
8. ENGLISH CONTROL OF THE COLONIES.
[Sidenote: English statutes.]
[Sidenote: The Crown.]
In Connecticut and Rhode Island, where the governor was not appointed by
the Crown, the colonies closely approached the condition of republics; but
even in these cases they acknowledged several powers in England to which
they were all subject. First came English law. It was a generally accepted
principle that all English statutes in effect at the time of the first
colonization held good for the colonies so far as applicable; and the
principles of the common law were everywhere accepted. Second came the
Crown. When the colonies were founded, the feudal system was practically
dead in England; but the conception that the Crown held the original title
to all the lands was applied in the colonies, so that all titles went back
to Indian or royal grants. Parliament made no protest when the king
divided up and gave away the New World. Parliament acquiesced when by
charter he created trading companies and bestowed upon them powers of
government. Down to 1765 Parliament seldom legislated for individual
colonies, and it was generally held that the colonies were not included in
English statutes unless specially mentioned. The Crown created the
colonies, gave them governors, permitted the local assemblies to grow up,
and directed the course of the colonial executive by royal instructions.
[Sidenote: Means of control.]
The agent of the sovereign in these matters was from 1696 to 1760 the so-
called Lords of the Board of Trade and Plantations. This commission,
appointed by The Crown, corresponded with the governors, made
recommendations, and examined colonial laws. Through them were exercised
the two branches of English control. Governors were directed to carry out
a specified policy or to veto specified classes of laws. If they were
disobedient or weak, the law might still be voided by a royal rescript.
The attorneys-general of the Crown were constantly called on to examine
laws with a view to their veto, and their replies have been collected in
Chalmers's "Opinions,"--a storehouse of material concerning the relations
of the colonies with the home government. The process of disallowance was
slow. Laws were therefore often passed in the colonies for successive
brief periods, thus avoiding the effects of a veto; or "Resolves" were
passed which had the force, though not the name, of statutes. In times of
crisis the Crown showed energy in trying to draw out the military strength
of the colonies; but if the assemblies hung back there was no means of
forcing them to be active. During the Stuart period the troubles at home
prevented strict attention to colonial matters. Under the Hanoverian kings
the colonies were little disturbed by any active interference. In one
respect only did the home government press hard upon the colonies. A
succession of Navigation Acts, beginning about 1650, limited the English
colonies to direct trade with the home country, in English or colonial
vessels. Even between neighboring English colonies trade was hampered by
restrictions or absolute prohibitions. Against the legal right of
Parliament thus to control the trade of the colonies the Americans did not
protest. Protest was unnecessary, since in 1750 the Acts were
systematically disregarded: foreign vessels carried freights to and from
American ports; American goods were shipped direct to foreign countries (§
23; Colonies, §§ 44, 128).
9. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS.
[Sidenote: Social life.]
[Sidenote: Intellectual life.]
[Sidenote: Economic conditions.]
Thus, partly from circumstances, and partly by their own design, the
colonies in 1750 were developing a political life of their own. Changes of
dynasties and of sovereigns or of ministers in England little affected
them. In like manner their social customs were slowly changing. The
abundance of land favored the growth of a yeoman class accustomed to take
part in the government. Savage neighbors made necessary a rough military
discipline, and the community was armed. The distance from England and an
independent spirit threw great responsibility on the assemblies. The
general evenness of social conditions, except that some men held more land
than others, helped on a democratic spirit. The conditions of the colonies
were those of free and independent communities. On the other hand,
colonial life was at best retired and narrow; roads were poor, inns
indifferent, and travelling was unusual. The people had the boisterous
tastes and dangerous amusements of frontiersmen. Outside of New England
there were almost no schools, and in New England schools were very poor.
In 1750 Harvard, Yale, William and Mary, and the College of New Jersey
(now Princeton) were the only colleges, and the education which they gave
was narrower than that now furnished by a good high school. Newspapers
were few and dull. Except in theology, there was no special instruction
for professional men. In most colonies lawyers were lightly esteemed, and
physicians little known. City life did not exist; Philadelphia, Boston,
New York, and Charleston were but provincial towns. The colonies had only
three industries,--agriculture, the fisheries, and shipping. Tobacco had
for more than a century been the staple export. Next in importance was the
New England fishery, employing six hundred vessels, and the commerce with
the West Indies, which arose out of that industry. Other staple exports
were whale products, bread-stuffs, naval stores, masts, and pig-iron.
The total value of exports in 1750 is estimated at £814,000. To carry
these products a fleet of at least two hundred vessels was employed;
they were built in the colonies north of Virginia, and most of them in New
England. The vessels themselves were often sold abroad. With the proceeds
of the exports the colonists bought the manufactured articles which they
prized. Under the Navigation Acts these ought all to have come from
England; but French silks, Holland gin, and Martinique sugar somehow found
their way into the colonies. The colonists and the home government tried
to establish new industries by granting bounties. Thus the indigo culture
in South Carolina was begun, and many unsuccessful attempts were made to
start silk manufactures and wine raising. The method of stimulating
manufactures by laying protective duties was not unknown; but England
could not permit the colonies to discriminate against home merchants, and
had no desire to see them establish by protective duties competitors for
English manufactures. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania did in a few cases lay
low protective duties. Except for the sea-faring pursuits of the Northern
colonies, the whole continental group was in the same dependent condition.
The colonists raised their own food and made their own clothes; the
surplus of their crops was sent abroad and converted into manufactured
10. COLONIAL SLAVERY.
[Sidenote: Slave trade.]
[Sidenote: The sections.]
In appearance the labor system of all the colonies was the same. Besides
paid white laborers, there was everywhere a class of white servants bound
without wages for a term of years, and a more miserable class of negro
slaves. From Nova Scotia to Georgia, in all the West Indies, in the
neighboring French and Spanish colonies, negro slavery was in 1750 lawful,
and appeared to flourish. Many attempts had been made by colonial
legislatures to cut off or to tax the importation of slaves. Sometimes
they feared the growing number of negroes, sometimes they desired more
revenue. The legislators do not appear to have been moved by moral
objections to slavery. Nevertheless, there was a striking difference
between the sections with regard to slavery. In all the colonies north of
Maryland the winters were so cold as to interfere with farming, and some
different winter work had to be provided. For such variations of labor,
slaves are not well fitted; hence there were but two regions in the North
where slaves were profitably employed as field-hands,--on Narragansett Bay
and on the Hudson: elsewhere the negroes were house or body servants, and
slaves were rather an evidence of the master's consequence than of their
value in agriculture. In the South, where land could be worked during a
larger portion of the year, and where the conditions of life were easier,
slavery was profitable, and the large plantations could not be kept up
without fresh importations. Hence, if any force could be brought to bear
against negro slavery it would easily affect the North, and would be
resisted by the South; in the middle colonies the struggle might be long;
but even there slavery was not of sufficient value to make it permanent.
[Sidenote: Anti-slavery agitation.]
Such a force was found in a moral agitation already under way in 1750. The
Puritans and the Quakers both upheld principles which, if carried to their
legitimate consequences, would do away with slavery. The share which all
men had in Christ's saving grace was to render them brethren hereafter;
and who should dare to subject one to another in this earthly life? The
voice of Roger Williams was raised in 1637 to ask whether, after "a due
time of trayning to labour and restraint, they ought not to be set free?"
"How cursed a crime is it," exclaimed old Sewall in 1700, "to equal men to
beasts! These Ethiopians, black as they are, are sons and daughters of the
first Adam, brethren and sisters of the last Adam, and the offspring of
God." On "2d mo. 18, 1688," the Germantown Friends presented the first
petition against slavery recorded in American history. By 1750
professional anti-slavery agitators like John Woolman and Benezet were at
work in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and many wealthy Quakers had set free
their slaves. The wedge which was eventually to divide the North from the
South was already driven in 1750. In his great speech on the Writs of
Assistance in 1761, James Otis so spoke that John Adams said: "Not a
Quaker in Philadelphia, or Mr. Jefferson of Virginia, ever asserted the
rights of negroes in stronger terms."
EXPULSION OF THE FRENCH (1750-1763).
BIBLIOGRAPHIES.--Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History_, V.
560-622; Channing and Hart, _Guide_, §§ 131-132.
HISTORICAL MAPS.--No. 2, this volume (_Epoch Maps_, No. 5); Labberton,
_Historical Atlas_, lxiii.; B. A. Hinsdale, _Old Northwest_, I. 38, 63
(republished from MacCoun, _Historical Geography_); S. R. Gardiner,
_School Atlas_, No. 45; Francis Parkman, _Montcalm and Wolfe_,
frontispiece; Oldmixen, _British Empire_ (1741); _Mitchell's Map_ (1755);
_Evans's Map_ (1755); school histories of Channing, Johnston, Scudder,
GENERAL ACCOUNTS.--Geo. Bancroft, _United States_, III. chs. xxiii.,
xxiv., IV. (last revision, II. 419-565); R. Hildreth, _United States_, II.
433-513; W. E. H. Lecky, _England in the Eighteenth Century_, II. ch.
viii., III. ch. x.; B. A. Hinsdale, _Old Northwest_, ch. v.; W. M. Sloane,
_French War and Revolution_, ch. viii.; Bryant and Gay, _Popular History_,
III. 254-328; J. R. Green, _English People_, IV. 166-218; Abiel Holmes,
_Annals of America_, II. 41-123; Geo. Chalmers, _Revolt of the American
Colonies_, II. book ix. ch. xx.; T. Pitkin, _Political and Civil History_,
SPECIAL HISTORIES.--Francis Parkman, _Montcalm and Wolfe_ (2 vols.),
latest and best detailed account; G. Warburton, _Conquest of Canada_,
(1849); T. Mante, _Late War_ (1772); W. B. Weeden, _New England_, II. chs.
xvi., xvii.; M. C. Tyler, _American Literature_, II. ch. xviii.; Theodore
Roosevelt, _Winning of the West_, II.
CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNTS.--John Knox, _Historical Journal_ (1757-1760);
Pouchot, _Mémoires_ (also in translation); Franklin, _Works_
(especially on the Albany Congress); Washington, _Works_, especially
his _Journal_ (Sparks's edition, II. 432-447); Robert Rogers, _Journal;
Documents relative to the Colonial History of New York_, X.--Reprints in
_American History told by Contemporaries_, II.
12. RIVAL CLAIMS IN NORTH AMERICA (1690-1754).
[Sidenote: International rivalry.]
"The firing of a gun in the woods of North America brought on a conflict
which drenched Europe in blood." In this rhetorical statement is suggested
the result of a great change in American conditions after 1750. For the
first time in the history of the colonies the settlements of England and
France were brought so near together as to provoke collisions in time of
peace. The attack on the French by the Virginia troops under Washington in
1754 was an evidence that France and England were ready to join in a
struggle for the possession of the interior of the continent, even though
it led to a general European war.
[Sidenote: Legal arguments.]
The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748 (Colonies, § 112) had not laid down a
definite line between the French and the English possessions west of the
mountains, According to the principles of international law observed at
the time of colonization, each power was entitled to the territory drained
by the rivers falling into that part of the sea-coast which it controlled.
The French, therefore, asserted a _prima facie_ title to the valleys
of the St. Lawrence and of the Mississippi (§ 2); if there was a natural
boundary between the two powers, it was the watershed north and west of
the sources of the St. John, Penobscot, Connecticut, Hudson, Susquehanna,
Potomac, and James. On neither side had permanent settlements been
established far beyond this irregular ridge. This natural boundary had,
however, been disregarded in the early English grants. Did not the charter
of 1609 give to Virginia the territory "up into the land, from sea to sea,
west and northwest"? (Colonies, § 29.) Did not the Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and Carolina grants run westward to the "South Sea"? And
although these grants had lapsed, the power of the king to make them was
undiminished; the Pennsylvania charter, the latest of all, gave title far
west of the mountains.
To these paper claims were added arguments of convenience: the Lake
Champlain region, the southern tributaries of Lake Ontario, and the
headwaters of the Ohio, were more easily reached from the Atlantic coast
than by working up the rapids of the St Lawrence and its tributaries, or
against two thousand miles of swift current on the Mississippi. To the
Anglo-Saxon hunger for more land was added the fear of Indian attacks; the
savages were alarmed by the advance of settlements, and no principles of
international law could prevent frontiersmen from exploring the region
claimed by France, or from occupying favorite spots. There was no
opportunity for compromise between the two parties; agreement was
impossible, a conflict was a mere matter of time, and the elaborate
arguments which each side set forth as a basis for its claim were intended
only to give the prestige of a legal title. In the struggle the English
colonies had one significant moral advantage: they desired the land that
they might occupy it; the French wished only to hold it vacant for some
future and remote settlement, or to control the fur-trade.
13. COLLISIONS ON THE FRONTIER (1749-1754).
[Sidenote: The Iroquois]
For many years the final conflict had been postponed by the existence of a
barrier state,--the Iroquois, or Six Nations of Indians. This fierce,
brave, and statesmanlike race held a strip of the watershed from Lake
Champlain to the Allegheny River. For many years they had been subject to
English influence, exercised chiefly by William Johnson; but the
undisturbed possession of their lands was the price of their friendship.
They held back the current of immigration through the Mohawk. They aimed
to be the intermediary for the fur-trade from the northwest. They remained
throughout the conflict for the most part neutral, but forced the
contestants to carry on their wars east or south of them.
[Sidenote: English claims.]
Southwest of the territory of the Iroquois lay the region of the upper
Ohio and its tributaries, particularly the valleys of the Tennessee, the
Muskingum, the Allegheny, the Monongahela and its mountain-descending
tributary, the Youghioghany, of which the upper waters interlace with
branches of the Potomac. In this rich country, heavily wooded and
abounding in game, there were only a few Indians and no white inhabitants.
In 1749 France began to send expeditions through the Ohio valley to raise
the French flag and to bury leaden plates bearing the royal arms. A part
of the disputed region was claimed by Pennsylvania as within her charter
limits; Virginia claimed it, apparently on the convenient principle that
any unoccupied land adjacent to her territory was hers; the English
government claimed it as a vacant royal preserve; and in 1749 an Ohio
company was formed with the purpose of erecting the disputed region into a
"back colony." A royal grant of land was secured, and a young Virginian,
named George Washington, was sent out as a surveyor. He took the
opportunity to locate some land for himself, and frankly says that "it is
not reasonable to suppose that those, who had the first choice,... were
inattentive to ... the advantages of situation."
[Sidenote: Attempts to occupy.]
Foreseeing the struggle, the French began to construct a chain of forts
connecting the St. Lawrence settlements with the Mississippi. The chief
strategic point was at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela
rivers,--the present site of Pittsburg. The Ohio company were first on the
ground, and in 1753 took steps to occupy this spot. They were backed up by
orders issued by the British government to the governors of Pennsylvania
and Maryland "to repel force by force whenever the French are found within
the undoubted limits of their province." Thus the French and English
settlements were brought dangerously near together, and it was resolved by
Virginia to send George Washington with a solemn warning to the French. In
October, 1753, he set forth, and returned in December to announce that the
French were determined to hold the country. They drove the few English out
of their new post, fortified the spot, and called it Fort Duquesne. The
crisis seemed to Benjamin Franklin so momentous that at the end of his
printed account of the capture of the post he added a rude woodcut of a
rattlesnake cut into thirteen pieces, with the motto, addressed to the
colonies, "Join or die."
[Sidenote: No compromise.]
This was no ordinary intercolonial difficulty, to be patched up by
agreements between the frontier commanders. Both French and English
officers acted under orders from their courts. England and France were
rivals, not only on the continent, but in the West Indies, in India, and
in Europe. There was no disposition either to prevent or to heal the
breach on the Pennsylvania frontier.
[Sidenote: Washington attacks.]
When Washington set out with a small force in April, 1754, it was with the
deliberate intention of driving the French out of the region. As he
advanced towards Fort Duquesne they came out to meet him. He was the
quicker, and surprised the little expedition at Great Meadows, fired upon
the French, and killed ten of them. A few days later Washington and his
command were captured at Fort Necessity, and obliged to leave the country.
As Half King, an Iroquois chief, said, "The French behaved like cowards,
and the English like fools." The colonial war had begun. Troops were at
once despatched to America by both belligerents. In 1755 hostilities also
broke out between the two powers on the sea; but it was not until May 18,
1756, that England formally declared war on France, and the Seven Years'
War began in Europe.
14. THE STRENGTH OF THE PARTIES (1754).
[Sidenote: England and France.]
The first organized campaign in America was in 1755. Its effect was to
show that the combatants were not far from equally matched. France claimed
the position of the first European power: her army was large, her soldiers
well trained; her comparative weakness at sea was not yet evident. The
English navy had been reduced to 17,000 men; the whole English army
counted 18,000 men, of whom there were in America but 1,000. Yet England
was superior when it came to building ships, equipping troops, and
furnishing money subsidies to keep her allies in the field. The advantage
of prestige in Europe was thrown away when France allied herself with her
hereditary enemy, Austria, and thus involved herself in wars which kept
her from sending adequate reinforcements to America.
[Sidenote: The colonies.]
Until 1758 the war in the western world was fought on both sides chiefly
by the colonists. Here the British Americans had a numerical advantage
over the French. Against the 80,000 white Canadians and Louisianians they
could oppose more than 1,100,000 whites. Had the English colonists, like
the Canadians, been organized into one province, they might have been
successful within a year; but the freedom and local independence of the
fourteen colonies made them, in a military sense, weaker than their
neighbors. In Canada there was neither local government nor public
opinion; governors and intendants sent out from Paris ruled the people
under regulations framed in Paris for the benefit of the court centred in
Paris. While the colonies with difficulty raised volunteer troops, the
French commander could make a _levée en masse_ of the whole adult male
population. During the four campaigns from 1755 to 1758 the Canadians
lost little territory, and they were finally conquered only by a powerful
expedition of British regular troops and ships.
[Sidenote: Theatre of war.]
One reason for this unexpected resistance was the aid of the Indians. The
Latin races have always had more influence over savage dependents than the
Anglo-Saxon. The French knew how to use the Indians as auxiliaries by
letting them make war on their own account and in their own barbarous
fashion. Nevertheless the Indians did not fight for the mere sake of
obliging the French, and when the tide turned, in 1759, they were mostly
detached. One other great advantage was enjoyed by the French: their
territory was difficult of access. The exposed coast was protected by the
strong fortresses of Louisbourg and Quebec, On the east, in the centre,
and on the Ohio they were in occupation and stood on the defensive. Acting
on the interior of their line, they could mass troops at any threatened
point. In the end their line was rolled up like a scroll from both ends.
Louisbourg and Fort Duquesne were both taken in 1758, but Montreal was
able to hold out until 1760.
15. CONGRESS OF ALBANY (1754).
[Sidenote: Indian treaty.]
[Sidenote: Union proposed]
Foreseeing a general colonial war, the Lords of Trade, in September, 1753,
directed the colonial governors to procure the sending of commissioners to
Albany. The first purpose was to make a treaty with the Iroquois; but a
suggestion was made in America that the commissioners also draw up a plan
of colonial union. In June, 1754, a body of delegates assembled from the
New England colonies, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The Indian
treaty was duly framed, notwithstanding the ominous suggestion of one of
the savages: "It is but one step from Canada hither, and the French may
easily come and turn you out of your doors." On June 24 the Congress of
Albany adopted unanimously the resolution that "a union of all the
colonies is at present absolutely necessary for their security and
defence;" and that "it would be necessary that the union be established by
Act of Parliament."
[Sidenote: Franklin's scheme.]
Since the extinction of the New England Confederation in 1684 (Colonies, §
69) there had been no approach to any colonial union. The suggestions of
William III., of the Lords of Trade, of ministers, of colonial governors,
and of private individuals had remained without effect To Benjamin
Franklin was committed the task of drawing up a scheme which should at the
same time satisfy the colonial assemblies and the mother government. The
advantages of such an union were obvious. Combined action meant speedy
victory; separate defence meant that much of the border would be exposed
to invasion. Franklin hoped to take advantage of the pressure of the war
to induce the colonies to accept a permanent union. His draft, therefore,
provided for a "President General," who should have toward the union the
powers usually enjoyed by a governor towards his colony. This was not
unlike a project in view when Andros was sent over in 1685. The startling
innovation of the scheme was a "Grand Council," to be chosen by the
colonial assemblies. The duty of this general government was to regulate
Indian affairs, make frontier settlements, and protect and defend the
colonists. The plan grew upon Franklin as he considered it, and he added a
scheme for general taxes, the funds to be raised by requisitions for
specific sums on the separate colonial treasurers.
[Sidenote: The union fails.]
The interest of the plan is that it resembles the later Articles of
Confederation. At first it seemed likely to succeed; none of the twenty-
five members of the congress seem to have opposed it, but not one colony
accepted it. The charter and proprietary colonies feared that they might
lose the guaranty afforded by their existing grants. The new union was to
be established by Act of Parliament. Of government by that body they knew
little, and they had no disposition to increase the power of the Crown.
The town of Boston voted "to oppose any plan of union whereby they shall
apprehend the Liberties and Priviledges of the People are endangered." The
British government also feared a permanent union, lest it teach the
colonies their own strength in organization. The movement for the union
had but the faint approval of the Lords of Trade, and received no
consideration in England. As Franklin said: "The assemblies all thought
there was too much _prerogative_, and in England it was thought to have
too much of the _democratic_."
16. MILITARY OPERATIONS (1755-1757).
[Sidenote: Character of the war]
Washington's defeat in 1754 was followed by active military preparations
on both sides. So far as the number of campaigns and casualties goes, it
was a war of little significance; but it was marked by romantic incidents
and heroic deeds. Much of the fighting took place in the forest. The
Indians showed their characteristic daring and their characteristic
unwillingness to stand a long-continued, steady attack. Their scalping-
knives and stakes added a fearful horror to many of the battles. On both
sides the military policy seemed simple. The English must attack, the
French must do their best to defend. The French were vulnerable in Nova
Scotia and on the Ohio; their centre also was pierced by two highways
leading from the Hudson,--one through Lake Champlain, the other through
the Mohawk and Lake Ontario. These four regions must be the theatre of
war, and in 1755 the British government, seconded by the colonists,
planned an attack on the four points simultaneously.
[Sidenote: Braddock's expedition.]
The most difficult of the four tasks was the reduction of Fort Duquesne,
and it was committed to a small force of British regulars, with colonial
contingents, under the command of General Braddock. The character of this
representative of British military authority is summed up in a phrase of
his secretary's: "We have a general most judiciously chosen for being
disqualified for the service he is employed on in almost every respect."
Before him lay three plain duties,--to co-operate with the provincial
authorities in protecting the frontier, to impress upon the Indians the
superior strength of the English, and to occupy the disputed territory. He
did none of them. Among the provincials was George Washington, whose
experience in this very region ought to have influenced the general; but
the latter obstinately refused to learn that the rules of war must be
modified in a rough and wooded country, among frontiersmen and savage
enemies. July 9, 1755, the expedition reached a point eight miles from
Fort Duquesne. As Braddock's little army marched forward, with careful
protection against surprise, it was greeted with a volley from 250 French
Canadians and 230 Indian allies. Though the Canadians fled, the Indians
stood their ground from behind trees and logs. The Virginians and a few
regulars took to trees also, but were beaten back by the oaths and blows
of Braddock. "We would fight," they said, "if we could see anybody to
fight with." After three hours' stand against an invisible foe, Braddock's
men broke and abandoned the field. Out of 1,466 officers and men, but 482
came off safe. The remnant of the expedition fled, abandoned the country,
left the frontier unprotected; and over the road which they had
constructed came a stream of marauding Indians.
[Sidenote: Removal of the Acadians.]
In the centre the double campaign was equally unfruitful. On the borders
of Nova Scotia the French forts were captured. The victors felt unable to
hold the province, although it had been theirs since 1713, except by
removing the French Acadian inhabitants. It was a strong measure, carried
out with severity. Six thousand persons were distributed among the
colonies farther south, where their religion and their language both
caused them to be suspected and often kept them from a livelihood. The
justification was that the Acadians were under French influence, and were
likely to be added to the fighting force of the enemy; the judgment of
Parkman is that the "government of France began with making the Acadians
its tools, and ended with making them its victims."
[Sidenote: Campaigns of 1756, 1757.]
The campaigns of 1756 and 1757 were like that of 1755. After the retreat
of Braddock's expedition the frontier of Virginia and Pennsylvania was
left to the ravages of the Indians. The two colonies were slow to defend
themselves, and had no help from England. Systematic warfare was still
carried on in the centre and in the East. The French, under the guidance
of their new commander, Montcalm, lost no ground, and gained Oswego and
Fort William Henry. The English cause in Europe was declining. In the Far
East alone had great successes been gained; and the battle of Plassey in
1757 gave to England the paramount influence in India which she has ever
17. THE CONQUEST OF CANADA (1756-1780).
[Sidenote: William Pitt.]
[Sidenote: Campaign of 1758.]
Few characters in history are indispensable. From William of Orange to
William Pitt the younger there was but one man without whom English
history must have taken a different turn, and that was William Pitt the
elder. In 1757 he came forward as a representative of the English people,
and forced his way into leadership by the sheer weight of his character.
He secured a subsidy for Prussia, which was desperately making head
against France, Austria, and Russia in coalition. He made a comprehensive
plan for a combined attack on the French posts in America. He organized
fleets and armies. He was able to break through the power of court
influence, and to appoint efficient commanders. The first point of attack
was Louisbourg, the North Atlantic naval station of the French. Since its
capture by the New Englanders in 1745 (Colonies, § 127) it had been
strongly fortified. An English force under Amherst and Wolfe reduced it
after a brief siege in 1758. The attack through Lake George failed in
consequence of the inefficiency of the English commander, Abercrombie, but
the English penetrated across Lake Ontario and took Niagara. Nov. 25,
1758, Fort Duquesne was occupied by the English, and the spot was named
Pittsburg, after the great minister. For the first time the tide of war
set inward towards the St. Lawrence.
[Sidenote: Capture of Quebec.]
It is not evident that at the beginning the English expected more than to
get control of Lake Champlain and of the country south of Lake Erie. The
successes of 1758 led the way to the invasion, and eventually to the
occupation, of the whole country. France sent thousands of troops into the
European wars, but left the defence of its American empire to Montcalm
with 5,000 regulars, 10,000 Canadian militia, and a few thousand savage
allies. England, meanwhile, was able to send ships with 9,000 men to take
Quebec. No exploit is more remarkable than the capture of that famous
fortress. It was the key to the whole province; it was deemed impregnable;
it was defended by superior numbers. The English, after vain attempts,
were on the point of abandoning the siege. Wolfe's resolution and daring
found a way over the cliffs; and on the morning of Sept. 13, 1759, the
little English army was drawn up on the Plains of Abraham outside the
landward fortifications of the city; the fate of Canada was decided in a
battle in the open; the dying Wolfe defeated the dying Montcalm, and the
town surrendered. The fall of the rest of Canada was simply a matter of
time. One desperate attempt to retake Quebec was made in 1760, but the
force of Canada had spent itself. The 2,400 defenders of Montreal
surrendered to 17,000 assailants. The colony of New France ceased to
exist. For three years English military officers formed the only
government of Canada.
18. GEOGRAPHICAL RESULTS OF THE WAR (1763).
[Sidenote: European war.]
[Sidenote: George III.]
[Sidenote: The war continued.]
The conflict in Europe continued for three years after the colonial war
was at an end. During 1758, 1759, and 1760 Frederick the Second of Prussia
had held his own, with English aid; he was now to lose his ally. The
sudden death of George the Second had brought to the throne the first
energetic sovereign since William the Third. An early public utterance of
George the Third indicated that a new dynasty had arisen: "Born and bred
in England, I glory in the name of Briton." With no brilliancy of speech
and no attractiveness of person or manner, George the Third had a positive
and forcible character. He resented the control of the great Whig
families, to whom his grandfather and great-grandfather had owed their
thrones. He represented a principle of authority and resistance to the
unwritten power of Parliament and to the control of the cabinet. He had
virtues not inherited and not common in his time; he was a good husband, a
kind-hearted man, punctilious, upright, and truthful. He had, therefore, a
certain popularity, notwithstanding his narrow-mindedness, obstinacy, and
arrogance. Resolved to take a personal part in the government of his
country, he began by building up a party of the "king's friends," which
later supported him in the great struggle with the colonies. In a word,
George the Third attempted to restore the Crown to the position which it
had occupied under the last Stuart. Between such a king and the imperious
Pitt there could not long be harmony. The king desired peace with all
powers, and especially with France; Pitt insisted on continuing aggressive
war. In 1761 Pitt was forced to resign, and Frederick the Second was
abandoned. A change of sovereigns in Russia caused a change of policy, and
Prussia was saved. Still peace was not made, and in 1762 Spain joined with
France in the war on England; but the naval supremacy of England was
indisputable. The French West India Islands and Havana, the fortress of
the Spanish province of Cuba, were taken; and France was forced to make
[Sidenote: Question of Annexations.]
[Sidenote: Canada ceded.]
In the negotiations the most important question was the disposition of the
English conquests in America. Besides the Ohio country, the ostensible
object of the war, Great Britain held both Canada and the French West
Indies. The time seemed ripe to relieve the colonies from the dangers
arising from the French settlements on the north, and the Spanish colonies
in Florida and Cuba. The ministry wavered between keeping Guadeloupe and
keeping Canada; but if they were unable to deal with 8,000 Acadians in
1755, what should they do with 80,000 Canadians in 1763? Was the
inhospitable valley of the Lower St. Lawrence worth the occupation. And if
the French were excluded from North America, could the loyalty of the
colonies be guaranteed? France, however, humbled by the war, was forced to
yield territory somewhere; Canada had long been a burden on the French
treasury; since concession must be made, it seemed better to sacrifice the
northern colonies rather than the profitable West Indies. Choiseul, the
French Minister of Foreign Affairs, therefore ceded to England all the
French possessions east of the Mississippi except the tract between the
Amitic and the Mississippi, in which lay the town of New Orleans. The
island of Cape Breton went with Canada, of which it was an outlyer. The
wound to the prestige of France he passed over with a jaunty apothegm: "I
ceded it," he said, "on purpose to destroy the English nation. They were
fond of American dominion, and I resolved they should have enough of it."
[Sidenote: Louisiana ceded.]
Meanwhile, the Spaniards clamored for some compensation for their own
losses. The English yielded up Havana, and kept the two provinces of
Florida lying along the Gulf; and France transferred to Spain all the
province of Louisiana not already given to England, that is, the western
half of the Mississippi valley, and the Isle d'Orléans. The population was
stretched along the river front of the Mississippi and its lower branches;
it was devotedly French, and it was furious at the transfer. Of all her
American possessions France retained only her West Indies and the
insignificant islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in the Gulf of St
Lawrence. Thenceforward there were but two North American powers. Spain
had all the continent from the Isthmus of Panama to the Mississippi, and
northward to the upper watershed of the Missouri, and she controlled both
sides of the Mississippi at its mouth. England had the eastern half of the
continent from the Gulf to the Arctic Ocean, with an indefinite stretch
west of Hudson's Bay.
[Sidenote: Interior boundaries.]
The interior boundaries of the English colonies were now defined by
proclamations and instructions from Great Britain. A colony of Canada was
established which included all the French settlements near the St.
Lawrence. Cape Breton was joined to Nova Scotia. On the south Georgia was
extended to the St. Mary's River. Florida was divided into two provinces
by the Appalachicola. The interior country from Lake Ontario to the Gulf
was added to no colony, and a special instruction forbade the governors to
exercise jurisdiction west of the mountains. In Georgia alone did the
governor's command cover the region west to the Mississippi. The evident
expectation was that the interior would be formed into separate colonies.
19. THE COLONIES DURING THE WAR (1754-1763).
[Sidenote: Internal quarrels.]
Seven years of war from 1754 to 1760, and two years more of military
excitement, had brought about significant changes in the older colonies.
It was a period of great expenditure of men and money. Thirty thousand
lives had been lost. The more vigorous and more exposed colonies had laid
heavy taxes and incurred burdensome debts. The constant pressure of the
governors for money had aggravated the old quarrels with the assemblies.
The important towns were all on tide water, and not one was taken or even
threatened; hence the sufferings of the frontiersmen were not always
appreciated by the colonial governments. In Pennsylvania the Indians were
permitted to harry the frontier while the governor and the assembly were
in a deadlock over the question of taxes on proprietary lands. Braddock's
expedition in 1755 was intended to assert the claim of the English to
territory in the limits of Pennsylvania; but it had no aid from the
province thus concerned. Twice the peaceful Franklin stepped forward as
the organizer of military resistance.
[Sidenote: English control.]
In the early part of the war Massachusetts took the lead, inasmuch as her
governor, Shirley, was made commander-in-chief. Military and civil control
over the colonies was, during the war, divided in an unaccustomed fashion.
The English commanders, and even Governor Dinwiddie, showed their opinion
of the Provincials by rating all their commissions lower than those of the
lowest rank of regular British officers. The consequence was that George
Washington for a time resigned from the service. In 1757 there was a
serious dissension between Loudoun and the Massachusetts assembly, because
he insisted on quartering his troops in Boston. At first the colonies were
called on to furnish contingents at their own expense: Pitt's more liberal
policy was to ask the colonies to furnish troops, who were paid from the
British military chest. New England, as a populous region near the seat of
hostilities, made great efforts; in the last three campaigns Massachusetts
kept up every year five to seven thousand troops, and expended altogether
£500,000. The other colonies, particularly Connecticut, made similar
sacrifices, and the little colony of New York came out with a debt of
[Sidenote: Colonial trade.]
As often happens during a war, some parts of the country prospered,
notwithstanding the constant loss. New England fisheries and trade were
little affected except when, in 1758, Loudoun shut up the ports by a brief
embargo. As soon as Fort Duquesne was captured, settlers began to pass
across the mountains into western Pennsylvania, and what is now Kentucky
and eastern Tennessee. The Virginia troops received ample bounty lands;
Washington was shrewd enough to buy up claims, and located about seventy
thousand acres. The period of 1760 to 1763 was favorable to the colonies.
Their trade with the West Indies was large. For their food products they
got sugar and molasses; from the molasses they made rum; with the rum they
bought slaves in Africa, and brought them to the West Indies and to the
continent. The New Englanders fitted out and provisioned the British
fleets. They supplied the British armies in America. They did not hesitate
to trade with the enemy's colonies, or with the enemy direct, if the
opportunity offered. The conclusion of peace checked this brisk trade and
commercial activity. When the war was ended the agreeable irregularities
stood more clearly revealed.
20. POLITICAL EFFECTS OF THE WAR (1763).
[Sidenote: Free from border wars.]
[Sidenote: Pontiac's conspiracy.]
In government as well as in trade a new era came to the colonies in 1763.
Nine years had brought about many changes in the social and political
conditions of the people. In the first place, they no longer had any
civilized enemies. The Canadians, to be sure, were still mistrusted as
papists; but though the colonists had no love for them, they had no fear
of them; and twelve years later, at the outbreak of the Revolution, they
tried to establish political brotherhood with them. The colonies were now
free to expand westward, or would have been free, except for the
resistance of the Western Indians gathered about the Upper Lakes. In 1763
Pontiac organized them in the most formidable Indian movement of American
history. He had courage; he had statesmanship; he had large numbers. By
this time the British had learned the border warfare, and Pontiac was with
difficulty beaten. From that time until well into the Revolution Indian
warfare meant only the resistance of scattered tribes to the steady
westward advance of the English.
[Sidenote: Military experience.]
For the first time in their history the colonists had participated in
large military operations. Abercrombie and Amherst each had commanded from
twelve to fifteen thousand men. The colonists were expert in
fortification. Many Provincials had seen fighting in line and in the
woods. Israel Putnam had been captured, and the fires lighted to burn him;
and Washington had learned in the hard school of frontier warfare both to
fight, and to hold fast without fighting.
[Sidenote: United action.]
The war had further served to sharpen the political sense of the people.
Year after year the assemblies had engaged in matters of serious moment
They laid heavy taxes and collected them; they discussed foreign policy
and their own defence; they protested against acts of the British
government which affected them. Although no union had been formed at
Albany in 1754, the colonies had frequently acted together and fought
together. New York had been in great part a community of Dutch people
under English rule during the war; now, as most exposed to French attack,
it became the central colony. Military men and civilians from the
different colonies learned to know each other at Fort William Henry and at
[Sidenote: Scheme of British control.]
[Sidenote: Theory of co-operation.]
[Sidenote: Proposed taxes.]
[Sidenote: Navigation Acts.]
This unwonted sense of power and of common interest was increased by the
pressure of the British government. Just before the war broke out, plans
had been set on foot in England to curb the colonies; legislation was to
be more carefully revised; governors were to be instructed to hold out
against their assemblies; the Navigation Acts were to be enforced. The
scheme was dropped when the war began, because the aid of the colonies in
troops and supplies was essential. Then arose two rival theories as to the
nature of the war. The British took the ground that they were sending
troops to protect the colonies from French invasion, and that all their
expeditions were benefactions to the colonies. The colonists felt that
they were co-operating with England in breaking down a national enemy, and
that all their grants were bounties. The natural corollary of the first
theory was that the colonies ought at least to support the troops thus
generously sent them; and various suggestions looking to this end were
made by royal governors. Thus Shirley in 1756 devised a general system of
taxation, including import duties, an excise, and a poll-tax; delinquents
to be brought to terms by "warrants of distress and imprisonment of
persons." When, in 1762, Governor Bernard of Massachusetts promised £400
in bounties on the faith of the colony, James Otis protested that he had
"involved their most darling privilege, the right of originating taxes."
On the other hand, the colonies systematically broke the Navigation Acts,
of which they had never denied the legality. To organize the control over
the colonies more carefully, to provide a colonial revenue for general
colonial purposes, to execute the Navigation Acts, and thus to confine the
colonial trade to the mother-country,--these were the elements of the
English colonial policy from 1763 to 1775. Before these ends were
accomplished the colonies had revolted.
CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION (1763-1765.)
BIBLIOGRAPHIES.--Justin Winsor, _Handbook of the Revolution_, 1-25,
and _Narrative and Critical History_, VI. 62-112; W. E. Foster, _Monthly
Reference Lists_, No. 79; Channing and Hart, _Guide_, §§ 134-136.
HISTORICAL MAPS.--No. 2, this volume (Epoch Maps, No. 5); Labberton,
_Historical Atlas_, lxiv.; Gardiner, _School Atlas_, No. 46; Francis
Parkman, _Pontiac_, frontispiece; Putzger, _Atlas_, No. 21; B. A.
Hinsdale, _Old Northwest_, I. 68 (reprinted from MacCoun, _Historical
GENERAL ACCOUNTS.--R. Frothingham, _Rise of the Republic_, 158-401; E.
Channing, _United States_, 1765-1865, ch. ii.; Geo. Bancroft, _United
States_ (original ed.) V., VII, chs. i-xxvi. (last revision III., IV. chs.
i-viii.); W. E. H. Lecky, _England in the Eighteenth Century_, III. ch.
xii.; R. Hildreth, _United States_, II. 514-577; III. 25-56; G. T. Curtis,
_Constitutional History_, I. i.; J. M. Ludlow, _War of Independence_, ch.
iii.; Abiel Holmes, _Annals of America_, II. 124-198; Bryant and Gay,
_United States_, III. 329-376; Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical
History_, VI. ch. i.; T. Pitkin, _United States_, I. 155-281; H, C. Lodge,
_Colonies_, ch. xxiii.; J. R. Green, _English People_, IV., 218-234; W. M.
Sloane, _French War and Revolution_, chs. x.-xiv.; Adolphus, _England_,
II. 134-332 _passim_; Grahame, _United States_, IV. book xi. Biographies
of John Adams, Samuel Adams, Otis, Dickinson, Hutchinson, Franklin, and
SPECIAL HISTORIES.--W. B. Weeden, _Economic and Special History of New
England_, II. chs. xviii., xix.; Wm. Tudor, _Life of James Otis_; J. K.
Hosmer, _Samuel Adams_, 21-312; J. T. Morse, _Benjamin Franklin_, 99-201;
M. C. Tyler, _Literature of the Revolution_, I., and _Patrick Henry_,
32-147; H. C. Lodge, _George Washington_, I. ch. iv.
CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNTS.--Works of Washington, Franklin, Patrick Henry, and
John Adams; James Otis, _Rights of the British Colonies asserted and
proved_: Examination of Franklin (Franklin, _Works_, IV. 161-195); W. B.
Donne, _Correspondence of George III. with Lord North_ [1768-1783]; John
Dickinson, _Farmer's Letters_; Jonathan Trumbull, McFingal (epic poem);
Mercy Warren, _History of the American Revolution_; Thomas Hutchinson,
_History of Massachusetts_, III., and _Diary and Letters_; Joseph
Galloway, _Candid Examination_; Stephen Hopkins, _Rights of the Colonies
Examined_.--Reprints in _Library of American Literature_, III.; _Old South
Leaflets_; _American History told by Contemporaries_, II.
22. THE CONDITION OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE (1763).
[Sidenote: England's greatness.]
In 1763 the English were the most powerful nation in the world. The
British islands, with a population of but 8,000,000 were the
administrative centre of a vast colonial empire. Besides their American
possessions, the English had a foothold in Africa through the possession
of the former Dutch Cape Colony, and had laid the foundation of the
present Indian Empire; small islands scattered through many seas furnished
naval stations and points of defence. The situation of England bears a
striking resemblance to the situation of Athens at the close of the
Persian wars: a trading nation, a naval power, a governing race, a
successful military people; the English completed the parallel by
tightening the reins upon their colonies till they revolted. Of the other
European powers, Portugal and Spain still preserved colonial empires in
the West; but Spain was decaying. Great Britain had not only gained
territory and prestige from the war, she had risen rich and prosperous,
and a national debt of one hundred and forty million pounds was borne
without serious difficulty.
[Sidenote: English government.]
It was a time of vigorous intellectual life, the period of Goldsmith,
Edmund Burke, and Dr. Johnson. It was also a period of political
development. The conditions seemed favorable for internal peace and for
easy relations with the colonies. The long Jacobite movement had come to
an end; George the Third was accepted by all classes and all parties as
the legitimate sovereign. The system of government worked out in the
preceding fifty years seemed well established; the ministers still
governed through their control of Parliament; but the great Tory families,
which for two generations had been excluded from the administration, were
now coming forward. A new element in the government of England was the
determination of George the Third to be an active political force. From
his accession, in 1760, he had striven to build up a faction of personal
adherents, popularly known as the "king's friends;" and he had broken down
every combination of ministers which showed itself opposed to him.
Although the nation was not yet conscious of it, the forces were at work
which eventually were to create a party advocating the king's prerogative,
and another party representing the right of the English people to govern
[Sidenote: Effect on the colonies.]
This change in political conditions could not but affect the English
colonial policy. The king's imperious tone was reflected in all
departments, and was especially positive when the colonies began to
resist. It cannot be said that English parties divided on the question of
governing the colonies, but when the struggle was once begun, the king's
bitterest opponents fiercely criticised his policy, and made the cause of
the colonists their own. The great struggle with the colonies thus became
a part of the struggle between popular and autocratic principles of
government in England.
23. NEW SCHEMES OF COLONIAL CONTROL (1763).
[Sidenote: Grenville's colonial policy.]
Allusion has already been made (§ 19) to vague schemes of colonial control
suggested during the war. More serious measures were impending. When
George Grenville became the head of the cabinet, in April, 1763, he took
up and elaborated three distinctly new lines of policy, which grew to be
the direct causes of the American Revolution. The first was the rigid
execution of the Acts of Trade; the second was the taxation of the
colonies for the partial support of British garrisons; the third was the
permanent establishment of British troops in America. What was the purpose
of each of these groups of measures?
[Sidenote: Navigation acts.]
[Sidenote: Effect of the system.]
The object of the first series was simply to secure obedience to the
Navigation Acts (Colonies, Section 44, 128),--laws long on the statute
book, and admitted by most Americans to be legal. The Acts were intended
simply to secure to the mother-country the trade of the colonies; they
were in accordance with the practice of other nations; they were far
milder than the similar systems of France and Spain, because they gave to
colonial vessels and to colonial merchants the same privileges as those
enjoyed by English ship-owners and traders. The Acts dated from 1645, but
had repeatedly been re-enacted and enlarged, and from time to time more
efficient provision was made for their enforcement. In the first place,
the Navigation Acts required that all the colonial trade should be carried
on in ships built and owned in England or the colonies. In the second
place, most of the colonial products were included in a list of
"enumerated goods," which could be sent abroad, even in English or
colonial vessels, only to English ports. The intention was to give to
English home merchants a middleman's profit in the exchange of American
for foreign goods. Among the enumerated goods were tobacco, sugar, indigo,
copper, and furs, most of them produced by the tropical and sub-tropical
colonies. Lumber, provisions, and fish were usually not enumerated; and
naval stores, such as tar, hemp, and masts, even received an English
bounty. In 1733 was passed the "Sugar Act," by which prohibitory duties
were laid on sugar and molasses imported from foreign colonies to the
English plantations, Many of these provisions little affected the
continental colonies, and in some respects were favorable to them. Thus
the restriction of trade to English and colonial vessels stimulated ship-
building and the shipping interest in the colonies. From 1772 to 1775 more
than two thousand vessels were built in America.
[Sidenote: Illegal trade.]
[Sidenote: Difficulty of enforcement.]
The chief difficulty with the system arose out of the obstinate
determination of the colonies, especially in New England, to trade with
their French and Spanish neighbors in the West Indies, with or without
permission: they were able in those markets to sell qualities of fish and
lumber for which there was no demand in England. Well might it have been
said, as a governor of Virginia had said a century earlier: "Mighty and
destructive have been the obstructions to our trade and navigation by that
severe Act of Parliament,... for all are most obedient to the laws, while
New England men break through them and trade to any place where their
interests lead them to." The colonists were obliged to register their
ships; it was a common practice to register them at much below their
actual tonnage, or to omit the ceremony altogether. Colonial officials
could not be depended upon to detect or to punish infractions of the Acts,
and for that purpose the English Government had placed customs officers in
the principal ports. Small duties were laid on imports, not to furnish
revenue, but rather to furnish fees for those officers. The amount thus
collected was not more than two thousand pounds a year; and the necessary
salaries, aggregating between seven and eight thousand pounds, were paid
by the British government.
24. WRITS OF ASSISTANCE (1761-1764).
[Sidenote: Argument of James Otis.]
Under the English acts violation of the Navigation Laws was smuggling, and
was punishable in the usual courts. Two practical difficulties had always
been found in prosecutions, and they were much increased as soon as a more
vigorous execution was entered upon. It was hard to secure evidence, for
smuggled goods, once landed, rapidly disappeared; and the lower colonial
judges were both to deal severely with their brethren, engaged in a
business which public sentiment did not condemn. In 1761 an attempt was
made in Massachusetts to avoid both these difficulties through the use of
the familiar Writs of Assistance. These were legal processes by which
authority was given to custom-house officers to make search for smuggled
goods; since they were general in their terms and authorized the search of
any premises by day, they might have been made the means of vexatious
visits and interference. In February, 1761, an application for such a writ
was brought before the Superior Court of Massachusetts, which was not
subject to popular influence. James Otis, advocate-general of the colony,
resigned his office rather than plead the cause of the government, and
became the leading counsel in opposition. The arguments in favor of the
writ were that without some such process the laws could not be executed,
and that similar writs were authorized by English statutes. Otis in his
plea insisted that no English statute applied to the colonies unless they
were specially mentioned, and that hence English precedents had no
application. But he went far beyond the legal principles involved. He
declared in plain terms that the Navigation Acts were "a taxation law made
by a foreign legislature without our consent." He asserted that the Acts
of Trade were "irreconcilable with the colonial charters, and hence were
void." He declared that there were "rights derived only from nature and
the Author of nature;" that they were "inherent, inalienable, and
indefeasible by any laws, pacts, contracts, governments, or stipulations
which man could devise." The court, after inquiring into the practice in
England, issued the writs to the custom-house officers, although it does
not appear that they made use of them.
[Sidenote: Effect of the discussion.]
The practical effect of Otis's speech has been much exaggerated. John
Adams, who heard and took notes on the argument, declared, years later,
that "American independence was then born," and that "Mr. Otis's oration
against Writs of Assistance breathed into this nation the breath of life."
The community was not conscious at the time that a new and startling
doctrine had been put forth, or that loyalty to England was involved. The
arguments drawn from the rights of man and the supremacy of the charters
were of a kind familiar to the colonists. The real novelty was the bold
application of these principles, the denial of the legality of a system
more than a century old.
So far was the home government from accepting these doctrines that in 1763
the offensive Sugar Act was renewed. New import duties were laid, and more
stringent provisions made for enforcing the Acts of Trade; and the ground