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was prepared for a permanent and irritating controversy, by commissioning the naval officers stationed on the American coast as revenue officials, with power to make seizures.

25. THE STAMP ACT (1763-1765).

[Sidenote: Plan for a stamp duty.]
[Sidenote: Questions of troops.]

The next step in colonial control met an unexpected and violent resistance. In the winter of 1763-1764 Grenville, then English prime minister, called together the agents of the colonies and informed them that he proposed to lay a small tax upon the colonies, and that it would take the form of a stamp duty, unless they suggested some other method. Why should England tax the colonies? Because it had been determined to place a permanent force of about ten thousand men in America. A few more English garrisons would have been of great assistance in 1754; the Pontiac outbreak of 1763 had been suppressed only by regular troops who happened to be in the country; and in case of later wars the colonies were likely to be attacked by England’s enemies. On the other hand, the colonies had asked for no troops, and desired none. They were satisfied with their own halting and inefficient means of defence; they no longer had French enemies in Canada, and they felt what seems an unreasonable fear that the troops would be used to take away their liberty. From the beginning to the end of the struggle it was never proposed that Americans should be taxed for the support of the home government, or even for the full support of the colonial army. It was supposed that a revenue of one hundred thousand pounds would be raised, which would meet one-third of the necessary expense.

[Sidenote: Stamp Act passed.]

Notwithstanding colonial objections to a standing army, garrisons would doubtless have been received but for the accompanying proposition to tax. On March 10, 1764, preliminary resolutions passed the House of Commons looking towards the Stamp Act. There was no suggestion that the proposition was illegal; the chief objection was summed up by Beckford, of London, in a phrase: “As we are stout, I hope we shall be merciful.”

The news produced instant excitement in the colonies. First was urged the practical objection that the tax would draw from the country the little specie which it contained. The leading argument was that taxation without representation was illegal. The remonstrances, by an error of the agents who had them in charge, were not presented until too late. Franklin and others protested to the ministry, and declared the willingness of the colonies to pay taxes assessed in a lump sum on each colony. Grenville silenced them by asking in what way those lump sums should be apportioned. After a short debate in Parliament the Act was passed by a vote of 205 to 49. Barré, one of the members who spoke against it, alluded to the agitators in the colonies as “Sons of Liberty;” the phrase was taken up in the colonies, and made a party war-cry. George the Third was at that moment insane, and the Act was signed by a commission.

[Sidenote: Expectations of success.]

Resistance in the colonies was not expected. Franklin thought that the Act would go into effect; even Otis said that it ought to be obeyed. It laid a moderate stamp-duty on the papers necessary for legal and commercial transactions. At the request of the ministry, the colonial agents suggested as stamp collectors some of the most respected and eminent men in each colony. Almost at the same time was passed an act somewhat relaxing the Navigation Laws; but a Quartering Act was also passed, by which the colonists were obliged, even in time of peace, to furnish the troops who might be stationed among them with quarters and with certain provisions.


[Sidenote: Internal and external taxes.]

Issue was now joined on the question which eventually separated the colonies from the mother-country. Parliament had asserted its right to lay taxes on the colonists for imperial purposes. The colonies had up to this time held governmental relations only with the Crown, from whom came their charters. They had escaped taxation because they were poor, and because hitherto they had not occasioned serious expense; but they had accepted the small import duties. They found it hard to reconcile obedience to one set of laws with resistance to the other; and they therefore insisted that there was a distinction between “external taxation” and “internal taxation,” between duties levied at the ports and duties levied within the colonies.

[Sidenote: Remonstrances.]

The moment the news reached America, opposition sprang up in many different forms. The colonial legislatures preferred dignified remonstrance. The Virginia Assembly reached a farther point in a set of bold resolutions, passed May 29, 1765, under the influence of a speech by Patrick Henry. They asserted “that the General Assembly of this colony have the only and sole exclusive right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this colony;” and that the Stamp Act” has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom.” On June 8, 1765, Massachusetts suggested another means of remonstrance, by calling upon her sister colonies to send delegates to New York “to consider of a general and united, dutiful, loyal, and humble representation of their condition to his Majesty and to the Parliament.”

[Sidenote: Riots.]
[Sidenote: Non-Importation.]

Meanwhile opposition had broken out in open violence. In August there were riots in Boston; the house of Oliver, appointed as collector of the stamp taxes, was attacked, and he next day resigned his office. Hutchinson was acting governor of the colony: his mansion was sacked; and the manuscript of his History of Massachusetts, still preserved, carries on its edges the mud of the Boston streets into which it was thrown. The town of Boston declared itself “particularly alarmed and astonished at the Act called the Stamp Act, by which we apprehend a very grievous tax is to be laid upon the colonies.” In other colonies there were similar, though less violent, scenes. Still another form of resistance was suggested by the organizations called “Sons of Liberty,” the members of which agreed to buy no more British goods. When the time came for putting the act into force, every person appointed as collector had resigned.

[Sidenote: Stamp Act Congress.]

These three means of resistance–protest, riots, and non-importation–were powerfully supplemented by the congress which assembled at New York, Oct. 1765. It included some of the ablest men from nine colonies. Such men as James Otis, Livingston of New York, Rutledge of South Carolina, and John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, met, exchanged views, and promised co- operation. It was the first unmistakable evidence that the colonies would make common cause. After a session of two weeks the congress adjourned, having drawn up petitions to the English government, and a “Declaration of Rights and Grievances of the Colonists in America.” In this document they declared themselves entitled to the rights of other Englishmen. They asserted, on the one hand, that they could not be represented in the British House of Commons, and on the other that they could not be taxed by a body in which they had no representation. They complained of the Stamp Act, and no less of the amendments to the Acts of Trade, which, they said, would “render them unable to purchase the manufactures of Great Britain.” In these memorials there is no threat of resistance, but the general attitude of the colonies showed that it was unsafe to push the matter farther.

[Sidenote: Repeal of the Stamp Act.]

Meanwhile the Grenville ministry had given place to another Whig ministry under Rockingham, who felt no responsibility for the Stamp Act. Pitt took the ground that “the government of Great Britain could not lay taxes on the colonies.” Benjamin Franklin was called before a committee, and urged the withdrawal of the act. The king, who had now recovered his health, gave it to be understood that he was for repeal. The repeal bill was passed by a majority of more than two to one, and the crisis was avoided.

[Sidenote: Right of taxation asserted.]

To give up the whole principle seemed to the British government impossible; the repeal was therefore accompanied by the so-called Dependency Act. This set forth that the colonies are “subordinate unto and dependent upon the Imperial Crown and Parliament of Great Britain, and that Parliament hath, and of right ought to have, full power to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America subjects to the Crown of Great Britain in all cases whatsoever.” Apparently matters had returned to their former course. The gratitude of the colonies was loudly expressed; but they had learned the effect of a united protest, they had learned how to act together, and they were irritated by the continued assertion of the power of Parliament to tax and otherwise to govern the colonies.

27. REVENUE ACTS (1767).

[Sidenote: Townshend’s plans.]
[Sidenote: Quarrel with New York.]

The repeal of the Stamp Act removed the difficulty without removing the cause. The year 1766 was marked in English politics by the virtual retirement of Pitt from the government. His powerful opposition to taxation of the colonies was thus removed, and Charles Townshend became the leading spirit in the ministry. Jan. 26, 1767, he said in the House of Commons: “I know a mode in which a revenue may be drawn from America without offence…. England is undone if this taxation of America is given up.” And he pledged himself to find a revenue nearly sufficient to meet the military expenses in America. At the moment that the question of taxation was thus revived, the New York Assembly became involved in a dispute with the home government by declining to furnish the necessary supplies for the troops. An Act of Parliament was therefore passed declaring the action of the New York legislature null,–a startling assertion of a power of disallowance by Parliament.

[Sidenote: Enforcement.]

The three parts of the general scheme for controlling the colonies were now all taken up again. For their action against the troops the New York Assembly was suspended,–the first instance in which Parliament had undertaken to destroy an effective part of the colonial government. For the execution of the Navigation Acts a board of commissioners of customs was established, with large powers. In June, 1767, a new Taxation Act was introduced, and rapidly passed through Parliament. In order to avoid the objections to “internal taxes,” it laid import duties on glass, and white lead, painters’ colors, paper, and tea. The proceeds of the Act, estimated at, £40,000, were to pay governors and judges in America. Writs of Assistance were made legal. A few months afterwards,–December, 1767,–a colonial department was created, headed by a secretary of state. The whole machinery of an exasperating control was thus provided.

[Sidenote: Question of right of taxation.]

Issue was once more joined both in England and America on the constitutional power of taxation. The great principle of English law that taxation was not a right, but a gift of the persons taxed through their representatives, was claimed also by the colonies. Opinions had repeatedly been given by the law officers of the Crown that a colony could be taxed only by its own representatives. The actual amount of money called for was too small to burden them, but it was to be applied in such a way as to make the governors and judges independent of the assemblies. The principle of taxation, once admitted, might be carried farther. As an English official of the time remarked: “The Stamp Act attacked colonial ideas by sap; the Townshend scheme was attacking them by storm every day.”


[Sidenote: Colonial protest.]
[Sidenote: Massachusetts circular.] [Sidenote: Coercive measures.]

This time the colonies avoided the error of disorderly or riotous opposition. The leading men resolved to act together through protests by the colonial legislatures and through non-importation agreements. Public feeling ran high. In Pennsylvania John Dickinson in his “Letters of a Farmer” pointed out that “English history affords examples of resistance by force.” Another non-importation scheme was suggested by Virginia, but was on the whole unsuccessful. In February, 1768, Massachusetts sent out a circular letter to the other colonies, inviting concerted protests, and declaring that the new laws were unconstitutional. The protest was moderate, its purpose legal; but the ministry attempted to destroy its effect by three new repressive measures. The first of them, April, 1768, directed the governors, upon any attempt to pass protesting resolutions, to prorogue their assemblies. The second was the despatch of troops to Boston: they arrived at the end of September, and remained until the outbreak of the Revolution. The third coercive step was a proposition to send American agitators to England for trial, under an obsolete statute of Henry the Eighth.

[Sidenote: Effect of the tax.]

Meanwhile the duties had been levied. The result was the actual payment of about sixteen thousand pounds; this sum was offset by expenses of collection amounting to more than fifteen thousand pounds, and extraordinary military expenditures of one hundred and seventy thousand pounds. Once more the ministry found no financial advantage and great practical difficulties in the way of colonial taxation. Once more they determined to withdraw from an untenable position, and once more, under the active influence of the king and his “friends,” they resolved to maintain the principle. In April, 1770, all the duties were repealed except that upon tea. Either the ministry should have applied the principle rigorously, so as to raise an adequate revenue, or they should have given up the revenue and the principle together.


[Sidenote: Troops in Boston.]
[Sidenote: Collision with the mob.]

Repeal could not destroy the feeling of injury in the minds of the colonists; and repeal did not withdraw the coercive acts nor the troops. The garrison in Boston, sustained at the expense of the British treasury, was almost as offensive to the colonists of Massachusetts as if they had been taxed for its support. From the beginning the troops were looked upon as an alien body, placed in the town to execute unpopular and even illegal acts. There was constant friction between the officers and the town and colonial governments, and between the populace and the troops. On the night of March 5, 1770, an affray occurred between a mob and a squad of soldiers. Both sides were abusive and threatening; finally the soldiers under great provocation fired, and killed five men. The riot had no political significance; it was caused by no invasion upon the rights of Americans: but, in the inflamed condition of the public mind, it was instantly taken up, and has gone down to history under the undeserved title of the Boston Massacre. Next morning a town meeting unanimously voted “that nothing can rationally be expected to restore the peace of the town and prevent blood and carnage but the immediate removal of the troops.” The protest was effectual; the troops were sent to an island in the harbor; on the other hand, the prosecution of the soldiers concerned in the affray was allowed to slacken. For nearly two years the trouble seemed dying down in Massachusetts.

[Sidenote: Samuel Adams.]
[Sidenote: Committee of Correspondence.]

That friendly relations between the colonies and the mother-country were not re-established is due chiefly to Samuel Adams, a member of the Massachusetts General Court from Boston. His strength lay in his vehemence, his total inability to see more than one side of any question, and still more in his subtle influence upon the Boston town meeting, upon committees, and in private conclaves. He seems to have determined from the beginning that independence might come, ought to come, and must come. In November, 1772, he introduced into the Boston town meeting a modest proposition that “a committee of correspondence be appointed … to state the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects;–and also request of each Town a free communication of their Sentiments on this subject.” The committee blew the coals by an enumeration of rights and grievances; but its chief service was its unseen but efficient work of correspondence, from town to town. A few months later the colony entered into a similar scheme for communication with the sister colonies. These committees of correspondence made the Revolution possible. They disseminated arguments from province to province: they had lists of those ripe for resistance; they sounded legislatures; they prepared the organization which was necessary for the final rising of 1774 and 1775.

[Sidenote: “Gaspee” burned.]
[Sidenote: Tea.]
[Sidenote: Hutchinson letters.]
[Sidenote: Boston Tea-party.]

Shortly before the creation of this committee, an act of violence in Rhode Island showed the hostility to the enforcement of the Acts of Trade. The “Gaspee,” a royal vessel of war, had interfered legally and illegally with the smuggling trade. On June 9, 1772, while in pursuit a vessel, she ran aground. That night the ship was attacked by armed men, who captured and burned her. The colonial authorities were indifferent: the perpetrators were not tried; they were not prosecuted; they were not even arrested. On Dec. 16, 1773, a similar act of violence marked the opposition of the colonies to the remnant of the Townshend taxation acts. The tea duty had been purposely reduced, till the price of tea was lower than in England. Soon after the appointment of the Committees of Correspondence public sentiment in Massachusetts was again aroused by the publication of letters written by Hutchinson, then governor of Massachusetts, to a private correspondent in England. The letters were such as any governor representing the royal authority might have written. “I wish,” said Hutchinson, “the good of the colony when I wish to see some fresh restraint of liberty rather than the connection with the parent state should be broken.” The assembly petitioned for the removal of Hutchinson, and this unfortunate quarrel was one of the causes of a decisive step, the Boston Tea-party. An effort was made to import a quantity of tea, not for the sake of the tax, but in order to relieve the East India Company from financial difficulties. On December 16, the three tea ships in the harbor were boarded by a body of men in Indian garb, and three hundred and forty- two chests of tea were emptied into the sea. Next morning the shoes of at least one reputable citizen of Massachusetts were found by his family unaccountably full of tea. In other parts of the country, as at Edenton in North Carolina, and at Charleston in South Carolina, there was similar violence.


[Sidenote: Public feeling in England.]

The British government had taken a false step by its legislation of 1770, but the colonies had now put themselves in the wrong by these repeated acts of violence. There seemed left but two alternatives,–to withdraw the Tea Act, and thus to remove the plea that Parliament was taxing without representation; or to continue the execution of the Revenue Act firmly, but by the usual course of law. It was not in the temper of the English people, and still less like the king, to withdraw offensive acts in the face of such daring resistance. The failure to secure the prosecution of the destroyers of the “Gaspee” caused the British government to distrust American courts as well as American juries. One political writer, Dean Tucker, declared that the American colonies in their defiant state had ceased to be of advantage to England, and that they had better be allowed quietly to separate. Pitt denied the right to tax, but declared that if the colonies meant to separate, he would be the first to enforce the authority of the mother-country.

[Sidenote: Coercive statutes.]
[Sidenote: Quebec Act.]

Neither orderly enforcement, conciliation, nor peaceful separation was the policy selected. England committed the fatal and irremediable mistake of passing illegal statutes as a punishment for the illegal action of the colonists. Five bills were introduced and hastily pushed through Parliament. The first was meant as a punishment for the Tea-party. It enacted that no further commerce was to be permitted with the port of Boston till that town should make its submission. Burke objected to a bill “which punishes the innocent with the guilty, and condemns without the possibility of defence.” The second act was intended to punish the whole commonwealth of Massachusetts, by declaring void certain provisions of the charter granted by William III. in 1692. Of all the grievances which led to the Revolution this was the most serious, for it set up the doctrine that charters proceeding from the Crown could be altered by statute. Thenceforward Parliament was to be omnipotent in colonial matters. The third act directed that “Persons questioned for any Acts in Execution of the Law” should be sent to England for trial. It was not intended to apply to persons guilty of acts of violence, but to officers or soldiers who, in resisting riots, might have made themselves amenable to the civil law. The fourth act was a new measure providing for the quartering of soldiers upon the inhabitants, and was intended to facilitate the establishment of a temporary military government in Massachusetts. The fifth act had no direct reference to Massachusetts, but was later seized upon as one of the grievances which justified the Revolution. This was the Quebec Act, providing for the government of the region ceded by France in 1763. It gave to the French settlers the right to have their disputes decided under the principles of the old French civil law; it guaranteed them the right of exercising their own religion; and it annexed to Quebec the whole territory between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and the Great Lakes. The purpose of this act was undoubtedly to remove the danger of disaffection or insurrection in Canada, and at the same time to extinguish all claims of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia to the region west of Pennsylvania.


[Sidenote: Gage’s quarrel with Massachusetts.]

The news of this series of coercive measures was hardly received in Massachusetts before General Gage appeared, bearing a commission to act as governor of the province; and in a few weeks the Port Bill and the modifications of the charter were put in force. If the governor supposed that Boston stood alone, he was quickly undeceived. From the other towns and from other colonies came supplies of food and sympathetic resolutions. On June 17th, under the adroit management of Samuel Adams, the General Court passed a resolution proposing a colonial congress, to begin September 1st at Philadelphia. While the resolutions were going through, the governor’s messenger in vain knocked at the locked door, to communicate a proclamation dissolving the assembly. The place of that body was for a time taken by the Committee of Correspondence, in which Samuel Adams was the leading spirit, and by local meetings and conventions. In August, Gage came to an open breach with the people. In accordance with the Charter Act, he proceeded to appoint the so-called “mandamus” councillors. An irregularly elected Provincial Congress declared that it stood by the charter of 1692, under which the councillors were elected by the General Court. The first effect of the coercive acts was, therefore, to show that the people of Massachusetts stood together.

[Sidenote: Delegates chosen.]
[Sidenote: The Congress.]

Another effect was to enlist the sympathy of the other colonies. The movement for a congress plainly looked towards resistance and revolution. In vain did the governors dissolve the assemblies that seemed disposed to send delegates. Irregular congresses and conventions took their place, and all the colonies but Georgia somehow chose delegates. The first Continental Congress which assembled in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774, was, therefore, a body without any legal status. It included, however, some of the most influential men in America. From Massachusetts came Samuel Adams and John Adams; from New York, John Jay; from Virginia, Patrick Henry and George Washington. The general participation in this congress was an assurance that all America felt the danger of parliamentary control, and the outrage upon the rights of their New England brethren.

[Sidenote: Declaration of Rights.]

This feeling was voiced in the action of the Congress. Early resolutions set forth approval of the action of Massachusetts. Then came the preparation of a “Declaration of Rights” of the colonies, and of their grievances. They declared that they were entitled to life, liberty, and property, and to the rights and immunities of free and natural born subjects within the realm of England. They denied the right of the British Parliament to legislate in cases of “taxation and internal polity,” but “cheerfully consent to the operation of such Acts of the British Parliament as are _bona fide_ restrained to the regulation of our external commerce.” They protested against “the keeping up a standing army in these colonies in times of peace.” They enumerated a long list of illegal Acts, including the coercive statutes and the Quebec Act.

[Sidenote: The Association.]

The only action of the First Continental Congress which had in any degree the character of legislation was the “Association,”–the only effective non-importation agreement in the whole struggle. The delegates united in a pledge that they would import no goods from England or other English colonies, and particularly no slaves or tea; and they recommended to the colonies to pass efficient legislation for carrying it out. The Revolutionary “congresses” and “conventions,” and sometimes the legislatures themselves, passed resolutions and laid penalties. A more effective measure was open violence against people who persisted in importing, selling, or using British goods or slaves.

[Sidenote: Action of the Congress.]

The First Continental Congress was simply the mouthpiece of the colonies. It expressed in unmistakable terms a determination to resist what they considered aggressions; and it suggested as a legal and effective means of resistance that they should refuse to trade with the of mother-country. Its action, however, received the approval of an assembly or other representative body in each of the twelve colonies. Before it adjourned, the congress prepared a series of addresses and remonstrances, and voted that if no redress of grievances should have been obtained, a second congress should assemble in May, 1775.


[Sidenote: Attitude of the Whigs.]
[Sidenote: Coercion]

When Parliament assembled in January, 1775, it was little disposed to make concessions; but the greatest living Englishman now came forward as the defender of the colonies. Pitt declared that the matter could only be adjusted on the basis “that taxation is theirs, and commercial regulation ours.” Although he was seconded by other leading Whigs, the reply of the Tory ministry to the remonstrance of the colonies was a new series of acts. Massachusetts was declared in a state of rebellion; and the recalcitrant colonies were forbidden to trade with Great Britain, Ireland, or the West Indies, or to take part in the Newfoundland fisheries.

[Sidenote: Affairs in Massachusetts.] [Sidenote: Lexington and Concord.]

Before these acts could be known in America, matters had already drifted to a point where neither coercion nor conciliation could effect anything. Through the winter 1774-1775 Gage lay for the most part in Boston, unable to execute his commission outside of his military lines, and unwilling to summon a legislature which was certain to oppose him. The courts were broken up, jurors could not be obtained, the whole machinery of government was stopped. Meanwhile, in February, 1775, the people had a second time elected a provincial congress, which acted for the time being as their government. This body prepared to raise a military force, and asked aid of other New England colonies. April 19, 1775, a British expedition was sent from Boston to Lexington and Concord to seize military stores there assembled for the use of the provincial forces. The British were confronted on the village green of Lexington by about one hundred militiamen, who refused to disperse, and were fired upon by the British. At Concord the British found and destroyed the stores, but were attacked and obliged to retire, and finally returned to Boston with a loss of three hundred men. The war had begun. Its issue depended upon the moral and military support which Massachusetts might receive from the other colonies.


[Sidenote: Malcontents put down.]

The cause of Massachusetts was unhesitatingly taken up by all the colonies, from New Hampshire to Georgia. America was united. This unanimity proceeded, however, not from the people, but from suddenly constituted revolutionary governments. No view of the Revolution could be just which does not recognize the fact that in no colony was there a large majority in favor of resistance, and in some the patriots were undoubtedly in a minority. The movement, started by a few seceders, carried with it a large body of men who were sincerely convinced that the British government was tyrannical. The majorities thus formed, silenced the minority, sometimes by mere intimidation, sometimes by ostracism, often by flagrant violence. One kind of pressure was felt by old George Watson of Plymouth, bending his bald head over his cane, as his neighbors one by one left the church in which he sat, because they would not associate with a “mandamus councillor.” A different argument was employed on Judge James Smith of New York, in his coat of tar and feathers, the central figure of a shameful procession.

[Sidenote: Early organization.]

Another reason for the sudden strength shown by the Revolutionary movement was that the patriots were organized and the friends of the established government did not know their own strength. The agent of British influence in almost every colony was the governor. In 1775 the governors were all driven out. There was no centre of resistance about which the loyalists could gather. The patriots had seized the reins of government before their opponents fairly understood that they had been dropped.

[Sidenote: Feeling of common interest.]

Another influence which hastened the Revolution was a desire to supplant the men highest in official life. There was no place in the colonial government for a Samuel Adams or a John Adams while the Hutchinsons and the Olivers were preferred. But no personal ambitions can account for the agreement of thirteen colonies having so many points of dissimilarity. The merchants of Boston and New Haven, the townsmen of Concord and Pomfret, the farmers of the Hudson and Delaware valleys, and the aristocratic planters of Virginia and South Carolina, deliberately went to war rather than submit. The causes of the Revolution were general, were wide-spread, and were keenly felt by Americans of every class.

[Sidenote: Resistance of taxation.]

The grievance most strenuously put forward was that of “taxation without representation.” On this point the colonists were supported by the powerful authority of Pitt and other English statesmen, and by an unbroken line of precedent. They accepted “external taxation;” at the beginning of the struggle they professed a willingness to pay requisitions apportioned in lump sums on the colonies; they were accustomed to heavy taxation for local purposes; in the years immediately preceding the Revolution the people of Massachusetts annually raised about ten shillings per head. They sincerely objected to taxation of a new kind, for a purpose which did not interest them, by a power which they could not control. The cry of “Taxation without representation” had great popular effect. It was simple, it was universal, it sounded like tyranny.

[Sidenote: Resistance of garrisons.]

A greater and more keenly felt grievance was the establishment of garrisons. The colonies were willing to run their own risk of enemies. They asserted that the real purpose of the troops was to overawe their governments. The despatch of the regiments to Boston in 1768 was plainly intended to subdue a turbulent population. The British government made a serious mistake in insisting upon this point, whether with or without taxes.

[Sidenote: Resistance to Acts of Trade.]

By far the most effective cause of the Revolution was the English commercial system. One reason why a tax was felt to be so great a hardship was, that the colonies were already paying a heavy indirect tribute to the British nation, by the limitations on their trade. The fact that French and Spanish colonists suffered more than they did, was no argument to Englishmen accustomed in most ways to regulate themselves. The commercial system might have been enforced; perhaps a tax might have been laid: the two together made a grievance which the colonies would not endure.

[Sidenote: Stand for the charters.]

The coercive acts of 1774 gave a definite object for the general indignation. In altering the government of Massachusetts they destroyed the security of all the colonies. The Crown was held unable to withdraw a privilege once granted; Parliament might, however, undo to-morrow what it had done to-day. The instinct of the Americans was for a rigid constitution, unalterable by the ordinary forms of law. They were right in calling the coercive acts unconstitutional. They were contrary to the charters, they were contrary to precedent, and in the minds of the colonists the charters and precedent, taken together, formed an irrepealable body of law.

[Sidenote: Oppression not grievous.]
[Sidenote: Restraints on trade.]
[Sidenote: Resistance to one-man power.]

In looking back over this crisis, it is difficult to see that the colonists had suffered grievous oppression. The taxes had not taken four hundred thousand pounds out of their pockets in ten years. The armies had cost them nothing, and except in Boston had not interfered with the governments. The Acts of Trade were still systematically evaded, and the battle of Lexington came just in time to relieve John Hancock from the necessity of appearing before the court to answer to a charge of smuggling. The real justification of the Revolution is not to be found in the catalogue of grievances drawn up by the colonies. The Revolution was right because it represented two great principles of human progress. In the first place, as the Americans grew in importance, in numbers, and in wealth, they felt more and more indignant that their trade should be hampered for the benefit of men over seas. They represented the principle of the right of an individual to the products of his own industry; and their success has opened to profitable trade a thousand ports the world over. In the second place the Revolution was a resistance to arbitrary power. That arbitrary power was exercised by the Parliament of Great Britain; but, at that moment, by a combination which threatened the existence of popular government in England, the king was the ruling spirit over Parliament. The colonists represented the same general principles as the minority in England. As Sir Edward Thornton said, when minister of Great Britain to the United States, in 1879: “Englishmen now understand that in the American Revolution you were fighting our battles.”




BIBLIOGRAPHIES.–Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History_, VI. _passim_, VII. 1-214, VIII. App.; and _Readers’ Handbook of the Revolution_; W. F. Allen, _History Topics_, 107, 108; W. E. Foster, _References to the Constitution of the United States_, 11-14; Channing and Hart, _Guide_, §§ 136-141.

HISTORICAL MAPS.–Nos. 2 and 3 this volume (_Epoch Maps_, Nos. 4 and 5); H. C Lodge, _Colonies_, frontispiece; Scribner, _Statistical Atlas_, Pl. 12; Rhode, _Atlas_, No. xxviii.; Geo. Bancroft, _United States_ (original edition), V. 241; Labberton, _Atlas_, lxiv.; B. A. Hinsdale, _Old Northwest_, I. 176, 180 (republished from T. MacCoun, _Historical Geography_); List of contemporary maps in Winsor, _Handbook_, 302, school histories of Channing, Johnston, Scudder, Thomas.

GENERAL ACCOUNTS.–G T. Curtis, _Constitutional History_, I. chs. i.- iv. (History of the Constitution, I 28-123); W. E. H. Lecky, _England in the Eighteenth Century_, IV. ch iv.; Geo. Bancroft, _United States_, VII. chap. xxvii. (last revision, IV. Chs. ix.-xxvii, V.); R. Hildreth, _United States_, IV. 57-373, 411-425, 440-444; Edward Channing, _United States_, 1765-1865, ch iii.; W. M. Sloane, _French War and Revolution_ chs. xviii.- xxiv.; H. C. Lodge, _George Washington_, I. chs. v.-xi.; Abiel Holmes, _Annals of America_, II. 199-353; Bryant and Gay, _United States_, III. 377-623, IV. 1-74; Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History_, VI chs ii.-ix., VII. chs. i., ii.; J. R. Green, _English People_, IV. 254-271; Adolphus, _England_, II. 333-433, _passim_; Story, _Commentaries_, §§ 198-217; T. Pitkin, United States, I. 282-422, II. 37-153.

SPECIAL HISTORIES.–G. W. Greene, _Historical View_; R. Frothingham, _Rise of the Republic_, 403-568; John Fiske, _American Revolution_; J. M. Ludlow, _War of American Independence_, chs. v.-viii.; Geo. Pellew, _John Jay_, 59-228; E. J. Lowell, _Hessians_; Charles Borgeaud, _Rise of Modern Democracy_; M. C. Tyler, _Literature of the Revolution_, II.; L. Sabine, _American Loyalists_; H. B. Carrington, _Battles of the Revolution_; W. B. Weeden, _New England_, II. chs. xx, xxi.; W. G. Sumner, _Financier and Finances of the American Revolution_.

CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNTS.–_Journals of Congress, Secret Journals of Congress_, works and full biographies of the Revolutionary Statesmen; Peter Force, _American Archives_; Jared Sparks, _Correspondence of the Revolution_; F. Wharton, _Diplomatic Correspondence_; John Adams and Abigail Adams, _Familiar Letters_; Tom Paine, _Common Sense_; Crevecoeur, _Letters from an American Farmer_ [1770-1781]; J. Anbury, _Travels_ [1776- 1781]; Chastellux, _Voyage de Newport_ [also in translation, 1780-1781]; W. B. Donne, _Correspondence of George III. with Lord North_ [1768-1783]; Francis Hopkins, _Essays and Writings_; Philip Freneau, _Poems_; Baroness Riedesel, _Letters and Memoirs_.–Reprints in Niles, _Principles and Acts of the Revolution_; D. R. Goodloe, _Birth of the Republic_, 205-353; Mathew Carey, _Remembrancer_; Frank Moore, _Diary of the American Revolution_, _Old South Leaflets_, _American History told by Contemporaries_, II.


[Sidenote: Power of Great Britain.]

When we compare the population and resources of the two countries, the defiance of the colonists seems almost foolhardy. In 1775 England, Ireland, and Scotland together had from eight to ten million souls; while the colonies numbered but three millions. Great Britain had a considerable system of manufactures, and the greatest foreign commerce in the world, and rich colonies in every quarter of the globe poured wealth into her lap. What she lacked she could buy. In the year 1775 the home government raised ten million pounds in taxes, and when the time came she was able to borrow hundreds of millions in all the colonies together, two million pounds in money was the utmost that could be raised in a single year by any system of taxes or loans. In 1776 one hundred and thirty cruisers and transports brought the British army to New York: the whole American navy had not more than seventeen vessels. In moral resources Great Britain was decidedly stronger than America. Parliament was divided, but the king was determined. On Oct 15, 1775, he wrote: “Every means of distressing America must meet with my concurrence.” Down to 1778 the war was popular in England, and interfered little with her prosperity.

[Sidenote: Weakness of America.]

How was it in America? Canada, the Floridas, the West Indies, and Nova Scotia held off. Of the three millions of population, five hundred thousand were negro slaves, carried no muskets, and caused constant fear of revolt. John Adams has said that more than a third part of the principal men in America were throughout opposed to the Revolution; and of those who agreed with the principles of the Revolution, thousands thought them not worth fighting for. There were rivalries and jealousies between American public men and between the sections. The troops of one New England State refused to serve under officers from another State. The whole power of England could be concentrated upon the struggle, and the Revolution would have been crushed in a single year if the eyes of the English had not been so blinded to the real seriousness of the crisis that they sent small forces and inefficient commanders. England was at peace with all the world, and might naturally expect to prevent the active assistance of the colonies by any other power.

[Sidenote: The two armies.]
[Sidenote: Hessians.]
[Sidenote: Indians.]
[Sidenote: Discipline.]

When the armies are compared, the number and enthusiasm of the Americans by no means made up for the difference of population. On the average, 33,000 men were under the American colors each year; but the army sometimes fell, as at the battle of Princeton, Jan. 2, 1777, to but 5,000. The English had an average of 40,000 troops in the colonies, of whom from 20,000 to 25,000 might have been utilized in a single military operation; and in the crisis of the general European war, about 1780, Great Britain placed 314,000 troops under arms in different parts of the world. The efficiency of the American army was very much diminished by the fact that two kinds of troops were in service,–the Continentals, enlisted by Congress; and the militia, raised by each colony separately. Of these militia, New England, with one fourth of the population of the country, furnished as many as the other colonies put together. The British were able to draw garrisons from other parts of the world, and to fill up gaps with Germans hired like horses; yet, although sold by their sovereign at the contract price of thirty-six dollars per head, and often abused in service, these Hessians made good soldiers, and sometimes saved British armies in critical moments. Another sort of aliens were brought into the contest, first by the Americans, later by the English. These were the Indians. They were intractable in the service of both sides, and determined no important contest; but since the British were the invaders, their use of the Indians combined with that of the Hessians to exasperate the Americans, although they had the same kind of savage allies, and eventually called in foreigners also. In discipline the Americans were far inferior to the English. General Montgomery wrote: “The privates are all generals, but not soldiers;” and Baron Steuben wrote to a Prussian officer a little later: “You say to your soldier, ‘Do this,’ and he doeth it; but I am obliged to say to mine, ‘This is the reason why you ought to do that,’ and then he does it.” The British officers were often incapable, but they had a military training, and were accustomed to require and to observe discipline. The American officers came in most cases from civil life, had no social superiority over their men, and were so unruly that John Adams wrote in 1777: “They quarrel like cats and dogs. They worry one another like mastiffs, scrambling for rank and pay like apes for nuts.”

[Sidenote: Commanders.]

The success of the Revolution was, nevertheless, due to the personal qualities of these officers and their troops, when directed by able commanders. In the early stages of the war the British generals were slow, timid, unready, and inefficient. Putnam, Wayne, Greene, and other American generals were natural soldiers; and in Washington we have the one man who never made a serious blunder, who was never frightened, who never despaired, and whose unflinching confidence was the rallying point of the military forces of the nation.

[Sidenote: Plans of campaign.]

The theatre of the war was more favorable to the British than to the Americans. There were no fortresses, and the coast was everywhere open to the landing of expeditions. The simplest military principle demanded the isolation of New England, the source and centre of the Revolution, from the rest of the colonies. From 1776 the British occupied the town of New York, and they held Canada. A combined military operation from both South and North would give them the valley of the Hudson. The failure of Burgoyne’s expedition in 1777 prevented the success of this manoeuvre. The war was then transferred to the Southern colonies, with the intention to roll up the line of defence, as the French line had been rolled up in 1758; but whenever the British attempted to penetrate far into the country from the sea-coast, they were eventually worsted and driven back.


[Sidenote: Conception of a “Congress.”]

Before the war could be fought, some kind of civil organization had to be formed. On May 10, 1775, three weeks after the battle of Lexington, the second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia, and continued, with occasional adjournments, till May 1, 1781. To the minds of the men of that day a congress was not a legislature, but a diplomatic assembly, a meeting of delegates for conference, and for suggestions to their principals. To be sure, this Congress represented the people, acting through popular conventions, and not the old colonial assemblies; yet those conventions assumed to exercise the powers of government in the colonies, and expected the delegates to report back to them, and to ask for instructions. Nevertheless, the delegates at once began to pass resolutions which were to have effect without any ratification by the legislatures. Of the nine colonies which gave formal instructions to their representatives, all but one directed them to “order” something, or to “determine” something, or to pass “binding” Acts.

[Sidenote: Advisory action.]

Thus Congress began rather as the adviser than as the director of the colonies; but it advised strong measures. On May 30, 1775, a plan of conciliation suggested by Lord North was pronounced “unreasonable and insidious.” On the request of the provincial congress of Massachusetts Bay, it recommended that body to “form a temporary colonial government until a governor of his Majesty’s appointment will consent to govern the colony according to its charter.” June 12, Congress issued a proclamation recommending “a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer.” Like the First Continental Congress, it framed several petitions and addresses to the British people and to the king of Great Britain. During the first six weeks of its existence, therefore, the Second Continental Congress acted chiefly as the centre for common consultation, and as the agent for joint expostulation.


[Sidenote: War in Massachusetts.]
[Sidenote: National military measures.]

The situation rapidly passed beyond the stage of advice. The people of Massachusetts and the neighboring colonies, on their own motion, had shut up the governor of the colony and his troops in the town of Boston, and were formally besieging him. On June 17 the British made their last sortie, and attacked and defeated the besieging forces at Bunker Hill. Neither the country nor Congress could long stand still. Precisely a week after assembling, Congress voted that certain commerce “must immediately cease.” A week later, May 26, they “Resolved, unanimously, that the militia of New York be armed and trained … to prevent any attempt that may be made to gain possession of the town;” and on June 14 the momentous resolution was reached that “an American continental army should be raised.” On the following day George Washington, Esq., of Virginia, “was unanimously selected to command all the continental forces raised or to be raised for the defence of American liberty.” In October the fitting out of a little navy and the commissioning of privateers were authorized.

These acts were acts of war such as up to this time had been undertaken only by individual colonies or by the home government. They were, further, acts of united resistance, and in form they pledged the whole country to the establishment of a military force, and the maintenance of hostilities until some accommodation could be reached.

[Sidenote: National diplomacy.]
[Sidenote: Other national powers.]

In other directions the Continental Congress showed similar energy. November 29, 1775, “a Committee of Correspondence with our friends abroad” was ordered, and thus began, the foreign relations of the United States of America. National ambassadors were eventually sent out; no colony presumed to send its own representative across the sea; foreign affairs from this time on were considered solely a matter for the Continental Congress. In like manner, Congress quietly took up most of the other matters which had been acknowledged up to this time to belong to the home government. Congress assumed the control of the frontier Indians, till this time the wards of England. The post-national office had been directed by English authority; Congress took it over. The boundaries and other relations of the colonies had been strictly regulated by the home government; Congress undertook to mediate in boundary disputes. Parliament had controlled trade; Congress threw open American ports to all foreign nations, and prohibited the slave-trade. In financial matters Congress went far beyond any powers ever exercised by England. June 22 it ordered an issue of two million dollars in continental paper currency, and subscriptions to national loans were opened both at home and abroad.

[Sidenote: Basis of national authority.]

This assumption of powers is the more remarkable since their exercise by England had caused the Revolution. The right to raise money by national authority, the right to maintain troops without the consent of the colonies, and the right to enforce regulations on trade,–these were the three disputed points in the English policy of control. They were all exercised by the Continental Congress, and accepted by the colonies. In a word, the Continental Congress constituted a government exercising great sovereign powers. It began with no such authority; it never received such authority until 1781. The war must be fought, the forces of the people must be organized; there was no other source of united power and authority; without formally agreeing to its supremacy, the colonies and the people at large acquiesced, and accepted it as a government.

[Sidenote: Organization of the government.]

For the carrying out of great purposes Congress was singularly inefficient. The whole national government was composed of a shifting body of representatives elected from time to time by the colonial or State legislatures. It early adopted the system of forming executive committees out of its own number: of these the most important was the Board of War, of which John Adams was the most active member. Later on, it appointed executive boards, of which some or all the members were not in Congress: the most notable example was the Treasury Office of Accounts. Difficult questions of prize and maritime law arose; and Congress established a court, which was only a committee of its own members. In all cases the committees, boards, or officials were created, and could be removed, by Congress. The final authority on all questions of national government in all its forms was simply a majority of colonies or States in the Continental Congress.


[Sidenote: Tendency towards independence.]

Under the direction of Congress and the command of General Washington the siege of Boston was successfully pushed forward during the winter of 1775- 76. From the beginning of the struggle to this time two political currents had been running side by side,–the one towards a union of the colonies, the other towards independence. Of these the current of union had run a little faster. Notwithstanding the authority which they had set over themselves, the colonies still professed to be loyal members of the British empire. To be sure, there is a strong smack of insincerity in the protestations poured forth by the assemblies and the second Continental Congress. But John Adams says: “That there existed a general desire of independence of the Crown in any part of America before the Revolution, is as far from the truth as the zenith is from the nadir.” Yet Patrick Henry declared as early as September, 1774. that “Government is dissolved. Fleets and armies and the present state of things show that government is dissolved. We are in a state of nature, sir…. All America is thrown into one mass.”

[Sidenote: Hesitation.]
[Sidenote: Suggestion of independence.]

From the moment that the Second Continental Congress had ordered the colonies to be put in a state of defence, either independence must come, or thee colonies must submit. No far-seeing man could expect that England would make the concessions which the colonies declared indispensable. Yet for more than a year Congress hesitated to declare publicly that the Americans would not return to obedience. As forgiving and loyal subjects of a king misled by wicked advisers, they still seemed supported by precedent and acting on the rights of Englishmen. Suggestions were made throughout 1775 looking towards independence Thus the New Hampshire Revolutionary Convention declared that “the voice of God and of nature demand of the colonies to look to their own political affairs.” In May, 1775, came the resolutions of a committee of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. In declaring that the government of the colonies had ceased to exist, they were probably not different in spirit from many other resolutions passed by like bodies. On July 8, 1775, Congress sent its last formal petition to the Crown. In it “Your Majesty’s faithful subjects” set forth “the impossibility of reconciling the usual appearance of respect with a just Attention to our own preservation against those artful and cruel Enemies who abuse your royal Confidence and Authority for the Purpose of effecting our destruction.” Congress was determined to wait until the petition had been received. On the day when it was to have been handed to the king, appeared a royal proclamation announcing that open and armed rebellion was going on in America.

[Sidenote: Congress determined.]

The news of the fate of the petition reached Philadelphia on October 31. The hesitation of Congress was at an end. Three days later it resolved to recommend the people of New Hampshire to establish their own government. The next day similar advice was given to South Carolina, with the promise of continental troops to defend the colony. Here for the first time was an official recognition of the fact that the colonies stood no longer under English control. It was an assertion that independence existed, and the steps towards a formal declaration were rapid.

[Sidenote: Independence decided on.]
[Sidenote: Declaration of Independence.] [Sidenote: Rights of man.]

In this as in other similar crises Congress waited to find out the wish of the colonial legislatures. By May 15, 1776, the opinion of so many colonies had been received in favor of a declaration of independence that Congress voted, “That it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the Crown of Great Britain should be totally suppressed.” Congress was now committed; and during the next few weeks the form of the declaration was the important question for discussion. Throughout the country, resolutions in favor of independence were passed by legislatures, conventions, and public meetings. On July 4, 1776, Congress adopted a solemn Declaration of Independence. Like the statement of grievances of 1765 and the declaration of 1774, this great state paper, drawn by the nervous pen of Thomas Jefferson, set forth the causes of ill-feeling toward Great Britain. First comes a statement of certain self-evident truths, a reiteration of those rights of man upon which Otis had dwelt in his speech of 1761. Then follows an enumeration of grievances put forward in this crisis as their justification in the face of the world; yet of the twenty-nine specifications of oppressive acts, not more than five were manifestly illegal according to the prevailing system of English law. So far as the Declaration of Independence shows, liberality and concession on the part of England might even then have caused the Revolution to halt.

[Sidenote: Assertion of independence.]

Another part of the Declaration is a statement that “These United Colonies are free and independent states, dissolved from all allegiance to Great Britain, and have the powers of sovereign states.” In form and spirit this clause does not create independent states, but declares that they are already independent. Independence in no wise changed the status or character of the Continental Congress: it continued to direct military operations and foreign negotiations, to deal with the Indians, and to regulate national finances. The immediate effect of the Declaration of Independence was that it obliged every American to take sides for or against the Revolution. No one could any longer entertain the delusion that he could remain loyal to Great Britain while making war upon her. It was, therefore, a great encouragement to the patriots, who speedily succeeded, in most colonies, in driving out or silencing the loyalists. There is a tradition that another member of Congress said to Franklin at this time, “We must all hang together.” “Yes,” replied Franklin, “we must all hang together, or we shall all hang separately.”


[Sidenote: Is the Union older than the States?] [Sidenote: Revolutionary governments.]

A practical result of the Declaration of Independence was that from that day each colony assumed the name of State; and the union changed its name of “The United Colonies” to the proud title of “The United States of America.” Were the new States essentially different from the colonies? This is one of the insoluble questions connected with the formation of the Union. Calhoun later declared that the Declaration of Independence changed the colonies from provinces subject to Great Britain to States subject to nobody. Lincoln in his message of July 4, 1861, said that “The Union gave each of them whatever of independence and liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the States, and in fact it created them as States.” That the States did not regard independence as freeing them from their relation to Congress may be seen from the fact that their new governments were formed under the direction or with the permission of Congress. The outbreak of the Revolution in 1775 had suddenly destroyed the constitutional governments with which the colonies were familiar. Everywhere courts were prevented from sitting, and governors were impeded or driven out. In order to organize resistance and also to carry out the ordinary purposes of government, in each colony there arose a revolutionary and unauthorized body, known as the Provincial Convention, or Provincial Congress, which took upon itself all the powers of government. The new arrangement was unsatisfactory to a people accustomed to orderly government and to stable administrations. They turned to Congress for advice. At first Congress suggested only temporary arrangements. In November, 1775, it encouraged the colonies to form permanent organizations, and on May 10, 1776, it advised them all to “adopt such governments as shall … best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.”

[Sidenote: State constitutions.]

Acting under these suggestions, the colonies had already begun before July 4, 1776, to draw up written instruments of government. In two States, Connecticut and Rhode Island, the old charters were so democratic that with a few slight changes of phraseology they were sufficient for the new conditions. In all other colonies the opportunity was taken to alter the familiar machinery. The Provincial Conventions, or, in one case, a special Constitutional Convention, drew up a constitution and put it into force. Since the governor had been unpopular, in several cases his place was supplied by an executive council. The courts were reorganized on the old basis, and the judges were left appointive. The first constitution to be formed was that of New Hampshire. January 5, 1776, the Provincial Congress voted “to take up civil government as follows.” By 1777, nine other new constitutions had thus been provided. They mark an epoch in the constitutional history of the world. The great English charters and the Act of Settlement were constitutional documents; but they covered only a small part of the field of government. Almost for the first time in history, representatives of the people were assembled to draw up systematic and complete constitutions, based on the consent of the governed.

[Sidenote: Constitution of Massachusetts.]

Singularly enough, the last State to form a definite constitution was Massachusetts. Till 1776, that colony claimed to be acting under a charter which England was ignoring. The General Court then chose councillors of its own to act as an executive. Dissensions broke out, and a considerable body of the people of Berkshire County repudiated this government and demanded a new constitution. In 1780 a constitution was drafted by a convention assembled solely for that purpose, and, for the first time in the history of America, the work of a convention was submitted for ratification by a popular vote.

40. THE FIRST PERIOD OF THE WAR (1775-1778).

[Sidenote: British military policy.]

Two policies presented themselves to the British government at the beginning of the war. They might have used their great naval strength alone, blockading the coast and sealing every harbor; thus the colonies would be cut off from the rest of the world, and allowed to enjoy their independence until they were ready to return to their allegiance. The alternative of invasion was chosen; but it was useless, with the forces available, to occupy any considerable part of the interior. By threatening various parts of the coast, the Americans could be obliged to make many detachments of their few troops. By occupying the principal towns, such as Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Savannah, the centres of resistance could be broken up, the loyalists encouraged, and bases established, from which the main American armies were to be reached and destroyed. On the sea the navy was to be used to ruin American commerce and to prevent the importation of supplies.

[Sidenote: American military policy.]

The policy of the Americans was, not to attempt to defend the whole coast, but to keep as large a number of troops as they could raise together in one body, as a substantial army; to defend their land communication from New England to the South; and by standing ready for operations in the field, to prevent the British from making any large detachments. They must hold as much of their territory as possible, in order to prevent defections; and they must take every advantage of their defensive position, in order at length to hem in and capture the opposing armies on the coast, as they did finally at Yorktown. The open gate through the Hudson they strove to close early in the war by invasion of Canada. On the sea all they could do was to capture supplies and destroy commerce, and by the ravages of their privateers to inspire the enemy with respect.

[Sidenote: Plans frustrated.]

Neither party was able to carry out its plans. The British took all the principal seaports, but were able to hold none, except New York, to the end of the war. First Burgoyne and later Cornwallis made a determined attempt to penetrate far into the interior, and both were captured. On the other hand, the Americans could not shake off the main central army, and there was danger to the very last that the British would beat them in one pitched battle which would decide the war.

[Sidenote: Campaign of 1776.]
[Sidenote: Princeton and Trenton.]

Military operations began with several surprises to the advantage of the colonists. They took Ticonderoga and invested Boston before the British government believed that a fight was impending. An expedition to Canada failed in 1775-76, but Boston fell. Down to the day of the Declaration of Independence the advantage was clearly with the colonists. The hard, stern struggle of the war began in August, 1776, with the arrival of the British in the harbor of New York. The Americans were attacked on Long Island, and obliged to retreat across the river; when the militia were attacked on that side Washington says: “They ran away in the greatest confusion, without firing a shot.” Eye-witnesses relate that “His Excellency was left on the ground within eighty yards of the enemy, so vexed with the infamous conduct of the troops that he sought death rather than life.” The American army with difficulty escaped northward, and Washington was obliged to abandon the important line of the Hudson, and to retreat before the British towards Philadelphia. The campaign of 1776 had gone against the Americans. Suddenly out of the gloom and despair came two brilliant little victories. Crossing the Delaware on Christmas night, 1776, Washington struck and beat parts of the British forces at Trenton and Princeton. They retired, and the patriots held Philadelphia during the winter.

[Sidenote: Campaign of 1777.]
[Sidenote: Steadfastness of the American army.]

In the spring of 1777 Howe transferred his troops by sea to the Chesapeake, beat the Americans, occupied Philadelphia, and lay in that city till the next year. It was a dear success. While the main British force was thus withdrawn from New York, an attempt was made to pierce the colonies from the northward. Burgoyne slowly descended during the summer of 1777; but, unsupported by Howe, on October 17 he was obliged to surrender his whole army at Saratoga. This victory roused the spirit and courage of the new nation, and strengthened the hands of the envoys who were begging for French alliance. It enabled Washington to maintain a small army in winter quarters at Valley Forge, twenty miles from Philadelphia. Whatever the early faults of American troops and officers, they had learned to obey and to suffer as soldiers, patriots, and heroes. At one time barely five thousand men were fit for duty. “Naked and starving as they are.” wrote Washington, “we cannot sufficiently admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiers.” With the first days of the year 1778 came the darkest hour of the Revolution. The little army, the indispensable hope, was beginning to thin out; the finances of the country were desperate; nine hundred American vessels had been captured; an apathy had fallen upon the country. Yet light was beginning to dawn: Steuben, the German, had begun to introduce the discipline which was to make the American army a new and powerful instrument; Lafayette had brought the sympathy of France and his own substantial services; more than all, during these dark days the American envoys were concluding the treaty with France which was to save the Union.

41. FOREIGN RELATIONS (1776-1780).

[Sidenote: Interest of France.]
[Sidenote: English plan of reconciliation.]

From the beginning of the American struggle the French government had looked on with interest and pleasure. The arrogance of England during the previous war and during the negotiations of 1763 had excited a general dislike throughout Europe. When, in June, 1776, Silas Deane appeared at Paris as the American envoy, he found, not recognition, but at least sympathy and assistance. Beaumarchais, a play-writer and adventurer, was made an unofficial agent of France; and through him arms and supplies from royal arsenals came into the hands of the Americans. More to the purpose, money was placed at the disposal of the envoys. In 1776 a million francs were thus secured; in 1777 two millions. The arrival of Franklin in Paris in December, 1776, increased the American influence, and negotiations were entered upon for a treaty. The English cabinet, understanding the danger of a double war, made a last effort at reconciliation with the colonies. In 1778 Lord North brought forward an act declaring that Parliament “will not impose any duty, taxes, or assessment whatever … in North America or the West Indies, except only such duties as it may be expedient to impose for the regulation of commerce, the net produce of such duties to be always paid and applied to and for the use of the colony in which the same shall be levied.” The principle which had been so strenuously asserted by the home government from 1765 to 1774 was now abandoned; it might reasonably be expected that the violent acts of Massachusetts directed against taxation would be forgiven. Commissioners were sent to America with almost unlimited powers to remove the grievances of the colonies, and to restore peace and concord.

[Sidenote: Alliance with France.]

Before they were appointed, a treaty of alliance had been made, Feb. 6, 1778, between the United States and France. With it went a treaty of commerce, insuring reciprocal trade with France. The colonies, which in 1758 had been fiercely fighting the French as their hereditary enemies, were now delighted at the prospect of their support. The peace commission remained in America from June to October; but though they offered every concession short of absolute independence, the Americans remained firm, and entered with confidence on the campaign of 1778.

42. THE WAR ENDED (1778-1782).

[Sidenote: Stubbornness of George III.] [Sidenote: Campaign of 1778.]

The European crisis was favorable to the Americans; the British government had hitherto been unable to reduce them; the Germans would furnish no more mercenaries; a strong minority in Parliament opposed the American war; France had declared war in March, 1778, and Spain was about to follow. Proper reinforcements could not be sent to America. The country cried out for Pitt, who had declared himself positively against American independence. The king resolutely refused. “No advantage to this country, no personal danger to myself,” said he, “can ever make me address myself to Lord Chatham or to any other branch of the opposition.” Pitt died on May 11, and the chance of a statesmanlike policy disappeared. When the French fleet, with four thousand troops, appeared in American waters in July, 1778, Washington formed the hopeful plan of driving the British out of the country. Philadelphia had been abandoned by Clinton, acting under orders of the British government. Only two places were left in the possession of the British,–New York city and Newport, Rhode Island. The combined American and French expedition against Newport was a failure, although, as Washington said, “it would have given the finishing blow to British pretensions of sovereignty over this country.”

[Sidenote: The war continued.]

Meanwhile, in England the king was imposing his relentless will upon a ministry tired of the war, and upon the English people. It was the climax of George the Third’s effort to escape from the principle of Parliamentary responsibility. “This country,” he said, “will never regain a proper tone unless ministers, as in the reign of King William, will not mind now and then being in a minority.” In April, 1779, Spain allied herself with France, and the combined fleets of those two powers obtained the mastery of the seas. Paul Jones, with a little fleet under an American commission, captured two British men-of-war, almost in sight of the English coast.

[Sidenote: Southern campaign.]

A new plan was formed for an American campaign in 1779. Forces were directed against Georgia and South Carolina,–States in which there were many loyalists. Savannah was taken, Charleston was assailed, and the expedition under Cornwallis penetrated far into North Carolina. Yet at the end of 1780 the British held, besides New York, only the provinces of South Carolina and Georgia. In September, 1780, Benedict Arnold all but delivered to the hands of the enemy the important fortress of West Point. He was weary of the struggle, and anxious to secure his own safety.

[Sidenote: Surrender of Yorktown.]

With renewed spirit the Americans in 1781 took the offensive in the Carolinas under Greene. Cornwallis moved northward to the peninsula of Yorktown. The moment had come. By a rapid movement of Washington’s army and the effective cooperation of the French fleet, Cornwallis was trapped at Yorktown; and on Oct. 19, 1781, he surrendered, with eight thousand men. It was the first decided victory which Washington had himself gained. It made evident to England the hopelessness of continuing the contest; and in November, 1782, peace was made.

[Sidenote: Reasons for American success.]

The Revolutionary war was successful because the English underestimated the strength of the movement at the beginning, because the English commanders were incapable, and because in the later period, when the British were aroused, their strength was diverted by the dangerous European war. It was gained finally by the firmness and resolution of the people, and that resolution is typified in Washington. His patience and endurance, his ability to hold in check large forces with small armies imperfectly equipped, his power to keep the country up to the support of the war, mark him as one of the world’s great military commanders.


[Sidenote: Resources.]

The successful termination of the war is the more remarkable because it was fought by a government almost without means, and finally without credit. The saddest part of the suffering at Valley Forge is that it was unnecessary. There was always food and clothing in the country, but Congress had no money to buy it. Congress had no power to lay taxes, and the colonies, most of which were spending large sums on their own militia, were not disposed to supply the general treasury. The pay of the Continental troops and of the general officers, the furnishing of equipments and stores, the support of foreign embassies, were burdens that must be borne, and Congress must find the means.

[Sidenote: Continental currency.]

The most successful and the most disastrous resource was the issue of paper-money. When, in June, 1775, it was proposed to meet the general expenses by putting forth two millions in Continental notes, there was but feeble objection. It was the only way of raising money which seemed to cost nobody anything. In the course of a year four millions more followed. Congress, with commendable foresight, called upon each colony to pay in a sum sufficient to retire its proportion of the issue. Nothing was paid, and the printing-press was again put in motion, until in January, 1779, fifty millions were issued at a time. In November, 1779, the limit of two hundred millions was reached. In order to float these notes the States passed acts making them a legal tender; but at the same time they were themselves issuing large sums in a similar currency. Counterfeits abounded, but it soon became a matter of little difference whether a bill was good or bad, since the best was worth so little. From the time of the capture of New York by the British in 1776 the notes began to fall. In 1778 the news of the French alliance caused a little rise; but in 1781 the bills fell to a point where a thousand dollars exchanged for one dollar in specie, and a Philadelphia wag made out of the notes a blanket for his dog. The Continental currency was never redeemed, and was consequently a forced tax on those who were least able to pay, since every holder lost by its depreciation while in his hands.

[Sidenote: Loans.]

The absolutely necessary expenditures, without which no army could make head against the British, were from twenty to twenty-five million specie dollars each year. Of this the Continental bills furnished on an average some eight or ten millions. Another method of raising money was that of borrowing on funded loans. Great schemes were put forth. The United States were to borrow at four per cent; they were to borrow two millions; they were to borrow ten millions; they were to borrow twenty millions. The result was that in three years $181,000 was thus loaned, and up to the end of the war but $1,600,000,–hardly a hundredth part of the necessary means. Failing to raise money directly, recourse was bad to the so-called loan-office certificates. These were issued to creditors of the government, and bore interest. The greater part of the military supplies were paid for in this extravagant and demoralizing fashion, and in 1789 they had to be settled, with accumulated interest amounting to nearly fifty per cent. Better success was had in Europe. No private banker would lend money to a set of rebels not recognized by any government as independent, but the French and Spanish governments were willing to advance both money and stores. In this way the United States received about three million dollars.

[Sidenote: Requisitions.]

When it was evident that the domestic loan had failed, Congress called upon the States to furnish five millions of dollars, apportioned among them according to their importance. These requisitions were repeated at intervals during the Revolution, but always with the same effect. Not a fourth part of the sums asked for was paid by the States. A system of “specific supplies” was adopted in 1778, by which the States were allowed to pay their quotas in kind. It added a new source of confusion, and brought no more revenue.

[Sidenote: Miscellaneous resources.]

Every device that the government could put into operation for raising money was eventually tried. A lottery brought considerable sums into the treasury, the supplies for the army were seized at Valley Forge and elsewhere, and paid for in certificates. Bills were drawn on foreign ministers for funds which it was hoped they might have in hand by the time the bills reached them, and the government bought, and sent abroad to meet its indebtedness, cargoes of tobacco and other products.

[Sidenote: Speculation.]

The financial burdens of the government were increased by a spirit of extravagance, speculation, and even of corruption. Washington wrote, “Unless extortion, forestalling, and other practices which have … become exceedingly prevalent can meet with proper checks, we must inevitably sink under such a load of accumulated oppressions.” The whole cost of the war is estimated at one hundred and thirty-five millions. Of this about one hundred millions had been raised through the Continental bills and other devices. About thirty-five millions remained as a national debt.


[Sidenote: Weakness of Congress.]

That Congress was able to make no better provision for the finances was due to a decline in its prestige rather than to a lack of interest in the war. Some of the ablest members were drawn into military service, or sent on foreign missions. The committee system made it inefficient, and it was difficult to bring it to a decision upon the most important matters. In vain did Washington storm, and implore it to act quickly and intelligently on military matters of great moment. Its relations with the States changed as the war advanced. Dec. 7, 1776; Congress made Washington for a time almost a dictator. In 1779 the Virginia legislature formally denied that it was “answerable to Congress for not agreeing with any of its recommendations.”

[Sidenote: The loyalists.]

To the frequent unfriendly relations with the States was added the constant conflict with the loyalists. Throughout the colonies the adherents to England or the sympathizers with the English government were under grave suspicion. Many of them left the country; some enlisted with the British, and returned to fight against their own land. A body of loyalists led the hostile Indians into the Wyoming valley to torture and to murder. The loyalists who remained at home were often the medium of communication with the British lines. Some of them, like Dr. Mather Byles of Boston, and George Watson of Plymouth, were allowed to remain on condition that they held their tongues. Washington was so exasperated with them that he termed them “execrable parricides.” In every State the loyalists were feared and hated. When the British invaded the country, the loyalists joined them; when the British were repulsed, thousands of them were obliged to abandon their homes.

[Sidenote: Dissensions in States.]

The finances of the States were as much disturbed as those of the Union. Their paper-money issues shared the same fate. Their debts, funded and unfunded, increased. They were harassed by internal divisions, even among the patriots. In Massachusetts, Berkshire County remained until 1780 practically independent, and the county convention did not scruple to declare to the General Court that there were “other States which will, we doubt not, as bad as we are, gladly receive us.”


[Sidenote: Preliminaries of a constitution.] [Sidenote: Articles submitted.]

One cause of the weakness of Congress and the disorders in the States was the want of a settled national government. The Continental Congress understood that it was but a makeshift, and on the day when a committee was formed to frame a Declaration of Independence, another committee was appointed to draw up Articles of Confederation. It reported July 12, 1776; but the moment discussion began, it was seen that there were almost insuperable difficulties. The first was the question whether each State should have one vote, as in the existing government, or whether each should cast a number of votes in proportion to its population; the second question was how revenue should be raised and assessed; the third was how the western country should be held; the fourth was what powers should be given to the general government, and what retained by the States; the fifth, how disputes within the Union should be settled. When, on Nov. 15, 1777, Congress had finally adopted a draft of Articles of Confederation, the decline of its power and influence was reflected in the proposed instrument of government. On the question of representation, the rule of vote by States was continued. The only taxation was a formal system of requisitions on the States. Here the question of slavery was unexpectedly brought in: the Northern States desired to apportion the taxes according to total population, including slaves. “Our slaves are our property” said Lynch, of South Carolina; “If that is debated, there is an end of the Confederation. Being our property, why should they be taxed more than sheep?” A compromise was reached, by which requisitions were to be assessed in proportion to the value of lands in the several States. The question of control of territory was not distinctly settled by the articles. The powers to be conferred upon the Confederation were practically limited to war, peace, and foreign affairs. A cumbrous system of arbitration courts was established for disputes between States, but there was no machinery for settling quarrels between States and the national government.

[Sidenote: The Western lands.]
[Sidenote: Maryland will not ratify.] [Sidenote: Articles in force.]

Congress had spent a year and a half in forming the Articles of Confederation. The States took three and a half years in ratifying them. Ten States early signified their willingness to adopt them. Three others stood out because the Western lands were left in dispute. In 1776 when the British authority had been declared no longer existent in the colonies, each of the new States considered itself possessed of all the British lands which at any time had been included within its boundary; and in 1778 Virginia had captured the few British posts northwest of the Ohio, and had shortly after created that immense region, now the seat of five powerful States, into the “County of Illinois.” On the other hand, it was strongly urged that the Western territory had been secured through a war undertaken by all the colonies for the whole country, and that the lands ought to be reserved to reward the continental soldiers, and to secure the debt of the United States. For the sake of union, two of the three dissatisfied commonwealths agreed to the Articles of Confederation. One State alone stood firm: Maryland, whose boundaries could not be so construed as to include any part of the lands, refused to ratify unless the claims of Virginia were disallowed; Virginia and Connecticut proposed to close the Union without Maryland; Virginia even opened a land office for the sale of a part of the territory in dispute; but threats had no effect. New York, which had less to gain from the Western territory than the other claimants, now came forward with the cession of her claims to the United States; and Virginia, on Jan. 2, 1781, agreed to do the like. On March 1, 1781, it was announced that Maryland had ratified the Articles of Confederation, and they were duly put into force. From that date the Congress, though little changed in personnel or in powers, was acting under a written constitution, and the States had bound themselves to abide by it.

46. PEACE NEGOTIATED (1779-1782).

[Sidenote: Instructions of 1779.]
[Sidenote: Instructions of 1781.]

Thus the settlement of the final terms of peace fell to the new government, but rather as a heritage than as a new task. Instructions issued by Congress in 1779 had insisted, as a first essential, on an acknowledgment by Great Britain of the independence of the United States. Next, adequate boundaries were to be provided; the United States must extend as far west as the Mississippi, as far south as the thirty-first parallel, and as far north as Lake Nipissing. The third desideratum was undisturbed fishery rights on the banks of Newfoundland. Finally, it was expected that a treaty of commerce would be yielded by Great Britain after the peace was made. In 1781 Virginia, alarmed by Cornwallis’s invasion, succeeded in carrying a very different set of instructions. The only essential was to be the substantial admission that America was independent; in all else the treaty was to be made in a manner satisfactory to the French minister of foreign affairs.

[Sidenote: The king consents to peace.] [Sidenote: Independence.]
[Sidenote: Boundary.]
[Sidenote: Instructions ignored.]

Before peace could be reached it was necessary to break down the iron opposition of the king. On Feb. 28, 1781 Conway’s motion, looking to the cessation of the war, was adopted by Parliament. “The fatal day has come,” said the king. It was not merely his American policy which had failed; the party of the “King’s Friends” was beaten; North resigned; and after twelve years of strenuous opposition, the king was obliged to accept a Whig ministry, which he detested, and to let it negotiate for peace. A part of the ministry still cherished the delusion that the Americans would accept terms which did not leave them independent. The firmness of the American envoys was effectual; a royal commission was at last addressed to Oswald, authorizing him to treat with “the commissioners of the United States of America” in Paris. Then came the important question of boundary. Without the thirteen colonies the possession of the Floridas was of little value to England, and they had been reduced by a Spanish expedition in 1781; they were therefore returned to Spain. For a long time the English insisted that a neutral belt of Indian territory should be created west of the mountains. That point was finally waived; the Americans withdrew their pretensions to the territory north of Lake Erie; and the St. Lawrence River system, from the western end of Lake Superior to the forty-fifth parallel, was made the boundary. From the forty-fifth parallel to the sea, the boundary was described as following the “highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the St. Lawrence from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean.” The country was little known; the commissioners were probably confused; and the ground was thus prepared for a dispute which lasted fifty-nine years. In the course of the negotiations the American ambassadors, Jay, Adams, Franklin, and Laurens, became suspicious of the French court. There is now some reason for believing that Vergennes, the French minister, had dealt honorably with the American interests, and could have secured excellent terms. “Would you break your instructions?” asked one of the fellow-commissioners of Jay. “I would,” he replied, “as I would break this pipe.” Thenceforward the Americans dealt directly and solely with the English envoys.

[Sidenote: The Mississippi.]
[Sidenote: The fisheries.]

The next question to be settled was the claim of the English to the navigation of the Mississippi, which was supposed to reach northward into British territory. It was yielded; the Americans, however, received no corresponding right of navigation through Spanish territory to the sea. Next came the fisheries. As colonists the New Englanders had always enjoyed the right to fish upon the Newfoundland banks, and to land at convenient spots to cure their fish. Adams, representing New England, insisted that “the right of fishing” should be distinctly stated; he carried his point.

[Sidenote: Loyalists.]
[Sidenote: Debts.]
[Sidenote: Slaves.]
[Sidenote: Treaty signed.]

The main difficulties disposed of, three troublesome minor points had to be adjusted. The first was the question of loyalists. They had suffered from their attachment to the British government; they had been exiled; their estates had been confiscated, their names made a by-word. The British government first insisted, and then pleaded, that the treaty should protect these persons if they chose to return to their former homes. The Americans would agree only that Congress should “earnestly recommend” to the thirteen legislatures to pass Relief Acts. Then came the question of private debts due to the British merchants at the outbreak of the Revolution, and still unpaid. Some of the American envoys objected to reviving these obligations; but Adams, when he arrived, set the matter at rest by declaring that he had “no notion of cheating anybody.” Finally came the question of the treatment of the slaves who had taken refuge with the British armies; and the English commissioners agreed that the British troops should withdraw “without causing any destruction or the carrying away any negroes or other property of the American inhabitants.” On Nov. 30, 1782, a provisional treaty was signed; but it was not until Sept. 3, 1783 after the peace between France and England had been adjusted, that the definitive treaty was signed, in precisely the same terms.

With great difficulty a quorum was assembled, and on Jan. 14, 1784, it was duly ratified by Congress. The treaty was a triumph for American diplomacy. “It is impossible,” says Lecky, the ablest historian of this period, “not to be struck with the skill, hardihood, and good fortune that marked the American negotiations. Everything the United States could with any show of plausibility demand from England, they obtained.”


[Sidenote: American union.]

Thus in seven years America had advanced from the condition of a body of subordinate colonies to that of a nation. Furthermore, the people, who at the beginning of the struggle were scattered and separated, and who scarcely knew each other, were now united under a government; the Confederation, however weak, was the strongest federation then in existence. The people had learned the lesson of acting together in a great national crisis, and of accepting the limitations upon their governments made necessary by the central power.

[Sidenote: Union not perfected.]

The spirit of the new nation was now to be subjected to a test more severe than that of the Revolution. Danger banded the colonies together during the war. Would they remain together during peace? Sectional jealousies had broken out in Congress and in camp; and in the crisis of 1777 an effort had been made to displace Washington. There had been repeated instances of treachery among military officers and among foreign envoys. The States were undoubtedly much nearer together than the colonies had been; they had accepted a degree of control from the general government which they had refused from England; but they were not used to accept the resolutions of Congress as self-operative. Their conception of national government was still that national legislation filtrated from Congress to the State legislatures, and through that medium to the people.

[Sidenote: Frontier difficulties.]

The interior of the country was in a confused and alarming state. The territorial settlement with the States had only begun, and was to be the work of years. The Indians were a stumbling-block which must be removed from the path of the settlers. Within the States there were poverty, taxation, and disorder, and a serious discontent.

[Sidenote: Common institutions.]

Nevertheless, the system of the colonies was a system of union. The State governments all rested on the same basis of revolution and defiance of former established law; but when they separated from England they preserved those notions of English private and public law which had distinguished the colonies. The laws and the governments of the States were everywhere similar. The States were one in language, in religion, in traditions, in the memories of a common struggle, and in political and economic interests.

[Sidenote: Trade hampered.]

Commercially, however, the situation of the country was worse than it had been in three quarters of a century. Though the fisheries had been saved by the efforts of Adams, the market for the surplus fish was taken away. As colonies they had enjoyed the right to trade with other British colonies; as an independent nation they had only those rights which England chose to give. For a time the ministry seemed disposed to make a favorable commercial treaty; but in 1783 an Order in Council was issued cutting off the Americans from the West Indian trade; and it was not until 1818 that they recovered it.

[Sidenote: Republican government encouraged.] A great political principle had been strengthened by the success of the Revolution: republican government had been revived in a fashion unknown since ancient times. The territory claimed by Virginia was larger than the island of Great Britain. The federal republic included an area nearly four times as large as that of France. In 1782 Frederick of Prussia told the English ambassador that the United States could not endure, “since a republican government had never been known to exist for any length of time where the territory was not limited and concentred.” The problem was a new one; but in communities without a titled aristocracy, which had set themselves against the power of a monarch, and which had long been accustomed to self-government, the problem was successfully worked out. The suffrage was still limited to the holders of land; but the spirit of the Revolution looked towards abolishing all legal distinctions between man and man; and the foundation of later democracy, with its universal suffrage, was thus already laid.

[Sidenote: Influence of rights of man.]

The influence of the republican spirit upon the rest of the world was not yet discerned; but the United States had established for themselves two principles which seriously affected other nations. If English colonies could by revolution relieve themselves from the colonial system of England, the French and Spanish colonies might follow that example; and forty years later not one of the Spanish continental colonies acknowledged the authority of the home government. The other principle was that of the rights of man. The Declaration of Independence contained a list of rights such as were familiar to the colonists of England, but were only theories elsewhere. The success of the Revolution was, therefore, a shock to the system of privilege and of class exemptions from the common burdens, which had lasted since feudal times. The French Revolution of 1789 was an attempt to apply upon alien ground the principles of the American Revolution.




BIBLIOGRAPHIES.–Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History_, VI. 745, VII. 199-236, 527-543, VIII. 491;, notes to Curtis, Bancroft, McMaster, and Pitkin; W. F. Foster, _References to the Constitution_, 12-14; J. J. Lalor, _Cyclopedia_, I. 577; Channing and Hart, _Guide_, §§ 142, 149-153.

HISTORICAL MAPS.–Nos. 1, 3, this volume ( _Epoch Maps_, Nos. 6, 7); Labberton, _Atlas_, lxvi.; Rhode, _Atlas_, No. xxviii.; Johnston, _History of the United States for Schools_, 133; Gordon _American Revolution_, I. frontispiece; B. A. Hinsdale, _Old Northwest_, I. 188, 201 (reprinted from MacCoun’s _Historical Geography_), also I. frontispiece, and II. 393; Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History_, VII. 140; school histories of Channing, Johnston, Scudder Thomas.

GENERAL ACCOUNTS.–Joseph Story, _Commentaries_, §§ 218-271; R. Hildreth, _United States_, III, 374-481; T. Pitkin, II. 9-36, 154-218; H. Von Hoist, _United States_, I. 1-46; Geo. Tucker, _United States_, I. 291-347; Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History_, VII. ch. iii.; J. T. Morse, _Franklin_, 216-420; Abiel Holmes, _Annals of America_, II. 353-371; J. Schouler, _United States_, I. 1-30; Bryant and Gay, _Popular History_, IV. 79-99; F. A. Walker _Making of a Nation_, ch. 1; Edward Channing, _United States 1761-1865_. ch. iv.

SPECIAL HISTORIES.–G. T. Curtis _Constitutional History_, chs. v.-xiv. (_History of the Constitution_ I. 214-347); George Bancroft, _United States_ (last revision), VI. 5-194, _History of the Constitution_, I. 1- 266; John Fiske, _Critical Period_, 1-186; J. B. McMaster, _United States_, I. 103-416; J. F. Jameson _Essays on the Constitution_; T. Pitkin, _United States_, I. 283-422, II. 223; William B. Weeden, _New England_, II. chs. xxii., xxiii.; W. G. Sumner, _Financier and Finances_, II. chs. xvi.-xxvii.; B. A. Hinsdale, _Old Northwest_, chs. ix.-xvi.; H. B. Adams, _Maryland’s Influence_; W. Hill, _First Stages of the Tariff Policy_; S. Sato, _Public Land Question_; Theodore Roosevelt. _Winning of the West_, III.

CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNTS.–_Journals of Congress_; _Secret Journals_; Madison’s notes in H. D. Gilpin, _Papers of James Madison_, and in _Elliot’s Debates_, V.; letters of Washington, Madison, John Jay, Hamilton, and Franklin, in their works; Thomas Paine, _Public Good_; Noah Webster, _Sketches of American Policy_; Pelatiah Webster, _Dissertation on the Political Union_; Brissot de Warville’s _Examen Critique_ [1784], and _Nouveau Voyage_ [1788], (also in translation); Thomas Jefferson, _Notes on Virginia_.–Reprints in _American History told by Contemporaries_, II., _American History Leaflets_, Nos. 20, 22, 28.


[Sidenote: Army.]
[Sidenote: Territory.]

The task thrown upon Congress in 1781 would have tried the strongest government in existence. An army of more than ten thousand men was under arms, and must be kept up until peace was formally declared, and then must be paid off. The territorial claims of the States and of the Union were still in confusion. Virginia roused the suspicion of the small States by making the promised cession in terms which Congress could not accept, and the other States had made no motion towards yielding their claims. Relations with the Indians were still confused. Superintendents of Indian affairs had been appointed, and in 1778 a treaty was negotiated with the Creeks; but the States, particularly Pennsylvania and Georgia, continued to make their own arrangements with Indian tribes.

[Sidenote: Finances.]
[Sidenote: Commerce.]
[Sidenote: General weakness.]

The finances of the country seemed to have reached their lowest ebb. An attempt was made to float a new issue of continental money at one dollar for forty of the old bills The new obligations speedily sank to the level of the old, and the country was practically bankrupt. The aid of the French was all that kept the government afloat (§ 43). The return of peace was expected to restore American commerce to its old prosperity; but having gone to war principally because colonial commerce with other countries was restricted, the Americans found themselves deprived of their old freedom of trade with England. They were subject to discriminating duties in English ports, and were excluded from the direct trade with the English West Indies, which had been the chief resource the colonial ship- owners. The State governments were in debt, embarrassed, and beset with the social difficulties which come in the train of war. The disbanded troops were not accustomed to regular employment or to a quiet life; taxes were heavy and odious; the far Western settlements clamored to be set free from the States to which they belonged. Above all, the national government was weak, inefficient, and little respected by the army or the people at large.

60. FORM OF THE GOVERNMENT (1781-1788.)

[Sidenote: Congress.]

The first and fundamental defect of the government was in the organization of Congress. The Continental Congress had been a head without a body; under the Articles of Confederation, Congress was a body without a head. A single assembly continued to be the source of all national legislative, executive, and judicial power (§ 37). As though to prevent the country from getting the benefit of experience, no man could remain a member of Congress for more than three years in succession. The delegates of each State continued to cast jointly one vote; if only one member were present, the vote of a State was not counted; if but two were present, they might produce a tie. On important questions the approval of nine States was necessary, and often less than that number had voting representatives on the floor. Amendment was impossible, except by consent of all the State legislatures. Although Congress had to deal with difficult questions of peace, its principal power was that of carrying on war. Congress might make treaties, but it could pass no act in defence of American commerce.

[Sidenote: Executive departments.]

A great effort was made to improve the executive system. By resolutions passed early in 1781, secretaries were appointed for the three departments of Foreign Affairs, War, and Finance; the board system, championed by Samuel Adams and others, was to be abandoned. The importance of the War Department diminished after 1782. “The Secretary of the United States for the Department of Foreign Affairs” was quartered in two little rooms, and furnished with two clerks. The post was filled first by Robert R. Livingston, and from 1784 by John Jay. The office of Superintendent of Finance was bestowed upon Robert Morris of Pennsylvania.

[Sidenote: Courts.]

The Articles of Confederation provided for a special tribunal to settle territorial disputes between the States. The system was invoked in 1782, and a verdict was rendered in favor of Pennsylvania and against Connecticut in their rival claims to the Wyoming region. A second set of federal courts was constituted by designating certain State courts to try piracies and felonies committed on the high seas. A third and the only important federal tribunal was the Court of Appeals in prize cases, which began to sit in January, 1780, and before which were sued sixty-five cases. All the courts, like all the executive departments, were created by Congress, alterable by Congress, and subject to the control of Congress. In 1784 the Court of Appeals was allowed to lapse, by the refusal of Congress to pay the salaries of the judges.


To follow the history of the Confederation from year to year would be unprofitable. It was a confused period, with no recognized national leaders, no parties, no great crises. We shall therefore take up one after another the important questions which arose, and follow each to the end of the Confederation.

[Sidenote: Half-pay question.]
[Sidenote: Protests.]

The first duty of Congress after peace was declared was to cut off the military expenditures (§ 42). The food, clothing, and pay of the army amounted to about $400,000 a month. Provision had been made for bounty lands for the soldiers; the officers expected some more definite reward. On April 26, 1778, Congress, by a majority of one State, had voted half pay for life to the officers, as an essential measure for keeping the army together. In the four years following, five different votes had been passed, each annulling the previous one. Another proposition, in November, 1782, was to remit the whole matter to the States. On March 10, 1783, appeared the so-called “Newburgh addresses,”–an anonymous plea to the army, urging the officers not to separate until Congress had done justice in this respect. A crisis was threatened. Washington himself attended the meeting of the officers, and counselled moderation. He used his utmost influence with Congress, and on the 22d of March secured a vote of full pay for five years. As the treasury was empty, the only payment to the officers was in certificates of indebtedness, upon which interest accumulated during the next seven years. Massachusetts protested, declaring the grant to be “more than an adequate reward for their services, and inconsistent with that equality which ought to subsist among citizens of free and republican states.” In June, 1783, three hundred mutineers surrounded the place of meeting of Congress, and demanded a settlement of their back pay; and the executive council of Pennsylvania declined to interfere. The result was that Congress changed its place of meeting, and ever after retained a lively resentment against the city of Philadelphia.


[Sidenote: The Western claims.]
[Sidenote: Northwest cessions.]

Although Congress had no power, under the Articles of Confederation, to regulate territory, it earnestly urged the States to cede their claims. The Ohio River divided the Western country into two regions, each having a separate territorial history. The northern part was claimed by Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, on the ground that their old charters, extending to the Pacific, were revived (§ 45). The United States, as representing the landless States, claimed the whole region as territory won by the common effort and sacrifice of the Revolutionary War. On March 1, 1784, Virginia ceded all her claims north of the Ohio River, except a reservation for bounty lands. Massachusetts followed in 1785; the commonwealth had large tracts of unoccupied land in Maine and in New York. Connecticut had no such resources, and in 1786 ceded only the western part of her claim, retaining till 1800, as a “Western Reserve,” a strip, extending along Lake Erie, one hundred and twenty miles west from Pennsylvania.

[Sidenote: Territorial organization.]

The claims to the region north of the Ohio having thus been extinguished, the government began to make plans for the administration of its domain. On Oct. 10, 1780, the Continental Congress had promised that the lands ceded by the States should be “disposed of for the common benefit of the United States,” and “be settled and formed into distinct republican States which shall become members of the federal union.” These two principles are the foundation both of the territorial and the public land systems of the United States.

On April 23, 1784, an ordinance reported by Jefferson was passed, providing for representative legislatures as fast as the West grew sufficiently populous to maintain them. It is hardly a misfortune that the map was not encumbered with the names suggested by Jefferson for the new States,–Cherronesus, Metropotamia, Assenisippia, Polypotamia, and Pelisipia; but another clause was voted down which would have prohibited slavery in the Territories after 1800.

[Sidenote: Northwest Ordinance.]

June 13, 1787, a second ordinance passed Congress, which was inferior in importance only to the Federal Constitution. It provided minutely for a preliminary territorial government, in which laws were to be made by appointive judges, and for a later representative government. The conception was that the Territories were to occupy the position formerly claimed by the colonies; they were to be subject to no general taxation, but placed under a governor appointed by the general government; their laws were to be subject to his veto, and to later revision by the central authority. A new principle was the preparation of the Territories for statehood: the ordinance laid down a series of “Articles of Compact” to govern them after they were admitted into the Union. Religious liberty and personal rights were to be secured; general morality and education to be encouraged; and finally it was provided that “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” The introduction of this clause is due to New England men, who were anxious to form a colony on the Ohio, and who desired to secure the freedom with which they were familiar. The clause had no effect upon slaves held in the Territory at the time of the passage of the ordinance, but it distinctly expresses the dissatisfaction of the country with the system of human slavery. As soon as the Northwest Territory was organized, the sale of lands began; but nothing was received in cash till long after the Confederation had expired.

[Sidenote: Southern cessions.]

In the southern block of States the territorial settlement proceeded more slowly, and was in every way less satisfactory. Virginia retained both jurisdiction and land in Kentucky. North Carolina in 1790 granted the jurisdiction in what is now Tennessee, but every acre of the land had already been granted by the State. South Carolina had almost nothing to cede, and yielded it in 1787. Georgia stood out on the claim to the whole territory between her present boundary and the Mississippi, and would not yield until 1802. Slavery was not prohibited.