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England and Virginia before it appeared elsewhere in America. The oppressive trade regulations bore upon manufactures and commerce; and since most of the manufactures were in New England, and the principal articles of export were New England timber and Virginia tobacco, those colonies first became exasperated. The Stamp Act, however, bore upon all, and from 1764 the backward colonies began to show the same wrathful temper. To preserve strict truth, the historian must not omit to state that a certain discreditable reason had its part in bringing about American resistance, as well as the just indignation at the selfish and arbitrary policy which ground the country down. A debt of eight or nine million pounds was owed to British merchants, and this debt, so some thought, in case of successful revolt, it might be possible to repudiate.1
1 Madison's View, XL, and Boucher, quoted by Chamberlain, “ John Adams, the Statesman of the Revolution,” p. 37.
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION A STRUGGLE OF
PARTIES, NOT COUNTRIES.
The condition of things in the middle of the eighteenth century has been sufficiently set forth.
George III had been educated carefully
under the influence of his mother, a woman, who, like the members of German royal families at that time universally, exaggerated to the highest degree the prerogatives of the King. Her constant exhortation, “George, be a King,” is said to have influenced her son much. Jacobitism had been utterly quenched in 1745. No other prince since Charles II had been hailed with such acclamation as George III, when he took his seat. Whereas the prestige of the Kings had been declining, prerogative and the jus divinum now began to be fashionable again. The Tories were in power, and the great Jacobite families, giving up at last the cause of the Stuarts, rallied round the Hanoverian prince, retaining all their old anti-popular ideas. George was fairly sensible, thoroughly brave, well-meaning, and sincerely anxious to bring about good for England, not postponing the interests of his kingdom, as his two predecessors had done, to those of his German electorate. He was,
however, ignorant, narrow-minded, and arbitrary, and was determined to make himself as absolute as the Kings of Europe in general. He hesitated at no corruption, though he was himself honest, and by means of the “ King's Friends,” a great body in Parliament whom he won to himself by bribes, he grew very powerful.
It is not right, however, to regard George III as a fair representative of the England of his time, nor to think that in the great war of the Ameri
Sympathy of can Revolution, of which on the British Englishmen side he was the central figure, Americans American
struggle. were really fighting England. Says a modern English authority:1 “Of course, Americans regard independence as their great achievement. In this they are quite right. When, however, they proceed to regard independence as a victory gained over England, their enemy, they are surely egregiously in error. .. At the time the United States were fighting for independence, England was fighting for her liberties : the common enemy was the Hanoverian George III and his Germanized Court. ... When the news was brought to London that the United States had appealed to arms, William Pitt, an Englishman, if there ever was one, rose in his seat in Parliament, and with uplifted voice thanked God that the American colonists retained enough of English blood to fight for their rights. Nine Englishmen out of every ten outside of Court influence similarly rejoiced. Independence day is as much a red-letter day for every genuine Englishman as for every genuine American. And so it should be: Washington but trod in the footsteps
1 Westminster Review, March, 1889.
A strife on
of Hampden ; his task was easier than that of Hampden, and the solution he wrought, which an interval of three thousand miles of ocean practically dictated, was more thorough.” The writer laments the estrangement of Americans from England. “England's
· sternest, coldest, most critical censors, I have found among descendants of the old settlers; surely those retain something of ancient Puritan bitterness. The source of estrangement I am inclined to trace largely to the fact that the average American reads no history but United States history, and that he can scarcely be said to study.”
Vast misapprehension as to the true character of the American Revolution no doubt prevails: the
English Radical whose words have been both sides of quoted puts the case none too strongly.
A high American authority 1 declares that the American Revolution was not a quarrel between two peoples, but a strife between two parties in one people, Conservatives and Liberals. These parties existed in both countries; the battle between them took place not only on the fields of America, but in the British Parliament also, some of the fiercest engagements in the latter arena. The strife took place on both sides of the water with nearly equal step, and was essentially the same on both sides; so that if, at the close of the French War, all the people of Great Britain had been transported to America, and all the people of America to Great Britain, and put in control of British affairs, the American Revolution and the contemporary British Revolution might
1 Hon. Mellen Chamberlain, in Winsor : Narrative and Critical History of America, VI, Chap. I.
have gone on just the same, and with the same final result. For a long time both peoples had had a common history; but in the reaction at the Restora
on, the British race in England passed again under the power of prerogative, exchanging it in 1688 for the domination of a Parliament representing only the rich and high-placed, - by no means the mass of the nation. In Great Britain, therefore, the struggle was to recover what had been lost. The emigrants to New England, on the contrary, left behind institutions which were monarchical, both in Church and State, and revived ancient institutions which were democratic. They fought, therefore, to preserve what had been retained, not to recover what had been lost, and drew with them into the contest the rest of America.
This view of the character of our Revolutionary War is so unfamiliar that it is worth while to illustrate it with some fulness. As to the
Ability and barrassments which the King and his number of
pro-American ministers underwent from a powerful opposition, in their attempts to coerce America, the latest historian of the eighteenth century makes out a strong case. From the first, the immense influence of Pitt, soon to be Earl of Chatham, then the most powerful of subjects, was on the side of America. We have seen him justify, with all his eloquence, the resistance to the Stamp Act, seconded by Lord Camden, who also had great influence. At the time of the tea duty, there was in Parliament a strong section supporting the Americans, and outside of Parliament a still more democratic party who kept the country in alarm through fierce political agitation;