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NIAL SELF-GOVERNMENT (1749-1765)
The period from 1749 to 1764 was accented by the French and Indian War. The rival claims to the West aroused public interest, were the theme of many writers, and gave opportunity for the practical patriotism of thousands of frontier soldiers. Two other great questions aroused a sense of common interest and common destiny. The first practical suggestion for a federal union of the colonies came to a head in the Albany Plan of 1754, and that plan later reappears as a constituent of the Articles of Confederation. The other and more serious question was that of the relation of the colonial government to Great Britain. In this period arises the first distinct, well-reasoned, and eloquently stated theory of the American colonies as a self-governing combination. The premonition was Otis's argument on the Writs of Assistance (1761). The Stamp Act Controversy of 1765 called out some of the ablest patriotic writers of American history. John Dickinson, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and others formulated statements and arguments which still ring out as chords of American liberty. A sense of commercial significance became visible and was shown in the growing dislike of the regulation of trade by Great Britain, though the main controversy turned upon the great principle summed up in the unforgettable sentence: "Taxation without representation
1. How to Be Prosperous (1750)
By REVEREND JONATHAN EDWARDS
(See note above, p. 173.)
1. ONE thing that greatly concerns you, as you would be an happy people, is the maintaining of family order.
We have had great disputes how the church ought to be regulated; and indeed the subject of these disputes was of great importance: But the due regulation of your families is of no less, and, in some respects, of much greater importance. Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief of the means of grace. If these fail, all other
like to prove ineffectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be like to prosper and be successful. ... 2. As you would seek the future prosperity of
this society it is of vast importance that you should avoid contention.
A contentious people will be a miserable people. The contentions which have been among you, since I first became your pastor, have been one of the greatest burdens I have labored under in the course of my ministry: Not only the contentions you have had with me, but those which you have had one with another, about your lands and other concerns.
Because I knew that contention, heat of spirit, evil speaking, and things of the like nature, were directly contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and did in a peculiar manner, tend to drive away God's Spirit from a people, and to render all means of grace ineffectual, as well as to destroy a people's outward comfort and welfare.
3. Another thing that vastly concerns the future prosperity of this town, is, that you should watch against the encroachments of error; and particularly Arminianism, and doctrines of like tendency.
You were, many of you, as I well remember, much alarmed with the apprehension of the danger of the prevailing of these corrupt principles, near sixteen years ago. But the danger then was small in comparison of what appears now. These doctrines at this day are much more prevalent than they were then: The progress they have made in the land, within this seven years, seems to have been vastly greater than at
any time in the like space before: And they are still prevailing and creeping into almost all parts of the land, threatening the utter ruin of the credit of those doctrines which are the peculiar glory of the gospel, and the interests of vital piety.
4. Another thing which I would advise to, that you may hereafter be a prosperous people, is, that you would give yourselves much to prayer.
God is the fountain of all blessing and prosperity, and he will be sought to for his blessing. I would therefore advise you not only to be constant in secret and family prayer, and in the public worship of God in his house, but also often to assemble yourselves in private praying societies. ..
5. The last article of advice I would give (which doubtless does greatly concern your prosperity) is, that you would take great care with regard to the settlement of a minister, to see to it who, or what manner of person he is that
Jonathan Edwards, Works (Worcester, 1808), I. 136140 passim.
2. Age-Long Settlement of America
(See note above, p. 170.)
LAND being thus plenty in America, and so cheap as that a labouring man, that undertakes husbandry, can in a short time save money enough to purchase a piece of new land sufficient for a plantation, whereon he may subsist a family; such are not afraid to marry; for if they even look far enough forward to consider how their children when grown up are to be provided for, they see that more land is to be had at rates equally easy, all circumstances considered.
Hence marriages in America are more general, and more generally early, than in Europe. And if it is reckoned there, that there is but one marriage per annum among 100 persons, perhaps we may here reckon two and if in Europe they have but four births to a marriage (many of their marriages being late) we may here reckon eight; of which if one half grow up, and our marriages are made, reckoning one with another, at twenty years of age, our people must at least be doubled every twenty years.
But notwithstanding this increase, so vast is the territory of North America, that it will re