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Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 4489

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Free from border wars.]

[Sidenote: Pontiac's conspiracy.]

In government as well as in trade a new era came to the colonies in 1763. Nine years had brought about many changes in the social and political conditions of the people. In the first place, they no longer had any civilized enemies. The Canadians, to be sure, were still mistrusted as papists; but though the colonists had no love for them, they had no fear of them; and twelve years later, at the outbreak of the Revolution, they tried to establish political brotherhood with them. The colonies were now free to expand westward, or would have been free, except for the resistance of the Western Indians gathered about the Upper Lakes. In 1763 Pontiac organized them in the most formidable Indian movement of American history. He had courage; he had statesmanship; he had large numbers. By this time the British had learned the border warfare, and Pontiac was with difficulty beaten. From that time until well into the Revolution Indian warfare meant only the resistance of scattered tribes to the steady westward advance of the English.

[Sidenote: Military experience.]

For the first time in their history the colonists had participated in large military operations. Abercrombie and Amherst each had commanded from twelve to fifteen thousand men. The colonists were expert in fortification. Many Provincials had seen fighting in line and in the woods. Israel Putnam had been captured, and the fires lighted to burn him; and Washington had learned in the hard school of frontier warfare both to fight, and to hold fast without fighting.

[Sidenote: United action.]

The war had further served to sharpen the political sense of the people. Year after year the assemblies had engaged in matters of serious moment They laid heavy taxes and collected them; they discussed foreign policy and their own defence; they protested against acts of the British government which affected them. Although no union had been formed at Albany in 1754, the colonies had frequently acted together and fought together. New York had been in great part a community of Dutch people under English rule during the war; now, as most exposed to French attack, it became the central colony

. Military men and civilians from the different colonies learned to know each other at Fort William Henry and at Crown Point.

[Sidenote: Scheme of British control.]

[Sidenote: Theory of co-operation.]

[Sidenote: Proposed taxes.]

[Sidenote: Navigation Acts.]

This unwonted sense of power and of common interest was increased by the pressure of the British government. Just before the war broke out, plans had been set on foot in England to curb the colonies; legislation was to be more carefully revised; governors were to be instructed to hold out against their assemblies; the Navigation Acts were to be enforced. The scheme was dropped when the war began, because the aid of the colonies in troops and supplies was essential. Then arose two rival theories as to the nature of the war. The British took the ground that they were sending troops to protect the colonies from French invasion, and that all their expeditions were benefactions to the colonies. The colonists felt that they were co-operating with England in breaking down a national enemy, and that all their grants were bounties. The natural corollary of the first theory was that the colonies ought at least to support the troops thus generously sent them; and various suggestions looking to this end were made by royal governors. Thus Shirley in 1756 devised a general system of taxation, including import duties, an excise, and a poll-tax; delinquents to be brought to terms by "warrants of distress and imprisonment of persons." When, in 1762, Governor Bernard of Massachusetts promised ?400 in bounties on the faith of the colony, James Otis protested that he had "involved their most darling privilege, the right of originating taxes." On the other hand, the colonies systematically broke the Navigation Acts, of which they had never denied the legality. To organize the control over the colonies more carefully, to provide a colonial revenue for general colonial purposes, to execute the Navigation Acts, and thus to confine the colonial trade to the mother-country,-these were the elements of the English colonial policy from 1763 to 1775. Before these ends were accomplished the colonies had revolted.

CHAPTER III.

CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION (1763-1765.)

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