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Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2083

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[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 o

f 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.

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