Resource Center OLLibrary
PERIOD IV. 1763-1789. THE REVOLUTION.
sent amongst them. New York refused to comply with this requisition. In 1767 the enemies of America, led by Charles Townshend, a member of the British ministry, secured the passage of an act imposing a tax on tea and several other imports; a second act creating a board of revenue commissioners for America; and a third, suspending the legislative power of the New York assembly until it should furnish the king's troops in that colony with supplies.
14. These three acts again excited universal alarm in America, and the same strong opposition was exhibited as had prevailed against the Stamp Act. Non-importation associations were again formed. Massachusetts, through her assembly, issued a circular letter, draughted by that sterling patriot, Samuel Adams, calling upon her sister colonies to unite in obtaining a redress of grievances. In response, nearly every colonial legislature denied the right of Parliament to legislate for the colonies.
The British ministry, highly incensed at this step of Massachusetts, demanded that the call be rescinded; but the assembly refused to rescind.
15. Soon after the revenue commissioners arrived in Boston, they directed that John Hancock's sloop "Liberty" should be seized for a violation of the new revenue laws. A mob collected as soon as this seizure became known, assaulted the custom-house officers, broke the windows in their houses, and dragged the collector's pleasure-boat to Boston Common, and burned it. The commissioners fled for refuge to Castle William (now Fort Independence), in Boston Harbor.
16. The public excitement was increased by the arrival at Boston, in 1768, of two regiments of troops, sent to assist the magistrates in the preservation of peace, and the custom-house officers in the execution of their duties.
QUESTIONS. -- How did New York treat the requisition? What three acts were passed in 1767, and under whose lead? 14. Effect in America of these acts? What did Massachusetts do? What response was made by the other colonies? 15. What is said of the seizure of the sloop "Liberty"? Consequences? 16. When and for what purpose were British troops sent to Boston?
CHAPTER I. CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION.
The troops landed and marched, with offensive parade, into the town. The selectmen having refused to provide quarters, the State House, by order of the governor, was opened for the reception of the soldiers. Everything was calculated to excite the indignation of the citizens. Guards were placed at the doors of the State House, through which the council must pass, in going to their chamber. The Common was covered with tents. Soldiers were constantly marching and counter marching to relieve the guards. The sentinels challenged the inhabitants as they passed. Worship on the Sabbath was disturbed by the sound of the fife and drum.
17. The spirited conduct of Massachusetts having been particularly offensive, Parliament, in 1769, besought the king to give orders to the governor of that province to send such as might be guilty of treason to England for trial.
A measure more odious to the people of America, or more hostile to the British constitution, could not be named, than to tear a man from his home, to be tried by a jury of strangers. The assemblies of Virginia and North Carolina were dissolved by their governors for censuring this act of tyranny. The assembly of Massachusetts convened, but refusing to transact any business while the State House should be surrounded by an armed force, was adjourned by the governor to Cambridge. At this place it passed resolutions declaring the maintenance of a standing army in the colony, in time of peace, to be an infringement of the rights of the people, and soon after was prorogued by the governor for refusing to make appropriations of money desired by him.
18. The next year, Parliament, at the recommendation of Lord North, then prime minister, abolished all duties imposed by the act of 1767, except the duty on tea.
North supposed the colonists would not object to pay the small duty on tea, and designed, by retaining the tax on that article, to secure their assent; to the principle of taxation. In this he altogether mistook them. It was not in regard to the amount of taxes that they were contending, but in regard to the right of taxation.
19. On the very day (March 5, 1770) that North brought forward in Parliament the measure just mentioned, an event occurred that produced great excitement in Massachusetts, and, indeed, throughout the colonies. An affray, known as the Boston Massacre,1 took place between citizens of Boston and some of the king's soldiers, in which the citizens were fired upon, three of their number killed, and several wounded.
1 The quarrel began some days before between a soldier and a citizen, in which the soldier was beaten. Late in the evening of March 5, the soldiers, while under arms, were insulted, and dared to fire. One of them, who had received a blow, fired at the aggressor; and a single discharge from six others succeeded. The town was instantly thrown into the greatest commotion; the bells were rang, and in a short time several thousands of the citizens had assembled.
QUESTIONS. -- Give a more particular account of the arrival of the troops in Boston and of proceedings there. 17. What did Parliament beseech the king to do in 1769? -- What is said of this measure? Of the assemblies of Virginia and North Carolina? Of the assembly of Massachusetts? 18. On the recommendation of Lord North what did Parliament do in 1770? -- Why did North retain the tax on tea? 19. Give an account of the Boston Massacre.
PERIOD IV. 1763-1789. THE REVOLUTION.
20. In 1773, committees of correspondence and inquiry were appointed by most of the colonies, to keep up an interchange of opinions, and promote unity of sentiment.
A common origin, a common language, and common sufferings, had already established between the colonies a union of feeling and interest; and now, common dangers drew them together more closely.
21. About the same time Lord North arranged for teas to be shipped to America, so that, notwithstanding the tax upon them, they would be cheaper in the colonies than in England. This thought North, would induce the Americans to abandon the principle for which they were contending, and pay the small duty of only threepence per pound. But this attempt to bribe the colonists only exasperated them the more. At Charleston, South Carolina, tea was landed, but stored in damp cellars, where it soon spoiled. The vessels which brought tea to Philadelphia and New York were obliged to return with their cargoes to England; and it was designed by the patriots of Boston to make a similar disposition of the cargoes at that place; but the governor refusing to permit the ships to leave the port, public meetings were held in Faneuil Hall, and it was determined that the tea should not be landed. At the close of one of these meetings (December 16), a party of men, disguised as Indians, boarded the vessels, and threw the tea, consisting of three hundred and forty-two chests, into the harbor. This is known as the Boston Tea Party.
22. Parliament, the next year, adopted measures of retaliation. The first of these, the Boston Port Bill,1 prohibited
A bloody combat must have ensued, but for the promise of the governor that justice should be done in the morning. Captain Preston, who was in command, and the soldiers, were arrested and tried for murder. John Adams and Josiah Quincy, two of the most popular leaders, volunteered in their defence. The captain and six soldiers were acquitted; two were convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to be burned in the hand in open court.
During the summer of 1772 another event occurred, which increased the bitterness of feeling between the Americans and the agents of royal authority in the colonies. This was the destruction of a British armed schooner, called the Gaspee, which had been stationed in Narraganset Bay, to assist in executing the revenue and trade laws. On the 9th of June, while chasing a sloop Into Providence, the Gaspee ran upon a shoal, and remained fast. At night a number of armed men, from Providence and Bristol, made themselves masters of her, and set her on fire. A large reward was offered for the discovery, of the perpetrators, but without success.
1 The Port Bill deprived many of the people of Boston of their accustomed means of livelihood, and was productive of great suffering. Salem refused to profit by the ruin of her sister city; and the wharves of that town and of Marblehead were freely offered for the use of Boston merchants. The generous sympathy of the other colonies was awakened in behalf of Massachusetts. The House of Burgesses in Virginia ordered that the day on which the Port Bill was to go into effect should be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer.
QUESTIONS. -- 20. When and for what purpose did the colonies appoint committees of correspondence? -- What circumstances had tended to unite the colonies? What drew them more closely together? 21. What arrangement did Lord North make for shipping teas to America? What object had Lord North in view? What was done with the tea taken to Charleston? To Philadelphia and New York? To Boston? 22. What retaliatory measures did Parliament adopt?
CHAPTER I. CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION.
all intercourse with Boston by water, and made Salem the port of entry and the seat of government; the second in effect subverted the charter of Massachusetts, by vesting in the king or the governor the appointment of all executive, military, and judicial officers; the third ordained that all persons who should be accused, in the province, of murder committed in support of the crown, might be sent to another colony or to England for trial.
23. To enforce these oppressive measures, General Thomas Gage, commander-in-chief of the royal troops in America, was also commissioned as governor of Massachusetts, to which province four more regiments were ordered.
24. So far was Massachusetts from being intimidated by these measures, that the provincial assembly at Salem, at its first meeting, adopted a resolution that it was expedient to call a general congress of the colonies, and appointed five delegates. It was also recommended that an agreement be entered into not to import or use articles subject to a parliamentary tax. This agreement was first adopted as "a solemn league and covenant," at a public meeting in Boston -- an example soon after followed by most of the other towns in the province.
25. On the 5th of September, 1774, a general congress assembled in Carpenters' Hall,2 Philadelphia. This is known as the First Continental Congress.3 All the colonies were
1 Faneuil Hall was the usual place of meeting for the patriots of Boston during the troublous times that preceded the Revolutionary War, and hence its popular name the Cradle of Liberty. The original building was presented to the town of Boston by Peter Faneuil, in 1742, for a market and town hall. It was burned in 1761, and rebuilt in 1763. In 1805 it was enlarged to its present size, being made twice the width of the original building, and one story higher.
2 A hall of meeting for the Society of House Carpenters of Philadelphia.
3 The Congress of 1774 has justly been celebrated, both at home and abroad. The Earl of Chatham, in one of his brilliant speeches, remarked of it, "History, my lords, has been my favorite study; and, in the celebrated writings of antiquity have I often admired the patriotism of Greece and Rome; but, my lords, I must declare and avow, that, in the master states of the world, I know not the people or senate, who, in such a complication of difficult circumstances, can stand in preference to the delegates of America assembled in General Congress at Philadelphia." Among the members were Samuel Adams and John Adams, of Massachusetts; Philip Livingston and John Jay, of New York; John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania; George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia; Christopher Gadsden and John Rutledge, of South Carolina.
QUESTIONS. -- 23. What was done to enforce these measures? 24. What resolution did the assembly of Massachusetts adopt, and what agreement recommend? 25. When and where did the First Continental Congress meet?
PERIOD IV. 1763-1789. THE REVOLUTION.
represented but Georgia, whose governor had prevented the election of delegates. Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, was chosen president, and Charles Thomson, of Pennsylvania, secretary. This body resolved that the whole country ought to support Massachusetts in her opposition to the late acts of Parliament, agreed upon a second Declaration of Rights,1 and recommended an American Association, pledged to non-intercourse with England. The Congress also voted another petition to the king,1 addresses to the people of Great Britain and Canada, and made provision for a new Congress, to assemble in the ensuing May.
26. While the Continental Congress was in session, the assembly of Massachusetts convened, and resolved itself into a Provincial Congress, with John Hancock, a patriotic and wealthy merchant of Boston, as president. This Congress proceeded to organize a body of militia ready to take up arms at a minute's warning, and hence called minute-men. The general direction of affairs was given to a Committee of Safety. The other colonies followed the example of Massachusetts in preparing themselves for the conflict.
The great body of the people resisted the aggressions of England, and were called patriots, or Whigs; by the English, rebels. The few who supported the royal cause were called royalists, or, in the political language of the day, Tories.2 The British soldiers, from their scarlet uniforms, received, in common speech, the name redcoats.
27. The king, of a nature arbitrary and stubborn, was bent on reducing his colonial subjects to submission by the sword. Parliament determined to make no concession to the colonies, and proceeded to other measures of oppression.3
Parliament, early in 1775, rejected a conciliatory bill introduced by Lord Chatham, and passed an let to restrain the trade of the New England provinces, and to forbid their fishing on the banks of Newfoundland. Restrictions were also soon imposed upon the middle and southern
1 See p. 104, ¶ 7.
2 The names Whig and Tory had long been used in England as party names, the former being applied to those who would limit the power of the crown, the latter to their opponents.
3 In England public feeling was now generally against the colonies. Dr. Franklin wrote, "Every man in England seems to consider himself as a piece of a sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the throne with the king, and talks of 'our subjects in the colonies.'"
QUESTIONS. -- What colony was not represented? Name the president and secretary of this Congress. What did this body resolve? Agree upon? Recommend? Vote? For what make provision? 20. What is said of the assembly of Massachusetts? What did it proceed to do? What is said of the Committee of Safety? What course did the other colonies take? -- What is said of Whigs and Tories? What were British soldiers commonly called? 27. What is said of the king? Of Parliament? -- How did Parliament attempt to promote disunion in the colonies?
CHAPTER II. THE WAR.
provinces, except New York, North Carolina, and Georgia. This policy. designed to promote disunion in America, did not accomplish its object.
All attempts at reconciliation having proved fruitless, the colonies were driven to the dread alternative of war.
CHAPTER II. THE WAR.
1. FROM THE OPENING OF THE WAR TO THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. -- 1. Events of 1775. -- The first blood of the Revolutionary War was shed at Lexington, Massachusetts, April 19, 1775. On the previous night General Gage sent Lieutenant-Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn from Boston, with eight hundred troops, to destroy a quantity of military stores that had been collected by the Americans at Concord.
The British general had taken great precautions to prevent the intelligence of this expedition from reaching the country. But the patriots of Boston had long been suspicious of such a movement, and scarcely had the troops started, when, by preconcerted signals, the country was alarmed.
2. On reaching Lexington the next morning, a little before sunrise, the English found about seventy minute-men assembled in front of the meeting-house, under Captain John Parker. Major Pitcairn rode up to them, and shouted, "Disperse, you rebels! Throw down your arms, and disperse!" Not being obeyed, he discharged his pistol, and ordered his soldiers to fire. Eight of the minute-men were killed, and several wounded.
3. The British then proceeded to Concord, where they destroyed such of the stores as had not been removed, and, after a skirmish with the minute-men there assembled, began a hasty retreat towards Boston, pursued by the Americans, who, from behind trees, fences, and houses, kept up a continuous fire. The whole country was now in arms, and attacked the troops on every quarter.
This expedition cost the British, in killed, wounded, and missing, two hundred and seventy-three men. The loss of the Americans was eighty-eight. it is probable that not one of the eight hundred would have reached Boston, but for reënforcements that met them on their return.
QUESTIONS. -- To what were the colonies now driven? 1. When and where was the first blood of the Revolutionary War shed? For what purpose were troops sent from Boston? Under whose command? 2. Give an account of the affair at Lexington. 3. What is said of the British at Concord? What is said of the retreat of the British? -- Loss on each side?
© 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Ted & Carole Miller