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2 General Outline History 51776-1920

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2. GENERAL OUTLINE HISTORY 51776-1920). At the close of the French war England had no settled policy of colonial ad ministration, nor could there be said to be a definite understanding as to the constitutional relationship of the colonies to the mother-coun try. She entered upon plans which brought before long the loss of her dominions in Amer ica. Her ministers, anxious for funds, deter mined that America should make some contri bution to the expense of colonial protection, and moreover that the navigation laws and acts of trade should be enforced. These acts had been systematically broken for decades, and stringent efforts to enforce them could mean nothing less than a violent interference with New England traffic. Moreover the colonies had without in termission taxed themselves and passed laws in their own legislatures. When the Stamp Act (q.v.) of 1765 was passed, a storm of protest arose from .the colonists, who declared that taxation without representation is tyranny. The Parliamentary orators, on the other hand, asserted that Parliament had a right to tax the colonies, that taxation was only a part of the sovereign power and that all legislative author ity resided in the English government. The re peal of the Stamp Act was coupled with a declaration of the supreme authority of Parlia ment, and to the principle of this declaration the American leaders were never willing to accede. The imposition of import duties in 1767 met also with strenuous opposition in America, and when three years later all duties were aban doned except the tax on tea, the concession was not gratefully received by the colonists. Mean while troops had been sent to Boston, and an encounter between a detachment of the soldiers and a few citizens ended in bloodshed (1770). The Boston Tea Party (q.v.) of the year 1773 was evidence that the device of a low duty would not tempt the New Englanders to give up their principles. The ministry now entered more seriously on efforts at coercion and passed a series of actshe most grievous of which P was the Boston Port Bill, which it was hoped would have the effect of bringing the colonists to a due respect for imperial power ; but, instead of improving, conditions grew worse. In Sep

tember 1774, the first Continental Congress met at Philadelphia and issued a declaration of righti and other papers. The advanced Ameri can leaders, admitting that all were subjects of a common king, were now unwilling to acknowl edge the authority of Parliament in any respect; although others, denying the right to tax, were still ready to argue that the British legislature could manage commerce and external affairs. The petition of the colonists was of no avail, and the Revolution passed from the stage of controversy to that of war.

The War of the Revolution falls into three periods. Between 19 April 1775, the date of Concord and Lexington, and 4 July 1776, the revolting colonists were gradually brought by events and arguments to the notion of independ ence. The efforts of the British were as yet directed mainly to the repression of the uprising in Massachusetts. On 17 June 1775, Bunker Hill was fought. During the preceding month the second Continental Congress had convened at Philadelphia and bestowed the command of the American forces upon Washington. In March 1776, Howe evacuated Boston. On 7 June Rich ard Henry Lee of Virginia moved a resolution in Congress declaring the independence of the colonies. The adoption of this resolution, 2 July, and the Declaration of 4 July, gave the Revolution a new character. It was now a war for independence and not for rights as colonists or Englishmen. Indeed the discussion had al ready advanced to a stage in which the Ameri cans, though ostensibly demanding rights known to the law, were in reality asserting fundamental principles and seeking to obtain their recognition in the law of the land; they were working for the legal formulation of a democratic doctrine. Of this doctrine the Declaration is an embodi ment, as were some of the State constitutions which the people were now constructing. The most important proposition was that people exist before government and are possessed of natural rights which are inalienable, and which govern ments, the work of their hands, cannot right fully take away.

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