Chapter 2 The Birth of a Nation. From An Outline of American Literature by Peter B. High. Lack of Government Representation.
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From An Outline of American Literature by Peter B. High
While continuing to enforce their control of the colonies, the British refused to allow the colonies government representation in England. The British believed that their own appointed government officials adequately represented the colonies. The colonies resented British control. The colonies created their own laws, and ignored the British laws they did not like. This created considerable tension between Britain and the colonies.
When England colonized America, it had no master plan on how the colonies would be governed. Some colonies governed themselves. Other colonies were governed by the King's officials. The King insisted on his right to create laws governing the colonies. British parliament also created laws that governed the colonies. The British passed laws that were in the best interest of England, not the colonies. For example, They prevented colonists from selling their goods to countries other than Britain, even if the country was willing to pay a higher price than the British. Britain made it difficult for the colonies to trade with the French and the Spanish.
The Boston Massacre Monument
George III, King of Great Britain before and during the American Revolution
The Boston Tea Party
In 1767, the British passed new taxes on glass, paper, teas, paints and other goods shipped to the colonies from Britain. Prime Minister Charles Townsend wanted to raise money to cover the cost for defending the colonies, and pay the salaries of governors and judges in the colonies. These were known as the Townsend Acts. The colonists reacted by refusing to buy British goods. The colonists argued that they shouldn't be taxed since they had no representation in the British government. The colonists rallied behind the phrase, "No Taxation without Representation." Again Britain was forced to remove the taxes, all except for the tax on tea.
On the evening of March 5, 1770, Private Hugh White was on guard in front of the Customs House on King Street in Boston. A crowd of people had gathered and began harassing the soldier. His calls for help brought nine soldiers led by Captain Thomas Preston. The crowd continued to harass the soldiers with insults, and were throwing snowballs at them. In the commotion, someone yelled, "Fire!" and soldiers began shooting. Three townspeople were killed and eight more were wounded, two of which died later. No one knew who gave the order to fire.
After the shooting, the people of Boston were demanding the soldiers be tried and executed for the shootings. The governor ordered Captain Preston and eight soldiers be put in prison pending a trial. As a result of the trial, Captain Preston and six soldiers were set free. Two of the soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter. They were branded as convicts and then released.
Customs House on King Street in Boston
The Boston Massacre
The British East India Company had controlled all tea trading between India and the British colonies. As a result of the tea tax, the colonies refused to buy the British tea. Instead, they smuggled tea in from Holland. This left the British East India Company with warehouses full of unsold tea, and the company was in danger of going out of business. The British government was determined to prevent the British East India Company from going out of business. It was going to force the colonists to buy their tea.
In May 1773, Prime Minister North and the British parliament passed the Tea Act. The Tea Act allowed the British East India Company to sell tea directly to the colonists, bypassing the colonial wholesale merchants. This allowed the company to sell their tea cheaper than the colonial merchants who were selling smuggled tea from Holland. This act revived the colonial issue of taxation without representation. The colonies once again demanded that the British government remove the tax on tea. In addition, the dockworkers began refusing to unload the tea from ships. The Governor of Massachusetts demanded that the tea be unloaded. He also demanded that the people pay the taxes and duty on tea.
On the evening of December 16, 1773, a group of men calling themselves the "Sons of Liberty" went to the Boston Harbor. The men were dressed as Mohawk Indians. They boarded three British ships, the Beaver, the Eleanor and the Dartmouth, and dumped forty-five tons of tea into the Boston Harbor.
By 1776, the population of the colonies had reached 2.5 million people. This was about one third the population of Britain. There were now many roads connecting the individual colonies, and newspapers kept them informed about each other. The colonies were beginning to think of themselves as Americans, not as separate colonies. Many colonists were split over the issue of independence. There were both rich and poor colonists on both sides of the independence issue.
Men who led the Revolution of 1775-1783 and wrote constitution of 1789 (p.15)
The greatest pamphlet-writer of the American Revolution
On January 10, 1776, Thomas Paine published a pamphlet called Common Sense.
In the pamphlet, he spoke openly of independence from Britain and urged a government in which the people ruled through their elected representatives.
The booklet was widely circulated and was very influential