« PreviousContinue »
ment. The exact discipline he established in CHAP. I. his regiment, when the temper of Virginia was extremely hostile to discipline, does credit to his military character; and the gallantry they displayed whenever called into action, manifests the spirit infused into them by their commander.
The difficulties of his situation, while unable to cover the frontiers from the French and Indians, who were spreading death and desolation in every quarter, were certainly great; and no better evidence of his exertions, under these distressing circumstances, can be given, than the undiminished confidence still placed in him by those he was unable to protect.
The efforts to which he perpetually stimulated his country, for the purpose of obtaining possession of the Ohio; the system for the conduct of the war, which he continually recommended; the vigorous and active measures always advocated by him in his opinions to those by whom he was commanded; manifest an ardent and an enterprising mind, tempered by judgment, and quickly improved by experience.
Not long after his resignation, he was married to the widow of mr. Custis, a young lady, to whom he had been for some time strongly attached, and who, to a large fortune and a fine person, added those amiable accomplishments which ensure domestic happiness, and fill with silent, but unceasing felicity, the quiet scenes of private life.
Opinions on the supremacy of parliament, and its right
to tax the colonies.... The stamp act....Congress as. semble at New York.... Violence in the great towns.... Change of the administration....Stamp act repealed.... Opposition to the mutiny act....Act imposing duties on tea, &c. resisted in America.... The assembly of Mas. sachussetts address letters to several members of the administration in England....Petition to the king....Circular letters to the colonial assemblies....Letter from the earl of Hillsborough... Assembly of Massachussetts dissolved....Seizure of the sloop Liberty...A convention assembles at Faneuil Hall.... Moderation of its proceedings.... Two British regiments arrive at Boston....Resolutions of the house of burgesses of Virginia.... The governor dissolves the assembly.... The members form and sign a non-importation association....Measures generally taken against the importation of British manufactures....General court again convened in Massachussetts.... Its proceedings.... Is prorogued.... Administration resolve on a repeal of all the duties except that on tea.... Circular letter of the earl of Hillsborough.... New York recedes in part from the non-importation agreement.... The example generally followed.... Riot in Boston.... Trial and acquittal of captain Preston.
1763. AT no period of time, was the attachment
of the colonists to the mother country more strong, or more general, than at present.* The war just concluded had very deeply interested every part of the continent. Every
* After the expulsion of the French from Canada, a considerable degree of ill humour was manifested in Massachussetts with respect to the manner in which the
colony had been engaged in it, and every CHAP. II. colony had felt its ravages. The part taken 1763. in it by Indian auxiliaries had greatly increased its horrors, and had added to the joy produced in every bosom by its successful termination. The union of that vast tract of country, which extends from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, and from the gulf of Mexico to the north pole, under one common sovereign, was deemed a certain guarantee of future peace, and an effectual security against the return of those bloody scenes, from the sufferings of which, no condition in life could afford an exemption.
This state of things so long and so anxiously wished for by British America, had at length been effected by the union of British and American valour. They had co-operated in the
laws of trade were executed. A question was agitated in the court in which the colony took a very deep interest. A custom-house officer applied for what was termed “a writ of assistance,” which was an authority to search any house whatever for dutiable articles suspected to be concealed in it. The right to grant special warrants was never contested, but this grant of a general warrant was deemed contrary to the principles of liberty, and wa thought an engine of oppression equally useless and vexatious, which would enable every petty officer of the customs to gratify his resentments by harassing the most respectable men in the province. The ill temper excited on this occasion was shewn by a reduction of the salaries of the judges, but nó diminution of attachment to the mother country appears to have been produced by it. VOL. II.
CHAP. II. same service, their blood had mingled in the
same plains; and the object pursued was common to both people.
While the British nation was endeared to the American heart by this community of danger, and identity of interest, the brilliant achievements of the war had exalted to enthusiasm, their admiration of British valour. They were proud of the land of their ancestors, and gloried in their descent from Englishmen. But this sentiment of admiration was not confined to the military character of the nation. A full portion of it was bestowed on their political institutions; and while the excellence of the English consti. tution was a rich theme of declamation in America, every man believed himself entitled to a large share of its advantages; nor could he admit that, by crossing the Atlantic, his ances. tors had relinquished the essential rights of
British subjects. Opinions
The degree of authority which might rightsupremacy of fully be exercised by the mother country over and its right her colonies, had never been accurately defined.
In Britain, it had always been asserted, that parliament possessed the power of binding them in all cases whatsoever., In America, at different times and in different colonies, various opinions had been entertained on this subject.
In New England, originally settled by republicans, and during the depression of the regal government the favourite of the English na
to tax the colonies.
tion, habits of independence had nourished the CHAP. II. theory, that the colonial assemblies possessed 1763. all the powers of legislation not surrendered by compact, that the Americans were subjects of the British crown, but not of the nation; and were bound by no laws, to which their representatives had not assented. From this high ground they had been compelled reluctantly to recede. The judges being generally appointed by the governors with the advice of council, had determined that the colonies were bound by acts of parliament which concerned them, and which were expressly extended to them; and we have seen the general court of Massachussetts, on a late occasion, explicitly recognising the same principle. This had,
, perhaps, become the opinion of many of the best informed men in the province; but the doctrine seems still to have been extensively maintained, that acts of parliament possessed only an external obligation ; that they could regulate commerce, but not the interior affairs of the colonies.
In the year 1692, immediately after the receipt of their new charter, granted by William and Mary, the legislature of Massachussetts had passed an act, denying most explicitly the right of any authority, other than that of the general court, to impose on the colony any tax whatever; and also asserting those principles of national liberty, which are found in magna charta.