CHAPTER XII. THE QUARREL WITH THE MOTHER COUNTRY

The French and Indian War gave the colonists valuable training as soldiers, freed them from the danger of attack by their French neighbors, and so made them less dependent on Great Britain for protection. But the mother country took no account of this, and at once began to do things which in ten years' time drove the colonies into rebellion.

CAUSES OF THE QUARREL. - We are often told that taxation without representation was the cause of the Revolution. It was indeed one cause, and a very important one, but not the only one by any means. The causes of the Revolution, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, were many, and arose chiefly from an attempt of the mother country to (1) enforce the laws concerning trade, (2) quarter royal troops in the colonies, [1] and (3) support the troops by taxes imposed without consent of the colonies.

THE TRADE LAWS were enacted by Parliament between 1650 and 1764 for the purpose of giving Great Britain a monopoly of colonial trade. By their provisions -

1. No goods were to be carried from any port in Europe to America unless first landed in England.

2. Many articles of colonial production, as tobacco, cotton, silk, indigo, furs, rice, sugar, could not be sent to any country save England; but lumber, salt fish, and provisions could be sent also to France, Spain, or other foreign countries.

3. To help English wool manufacture, the colonists were forbidden to send their woolen goods or hats to any country whatever, or even from colony to colony.

4. To help English iron manufacture, the colonists were forbidden to make steel.

5. To help the British West Indies, a heavy duty was laid (in 1733) on sugar or molasses imported from any other than a British possession.

SMUGGLING. - Had these laws been rigidly enforced they would have been severe indeed, but they could not be rigidly enforced. They were openly violated, and smuggling became so common in every colony [2] that the cost of collecting the revenue was much more than the amount gathered.

This smuggling the British government now determined to end. Accordingly, in 1764, the colonies were ordered to stop all unlawful trade, naval vessels were stationed off the coast to seize smugglers, and new courts, called vice-admiralty courts, were set up in which smugglers when caught were to be tried without a jury. [3]

A STANDING ARMY. - It was further proposed to send over ten thousand regular soldiers to defend the colonies against the Indians and against any attack that might be made by France or Spain. The colonists objected to the troops on the ground that they had not asked for soldiers and did not need any.

THE STAMP ACT. - As the cost of keeping the troops would be very great, it was decided to raise part of the money needed by a stamp tax which Parliament enacted in 1765. The Stamp Act applied not only to the thirteen colonies, but also to Canada, Florida, and the West Indies, and was to take effect on and after November 1, 1765. [4]

1. Every piece of vellum or paper on which was written any legal document for use in any court was to be charged with a stamp duty of from three pence to ten pounds.

2. Many kinds of documents not used in court, and newspapers, almanacs, etc., were to be written or printed only on stamped paper made in England and sold at prices fixed by law.

The money raised by the stamp tax was not to be taken to Great Britain, but was to be spent in the colonies in the purchase of food and supplies for the troops.

THE COLONIES DENY THE RIGHT OF PARLIAMENT TO TAX THEM. - But the colonists cared not for what use the money was intended. "No taxation without representation," was their cry. They cast no votes for a member of Parliament; therefore, they said, they were not represented in Parliament. Not being represented, they could not be taxed by Parliament, because taxes could lawfully be laid on them only by their chosen representatives. [5]

In the opinion of the British people the colonists were represented in Parliament. British subjects in America, it was held, were just as much represented in the House of Commons as were the people of Manchester or Birmingham, neither of which sent a member to the House. Each member of the House represented not merely the few men who elected him, but all the subjects of the British crown everywhere. [6]

THE COLONIES RESIST. - Resistance to the Stamp Act began in Virginia, where the House of Burgesses passed a set of resolutions written by Patrick Henry. [7] In substance they declared that the colonists were British subjects and were not bound to obey any law taxing them without the consent of their own legislatures.

Massachusetts came next with a call for a congress of delegates from the colonies, to meet at New York in October.

THE STAMP ACT CONGRESS, 1765. - Nine of the colonies sent delegates, and after a session of twenty days the representatives of six signed a declaration of rights and grievances.

The declaration of rights set forth that a British subject could not be taxed unless he was represented in the legislature that imposed the tax; that Americans were not represented in Parliament; and that therefore the stamp tax was an attack on the rights of Englishmen and the liberty of self-government. The grievances complained of were trial without jury, restrictions on trade, taxation without representation, and especially the stamp tax.