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factures after the 1st of January unless it should be repealed. So passed away the year 1765.
As yet Washington took no prominent part in the public agitation. Indeed he was never disposed to put himself forward on popular occasions, his innate modesty forbade it; it was others who knew his worth that called him forth; but when once he engaged in any public measure, he devoted himself to it with conscientiousness and persevering zeal. At present he remained a quiet but vigilant observer of events from his eagle nest at Mount Vernon. He had some few intimates in his neighborhood who accorded with him in sentiment. One of the ablest and most efficient of these was Mr. George Mason, with whom he had occasional conversations on the state of affairs. His friends the Fairfaxes, though liberal in feelings and opinions, were too strong in their devotion to the crown not to regard with an uneasy eye the tendency of the popular bias. From one motive or other, the earnest attention of all the inmates and visitors at Mount Vernon was turned to England, watching the movements of the ministry.
The dismissal of Mr. Grenville from the cabinet gave a temporary change to public affairs. Perhaps nothing had a greater effect in favor of the colonies than an examination of Dr. Franklin before the House of Commons, on the subject of the stamp act.
"What," he was asked, was the temper of America toward Great Britain, before the year 1763?"
The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the government of the crown, and paid, in all their courts, obedience to the acts of Parliament. Numerous as the people are in the several old provinces, they cost you nothing in forts, citadels, garrisons, or armies, to keep them in subjection. They were governed by this country at the expense only of a little pen, ink, and paper. They were led by a thread. They had not only a respect, but an affection for Great Britain, for its laws, its customs, and manners, and even a fondness for its fashions, that greatly increased the commerce. Natives of Great Britain were always treated with particular regard; to be an Old-England man was, of itself, a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among us."
"And what is their temper now?"
"Oh! very much altered."
"If the act is not repealed, what do you think will be the consequences?
"A total loss of the respect and affection the people of
America bear to this country, and of all the commerce that depends on that respect and affection."
Do you think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp duty if it was moderated?"
"No, never, unless compelled by force of arms."1
The act was repealed on the 18th of March, 1766, to the great joy of the sincere friends of both countries, and to no one more than to Washington. In one of his letters he observes: "Had the Parliament of Great Britain resolved upon enforcing it, the consequences, I conceive, would have been more direful thar is generally apprehended, both to the mother country and her colonies. All, therefore, who were instrumental in procuring the repeal, are entitled to the thanks of every British subject, and have mine cordially." 2
Still, there was a fatal clause in the repeal, which declared that the king, with the consent of Parliament, had power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to "bind the colonies, and people of America, in all cases whatsoever."
As the people of America were contending for principles, not mere pecuniary interests, this reserved power of the crown and Parliament left the dispute still open, and chilled the feeling of gratitude which the repeal might otherwise have inspired. Further ailment for public discontent was furnished by other acts of Parliament. One imposed duties on glass, pasteboard, white and red lead, painters' colors, and tea; the duties to be collected on the arrival of the articles in the colonies; another empowered naval officers to enforce the acts of trade and navigation. Another wounded to the quick the pride and sensibilities of New York. The mutiny act had recently been extended to America, with an additional clause, requiring the provincial Assemblies to provide the troops sent out with quarters, and to furnish them with fire, beds, candles, and other necessaries, at the expense of the colonies. The Governor and Assembly of New York refused to comply with this requisition as to stationary forces, insisting that it applied only to troops on a march. An act of Parliament now suspended the powers of the governor and Assembly until they should comply. Chatham attributed this opposition of the colonists to the mutiny act to "their jealousy of being somehow or other taxed internally by the Parliament; the act," said he, "asserting the right of Parliament, has certainly spread a most unfortunate jealousy and
1 Parliamentary Register, 1766. 2 Sparks. Writings of Washington, ii., 345, note.
diffidence of government here throughout America, and makes them jealous of the least distinction between this country and that, lest the same principle may be extended to taxing them."1 Boston continued to be the focus of what the ministerialists termed sedition. The General Court of Massachusetts, not content with petitioning the king for relief against the recent measures of Parliament, especially those imposing taxes as a means of revenue, drew up a circular, calling on the other colonial Legislatures to join with them in suitable efforts to obtain redress. In the ensuing session, Governor Sir Francis Bernard called upon them to rescind the resolution on which the circular was founded they refused to comply, and the General Court was consequently dissolved. The governors of other colonies required of their Legislatures an assurance that they would not reply to the Massachusetts circular-these Legislatures likewise refused compliance, and were dissolved. All this added to the growing excitement.
Memorials were addressed to the lords, spiritual and temporal, and remonstrances to the House of Commons, against taxation for revenue, as destructive to the liberties of the colonists; and against the act suspending the legislative power of the province of New York, as menacing the welfare of the colonies in general.
Nothing, however, produced a more powerful effect upon the public sensibilities throughout the country, than certain military demonstrations at Boston. In consequence of repeated collisions between the people of that place and the commissioners of customs, two regiments were held in readiness at Halifax to embark for Boston in the ships of Commodore Hood whenever Governor Bernard or the general should give the word. "Had this force been landed in Boston six months ago," writes the commodore," I am perfectly persuaded no address or remonstrances would have been sent from the other colonies, and that all would have been tolerably quiet and orderly at this time throughout America.” 2
Tidings reached Boston that these troops were embarked and that they were coming to overawe the people. What was to be done? The General Court had been dissolved, and the governor refused to convene it without the royal command. A convention, therefore, from various towns met at Boston, cn the 22d of September, to devise measures for the public safety; but disclaiming all pretensions to legislative powers.
■ Chatham's Correspondence, vol. iii., p. 189-192. * Grenville Papers, vol. iv., p. 362.
While the convention was yet in session (September 28), the two regiments arrived, with seven armed vessels. "I am very confident," writes Commodore Hood from Halifax, "the spirited measures now pursuing will soon effect order in America.'
On the contrary, these " spirited measures" added fuel to the fire they were intended to quench. It was resolved in a town meeting that the king had no right to send troops thither without the consent of the Assembly; that Great Britain had broken the original compact, and that, therefore, the king's officers had no longer any business there.1
The selectmen" accordingly refused to find quarters for the soldiers in the town; the council refused to find barracks for them, lest it should be construed into a compliance with the disputed clause of the mutiny act. Some of the troops, therefore, which had tents, were encamped on the common; others, by the governor's orders, were quartered in the state-house, and others in Faneuil Hall, to the great indignation of the public, who were grievously scandalized at seeing field-pieces planted in front of the state-house; sentinels stationed at the doors, challenging every one who passed; and, above all, at having the sacred quiet of the Sabbath disturbed by drum and fife, and other military music.
CHEERFUL LIFE AT MOUNT VERNON - WASHINGTON AND
SEMI-REGAL STATE OF LORD BOTETOURT HIGH-TONED PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE
DISSOLVED BY LORD BOTETOURT TON AND THE ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION.
THROUGHOUT these public agitations, Washington endeavored to preserve his equanimity. Removed from the heated throngs of cities, his diary denotes a cheerful and healthful life at Mount Vernon, devoted to those rural occupations in which he delighted, and varied occasionally by his favorite field sports. Sometimes he is duck-shooting on the Potomac. Repeatedly
1 Whately to Grenville. Gren. Papers, vol. iv., p. 389.
we find note of his being out at sunrise with the hounds, in company with old Lord Fairfax, Bryan Fairfax, and others; and ending the day's sport by a dinner at Mount Vernon or Belvoir.
Still he was too true a patriot not to sympathize in the struggle for colonial rights which now agitated the whole country, and we find him gradually carried more and more into the current of political affairs.
A letter written on the 5th of April, 1769, to his friend George Mason, shows the important stand he was disposed to take. In the previous year, the merchants and traders of Boston, Salem, Connecticut, and New York, had agreed to suspend for a time the importation of all articles subject to taxation. Similar resolutions had recently been adopted by the merchants of Philadelphia. Washington's letter is emphatic in support of the measure. "At a time," writes he, "when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke, and maintain the liberty which we have derived from our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer the purpose effectually, is the point in question. That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment in defence of so valuable a blessing, is clearly my opinion; yet arms should be the last resource the dernier ressort. We have already, it is said, proved the inefficacy of addresses to the throne, and remonstrances to Parliament. How far their attention to our rights and interests is to be awakened, or alarmed, by starving their trade and manufactures, remains to be tried.
"The northern colonies, it appears, are endeavoring to adopt this scheme. In my opinion, it is a good one, and must be attended with salutary effects, provided it can be carried pretty generally into execution. .. That there will be a difficulty attending it everywhere from clashing interests, and selfish, designing men, ever attentive to their own gain, and watchful of every turn that can assist their lucrative views, cannot be denied, and in the tobacco colonies, where the trade is so diffused, and in a manner wholly conducted by factors for their principals at home, these difficulties are certainly enhanced, but I think not insurmountably increased, if the gentlemen in their several counties will be at some pains to explain matters to the people, and stimulate them to cordial agreements to purchase none but certain enumerated articles out of any of the stores, after a definite period, and neither import nor purchase any themselves.