History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 6

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
CHARLES TOWNSHEND PLEDGES THE MINISTRY OF BUTE TO TAX
AMERICA BY THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT, AND RESIGNS.

FEBRUARY–MAY 1763.

AT the peace of 1763, the fame of England was exalted throughout Europe above all other nations. She had triumphed over those whom she called her hereditary enemies, and retained half continent as the monument of her victories. Her American dominions stretched without dispute from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson’s Bay; and in her older possessions that dominion was rooted in the affections of their people and their possession of as free institutions and as ample powers of local legislation as were enjoyed in the land from which they sprung. British statesmen might well be inflamed with the desire of uniting the mother country and her transatlantic empire by indissoluble bonds of common interest and liberty. But for many years the board of trade had looked forward to the end of the war as the appointed time when the colonies were to feel the superiority of the parent land. In February 1768, thirteen days after the ratification of the peace, the earl of Bute, having the full concurrence of the king, made the change which had long been expected; and Charles Townshend entered upon the office of first lord of trade, with larger powers than had ever been exercised by any of his predecessors except Halifax, and a seat in the cabinet.

In the ministry, there was Bute, its chief, who prided himself on the peace, and shared the belief in the necessity of bringing the colonies into order. As the head of the treasury, he was answerable for every measure connected with the

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