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

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII.
HOW AMERICA RECEIVED THE PLAN OF A STAMP-TAX. GREN-
VILLE’S ADMINISTRATION CONTINUED.

APRIL–DECEMBER 1764.

No sooner was parliament up than Jenkinson pressed Grenville to forward the American stamp act by seeking that furtheir information, the want of which he had assigned as a reason for delay. Meantime, the officers of France, as they made their last journey through Canada and down the valley of the Mississippi, and on every side received the expressions of passionate attachment from the many tribes of red men, cast a look of regret upon the magnificent empire which they were ceding. But Choiseul saw futurity better. In April 1764, he issued the order for the transfer of the island of New Orleans and all Louisiana to Spain. He did it without mental reserve, foreseeing that the whole colonial system would be changed. In the same year he sent Pontleroy, a lieutenant in the navy, to travel through America in the guise of an Acadian wanderer, and report on the political condition of its people. While England was taxing America by act of parliament, France was counting its steps toward independence.

The world was rising up against superstition and authority over mind; the oppression of industry was passing away, not less than the oppression of free thought. The use of reason was no longer held to be presumption, but a duty, and the very end of creation. “Everything that I see,” wrote Voltaire, in April 1764, “is scattering the seeds of a revolution, which will come inevitably. Light has so spread from neighbor to neighbor, that on the first occasion it will kindle and burst forth. Happy are the young, for their eyes shall see it.” The

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