On the chilly, early spring afternoon of April 9th, 1765, King George III requested that George Grenville become the prime minister of the British government. This humorless brother-in-law of the famous William Pitt was appointed with the specific mandate to devise a plan to generate revenue from His Majesty's American colonies that seemed either unwilling or unable to defend themselves against French or Indian aggression. Grenville agreed with his king that the Americans might be industrious farmers, but these "country people" seemed incapable of ever becoming effective soldiers comparable to the redcoats recruited form the British Isles. The result of this set of beliefs was the passage of a Stamp Act designed to raise money to support several regiments of British regulars in garrisons throughout the colonies. Grenville and the king were certain that any colonial opposition to this modest tax would be disorganized and brief and His Majesty's regulars could be expected to maintain order in the colonies for decades to come.
Exactly one hundred years to the day after a British king set in motion a chain of events that would ultimately cost the crown its most valuable colonies, an American general wearing a mud splattered uniform met with his gray coated counterpart to accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Ulysses Simpson Grant commanded an army that was over ten times the size of the British army of a century earlier and had just defeated a Confederacy that had fielded an army just as brave, resourceful and tenacious as its Union opponents. Now the northern and southern descendants of the men who had opposed Grenville's Stamp tax and defeated the British army sent to force the rebel colonists into submission were once again united in a single republic. As the guns around Appomattox, Virginia were silenced, Robert E. Lee spoke to his defeated army and, as tears came to his eyes, told his men to "be as good citizens as you have been good soldiers," a charge that set in motion a reconciliation between the two