History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 4

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII.
FINAL ANSWER OF THE KING TO AMERICA.
AUGUST–DECEMBER 1775.

THE Americans, entering most reluctantly on a war with Britain, preserved an instinctive feeling that the relations of affinity were suspended rather than destroyed; they held themselves called to maintain the liberties of the British people, as well as their own; and never looked upon the transient ministers who were their oppressors as the type of the parent country. The moment approaches when the king and parliament irreversibly rejected their last petition; to understand that decision, it is necessary to state precisely the question at issue.

The administration of numerous colonies, each of which had a representative government of its own, was conducted with inconvenience from a want of central unity; in war, experience showed a difficulty in obtaining proportionate aid from them all; in peace, the crown officers were impatient of owing their support to the periodical votes of colonial legislatures. To remedy this seeming evil, James II. consolidated all authority over the country north of the Potomac, and undertook to govern it by his own will.

The revolution of 1688 restored to the colonies their representative governments, and the collision between the crown officers and the colonial legislatures was renewed. Threats of parliamentary intervention were sometimes heard; but for nearly three quarters of a century no minister had been willing to gratify the pertinacious entreaties of placemen by disturbing America in the enjoyment of her liberties.

Soon after the accession of George III., the king, averse to

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