History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 5

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII.
THE BRITISH ABANDON PENNSYLVANIA.
MAY–JUNE 1778.

THE alliance of France with the United States waked in the heart of Europe the hope of the overthrow of the old colonial system of commercial monopoly. American independence was won not by arms alone, but in part by the sympathies of neutral princes and nations.

Both the great belligerents were involved in contradictions at home. The government of England, in seeking to suppress in her dependencies English rights by English arms, made war on the life of her own life. Inasmuch as the party of freedom and justice, which is indeed one for all mankind, was at least seen to be one and the same for the whole English race, it appeared more and more clearly that the total subjugation of America would be the prelude to the repression of liberty in the British isles.

The country, whhich in the seven years’ war had been impelled by the elder Pitt to mighty deeds, found in the ministry no representative. Public spirit had been quelled, and personal interests prevailed over the general good. Even impending foreign war could not hush the turbulence of partisans. The administration, having no guiding principle, held its majority in the house of commons only by sufferance and the control of patronage. Insubordination showed itself in the fleet and in the army, and most among the officers. England had not known so bad a government since the reign of James II. It was neither beloved nor respected, and truly stood neither for the people nor for any branch of the aristocracy;

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