History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 3

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.
THE TWELFTH PARLIAMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN PASSES THE
AMERICAN STAMP-TAX. GRENVILLE’S ADMINISTRATION CON-
TINUED.

JANUARY–APRIL 1765.

AT the opening of the year 1765, the people of New England were reading the history of the first sixty years of the colony of Massachusetts, hy Hutchinson. Nothing so much revived the ancestral spirit which a weariness of the gloomy superstitions, mixed with Puritanism, had long overshadowed. All hearts ran together in the study of the character of New England’s fathers; and liberty became the dearer, as men were reminded through what sorrow and self-denial and cost of life it had been purchased.

“I always,” said John Adams, “consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.” This vision was drawing near its fulfilment On the tenth of January, the king, opening the session of parliament, presented the American question as one of “obedience to the laws and respect for the legislative authority of the kingdom.”

In the debates on the forces to be kept up in the navy and the army, Charles Townshend advocated the largest numbers; “for the colonies,” said he, “are not to be emancipated.” In private, the arguments in behalf of America were urged with persuasive earnestness. The London merchants found that America was in their debt to the amount of four millions of pounds sterling. Grenville sought to relieve their fears by the profuse offer of bounties to the Americans, as offsets to the in-

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