Rhode Island and the Formation of the Union

By Frank Greene Bates | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
A PERIOD OF HARMONY

ALMOST before the bells ceased ringing in celebration of the fall of Quebec, there came across the Atlantic rumors that England was to tighten the reins of her control over the colonies. The mercantile interests of England had for more than a century been laying restrictions on the foreign commerce of the colonies, and the year 1699 marked the first of a series of repressive measures designed to throttle American manufactures. But in spite of all this the colonies throve and grew rich, until England determined that the time had arrived to draw a direct revenue from America.

Lord Grenville, on March 9, 1764, took the first step in this direction by announcing the intention of the government to lay a stamp duty in America. The arrival of this news in the colonies found them already aroused to a sense of their former injuries, through the work of Otis and the other fathers of liberty. In Rhode Island their efforts had been seconded by Stephen Hopkins in the Providence Gazette, which was to be the organ of Americanism in that colony. The writings of Hopkins, particularly the "Essay upon Trade in the Northern Colonies,"1 prepared the way for Rhode Island's remonstrance to the "Lords of Trade," the first official remonstrance from America.2 The essay entitled "The Rights of the Colonies Examined," which was prepared by order of the general assembly, exerted an influence be-

____________________
1
Providence Gazette, Jan. 14 and 21, 1764.
2
Rhode Island Colonial Records, vi, 378.

-45-

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