American Negro Slavery: A Survey of the Supply, Employment and Control of Negro Labor as Determined by the Plantation Regime

By Ulrich Bonnell Phillips | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
REVOLUTION AND REACTION

AFTER the whole group of colonies had long been left in salutary neglect by the British authorities, George III and his ministers undertook the creation of an imperial control; and Parliament was too much at the king's command for opposing statesmen to stop the project. The Americans wakened resentfully to the new conditions. The revived navigation laws, the stamp act, the tea duty, and the dispatch of redcoats to coerce Massachusetts were a cumulation of grievances not to be borne by high-spirited people. For some years the colonial spokesmen tried to persuade the British government that it was violating historic and constitutional rights; but these efforts had little success. To the argument that the empire was composed of parts mutually independent in legislation, it was replied that Parliament had legislated imperially ever since the empire's beginning, and that the colonial assemblies possessed only such powers as Parliament might allow. The plea of no taxation without representation was answered by the doctrine that all elements in the empire were virtually represented in Parliament. The stress laid by the colonials upon their rights as Britons met the administration's emphasis upon the duty of all British subjects to obey British laws. This countering of pleas of exemption with pronouncements of authority drove the complainants at length from proposals of reform to projects of revolution. For this the solidarity of the continent was essential, and that was to be gained only by the most vigorous agitation with the aid of the most effective campaign cries. The claim of historic immunities was largely discarded in favor of the more glittering doctrines current in the philosophy of the time. The demands for local self-government or for national independence, one or both of which were the genuine issues at stake, were subordinated to the

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