The Foundations of American Nationality

By Evarts Boutell Greene | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
THE EVE OF REVOLUTION, 1766 TO 1774

THE repeal of the Stamp Act did not settle the issue of taxation without representation; for Parliament had expressly asserted its absolute sovereignty over the colonies, and the revenue duties laid by the Sugar Act were still in force. On the specific issue of the stamp tax, however, the Americans had won a notable victory and for the moment they were too enthusiastic about that to think much about the theory of the Declaratory Act. So Pitt and other friends in Parliament were gratefully remembered and George III came in for his share of the general good feeling.

The taxation issue unsettled.

It is easy to see now that no progress had been made toward a constructive policy which should safeguard the common interests of the empire, including America, and yet harmonize with traditional ideals of liberty and self-government. Among those common interests was the working out of an effective and liberal plan for the management of the great undeveloped country beyond the mountains. The revenue policy, which was intended to finance the administration of the western territory, had broken down; but no other solution had been worked out. A few men in England and in America were thinking about these matters in a statesmanlike spirit, but they were rare exceptions. Franklin was one of those exceptional men and for many years had given serious thought to the constitutional relations of the colonies with the mother country. At one time he thought that a legislative union was desirable, with American representatives sitting side by side with those of England, Wales, and

Lack of constructive statesmanship.

Franklin on the constitution of the empire.

-414-

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