British Friends of the American Revolution

By Jerome R. Reich | Go to book overview

2
Governor Pownall, Dean Tucker, and Major John Cartwright: Practical Idealists or Wishful Thinkers?

Theory and practice rarely coincide. As already noted, British statesmen insisted that they ruled a unitary empire with all power residing in king and Parliament. In practice, however, the home government had concerned itself only with imperial affairs while the colonial legislatures dealt with the regulation of marriage and divorce, the provision of relief to the poor, the maintenance of roads and bridges, the organization of a militia, and, most crucial, the levying of taxes. In other words, without intending to -- in fact quite contrary to the desires of its leaders -- the British had developed (to use modern terms) a federal empire in which the colonies held dominion status.

Most Americans took this situation for granted but the opposite was true of their British counterparts. One of the few exceptions was Thomas Pownall.

Thomas Pownall was born in 1722 of a Lincolnshire family of more prestige than pelf. 1 He attended Lincoln grammar school and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1743. While in college, he developed a taste for philosophy and literature and did the preliminary work on a treatise on government, Principles of Polity, which was later published in 1752. His younger brother, John, who was already an important functionary of the Board of Trade, obtained a clerkship there for Thomas. However, Thomas came to realize that, for those of his social class, fame and fortune were only to be won in the colonies. In 1753, therefore, he became private secretary to Sir Danvers Osborne, the newly appointed governor of New York.

Pownall's career in the New World was over almost before it began, when Sir Danvers committed suicide within a week of his arrival in New York. However, Pownall was not inclined to retreat to his insignificant

-7-

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British Friends of the American Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • 1 - The Stage and the Players 3
  • Notes 6
  • 2 - Governor Pownall, Dean Tucker, and Major John Cartwright: Practical Idealists or Wishful Thinkers? 7
  • Notes 19
  • 3 - Pitt, Burke, and American Policy, 1763-1770 21
  • Notes 31
  • 4 - "Birds of a Feather": John Wilkes and John Horne Tooke 33
  • Notes 39
  • 5 - The "Honest Whigs" 40
  • Notes 48
  • 6 - The Coercive Acts and Their Opponents: a Study in Futility 50
  • Notes 57
  • 7 - A Dire Prediction 59
  • Notes 72
  • 8 - The House of Lords 74
  • Notes 87
  • 9 Richard Price: Apostle of Liberty 90
  • Notes 103
  • 10 - The Single Legal Victim of the American Revolution 105
  • Notes 111
  • 11 - Dean Tucker: He Told Them So! 112
  • Notes 117
  • 12 - Governor Pownall Fights to the Finish 119
  • Notes 125
  • 13 - David Hartley: Amateur Diplomat 127
  • Notes 137
  • 14 - Charles James Fox: the Life of the Party 139
  • Notes 151
  • 15 - "Peace, Peace, When There is No Peace" 154
  • Notes 162
  • 16 - Summary and Conclusions 164
  • Bibliography 173
  • Index 179
  • About the Author *
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