British Friends of the American Revolution

By Jerome R. Reich | Go to book overview

of office. With this addition, he felt that its present constitution would enable the United States to grow into a prosperous and powerful nation that would teach the world "Political Truths . . . to render men more free and happy under Government." Interestingly enough, in the body of this memorial, Pownall also made a plea for the abolition of imprisonment for debt, which he called "not relevant to the ends of distributive Justice and contrary to every idea of the advantages which the community is supposed to derive from every individual." He also expressed a hope that the United States would abolish slavery. Pownall felt that their gratitude at winning their own freedom might impel Americans to "extend this blessing to their fellow creatures." 24

In Three Memorials ( 1784), which included the Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe and the two Memorials he had sent to the king early in 1782, Pownall added a long preface reviewing his own role in the struggle and the errors of the British government, which he severely censured for precipitating, mismanaging, and then prolonging the conflict. One wishes to know what Pownall's reaction was to the Constitutional Convention and to the government it created but the records fail to enlighten us. One may only assume from his Memorial to the Sovereigns of America that he preferred it to the Articles of Confederation.

Pownall's last years were spent as a country gentleman and antiquarian. He eschewed politics but did take an interest in reform of the corn laws. He was also sympathetic to Latin American independence and gave much support to Francisco de Miranda. Pownall's last written work, A Memorial Addressed to the Sovereigns of Europe and the Atlantic ( 1803), recommended a commercial and military alliance between Great Britain and the United States, which would liberate Latin America and lead to the creation of an Atlantic federation. 25 Two years later, in 1805, Pownall died at the age of eighty-three. He always felt himself a prophet without honor. True, his concepts of a British commonwealth and an Atlantic community of nations were perhaps ahead of their time. Today, however, we can recognize Pownall as a true and enlightened "friend" of peace and liberty.


Notes
1.
R. C. Simmons and P. D.G. Thomas, eds., Proceedings and Debates of the British Parliaments Respecting North America, 1754-1783 (hereafter referred to as Parliament Debates), IV, pp. 277-278.
3.
Thomas Pownall, The Administration of the British Colonies, 5th ed., II, pp. 86-87.
4.
Simmons and Thomas, Parliament Debates, V, p. 443.

-125-

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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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