Colonial Reaction to Parliament 1763 1776: Con’t

Declaration of Rights and Grievances

 

The Stamp Act Congress was the first gathering of representatives of all thirteen American colonies. Twenty-seven delegates met in October of 1765 to draft formal petitions to Parliament in response to the Stamp Act. the New Hampshire assembly declined to send a representative. Delegates from six colonies had to present the Declaration to their assemblies while the representatives from another six signed. This October 14, 1765  declaration was written by delegates to the Stamp Act Congress. It raised fourteen points of colonial protest. In addition to the specific protests regarding the Stamp Act, this Declaration made several other assertions.

  1. Colonists owed to the crown, “the same allegiance” owed by subjects born within the realm.
  2. Colonists owed to Parliament “all due subordination.”
  3. Colonists held all the rights of Englishmen.
  4. Trial by jury is such a right.
  5. The use of Admiralty Courts is an abuse of the right of trial by a jury of your peers.
  6. Without voting rights, Parliament can not represent the colonists.
  7. There can be no taxation without proper representation.
  8. Only colonial assemblies had the right to tax colonists.

In addition to asserting their rights as Englishmen, the Congress contended that they had certain ‘natural  rights’ solely because they were human beings.

Repeal

Despite the resignation of Prime Minister Grenville, the issue of enforcing or repealing the Stamp Act continued to be debated in Parliament. During the debates, the right of Parliament to govern the american colonies was affirmed by the passage of the Declaratory Act. This affirmed the right of Parliament to legislate for the colonies, “in all cases whatsoever.”

Quickly following the passage of the Declaratory Act, Parliament held hearings. Witnesses gave their views on the impact and the consequences of the Stamp Act. One such witness was Benjamin Franklin. When he was asked how the colonists would react if the Stamp Act was not repealed, he said,

“A total loss of the respect and affection the people of America bear to this country, and of all the commerce that depends upon that respect and affections”

On February 21st a resolution was introduced to repeal the Stamp Act. It passed and the King gave his approval on March 18, 1766.

Consequence

A consequence of the Stamp Act was that it provided a preview of resistance to future such acts of Parliament: the Townshend Acts of 1766 were such.

The Sons of Liberty, the boycott organizations of colonial merchants, non-importation agreements, enumerated lists of goods and Committees of Correspondence all had their roots in the Stamp Act resistance. Even the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 set a precedent for the First and Second Continental Congresses which set the stage for the adoption of the Declaration Of Independence and war.

In the next newsletter we will discuss how the colonists reacted to the continued attempts of Parliament to impose its control over ‘The Freest People on Earth.”

 

Post 1763 British Colonial Policies

England: The Most Powerful Nation in the World

The Treaty of Paris in 1763, ended the Seven Years War which was a worldwide war between Great Britain and France. It was called the French and Indian War in North America.

As a result of this treaty, the French gave up her holdings in North America and India. Thus, England became the dominant world military power with the largest naval force and the largest army in the western world.

But, the British Parliament under Prime Minister George Grenville, faced two major problems with their new Empire.

1st. England had fought with its European rivals for almost one hundred years, on and off. In the course of those wars a large debt had been accumulated. During the most recent conflict the debt had more than doubled. The people of Great Britain were already heavily taxed. The recent Cider Tax (1763) was met with riots in England So, the question Parliament faced was, where could they obtain additional revenue to service/pay off the debt?

2nd. At the conclusion of the war in North America, England had almost 10,000 soldiers stationed there.  Now that the war with France had concluded, what was Parliament to do with them? Parliament certainly did not want these men returned to the homeland and swelling the ranks of the unemployed. Included in that number were over 1,500 commissioned officers who were well connected with members of Parliament and with the landed aristocracy and mercantile class, too. So, they had influence. It would be politically difficult to discharge this influential group from the service.

It was therefore considered politically prudent to keep all the British forces stationed in North America at the end of the conflict with France in 1763. And, it was also decided to tax  the colonists in order to pay the salaries of these British military personnel. Parliament also decided to require the colonists to feed and house British military personnel so  stationed there.

This was something new. The British Parliament had never before directly taxed their American colonists.

 

So, the Stamp Act of 1765 was passed. It required that printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper. Such paper was produced in England and would carry an embossed revenue stamp. The printed materials included legal documents, magazines, playing cards, newspapers and most other types of paper used in the colonies. The tax had to be paid in valid and scarce British currency. No payment would be accepted in colonial paper money.

The required stamp for lawyers, college students and apprentices was seen as an attempt to limit the growth of a professional class and a skilled worker class in the colonies. Violations of the act were to be tried in Admiralty Courts, not colonial courts. The imposition of this tax was thus  seen as an attempt by Parliament to limit the freedoms enjoyed by colonists.

Colonists argued that the troops were no longer needed in the colonies since the French were gone for good from North America. They also objected to being forced to house and feed the troops. Colonists also objected to these poorly paid troops working at civilian occupations when they had time off, because these troops took jobs from colonists.

Colonial Resistance:

 

The majority of colonists objected to the tax. As Englishmen, they believed they could not be taxed without their consent. Since they were not represented in Parliament it was a violation of the British Constitution and their rights as Englishmen. They argued that only their own colonial legislative bodies could give such consent. Thus, resistance came from all thirteen colonies.

The Stamp Act Congress held in New York was the first joint colonial response to an act of Parliament. Also, Committees of Correspondence were set up thus creating a system of communication and cooperation between people in all thirteen colonies. Violence was used to intimidate distributors of the stamped paper. Thus the tax was never properly collected.

Reaction in England:

Another part of Prime Minister Grenville’s program was to put a tax on molasses entering the Colonies. This was contained in the Sugar Act of 1764. This was intended to freeze out foreign competition and create a monopoly for British investors in the West Indies. This was seen as another attempt by Parliament to limit economic freedoms in the colonies. This tax failed because of colonial smuggling and bribes paid customs officials.

In England, merchants were hit by boycotts of their products in the thirteen colonies. They, in turn, pressured Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act. It was withdrawn by Parliament in March of 1766. but, at the same time, Parliament affirmed its right to legislate for the colonies by passing the Declaratory Act, “in all cases whatsoever.”

In the next newsletter, I will continue to describe the growing dispute between Parliament and the colonists.

 

 

 

 

 

THE BRITISH COLONIES IN 1763

 

According to the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the French were expelled from North America. By this time,  the people of the British colonies in North America had developed a relationship with the British Parliament which seemed satisfactory to both. That relationship included:

1. An understanding of imperial control relative to colonial self-government.

2. A working relationship which dealt with the principle of Parliamentary authority and colonial liberties.

3. A recognition by the colonists that King and Parliament had exclusive authority over foreign affairs, war & peace and overseas trade.

In effect, the colonists within each of the thirteen North American British colonies had acquired Home Rule which included the exclusive right of their freely elected representative Assemblies to:

1. Tax themselves.

2. Appoint most of their own officials, fix their salaries, maintain colonial militias and commission colonial militia officers.

3. Appoint & pay judges.

The colonists residing in all thirteen of these British colonies enjoyed:

1.  Freedom of the press, speech & assembly.

2. Freedom of worship.

3. Trial by a jury of their peers.

4. Exemption from impressiment into military service.

5. Protection from search/seizure of their property except by legally obtained search warrant/court order.

6. Skilled trades/professions that were open to all.

7. The right to vote.

8. Access to the cheap lands of the West.

9. The right to keep and bear arms.

With the elimination of the French, the colonists of the thirteen British colonies expected to continue the nature and elements of the relationship they had enjoyed with the King and the Parliament prior to 1763.

That expectation would quickly be dashed.

In the next newsletter, I will describe the nature of  the post-French 1763 colonial program devised by British Prime Minister Grenville’s government.

 

The First North American British Colonies

The first British  colony was successfully founded in North America in 1607 at Jamestown,Virginia. The second British colony established was 617 miles to the north at Plymouth, Massachusetts founded in 1622 .
The hardy souls who survived their first winter were separated from England by an ocean and a perilous sea journey of months.  In addition, they were not even aware of the other colony. Instead, they were separated by dense forests with no roads.
So, they had to survive alone without the support of those in either Great Britain or North America. Those who managed to survive the early years, had learned how to do so on their own. They all had learned the hard way that no title conferred by the crown, parliament or trading company would provide food or security. The fools who thought that, lay buried in New World cemeteries.
The hundreds who did survive the brutal early years became a spirited race of people. They prized their independence and did not tolerate those who followed with titles and other trappings of the Old World.
By the time the French were forced out of North America, in 1763 thirteen British colonies had been established with over a million inhabitants. They had become used to operating on their own. They were the freest people on earth.

 

 

Travel to America

This is the type of ship that The Colonists used to get to North America.

 

 

The original Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery set sail from London on December 20, 1606, bound for Virginia. The ships carried 105 passengers and 39 crew members on the four-month transatlantic voyage. A 17th-century source noted that a total of 71 people were aboard the Susan Constant, 52 aboard the Godspeed and 21 aboard the Discovery. The expedition was sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, a business venture that had been organized to form a colony in Virginia. The fleet reached the Virginia coast in late April and, after two weeks of inland waterway exploration, arrived at the selected settlement site on May 13, 1607.