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HISTORY OF CANADA.   107

active and energetic class in the New England colonies with whom the British navigation laws were a standing grievance. Under these laws all commerce by sea, including even the coasting trade of America, had to be carried in British ships. There was in consequence much smuggling, and many of the New England merchants were interested in these illicit ventures. The navigation laws were rigorously enforced in the interest of British merchants, and much ill-will was the result.

Revenue Taxation.—The colonists were in the very mood to push their constitutional rights to the utmost limit, and the British parliament was so ill-advised as to touch them in their tenderest spot. Up to this time such customs duties as were collected in America had been imposed simply as part of England's trade policy to keep out foreign goods. The colonists had, though with much grumbling, submitted to the system. But no attempt had ever been made by the British parliament to levy a tax in America for revenue purposes merely. Now, however, the celebrated Stamp Act was passed (1765), under which such a tax was to be collected in the colonies without the sanction of the colonial assemblies. The Act, it is true, was repealed in the following year, but the experiment was repeated in 1769, when an Act was passed for the levying of a revenue duty on tea and certain other commodities upon their importation into the colonies.

The Outbreak. — The colonists protested, and, upon the arrival in Boston of a vessel with a cargo of tea, what is known as the " Boston tea party " took place ; the vessel was visited and the tea was thrown overboard. Great Britain was at this time badly governed. George III., during the first half of his reign, was almost an absolute monarch, and at this crisis he would have as his ministers none but those who would undertake to humble the contumacious colonists, who now gathered in " Congress " at Philadelphia to discuss measures to redress their grievances. George III. would not give way. The port of Boston was closed, and other irritating measures were adopted to coerce America. Armed conflict soon followed. At Lexington, on the 19th April, 1775, a band of New Englanders attacked a body of regular troops, and the American Revolution began. At the outset it was the work of an energetic minority, whose personal interests were involved. The course of events, however, and the substantial


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