War is not a life: it is a situation, one which may neither be ignored nor accepted.
How did our revolution of minds and hearts become a revolution of muskets and bayonets? Were we wanting of it? Many would say the American Revolution was a calculated affair, a carefully orchestrated dance of politics and publication, designed to push the colonists in a direction they would not go otherwise.
I have already told you of the culture thriving in the Colonies at the time, generations of people participating in self governance. What could possibly happen to make them believe their only recourse was war, with their own country?
This post is a bit longer, but needed, and I could have made it even longer. Let’s take a quick trip down the time line express, track 29… This is an express train, so keep up.
1720 – 1740: Ben Franklin begins publishing Poor Richard’s Almanac, Baltimore is founded and we have our first public library. The Colonies have half a million people living here. Times are good. Then, Parliament passes the Molasses Act effectively restricting the colonists from free trade with non-English suppliers.
1750 – The Iron Act is passed, which limits the production of iron in the colonies to protect the iron industry back in England.
1756 – The Seven Years War, what we call the French and Indian War officially begins.
1757 – Open and unlimited war with France begins in America and Ben Franklin goes to England. His quest, representation of the Colonies in Parliament. The Colonies now have over a million souls.
1763 – The French and Indian War ends with the Treaty of Paris, the colonies now extend to the Mississippi. King George issues The Proclamation of 1763, removing all homesteads west of the Appalachians. In an honest effort to appease the Indians, but the settlers did not see it that way.
1764 – The Sugar Act is passed by Parliament in an attempt to paid back debt for the F&I War. It raises the taxes on sugar, textiles, goods shipped through England but not produced there. The Currency Act is passed, and no legal paper tender can now be produced in the Colonies. This threatens to topple the local economies throughout America.
Early 1765 – Colonists gain seats in Parliament and have a say in their own taxation—in your dreams! In reality, Parliament issues the Stamp Tax which, for the first time in over 100 years, means the Colonies now pay taxes that are sent entirely back to England. They must also submit to the Quartering Act, which means the colonists must house, feed and clothe British soldiers at their own expense.
Mid 1765 – Patrick Henry presents seven resolutions to the Virgina House of Burgesses that clearly state only Virgina can tax Virginians. His famous statement “If this be treason, then make the most of it” is given publicly in the house. The Sons of Liberty are organized in many Colonial towns to stop the enforcement of the stamp act, which they manage to accomplish quite well.
Late 1765 – Nine Colonies come together as the Stamp Act Congress and write a resolution to be sent to King George letting him know that only the Colonies can tax the colonists, and taxation without representation is is a violation of civil rights.
Early 1766 – Parliament and King George decide to repeal the Stamp Act after many debates, and Ben Franklin’s open warning of rebellion if they do not. Parliament also slips in an Act giving them total control over the lives of the colonists.
Late 1766 – New York, which has been refusing to comply with the Quartering Act, sees open conflict between armed colonists and British troops. Parliament suspends the New York Legislature for failing to comply or enforce the law.
1767 – Parliament passes the Townshend Act taxing imported goods. Boston boycotts imported goods.
1768 – The Royal Governor of Massachusetts dissolves the general court of the Legislature. In Boston local residents are urged to arm themselves and two Regiments of British Infantry land in Boston and take up residence to maintain order.
Early 1770 – The Boston Massacre. An unruly mob, high tensions, cornered soldiers, the worst happened.
Late 1770 – The Townshend Acts are repealed and the Quartering Act ends.
Early 1773 – The first Committee of Correspondence is formed to share complaints of the King and Parliament’s actions between the Colonies.
Mid 1773 – The Tea Act is passed. Imported tea has been taxed for years, but now the failing East India Company has a monopoly, and colonial businesses suffer.
Late 1773 – Bostonians refuse the tax, and send over 300 chests of tea into Boston harbor.
1774 – Parliament passes the Coercive Acts, we called them the Intolerable Acts, to punish the rebellious Bostonians. Boston Harbor is closed. General Thomas Gage arrives in Boston as the Military Governor and he brings four additional Regiments of British troops. Parliament removes all rights of the colonists to self rule, and the Quartering Act returns. The First Continental Congress convenes and with all colonies but Georgia sending delegates, their first act is to state the Coercive Acts are not to be enforced and they encourage the formation of local militias.
1775 – Massachusetts begins making preparations for war and parliament declares them to be in a state of rebellion. Patrick Henry makes his famous speach, “give me liberty or give me death.” Parliament declares the Colonies may trade with no one but England and forbids fishing in the North Atlantic. General Gage is ordered to enforce the Coercive Acts on the Colonists, by any means necessary.
WOW! It has been said, May you live in exciting times, well 1750 to 1775 seems to fit the bill. Were we driven to armed conflict? Were we forced down a path we might not have chosen otherwise? Of course we were, by the King and Parliament.
Over a hundred years of minding our own business, chopping a new country out of the wilderness, fighting the King’s wars, building a few colonies into an economic powerhouse of over 2 million people, and all the while we managed our own affairs. We were self sufficient, industrious, and working hard to create new lives. Over a century of self governance and self sufficiency, and Parliament wants to just step in and lift a stack of bills out of the till without so much as a “pretty please.” When we object, they demand we submit to their authority and remove our right to meet, regulate, and govern ourselves.
Anyone who has raised teenagers knows you can’t just take that kind of freedom away.
Look at the war from their perspective. You spend your whole lives living under self rule, participating in your town meetings, and having a say in how things are managed. Now, an unwelcome power from across an ocean lands troops on your shore, and demands you submit to their rule under threat of force. If they didn’t speak the same language, it would seem like the invasion of a foreign army.
And what of the threat, what of Gage’s order to enforce the Coercive Acts—by any means necessary?