The Birth of the Republic
Edmund S. Morgan
James Otis – 1765 “Were these colonies left to themselves tomorrow, America would be a mere shambles of blood and confusion . . . . there would soon be civil war from one end of the continent to the other.” 20 years later these same people united to create a government that has had a longer continuous existence than that of any Western country except England.
P. 8 - Colonial governors helpless to take action without the assistance of the representative assemblies. The assemblies held the power of the purse and generally got their way.
Navigation Acts – acts passed by British Parliament to regulate colonial trade so that raw materials were produced for the mother country and manufactured goods were purchased from her. Raw materials could only go to England, purchase finished goods from England; all colonial trade must be conducted on English shipping (page 9) Purpose of the acts was to promote the economic welfare of the empire in general and of the mother country in particular.
Salutory Neglect – Gov of GB could not govern half the globe, when not focused on extending the empire elsewhere, thought local issues in England to be of greater importance then enforcement of the Navigation Acts (p10)
Sugar Act – to raise money,
Parliament’s exclusive power to tax was the most important feature of its supremacy over the King, the most important guarantee of English liberty.
Stamp Act – 1765 – almost anything formally written or printed would have to be on special stamped paper which would be shipped from the central stamp office in London and dispensed in America by local agents on payment of specified taxes. Pay stamp fees at every stage of a lawsuit, diplomas, deeds, almanacs and advertisements, bills and bonds, custom papers and newspapers, even dice and cards
Colonists did not wait for the stamp tax to take affect – mob stoned and pillaged the house of Andrew Oliver, a designated tax collector. - also attacked the houses of Governor Hutchinson, customs collectors and members of the admiralty courts
Sons of Liberty groups began to form throughout colonies
Though colonists could not agree on boundary lines and Indian wars, they could agree without argument on opposition to taxes
Taxation without Representation – There was a distinction between taxation and legislation, and the right to legislate did not necessarily include the right to tax. Taxes were a gift, given by the people through their representatives, and consequently only a representative body could grant them.
1766 – Parliament repealed the Stamp Act – due more so to power struggle within Parliament not to pressure from colonists.
Declaratory Act – Parliament’s response to colonial questioning – affirmed Parliament’s right to make laws and statutes binding the colonists in all cases whatsoever Did the power to legislate include the power to tax? The English believed so
Quartering Act – forced colonists to feed and house to soldiers stationed within their respective boundaries
Townshend Acts – If the colonists distinguished between internal and external taxes let them pay taxes on the items imported: glass, lead, paper, paints and TEA. Colonial merchants agreed not to import goods from Britain until the duties were repealed - “England’s most fateful decision” b/c most of the events that goaded Americans into independence may be attributed to it. - Violation of these acts, and earlier ones, were punished by seizure of the offending vessel and cargo. Both would be sold and the proceeds divided: 1/3 to England, 1/3 to the governor of the colony, 1/3 to the customs official - Boston quickly developed an open hatred for the racketeers whom Parliament had sent among them - Customs official sent for troops to protect them and England responded. By 1768, two regiments were on their way to the colonies
Colonists insisted there was a distinction between legislation and...
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