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The Seven Years' War left Great Britain the most powerful state on the globe and heralded the rise of an English nation in the western hemisphere. Scarcely any other military struggle has produced so many events of decisive interest to mankind. At Rossbach Frederick achieved for Prussia the headship of the German people, thus in effect laying the basis of the present imperial union; at Plassey Clive gained for England an empire in the East, whose borders are still expanding; at Quebec, the victory of Wolfe won for the English race, though not finally for England, the political leadership of the western continents. 

In a very real sense the year 1763 may be taken as marking the beginning of the American Revolution. The causes of that event are indeed far-reaching. They are as old as the colonial system itself. In many ways for more than a century, although they knew it not, the people of the thirteen provinces were being schooled and disciplined for their part in it. Almost in spite of themselves they were becoming molded into one social body, an American society, which with the attainment of self -self-consciousness must inevitably demand a larger and freer, if not an entirely independent life. Their social consciousness was, in fact, stirred by the experiences of the war; and thereafter it was swiftly quickened and nourished by the blunders of the imperial administration.

Looked at in this way, the revolutionary struggle reaches over a score of years, beginning with the peace of Paris and ending with the treaty of 1783. It comprises two well-defined stages. The first stage, closing with Washington's entrance upon command of the Continental Army in July 1775, is chiefly devoted to debate, to a contest of arguments, called out by the successive incidents of the halting ministerial policy, and occasionally interrupted by acts of popular or military violence. The second stage, except for the interval following the battle of Yorktown, is filled mainly with the agony of organized warfare, the clash of arms. With the history of the twelve years constituting the first of these stages, it is the purpose of this book to deal, only now and then, as in the case of the writs of assistance or the navigation laws, reaching back to events of earlier origin.

For the colonists the moral and social results of the French and Indian War were very great. In the first place, they were relieved from the dread of a foreign foe whose garrisons, stretching in irregular line from Quebec to New Orleans, had hemmed them in and checked their westward march. With the cession of the Floridas to England, the Spanish rival was thrust farther from their doors. The fall of the French dominion, the weakening of the arm of Spain, and the failure of Pontiac had much lessened the peril from the red race. With the French or Spanish pioneers, the English colonists did not fear to compete; nor did they feel themselves unequal to dealing with the Indian tribes. But there was always the anxiety lest the toma-hawk and the scalping - knife might be raised through intrigues of a white enemy, and they deemed it just that the imperial government should protect them from the encroachments of a foreign soldiery.

That the presence of the French was believed to be a very real danger is revealed by abundant evidence covering the whole period from the surprise of Schenectady, in 1690, to the end of the war. Thus, in 1709, Jeremiah Dummer, who the next year began his term of service as agent of Massachusetts in London, "shows how early and passionate among the English colonies in America was the dread of the American power of France," declaring "that those colonies can never be easy or happy 'whilst the French are masters of Canada.'" The effect of the French settlements, reports Lieutenant-Governor Wentworth, of New Hampshire, to the Lords of Trade and Plantations, in 1731, "is that the Indians are frequently instigated and influenced by them to disturb the peace and quiet of this province, we having been often put to a vast expense both of blood and treasure, to de-fend ourselves against their cruel outrages" At the close of the war the American colonists found themselves freed from this long-standing menace.

Moreover, their imaginations were quickened and their mental horizon was expanded by the geographical results. For now, with the exception of the island of New Orleans, an imperial domain stretching from the Arctic to the Gulf, and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, concealing illimitable riches within its mountains and plains, was thrown open to the industrial conquest of the English race. The enlarged view caused by this new environment is a fact of vast significance in estimating the forces underlying the contest for American independence. The colonists had grown in self-reliance, in mental stature. A greater destiny seemed to await him, and the friends of provincial subjection were already jealous of the possible consequences of his wider ambition. Before the war the Swedish traveler, Peter Kalm, writing in 1748, records the views of this class. It is "of great advantage to the crown of England," he says, "that the North American colonies are near a country, under the government of the French, like Canada. There is reason to believe that the king never was earnest in his attempts to expel the French from their possessions there; though it might have been done with little difficulty. For the English colonies in this part of the world have increased so much in their number of inhabitants, and in their riches, that they almost vie with Old England." "I have been told" that "in the space of thirty or fifty years " they " would be able to form a state by themselves, entirely independent" of the mother country. For like reasons, in 1760, when peace seemed near at hand, the ministry were urged to yield Canada rather than Guadeloupe to the French. According to William Burke, a friend and kinsman of the celebrated statesman, Canada in French hands was necessary to preserve the "balance of power in America." If "the people of our colonies," he insisted, "find no check from Canada, they will extend themselves almost without bounds into the inland parts. They will increase infinitely from all causes. What the consequences will be to have a numerous, hardy, independent people, possessed of a strong country, communicating little or not at all with England," he leaves to "conjecture."

Replying to Burke's pamphlet, Franklin, then representing Pennsylvania in London, with characteristic eloquence and force presented the other side of the case in 1760. With Canada in English hands, "our planters will no longer be massacred by the Indians" who must then depend upon us for supplies; and in the event of another war with France we shall not be put "to the immense expense of defending that long - extended frontier." True, the colonists would thrive and multiply. In a century, at the present rate of increase, "British subjects on that side of the water" would be "more numerous than they now are on this." But with the right treatment, their growing power would not affect their allegiance. They have different governments, laws, interests, and even manners. "Their jealousy of each other is so great, that however necessary a union of the colonies has long been, for their common defense and security against their enemies, and how sensible soever each colony has been of that necessity," such a union has thus far been impossible. If not against the French and the Indians, "can it reasonably be supposed there is any danger of their uniting against their own nation, which protects and encourages them, with which they have so many connexions and ties of blood, interest, and affection, and which, it is well known, they all love much more than they love one another?" While "the government is mild and just, while important religious and civil rights are secure, such subjects will be dutiful and obedient. The waves do not rise but when the winds blow." On the other hand, nothing is more likely to render "substantial" the "visionary danger of independence" than the heartless exposure of the colonists again to the "neighborhood of foreigners at enmity" with their sovereign. Will they then "have reason to consider themselves any longer as subjects and children, when they find their cruel enemies hallooed upon them by the country from whence they sprung; the government that owes them protection, as it requires their obedience? "Should the ministry take this course, it "would prevent the assuring to the British name and nation a stability and permanency that no man acquainted with history durst have hoped for till our American possessions opened the pleasing prospect." Pitt agreed with Franklin, taking a course consistent with broad statesmanship and generous humanism.

In another way, the war had prepared the colonists for the approaching contest. They had gained military experience and become aware of their own military strength. Battling side by side with the British regulars against the veterans of France, they had won confidence in themselves. They had tested their own fighting capacity and had learned the need of modifying European tactics and European methods to suit the exigencies of frontier warfare. Moreover, at the Revolution, the colonies possessed some officers and men who had been trained in actual warfare.

Most significant of all the results of the war was its influence in forcing out the already nascent sentiment of social unity. Founded at different times, under separate charters, and for diverse motives, the American provinces were in fact thirteen distinct societies. Except for their allegiance to a common sovereign, they were in theory as independent as if they had been foreign states. They waged commercial and even physical war upon each other. Political, economic, and religious antagonisms hindered their healthier growth. Social isolation is the mark of colonial as well as of Hellenic history, and in one case it was nearly as harmful as in the other. Its evils were early perceived; and for more than a century before the outbreak of the French war, one finds occasional experiments, plans, or opinions which give expression to the desire for a political union of all or a part of the colonies. Such, in 1643, was the New England Confederation, which, in spite of its defects, served well for a time the needs of its members. Even the hated general government of Andros taught its adversaries an unintended lesson that bore fruit after many days. The value of federation was suggested, while the arguments, the methods, and the spirit with which the policy of Grenville and Townshend was resisted were then anticipated.

From this time onward, as the population grew, business expanded, and the final struggle with France drew near, the need for a common colonial government was felt more and more keenly by thoughtful men. As early as 1698 William Penn prepared "A brief and plain scheme how the English colonies in the North parts of America . . . may be made more useful to the crown and one another's peace and safety with an universal concurrence. " Under the presidency of a royal commissioner, a representative congress is to assemble at least once in two years. It is to be composed of two " appointed and stated deputies" from each province; and its "business shall be to hear and adjust all matters of complaint or difference between province and province," including absconding debtors, extradition, commerce, and ways and means for securing the safety and united action of the colonies against the public enemies. In the same year Charles Davenant, praising this "constitution," suggests the creation of a "national assembly" to exercise powers similar to those assigned by Penn to his "congress." "Though he advocated an exercise of the full power of the mother country over the colonies," says Frothingham, "yet he urged also a principle constantly put forth by them ; namely, that, in any government that might be established over them, care should be taken to observe sacredly the charters and terms under which the emigrants, at the hazard of their lives, had effected discoveries and settlements"; and " one of his liberal remarks is, that the stronger and greater the colonies grow, 'the more they would benefit the crown and the kingdom; and nothing but such an arbitrary power as shall make them desperate can bring them to rebel.'" A "Virginian," writing in 1701, criticises the schemes of Penn and Davenant, urging that the colonies ought to have, not an equal number of deputies in the general assembly, but a representation better apportioned according to their respective numbers and resources.

In 1722 Daniel Coxe, anticipating some features of Franklin's plan, recommended that "all the colonies appertaining to the crown of Great Britain on the northern continent of America, be united in a legal, regular, and firm establishment," under a "lieutenant, or supreme governour," and with a representative assembly for control of its finances. Plans more favorable to the prerogative were also suggested from time to time, as by Robert Livingston in 1701, and by Archibald Kennedy in 1752. Occasional congresses of governors and other officials for conference with the Indians likewise did something to extend intercolonial acquaintance and to kindle the slowly dawning perception of the essential solidarity of provincial interests throughout the continent.

Finally, in 1754, the famous Plan of Union drafted by Franklin was actually accepted by the Albany convention. This constitution for a united American people, proposed by a representative convention, is a new and significant event in the history of political science. Among its provisions are some far wiser than the corresponding ones in the Articles of Confederation, of which it is the prototype. It never became a law. In America it was rejected as allowing "too much to prerogative," and in England "as having too much weight in the democratic part."

The assemblies did well to decline an instrument which by one of its provisions, not in Franklin's original draft, would have yielded to Parliament the right to change their local institutions. Yet in its failure Franklin's plan was a lasting success. The educational value of an earnest debate on the great problem of American union, taking place simultaneously throughout the thirteen colonies, should not be underestimated. At the very outbreak of the war a problem, which thus far for a few leaders had possessed mainly a literary or speculative interest, had definitively entered the field of practical politics. Still the hope of federation would have to flower before it could yield actual fruit. The heart of the plain people had not yet been touched. This is what the war effected. The experiences of the war called into being a real though inchoate popular opinion regarding the social destiny of the English race in America — a rudimentary national sentiment which impending events would speedily force into full and unquenchable life.

Hitherto there had not been, and under ordinary circumstances there could hardly be, much intercommunication. Travel was then a serious business. By stage, four days were needed to go from Boston to New York, and three days more to reach Philadelphia. Even the "flying machine," put on the road in 1766, required two days for the trip between the last-named cities. The newspapers were few, dear, and scant of information. In fair weather, to spread news throughout the colonies took three weeks, and much longer than that in winter. Few of the wealthy or public men of the south had ever seen those of the north. The common people of one colony had the vaguest notions regarding their neighbors in another, and often their intense provincialism was mingled with bitter prejudices bred by earlier antagonisms or rivalries. The war in many ways broke down the barriers and got people to know each other. Legislatures were called upon to discuss the same or similar measures. Men from Virginia or Pennsylvania met those of Massachusetts or Connecticut in council or on the march and by the campfire, and they succored one another in battle. The money and troops sent to the north by the southern and less exposed colonies bred "mutual goodwill," and the colonial officers "forgot" their "jealousies" in the contempt shown for them by the British subalterns. The private soldiers, too, resented the patronizing airs of the king's regulars.

Negatively, in still another way the colonies were being drawn together and apart from the British government. For it was precisely at this time that alarm was caused by the schemes of the ministry and the suggestions of governors like Shirley of Massachusetts, Bernard of New Jersey, and Dinwiddie of Virginia, for raising a war revenue on the colonies and overriding their chartered rights. In 1754, as later in 1756 and 1760, the "British ministry heard one general clamor from men in office for taxation by act of parliament." The governors were ordered to provide for quartering troops on the colonists and for impressing carriages and provisions for their support. 2 Almost everywhere bitter disputes arose between the assemblies and the executive bodies. The proprietors of Pennsylvania selfishly declined to share with the people the burden of extra taxation, leading to a prolonged struggle, in which in 1760 the assembly was victorious. In Maryland, a similar contest with the proprietor was carried on.

Under Newcastle as the nominal head, suggests a recent English scholar, "the two ministers who were practically responsible for the disasters which brought Pitt into office were Halifax, as president of the Board of Trade and Plantations, and Sir Thomas Robinson, as the departmental secretary of state. If we add to these military and naval advisers as pedantic as Ligonier and Anson, commanders such as Braddock and Loudoun, governors of the type of Shirley, and the whole crew of brigadiers and post-captains, attorneys-general, vice-admirals, and revenue officers, all prepared to take their cue from the sententious loyalty which pervaded the optimist despatches from Whitehall, we shall not be surprised if "the just grievances of his Majesty's loyal and faithful subjects' waited in vain for redress." Nor need we wonder if a nagging and hectoring policy, just when there was supreme need of conciliation, should have aided in awakening the social consciousness of America.

Governor Shirley, indeed, in 1755, did not sympathize with the "apprehensions" that the colonies "will in time unite to throw off their dependency upon their mother country, and set up one general government among themselves." Their different constitutions, clashing interests, and opposite tempers made "such a coalition" seem "highly improbable." "At all events, they could not maintain such an independency without a strong naval force, which it must forever be in the power of Great Britain to hinder them from having"; and he makes the sinister suggestion, that "whilst his majesty hath seven thousand troops kept up within them, with the Indians at command, it seems easy, provided his governors and principal officers are independent of the assemblies for their subsistence and commonly vigilant, to prevent any step of that kind from being taken." Others had a keener vision. In the same year John Adams, then a village school-teacher, believed that "if we can remove the turbulent Gallicks, our people, according to the exactest calculations, will in another century become more numerous than England itself. Should this be the case, since we have, I may say, all the naval stores of the nation in our hands, it will be easy to obtain the mastery of the seas; then the united forces of all Europe will not be able to subdue us. The only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us."

Already, in 1730, Montesquieu had prophesied that because of the laws of navigation and trade England would be the first nation abandoned by her colonies. Not long thereafter, in his memoirs, Argenson predicted that the English colonies in America would sometime rise against the mother country, form themselves into a republic, and astonish the world by their progress. In 1750, twenty-five years before Washington had begun to favor independence, Turgot had likened colonies to fruit which clings to the parent stem only until ripe, and predicted that what Carthage once did "America will sometime do." On learning of the terms of the treaty of 1763, Vergennes, then French ambassador at Constantinople, said that "the consequences of the entire cession of Canada are obvious. I am persuaded England will ere long repent of having removed the only check that could keep her colonies in awe. They stand no longer in need of her protection; she will call on them to contribute toward supporting the burdens they have helped to bring on her; and they will answer by striking off all dependence."

The population of the colonies was of first-rate quality for nation-building. The basis was of Anglo-Saxon stock. The New England people were almost pure English, with slight intermixture of Scotch-Irish and other elements. The Scotch were numerous, notably in New Hampshire and North Carolina. There were French Huguenots, particularly in South Carolina, a few Swedes in Delaware, Dutch in New Jersey and New York, while perhaps a third of the inhabitants of Pennsylvania were Germans. According to the most careful estimate, the thirteen colonies in 1760 had a total population of about 1,600,000; 2,000,000 in 1767; 2,200,000 in 1770; 2,600,000 in 1775; 2,800,000 in 1780. In 1763, therefore, the whole number of souls was not far from 1,775,000. Of this number about 360,000 were negroes, slave and free, of whom more than three-fourths were south of Pennsylvania.

In 1775 Massachusetts had about 335,000 inhabitants; Pennsylvania 300,000; New York 190,000; North Carolina over 265,000; and Virginia 450,000, of whom one-third were blacks. The colonial population was doubling itself in twenty-three years, and it was very largely rural. As in the Old World, the tide of migration to urban centers was only beginning. In 1763 there were but four towns of considerable size in the country: Boston and Philadelphia 2 each with about 20,000, New York with perhaps 12,000, and Charleston with 9000 persons. Baltimore may have had 5000, Providence 4000, and Albany 3000. Nearly five percent, of the colonial population was then urban; whereas, by the census of 1900, over forty percent, of the people of the continental United States dwell in towns of at least 2,500 inhabitants.

At the beginning of the Revolution servants by indenture were still being advertised for sale. These included free persons, whom necessity forced into temporary bondage, as well as banished convicts. Thus, in 1753, it was announced that the Greyhound had arrived at the Severn, Maryland, "with 90 persons doomed to stay seven years in his Majesty's American plantations." Two years later the same newspaper informed the public that "more than 100 seven-year passengers have arrived at Annapolis." Criminals were transported to the same colony as late at least as 1774. The fact is enlightening. The propriety of receiving the foul harvest of the London prisons seems scarcely to have been questioned by the colonists. The slight progress made in the knowledge of social as well as economic laws should never be forgotten in trying to understand the origin and long toleration of British colonial policy.