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TABLE OF CONTENTS.
SUMMARY.Opinions, manners, customs, and inclinations of the inhabitants of the
SUMMARY.—Troubles in America on account of the stamp duty. Violent tumult at
SUMMARY.—Extreme joy of the colonists on hearing of the repeal of the stamp act.
a bill imposing a duty upon tea, paper, glass, and painters' colors. This duty
SUMMARY.-Confidence of the Americans in the general Congress. Dispositions of
The other provinces discover repugnance to imitate the example. Military ope-
THE AMERICAN WAR.
AMERICA, and especially some parts of it, having been discovered by the genius and intrepidity of Italians, received, at various times, as into a place of asylum, the men whom political or religious disturbances had driven from their own countries in Europe. The security which these distant and desert regions presented to their minds, appeared to them preferable even to the endearments of country and of their natal air.
Here they exerted themselves with adınirable industry and fortitude, according to the custom of those whom the fervor of opinion agitates and stimulates, in subduing the wild beasts, dispersing or destroying pernicious or importunate animals, repressing or subjecting the barbarous and savage nations that inhabited this New World, draining the marshes, controlling the course of rivers, clearing the forests, furrowing a virgin soil
, and committing to its bosom new and unaccustomed seeds; and thus prepared themselves a climate less rude and hostile to human nature, more secure and more commodious habitations, more salubrious food, and a part of the conveniences and enjoyments proper to civilised life.
This multitude of emigrants, departing principally from England, in the time of the last Stuarts, landed in that part of North America which extends from the thirty-second to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude; and there founded the colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, which took the general name of New England. To these colonies were afterwards joined those of Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, the two Carolinas, and Georgia. Nor must it be understood, that in departing from the land in which they were born, to seek in foreign regions a better condition of life, they abandoned their country on terms of enmity, dissolving every tie of early attachment. VOL. I.
Far from this, besides the customs, the habits, the usages and manners of their common country, they took with them privileges, granted by the royal authority, whereby their laws were constituied upon the model of those of England, and more or less conformed to a free government, or to a more absolute system, according to the character or authority of the prince from whom they emanated. They were also modified by the influence which the people, by means of their organ, the parliament, were found to possess. For, it then being the epoch of those civil and religious dissensions which caused English blood to flow in torrents, the changes were extreme and rapid. Each province, each colony, had an elective assembly, which, under certain limitations, was invested with the authority of parliament; and a governor, who, representing the king to the eyes of the colonists, exercised also a certain portion of his power. To this was added the trial, which is called by jury, not only in criminal matters, but also in civil causes; an institution highly important, and corresponding entirely with the judicial system of England.
But, in point of religion, the colonists enjoyed even greater latitude than in their parent country itself: they had not preserved that ecclesiastical hierarchy, against which they had combated so strenuously, and which they did not cease to abhor, as the primary cause of the long and perilous expatriation to which they had been constrained to resort.
It can, therefore, excite no surprise, if this generation of men not only had their minds imbued with the principles that form the basis of the English constitution, but even if they aspired 10 a node of government less rigid, and a liberty more entire ; in a word, if they were inflamed with the fervor which is naturally kindled in the hearts of men by obstacles which oppose their religious and political opinions, and still increased by the privations and persecutions they have suffered on iheir account. And how should this ardor, this excitement of exasperated minds, have been appeased in the vast solitudes of America, where the amusements of Europe were unknown, where assiduity in manual toils must have hardened their bodies, and increased the asperity of their characters? If in England obey had shown themselves averse to the prerogative of the crown, how, as to this, should their opinions have been changed in America, where scarcely a vestige was seen of the royal authority and splendor ? where the same occupation being common to all, that of cultivating the earth, must have created in all the opinion and the love of a general equality ? They had encountered exile, at the epoch when the war raged most fiercely in their native country, between the king and the people ; at the epoch when the armed subjects contended for the right of resisting the will of the prince, when he usurps their liberty; and even, if the public good require it, of transferring the crown from one head to another. The colonists had supported these
principles; and how should they have renounced them? They who, out of the reach of royal authority, and, though still in the infancy of a scarcely yet organised society, enjoyed already, in their new country, a peaceful and happy life? The laws observed, justice administered, the magistrates respected, offences, rare or unknown; persons, property and honor, protected from all violation ?
They believed it the unalienable right of every English subject, whether freeman or freeholder, not to give his property without his own consent; that the house of commons only, as the representative of the English people, had the right to grant its money to the crown; that taxes are free gifts of the people to those who govern ; and that princes are bound to exercise their authority, and employ the public treasure, for the sole benefit and use of the community. These privileges,' said the colonists, we have brought with us; distance, or change of climate, cannot have deprived us of English prerogatives; we departed from the kingdom with the consent and under the guarantee of the sovereign authority; the right not to contribute with our money without our own consent, has been solemnly recognised by the government in the charters it has granted to many of the colonies. It is for this purpose that assemblies or courts have been established in each colony, and that they have been invested with authority to investigate and superintend the employment of the public money.' And how, in fact, should the colonists have relinquished such a right; they who derived their subsistence from the American soil, not given or granted by others, but acquired and possessed by themselves ; which they had first occupied, and which their toils had rendered productive ? Every thing, on the contrary, in English America, tended to favor and develop civil liberty ; every thing appeared to lead towards national independence.
The Americans, for the most part, were not only Protestants, but Protestants against Protestantism itself, and sided with those who in England are called Dissenters; for, besides, as Protestants, not acknowledging any authority in the affair of religion, whose decision, without other examination, is a rule of faith, claiming to be of themselves, by the light of natural reason alone, sufficient judges of religious dogmas, they had rejected the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and abolished even the names of its dignities; they had, in short, divested themselves of all that deference which man, by his nature, has for the opinions of those who are constituted in eminent stations; and whose dignities, wealth and magnificence, seem to command respect The intellects of the Americans being therefore perfectly free upon this topic, they exercised the same liberty of thought upon other subjects unconnected with religion, and especially upon the affairs of government, which had been the habitual theme of their conversation, during their residence in the mother country. The colonies, more than any other country, abounded in lawyers, who, accustomed to