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been tried beforehand in every difficulty and temptation that was to beset or befall him as the leader of a free people. His five years as colonel was an epitome of the seven years he spent at the head of the national army. God had proved him, and said clearly by his providence, “ Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things."
Character of the Colonists—First Attempt to Tax the Provinces—Its Reception by
the People-Taxation discussed in the British Parliament-Speech of Col. Barre-Attitude of Virginia-Speech of Patrick Henry-South Carolina and Gadsden-Attacks on Stamp-Master J. Ingersoll-First Congress at New York-The Stamp Act Repealed -- Excitement and Joy of the Colonists—Washington's Views of it-Duties on Tea, Paper, etc. --Tea thrown overboard in Boston Harbor-Port Bill--Virginia Assembly and conduct of Washington-Fast DayFairfax Resolutions—Washington's Letter to Mr. Bryan Fairfax-He is elected a Delegate to the First General Congress—Action of Congress-Prayer by Duchè--Washington's standing in Congress-Lexington and Concord-Excite. ment of the People--Stockbridge--The Second Congress-Washington Chairman of every Committee--Appointed Commander-in-Chief---Battle of Bunker Hill--Journey of Washington to Cambridge--Takes command of the Army-Its character--Appearance of the Encampment--Washington's first orderOrganization of the Army--Difficulties that beset him--Forced to act contrary to his wishes.
DURING the long interval that Washington passed on his plantation engaged in the quiet routine of his agricultural duties and pleasures, the colonies were shaken from limit to limit with the fierce discussion of the doctrine of civi) rights.
In New England, the inhabitants, coming directly from the old Puritan stock, were naturally jealous of those rights for which they had abandoned their native land, while both they and the other colonists could not but draw in freedom with every breath in the untrammeled life of the wilder
Besides, cultivators of the soil are always characterized by independence.
The fluctuations of trade, the stoppage of commerce, and the derangement of currency may prevent their becoming rich, but these cannot prevent the earth from yielding her fruits, so that the disasters of war do not reach to the means of livelihood, and hence do not outweigh all other considerations. Added to all this, a boundless wilderness thronged with savages would naturally attract to it only the more hardy, enterprising, self-reliant,
and fearless class of men, restless under restraint and prompt and resolute in the assertion of their rights.
As the colonies increased in strength and wealth England judiciously avoided intermeddling with their internal regulations, and the Assemblies of the different provinces were really more independent than the Parliament of England. Such a stock, so educated by external circumstances, and strengthened in their views by long continued concessions on the part of the mother country, would naturally rebel against the first effort to reduce them to bondage. England, however, was not aware to what depth the sentiment of liberty had struck, nor of the sternness and courage with which the colonists would resist the first encroachment ou their rights. Regarding the French war as rather the quarrel of the colonies than her own, she resolved they should help sustain the government which had protected them not only from the rapacity of the French, but from the cruelties of the savages.
But at the first suggestion of the British ministry that this should be done by taxation, the colonists were thrown into a high state of excitement, and urgent remonstrances were made to prevent a step so fatal to their liberties.
[1763.] The proposition to lay a stamp-tax was first made under Egremont's administration, but a change in the cabinet prevented it from being immediately carried out. An excise, land-tax, and all other methods for raising a revenue seemed impracticable. But first came the Navigation Act, forbidding America to trade with foreign nations and compelling her to buy only of England. All other trade was declared contraband, and custom-house officers were sent over, and national vessels ordered to cruise along cur coasts to make seizure of all goods that had not come through English ports. This aroused a storm of indignation, and the colonists, finding no other mode of revenge, began to do without English manufactures. The loom and the spinning-wheel were soon heard in every part of the land. Boston took the lead, the inhabitants refusing even to wear gloves at funerals. Other towns followed the example, and English manufactures instead of finding a freer market than before met, a more stringent one. This, with other burdens imposed on commerce, agitated deeply the public mind. But vexatious and unjust as this policy was, the colonists felt that Parliament had a right to regulate commerce, and no serious resistance was made; but when the next spring a resolution passed the House of Commons [March 10th 1764] to lay a stamp-tax, the indignation broke over all bounds. What, taxation without representation ? this was not only tyranny to the colonists but treason to the British constitution. Franklin, who was in London, wrote home to Thompson, “ The sun of liberty is set, the Americans must light the lamp of industry and economy.” - Be assured,” said Thompson in reply, “wn shall light torches of another sort."
The resolution not being acted on this year the inhab tants had time to consider it. The universal rage howeve with which it was received, breaking down old rivalrie: healing bitter feuds, and harmonizing elements hitherto a war, showed clearly what the inevitable result would be of pressing the measure upon them. It was like the “Truce of God," which banded in brotherly love kings and princes who had long been at war, and reconciled ancient foes to hurl them like a single man against the infidel. This odious tax was the topic of common conversation, clubs were formed to discuss it, and the assemblies of the different states dispatched agents to England with their firm remonstrances against it.
Notwithstanding all these indications of an approaching storm, the English government fully believed that the colonies were too feeble and timid to offer any effectual resistance, and the next year [March 8th, 1765] the stamp-tax became