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99 · Population.-In Colonial days there were no regular or complete censuses; and historians, dealing with population and wealth, are compelled to rely on very imperfect data. Mr. Bancroft supposes that the population of the country in 1774 was 2,600,000. This is about onefourth of the population of England and Wales at that time. Nearly all of this population was American-born. To no Colony had the emigration from Europe been of long continuance, or great in numbers. The younger Colonies, to a considerable extent, drew their population from the older
Wealth and Commerce.-Unfortunately, there are no statistics showing the growth of wealth, or its total amount at any one time. Great progress was made, however, in agriculture, in lumbering, and in fisheries, considerable progress in manufactures, and some in mining. Durand wrote of the Colonies in 1766: “They are too rich to remain in obedience.”
101. Independence Declared.—All this time the conspicuous fact in the politics of these commonwealths was their dependence upon England. But, suddenly, as the casual European observer must have thought, there came a great change. Early in the year 1775, the Colonies united to resist by force of arms the efforts of the Mother Country to govern them; and on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress, representing them all, published and declared :
"That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as free and independent States they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do."
The British Colonies in North America now became the
1 History, Vol. IV., p. 62.
United States of North America. The War of Independence made the declaration good. As the planting of these Colonies was the most far-reaching event of the seventeenth century, so their independence was the most far-reaching event of the eighteenth.
102. Cause and Occasion of the War.-The Declaration of Independence assigns the causes that impelled the Colonies to separation. These causes form a “history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States." The facts recited were rather the occasion than the cause of separation. The American Revolution was a step in that grand march of civilized man toward larger freedom and better political institutions, which began in Europe in the fifteenth century, and has continued until the present day. This movement was felt in England before the American Plantations were made, and was particularly vigorous in the seventeenth century. In America, it went forward with more momentum than in England. The American Revolution was a kind of continuation of the English revolutions of 1642 and 1688 ; and its best definition is, a clash between the republican ideas of America and the monarchical and aristocratical ideas of England. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States belong to the same series of great charters of human rights as Magna Charta, the Petition of Right, the Bill of Rights, and the Reform Bill. At the utmost, the facts recited in the Declaration were only proximate, and not original, causes of the division of the British Empire.
103. Idea of Nationality.--The Colonies occupied the edge of a vast territorial empire that was the fit home of a great sovereign people.' A people had been slowly forming in this empire worthy to possess it. They were 2,600,000 in number. They abounded in that capacity for self-government which is so characteristic of the English race. They represented the advanced civil, political, and religious ideas of the world. At the beginning, they sought only a redress of grievances ; for a full year, they shrank from cutting the ties that bound them to the Mother Country ; and yet, unconsciously to themselves, the idea of nationality had slowly been taking form in their minds.
The name "Continental” given to the Congress, the army, and the cause shows how readily they caught the vision of independent empire. Turgot wisely said that “ Colonies are like fruits, which cling to the tree only till they ripen."
An historical review will illustrate the foregoing statements.
104. England in 1603. At this time England was a great and progressive state. In no country did the people, on the whole, enjoy more civil, political, and religious rights. In a long series of struggles with arbitrary power, the people had won a large measure of freedom. In these respects, the Englishman of Queen Elizabeth's time was far in advance of his contemporaries on the Continent, save alone the Hollander.
105. The English Revolution of 1642.-Soon after the House of Stuart came to the throne, there came a crisis in English history. Broadly stated, the issue when defined was, How much power shall belong to the King, and how much to Parliament? Narrowly stated, Shall the King levy taxes that have not been voted by the House of Commons? When Charles I. could not obtain a parliament that would conform to his wishes, he undertook to govern without one; and this attempt brought on, in 1642, a civil war, that finally ended, in 1649, in his death, the overthrow of the Monarchy, and the establishment of the Commonwealth. Questions of religious rights were also involved in the struggle. And it is important to note that the first British Colonies in America were planted while this long contest was going ou.
106. Political Character of the Colonists - The Colonists brought with them to America all the free political institutions that had slowly grown up in England. The royal charters guaranteed to them the common rights and liberties of Englishmen. Moreover, a large number of them held the most advanced civil, political, and religious views then held in England. Not a few of them-all in fact, who founded New England, and some in other Colonies—left the Mother Country on account of these views. Thus, to an extent the men who planted the Colonies were even more pronounced in their political and religious sentiments than the men who successfully resisted tyranny in England. Some of them were the same men.
107. The Growth of Free Sentiments. The Euglish institutions and ideas brought to America were virile, and all the conditions were favorable to their growth. Population was sparse; the restraints of old aud thickly peopled societies were in a measure removed; the Plantations were separated from the Old World by the Atlantic Ocean. Men living in the forests of America were not likely to pay great deference to a distant government that had left them to depend upon themselves. Everything tended to engender the spirit of freedom, and the spirit of freedom finally ripened into the spirit of independence. It is not strange, therefore, that at the end of a century and a half, the people of the Colonies came to hold advanced opinions concerning human rights and the nature and powers of government. Still, the bonds of society were not relaxed; on the other hand, the people were generally as devoted to law, order, and civil obedience as any in the world.
What the advanced political views of the Colonists were, when the struggle with England culminated, cau best be learned from the Declaration of Independence. They were pure republicanism. Similar views were then found in books written by political philosophers, but no government rested upon them as a foundation.
108. The English Revolution of 1688.-In the war of 1642-1649, the popular party in England won the day. But by 1660 that party had lost its hold on the country, and the Stuarts came back to the throne. Charles II. ruled in a very arbitrary manner, and his brother, James II., who succeeded him in 1685, in a manner still more arbitrary. The result was a second revolution that, in 1688, drove King James from the country, made William of Orange king, and once more started England on a course of political progress. The rights for which the popular party had contended were now effectually secured. The independence and supremacy of Parliament were established, and the Bill of Rights enacted. Never again did any English king attempt what some of the old kings had done. So far, the general courses of events in England and America were parallel. Indeed, the two series of events niade up the one movement that the English-speaking race was making toward larger rights and greater freedom. Neither series can be understood without the other. Still it must be said that some of the Colonies, and notably Virginia, sympathized with the Stuarts.
109. Later Course of Events in England.-Still, the Mother Country did not, and could not, keep pace with the Colonies in the progress of political ideas. The ascendency of the House of Commons, as representing the nation, was secured, but the House of Lords and the King were still powerful. The old Royalist party was crushed, and finally disappeared altogether; but there soon appeared a new conservative party called the Tories, embracing a majority of the nobility and nearly all the clergy of the Established Church, which was devoted to maintaining in full vigor the hereditary parts of the government. The Whigs or liberal party were practically content with what had been gained, and were adverse to further changes. For the time, political progress in England was mainly arrested; now one party and then another governed the country, and there were no political issues intimately affecting the rights of men. In 1760 George III. came to the throne. He was a man of narrow miv'd, of intense convictions, a thorough Tory filled with the royal prerogative, and resolved on playing the part of a king. He would rule as well as reign. He failed in the end to carry out his ideas; but he arrested for a time political progress in Eugland, and brought on the American war.
110. The Way Prepared for Separation. From an early time it had been found difficult to adjust the practical relations of the Colonies to the Mother Country; and the more the Colonies increased in strength, the more difficult the problem became. It is, therefore, obvious that, if England and the Colonies continued to move on the liues now marked out, only a fitting occasion would be necessary to bring them into collision. It would be skillful management, or great good fortune, that could ultimately prevent the republican ideas of America from clashing with the monarchical ideas of Evglaud. The collision came in 1775. It did not spring from accidental or momentary causes. Had the British government pursued a concilatory course, the day of collision and separation would have been deferred, how long no one can tell ; but the King was too self-willed, his ministers too subservient, Parliament too narrow in its views and too determined, to pursue such a course. The people of every Colouy were subject to two jurisdictions, onc local and one general, that must be adjusted to each other. To effect such adjustment caused no little friction ; and the Colonies and the Mother Country got on peaceably as long as they did, only because peither one pushed its theory of Colonial relations to an extreme, each yielding something to the other and thus effecting a compromise. England was very proud of her American Colonies ; but, as though blind to all the forces that tended to separation, she pursued a policy that led by swift steps to their loss. III. American Theory of Colonial Dependence. The Colonists
. had decided views of their proper relations to the Home government, as well as of the proper nature and powers of government in general. They held that the dominion which the Cabots had discovered in America belonged to the King rather than to the Kingdom of England. Englishmen adventuring into this dominion to