Presentation on theme: "Was the American Revolution Avoidable?"— Presentation transcript:
1Was the American Revolution Avoidable? An Online Professional Development SeminarWELCOMEWe will begin promptly on the hour.
2GOALSTo deepen understanding of the forces that caused the American RevolutionTo provide fresh materials and approaches to strengthen classroom instruction2
3FROM THE FORUM Challenges, Issues, Questions Was the conflict a revolution or a war for independence?How did the Revolution affect the rest of North America and the rest of theBritish Empire?Please see the forum for a response.
4Jack P. Greene National Humanities Center Fellow , ,Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus of the HumanitiesJohns Hopkins UniversityAtlantic historyExclusionary Empire:British Liberty Overseas,(2010)Atlantic History:A Critical Reappraisal(2009)The British Revolution in America(1996)Explaining the American Revolution: Issues, Interpretations, and Actors(1995)The Intellectual Construction of America: Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800(1992)
6Was the American Revolution avoidable? Preliminary Questions What were the British Empire’s component parts?How were they held together?How was the British Empire organized?
7The British Empire1763Central kingdom:England, Wales,ScotlandIrelandThirty-fiveAmerican coloniesTrading “factories’on the African coastLarge chunks ofterritory in IndiaStrategic sites–Gibraltar andMinorca–in southernEurope.
8Gov. Thomas Pownall, The Administration of the Colonies, 1764 “It has been often suggested that care should be taken in the administration of the plantations [colonies], lest in some future time these colonies should become independent of the mother country. But perhaps it may be proper on this occasion, nay, it is justice to say it, that if by becoming independent is meant a revolt, nothing is further from their nature, their interest, their thoughts. If a defection from the alliance of the mother country be suggested, it ought to be and can be truly said that their spirit abhors the sense of such. . . nothing can eradicate from their hearts their natural, almost mechanical, affection to Great Britain, which they conceive under no other sense, nor call by any other name, than that of home. Besides, the merchants are, and must ever be, in great measure allied with those of Great Britain. Their very support consists in this alliance. The liberty and religion of the British colonies are incompatible with either French or Spanish government; and they know full well that they could hope for neither liberty nor protection under a Dutch one. No circumstance of trade could tempt them thus to certain ruin. Any such suggestion, therefore, is a false and unjust aspersion on their principles and affections, and can arise from nothing but an entire ignorance of their circumstances.”How was the British Empire organized and held together in 1763?What ties link the colonies with Great Britain?
9Benjamin Franklin on British victories in the French and Indian War “No one can rejoice more sincerely than I do on the Reduction [defeat] of Canada; and this, not merely as I am a Colonist, but as I am a Briton. I have long been of Opinion that the Foundations of the future Grandeur and Stability of the British Empire lie in America, and tho’, like other Foundations, they are low and little seen, they are nevertheless broad and Strong enough to support the greatest Political Structure Human Wisdom ever yet erected.”Letter to Henry Home (Lord) Kames, London, 3 January 1760__________________________________________________________________Rev. Thomas Barnard, sermon, Salem, Massachusetts, 25 May 1763“Now commences the Era of our Quiet Enjoyment of those Liberties which our Fathers purchased with the Toil of their whole Lives, their Treasure, their Blood. Safe from the Enemy of the Wilderness, safe from the griping hand of arbitrary Sway and cruel Superstition. Here shall be the late founded Seat of Peace and Freedom. Here shall our indulgent Mother, who has most generously rescued and protected us, be served and honored by growing Numbers with all Duty, Love and Gratitude, till Time shall be no more.”How was the British Empire organized and held together in 1763?What ties link the colonies with Great Britain?
10How were these powerful ties so dissipated in just 12 years to bring the colonies to rebellion? Might this weakening of traditional ties been avoided?If so, how?
11The Revolution is typically seen as a conflict between Britain and America. But Britain was not united on the policies that bred colonial discontent.“America” did not exist at the time of the Stamp Act crisis.
12Gov. Thomas Pownall, The Administration of the Colonies, 1764 “. . . it is essential to the preservation of the empire to keep [the colonies] disconnected and independent of each other. They are certainly so at present the different manner in which they are settled, the different modes under which they live, the different forms of charters, grants, and frame of government they possess, the various principles of repulsion that these create the different interests which they actuate, the religious interests by which they are actuated, the rivalship and jealousies which arise from hence, and the impracticability, if not the impossibility of reconciling and accommodating these incompatible ideas and claims, will keep them forever so ”How united were the colonies after the French and Indian War?
13John Adams to Mercy Warren, July 20, 1807 “The Principles of the American Revolution may be said to have been as various as the thirteen States that went through it, and in some sense as diversified as the individuals who acted in it.” How united were the colonies on the eve of the Revolution?
14After the French and Indian War, the British thought that the settler empire in America could be rationalized and modernized.
15Thomas Pownall, The Administration of the Colonies, 1764 “The several changes in interests and territories which have taken place in the colonies of the European world on the event of Peace have given a general impression of some new state of things arising. One cannot but observe that there is some general idea of some revolution of events beyond the ordinary course of things, some general apprehension of something new arising in the world, of some new channel of business, applicable to new powers something that is to be guarded against on one hand, or that is to be carried to advantage on the other. There is an universal apprehension of some new crisis forming.”What were the expectations about the future of Britain’s American Empire in the wake of the Seven Years’ War?
16Gov. Thomas Pownall, The Administration of the Colonies, 1764 “. . . [T]he people of the colonies say that the inhabitants of the colonies are entitled to all the privileges of Englishmen, that they have a right to participate in the legislative power, and that no commands of the crown are binding upon them, further than they please to acquiesce under such and conform their own actions thereto; that they hold this right of legislature, not derived from the grace and will of the crown that this right is inherent and essential to the community, as a community of Englishmen: and that therefore they must have all the rights, privileges, and full and free exercise of their own will and liberty in making laws which are necessary thereto, uncontrolled by any power of the crown or of the governor ”What were the expectations about the future of Britain’s American Empire in the wake of the Seven Years’ War?
17Gov. Francis Bernard, Principles of Law and Polity, Applied to the Government of the British Colonies in America, 1764The external British dominions, without such an union, are subordinate to and dependent upon the Kingdom of Great Britain, and must derive from thence all their powers of legislation and jurisdiction.15 . A separate legislation is not an absolute right of British subjects residing out of the seat of Empire; it may or may not beallowed and has or has not been granted, according to the circumstances of the community.17. No grant of power of Legislation to a dependent government, whether it comes from the King alone, or Parliament, can preclude the Parliament of Great Britain from interfering in such dependent government, at such time and in such manner as they shall think fit . . .29. The rule that a British subject shall not be bound by laws, or liable to taxes, but what he has consented to by his representatives, must be confined to the inhabitants of Great Britain only; and is not strictly true even there.68. All external Legislatures must subordinate to, and dependent upon, the Imperial Legislature; otherwise there would be anEmpire in an Empire.75. Every American government is capable of having its Constitution altered for the better.90. The reformation of the American governments should not be controlled by the present boundaries of the colonies; as theywere mostly settled upon partial, occasional, and accidental considerations, without any regard for the whole.The people of North America, at this time, expect a revisal and reformation of the American Governments, and are better disposed to submit to it than they ever were or perhaps ever will be again.This is therefore the proper and critical time to reform the American governments upon a general, constitutional, firm, and durable plan; and if it is not done now, it will probably every day grow more difficult, till at last it becomes impracticable.How was the British Empire organized and held together before 1763?
18Thomas Pownall, The Administration of the Colonies, 1764 If the colonies are to be possessed as of right and governed by the crown then a revision of these charters, commissions, instructions, so as to establish the rights of the crown and the privileges of the people, as thereby created, is all that is necessary. But while the crown may, perhaps justly and of right, in theory, consider these lands and the plantations thereon as its domains, and as of special right properly belonging to it While this is the idea on one hand, the people on the other say that they could not forfeit nor lose the common rights and privileges of Englishmen by adventuring under various disasters and difficulties, under heavy expenses and every hazard to settle these vast countries, to engage in untried channels of labor, thereby increasing the nation’s commerce and extending its dominions; but that they must carry with them, wherever they go, the right of being governed only by the laws of the realm, only by laws made with their own consent that they must ever retain with them the right of not being taxed without their own consent or that of their representatives . . .While these totally different ideas of the principles whereon the government and the people found their claims and rights, remain unsettled and undetermined, there can be nothing but discordant jarring and perpetual obstruction in the exercise of them.What were the expectations about the future of Britain’s American Empire in the wake of the Seven Years’ War?
19The New York Petition to the House of Commons, October 18, 1764 That from the year 1683, to this Day, there have been three Legislative Branches in this Colony; consisting of the Governor and council appointed by the Crown, and the representatives chosen by the people, who, besides the Power of making Laws for the Colony, have enjoyed the Right of Taxing the Subject for Support of the Government.Under this Political Frame, the Colony was settled by Protestant Emigrants from several Parts of Europe, and more especially from Great-Britain and Ireland: And as it was originally modelled with the intervention of Crown, and not excepted to by the Realm of England before, nor by Great-Britain, since the Union the Planters and Settlers conceived the strongest Hopes that the Colony had gained a civil Constitution, which, so far at least as the Rights and Privileges of the People were concerned, would remain permanent, and be transmitted to their latest Posterity.It is therefore with equal Concern and Surprize, that they have received Intimations of certain designs lately formed, if possible, to induce the Parliament of Great-Britain, to impose Taxes upon the Subjects here, by Laws to be passed there; and as we who have the Honour to represent them, conceive that this Innovation, will greatly affect the Interest of the Crown and the Nation, and reduce the Colony to absolute Ruin; it became our indispensible Duty, to trouble you with a seasonable Representation of the Claim of our Constituents to an Exemption from the Burthen of all Taxes for granted by themselvesHow did colonials respond to the announcement of Parliament’s proposal to tax the colonies and why?
20The Virginia Petition to the King, Dec. 18, 1764 How did colonials respond to the announcement of Parliament’s proposal to tax the colonies and why?
21Virginia Remonstrance to the House of Commons How did colonials respond to the announcement of Parliament’s proposal to tax the colonies and why?
22Debates in Parliament on the Repeal of the Stamp Act, February 1765 Charles Townshend, M. P. representing HarwichHe would have put this debate off if the delay and the use that has been made of that delay if he had heard any good reason for it. But he has heard with great pleasure the right of taxing America asserted and not disputed. If disputed and given up, he must give up the word “colony” for that implies subordination.He judged the ability of the colonies from their trade and other circumstances which are the best pulses of their health and vigour, and thinks they can bear it perfectly well. If there is no doubt of the right or the ability to bear it, what other reason can there be for putting it offThe former delay has produced no reasons but complaints, no proofs but questions of the right to be exempted.What were the divergent interpretations ofthe repeal of the Stamp Act, and could theyhave been reconciled in negotiations?
23Debates in Parliament on the Repeal of the Stamp Act, February 1765 Col. Isaac Barré, M. P., colonel in British army; had been wounded in Canada during the French and Indian War; supporter of American rights; coined phrase “Sons of Liberty”“They planted by your care? No! your oppressions planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated and unhospitable country where they exposed themselves to almost all the hardships to which human nature is liable, and among others to the cruelties of a savage foe, the most subtle and I take upon me to say the most formidable of any people upon the face of God’s Earth. And yet, actuated by the principles of true English liberty, they met all these hardships with pleasure, compared with those they suffered in their own country, from the hands of those who should have been their friends.“They nourished up by your indulgence? They grew by your neglect of them: as soon as you began to care about them, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule over them, in one department and another, who were perhaps the deputies of deputies to some member of this House sent to spy out their liberty, to misrepresent their actions and to prey upon them; men whose behavior on many occasions has caused the blood of those Sons of Liberty to recoil within them; men promoted to the highest seats of justice, some, who to my knowledge were glad by going to a foreign country to escape being brought to the bar of a court of justice in their own.“They protected by your arms? They have nobly taken up arms in your defense, have exerted a valour amidst their constant and laborious industry for the defense of a country, whose frontier, while drenched in blood, its interior parts have yielded all its little savings to your emolument [benefit]. And believe me, remember I this day told you so, that same spirit of freedom which actuated that people at first, will accompany them still.
24Stamp Act repealed and Declaratory Act passed on March 18, 1766. Declaratory Act asserts Parliaments authority of the colonies in all cases whatsoever.Rockingham, the British prime minister after Grenville, led the only administration that was sympathetic to the colonies from 1763 to 1781.He hoped that once Parliament has asserted its authority over the colonies, it would cater to the colonists’ expectations and not try to tax them again.
25You must be sensible what friends the Colonies have had in the present British Merchants Warning to Boston Merchants, on the eve of the repeal of the Stamp Act, 1766You must be sensible what friends the Colonies have had in the presentMinistry, and are doubtless informed what pains they have taken to servethem. It is justice likewise to them to inform you that they had had greatdifficulties to encounter in the cause, the principal of which were unhappilythrown in by the Colonies themselves: we mean the intemperate proceedingsof various ranks of people on your side of the water, and the difficulties of theRepeal [of the Stamp Act] would have been much less if they had not, by their violence in wordand action, awakened the honor of Parliament and thereby involved everyfriend of the repeal in the imputation of betraying the dignity of Parliament. . .If, therefore, you would make the proper returns to your country, if you have amind to do credit to your friends and strengthen the hands of your advocates,hasten, we beseech you, to express filial duty and gratitude to your parentcountryBut if violent measures are continued and triumphs on the point gain’d, if itis talked of as a victory, if it is said the Parliament have yielded up the Right[to exercise its legitimate power], then indeed your enemies here will have acomplete triumph. Your friends must certainly lose all power to serve you,your tax masters probably be restored and such a train of ill consequencesfollow as are easier for you to imagine than for us to describe We have nodoubt that you will adopt the contrary conduct and inculcate it to the utmost ofyour influence, to which we sincerely wish the most extensive regard may bepaid, and that uninterrupted mutual affection may continue between GreatBritain and her Colonies to the latest ages. We are with unfeigned [sincere] regard,Gentlemen,Your affectionate friends, and humble servants, [Signatures]What were the divergent interpretations of the repeal of the Stamp Act, and could they have been reconciled in negotiations?
26George Mason to the Committee of Merchants, June 6, 1776
27Richard Bland, “An Enquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies,” 1766 It is in vain to search into the civil constitution of England for directions in fixing the proper connection between the colonies and the mother-kingdom The planting colonies from Britain, is but of recent date, and nothing relative to such plantation can be collected from the ancient laws of the kingdomFrom [a review] of the charters, and other acts of the crown, under which the first colony in North America was established, it is evident, that “the colonists were not a few unhappy fugitives who had wandered onto a distant part of the world to enjoy their civil and religious liberties, which they were deprived of at home,” but had a regular government long before the first act of navigation [enacted by Parliament in 1651], and were respected as a distinct state, independent, as to their internal government, of the original kingdom, but united with her, as to their external polity, in the closest and most intimate LEAGUE AND AMITY, under the same allegiance, and enjoying the benefits of reciprocal intercourse.How during the Townshend Act crisis did colonial thinkersbegin to specify the boundaries on British authority over the colonies?
28During the Townsend Act crisis, from 1767 to 1771, both sides took conciliatory positions. The Americans pulled back from their sweeping assertions of the their assemblies’ exclusive jurisdiction over all internal legislation.The British repealed all taxes except for a token tax on tea and promised to impose no future taxes.
29The Massachusetts Circular Letter, 1768 The House have humbly represented to the ministry [British cabinet] their own sentiments:– that his Majesty’s high court of Parliament is the supreme legislative power over the whole empire;– that in all free states the constitution is fixed, and as the supreme legislative derives its power and authorityfrom the constitution, it cannot overleap the bounds of it without destroying its own foundation;– that the constitution ascertains and limits both sovereignty and allegiance, and, therefore, his Majesty’s American subjects, who acknowledge themselves bound by the ties of allegiance, have an equitable claim to the full enjoyment of the fundamental rules of the British constitution;– that it is an essential, unalterable right in nature, engrafted into the British constitution, as a fundamentallaw, and ever held sacred and irrevocable by the subjects within the realm, that what a man has honestlyacquired is absolutely his own, which he may freely give but cannot be taken from him without his consent;– that the American subjects may, therefore, exclusive of any consideration of charter rights, with a decentfirmness, adapted to the character of free men and subjects, assert this natural and constitutional right.The Massachusetts Circular Letter, 1768How during the Townshend Act crisisdid colonial thinkers begin to specifythe boundaries on British authority overthe colonies?
30James Wilson, “Consideration on the Authority of Parliament,” 1774 What has been already advanced will suffice to show, that it is repugnant to the essential maxims of jurisprudence, to the ultimate end of all government, to the genius of the British constitution, and to the liberty and happiness of the colonies, that they should be bound by the legislative authority of the parliament of Great Britain Those who launched into the unknown deep, in quest of new countries and habitations, still considered themselves as subjects of the English monarchs, and behaved suitably to that character; but it nowhere appears, that they still considered themselves as represented in an English parliament, or that they thought the authority of the English parliament extended over them. They took possession of the country in the king’s name; they treated, or made war with the Indians by his authority; they held the lands under his grants, and paid him the rents reserved upon them; they established governments under the sanction of his prerogative, or by virtue of his charters:--no application for those purposes was made to the parliament: no ratification of the charters or letters patent was solicited from that assembly, as is usual in England with regard to grants and franchises of much less importance.In the crisis created by the Coercive Acts of 1774, what terms, either explicitly or implicitly, did colonists offer?
31From 1771 to 1773 relative peace obtained between Britain and the colonies. Had practical commercial considerations trumped abstract questions of Parliamentary authority?Had British accommodationists triumphed over coercivists?Americans did not appear to be making a revolution.
32Benjamin Franklin, “Rules by Which a Great Empire May be Reduced to a Small One,” 1773 II. [So] that the possibility of this separation may always exist, take special care the provinces are never incorporated with the mother country, that they do not enjoy the same common rights, the same privileges in commerce, and that they are governed by severer laws, all of your enacting, without allowing them any share in the choice of the legislators.III. These remote provinces have perhaps been acquired, purchased, or conquered at the sole expense of the settlers or their ancestors without the aid of the mother country. If these [colonies] should happen to increase her [the mother country’s] strength by their growing numbers ready to join in her wars, her commerce by their growing demand for her manufactures, or her naval power by greater employment for her ships and seamen, they [the colonies] may probably suppose some merit in this, and that it entitles them to some favor. You are therefore to forget it all or resent it as if they had done you Injury. If they happen to be zealous Whigs, friends of liberty, nurtured in revolution principles, remember all that to their prejudice and resolve to punish it: for such principles, after a revolution is thoroughly established, are of no more use; they are even odious and abominable.IV. However peaceably your colonies have submitted to your government, shown their affection to your interests, and patiently borne their grievances, you are to suppose them always inclined to revolt and treat them accordingly. Quarter troops among them, who by their insolence may provoke the rising of mobs, and by their bullets and bayonets suppress them. By this means, like the husband who uses his wife ill from suspicion, you may in time convert your suspicions into realities.
33Benjamin Franklin, “Rules by Which a Great Empire May be Reduced to a Small One,” 1773 VIII. If when you are engaged in war, your colonies should vie in liberal aids of men and money against the common enemy upon your simple requisition, and give far beyond their abilities. Reflect that a penny taken from them by your power is more honorable to you than a pound presented by their benevolence. Despise, therefore, their voluntary grants, and resolve to harass them with novel taxes. They will probably complain to your parliaments that they are taxed by a body in which they have no representative, and that this is contrary to common right. They will petition for redress. Let the parliaments flout their claims, reject their petitions, refuse even to suffer the reading of them, and treat the petitioners with the utmost contempt. Nothing can have a better effect in producing the alienation proposed, for though many can forgive injuries, none ever forgave contempt.
34After 1773 the Boston Tea Party and other acts of resistance intensified accommodationist and coercivist divisions in Britain.Accommodationists tried to head off coercive measures.The Coercive Acts of 1774 turned what had been a dysfunctional relationship between Britain and the colonies into a potential revolution.
35Bill of Rights, October 1775First Continental CongressThat the inhabitants of the English colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following RIGHTS:Resolved, N. C. D [Latin: nemine contra dicente (no one dissenting)] 1. That they are entitled to life, liberty and property: and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever a right to dispose of either without their consent.Resolved, N. C. D. 2. That our ancestors who first settled these colonies were, at the time of their emigration from the mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural born subjects within the realm of England.Resolved, N. C. D. 3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost any of those rights, but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and enjoyment of all such of them, as their local and other circumstances enable them to exercise and enjoy.Resolved, 4. That the foundation of English liberty and of all free government is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council: and as the English colonists are not represented, and from their local and other circumstances cannot properly be represented in the British Parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial Legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be preserved in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed: But, from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interest of both countries, we cheerfully consent to the operation of such acts of the British Parliament as are bona fide, restrained to the regulation of our external commerce for the purpose of securing the commercial advantages of the whole empire to the mother country, and the commercial benefits of its respective members, excluding every idea of taxation internal or external, for raising a revenue on the subjects in America without their consent.In the crisis created by the Coercive Acts of 1774, what terms, either explicitly or implicitly, did colonists offer in the “Bill of Rights” in 1774?
36Declaration of the Causes of Taking Up Arms, July 1775 Second Continental CongressWe for ten years incessantly and ineffectually besieged the Throne as supplicants. We reasoned, we remonstrated with Parliament in the most mild and decent language. But Administration, sensible that we should regard these oppressive measures as freemen ought to do, sent over fleets and armies to enforce them. The indignation of the Americans was roused, it is true; but it was the indignation of a virtuous, loyal, and affectionate people. A Congress of Delegates from the united colonies was assembled at Philadelphia on the fifth day of last September . We resolved again to offer an humble and dutiful petition to the King, and also addressed our fellow subjects of Great Britain. We have pursued every temperate, every respectful measure. We have even proceeded to break off our commercial intercourse with our fellows subjects [boycott; nonimportation] as the last peaceable admonition that our attachment to no nation upon earth should supplant our attachment to liberty. This, we flattered ourselves, was the ultimate step of the controversy. But subsequent events have shown how vain was this hope of finding moderation in our enemies.We are reduced to the alternative of choosing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers or resistance by force. The latter is our choice. We have counted the cost of this contest and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. Honor, justice, and humanity forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.How in the months after Lexington and Concord did contrasting interpretations of the problem produce an impasse?
37Royal Proclamation of Rebellion, August 1775 Whereas many of Our Subjects in divers Parts of Our Colonies and Plantations in North America, misled by dangerous and ill-designing Men, and forgetting the Allegiance which they owe to the Power that has protected and sustained them, after various disorderly Acts committed in Disturbances of the Publick Peace, to the Obstruction of lawful Commerce, and to the Oppression of Our loyal Subjects carrying on the same have at length proceeded to an open and avowed Rebellion, by arraying themselves in hostile Manner to withstand the Execution of the Law, and traitorously preparing, ordering, and levying War against UsHow in the months after Lexington and Concord did contrasting interpretations of the problem produce an impasse?
38Was the American Revolution avoidable? NOat least not with the cast of characters in power at the time.BecauseThe Americansmade their demands non-negotiable.The Britishoverestimated their military and naval power,underestimated the colonies’ capacity to resist,underestimated the depth and breadth of colonial resistance,insisted upon the omnipotence of Parliament,were too protective of Parliamentary honor,offered too few concessions too late.
39The colonies would not have revolted and formed the United States. What If . . .the British had compromised in honor of the commercial and cultural ties that bound the colonies to the mother country?The colonies would not have revolted and formed the United States.They probably would have developed into one or more self-governing commonwealths like Canada or Australia.Slavery might have been abolished earlier and peacefully, as it was in the West Indies in the 1830s.Perhaps the British would have been more respectful of Native American rights.Our fascination with the royal family might have some credible basis.