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the British Parliament added to the hostility of the American colonists. It needed but a few more measures on both sides to change the latent hostility into strife.
In 1770 parliament allowed the East Indian Company of England to sell tea in the colonies free of duty, thereby depriving the American merchants of a share in the profits of that trade. The Americans throughout the years 1771-2 and 3 contented themselves with forming associations pledging themselves not to use the tea imported. These were the conditions in all the colonies. But in September, 1774, a Congress, composed of members sent by the citizens of all the colonies, met at Philadelphia to consider the state of affairs and what measures ought to be taken to correct them. An address was offered to the crown. It terminated with these words :“Place us in the same situation that we were at the close of the late war, and our former harmony will be restored.”
When the British Parliament met in January, 1774, there were laid before it, not only the papers from the Colonial Congress, but a number of letters from the royal governors and revenue and military officers, testifying to the spirit of opposition existing in the colonies against the unconstitutional acts of the London Parliament.
The consequence was, that, instead of renouncing the tax on the colonies, recalling the troops sent to coerce them and restoring to their courts and legislatures their proper functions, the English Parliament resolved to abate nothing of their vigor against the Americans until they yielded unconditionally. Moreover, parliament proceeded to pass an act to punish all of the New England colonies for their sympathy with Massachusetts, by restricting their trade with England and depriving them of Newfoundland fisheries.
In 1775 the General Assembly of New York adopted a memorial to present to the king, begging him to restore the charter to Massachusetts, which had been taken away, and to open the port of Boston which had been closed. The petition of New York was rejected by the British ministry without a hearing.
In the same year, 1775, the second Continental Congress met again at Philadelphia. All the colonies sent representatives but Georgia. The mission of this congress was to restore harmony in the colonies between the royal and local authorities and to obtain a redress of grievances.
A petition was framed by this congress and presented to the king. It, like all similar colonial documents of the period, abounded in expressions of loyalty and humbly prayed for just and constitutional usage such as was accorded them by their charters, whose rights were now infringed.
The petition sent by the Continental Congress, asking that the restrictions be removed, was ignominously disregarded by parliament, and the colonists were termed rebels for exercising this constitutional right of protest. The royal officers in the colonies were commanded to seize the cannon and ammunition and small arms of the colonists.
The attempt of Gen. Gage, who commanded the British troops in Boston, to capture the stores of the colonists, thirty miles away, at Concord and Lexington, led to an engagement between the provincials and the king's troops, in which the stores were saved and lives were lost on both sides.
Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia for the king, performed a similar hostile act by seizing the stores at Williamsburg in that colony. He was driven, however, by the armed forces of the Virginians to seek shelter on a British ship of war.
It was during this state of feeling that the Continental Congress reassembled on May 10th, 1776.
The delegates to this congress were nerved to more determined action by the knowledge of what had taken place in Massachusetts and Virginia, and by the fact that parliament had, in the preceding December, passed an act to increase the army and navy, and had hired 17,000 Hessian and Hanoverian troops to aid in reducing the colonies to submission. But the colonists would not recede from their demands, which were these: I. The right to tax themselves by their own elected representatives; II. The right of providing for the support of their own civil government and its officers; and III. Non-interference of parliament with crown functions in the provinces. These rights they had already enjoyed, according to the privilege of British citizenship and the provisions of their own charters, until these privileges and charters were taken away. The colonists declared that they would defend these rights and oppose with arms the enforcement of whatever was contrary to them.
Consolidation on Constitutional Basis Against Parlia
mentary Usurpation Parties in the Colonies.
It had been the policy of the Stuarts, according to the feudal constitution, to create a confederacy-a federation of states each independent of the others but in feudation to the king. England was but one of these states, although the principal one-the one in which was to be situated the general capital of the empire. In this system—which was the feudal system—the same on which rested the constitution of Britain and of all European states the parliament of England had no more right to legislate for the Province of Virginia, or Maryland, than the parliament of Virginia or Maryland had to legislate for the Kingdom of England. In England the chief authority was the king and parliament; in Virginia it was the king and government of Virginia; in Massachusetts it was the king and government of Massachusetts, and likewise in each of the other provinces. For furtherance of the plan of federating the various states and principalities of his empire, King James II. had ordered in 1688—the very year that the Revolution in England prevented its execution—the confederation of the Northern colonies at Albany under the name of the “Dominion of New England.” May 1, 1690, a congress of their representatives did meet to consider means for a common defence against the Indians, the New York members being Jacob Leister and Peter de La Noy. Another congress met in Albany for the same purpose in 1722. But these meetings were inspired by the encouragements given by the former Stuart kings as means of building up centres of power on the outskirts of the empire as well as for local needs and protection. But after the Revolution of 1688, when the London Parliament usurped crown functions and extended its withering, jealous and illegitimate authority to every province,
blighting provincial life and expansion for the benefit of its own narrow constituency, these provincial confederations were discouraged. In 1754 seven governors assembled at Albany, Province of New York, and signed a treaty of peace with the Iroquois Indians. At the same time they addressed the Home Government on the project of a federal union, whereby the force of the several colonies might be employed to act against a common enemy. This proposed government was to consist of a President appointed by the crown, and a general council commissioned by the provincial authorities. The President was to have executive authority, appoint all civil and military officers and act with his council legislatively. This government was to have power to make war and peace in America, and impose taxes with approval of the crown. The project was rejected by the English Parliament. In 1778 Mr. Ogden, chief justice of New Jersey, suggested a government for America to have similar power, only its composition was to consist of a governorgeneral appointed by the crown, and a legislature to consist of a house of barons with hereditary privileges, created by the crown for honorable and meritorious families in the colonies, and a house of assembly elected by the freeholders of the population. The political disturbances existing in the colonies at that time prevented the entertainment of Mr. Ogden's proposition, but it is likely that the English Parliament would have viewed it with disfavor. David Ogden was at that time one of the Board of Delegates of the United Empire Loyalists and his proposition was advanced as a remedy for healing the wounds made by the English parliament in the Provincial understanding of constitutional government. The particular of his proposal provided that: “The right of taxation of America by the British Parliament be given up; that the several colonies be restored to their former constitutions and form of government. . . that each colony have a governor and council appointed by the Crown, and a house of representatives elected by the free-holders inhabiting the several counties . . who shall have power to make all necessary laws for the internal government and benefit of each colony that are not