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FROM THE YEAR 1763
A SUMMARY WIEW OF THE
POLITICAL AND CIVIL STATE
OF THE \
NORTH AMERICAN COLONIES, PRIOR TO THAT PERIOD.
L. S. Be it remembered, That on the twenty-third day of January, in the fifty' ' " second year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. ii.
1828, TIMothy PITKIN, of the said District, hath deposited in this Office the Title
of a Book, the right whereof he claims as author; in the words following—to wit:
“A Political and Civil History of the United States of America, from the year 1763 to the close of the administration of President Washington, in March, 1797; including a summary view of the Political and Civil state of the North American Colonies, prior to that period. By TIMoTHY PITKIN. In two volumes.”
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled “An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned”--and also to the act entitled “An act supplementary to an act entitled ‘An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times erein mentioned, and extend. ing the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.” - - CHAS. A. INGERSOLL,
Clerk of the District of Connecticut.
printed BY HEZEK1 AH HOWE—NEW HAVEN.
The events, whether of a political, civil, or military character, which led to the American revolution, and the establishment of those forms of government under which the people of the United States now enjoy so much liberty and happiness, are daily becoming more and more objects of peculiar interest and inquiry.
No incident of any considerable importance, either in the cabinet, or in the field, tending to elucidate this portion of the history of the United States, and to show the sacrifices American patriots were then called upon to make, and the difficulties they had to encounter, in effecting so complete a revolution, can fail to interest every American.
With the military events of that period, the people of the Uni. ted States, it is believed, are better acquainted than with those of a political or civil nature. This first suggested to us the idea, that a connected view of the political and civil transactions of our country, unmixed with military events, except so far as the latter had an influence on the former, was a desirable object.
We were induced to believe, also, that a more intimate knowledge and recollection of the difficulties which their political fathers had to overcome, not only in effecting that revolution which separated the North American colonies from Great Britain, but in establishing those civil institutions and forms of government under which, by the smiles of heaven, the Americans justly flatter themselves they now enjoy a greater share of personal and political happiness than the people of any other nation, would tend to increase the veneration of the citizens of the United States for those institutions, and induce them, with firmer purpose, to adhere to the great charter of their union, as their best and only security against domestic discord or foreign force.
With these views, we have presented to the public, the following sketches of the political and civil history of the United States, from 1763 to the close of the administration of president Washington, in March, 1797. The great political events of this interesting period, we were persuaded, however, could not be well understood, without some knowledge of the political state of the country prior to that period, of the views entertained by our ancestors respecting their rights, and of the nature of their connection with the parent state.
The stamp act and the insignificant duty on tea, precipitated, but did not alone produce, the American revolution. This great event must be traced to powerful and efficient causes in existence, and in operation, long before the adoption of these particular measures; causes which, brought at length into more active operation by these measures, produced such wonderful effects. The unexampled unanimity of sentiment against the stamp act, which instantaneously appeared among two or three millions of people, widely dispersed over this extensive continent, was not the work of a day or a year. The opinions then simultaneously and universally expressed by the Americans, on the subject of their rights, were the opinions of their fathers, which they brought into this country, and here cherished and handed down to their posterity. We have, therefore, presented a summary of the political state of the North American colonies, from their first settlement to the year 1763, embracing a general view of the colonial policy of the metropolitan country, as well as the opinions and conduct of the colonists themselves, respecting their civil and political rights, particularly those relating to representation and taxation. In doing this, we have consulted most of the colonial histories, and where these were wanting or imperfect, we have, in some instances, had recourse to the original records. In our researches respecting colonial history, we have felt the want of many papers which could only be found in the office of the board of trade and plantations in England. We have availed ourselves, however, of the publications of George Chalmers, Esq., who was many years clerk of that board. We allude to his “political annals” concerning the United Colonies of America, published in 1780; and his “opinions of eminent lawyers on various points of English jurisprudence, chiefly concerning the colonies, fisheries, and cosmmerce of Great Britain, collected and digested from the originals in the board of trade and plantations, and other depositories,” ublished in 1814. From these publications, (the first of which is only brought down to the year 1688,) as well as from other sources, we are satisfied that a full and complete colonial history of this country cannot be compiled without the aid of those papers; and we cannot but express a hope, that by the patronage either of the general government, or the state governments, authentic copies of them may be obtained, and deposited among the archives of our country. With respect to that portion of American history which has claimed our particular attention, we have derived our information from sources deemed perfectly authentic. We have availed ourselves, so far as we conceived it proper, of the state papers, to which we have had access, at the seat of the general government. We have, also, been favored with the perusal of many of the manuscript papers of Arthur Lee and Silas Deane, Esqs., both of whom were American agents and ministers in Europe, at an early period of the revolutionary contest. To the works of Dr. Franklin, we are indebted for much valuable information. During a long life, he was principally engaged in public affairs, and no one had a greater share in the political concerns of his country, than this distinguished philosopher and statesman. From the correspondence of the late venerable patriot, John Adams, who, as well as Dr. Franklin, was many years a minister in Europe, and from the secret journals of the old congress, we have derived much aid in relation to American transactions abroad. The numerous publications relating to individuals who acted a conspicuous part in the political scenes of this period, not only give the characters of the individuals themselves, but also, furnish many important historical facts. Among these, we would allude to the life of general Washington, by chief justice Marshall, the lives of Mr. Otis, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and Mr. Quincy, and the biographical memoirs of those patriots who affixed their names to the act of independence. Much of the revolutionary history of the United States is only to be found in the private papers of those who were principal actors during that period; and whenever the letters of general Washington, and the papers left by Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Mr. Jefferson, shall be given to the public, great additions will be made to the stock of materials for American history. From numerous individuals, as well as from their libraries, we have obtained many valuable and interesting facts. Among these individuals, we are permitted to mention the names of Mr. Jay, and Mr. King. The share which these gentlemen had in the political affairs of their country, is well known. The former still survives, to see the fruits of his labors, and particularly to see the western country, secured in a great measure by his firm and persevering exertions at the peace of 1783, now inhabited by millions of his fellow citizens. To the scanty information of which the public is now in possession, relative to the proceedings of the congress which met at New York, in October 1765, on the subject of the stamp act, we have made some additions from the papers of the late Dr. William S. Johnson of Connecticut, who was a member of that body. Among these papers, which have been politely furnished us, by