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tv   Lectures in History Colonial America Before the Revolution  CSPAN  January 14, 2018 12:00am-1:11am EST

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-- perhaps to those who use more than their eyes in looking at haiti, there is neither stick nor stone which does not somehow symbolize the spirit of our own liberty. our proud history might be far less than it is if kristof and his fellows had never lived or had prized their freedom less. next on lectures in history, lebanon valley college professor james broussard teaches a class on the lead up to the american revolution. he describes actions by the british government such as the stamp act and stationing british troops in boston that american colonists began to view as an overreach of power. his classes about an hour and 10 minutes. today we arerd:
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going to be talking about the imperial problem that faces britain after the end of the war in 1763 and, of course, the coming of the revolution. so, if you have any questions, pipe up. if not, i will be asking you a few. you remember, last time -- or last week anyway -- we put a graph up here showing the results you would probably get if you went around and asked everybody in the colonies at 25-year intervals, do you want to be independent of britain? if you remember, the graph shot up kind of like this, over the years.
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in other words, as the colonies move along from jamestown to 1776, more and more people, as time passes, decide that they are able to handle this on their own. they don't need to be ruled from westminster, and eventually, of coarse, enough of them decide that to produce a declaration of independence. that graph would make the revolution pretty easy to understand. just like you growing up. when you are two, the last thing you want is for your parents to dump you out the door and run your own life. by the time you are 12, you can see it might look pretty good, and by the time you're 18, here you are. if this graph is right, then the colonies are just going through the normal process of maturing and a smart parent, of course, will keep an eye on things and as the child gets more competent and more confident, ease up on the strings. in that case, separation can come about reasonably nicely. if the parent doesn't see what's happening and doesn't
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accommodate the changing competence and confidence of the child, then there is likely to be argument and eventually maybe some kind of explosion. so this graph would make the revolution pretty easy to explain. it's just one case of what normally happens with people and with societies. unfortunately, that's not the way the graph looks at all. the graph looks more like this. no one wants to be independent until almost the very winter of 1775 and 1776. after the firing at lexington and concord. after tom paine's pamphlet -- after tom payne's pamphlet "common sense" comes out and spreads around the colony -- colonies. this makes the revolution much harder to figure out, because the colonists are probably never
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happier and more glad to be british than at any time before or after 1776. they just won this great war. the french are gone. the indians temporarily are quelled. these people are celebrating. they are glad to be part of the most powerful and freest country in the western world. so what we have to explain, then, is not how a society gradually gets more and more interested in breaking away from the apron strings and being independent, but we have to figure out is, how did these proud and happy englishmen in 1763, how did so many of them turn out to be traitors and rebels 10 or 12 years later, against a government they would have said a few years before was the best and freest in the world? now, there are some long-term trends in colonial history that, if you think about it, make independence more possible as the years go by. it doesn't mean people want to
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be independent. but population, for instance. you start out with a few hundred people in a couple of spots on the coast. by the 1790's, you're looking at 250,000 people maybe. about double the population of lebanon county stretched out over 1500 miles of coast. by 1776, a couple of million people. a fourth of the population of england herself. more people than you have in some european countries. now, if you had to do it, you can certainly imagine you could make a go of it as your own nation. and along with growing population comes a growing sense of -- what would we call it? -- political competence. the local elite people like ben franklin, people like william bird, we talked about him a couple of weeks ago, these are the folks who dominate the local elected assemblies, and if you
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remember, the assemblies are getting more and more powerful and the governors who are appointed from overseas are having less and less authority as the years go by. by the time you get to the middle of the 1700s, you have got pretty much local self-government in almost every colony. so not only is population reaching the level where you can imagine an independent country would work, you've got a governing class that thinks, by george, if they have been running their colony for the last few decades, they ought to be able to run a country. the economy has also, of course, been growing. as population increases, as people push the indians out and occupy more land, as they exploit the labor of more slaves, the prosperity of the colonies grows. by the time of the revolution, a third of all the ships built in the british empire are built right here on these shores.
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a fifth or a sixth of all the iron in the world is produced in the american colonies. so while you might have a city like london or a really fancy duke's mansion in a state in england, if you average people out, the white population of the colonies is probably the most populous -- i mean, the most prosperous part of the whole empire. so growing population, growing political competence, improving economy, all of these things mean if you had for some unforeseen reason to go off on your own, you might really be able to do it. but again, it doesn't mean you want to be independent. these people are intensely proud of being british. and they are even trying, at least people at the upper levels, trying to imitate how the british population of their class lives. so again, it becomes tough to
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figure, why do so many of these people, a dozen years later, take up arms against their own government? now, there are probably three fairly new developments in the don't makeat, again, independence likely or even desirable, but at least lay the groundwork for something. great awakening, remember -- for a hundred years, people in the colonies, from the very beginning, had been thinking of themselves as provincials, looking back across the ocean with admiration and envy at this glittering metropolis over there. here they are living on the edge of civilization, staring out at an endless forest, and back column there is london, which by itself has more people than all
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the colonies for many decades. their great universities, other than harvard, where are the great universities in the colonies? where are the shakespeare plays, the philosophers, and even a guy like william bird, who can feel good because his mansion has 15 or 20 houses, even he knows perfectly well that the really snazzy people in britain have mansions of a hundred or more houses. and so there is this sense that you're country pumpkins really, looking at your betters over in england. always trying to be like them, always striving to more and more match the english pattern, but never, of course, quite coming close. you're definitely a second class citizen in your own minds in the empire. and then here comes this great awakening, this huge surge of evangelical religion sweeping through the colonies. it pretty well faded out by the
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1750's, but it's left behind a whole lot of evangelical christians, who have been told by their faith that britain is not necessarily the best model for them. what matters in this world is not how educated you are, how cultured you are, how good your family is, how much wine you have in your basement, how well you can read philosophy. what matters in this world is how well are you getting ready for the next world? not how do you live this life, but how are you going to live the next one? and so the example these people are told to follow, the people they are told to admire, aren't so much the local elite, or the entire country of england back home. what they are supposed to model themselves on is who is the most godly person? it isn't necessarily going to be the merchant with the fancy house, it isn't necessarily
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going to be the guy like william bird with his plantation and his slaves and his wine and his fancy clothes. it could be your husband or your wife. it could be the slaves out in williamsburg's tobacco field. it could be the carpenter in town. it isn't very likely to be one of those people you used to admire, and the same is true when you look at your place within the empire. you can look across the ocean to britain and you can see, at least in your mind, here is a group of people who aren't as godly as we are. here are people who do put the focus on the good things of this life, on the luxuries, on the corruptions that eat away at your morality. and maybe we're not so bad, then, compared to them. in fact, what the great awakening is telling you is you people on this side of the atlantic should stop being embarrassed and ashamed of who you are and stop being envious
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of those people over in britain because you are better than they are in the one thing that matters. and that is the question every christian has to ask, of course, what must i do to be saved? imagine how you would feel if you had grown up your whole life and you had always felt inferior to your older sister. and someone comes along and gets you to realize, wait a minute. in the ways that really matter, you're actually better than your sister. it's going to change the way you think about your relationship. so there is one thing. the second thing that's going on, remember, is a lot of the elite in the colonies are reading these whig writers who are telling them history is a constant struggle between power and liberty, and liberty regrettably always loses. and that liberty is in danger in
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britain itself, the freest country in the western world, because corruption is eating away at the vitals of the country. offices are sold, votes are bought. government operates not according to policy, but according to -- what office can i get? what salary can i make? how can i get some goodys for my relatives? and that sort of thing. and that allows the ambitious would-be caesars in any government to use that sort of attitude. -- tot's in it for me? corrupt the house of commons by saying, hey, you support me, i'll get you a good office. you support me, your agent aunt can have a government pension. your son can get into college. we've got a little clergyman posed here for your nephew. and the more and more people who are bought off by the
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government, the less and less likely the house of commons is to be a bulwark against liberty. so liberty is safest, the whigs are telling these folks, in a country with a big broad land holding middle class, farmers who are independent economically, they don't need anything from government. they don't have to go get a bribe, because what good would it do them? and, of course, where do you find the society with the big broad land holding middle class? right here in america, not in england, which can never have that kind of society because it is just not big enough for every family to have a different -- to have a decent chunk of land. if the core of being english is to be free, and if liberty is safest in a society with this big land holding middle class, then the colonies are the best part of the empire. the most english part of the empire and the freest part of the empire.
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so stop thinking of yourselves as a bunch of backward pumpkins. -- bumpkins. think of yourselves as more english than the people of england, even. you are the ones leading the way for the whole empire and perhaps all of europe and maybe the whole world toward a future where freedom is more and more secure and the would-be caesars have less and less chance to destroy it and exalt themselves. here are two ways in which the colonists are learning to think not of themselves as inferiors and not even as equals, but as actually the best part of the empire. it is going to change how they look at things. and then there is a growing sense of american identity. the whole idea of what community you think of yourself as belonging to is kind of iffy for
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people to try to figure out. but one enterprising historian decided about 50 years ago or so , let's look at newspapers and let's ask ourselves, what do people mean when they use words like we and us and our? words of inclusion. and what do they mean when they use words like they, them, and those? words for the other. well, up through, oh, about the 1730's or 1740's, mostly when people talk about "we," they mean we pennsylvanians, or we britains in the empire. you have your colonial identity, you have your british identity. when you talk about they and them, you mean those foreigners over in france or spain, or sometimes those people in the next colony down the road who we don't know about and don't really much care about. but increasingly, as you get into the 1750's and 1760's, when
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you look at newspapers and see how people use those pronouns, a of times now when they say we, they mean we americans. more than just we in our colony, in theclusive than we whole empire. now you have this intermediate identity, the sense that you have some things in common with people in other colonies on this side of the atlantic that you don't share with people in england, jamaica, or other parts of the empire. and now when you talk about the outsiders, they and them, a lot of times now it's not just those foreigners, it's also those people over in england. now, this doesn't mean, of course, that if you think of yourselves as americans, you think of yourselves as less british, anymore than someone who says, i'm a new englander, is any less american by thinking that.
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but it does mean that for the first time, you can imagine that something binds you to the people in the other colonies that, again, is different from what binds you to people in the rest of the empire. and you can see a greater sense, not just of american identity, but a greater sense of american unity. you know, the first three wars against the french and the indians, the government in britain is just banging its head against the wall to get the colonies to see, you face a common threat. you should all be pulling together. indians are attacking massachusetts. people in south carolina say, what's it to me? indians are bothering people in virginia, people in rhode island -- it's none of their business. finally, in this last war, the french and indian war, finally the colonies begin to see, yes, maybe we're all in this together. maybe we share something in
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common, and that is a common enemy and a common threat. ben franklin, remember, tries to get the colonial leadership together in albany in 1754 to work out not just the common approach to the indian problem, but even a colonial government. they had one governor appointed for the whole of the colonies, one assembly for the whole of the colonies. nothing comes of it. but just the fact that it could be thought of, and that some of the colonial leaders would come and talk about it and think it's a good idea, is something brand-new. so you've got these long term developments, growing population, growing political competence, growing economy, that while they don't make people want to be independent, does mean that if independence should unfortunately come, we probably can handle it. and then you've got this sense that hey, wait a minute.
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we're no longer the backward provincials in this empire, looking with envy at the great metropolis across the seas. we're not even just the equal , but perhaps superior in some ways to those poor folks because here we're more religious, more devout, here freedom is safer because we have a huge group of middle class farmers who need nothing from anyone. now, with that as background, let's take a look at 1763. here you are in america, you've just won this big war against the french and the indians, and you think that you won it. it kind of slips your mind that the british government sent 25,000 regular troops across the atlantic to capture montreal and quebec and drive the french out of canada. of course, a british navy commanded the seas, but you
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remember -- what you remember is erratic marching his -- what you remember is erratic -- braddock marching his army through pennsylvania being ambushed and practically destroyed by the indians and the french, saved only by the courage of the colonial troops led by george washington. so you don't have a terribly good impression of the part that the british military played in winning this war. you think more of it being a colonial victory. and since the victory has been won, the future looks great. that dark, brooding presence out there in the forest that is laying like a shadow over your future is gone now. the french are out of america. they aren't coming back as far as you're concerned. the french without -- the indians without french alps -- without french help are less able to oppose colonial expansion.
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the future looks great. all the way to the mississippi. this is your world now. well, across the atlantic in westminster, things don't look quite that good. i mean, they are glad to have won the war, of course, who wouldn't be glad to beat the french? your traditional enemy. but the very completeness of the victory means the french are going to be all that much more anxious for revenge. you can't just say, hot dog, we won the war, peace is here, let's go home. everybody in britain who knows about the state of the world knows there's going to be another war every generation or so, and you have to be ready to defend what you won. so victory is great but victory brings its own problems. for one thing, a bigger empire to defend. you've got more land in america to defend. you've got more land in india to defend. and you've got a couple of islands here and there, extra to worry about.
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so you need to keep the navy and you need to keep the army at higher than the levels you had before the war. that costs money. so the three big problems facing america that worry british policymakers, after they finished drinking the toast of victory -- one is, what in the world do we do about these indians? the native american population has been the enemy for 75 years. and they have looked on you as the enemy. now these people have to learn how to live as good, loyal british subjects. that's not going to be very easy considering that there are a lot of white loyal british subjects who want nothing more than to get more indian land. so let's think about this. if you were a native american leader in 1763 and your great fear is that the english
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colonists are going to get more of your land, what are you going to do about it? when they start saying, hey, we would like to carve out a nice big chunk of your territory? yeah. >> they aren't going to be happy with it. prof. broussard: and if they persist? >> probably going to fight back, retaliate. prof. broussard: and this is exactly, of course, what happens in pontiac's rebellion. pontiac leads the northwest indians even before the war with france is over to besiege almost every single british outpost between detroit and pittsburgh. because they are worried without french help, they face a pretty dismal future. the government doesn't want to have to fight indian war after indian war in the interior of north america. so they have got to figure out a way to deal with that. the second problem they are looking at is law enforcement. like almost all colonial empires, the british try to follow the economic policy of
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mercantilism. which means basically, you need to accumulate wealth in your country because there is going to be another war coming along soon and you need money to fight wars. and the idea of the mercantilists is wealth is basically gold and silver. there is only a limited fixed amount, more or less, in the world. your country has more, some countries have less. countries, nations acquire wealth the same way families do. you bring in more money than you spend. or in trade terms, you sell more to other countries than your people buy from other countries. so you have to manage your trade policy in a way that helps prepare the country for the next war, reduces the amount of foreign goods your people buy , and helps spur exports. well, there is a lot of smuggling going on in the colonies, because it's a whole
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lot better from the merchant's point of view if you can sneak your products in, don't have to pay the import duty on them, sell them at a lower cost to your customer. the government hasn't been able to do much about this because of other things like wars that pushed themselves to the forefront of policy. but now that the war is over, now is the chance maybe to crack down on smuggling and get the trade of the colonies moving more in tune with the good of the country. it got so bad that during this last war with france, there were colonial merchants actually selling goods to the french while the french are out shooting their fellow british countrymen. you've got to put a stop to that. no government can allow that to happen. so that's problem two. and problem three is, you need money. it's going to cost money to defend north america. where is it going to come from? the american colonies are the
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most prosperous part of the empire and they pay the least taxes. the average tax per person in the british isles is about 25 times as much as the average in the colonies. so if you're going to raise more money to help defend the colonies, it seems logical to try to ask the undertaxed people in the colonies to help chip in than to lay more burdens on the overtaxed people at home. so those are three problems the government has got to wrestle with in order to be able to take advantage of the fruits of victory. so indian problem pops up first because of pontiac's rebellion. how are you going to deal with that? if your problem is that the indians don't like having their land overrun by a bunch of white colonists, then the only way you're going to calm the indians down is protect them against that danger.
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so the proclamation of 1763 says what? proclamation of 1763, come on, come on, you people know this. okay. >> the colonists can't settle in indian territory. prof. broussard: right. and we hope that will prevent conflict. the idea, of course, comes pretty well up against the colonists' idea that hey, everything west of the mississippi is now open for us. but surprisingly, perhaps, there is not a lot of grumbling and griping about the proclamation of 1763 in the beginning. people in the colonies don't want to have indian wars either if they can help it. especially the people along the coast, where most of the ruling elite live. they don't want to have to be paying taxes to go fight indians who are only fighting because
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those greedy folks out on the frontier want to take away their land. and it's not supposed to be a permanent barrier. the idea the government has is as population builds up in some spots on the frontier, you will go out and negotiate with the indians, carve out another chunk of land, pay them for it, and open it up. so settlement will continue, expansion will go on. it will just be slower and more orderly and, they hope, more peaceful. later on, however, as people start developing these paranoid fears that there is some conspiracy against the government in britain, then people start looking back at the proclamation and saying, hey, maybe this indian thing was just a front. maybe the whole point is they want to keep us crowded up between the mountains and the seas so we'll be easier to control. but in the beginning, the proclamation doesn't cause a whole lot of stir. it's a little bit different when
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you get to enforcing the law. the problem existed because there are not enough revenue cutters, there aren't enough customs collectors to catch every little inlet along the coast where people might struggle stuff in and when do you catch them, what happens? they get tried by a jury of their friends, relatives, and customers, and the local jury, as often as not, laughs at the law, acquits the criminal or find -- fines them some measly little amount that makes a joke of law enforcement. governments can't let that happen. if you have an unpopular law you've either got to repeal it or enforce it. you can't let a whole generation of people grow up scoffing at the law. so what does the government do? they basically put more police on the streets, more customs officials, more revenue cutters,
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making it easier to catch the smugglers when they try to bring stuff in. and when you do get them, instead of having them sit down in front of a jury of their buddies, we'll ship them off to nova scotia to be tried by a judge who isn't going to be swayed by any local friendships, and justice can finally be done. now, you would expect, right, that a good citizen, who looks around and says, boy, crime is getting out of hand, would be overjoyed when the government decides to crack down on the criminals. and it comes as rather a shock when that's not the attitude at all that comes out of the colonies. remember the wigs had been telling these people that the way you lose your freedom in today's world is not by julius caesar marching an army down and capturing london and installing
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himself as a dictator, but by the new caesar just hiding in some room somewhere in westminster and hauling the members of parliament in one at a time an basically saying what will it take to get you to go from a watch guard of public liberty into somebody who will let me do what i want? here's your pay-off. well, the more government offices there are, the more patronage the government has. you want your uncle, your brother, your son, or even yourself to have that nice salary, well, then, if you're a member of parliament, you better do what the government wants. so instead of people saying, thank gosh we're finally getting more officials to enforce the law and keep crime down they start complaining, look at this. they are creating more patronage jobs, to get congress to look the other way, while other
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conspiracies against our liberties proceeds step by step. and then, you've got guys like john hancock, one of the biggest smugglers in the colonies, people who get caught and are hauled off, not before a jury but before a judge, they are not going to get much sympathy if they go around whining, hey, the government is not letting me break the law and stuff my pockets full of money anymore but if they go around saying, hey, government has taken away my right to a jury trial, one of the most fundamental liberties of the free englishmen, and if they can do it to me, they can do it to you, then people are going to pay a lot of attention. and so you've turned yourself from a criminal into a victim. the victim of the evil government that's little by little trying to turn everybody from free borne english subjects into slaves. so just trying to enforce the law and keep colonial trade
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going in ways that help the country instead of hurt it creates a lot of outrage. but the worst of it all, of course, is trying to deal with the revenue problem. if you're going to get money, and you have part of your population paying practically nothing, the wealthiest part, and another part paying gigantically more, if you're the government, who would you go tax? jodie, who would you go after? >> you've got to make the people who are overtaxed pay more or people who are -- >> make the people who aren't paying must have. >> that's right. and even if you didn't think that was the morally right thing to do, can you imagine the british government telling the british people, hey, we decided to let the colonists go on being free loaders and tax you more. that's not going to go over very well with the constituents.
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and while the government is obviously to some considerable degree insulated from public opinion, if you're raising the land tax on the land holders in britain and they are the people that vote for the house of commons, you could be in some danger. especially since there are, of course, opponents to the government that are always looking for ways just as political opponents always are, of making the current government look evil and bad and corrupt and getting voters to turn away from them. so if you have to raise more money, to defend the colonies in the new world, it only makes sense to have the people in those colonies at least pay a part of the cost of their own defense. so how are you going to do it? well, the stamp tax is the answer. this looks like a pretty good deal to the government. because what it is, is basically
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a tax on most forms of legal activity. you've got to put a tax stamp on wills, for instance, that you file with the court k. you go plead in court, you've got to put a tax stamp on the pleadings you submit to the judge. you want to take your ship out with the cargo, you've got to put a tax stamp on the papers, and things like pamphlets. you want to publish a pamphlet on how to catch fish you've got to put a tax stamp on it. newspapers, same thing, so it only affects a very small number of a couple of million people in the colonies. basically, lawmakers, publishers, and a couple of other groups of people. second, it's a puny tax. it averages out to one schilling per person per year. hardly anything compared to what people pay in england. and third, and maybe best of all, it's hard to evade and it's easy to detect evasion. you don't have to send a tax collector swarming out over the
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landscape the way you would if you had land tax. all you need to do is look at the pamphlet, does have it the tax stamp on it or not? look at the will, they are trying to file in court, does have it the stamp on it or not? it's easy to figure out if people are paying or not paying. either way you look at it, it seems to be about the simplest, easiest way you could tax the colonies, and the 95% of the people who are sitting out on their farms growing food for their families would never see a tax stamp in their lives. well, maybe if they are wealthy enough to have a will, they have to stick one on there. people in england are astounded and surprised and totally frustrated when the stamp tax produces not gratitude for, hey, thanks for not taxing us so much and for still paying most of the cost of defending us, and not
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even indifference. we don't like taxes but it's just a little one, who cares. instead, it produces outrage, anger and fear. because, again, one of the fundamental, undoubted rights of englishmen is not to be taxed but by your open representatives. the king can't take your money unless your representatives say so. so who represents the colonists in america? as far as the colonies are concerned, house of commons represents anyone the house of commons makes no sense as a representative body if you think of it as full of a bunch of politicians who are going up there to look out for the interest of their little slice of the country. because franchises for electing members of the commons who are passed out back in the late middle ages and they are big
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cities like birmingham and manchester and have no people elected to the house of commons because they were just villages hundreds of years ago. and there are a few other places that used to be towns with in them that had no people living in them anymore. william pen n, where he's from, it has no living people so it makes no sense at all, right to say, here are towns who have no one representing them, and here are cemeteries who have a couple of people every two years to go up -- two people every year or so go up there and represent dead bodies. the house of commons makes sense only if you think that it's not a collection of politicians, who are looking out for local interests. it's a collection of statesmen. everybody there, whoever they are elected from, is supposed to be taking big, broad, outlook and thinking of what's good for the whole empire. so if the house of commons is
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supposed to represent the interest of people in birmingham, people of birmingham can't complain when they have to pay a tax even though they don't elect anybody because everybody in the house of commons is watching out for them. and everybody in the house of commons is watching out for pennsylvania. now, the british call this virtual representation. you may not elect anybody directly, but you're virtually represented by everybody. now, we know today, you know, the difference between virtual reality and real reality, and it gets pretty close sometimes, but you can't buy a cheese burger in virtual reality. and so, the colonies have a very different way of looking at representation, from the very beginning of the virginia house of burgesses in 1619, the colonial idea, you can only be represented by someone you elect
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from among you in your geographic area. why should somebody elected from somewhere else represent you? it makes no sense. if you live in lebanon county, you can't depend on the guy from lancaster county representing your interests, you can't punish him if he does wrong. you can't reward him with re-election if he does right. he would be a fool to represent your interest. the only thing that matters to him is whether the people in lancaster county -- what the people in lancaster county want. if you can't be represented by somebody in the next county you certainly can't think you're represented by somebody 3,000 miles away, somebody who has never seen you and you have never seen him. so everybody agrees that the englishman is entitled to be taxed only by his own representatives. what they don't seem to agree on, who are his representatives? if you think the house of commons represents the whole
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empire, including pennsylvania, they can certainly tax pennsylvania. that's the view of people back home. if you think the pennsylvania assembly is the only representative body for pennsylvania, then the house of commons can't possibly constitutionally tax people in pennsylvania. and everybody in england should be able to see that. well, there is the big problem, right? now, let me ask you this. let's suppose you're a member of the pennsylvania assembly. and let's suppose the government agrees, hey, look, if the king wants your money, he's got to come ask the pennsylvania assembly for it. so the government says to you, mr. pennsylvania assemblyman, let's say you're that assemblyman, the government says to you, we need some money, will you please tax your constituents
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and send us the money. what is your attitude likely to be? so would you be willing to go back and tell your constituents next election, reason why you're paying this extra tax is, that i had to send some of your money overseas. do you think your voters would like that and reward you, or would they kick you out? >> they probably wouldn't like that. >> they probably wouldn't and that's what folks in england think the attitude in america is likely to be. if you have to ask the local assemblies in all these colonies please send us money, the assemblyman says, hey, wait, if i do that, i'm going to get defeated in the next election you're never going to get any. so if you look at the fundamental vital interests of the people in colonies, it is, in their view, that we should enjoy all the rights of
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englishmen. we're no less english for being over here and one of those rights is, no one can take our money but our elected representatives and they are right here in philadelphia, or charleston or wherever your colonial capitol might be. we can't concede that point because once we elect the government, overstep the bounds of the constitution, where does it stop? it stops with another caesar. loss of liberty. we can't take that first step. the people in england, of course, look at it very differently. if we can't have the government raise money from the most prosperous part of the country, and the rest of us have to pay extra because of it, we're not going to put up with that. >> how can the government let this happen? so if you're in the british government you know whatever fast foot work and compromises
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you might conduct in the meantime, in the long run, one way or another, you're probably going to have to be able to get the people in america to pay some at least of the cost of running their country. since they get all the benefits of being in it. >> well, that's tough. because compromise can sometimes work. but for compromise to work you can't have one side or the other give up its vital interests. so here's a case where, how do you compromise this? there are some proposals, let's let the colonists elect members to the house of commons. the response in the colonies is, forget it. that would never work. england is 3,000 miles away, five to eight weeks. we don't know what's going on over there. we can't construct our representatives about what to do, et cetera, et cetera.
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it looks like a lot of people in england are saying, look, we don't care what excuse we come up with, we just don't want to pay taxes. you guys pay more. that doesn't go over too well. so how do you fight the stamp act if you're a colonist? well, for one thing, you get a mob up and go to the people who are appointed to distribute the tax stamps and say, hey, would you rather resign your office or get beaten up and most of them would rather resign their offices, so pretty soon, there isn't anybody in any colony who is willing to risk his life actually selling the tax stamps. and just so the government doesn't misunderstand what the colonists are trying to say, and kind of as a way to regain leadership from the mobs that are hanging around in all of these coastal cities, the elites decide to meet together in new york at the stamp act congress and tell the british government
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exactly what the story is. number one, we're english, just as much as you. number two, that means we have all the rights people in tinge do. number three -- in england do. number three, you can't tax us except through our representatives. number four is, you're trying to do it anyway. and number five is we aren't going to let you. just to drive the point home, we'll have a boycott of british goods. the americans colonies are among the biggest, most profitable markets for british merchants and manufacturers. not, of course, if no one buys their stuff. so after a while, the merchants and manufacturers of britain go swarming down to westminster telling the government, get rid of this stupid tax. you're costing us money. and besides, since no one is willing, stupid, or brave enough to actually distribute the tax stamps, you're not raising any money from it anyway.
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>> the stamp agent is repealed. hey, these guys finally understand our constitutional rights, efforts to are drunk, to george iii, patriot king, who stand above party and politics and looks out for the good of his people. they are so busy celebrating, colonists don't sufficiently realize, at the very same time that parliament repealed the stamp act, they passed the declaratory act that said, parliament has a right to bind the colonies, in all cases, whatsoever. including, of course, taxation. so the government didn't really accept the argument made in america. all they said was, look, we could tax you any time we want. we just don't happen to feel like it right now. that's not much of a victory. but it calms things down.
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but you still have the problem of money. can you ask the people in britain to pay extra to defend america when americans aren't willing to defend america? so, a new prime minister comes in, charles townsend, comes up with a new idea. the townsend act. the government gets the mistaken impression that the objection to the stamp act really was that it was an internal tax as opposed to a duty on imports, where people have never really objected to parliament's right to regulate trade. so let's forget the stamp stuff. we'll have a tax on things the colonists import. paper. lead. glass. tea. and we'll collect it at the ports. no one else has to be bothered and that's that. big surprise. more outrage, more anger, and more fear. more mobs. another boycott of british
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goods. more angry protests going back across the ocean. look, don't you guys get it. any money you extract from us is a tax. you can't do it whatever you call it, however you try to hide it, you can't do it. it's unconstitutional, and just to remind you of that we aren't buying your goods again, bit way. more boycotts. more lost money. the merchants and manufacturers go to parliament again and say stop this nonsense, and once more, government backs off and repeals all the townsend taxes, except the one on tea. more big celebrations in the colonies. people breathe a big sigh of relief. maybe we finally made our point that we aren't paying taxes. now, the next few years a number of things happened to reawaken these fears of conspiracy against liberty.
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if it's not the tax issue, it's something else. for example, the government sends troops over to boston in 1768. one of the great fears englishmen have is fear of standing army. so when there is a war going on you need an army to fight the enemy. when there is no war you don't need an army. now, no continental country could say that, of course. you've got potential enemies on every border. the government would be complete idiots if they didn't keep an army up in peace time to prevent somebody invading them. but britain, of course, is a bunch of islands. as long as the british navy is there, you're going to have plenty of notice before you have to get ready to fight. you don't need an army. so if you see your government beginning to build up an army when there is no enemy around, you have to ask yourself who are you planning to use it against? if it's not the enemy, is it us? why would the government need an
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army unless it's planning to do something really horrible to its own people and it wants to put down the inevitable protests. englishmen have seen armies in peace time be used for precisely that purpose under the steward kings and even cromwell, the great defender of parliamentary rights, who after he lobbed the king's head off made himself dictator, and ran an even tighter ship than the stewards did. so here are troops in boston. why? are they to defend us from the indians? the indians are out in the frontier. why are they government troops sitting in boston? you really have to start asking that question. so again, remember the wigs. the wig writers have been telling people over and over
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again, how do you lose your liberty? you lose it to your own government. you lose it to some ambitious politician or a group of politicians who decide to gradually start snipping away at it. you're far more likely to fall prey to your own government than to a foreign enemy. and so if you have this sort of generalized suspicion of government and they are trying to tax us without our consent, they are trying to take away our right to a jury trial, they have got troops here and there is no war going on, it does make some people start to wonder. and then the boston massacre, of course, only brings the fear of a standing army to an even greater peak. here they are shooting down our own people. but there is more even going on than that. the church of england is the established church back home.
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it is the state church in most of the southern colonies and parts of new york, and the anglicans in america have a problem. to be a clergyman, you have to be anointed or consecrated by at least one bishop. all the bishops are back in britain. so if you're a pennsylvanian, and you want to be a minister in the church of england you've got to go all the way back across the ocean, an expensive and dangerous trip, for the laying on of hands. or, your clergymen have to be englishmen and scotts men sent over here. it would be a lot easier to have an anglican bishop right here in the colonies so a lot of the anglicans in america start asking for one. now, you would think, who cares, right? if you're a presbyterian or a congregationalist or anything, why do you care? how easy it is for the anglicans to get clergymen. but remember, the church of england is part of the government.
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the bishops sit in the house of lords. they are basically politicians, not religious people. every new anglican minister is another piece of patronage used to corrupt people using public liberty but instead they are looking out for what they can get for themselves. so you want to expand the power of the church of england in america, this looks suspicious. why would you want to do this now? so even things like that can be turned into fearsome things. and then you've got the question of judicial independence. now, in england, judges are in there for life. the whole point is to make them independent of government. they don't have to look over their shoulder all the time and ask, how is my decision going to look to the guys in authority? the problem you have in the colonies is, there aren't very many educated competent lawyers.
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so the government isn't willing to put some half-ass lawyer in a judge's office for life. you might have him be a judge now because you have no choice but in another 10-20 years when you have more educated lawyers, you want to get rid of this person and put in a decent judge. so let's don't have lifetime tenure for judges in the colonies. well, if you look at it from the standpoint of we want the best qualified judges, that makes some sense, right? but if you look at it the way a paranoid conspiracy-minded person would, you would ask yourself, why is it that they don't want the judges to be independent? why do they want the judges to be subject to removal by government at any time? obviously, because they are planning to do bad things and don't want the judges to stand in their way. so here's another part of the conspiracy.
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so, if you have already been taught by these wig writers to suspect your government anyway, and then you see your government doing things that, as far as you're concerned, any sensible person would see was either unconstitutional or dangerous, taxing you when they don't represent you, not letting you have a trial by jury, keeping you from expanding westward to get further away from their control, making the judges subject to removal any time they want to get rid of and a judge. helping the church of england get bigger and more powerful here when everybody knows it's just another quasi governmental body. you're going to start worrying. and although all of this stuff looks really stupid from the
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view in england, it doesn't look stupid to you. and so you get more and more suspicious people and the more they express their suspicion and people learn about it in england, the more people in england have to scratch their heads. what the heck are these people talking about, conspiracy? there is no conspiracy against liberty in westminster. no taxes, why should they have to pay taxes? everybody else does. no bishop in america? who would care about that. et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. so if you're an englishman, and you're reading all of this stuff. this total phony baloney these people are coming up with as excuses not to have to obey the law or pay their taxes, you start to wonder, maybe there is a conspiracy but it's not here in london. it's over here in america. there are a few of these malcontents like sam adams and a few people like that, who are doing their best to stir up these totally phony fears, to
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turn people against the government so they can perhaps, line up as bosses of an independent america. we can't let this happen without trying to do something about it. so every time there is protest in the colonies the government slaps them back. the people in england get madder
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and that just makes some of the people in the colonies madder and it goes from one step to another. >> it goes from one step to another.
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