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Character of Bute. His Influence over the King. Discontents. Resignation of Pitt
mate friend of the king's mother after Prince Frederic's death. Indeed, scandal uttered some unpleasant suggestions respecting this intimacy, even after the accession of George. “Not contented with being wise,” said Earl Waldegrave, “he would be thought a polite scholar and a man of great erudition, but has the misfortune never to succeed, except with those who are exceedingly ignorant; for his historical knowledge is chiefly taken from tragedies, wherein he is very deeply read, and his classical learning extends no further than a French translation.” Such was the man whom the young monarch unfortunately chose for his counselor and guide, instead of the wise and sagacious Pitt, who had contributed, by his talents and energy, so much to the glory of England during the latter years of the reign of George II. Like Rehoboam, George “forsook the counsel which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men that were brought up with him, that stood before him.” It was a sad mistake, and clouds of distrust gathered in the morning sky of his reign. The opinion got abroad that he would be ruled by the queen dowager and Bute, and that the countrymen of the earl, whom the English disliked, would be subjects of special favor. Murmurs were heard in many quarters, and somebody had the boldness to put up a placard on the Royal Exchange, with these words: “No petticoat government—no Scotch minister—no Lord George Sackville.” Thus, at the very outset of his reign, the king had opponents in his own capital. A general feeling of - - discontent pervaded the people as soon as it was perUsual Arreanaser or * Kno anout 17% ceived that Pitt, their favorite, was likely to become From a sketch by Gear. secondary among the counselors of the king, or, which seemed more certain, would leave the cabinet altogether. The latter event soon followed. Disgusted by the assurance and ignorance of Bute, and the apathetic submission of George to the control of the Scotch earl, and perceiving that all his plans, the execution of which was pressing his country forward in a career of glory and prosperity, were thwarted by the
September, 1761, nearly a year after his accession, to the Princess Charlotte, of Mecklenberg Strelitz, daughter of the late duke of that principality. Her character resembled that of her husband. Like him, she was domestic in her tastes and habits, decorous, rigid in the observance of moral duties, and benevolent in thought and action. George was remarkable for the purity of his morals; even while a young man, in the midst of the licentious court of his grandfather, and through life, he was a good pattern of a husband and father. He possessed no brilliancy of talents, but common sense was a prime element in his intellectual character. He was tender and benevolent, although he loved money; and his resentments against those who willfully offended him were lasting. He was always reliable; honest in his principles and faithful to his promises, no man distrusted him. Their majesties were crowned on the 22d of September, 1761, soon after their marriage, and a reform in the royal household at once commenced. Their example contributed to produce a great change in manners. “Before their time,” says M“Farland, “the Court of St. James had much of the licentiousness of the Court of Versailles, without its polish; during their time it became decent and correct, and its example gradually extended to the upper classes of society, where it was most wanted.”
For two years, from 1787 to 1789, his majesty was afflicted with insanity. QUEEN CHARLoTrr.
The malady returned in 1801, and terminated his political life. He died on *******
the 29th of January, 1820, aged nearly eighty-two years, this being the sixtieth year of his reign. His queen died in 1818. "Waldegrave's Memoirs.
Secret Agents sent to America. Writs of Assistance. Opposition. James Otis. Episcopacy designed for America
supple tools of the favorite, he resigned his office. The regrets of the whole nation followed him into retirement, while George, really esteeming him more highly than any other statesman in his realm, in testimony of his appreciation of his services, granted a peerage to his lady, and a pension of fifteen thousand dollars. Greater discontents were produced in the colonies by the measures which the new administration adopted in relation to them. By the advice of Bute, who was the real head of the government, George set about “a reformation of the American charters.” Secret agents were sent to travel in the different colonies, to procure access to the leading men, and to collect such information respecting the character and temper of the people as would enable ministers to judge what regulations and alterations could be safely made in the police and government of the colonies, in order to their being brought more effectually under the control of Parliament. The business of these 'agents was also to conciliate men of capital and station, hoping thereby to enlist a large number of dependents; but herein they erred. Unlike men in a similar condition in England, the man of wealth here could influence very few ; and in New England such was the general independence of the people, that such agency was of no avail. The object of the agents was too apparent to admit of doubt; the proposed reform was but another name for despotism, and the gossamer covering of deceit could not hide the intention of the ministry. The first reform measure which aroused the colonies to a lively sense of their danger was the issuing of WRITs of Assistance. These were warrants to custom-house officers, giving them and their deputies a general power to enter houses or stores where it might be suspected that contraband goods were concealed. The idea of such latitude being given to the “meanest deputy of a deputy's deputy” created general indignation and alarm. It might cover the grossest abuses, and no man's privacy would be free from the invasion of these ministerial hirelings. Open resistance was resolved upon. In Boston public meetings were held, and the voice of the fearless James Otis the younger called boldly upon the people to breast any storm of ministerial vengeance that might be aroused by opposition here. The Assembly sided with the people, and even Governor Bernard was opposed to the measure. Respectful remonstrances to Parliament and petitions to the king were sent, but without ef. fect. That short-sighted financier, George Grenville, was Bute's Chancellor of the Exchequer. An exhausted treasury needed replenishing, and ministers determined to derive a revenue from the colonies, either by direct taxation or by impost duties, rigorously levied and collected. They had also determined in council upon bringing about an entire subservience of the colonies, politically, religiously, and commercially, to the will of the king and Parliament."
* Dr. Gordon says he was informed by Dr. Langdon, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that as the Rev. Mr. Whitfield was about leaving that place, he said to Dr. Langdon, and Mr. Haven, the Congregational minister, “I can't, in conscience, leave this town without acquainting you with a secret. My heart bleeds for America. Opoor New England 1 There is a deep-laid plot against both your civil and religious liberties, and they will be lost. Your golden days are at an end. You have nothing but trouble before you. My information comes from the best authority in Great Britain. I was allowed to speak of the affair in general, but enjoined not to mention particulars. Your liberties will be lost.”—Gordon, i., 102. It was known that, among other reforms, the Puritan, or dissenting, influence in religious matters was to be curtailed, if not destroyed, by the establishment of Episcopacy in the colonies. The throne and the hierarchy were, in a measure, mutually dependent. In 1748 Dr. Secker, the archbishop of Canterbury, had proposed the establishment of Episcopacy in America, and overtures were made to some Puritan divines to accept the miter, but without effect. The colonists, viewing Episcopacy in its worst light, as exhibited in the early days of the American settlements, had been taught to fear such power, if it should happen to be wielded by the hand of a crafty politician, more than the arm of civil government. They knew that if Parliament could create dioceses and Appoint bishops, it would introduce tithes and crush heresy. For years controversy ran high upon this subject, much acrimony appeared on both sides, and art was brought in requisition to enforce arguments. In the Political Register for 1769 is a picture entitled “..An Attempt to land a Bishop in .dmerica.” A portion of a vessel is seen, on the side of which is inscribed The Hillsborough.* She is lying beside a wharf, on which is a crowd of earnest people, some with poles pushing the vessel from her moorings. One holds up a book inscribed Sidney on Government; another has a volume of Locke's Essays; a third, in the garb of a Quaker, holds an open volume inscribed Barclay's Apology; and from the mouth of a fourth
* Lord Hillsborough was then the Colonial Secretary, and it was presumed to be a plan of his to send a bishop to the colonies.
Enforcement of Revenue Laws. Resignation of Bute. Grenville Prime Minister. Opposition to Episcopacy.
The idea of colonial subserviency was, indeed, general in England, and, according to Pitt, “even the chimney-sweepers of the streets talked boastingly of their subjects in America.” The admiralty undertook the labor of enforcing the laws, in strict accordance with the letter, and intrusted the execution thereof to the commanders of vessels, whose authoritative habits made them most unfit agents for such a service against such a people. Vessels engaged in contraband trade were seized and confiscated, and the colonial commerce with the West Indies was nearly annihilated.
From causes never clearly understood, Lord Bute resigned the premiership on the 8th of April, 1763, and was succeeded by George Grenville, who, for a time, had fought shoulder * to shoulder with Pitt, but had deserted him to take office under the Scotch earl. Grenville is represented as an honest statesman, of great political knowledge and indefatigable application; but his mind, according to Burke, could not extend beyond the circle of official routine, and was unable to estimate the result of untried measures. He proved an unprofitable counselor for the king, for he began a political warfare against the celebrated journalist, John Wilkes, which resulted in the most serious partisan agitation throughout the kingdom; and he originated the Stamp Act, by which Great Britain lost her American colonies.
is a scroll inscribed No lords, spiritual or temporal, in New England. Half way up the shrouds of the vessel is a bishop in his robes, his miter falling, and a volume of Calvin's works, hurled by one on shore, about to strike his head; from his mouth issues a scroll inscribed, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” In the foreground is a paper inscribed, “Shall they be obliged to maintain bishops that can not maintain themselves?” and near it is a monkey in the act of throwing a stone at the bishop. This print well illustrates the spirit of the times. William Livingston, afterward governor of New Jersey, seems to have been one of the most eminent writers against Episcopacy, and Dr. Chandler and Samuel Seabury (afterward bishop) were among its chief supporters. An anonymous writer, whose alias was Timothy Tickle, Esq., wrote a series of powerful articles in favor of Episcopacy, in Hugh Gaines's New York Mercury, in 1768, supposed by some to be Dr. Auchmuty, of Trinity Church: The Synod of Connecticut passed a vote of thanks to Livingston for his essays, while in Gaines's paper he was lampooned by a shrewd writer in a poem of nearly two hundred lines. Livingston wrote anonymously, and the poet thus refers to the author:
“Some think him a Tindall, some think him a Chubb,
Episcopacy was introduced into America, took root, and flourished; and when the Revolution broke out, seven or eight years afterward, there were many of its adherents found on the side of liberty, though, generally, so intimate was its relation, through the Mother Church, to the throne, its loyalty became a subject of reproach and suspicion, for the Episcopal clergy, as a body, were active or passive Loyalists.
* Parliamentary Debates, iii., 210.
* George Grenville was born in 1722, and in 1750 became a member of the House of Commons, where he was distinguished for his eloquence and general knowledge. He was made Treasurer of the Navy in 1754, and in 1760 was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. He became First Lord of the Treasury, or prime minister, in 1763, and the next year originated the famous Stamp Act. He resigned his office to Rockingham in 1765, and died on the 13th of November, 1770, aged fifty-eight years. He married the daughter of Sir William Wyndham. The late Marquis of Buckingham, who inherited the family estates in Buckinghamshire, was his eldest son.
The Stamp Act proposed. Right to tax the Americans asserted. Stamp Act not new. Postponement of Action on it.
Grenville found an empty treasury, and the national debt increased, in consequence of recent wars, to nearly seven hundred millions of dollars. To meet the current expenses of government, heavy taxation was necessary, and the English people were loudly complaining of the burden. Grenville feared to increase the weight, and looked to the American colonies for relief. He conceived the right' to draw a revenue from them to be undoubted, and, knowing their ability to pay, he formed a plan to tax them indirectly by levying new duties upon foreign articles imported by the Americans. A bill for levying these duties passed the House of Commons in March, 1764, without much notice, except from General Conway, who saw in it the seeds of further encroachments upon the liberties of the colonists. The Assembly of Massachusetts, acting in accordance with instructions given to the Boston representatives, had already denied the right to impose duties. Mr. Otis had published a pamphlet called “The Rights of the British Colonists asserted,” which was highly approved here, and a copy was sent to the Massachusetts agent in England. In that pamphlet Mr. Otis used the strong language, “If we are not represented we are slaves" Thatcher, of Boston, also published a tract against Parliamentary taxation, and similar publications were made by Dulaney, the secretary of the province of Maryland, by Bland, a leading member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, and “by authority” in Rhode Island. On the 5th of May Mr. Grenville submitted to the House of Commons an act proposing a stamp duty,” at the same time assuring the colonial agents, with whom he had conferred, that he should not press its adoption that session, but would leave the scheme open for consideration. He required the colonies to pay into the treasury a million of dollars per annum, and he would leave it to them to devise a better plan, if possible, than the proposed stamp duty. The idea was not original with Mr. Grenville. It had been held out as early as 1739, by a club of American merchants, at the head of whom were Sir William Keith, governor of Pennsylvania, Joshua Gee, and others. In the colonial Congress at Albany, in 1754, a stamp act was talked of, and at that time Dr. Franklin thought it a just plan for taxing the colonies, conceiving that its operations would affect the several governments fairly and equally. Early in January (1764) Mr. Huske, a native of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who had obtained a seat in Parliament, desirous of displaying his excessive loyalty, alluded to the proposition of a stamp duty made at the Albany Convention, and delighted the House by asserting the ability of the colonists to pay a liberal tax, and recommending the levying of one that should amount annually to two and a half millions of dollars.” With these precedents, and the present assurance of Huske, Grenville brought forward his bill. It was received, and, on motion of the mover, its consideration was postponed until the next session. When the new impost law (which was, in fact, a continuation of former similar acts) and the proposed Stamp Act reached America, discontent was everywhere visible." Instead of being in a condition to pay taxes, the colonies had scarcely recovered from the effects of the late war; and the more unjust appeared the Stamp Act, when the previous act was about
Early in March, 1764, it was debated in the House of Commons whether they had a right to tax the Americans, they not being represented, and it was determined unanimously in the affirmative. Of this vote, and the evident determination of ministers to tax the colonies, Mr. Mauduit, the agent of Massachusetts, informed the Assembly, and that body immediately resolved, “That the sole right of giving and granting the money of the people of that province was vested in them as the legal representatives; and that the imposition of taxes and duties by the Parliament of Great Britain, upon a people who are not represented in the House of Commons, is absolutely irreconcilable with their rights—That no man can justly take the property of another without his consent; upon which original principle the right of representation in the same body which exercises the power of making laws for levying taxes, one of the main pillars of the British Con stitution, is evidently founded.”
* It provided that every skin, or piece of vellum, or parchment, or sheet, or piece of paper used for legal purposes, such as bills, bonds, notes, leases, policies of insurance, marriage licenses, and a great many other documents, in order to be held valid in courts of law, was to be stamped, and sold by public officers appointed for that purpose, at prices which levied a stated tax on every such document. The Dutch had used stamped paper for a long time, and it was familiar to English merchants and companies, but in America it was almost wholly unknown. A copy of the Stamp Act will be found in the appendix of this work.
* Gordon, i., 110; Jackson's letter to Lieutenant-governor Hutchinson, December 26th, 1765.
Opposition to Taxation by the Colonies. Instructions to their Agents. The Stamp Act introduced in Parliament. Townshend.
to intercept their profitable trade with the Spanish main and the West Indies, whence they derived much of their means to pay a tax. The right to tax them was also strenuously denied, and all the colonial Assemblies, wherever the subject was brought up, asserted their sole right to tax themselves. New England passed strong resolutions of remonstrance, and forwarded earnest petitions to the king to pause; and Virginia and New York adopted the same course, using firm, but respectful, language. They demonstrated, by fair argument, that the colonies were neither actually nor virtually represented in the British Parliament; they declared that they had hitherto supposed the pecuniary assistance which Great Britain had given them (the Parliamentary grants during the war) offered from motives of humanity, and not as the price of their liberty; and if she now wished a remuneration, she must make allowance for all the assistance she had received from the colonies during the late war, and for the oppressive restrictions she had imposed upon American commerce. They plainly told Great Britain that, as for her protection, they had full confidence in their own ability to protect themselves against any foreign enemy. Remonstrances and petitions were sent by the colonies to their agents in London (some of whom had not opposed the Stamp Act), with explicit instructions to prevent, as far as they had power to act, the adoption of any scheme for taxing Americans. At this crisis Franklin was appointed agent for Pennsylvania; and other colonies, relying upon his skill and wisdom in diplomacy, his thorough acquaintance with government affairs, his personal influence in England, and, above all, his searlessness, also intrusted him with the management of their affairs abroad. When he arrived in London, Grenville and other politicians waited upon him, and consulted him respecting the proposed Stamp Act. He told them explicitly that it was an unwise measure; that Americans would never submit to be taxed without their consent, and that such an act, if attempted to be enforced, would endanger the unity of the empire. Pitt, though living in retirement at his country seat at Hayes, was not an indifferent spectator, and he also consulted Franklin upon the important subject. No doubt the expressed opinion of Franklin delayed, for a while, the introduction of the Stamp Act into the House of Commons, for it was not submitted until the 7th of February following. In the mean while respectful petitions and remonstrances were received from America, indicating a feeling of general opposition to ministers, and a determination not to be sheared by the “Gentle Shepherd.” The king, in his speech on the opening January to of Parliament, alluded to American taxation, and the manifest discontent in the 17° colonies; yet, regardless of the visible portents of a storm, recommended the adoption of Grenville's scheme, and assured Parliament that he should use every endeavor to enforce obedience in America. The bill, containing fifty-five resolutions, was brought h, and Mr. Charles Townshend, the most eloquent man in the Commons, in the absence of Pitt, spoke in its favor, concluding with the following peroration: “And now will these Americans, children planted by our care, nourished up by our indulgence until they are grown to a degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden which we lie under 2" Colonel Barré arose, and, echoing Townshend's words, thus commented: “They planted by your care! No, your oppressions planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny, to a then uncultivated and inhospitable 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 will take upon me to say, the most formidable of any people upon the face of God's earth; yet, actuated by principles of true English liberty, they met all hardships with pleasure compared with those they suffered in their own
February 7, 1765,
* In the course of a debate on the subject of taxation, in 1762, Mr. Grenville contended that the money was wanted, that government did not know where to lay another tax; and, addressing Mr. Pitt, he said, “Why does he not tell us where we can levy another tax?” repeating, with emphasis, “Let him tell me where—only tell me where !” Pitt, though not much given to joking, hummed in the words of a popular song, “Gentle shepherd, tell me where !” The House burst into a roar of laughter, and christened George Grenville THE GENTLE SHEPHERD.—Pictorial History of the Reign of George III., i., 34.