History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.

=The Expulsion of French Power from North America.=—­The effects of the defeat administered to France, as time proved, were difficult to estimate.  Some British statesmen regarded it as a happy circumstance that the colonists, already restive under their administration, had no foreign power at hand to aid them in case they struck for independence.  American leaders, on the other hand, now that the soldiers of King Louis were driven from the continent, thought that they had no other country to fear if they cast off British sovereignty.  At all events, France, though defeated, was not out of the sphere of American influence; for, as events proved, it was the fortunate French alliance negotiated by Franklin that assured the triumph of American arms in the War of the Revolution.

COLONIAL RELATIONS WITH THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT

It was neither the Indian wars nor the French wars that finally brought forth American nationality.  That was the product of the long strife with the mother country which culminated in union for the war of independence.  The forces that created this nation did not operate in the colonies alone.  The character of the English sovereigns, the course of events in English domestic politics, and English measures of control over the colonies—­executive, legislative, and judicial—­must all be taken into account.

=The Last of the Stuarts.=—­The struggles between Charles I (1625-49) and the parliamentary party and the turmoil of the Puritan regime (1649-60) so engrossed the attention of Englishmen at home that they had little time to think of colonial policies or to interfere with colonial affairs.  The restoration of the monarchy in 1660, accompanied by internal peace and the increasing power of the mercantile classes in the House of Commons, changed all that.  In the reign of Charles II (1660-85), himself an easy-going person, the policy of regulating trade by act of Parliament was developed into a closely knit system and powerful agencies to supervise the colonies were created.  At the same time a system of stricter control over the dominions was ushered in by the annulment of the old charter of Massachusetts which conferred so much self-government on the Puritans.

Charles’ successor, James II, a man of sterner stuff and jealous of his authority in the colonies as well as at home, continued the policy thus inaugurated and enlarged upon it.  If he could have kept his throne, he would have bent the Americans under a harsh rule or brought on in his dominions a revolution like that which he precipitated at home in 1688.  He determined to unite the Northern colonies and introduce a more efficient administration based on the pattern of the royal provinces.  He made a martinet, Sir Edmund Andros, governor of all New England, New York, and New Jersey.  The charter of Massachusetts, annulled in the last days of his brother’s reign, he continued to ignore, and that of Connecticut would have been seized if it had not been spirited away and hidden, according to tradition, in a hollow oak.

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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