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Colonial Opposition to Imperial Authority During the French and Indian War, Vol. 1 (Classic Reprint)

Colonial Opposition to Imperial Authority During the French and Indian War, Vol. 1 (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Colonial Opposition to Imperial Authority During the French and Indian War, Vol. 1

It is more nearly true to say that the Stamp Act and others which followed it were the result of disputes which arose in connection with every phase of the war with France. It is not contended that all of the anti-imperial and independent ideas of the colonists originated during this war, for many of them appeared earlier; but never before had the Americans so thoroughly elucidated their ideas on constitutional questions, and never before had they so clearly defined the position which they meant to maintain.

Hardly an issue which disturbed the relations between colonies and mother country between the passage of the Stamp Act and the Declaration of Independence was new. These issues had in one form or another been thrashed over in the controversies of the various assemblies with their governors, and the opinions of the colonists concerning them were formed and crystallized. The grounds upon which the colonists claimed exemption from British taxation and restrictions in the later period were by no means new; they had been asserted again and again in substantially the same terms during the war with France. The conditions in the two periods were similar and they called forth similar ideas, protests, and demands on the part of the Americans. In both cases the mother country attempted to procure assistance and to exact obedience from the colonies, and these attempts were resisted by the latter, who contended that such interference by England was an attack upon their long cherished "rights." That a declaration of independence and a separation did not come in the earlier period was due more to the want of a well-defined policy on either side of the Atlantic than to an absence of independent ideas in the colonies. This tendency to resist authority was more pronounced in some colonies than in others, and it took some time to develop a policy of concerted action; but it existed, nevertheless, in all of them, and it needed only additional pressure on the part of crown officials to develop this tendency into armed resistance.

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