Crispus Attucks

Lead: On March 5, 1770, in Boston, Massachusetts, British soldiers led by Captain Preston fired into an unruly crowd of protesters. One of the first to fall was Crispus Attucks.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: All during the winter and spring of 1770, tension in Boston had been building between citizens and British soldiers sent there to prevent unrest and awe the population. Many American workers were resentful of the soldiers because they would take civilian jobs at cheaper rates when they were off duty. This plus the general indignation in the City over the presence of the troops set up one of the first bloody confrontations of the Revolutionary period.

Boston Tea Party

Lead: On a cold December night in 1773, a small group of men disguised with printer’s ink and paint vandalized three cargo ships lying at anchor in Boston Harbor. The so-called Boston Tea Party was a milestone on the road to Revolution.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: It was all about business and taxes. Monopolies and taxes. Representation and taxes. People hated and were resigned to them at the same time. In the years leading up to the American Revolution, Britons paid a lot of taxes, Americans very little. England, distracted by a century and a half of civil war, religious dispute, and continental military adventures, largely had left the colonies to fend for themselves. The distance was too great and communications too slow for effective colonial administration. During this period the white colonists of British North America had grown increasingly accustomed to self-rule. On average, aside from the Dutch, they were the richest people in the world. They had evolved a system of representative government which varied from colony to colony, paying homage to the British monarch, but for the most part they conducted the affairs of the colonies as if that ruler did not exist.

American Revolution: Mr. Seldon’s Penny II

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: In the Revolutionary Era, Americans were followers of John Locke. They believed with Locke that their property represented more than just material possessions, rather property symbolized and secured their lives, liberties, estates, and freedom. In all the colonies, property also bestowed on the owners the rights of a political man. In order to vote one had to possess real property, land. And leaders were those who owned lots of land or were engaged in profitable commercial enterprise. They received this idea from the ancient establishment of Parliament as representative and protector of those who owned property.

American Revolution: Mr. Seldon’s Penny I

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: In the 1760s and 1770s British colonists in North America struggled to justify or even to describe the foundation of their increasing discontent with their relationship with Britain. Eventually a full-blown constitutional argument or justification for liberation would find expression in the writings of Thomas Paine and in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, but in the wake of the Stamp Act Crisis of 1765 and 1766 colonial advocates were trying to find the ideas that might give respectability to their determination to protect their property from Parliamentary tax schemes. For colonial theorists, protection of property was not an idle exercise, not some exercise in selfish acquisition. Property for Americans represented the heart and soul of liberty. The very purpose of civil society was the “preservation and regulation of property.

American Revolution: British Constitutional Debate III

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: As First Minister to King George III, George Grenville was the author of the Stamp Tax passed by the British Parliament in 1765 to secure money to pay for British troops stationed in America. This tax provoked widespread resistance and even rioting in the colonies because of the conviction that, since Americans were not represented in Parliament, Parliament had no right to tax them. When William Pitt rose in Parliament to agree with the American position and urge repeal of the tax, Grenville responded with vigorous denunciation of the rebellious attitude and lack of appreciation in the colonies for the protection Britain afforded with troops on land and for American commerce on the open seas by the British Navy. “Protection and obedience are reciprocal,” he roared, “Great Britain protects America; America is bound to yield obedience.”

American Revolution: British Constitutional Debate II

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: William Pitt the Elder was one of Britain’s great First Ministers. He had led the nation to victory in the Seven Years’ War and in winter 1766 rose to call for repeal of the Stamp Tax, one of the first of several revenue schemes Parliament passed in the 1760s and 1770s to get America to help pay for the troops that Britain stationed in America to protect Americans. His argument was that Britain had no right to lay a tax on the colonies because Americans were not represented in Parliament.

American Revolution: British Constitutional Debate I

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Remarkably, some of the most articulate and vigorous opposition to the Revolutionary Era Stamp Act of 1765 was heard in the Houses of Parliament which had levied the tax on colonies. The Act’s repeal in late winter 1766 revealed a major constitutional fault line in Parliamentary debate and British society that would continue until the Treaty of Paris in 1783 released America into independence. The issue was the extent of Parliament’s taxing authority. Few doubted that Parliament could do just about anything it wanted to do, including levying taxes. The colonies were asserting, however, that Parliament had no right to tax Americans because they were not represented in Parliament. This affirmed one of the signature tenets of English Constitutional system. No one can be taxed unless they are represented in the institution doing the taxing. In that the colonies were making a distinction between taxation and ordinary legislation: that the government cannot rifle though my back pocket unless I elect the representative doing the rifling.

American Revolution: Stamp Act Repeal III

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Horace Walpole, son of Britain’s First Minister, Robert Walpole, a man of letters and member of Parliament from the rotten borough of Castle Rising, wrote, in his memoirs of the reign of
King George III, that repeal of the Stamp Act before any serious attempt at enforcement and collection, stuck in the throats of a resentful and reluctant Parliamentary majority. “When do princes bend,” he opined, “but after a defeat?” His was a perceptive observation. Parliament did not like it, but First Minister Lord Rockingham who took over after the author of the Stamp Act, George Grenville, was removed by the King, faced a situation in America tantamount to open revolt and demands from a domestic constituency horrified by a severe downturn in commerce caused by a drop in American consumption of British goods. England’s merchants were up in arms and Rockingham recognized that he had a political alliance that could divert the debate from constitutional issues of Parliamentary and colonial rights, and push it the direction of practical economic survival. He used the near irresistible political pressure from the influential business community to secure repeal.