American Revolution: Inept British Colonial Policy 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: After more than a century of benign neglect by Britain, the colonies and the mother country discovered they viewed the world from two distinct increasingly disconnected perspectives. The colonies were established as a clearly subordinate part of the British economic system which was known as mercantilism. The colonies grew raw materials, goods were transported in both directions in British ships, all of which was designed to benefit the people and economy of England.

Read more →

American Revolution: Inept British Colonial Policy 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: The inability of the London government to effectively exercise control over the colonies was one of the reasons that led to the Revolution. After more than a century of benign neglect by Britain, the colonies and mother country discovered they viewed the world from two distinct increasingly disconnected perspectives. This was compounded by the decidedly amateurish approach London took to governing.

Read more →

American Revolution: Inept British Colonial Policy 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: The crisis that severely altered the relationship between Britain and its thirteen North American colonies was fundamentally rooted in an increasingly divergent perception of control. By the 1700s, though the colonies were theoretically under the direction of Britain, the reality was that all of them were largely independent in the way they conducted their own social, political, economic and religious life. They were, to paraphrase the words of sociologists Beatrice and Sydney Webb, virtually autonomous. Distance was too great and effective governmental communication too deficient to permit a closely held control of colonial affairs. Britons may have thought they played the dominant role in the cross-Atlantic relationship, but that was a snare and a delusion. Americans may have not reached the point where they defined this circumstance as independence, but within 12 years after the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, a powerful plurality of the colonists would embrace independence as a reality, and Britain’s sclerotic response made things worse.

Read more →

American Revolution: Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer 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: In 1767 Philadelphia lawyer John Dickinson began a series of essays decrying the Townshend taxes on lead, glass, paper, and tea passed by Parliament not long after it repealed the Stamp Tax. The essays were published in serial form in newspapers all across America and were called Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania (1767-1768). He was clear that he opposed the tax scheme because of its violation of the British Constitution’s prohibition of taxing people not represented in Parliament, but he did it such a mild, gentle, submissive fashion that it failed to spark a plan of action though it did probably provide some level of satisfaction to Americans already weary of the continuing conflict between Britain and its North American colonies.

Read more →

American Revolution: Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer 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 his long political career, Philadelphia lawyer and Delaware planter John Dickinson demonstrated a consistent moderation that often spoke to the heart of American popular sentiment which often reflected fatigue in the long decades of revolutionary upheaval, dispute and war. He drafted the ultimately ineffective Articles of Confederation (1776) and then joined in calls for a stronger central government, represented Delaware at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and then worked for the passage of the Constitution. In the debates on independence he held out the hope for reconciliation with Great Britain and refused to sign the Declaration, but he was not a coward. He became the only founding father to manumit or free his slaves in the years between 1776 and 1787, a dangerous and potentially destructive act of moral and political courage.

Read more →

American Revolution: Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer 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 many ways the Stamp Act crisis of 1765-1766 was exhausting for Americans. The riots, petitions, newspaper arguments, endless debate, and economic dislocation caused by the drop-off in trade was bad enough. Even worse were the peculiar and uncomfortable emotions generated by this new and disquieting estrangement from Britain. This negative political energy produced a sense of confusion and weariness. And when Parliament proved its determination to force its will on the issue of taxation by passing a new round of import duties, the Townshend Acts, Americans were slow in reacting. There seemed to be a genuine doubt in some circles as to whether these taxes were in technical violation of the principle that had aroused such resentment and opposition during the previous year. Clearly many Americans were tired of the conflict and wished it to go away. Into this uncertainty stepped a heretofore unknown voice, Philadelphia lawyer, John Dickinson.

Read more →

American Revolution: Acts of Charles Townshend 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: In 1767 the British Parliament passed what became known as the Townshend Acts, named for Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, a member of the government tentatively led by William Pitt. Pitt had a physical collapse and for two years his leadership was incapacitated. His absence left a power vacuum into which Townshend stepped. The son of a minor aristocrat, he had a troubled youth under his overbearing father and emerged a troubled adult, a brilliant orator in Parliamentary debate, but erratic and domineering in his behavior.

Read more →

American Revolution: Acts of Charles Townshend 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: George Mason, Virginia planter, politician and future delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787, and widely considered to be the father of the Bill of Rights, was an acute observer of the looming struggle between the American colonies and Great Britain. After the repeal of Stamp Tax, Mason reflected that the attitude of many Britons, particularly those in Parliament who passed and then repealed the tax, was not unlike that of an exasperated parent dealing with an errant child. With icy sarcasm seeming to drip from his pen he wrote of the British attitude, “.,…do what your Papa and Mama bid you and Hasten to return them your most grateful Acknowledgements for condescending to let you keep what is your own; and then all your Acquaintance will love you, and praise you, and give you pretty things;…but if you are a naughty Boy, and turn obstinate, and don’t mind what Papa and Mama say to you….and pretend to judge….yourselves capable of distinguishing between Good and Evil; then everybody will hate you and say you’re a graceless and undutiful Child; your Parents and Masters will be obliged to whip you severely….”

Read more →