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Burke's Speech on Conciliation with America   By: (1729-1797)

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This eBook was produced by Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

BURKE'S SPEECH

ON

CONCILIATION WITH AMERICA

EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES

BY

SIDNEY CARLETON NEWSOM

TEACHER OF ENGLISH, MANUAL TRAINING HIGH SCHOOL INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

PREFACE

The introduction to this edition of Burke's speech on Conciliation with America is intended to supply the needs of those students who do not have access to a well stocked library, or who, for any reason, are unable to do the collateral reading necessary for a complete understanding of the text.

The sources from which information has been drawn in preparing this edition are mentioned under "Bibliography." The editor wishes to acknowledge indebtedness to many of the excellent older editions of the speech, and also to Mr. A. P. Winston, of the Manual Training High School, for valuable suggestions.

CONTENTS

POLITICAL SITUATION

EDMUND BURKE

BURKE AS A STATESMAN

BURKE IN LITERATURE

TOPICS FOR SPECIAL REPORTS

BIBLIOGRAPHY

SPEECH ON CONCILIATION WITH AMERICA

NOTES

INDEX

INTRODUCTION

POLITICAL SITUATION

In 1651 originated the policy which caused the American Revolution. That policy was one of taxation, indirect, it is true, but none the less taxation. The first Navigation Act required that colonial exports should be shipped to England in American or English vessels. This was followed by a long series of acts, regulating and restricting the American trade. Colonists were not allowed to exchange certain articles without paying duties thereon, and custom houses were established and officers appointed. Opposition to these proceedings was ineffectual; and in 1696, in order to expedite the business of taxation, and to establish a better method of ruling the colonies, a board was appointed, called the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations. The royal governors found in this board ready sympathizers, and were not slow to report their grievances, and to insist upon more stringent regulations for enforcing obedience. Some of the retaliative measures employed were the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, the abridgment of the freedom of the press and the prohibition of elections. But the colonists generally succeeded in having their own way in the end, and were not wholly without encouragement and sympathy in the English Parliament. It may be that the war with France, which ended with the fall of Quebec, had much to do with this rather generous treatment. The Americans, too, were favored by the Whigs, who had been in power for more than seventy years. The policy of this great party was not opposed to the sentiments and ideas of political freedom that had grown up in the colonies; and, although more than half of the Navigation Acts were passed by Whig governments, the leaders had known how to wink at the violation of nearly all of them.

Immediately after the close of the French war, and after George III. had ascended the throne of England, it was decided to enforce the Navigation Acts rigidly. There was to be no more smuggling, and, to prevent this, Writs of Assistance were issued. Armed with such authority, a servant of the king might enter the home of any citizen, and make a thorough search for smuggled goods. It is needless to say the measure was resisted vigorously, and its reception by the colonists, and its effect upon them, has been called the opening scene of the American Revolution. As a matter of fact, this sudden change in the attitude of England toward the colonies, marks the beginning of the policy of George III. which, had it been successful, would have made him the ruler of an absolute instead of a limited monarchy. He hated the Tories only less than the Whigs, and when he bestowed a favor upon either, it was for the purpose of weakening the other. The first task he set himself was that of crushing the Whigs... Continue reading book >>




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