The Pink Flamingo thinks it is time for a little reality check. When UK PM George Grenville proposed and moved the hated Stamp Act of 1765 through Parliament, he needed agents to handle the proceedings in the Colonies. He went to Ben Franklin for help.
“…Grenville started appointing Stamp Distributors almost immediately after the Act passed Parliament. Applicants were not hard to come by because of the anticipated income that the positions promised, and he appointed Americans in each of the thirteen colonies. Ben Franklin even suggested the appointment of John Hughes as the agent for Pennsylvania, indicating that even Franklin was not aware of the turmoil and impact on American-British relations that the tax was going to generate or that these distributors would become the focus of colonial resistance….”
The irony of the situation was the fact that because of the Stamp Act of 1765, Grenville was accused of Taxation Without Representation.
Please follow the bouncing ball:
“…The theoretical issue that would soon hold center stage was the matter of taxation without representation. Benjamin Franklin had raised this as far back as 1754 at the Albany Congress when he wrote, “That it is suppos’d an undoubted Right of Englishmen not to be taxed but by their own Consent given thro’ their Representatives. That the Colonies have no Representatives in Parliament.”…”
You know that infamous Stamp Act of 1765….
“…For Grenville, the first issue was the amount of the tax. Soon after his announcement of the possibility of a tax, he had told American agents that he was not opposed to the Americans suggesting an alternative way of raising the money themselves. However the only other alternative would be to requisition each colony and allow them to determine how to raise their share. This had never worked before, even during the French and Indian War, and there was no political mechanism in place that would have ensured the success of such cooperation. On February 2, 1765 Grenville met with Benjamin Franklin, Jared Ingersoll from Philadelphia, Richard Jackson the agent for Connecticut, and Charles Garth the agent for South Carolina (Jackson and Garth were also members of Parliament) to discuss the tax. These colonial representatives had no specific alternative to present; they simply suggested that the determination be left to the colonies. Grenville replied that he wanted to raise the money “by means the most easy and least objectionable to the Colonies” and Thomas Whately, who had drafted the Stamp Act, said the delay in implementation had been “out of Tenderness to the colonies” and the tax was judged as “the easiest, the most equal and the most certain.”…”
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were the ruling elite. They were extremely liberal. There was NOTHING conservative about their idea of freedom. They were trying to save a few bucks. Their actions were not populist. In fact, they were the “Beltway Elites” of their day, trying to clean up the mess created by the Tea Party Populists in the UK.
You see, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The average British taxpayer was furious about the French and Indian War. It was expensive. It was inflationary. Things do not happen in a bubble. They were outraged because of high taxes and government spending at home and in the Colonies. They felt the Colonies should support themselves, and should help pay for the army which was keeping them safe.
And so, the UK version of the “Tea Party Patriots” who were protesting high taxes and outlandish government spending intimidated the prime minister of the UK to the point where he was afraid to pay off the government debt by taxing them any higher. Instead, to LOWER their tax burden, he proposed that certain taxes be placed on the Colonies.
The straw that broke the camel’s back in the Colonies was a certain portion of the Stamp Act of 1865 that taxed certain documents and imposed certain courts:
“...The tax on court documents specifically included courts “exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction.” These type of courts did not currently exist in the colonies and no bishops, who would preside over the courts, were currently assigned to the colonies. Many colonists or their ancestors had fled England specifically to escape the influence and power of such state-sanctioned religious institutions, and they feared this was the first step to reinstating the old ways in the colonies….The Act also, following the example established by the Sugar Act, allowed admiralty courts to have jurisdiction for trying violators. However admiralty courts had traditionally been limited to cases involved with the high seas . While the Sugar Act seemed to fall within this precedent, the Stamp Act did not, and the colonists saw this as a further attempt to replace their local courts with courts controlled by England….”
If you know anything about history, you will know how strongly they were challenging the conservative status quo. In a way, it was not about creating a new nation, but preserving their way of life. They had stepped over the line once too often protesting the allegedly draconian measures of the very unpopular Prime Minister of the UK.
Umm….. What our ignorant Tea Partiers do not bother to comprehend is the fact that those draconian policies placed on the US, including the Stamp Tax of 1765 were designed to lower the tax burden on the British people. You see, it was all to basically appease the Tea Party populist times in the UK at the time.
“…The British victory in the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), known in British America as the French and Indian War, had been won only at a great financial cost. During the war, the British national debt nearly doubled, rising from £72,000,000 in 1755 to almost £130,000,000 by 1764. Post-war expenses were expected to remain high because the Bute ministry decided in early 1763 to keep ten thousand British regular soldiers in the American colonies, which would cost about £225,000 per year. The primary reason for retaining such a large force was that demobilizing the army would put 1,500 officers, many of whom were well-connected in Parliament, out of work.This made it politically prudent to retain a large peacetime establishment, but because Britons were averse to maintaining a standing army at home, it was necessary to garrison the troops elsewhere.
Stationing most of the army in North America made strategic sense because Great Britain had acquired the vast territory of New France in the 1763 peace treaty, and troops would be needed to maintain control of the new empire. The outbreak in May 1763 of Pontiac’s Rebellion, an American Indian uprising against Anglo-American occupation and expansion, reinforced the logic of this decision. Some older accounts claimed that Pontiac’s Rebellion prompted the decision to garrison 10,000 troops in North America, but the Bute ministry had already made the decision before Pontiac’s uprising.
The Bute ministry decided to station troops in North America, but it was George Grenville—who became prime minister in April 1763—who had to find a way to pay for this large peacetime army. Raising taxes in Britain was out of the question, since there had been virulent protests in England against the Bute ministry’s 1763 cider tax, with Bute being hanged in effigy. The Grenville ministry therefore decided that Parliament would raise this revenue by taxing the American colonists. This was something new: Parliament had previously passed measures to regulate trade in the colonies, but it had never before directly taxed the colonies to raise revenue….”
The British version of the Tea Party anti-tax protesters caused the whole thing. Get it? Guess Glenn Beck never bothered telling you how unpopular these taxes imposed on the Colonies were. It destroyed PM George Grenville’s career and propelled William Pitt into the public eye. Pitt was on the side of the Colonies.
“…William Pitt, in the Parliamentary debate, stated that everything done by the Grenville ministry with respect to the colonies “has been entirely wrong.” He further stated, “It is my opinion that this Kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the colonies.” While Pitt still maintained that “the authority of this kingdom over the colonies, to be sovereign and supreme, in every circumstance of government and legislature whatsoever,” he made the distinction that taxes were not part of governing, but were “a voluntary gift and grant of the Commons alone.” He rejected the notion of virtual representation, as “the most contemptible idea that ever entered into the head of man.”…Grenville responded to Pitt:
Protection and obedience are reciprocal. Great Britain protects America; America is bound to yield obedience. If, not, tell me when the Americans were emancipated? When they want the protection of this kingdom, they are always ready to ask for it. That protection has always been afforded them in the most full and ample manner. The nation has run itself into an immense debt to give them their protection; and now they are called upon to contribute a small share towards the public expence, and expence arising from themselves, they renounce your authority, insult your officers, and break out, I might also say, into open rebellion.
Pitt’s response to Grenville included, “I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people, so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest.””
I wish I had written this:
“…When history is turned into scripture and men into deities, truth is the victim. The framers were giants, visionaries and polymaths. But they were also aristocrats, creatures of their time fearful of what they considered the excessive democracy taking hold in the states in the 1780s. They did not believe that poor men, or any women, let alone slaves, should have the vote. Many of their decisions, such as giving every state two senators regardless of population, were the product not of Olympian sagacity but of grubby power-struggles and compromises—exactly the sort of backroom dealmaking, in fact, in which today’s Congress excels and which is now so much out of favour with the tea-partiers…”
I think this cartoon in The Economist, is perfect!
The Stamp Act Congress met in in New York in October of 1865. All of the delegates were political elites.
“…The youngest was 26 year old John Rutledge of South Carolina, and the oldest was 65 year old Hendrick Fisher of New Jersey. Ten of the delegates were lawyers, ten were merchants, and seven were planters or land owning farmers; all had served in some type of elective office and all but three were born in the colonies. Four would die before the colonies declared independence, and four would sign the Declaration of Independence; nine would attend the first and second Continental Congresses, and three would be loyalists during the Revolution…”
Their resolution was terribly liberal for the day. There was NOTHING conservative about it.
“…It is significant that in addition to simply arguing for their rights as Englishmen, they also asserted that they had certain natural rights solely because they were human beings. Resolution 3 stated, “That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no taxes be imposed on them, but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives.” Both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania in separate resolutions would bring forth the issue even more directly when they referred, respectively, to “the Natural rights of Mankind” and “the common rights of mankind“…”
Unfortunately those rights applied only to free white males of a certain socio-economic station. These rights did not apply to women or to slaves.
This is how it started. Their views were LIBERAL and their views were terribly elite. There was nothing populist about them. Their actions were a result of a populist uprising across the Pond.
The status quo of the day was a Constitutional Monarchy. England was just recovering from a deadly civil war and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. While Glenn Beck and his brain-washed listeners may worship our Founders as the greatest conservative libertarians of all times, the exact opposite was true. They were proposing the creation of a new government and the revolution necessary.
Populist uprisings are disastrous throughout history. While I agree with the financial end of the so called “tea party” demands, I do not approve of their actions, behavior, or their movement. Just follow the actions of the “tea party” populists of 1765 England. No one wanted the separation of the Colonies from England, not even Samuel Adams.