| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
GEORGE III.—THE STORY OF HOW AMERICA WAS LOST
 GEORGE II. died in October 1759 A.D., and was succeeded by
his grandson George III., whose father, the Prince of Wales,
had died some years before.
George III. had been born in England, and seemed more of an
Englishman than either George I. or George II. For that
reason, and because he was young and handsome, the people
were glad when he came to the throne. But he proved himself
to be an unwise King, and it was during his reign that
Britain suffered a great loss—the loss of all the
American colonies except Canada.
The wars which Britain had been fighting all over the world
had cost a great deal of money. When Pitt saw a thing needed
to be done he did not stop to ask how much it would cost—he
did it, and afterwards the country had to find ways and
means of paying. War always costs a great deal, and the
country had been fighting so much that it was now deeply in
debt. The King's ministers, therefore, had to find some new
way of raising money. It seemed to them that, as the war in
America had been for the benefit of the colonies, the
colonists ought to pay some of the cost. This being so, King
George decided to tax the Americans.
You know what a tax means. If a certain thing
 costs one
shilling a pound, and the Government said, "We will put a
tax of twopence a pound on this thing," then it would cost
one shilling and twopence, and the extra twopence would go
to Government to help to pay the expenses of the country.
For it requires money to keep up a country just as mush as
to keep up a house.
You also know that the King could not make the people pay
taxes without the consent of Parliament. That was a right
for which the people and Parliament had fought over and over
again, and which they had won at last. And if Parliament
consented to a tax, it was really the people who consented,
as the members of Parliament were chosen by the people.
Now the people of America sent no members to the British
Parliament. When King George tried to make them pay taxes,
they at once said, "No, that is not just. It is against the
laws of Britain. If we are to pay taxes we must be allowed
to send members to Parliament as England and Scotland do. If
we are to pay taxes we must have a share in making the laws
and saying how the money is to be spent."
This was quite reasonable, but King George was not
reasonable. He said, "No."
The Americans were very angry at this, and they made up
their minds to do without the things which the King wanted
to tax. This was very hard for them, especially as one of
the things taxed was tea. You can imagine how difficult it
would be to do without tea.
While these things were happening, the great Pitt had been
ill. When he was well again, and heard what George III. and
his foolish ministers had been doing, he was very angry. He
said the Americans were quite right, and he talked so
fiercely that all the taxes
 were taken off again, except the
one on tea. George insisted on keeping that on. He was very
angry with both Pitt and the Americans. He called them
rebels, and Pitt the "trumpet of rebellion."
But the Americans would not yield even to one tax. There
were meetings all over the States and the young men banded
together under the name of "The Sons of Liberty." They swore
to do anything rather than use taxed tea.
At last ships arrived in Boston harbour laden with tea. The
Americans knew that if once that tea got ashore it would be
very difficult to keep the people from buying it. They
determined that it should not be landed.
While some of the wise people were talking and advising each
other as to what should be done, about twenty young men
dressed themselves as Red Indians. They painted their faces
brown, stuck feathers in their hair, and put on clothes such
as Red Indians wore.
Red Indians are the natives of America and, although they
have nearly died out now, in those days it was quite common
to see them even in the towns.
With wild war-whoops these make-believe Red Indians ran to
the harbour. They sprang on board the tea ships, they seized
the chests, opened them with their hatchets, and poured the
tea into the water. Chest after chest, chest after chest was
burst open, and the tea poured over the ship's side, till
three hundred and forty-two chests had been emptied, and the
harbour was black with tea leaves.
Many an honest merchant looked sadly on, many a thrifty
housewife sighed to see the waste, but no one stopped the
work. It was the greatest tea-making that
 had ever been
seen, and for long after it was called the "Boston
When King George heard about this tea-party he was very
angry. To punish the people of Boston he forbade any ships
to go there at all, so that the trade of the town was
ruined, and the people became quite poor. He sent soldiers
to frighten them into obedience, and did many other things
in order to punish the rebels.
But the Americans would not bear such treatment, and they
talked of war. King George seemed to be quite pleased at the
idea of fighting the Americans. "We will soon bring them to
their senses," he said; "they will only behave like lions as
long as we behave like lambs. I will show them that I mean
to be firm, and they will soon be meek enough." But the
Americans were not meek at all. They made ready to fight.
Soon twenty thousand colonists were in arms, and George
Washington, a young soldier, who had already shown his
bravery and skill in fighting against the French, was their
leader. The war began in the year 1775 A.D., and it was
quite as dreadful as a civil war. The colonists looked upon
Britain as their mother-country, they talked of it as
"home," and now for want of a little kindly feeling and
understanding between them, mother and children were
As time went on, the Americans became more and more
determined not to give in. On the 4th of July 1776 A.D., they
very solemnly made their Declaration of Independence. "We,
the representatives of the United States of America in
Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the
world for the rectitude of our intentions, solemnly publish
and declare that these United States are, and of right ought
to be, Free and Independent States." This means that the
Americans felt that
 they were doing right and not wrong in
fighting against the mother-country. They felt that they
ought to be free, and they declared that they were free and
independent. Independent means standing alone.
While the war was being carried on in the States, at home
Pitt, the great war minister, who was now called Lord
Chatham, was struggling for peace. He had worked very hard
to make Britain great, and to make the colonies great. Now,
he saw that all his work was to be ruined by civil war, and
he tried to stop it. "You cannot conquer America," he said.
"They are of our own blood. If I were an American, as I am
an Englishman, I would never lay down my arms—never,
But the King and his friends would not listen to Pitt, and
the war went on. Then a worse thing happened. France joined
America against Britain. Britain, by driving the French out
of America, had given the Americans peace. Now, Britain's
old enemy had joined with her own people against her. That
was the worst blow of all. It frightened the Parliament, and
some members wanted to acknowledge the freedom of America.
Old and ill although he was when Pitt heard of it, he rose
from his bed, and once more went to speak in the House. His
voice was weak and feeble as he spoke. "I am glad," he said,
"that I am still alive and able to lift up my voice against
breaking up the empire."
Pitt had wanted to give the Americans what they asked for,
but now he wanted to fight with France. France, he felt, had
no right in the quarrel. He would not yield to French
threats what had been refused to America alone.
But Pitt was old and feeble, the excitement of speaking was
too much for the great statesman. He fell senseless to the
ground, and was carried home to die.
 Then not only France but Spain joined with America, and at
last the bitter end came. Britain was obliged to give way,
and, in 1782 A.D., after a war which had lasted nearly eight
years, the United States were acknowledged to be a free and
independent country, and Britain lost all her possessions in
North America except Canada.
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