| American History Stories, Volume II|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Tales of Revolutionary times, including the causes of the American Revolution, the daring exploits of those defending liberty, the early battles, the struggles of the army, and the heroes who led the colonists to victory. Ages 8-12 |
CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION
OU remember, in the French and Indian War, the colonists
began to feel dissatisfied with the way England treated
them. Up to that time, England had left them pretty
much alone; but as soon as she found they really were
beginning to be quite important, that they were
carrying on quite a little commerce and manufacturing,
that they were raising quite a large amount of cotton
and tobacco, and were really growing every year in
wealth, and in numbers, and in power, then she thought
it quite time that they be made to help support the
The colonists, since they considered England their
mother country, were quite willing to do this, and
would have done it had England treated them fairly.
Did you ever think where the money comes from to keep
 in order the cities or town you live in—to build its
public buildings, to lay out its streets, and to pay
all the officers and workmen for their work?
Of course you know that every State has a Governor, who
has been chosen by votes of the people. He stands as
the head man in the State; but of course he could not
go about to every house to ask people what they would
like to have done in their particular cities or towns.
And so the work is divided; somewhat as the school
system is in large towns and cities. There is a
Superintendent, who has charge of the teaching in the
town or city; but as he could not teach every child, he
engages a principal to take charge of each school
building, and each principal, in his turn, has a
teacher to take charge of each room in the building.
PATRICK HENRY DELIVERING HIS CELEBRATED SPEECH, 1765
The government of the State is somewhat like this—in
its division at least. All the men of one town go to
the "polls," as they call it, and vote for some one man
to represent them. They tell him what they want, and he
is expected, when he meets at the State House with the
representatives from all other parts of the State, to
express the wishes of these men who voted to have him
fill this office.
The State calls these representatives together, finds
what each town wants, and the money which all these
property owners in all the towns have paid in, is
distributed as these representatives think best.
 In the same way, the work is divided in each city or
town. The men all go to the polls again for a municipal
election, as it is called; that is, to elect men to
carry on the city affairs. They elect one man to
oversee the whole city, much as the Governor oversees
the whole State, and as the Superintendent oversees the
whole school system. Then there is another man elected
to oversee the water supply, another to oversee the
roads, another to collect the taxes—and many, many
more; so many that, rather than take the time here to
try to name them, I think I will leave you to ask your
fathers about them; for very likely they can explain it
all to you a great deal better than I can on paper.
But all these officers must be paid for working for the
city, and they must also have money to carry on the
work that is expected of them. And this money is
raised by taxation,—that is, every property holder
pays in a certain amount of money to help pay the
expenses of the town or city. The tax-payers are
willing to do this, because they know it will all go to
pay the salaries of these officers, to build roads, lay
out public parks, support the schools,—all those
things that go to help make our cities and towns
pleasant and comfortable.
This sort of tax paying is perfectly just; because each
town in this way gets its share of the good things
which its tax money has bought.
Now let us see what England tried to do,—what it was
 that made the colonies so angry that at last they rose
in arms against the mother country.
She said, "You are getting so wealthy now, you ought to
pay tax to us."
The colonists said, "Very well, we shall be glad to do
so; for we consider ourselves as little towns belonging
to England, and so of course we expect to give our
share of the money which the government needs."
"But you are not to have any of this money back again,"
said England. "The King will do what he pleases with
it. Neither are you to send any representative to us,
and we will hear none of your prayers."
Then the colonists were angry indeed. "We are not
slaves," said they, "and we are not going to pay money
to England unless we can have representatives and be
treated like the towns in England."
But greedy England only laughed at them, and said, "You
shall do as we tell you to, or we will send our
soldiers over to whip you into obedience."
England didn't realize that the colonies might prepare
to whip British soldiers themselves.
Now I hope from all this,—and this has been a pretty
long lesson I fear,—I hope you will understand, and
will never forget, that the reason the colonists made
war with England was because England was determined to
tax them without allowing them any part in the
government. As the histories say, the cause of the
Revolution was "Taxation without Representation."
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