| Builders of Our Country: Book II|
|by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth|
| A lively account of American history told through 31 biographies, beginning with Patrick Henry at the start of the Revolution and ending with Andrew Carnegie at the close of the 19th century. The biographies are so chosen as to acquaint the reader with the chief personages and events in our national life, by including many vivid pictures of each. Ages 10-12 |
"GOD SAVE THE KING!"
 QUEBEC fell. The French and Indian War came to an
end. And with its close came the last of French power in
America. On that September day of 1759 it seemed as if
the might of England were established in America forever,
and "God save the King" was sung in every village and
town of the loyal English colonies.
The long struggle was over. The victory was won. And
now the colonists turned to the peaceful duties of home
once more. Life was much the same as before the war,
and yet in some respects there were marked differences.
To begin with, the English colonists no longer dreaded
the French and their cruel Indian friends. Thanks to
English courage and perseverance, that fear was gone.
Moreover, the courage and perseverance which had
gained this great blessing had not all belonged to the
King's red-coated troops. The colonists justly felt that
they themselves had done much toward conquering the
foe. They had left their homes and families, had made
long hard journeys over unbroken lands, and had fought
shoulder to shoulder with the English troops on many
battlefields. Yes, surely the victory belonged as fully
 to them as to the King's regulars. Their pride was
Before the war each colony had stood alone. But now
the settlers from the different colonies had met in a
common cause, had fought a common foe, and had come to
realize that they dwelt in a common country—one well
worth fighting for.
And so, with their enemy beaten, their ability to fight
established, and their love for their land increased, these
loyal colonists sent up the heartfelt petition, "God save
Meanwhile, however, in 1760, the King of England,
George II, died; and immediately his grandson was
proclaimed King in his place. Just as the colonists were
settling down to work, and starting to enlarge their already
profitable trade, this new king, George III, took a step
which threatened trouble for them.
About one hundred years before George III became
king, England had passed certain "Navigation Acts."
These Acts had declared that the English colonies in
America must not carry on trade with any countries other
than England and her possessions, must not ship their
goods in any but English or colonial ships, and must not
manufacture their own products into finished articles.
But these laws had not been enforced; and so, in spite
of their existence, the colonies had sent their goods to
Spain, France, and the West Indies, and had used their
lumber, iron, furs, and other products as they saw fit.
All this was now to be changed. George III proposed
to put the old Navigation Acts into force and to insist
that his American colonies obey them.
This meant nothing short of ruin to colonial commerce.
As the colonists had disobeyed the Navigation Act's for so
long, without hindrance, there seemed no reason why
 they should obey them now. Hence they commenced to
smuggle goods and to hide them in their houses.
The King was determined to stop the smuggling, so he
issued "Writs of Assistance." These writs gave the
King's colonial officers the right to enter any suspected
house and search it. It was very easy for an officer who
suspected a colonist unjustly to enter his house, and very
unpleasant for an innocent colonist to have his house
searched from top to bottom at the whim of an officer.
Bitter feeling sprang up, and appeal after appeal was sent
to the King—but all in vain.
ARGUING AGAINST THE WRITS OF ASSISTANCE
BEFORE THE KING'S COURT IN MASSACHUSETTS.
King George had found that, with his throne, he had
inherited enormous debts. One of them was the great
cost of the French and Indian War. Moreover, he
in-  tended to keep British soldiers in America, to prevent the
French from regaining what they had lost. This standing
army would be a further expense. But why should not his
prosperous American colonists be made to pay for a war
that had been fought chiefly in their behalf? Why should
they not also help to support a standing army sent for
The next question was how best to get some of the
colonists' money into the English treasury. The King
and his Parliament decided to do
this by means of a stamp tax.
Stamps of different kinds and
values were to be issued and sent
to America to be sold. Thereafter,
in America, no business paper, such
as an insurance agreement, a will, a
note, or a deed, would be legal
unless it were written on paper that
bore one of these stamps—the
stamp of right kind and value
for that particular purpose. The
stamps were to be so varied in their uses that they would
cover nearly every line of business. Even each newspaper
was to be stamped, so that the man who bought it would
pay, not only for the thing itself, but for its stamp as well.
All the money received from the sale of the stamps would
go to the English Government.
A COLONIAL STAMP.
To George III this seemed an excellent plan. Early
in 1765 the Stamp Act, as it was called, was passed by
Parliament. Word was sent to the American colonists
that by November 1st of that same year they might look
for their stamps; for on that day the Stamp Act would
be put in force.
THE FIRST BREACH
 THE news that the Stamp Act had been passed swept
from end to end of the colonies. Everywhere men heard
it with serious faces and asked each other what it meant.
Never before had England tried to tax her American
colonies without their consent. Were they to allow it now?
What worried the colonists was not that they must help
pay England's war debt, although they had already fully
paid their share; or that they were ordered to support in
their midst an army of British soldiers, just when they had
learned to defend themselves. The trouble was that they
had not been consulted in these matters.
Virginia was the first to summon her House of
Burgesses, as her legislative assembly was called, in an
effort to find an answer to the grave question. Its
members met at Williamsburg, on the 30th of May, 1760. The
discussion began. All were opposed to the Stamp Act, but
the remedies that they suggested
for the evil were extremely
mild. True Englishmen at heart
were the Virginia burgesses, and
the lifelong habit of obedience to
their King prevented most of
them from any thought of radical
action. "Let us send the King
a statement of our rights and
petition him to consider them,"
said these conservative members.
For a moment no protest was
raised. Then Patrick Henry
rose slowly to his feet. All
turned toward him wonderingly, and well they might.
Only twenty-nine years old, roughly dressed,
stoop-shoul-  dered and awkward, surely this new member could have
little to say on so great a subject. Quietly glancing from
one to another of the dignified bewigged and beruffled
older members, Henry began to speak.
According to English law, he argued, King George,
could place no tax on his subjects at home or abroad
without the consent of those subjects or their representatives
in Parliament. Had the American colonies been asked
their opinion of this Stamp Act? No! Had they any
representatives in England's Parliament to give consent to
such a measure? No! Then clearly King George had no
right to demand that his American colonists pay this tax
or buy his stamps. And he, Patrick Henry, had written
some resolutions which he respectfully requested the
burgesses to hear.
ADDRESSING THE HOUSE OF BURGESSES.
These resolutions he read from the fly leaf of an old
book on which he had just jotted them down. They were
a clear and concise statement of the rights granted the
Virginians by their charter—rights which belonged to each
and every subject of the English King, wherever he dwelt
in that King's domains. And, concluded the resolutions,
His Majesty's liege people, the inhabitants of this colony,
are not bound to obey any law which imposes a tax, unless
that law is made by the Virginia House of Burgesses.
Moreover, any person who denies this exclusive right to the
House of Burgesses shows himself an enemy to the colony.
At once all was excitement. On every hand the
conservative members were attacking this open defiance of
the King—this declared intention to disobey his stamp law.
Again Patrick Henry rose to his feet. This time his
head was high, his eyes flashed, and his wonderful voice
thrilled every listener. In plain terms he now repeated
his views of the Stamp Act, and the King and Parliament
 who had passed it. "Caesar had his Brutus," he cried,
"Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the
"Treason! Treason!" rose on all sides.
"And George the Third may profit by their example.
If this be treason, make the most of it," added Henry;
and without another word he took his seat.
Now followed argument after argument for and against
Patrick Henry's resolutions. And gradually, one by one,
the members of the Virginia House of Burgesses began to
see the situation with Henry's eyes.
Finally came the deciding vote. When it was counted,
it was found that Patrick Henry's resolutions, in a slightly
modified form, had been adopted.
Henry, content with the result, threw his saddlebags
over his arm and set off for home, leading his horse. He
had made his fight and won. Compared with this, it
 mattered little to him that he had been charged with
treason. And yet to be charged with treason was no
small affair. Treason means an attempt to betray one's
country, or one's king. It is still considered the
greatest crime that a soldier or a citizen can commit; and
in Patrick Henry's day its punishment was death.
Troublous times followed. Into the peaceful relations
with England a breach had come. Wider and wider it
grew. Still, as at the beginning, the conservatives were
in favor of patching up the gap and holding to the mother
country. Patrick Henry, on the other hand, felt that only
galling chains could now tie the American colonies to
England. Hear his words to the members of the House of
Burgesses assembled in Richmond, when the crisis came
"Gentlemen may cry 'Peace! Peace!' but there is no
peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that
sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of
resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field.
What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have?
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at
the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty
God! I know not what course others may take; but, as
for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"
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