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Lecture 6

HIS311 Lecture 6 - Bothwell

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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Bothwell

Lecture 6: 9/30/10 Why 13 colonies revolted -On one side, east/west Florida, Quebec; the rest (including Nova Scotia) had the same kind of government made up of 3 legislative institutions: 1. The Assembly (elected) – in charge of raising taxes 2. (*****) 3. (*****) -“The British Empire was acquired in a fit of absence of mind” -The colonies were governed from London; the King and his ministers run everything -In British parliament, the cabinet has a chief minister (who would eventually be Prime Minister) • The Prime Minister is in charge of the House of Commons; problem: the House of Commons is elected on the base of ridings that date from the 16 th century (some of the ridings don’t have inhabitants and others were owned private property) -When it’s said that the House of Commons is elected, it is not democratically elected. It’s representative but not fully. -The House of Commons represents two kingdoms: England and Scotland – there are large parts of Great Britain that are not represented -The great debate of the time: should there be a reform of British parliament because of the abovementioned inadequacies? • This question is important when we look at the structure of the British Empire -By the mid-18 century, the population is getting rather large (larger than Ireland and Scotland, and getting close to the size of England) -The British colonies begin to realize that they are not being represented (only virtual representation) -Periodically (in the history of British politics) the unrepresented peoples would boil over into riots • These riots were bloody, but a part of the constitution (it was how the masses let the government know that they had gone too far) *extra-parliamentary way of influence -This kind of people-government relation did not exist in the British colonies (mostly because there were very few taxes) – there were taxes on goods only • Correspondingly, if taxes on goods were too high, the people would cope through smuggling -A wise government will sometimes let the tax go uncollected in order to maintain peace -At this time, the colonies were becoming more important economically (a major export market) th -By the 18 century, taxation in the colonies becomes a reality -The British government is in debt after the 7 Years War – in which much of their money was spent in America – shouldn’t the Americans help to pay the costs through taxation? -The colonies were resistant: “No taxation without representation” was the doctrine they campaigned (a provision that dates back to the Magda Carta) -The colonies would not vote on their taxation – they would not consent to tax -British parliament/cabinet/kind doesn’t see this issue: “An impasse, which cannot be resolved because it means addressing a political structure in the United Kingdom – addressing it means addressing the issue of representation” -Many interests are involved and the British cannot provide the colonies with full representation -The American colonies resist: they lobby, form groups and petition government; they boycott British goods and obstruct aspects of government (typical protest tactics) • In order to start a boycott, everyone must conform. Boycott (non-violent protest) has within it the seeds of coercion; coercion on those who are disinclined to go along with it [the seeds of revolution] -The British were irritated by these tactics and were reluctant to give in -Pressure to join the resistance movement grew within the colonies – in Massachusetts Hutchinson (a British official) h
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