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not long after returned the vifit, and invaded Gcorgia, which was fo well defended by Mr. Oglethorpe, that the Spaniards were beaten off.
The Spaniards poffeffed themfelves of Florida immediately after their conqueft of Mexico, under which name they comprehended all thofe countries which lye North of the gulph of Mexico, of which Carolina and the rest of the British plantations are part; but, the Spaniards abandoning part of this country for richer fettlements in Mexico and Peru, the English planted most of the Eastern coaft, now ftiled British America, the Spaniards retaining only St. Auguftin, and two or three other fmall places Eaft of the river Miflifippi, and what lyes Weft of that river; and thus the country fituated between the English plantations on the Eaft, and the Spanish territories in the Weft, remained under the dominion of the Florida Indians, until the year 1718, when the French took poffeffion of the river Miffifippi, and erected fome forts, by virtue whereof they laid claim to the greatest part of Florida, incroaching on the Spanish territories on the Weft, and the English dominions on the Eaft. They did, indeed, once before erect fome forts on the Spanish fide of the river Miffifippi; but the Spaniards demolished them, and drove the French out of the country; but fince France and Spain have been fo clofely united, the Spaniards feem to wink at their incroachments; but the English who have ever looked upon this country, as far Weft as the river Miflisippi, to belong to the colonies of the Carolinas and Georgia, or at least to their Indian allies the Creeks or Cherokees, thought they had very good reafon to difpute this part of Florida with the French, these Indians have ceded to the English all this country they do not chufe themfelves; and it must be admitted that the natives only can give, the Europeans a juft title to it. On this claim, Great Britain, in 1754, difputed her right with France, from which conteft proceeded the late French war.
A View of the Question in difpute, relative to the Colonies with the origin of the prefent, unhappy civil conteft.
HE fortunate termination of the laft war, 1763. which not only reftored tranquillity to our American empire, but feemed to establish it on a more folid foundation than formerly, revived in the minds of the colonists the idea of independency: and certain impolitic measures at home confpired to hurry into execution a fyftem, which might otherwise have remained for years in contemplation; and at length, perhaps, have proved no more than an amufing theory.
A Change had taken place in the British ministry. Change The Earl of Bute, against whom the public odium British had risen to an incredible height, had refigned; and miniftry. the honourable George Grenville, who had long prefided at the Board of Trade, was placed at the head of the treafury. He brought his contracted mercantile ideas along with him. By means of commercial regulations alone, and thefe chiefly directed againft fmuggling, he hoped to fupply the exigencies of the ftate. Agreeable to this idea, the fovereignty of the Isle of Man was purchased by the
CHAP. I. 1764. crown, and armed vefiels were ftationed all around in the coafts of Britain; fo that no fhip could pafs either out from or into any port without a ftrict examination. This policy, more detrimental to trade than emolumentary to the revenue extended even to America and the Weft Indies, where it was productive of the moft pernicious confequences.
Men of war ita
A lucrative trade had long been carried on between our islands in the Weft Indies and the Spanish main, In order to enjoy the advantages of this trade, which was entirely in favour of England, and which Spain had taken every method to obftruct, the inhabitants of Jamaica and Barbadoes had often run the greatest hazards; and the English men of war in those latitudes had frequently protected them from the Guarda Coftas, at the risk of a national quarrel. But now these men of war, having received a general order to prevent fmuggling of every kind, or in the ministerial phrase, to "crufh the monfter," made prize even of the Spanish veffels, when they came within a certain latitude, with their gold, filver, cochineal, and other valuable commodities, which they meant to exchange for British manufactures ; and, as if the Guarda Coftas had no longer been fufficient, a like feverity was used towards fuch English fhips as attempted to vifit the Spanish fettlements. The diftrefs occafioned by this abfurd regulation, fo contrary to the fpirit of British policy, was foon felt over all our West India iflands. A total stagnation of trade was the confequence, and gold and filver entirely difappeared *.
Nor did our North American Colonies feel lefs feverely the effects of the fame regulation. They had early carried on a beneficial trade with the French
*The precious metals have ever fince been fcarce in our Weft India iflands; for although an &t was paffed in 1766, declaring Jamaica and Dominica free ports, the Spanish trade has never been fully recovered.
French islands in the West Indies. Thither they 1764.
of any re
Thefe confiderations were partly overlooked by Amerithe British miniftry, on the one hand, and by the in- cans will habitants of North America, on the other. The not admit latter would admit of no reftraint upon a trade, ftraint which they affirmed not only effential to the clearing of their lands, and the profperity of their fishery, trade. but also to enable them to purchase the manufactures of the mother-country. The minifter, like all wrongheaded men, was obftinate in his purpose: in his
rage to augment the revenue of the customs, he loft fight of every other circumftance. The naval officers employed to execute the orders of government, partly from ignorance, partly from rapacity, were guilty of many acts of violence and injuftice. Our North American colonies were neither in a difpofition tamely to fufler fuch injuftice, nor in a fituation that made fubmifiion neceffary. They were undifputed mafters of an immenfe continent, without a fingle enemy to moleft them; their population was great, and increafing with amazing rapidity; they were poffeffed of vatt internal refources, and
CHAP. I. 1764. needed only perhaps an entire freedom of trade to in be the greatest people upon earth. They were ambitious of poffeffing that freedom, and had already formed the fcheme of their enfranchisement. Their conduct was confiftent with their temper and condition: they immediately came to a refolution to import no manufactures from Great Britain, except fuch as it was impoffible for them to do without.
This refolution has been reprefented, by certain tion not politicians, as the moft moderate that could have to import been adopted in fuch circumftances: and fo it apmanufac- pears at firft view; but on a more close examination, it will be found to involve almoft every thing that the colonies have fince claimed and the mothercountry denied. If they did not import their manufactures from Great Britain, they muft either themfelves fabricate them, or receive them from fome other European power: and in both these instances, as we have already feen, they were reftrained by acts of the British legiflature, whofe validity they had never called in question; they therefore claimed independency. Whether the minister perceived this or not may be queftioned; but certain it is, that he perceived the inefficacy of his commercial regulations to anfwer the purposes of government. He did not, however, abandon his mercantile fyftem. An open trade was permitted between our American fettlements, and those of other nations; but the moft important branches of it were loaded with fuch duties as were thought equal to a prohibition. Thofe duties were ordered to be paid into the British exchequer, and in fpecie too, at the fame time that a bill was paffed for regulating the quantity of paper-money
in the colonies.
It is impoffible to exprefs the discontent which these two acts produced, both in the colonies and the mother-country. The miniftry were now, it was faid, proceeding from violent acts of defpotifm,