The Wars Between England and America by Theodore Clarke Smith

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Excerpt: …were men like Samuel Adams of Massachusetts and Patrick Henry of Virginia. They had learned their politics in the period before the Revolution, and clung to the old colonial spirit, which regarded normal politics as essentially defensive and anti-governmental. On the other hand, there were a good many individuals in the country who recognized that the triumph of the colonial ideal was responsible for undeniable disasters. Such men were found, especially, among the army officers and among those who had tried to aid the cause in diplomatic or civil office during the Revolution. Experience made them realize that the practical abolition of all 132 executive authority and the absence of any real central government had been responsible for chronic inefficiency. The financial collapse, the lack of any power on the part of Congress to enforce its laws or resolutions, the visible danger that State legislatures might consult their own convenience in supporting the common enterprises or obligations-all these shortcomings led men like Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Webster, a pamphleteer of New England, to urge even before 1781 that a genuine government should be set up to replace the mere league. Their supporters were, however, few, and confined mainly to those merchants or capitalists who realized the necessity of general laws and a general authority. It is scarcely conceivable that the inherited prejudices of most Americans in favour of local independence could have been overborne had not the Revolution been followed by a series of public distresses, which drove to the side of the strong-government advocates-temporarily, as it proved-a great number of American voters. When hostilities ended, the people of the United States entered upon a period of economic confusion. In the first place, trade was disorganized, since the old West India markets were lost and the privileges formerly enjoyed under the Navigation Acts were terminated by the separation of the.

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