Personal and Political unrest final

Following the acts resulting from the French and Indian War, there was some tension within the colonies against Great Britain, as the colonists believed that their rights were being impeded by the Crown. However, other personal endeavors also contributed to the sentiment for the colonies to declare independence. These personal sentiments existed strongly in one of the largest of the colonies: Virginia.

The large plantation owners of Virginia had been spending their time and money cultivating tobacco, since it at that time had been the major cash crop. The tobacco was shipped to England, where it sold well; well enough, in fact that it was considered legal tender in many areas of the colony (Shirley Plantation Site Visit.) Naturally, plantation owners would want to increase their hold on land to get even more land. However, the Proclamation 1763 prevented colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains. Naturally, plantation owners opposed this. They believed that this was a direct violation of their rights, and wanted the act to be repealed. Of course, this ordinance was not the last piece of legislature to put the colonists up in arms.

Another major occurrence that created tense relations between the colonists and royal government was the confiscation of the powder from the town’s magazine in Williamsburg. Governor at that time Lord Dunmore had gone into the town magazine at night and had taken all of the gunpowder from it. He was spotted by some of the townspeople, and a mob had gathered at his gates. Peyton Randolph, the speaker for the town, was able to convince the people not to attack the governor, but to take a peaceful approach. Lord Dunmore greeted their concerns by essentially threatening them by saying that without the British, if the slaves and/or Indians were to be armed and attack the town, or if the town were to go up in flames, the people would be left helpless. Lord Dunmore decided to take the petition of the townspeople, but the powder was never actually returned (Colonial Williamsburg Site Visit.) This is extremely significant, because gunpowder confiscation had been the main cause of the Revolutionary War’s start some years later at Lexington and Concord. The colonists of Williamsburg seemed to be more in opposition of the lack of simple access to the powder in case of an emergency. It therefore would not have been lost on the colonists the gravity of the threat that Lord Dunmore made against the town, which would’ve inspired fear in most of the white population since Williamsburg’s population was 50% slaves; arming them as well as the natives would be devastating.

A third major problem the colonists had against the ruling royal government is the fact that all citizens pay taxes in order to keep the Anglican Church in the colony sustained. This would not have bothered so many people were it not the case that a sizeable amount of the population was not Anglican, but were forced to pay the taxes toward them all the same. It is said that a Baptist preacher had been “violently jerked off the stage; they caught him by the back part of his neck, beat his head against the ground, sometimes up, sometimes down, they carried him through the gate that stood some considerable distance, where a gentleman [the sheriff] gave him…twenty lashes with his horsewhip.” (Isaac 347.) It was clear that there was a sizeable population of people who would prefer to not have to pay the taxes to the Anglican Church, and would rather be able to practice their own denomination of Christianity, such as Baptist. However, as shown by the quote from Rhys Isaac, the Anglican Church exercised the power to punish those who would not pay the taxes, and would’ve kept the members of the colony in check through the use of such power to inspire fear.

In just Virginia alone, there were many examples of the colonists wanting to have sovereignty from England. One example of such is William Rogers, with his hidden industrial kiln for the making of pottery within the states. William Rogers had gathered enough skilled potters, many of which were German and involved German iconography, to make a version of cheap porcelain that was known informally as “Rogersware,” and was sold within the North and South American continents. This was highly illegal since much of the porcelain was made in England, or imported from England, in support of mercantilism. What Rogers did, however, which was so illegal was that he was not only making the porcelain but was exporting it. (Yorktown Site Visit.) This shows that the Americans had also wanted to not have to pay the high prices that came with importing English goods

Comments are closed.