So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do. — Benjamin Franklin

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




Loss of the Thirteen Colonies

George's son having died before him, he was succeeded by his grandson, George III. The new ruler was not a native German, like the two Hanoverian kings who preceded him, but prided himself upon being "born a Briton."

As his grandfather and his mother were not on friendly terms, George III. had been brought up far from court, and in such quiet surroundings that he was always rather timid and awkward. It was only when called upon to make public speeches that he appeared well; for he had been carefully taught this art by an instructor who proudly cried, after his first speech: "I taught the boy!"

George III. was a good man, and so gentle and unassuming that he is often called Farmer George. He was very kind to every one he met, and a better father, husband, and son has never been seen. He and his family were so happy and united that they were an example to the whole nation, and Queen Charlotte is always spoken of as a very good woman.

The only great defect in the character of George III. was that he was narrow-minded, obstinate, and anxious to rule by himself. Still, the English were all very fond of him, and the Jacobites, seeing the worthlessness of the Stuarts, now became loyal subjects, and accepted public offices from the king.

The Seven Years' War was still going on when George III. came to the throne; but the British were tired of supplying money for what they called "German quarrels." Still, although the national debt already amounted to many millions, they could not make peace, for Spain had joined forces with France against England.

As a result, the war was carried on in the southern as well as in the northern part of Europe, in the colonies, and on the sea. There were numerous engagements, the British gaining the advantage everywhere, and in 1763 Spain and France were anxious for peace. In the Peace of Paris it was decided that almost all the French possessions in North America, east of the Mississippi River, should belong to the British, who also received Florida from Spain.

Great Britain was now the foremost country in the world, having the largest colonies and the most trade. This prosperity was greatly owing to able ministers, among whom one of the best-known is Pitt.

The war had cost a great deal of money, so heavy taxes were laid upon the people. Not only were these taxes laid upon England, the "mother country," but Parliament decided to impose them upon the colonies also, although Pitt was strongly opposed to this. The most prosperous of all the colonies were located in what is now known as the United States of America; and these refused to be taxed unless they were allowed either to send members to Parliament to protect their interests, or to decide in their colonial assemblies how much they could afford to pay. A good many in Parliament thought the colonists were right, and spoke and voted in their favour; but the greater number—who did not at all represent the common people of England—insisted that the colonists had to obey any law they chose to make. They therefore began by imposing taxes under a law called the Stamp Act. But the American colonists resisted it so strongly that Parliament withdrew the Stamp Act, and insisted only upon a small tax, laid principally upon tea.

Now it was not unwillingness to pay the money that caused the colonists to resist, but it was the thought that the British would not allow them the same freedom as the people of England enjoyed. First, they refused to buy tea; then, seeing that the British wanted to compel them to obey, the colonists took up arms, and at the battle of Lexington, in 1775, began the Revolutionary War, which lasted about seven years. The American forces were ably led by Washington; and the British, although they came over with hired German troops and won several victories, were gradually compelled to yield.

The colonies proclaimed their independence from Great Britain on the 4th of July, 1776, and were soon recognized as the United States of America by France, Holland, and Spain. In 1781 Cornwallis, the British commander, surrendered; and Parliament, which had fancied there would be no great trouble in putting down the American rebellion, soon after had to acknowledge the independence of the United States.

The great statesman Pitt, who had first opposed the taxation of the colonies, made his last and most brilliant speech to protest against their separation from the mother country. He was then so ill that he fainted before his speech was ended, and had to be carried home, where he soon died. His son, the Younger Pitt, who shared his views, was elected member of Parliament in 1780. For the next twenty-six years he was one of the ablest British statesmen, and he too served his country nobly.

The independence of the United States being acknowledged in England, John Adams was sent there as ambassador; and to him George III. frankly said: "I was the last man in the kingdom, sir, to consent to the independence of America; but now it is granted, I shall be the last man in the kingdom to sanction the violation of it."



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
"Remember"
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee