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With the denial of the right of taxation by England naturally came resistance.

The first line of opposition arose under a new attempt of England to enforce the Sugar Act, which was passed to prevent the American importation of sugar and molasses from the West Indies, in exchange for lumber and agricultural products. It had been suffered to fall into abeyance; but suddenly in 1761 the government issued Writs of Assistance or search-warrants, authorizing customs officers to enter private stores and dwellings to find imported goods, not necessarily known but when even suspected to be there. This was first brought to bear in Massachusetts, where the Colonists spiritedly refused to submit, and took the matter into the courts. James Otis, a young Boston lawyer, was advocate for the Admiralty, but, resigning his commission, he appeared on behalf of the people, and his fiery eloquence aroused the Colonists to a high pitch of revolutionary resolve. John Adams, who heard the speech, declared, "Then and there American independence was born." Independency however, was not yet in most men's minds, but the spirit of resistance to arbitrary acts of the sovereign was unmistakably aroused. In 1763 a no less memorable contest arose in Virginia, when the king refused to sanction a law of the colonial legislature imposing a tax which the clergy were unwilling to submit to. This too was tested in the courts, and a young lawyer named Patrick Henry defended so eloquently the right of Virginia to make her own laws in spite of the king, that his passionate oratory inflamed all that colony with the same "treasonable" spirit.

But the centre of resistance was in Boston, where in 1765 the people were incited to enthusiasm by the eloquence of James Otis and Samuel Adams, in reference to still another restrictive tax, the Stamp Act, which could not be enforced, except by overwhelming military forces, and was wisely repealed by Parliament. This was followed by the imposition of duties on wine, oil, fruits, glass, paper, lead, colors and especially tea, an indirect taxation, but equally obnoxious; increasing popular excitement, the sending of troops, collision between the soldiers and the people in 1770, and in 1773 the rebellious act of the famous "Tea Party," when citizens in the guise of Indians emptied the chests of tea on board merchantmen into Boston harbor. Soon after, the Boston Port Bill was passed, which shut up American commerce and created immense irritation. Then were sent to the rebellious city regiments of British troops to enforce the acts of Parliament; and finally the troops were, at the people's expense, quartered in the town, which was treated as a conquered city.

In view of these disturbances and hostile acts, the first Continental Congress of the different colonies met in Philadelphia, September, 1774, and issued a petition to the king, an address to the people of Great Britain, and an address to the Colonies, thus making a last effort for conciliation. The British Government, obstinately refusing to listen to its own wisest counsellors, replied with restraining acts, forbidding participation in the fisheries and other remunerative sea-work. Moreover, it declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion; in consequence of which the whole province prepared for war. At the same time the colonial legislatures promptly approved and agreed to sustain the acts of the Continental Congress. Nor did they neglect to appoint committees of safety for calling out minute men and committees of supplies for arming and provisioning them. General Gage, the British military commander in Massachusetts, attempted to destroy the collection of ammunition and stores at Concord, and in consequence, on April 19, 1775, the battle of Lexington was fought, followed in June by that of Bunker Hill.

Thus began the American Revolution, which ended in the independence of the thirteen Colonies and their federal union as States under a common constitution.

As the empire of the Union expanded, as power grew, as opportunities increased, so did obstructions arise and complications multiply. But what I have called "the American idea"--which I conceive to be _Liberty under Law_--has proved equal to all emergencies. The marvellous success with which American institutions have provided for the development of the Anglo-Saxon idea of individual independence, without endangering the common weal and rule, has been largely due to the arising of great and wise administrators of the public will.

It is to a consideration of some of the chief of these notable men who have guided the fortunes of the American people from the Revolutionary period to the close of the Civil War, that I invite the attention of the reader in the next two volumes. Those who have not materially modified the condition of public affairs I omit to discuss at large, eminent as have been their talents and services. Consequently I pass by the administrations of all the presidents since Jefferson, except those of Jackson and Lincoln, the former having made a new departure in national policy, and the latter having brought to a conclusion a great war. I consider that Franklin, Hamilton, Clay, Webster, and Calhoun did more than any of the presidents, except those I have mentioned, to affect the destinies of the country, and therefore I could not omit them.

There will necessarily be some repetitions of fact in discussing the relations of different men to the same group of events, but this has been so far as possible avoided. And since my aim is the portrayal of character and influence, rather than the narration of historical annals, I have omitted vast numbers of interesting details, selecting only those of salient and vital importance.