Post Revolutionary America - North American Colonies

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (1898) by Edgar Sanderson

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found new homes and improved conditions of life on the soil of the New World, and that the returning tide of lesson and experience had incalculably enriched the fatherlands whence these emigrants issued. France was rudely roused from the sullen submission to centuries of tyranny by her soldiers as they returned from service in the American Revolutionary War. The orgies of the Reign of Terror were the revenges and excesses of a people who had discovered their power, but were not prepared for its beneficent use. After fleeing from herself into the arms of Napoleon, France, in the processes of her evolution from darkness to light, had tried Bourbon, and Orleanist, and a Napoleon again, and had cast them all aside. Now, in the fulness of time, and through training in the school of hardest experience, the French people had reared and were enjoying a permanent Republic. England of the Mayflower and of James the Second, England of George the Third and of Lord North, had enlarged her suffrage, and was to-day animated and governed by the democratic spirit. The United States threw wide her gates for, and gladly received with open arms, those who, by intelligence and virtue, by loyalty and thrift, were worthy of admission to the equal advantages and priceless gift of American citizenship." Making all abatement for the natural pride of an American citizen in the marvellous progress and wide-spread influence of his country, we may fairly say that "this witness is true".

We proceed to trace briefly the relations existing between the mother-country and the United States in the period which followed on the close of the Revolutionary War. When the struggle was over, and the final separation was effected, the British king, who had largely been responsible for the original quarrel, accepted the position with an excellent grace. In receiving at St. James' the first American ambassador, John Adams, George the Third, on the arrival of the minister in 1785, addressed him thus: "I will be very frank with you. I was the last to conform to the separation; but the separation having been made, and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent power. Let the circumstances of language, religion, and blood have their full effect. … continue reading »

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