The Anglo-American Paper War: Debates about the New Republic, 1800–1825 (Britain and the World)
Tacky's Revolt was the largest of many slave uprisings in the British West Indies in the 18th century, caused by the dreadful conditions enslaved people had to endure on the sugar plantations. Hundreds of slaves attacked plantations, killing about 60 whites and setting crops and sugar works alight. Tacky was captured and beheaded, and other rebels died or were executed, but skirmishes continued for many months.
He was nicknamed 'Farmer George' because of his passion for agriculture. During his reign, Britain lost its American colonies but emerged as a leading European power. From , George suffered recurrent mental illness and in his son was appointed regent. He was released and for the next 15 years campaigned for parliamentary reform. He was frequently in trouble with the authorities, and was expelled from the Commons a number of times, only to be re-elected. After his arrest in , seven were killed in the 'Massacre of St George's Fields' when a crowd demanding his release was fired on by troops.
The money was intended to pay for the colonists' own military defence against possible future French incursions. Stamp duties were levied on newspapers and legal documents. Six of the 13 American colonies petitioned against the act and riots broke out.
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The Stamp Act was repealed in March In , Charles Townshend, the chancellor of the exchequer, drew up legislation to raise taxes from North American colonists on selected imports, including glass, paint, lead and tea. As with the repealed Stamp Act of , the intention was to make colonists contribute towards their own defence against French incursions.
Colonial protests led to the Revenue Act being repealed in , except for the duty on imported tea. His team of botanists and scientists brought back to England many important specimens and much scientific information. Cook made two further Pacific voyages. He was killed on the second of these in by warriors in Hawaii. Frederick, Lord North an honorary title , became prime minister at the end of a decade that had seen six administrations come and go. George III hoped that his friend North could provide political stability. Lord North remained prime minister until The weaving of cotton cloth had become a major industry by the s, with most of the labour being done by people in their homes.
In , inventor Richard Arkwright opened the first cotton mill at Cromford, Derbyshire.
The spinning of yarn was carried out by his own patented machine, known as a water frame. This was a significant step towards the automation of labour-intensive industries and heralded the beginning of the 'Factory Age' in Britain. When the enslaved James Somerset escaped from his owner in London, he was captured and forced on to a ship bound for Jamaica. With the help of abolitionist Granville Sharpe, Somerset's case was taken to court and Lord William Mansfield, the lord chief justice, ruled that Somerset should be freed. This was widely, and mistakenly, believed to mean that slavery was outlawed in England.
Slave owners continued to capture their runaway slaves and take them back to the Caribbean, but the case marked a milestone in the struggle to abolish slavery. In , taxes on imports to the American Colonies had been repealed on all goods except tea. In , colonists disguised as Native Americans dumped chests of tea from East India Company vessels into Boston harbour in protest against this remaining levy. Political tensions between the American colonists and the British government escalated as a result. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, was a lifelong opponent of slavery.
In he published a pamphlet entitled 'Thoughts Upon Slavery', which examined how Africans were captured and transported, and proposed legal and moral arguments against slavery and the slave trade. In , at considerable personal risk, he preached a sermon against slavery in Bristol, one of the leading slave trading ports.
Nonconformists, particularly Quakers, were very active in the abolition movement, and included other well known individuals such as Joseph Priestley and Josiah Wedgwood. On 18 April , a skirmish between British redcoats and the local militia at Lexington, Massachusetts, led to the fighting that began the American War of Independence. No one knows which side fired the first 'shot heard around the world'. About 15 months after the outbreak of war, colonial leader Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, which argued that the goals of the United States of America were 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'.
In September , the Treaty of Paris formally ended the war.
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An investigation into the state of English and Welsh prisons in the mids by penal reformer John Howard revealed the dreadful conditions, inadequate diet and corrupt administration of many jails. The Penitentiary Act was introduced with the intention of remedying the situation. This was the first British law to authorise state prisons. In , parliament passed the Catholic Relief Act, which removed many of the traditional restrictions on Catholics in Britain.
George Gordon, leader of the Protestant Association, was leading a huge crowd to parliament with a petition calling for repeal of the act when anti-Catholic violence erupted. The ensuing orgy of property destruction and disorder lasted a week. Hundreds died in fighting between protestors and troops. These were amongst the worst riots in English history. British forces were besieged on the Yorktown peninsula, Virginia, by the American continental army in the west and the French fleet closing on Chesapeake Bay.
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The victory demonstrated beyond doubt that Britain could not hope to win a war so far from its own shores. The British government was forced into negotiations to end the conflict. During a voyage from Africa to Jamaica, the captain of the slave ship 'Zong' ordered slaves to be thrown overboard alive. The ship's owners then filed a fraudulent insurance claim for the value of the dead slaves.
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In March the case was heard in London as an insurance dispute rather than a murder trial. The case was widely publicised by outraged abolitionists, particularly Olaudah Equiano and Granville Sharp, and helped to attract new supporters to the abolition cause. When it became evident that the American colonists were winning their war of independence, those who had fought for the British faced an uncertain future.
These included former slaves who had fought on the understanding that they would gain their freedom at the end of the conflict.
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Around 75, loyalists decided to leave, most of them going to the British North American colonies in what is now Canada, others to the West Indies and some to Britain. In , more than 1, freed slaves and their families who had gone to Nova Scotia left Canada to settle in Sierra Leone, West Africa. After three brief ministries had failed, the William Pitt the Younger became Britain's prime minister at the age of His father, William Pitt the Elder had held the office twice, in the s. His critics said that the nation had been 'entrusted to a schoolboy's care'.
He successfully curbed the national debt, fought revolutionary France, restructured the government of India and passed the Act of Union with Ireland in Exhausted and in poor health, he died in Since , Britain had transported convicts to its North American colonies, until this was ended by the American War of Independence. On 13 May , penal transportation resumed with a fleet of convict ships setting out from Portsmouth for Botany Bay. This marked the beginning of transportation to Australia.
The committee was formed by 12 men, the majority of them Quakers. The two non-Quakers, Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson, devoted their lives to the cause of abolishing slavery. These men provided MP William Wilberforce with material to assist his parliamentary efforts to abolish the slave trade.
They wrote books and pamphlets and produced prints and posters to publicise the cause. Clarkson travelled tirelessly through England, organising local abolition committees, rallies and petitions and collecting information on slavery from sailors and others who had been involved in the slave trade. Pressure from abolitionists and detailed information gathered on the transatlantic slave trade resulted in the first parliamentary investigation of the trade. Abolitionist Thomas Clarkson led the fact-finding mission, while member of parliament William Wilberforce became the parliamentary spokesman.
There was mass public support for the abolition of the slave trade - in alone, pro-abolition petitions were sent to Parliament, signed by between 60, and , people. Originally founded in as the 'Daily Universal Register', the publication was re-named 'The Times' three years later. It is Britain's oldest surviving newspaper with continuous daily publication, and for much of its history has been regarded as the newspaper of record. Newspapers have been published in Britain since the early 16th century, but it was not until the early 18th century that regular daily newspapers were produced.
George III probably suffered from porphyria, a rare hereditary disease marked by severe attacks of pain and mental instability. For four months in he was incapacitated by his illness, raising the possibility a 'regent' having to rule on his behalf. This regency crisis was averted by the George's sudden recovery. Olaudah Equiano was a former slave who settled in London and became closely involved in the abolition movement. His autobiography 'The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano' is one of the earliest known examples of a published work by a black writer.
The public was fascinated by the story of a slave who converted to Christianity, learned to read and write and, by trading on the side, earned enough money to buy his freedom. The book became a bestseller. The storming of the Bastille prison in Paris is generally held to mark the beginning of the French Revolution. This was a world-shattering event, in which the French monarchy was overthrown, the king, Louis XVI, executed and a republic established. It stimulated political debate in Britain between British Jacobins pro-revolutionaries, named after the Jacobin Club in Paris , some of whom were republicans, and loyalists, who stressed the virtues of the existing British constitution.
MP William Wilberforce introduced a bill to abolish the slave trade in May The bill was stalled and eventually consideration of the question was moved to a select committee. A general election again delayed progress and when the bill eventually came to a vote, it was passed by the Commons but defeated by the Lords.
Between and a number of further unsuccessful attempts were made to enact parliamentary legislation which would either control or abolish the slave trade. The spirit of 'liberty, equality and fraternity' that stemmed from the French Revolution of had inspired the establishment of radical societies in Britain. In January , the 'London Corresponding Society', the most prominent of these organisations, was formed under the leadership of Thomas Hardy, a Scottish shoemaker.
There were thousands of British and Hessian soldiers in American hands following their surrender at the Battles of Saratoga in October Lord Germain took a hard line, but the British generals on American soil never held treason trials and treated captured American soldiers as prisoners of war.
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The British built much of their strategy around using these Loyalists. The capture of a British army at Saratoga encouraged the French to formally enter the war in support of Congress, and Benjamin Franklin negotiated a permanent military alliance in early ; France thus became the first foreign nation to officially recognize the Declaration of Independence. The Spanish and the Dutch became allies of the French in and respectively, forcing the British to fight a global war without major allies and requiring it to slip through a combined blockade of the Atlantic.
Britain began to view the American war for independence as merely one front in a wider war,  and the British chose to withdraw troops from America to reinforce the sugar-producing Caribbean colonies, which were more lucrative to British investors. General Washington intercepted him in the Battle of Monmouth Court House , the last major battle fought in the north. After an inconclusive engagement, the British retreated to New York City. The northern war subsequently became a stalemate, as the focus of attention shifted to the smaller southern theater.
The British strategy in America now concentrated on a campaign in the southern states. With fewer regular troops at their disposal, the British commanders saw the "southern strategy" as a more viable plan, as they perceived the south as strongly Loyalist with a large population of recent immigrants and large numbers of slaves who might be captured or run away to join the British.