The war with the French lasted a number of years. It ended by the English getting possession of the whole of America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. All this part of America was ruled by George the Third, king of England. The king now determined to send over more soldiers, and keep them here to prevent the French in Canada from trying to get back the country they had lost. He wanted the people here in the thirteen colonies to pay the cost of keeping these soldiers. But this the people were not willing to do, because they felt that they were able to protect themselves without help of any kind. Then the king said, If the Americans will not give the money, I will take it from them by force,—for pay it they must and shall. This was more than the king would have dared say about England; for there, if he wanted money to spend on his army, he had to ask the people for it, and they could give it or not as they thought best. The Americans said, We have the same rights as our brothers in England, and the king cannot force Americans to give a single copper against our will. If he tries to take it from Americans, then they will fight. Some of the greatest men in England agreed with Americans, and said that they would fight, too, if they were in our place.
But George the Third did not know the Americans, and he did not think that they meant what they said. He tried to make them pay the money, but they would not. From Maine to Georgia, all the people were of one mind. Then the king thought that he would try a different way. Shiploads of tea were sent over to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston, If the tea should be landed and sold, then every man who bought a pound of it would have to pay six cents more than the regular price. That six cents was a tax, and it went into the king's pocket. The people said, We won't pay that six cents. When the tea reached New York, the citizens sent it back again to England. They did the same thing at Philadelphia. At Charleston they let it be landed, but it was stored in damp cellars. People would not buy any of it any more than they would buy so much poison, so it all rotted and spoiled. At Boston they had a grand "tea-party." A number of men dressed themselves up like Indians, went on board the tea-ships at night, broke open all the chests, and emptied the tea into the harbor.
The king was terribly angry; and orders were given that the port of Boston should be closed, so that no ships, except the king's war-ships, should come in or go out. Nearly all trade stopped in Boston. Many of the inhabitants began to suffer for want of food, but throughout the colonies the people tried their best to help them. The New England towns sent droves of sheep and cattle, New York sent wheat, South Carolina gave two hundred barrels of rice; the other colonies gave liberally in money and provisions. Even in England much sympathy was felt for the distressed people of Boston, and in London a large sum of money was raised to help those whom the king was determined to starve into submission.
The colonies now sent some of their best men to Philadelphia to consider what should be done. As this meeting was made up of those who had come from all parts of the country, it took the name of the General or Continental Congress (this word means a meeting or assembly of persons. The General or Continental Congress was an assembly of certain persons sent usually by all of the thirteen American colonies to meet at Philadelphia or Baltimore, to decide what should be done by the whole country. The first Congress met in 1774, or shortly before the Revolution began, and after that from time to time until near the close of the Revolution).
About this time, too, a great change took place; for the people throughout the country began to call themselves Americans, and to speak of the English troops that the king sent over here as British soldiers.
In Boston General Gage had command of these soldiers. He knew that the Americans were getting ready to fight, and that they had stored up powder and ball at Concord, about twenty miles from Boston. One night he secretly sent out a lot of soldiers to march to Concord and destroy what they found there.
But Paul Revere, a Boston man, was on the watch; and as soon as he found out which way the British were going, he set off at a gallop for Lexington, on the road to Concord. All the way out, he roused people from their sleep, with the cry, "The British are coming!" When the king's soldiers reached Lexington, they found the Americans, under Captain Parker, ready for them. Captain Parker said to his men, "Don't fire unless you are fired on; but if they want a war, let it begin here." The fighting did begin there, April 19th, 1775; and when the British left the town on their way to Concord, seven Americans lay dead on the grass in front of the village church. At Concord, that same day, there was still harder fighting; and on the way back to Boston, a large number of the British were killed.
The next month, June 17th, 1775 a battle was fought on Bunker Hill in Charlestown, just outside of Boston. General Gage thought the Yankees wouldn't fight, but they did fight, in a way that General Gage never forgot; and though they had at last to retreat because their powder gave out, yet the British lost more than a thousand men. The contest at Bunker Hill was the first great battle of the Revolution; that is, of that war which overturned the British power in America, and made Americans a free people. Many Englishmen thought the king was wrong. They would not fight against Americans, and he was obliged to hire a large number of German soldiers to send to America. These Germans had to fight Americans whether they wanted to or not, for their king forced them to come.
Directions: Answer the following multiple choice questions. Also, answer the following questions on a sheet of paper: