The Decision King George Regretted
Sometimes retaliation comes back to bite a person. That was the lesson King George might have learned in the years leading up to 1776. But I’m getting ahead of the story.
After the French and Indian War ended in 1763, King George III of England needed to finance British troops defending Canada and other lands won from France. What better way than to tax the American colonists?
Three official acts, imposed from 1764 to 1767, taxed glass, paint, and paper. After colonists protested, King George retaliated with the Writs of Assistance. This new decree allowed British authorities to enter and search colonists’ homes.
The king needed money for the army. The Writ provided a convenient way to garner funds by catching those with smuggled goods, obtained without British approval. Anyone could be arrested. The king’s new law allowed officials to confiscate colonists’ houses, land, and farms at a whim.
Imagine the chaos when the British forced families out of their homes, quartering troops in private residences. Former homeowners had to live in barns and attics and watch their food supplies vanish into the mouths of British soldiers.
Of course, there were uprisings. By 1773, colonists had had enough.
The Boston Tea Party got its start as a protest of unfair trade practices. It seemed King George gave a monopoly to the East India Tea Company, allowing them to sell half a million pounds of tea in the colonies with no taxes. American merchants couldn’t compete.
In December of 1773, colonial patriots, disguised as Indians, threw 342 chests of British tea into Boston harbor. That was the Boston Tea Party you learned about in fifth grade.
Back in England, the king reacted. He ordered a blockade of Boston Harbor. Those pesky colonists had to be punished.
Disgruntled colonists could be pushed only so far. They turned to prayer as the best remedy.
Thomas Jefferson of the Virginia colony drafted a Day of Fasting document. It was introduced into Virginia’s House of Burgesses and supported by Patrick Henry, among others.
The document set apart the first day of June for members of the House “as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer.”
It continued, ordering the House Speaker and members to attend church that day, listen to prayers and a sermon, and ask the God of heaven to “implore the Divine interposition, for averting the heavy calamity which threatens destruction to our civil rights.”
George Washington went to church and fasted all that day.
Virginia’s governor, Lord Dunmore, felt the colonists’ action was a slap in the face of the crown. So, he retaliated by dissolving the House of Burgesses.
Not to be outdone, clever Virginia lawmakers formed a plan. They assembled in the back room of a nearby tavern and laid groundwork for the first Continental Congress, which met officially, three months later.
The rest is history. A mere two years after the Virginians’ setback, this body of men and their compatriots voted to secede from their mother country.
Is there a moral to this account? What about “Prayer Moves Mountains?" Or perhaps “Retaliation Will Come Back to Bite You.”
(Information gleaned from Miracles in American History - 32 Amazing Stories of Answered Prayer by Susie Federer. C. 2012, 2017, adapted from William J. Federer's American Minute.)
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