A Loyalist View of the “Patriot’s” Demand for Independence
Two gentlemen called upon Captain Wilson and asked him to sign the agreement which a number of colonists had entered into to resist the mother country to the last.
This Captain Wilson positively refused to do.
“I am an Englishman,” he said, “and my sympathies are wholly with my country. I do not say that the whole of the demands of England are justifiable. I think that Parliament has been deceived as to the spirit existing here. But I consider that it has done nothing whatever to justify the attitude of the colonists. The soldiers of England have fought for you against French and Indians and are still stationed here to protect you. The colonists pay nothing for their land; they pay nothing toward the expenses of the government of the mother country; and it appears to me to be perfectly just that people here, free as they are from all the burdens that bear so heavily on those at home, should at least bear the expense of the army stationed here. I grant that it would have been far better had the colonists taxed themselves to pay the extra amount, instead of the mother country taxing them; but this they would not do. Some of the colonists paid their quota, others refused to do so, and this being the case, it appears to me that England is perfectly justified in laying on a tax. Nothing could have been fairer than the tax that she proposed. The stamp-tax would in no way have affected the poorer classes in the colonies. It would have been borne only by the rich and by those engaged in such business transactions as required stamped documents. I regard the present rebellion as the work of a clique of ambitious men who have stirred up the people by incendiary addresses and writings. There are, of course, among them a large number of men–among them, gentlemen, I place you—who conscientiously believe that they are justified in doing nothing whatever for the land which gave them or their ancestors birth; who would enjoy all the great natural wealth of this vast country without contributing toward the expense of the troops to whom it is due that they enjoy peace and tranquility. Such, gentlemen, are not my sentiments. You consider it a gross hardship that the colonists are compelled to trade only with the mother country. I grant that it would be more profitable and better for us had we an open trade with the whole world; but in this England only acts as do all other countries toward their colonies. France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands all monopolize the trade of their colonies; all, far more than does England, regard their colonies as sources of revenue. I repeat, I do not think that the course that England has pursued toward us has been always wise, but I am sure that nothing that she has done justifies the spirit of disaffection and rebellion which is ripe throughout these colonies.”
“The time will come, sir,” one of the gentlemen said, “when you will have reason to regret the line which you have now taken.”
“No, sir,” Captain Wilson said haughtily. “The time may come when the line that I have taken may cost me my fortune, and even my life, but it will never cause me one moment’s regret that I have chosen the part of a loyal English gentleman.”
When the deputation had departed the young man, who had been a wondering listener to the conversation, asked his father to explain to him the exact position in which matters stood.
It was indeed a serious one. The success of England, in her struggle with France for the supremacy of North America had cost her a great deal of money. At home the burdens of the people were extremely heavy. The expense of the army and navy was great, and the ministry, in striving to lighten the burdens of the people, turned their eyes to the colonies. They saw in America a population of over two million people, subjects of the king, like themselves, living free from rent and taxes on their own land and paying nothing whatever to the expenses of the country.