Special to the Cape Charles Mirror by Paul Plante.
As to the Virginia Resolves, Wikipedia tells us that they were a series of resolutions passed by the Virginia House of Burgesses in response to the Stamp Act of 1765.
The key point this essay wishes the reader to take from that above relationship A, then B – the Stamp Act, then the Virginia Resolves – cause and then effect, and this is important in the context of understanding the relevance of the Virginia Resolves to the times we now find ourselves mired in as American citizens, no matter what political creed we might profess to follow, the Stamp Act had been passed by the British Parliament to help pay off some of its debt from its various wars, including the French and Indian War fought in part to protect the American colonies.
Note that critical phrase in there – “help pay off some of its debts from its previous wars.”
The reality is that those were debts the king himself had burdened his country with, because he was essentially vainglorious as well as pig-headed and stupid (does that at all sound familiar in our times?), and it was in the end foolish of him to think that after having displayed to the Americans he was trying to tax after the French and Indian Wars were concluded to pay his debts accrued during the French and Indian War, where the Americans witnessed first-hand just how poorly led his English troops were, that the Americans would willingly begger themselves to reimburse him for his incompetence.
Living in a part of the country where the ravages of the French and Indian War ran rampant over the land and people’s lives all around the area of the state of New York I grew up in, a historical war zone between the Mohawks on the west bank of what became known to history as Hudson’s River, and the Mahicans on the east bank, and having studied that history from the time I was young from the perspective of journals written by people alive in those times, that it was the greatest and gravest of insults for the British Parliament far across the sea to actually attempt to charge the colonists a fee for the inept and incompetent military actions of the British during the French and Indian War, which the border Americans up in my region bore the brunt of, that because the British in England and the French in France simply could not get along.
Consider “The Hoosic Matters: A Brief History of the Hoosac Valley,” by Lauren R. Stevens, as follows:
The Hoosic River provided a significant Indian trail, both for canoes and, on the side, for a footpath, as the Mohawks had found.
Along with the Deerfield River, it joined the Connecticut and Hudson valleys; and the route up the Hoosic tributary Owl Kill was a major pathway to and from Canada.
It was the universal warpath of colonial days.
The English built Fort Massachusetts on the trail, in what’s now North Adams, in 1745, to prevent the French from invading the area and as a warning to the Dutch not to encroach from the west.
In 1746, 900 French and Canadian Indians captured the fort, flew the French flag above it briefly, and then burned it, taking its defenders over the trail to Canada.
With the Stamp Act, the English king was telling the Americans that they had to pay extra taxes because of that fiasco.
With regard to the British claim in the Stamp Act to taxes from the Americans for the failure of the British to protect them during the French and Indian War, in 1753, the year of the first settlement in Williamstown, an American named Elisha Hawley followed the trail to create a rough route over the Hoosacs to Charlemont, and then the next year Indians descended on Dutch Hoosac (Petersburgh), burning and scalping, including the Brimmer family on what is now called Indian Massacre Road; and the next day hit a settlement on the Walloomsac.
The French and Indian War had begun—or, begun again.
Both communities had previously been destroyed in the raid on Fort Massachusetts.
Then, in June on 1756, soldiers from the fort were ambushed and the subsidiary Fort West Hoosac (Williamstown) was attacked in July.
Ephraim Williams, Jr., commander of a string of Forts along what Massachusetts took to be its northern boundary, volunteered to fight the French at Lake George.
He was killed September 8, 1756, although the British won the engagement.
Of more lasting importance in terms of the feelings of settlers to the Indians, was the Marquis de Montcalm’s siege of the undermanned British Fort William Henry, on Lake George.
The day after signing an honorable peace, on August 10, 1757, the retreating British column was attacked by Indians from 33 different tribes, mostly from Canada, attached to Montcalm’s troops, massacring soldiers, women, and children.
And that is more of what the English king thought the Americans should pay him for.
And then there was General Braddock’s defeat in 1755, at the hands of the French and their Indian allies out near what is now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where the arrogant but very ignorant British general Edward “Braddock the Haddock” led his forces, consisting of two regular line regiments, the 44th and 48th with about 1,350 men, along with about 500 regular soldiers and militiamen from several British American colonies, including future American Commander-in-Chief during the Revolution George Washington, and artillery and other support troops into a French and Indian ambush which promptly got him killed, hence the name ”Braddock the Haddock,” like a fish with no fight in it, he flopped but once, and then he was gone.
The English king was not asking, but telling those same Americans that they owed him money for that fiasco, and with the Virginia Resolves, the people of America told that English king to go to hell.
And they couldn’t forget Montcalm’s defeat of the British and American colonists at Fort Ticonderoga on 8th July 1758 at the southern tip of Lake Champlain in the United States, on the borders of northern New York State and Vermont where the combatants were British and American colonial troops against French regular and colonial troops.
The very venal but highly incompetent General James Abercromby and Brigadier Lord Howe, a very popular British officer among the Americans who was to die at Ticonderoga because of Abercromby’s ineptness and sheer incompetence, commanded the British and Americans, while the Marquis de Montcalm, a very competent French leader and soldier, commanded the French.
With him in his losing effort due to gross incompetence, Abercromby had 15,000 British and American Provincials against around 3,600 French regular troops with a few Canadian provincials.
The French fort of Ticonderoga lay at the southern end of Lake Champlain, part of the long inland waterway that was the main route for a British land invasion of French Canada.
In June 1758 a force of British regular and American provincial troops from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and the other New England provinces, in all 15,000 men gathered at the head of Lake George.
The nominal commander was General James Abercrombie, an elderly portly man raised to high command through political influence lacking military experience or ability.
The Americans alive at that time fighting with the British against the French in the French and Indian Wars in that losing encounter got to witness those character flaws in Abercromby first-hand, so when they were told they had to reimburse the foreign king for foisting off an incompetent like Abercromby on them, they rebelled.
So the Stamp Act was about making the Americans have to pay for GOVERNMENT INCOMPETENCE during the French and Indian War the British government had forced upon the Americans because of its actions across the ocean in its dispute with France the American colonists had no role in fomenting, nor political means of ending.
Until either the French won, or the English won, and that was highly in doubt that the English could have won given their execrable performance in the field, the one certainty was that the Americans were going to be burned out and bleed and die, with absolutely no voice in the matter, and no control over their fate, which was in the hands of a foreign king who did not know they were alive, nor did he much care to know.
They were merely subjects, for him to use and spend as he pleased.
So, in the course of the French and Indian War, where American colonists were attached as auxiliary troops to the British Regulars, the Americans got to see first-hand just how incompetent the British leadership really was, and how poorly the British could fight in a wilderness environment.
That knowledge gained by observation and experience by Americans fighting with the British in the French and Indian led to the young Alexander Hamilton 1775 in “The Farmer Refuted” making the following observation as to how ultimately the British would be defeated by the more poorly armed Americans:
Let it be remembered that there are no large plains for the two armies to meet in and decide the conquest….
The circumstances of our country put it in our power to evade a pitched battle.
It will be better policy to harass and exhaust the soldiery by frequent skirmishes and incursions than to take the open field with them, by which means they would have the full benefit of their superior regularity skills.
Americans are better qualified for that kind of fighting which is most adapted to this country than regular troops.
That last observation came directly from those previous experiences fighting alongside the British in the French and Indian War.
Thus, when the Americans, who had been doing the real fighting and defending on the borders where no British troops dared venture were told by the British that the French and Indian War had been fought in part to protect the American colonies, they laughed out loud in the King’s face, and then they went to war and defeated that king in England who thought the American people owed him money for his inability to protect them from the ravages of the French and Indians during the French and Indian War the king in England had forced upon the Americans without their consent and to their detriment.
Today, we here in the United States of America are at a similar juncture, except we are not saddled with an incompetent, pig-headed foreign king in England today; to the contrary, we are saddled with a federal government in Washington, D.C. that is so inept and incompetent and riddled with corruption while warring factions wage internecine war with each other at taxpayer expense that like the British during the French and Indian War, it is totally incapable of protecting us, as the invading Russians so handily proved during this last presidential election.
So it is once more time for a new set of Virginia Resolves, in my estimation as an American citizen loyal to the Constitution, not the cults of Trump or Obama or Clinton, or the Democrat or Republican factions fighting their own version of the French and Indian Wars with our taxpayer dollars today to our detriment as a people and as a nation.
Why are We, the People, who gained our freedom fighting a tyrannical English king who was trying to impose a tax on the American people that would reward the king for being incompetent, now paying taxes to a government that is even more incompetent?
Any thoughts, anyone?
The candid world that watches and waits would like to know.