"You are right, Laurence," said Grandfather, "and it was really amazing and terrible to see what a change came over the aspect of the people the moment the English Parliament had passed this oppressive act. The former history of our chair, my children, has given you some idea of what a harsh, unyielding, stern set of men the old Puritans were. For a good many years back, however, it had seemed as if these characteristics were disappearing. But no sooner did England offer wrong to the colonies than the descendants of the early settlers proved that they had the same kind of temper as their forefathers. The moment before, New England appeared like a humble and loyal subject of the crown; the next instant, she showed the grim, dark features of an old king-resisting Puritan."
Grandfather spoke briefly of the public measures that were taken in opposition to the Stamp Act. As this law affected all the American colonies alike, it naturally led them to think of consulting together is order to procure its repeal. For this purpose the Legislature of Massachusetts proposed that delegates from every colony should meet in Congress. Accordingly nine colonies, both Northern and Southern, sent delegates to the city of New York.
"And did they consult about going to war with England?" asked Charley.
"No, Charley," answered Grandfather; "a great deal of talking was yet to be done before England and America could come to blows. The Congress stated the rights and grievances of the colonists. They sent a humble petition to the king, and a memorial to the Parliament, beseeching that the Stamp Act might be repealed. This was all that the delegates had it in their power to do."
"They might as well have stayed at home, then," said Charley.
"By no means," replied Grandfather. "It was a most important and memorable event, this first coming together of the American people by their representatives from the North and South. If England had been wise, she would have trembled at the first word that was spoken in such an assembly."
These remonstrances and petitions, as Grandfather observed, were the work of grave, thoughtful, and prudent men. Meantime the young and hot- headed people went to work in their own way. It is probable that the petitions of Congress would have had little or no effect on the British statesmen if the violent deeds of the American people had not shown how much excited the people were. LIBERTY TREE was soon heard of in England.
"What was Liberty Tree?" inquired Clara.