Monday, April 25, 2016

History: The Year is 1772

I've uploaded year 1772 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Granville Sharp Frees the Slaves -- Mr. Sharp is a little nutty. He thinks he can free the slaves on English soil if he finds the right case to bring to court, and it works! BTW, he also married a Miss Flat and they have several children named Doe, Ray, Me... you get the picture. I wish I was kidding.

The Pine Tree Riots -- The King starts cracking down on pine tree thieves... otherwise known as landowners who would like to use their own darn trees! It gets ugly.

The American Credit Crisis -- A lot of British goods are dumped into the American colonies, but the colonists are slow to buy and slow to pay. This causes the credit bubble to burst. By next year. Tea Party.

Granville Sharp Frees the Slaves

Like a single stone causing an avalanche, an Englishman named Granville Sharp has forced a judge to make a ruling on slave ownership on English soil. It all started when an escaped slave named Jonathan Strong fell bloody and broken at Sharp's feet. After 4 months of recovery, Sharp found him a job, and convinced Strong's master to free him. Afterward, Sharp found that English law was ambiguous on slavery, so he found a test case to bring to court: James Somerset is a slave and a Christian demanding his freedom. His master, Charles Stewart, intends to sell him in Jamaica. With over 14,000 slaves currently on English soil, Judge Mansfield is aware of the chaos that will ensue if he rules slavery illegal. The judge frees Somerset on a technicality, but the bottom line is that a slave cannot be taken out of England against his will. This implies that a slave is not property in England because an owner doesn't consult his property about where it shall be located or whether it wishes to be sold or not. Unfortunately the ruling does not apply to slaves in the British colonies, nor to British slave ships working outside of England proper. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
A good example of a narrow legal ruling changing everything is the Scopes Monkey Trial. Back in the early 1920s, Tennessee passed the Butler Law making it illegal to teach evolution in government schools. A test case was brought to trial when a teacher named John Scopes failed to skip that chapter in the textbook. Big name lawyers on both sides turned the trial into a circus and everyone laughed. (That was the plan.) The Butler Law was upheld on appeal because no specific religious view was being promoted... only one scientific view ignored. Scopes got off on a technicality, but the damage was done. Tennessee lawmakers were a laughing stock. The Butler law was repealed. Finally, in 1968, the Supreme Court ruled that the whole idea of banning evolution was unconstitutional. Good. [4]
FYI, evolution is a useful subject to teach in schools. Nevertheless, evolution, as a theory, has big problems with it, but we are not allowed to discuss those problems with students. It might threaten a child's faith... IN SCIENCE! Will we never learn?

The Pine Tree Riots

A law has been in place for decades in New Hampshire that pine trees larger than 12 inches in diameter are to be marked with a hash arrow and left for the King's ship builders to be used as masts. Needless to say (but we'll say it anyway) this law has been a royal pain in the neck for farmers who would like to clear their land for additional farming or to build housing. Licenses are available to cut down the trees but few have bothered. The Royal "surveyors" haven't been enforcing the law until now. They finally notice that a number of the trees have ended up at local saw mills, so the mills are fined. When the mill owners at Weare refuse to pay their fines, the Sheriff goes out to arrest Ebenezer Mudgett who is leading the protestors. Mudgett convinces the Sheriff to wait until morning, so that he can arrange bail. Instead, Mudgett arranges for 20 townspeople to beat the Sheriff with switches. He is run out of town, humiliated. This is called the Pine Tree Riot, and by the standards of the time, a riot is exactly what it is. The rioters hightail it out of town before the Sheriff returns with British troops. Eventually, a number of the offenders give themselves up or are caught and fined 20 shillings or a little over $160 each. This is considered a light fine given the offense and the Sheriff is livid. [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
When you have a trial by your peers, they tend to give you a break as long as your offense is understandable to them. It's not exactly jury nullification, but there were a heck of a lot of trees in New England at the time. If the King wanted the trees he should have paid for them. By marking them as his own, he was imposing a tax on the landowner. In the 1770s, the American colonists did not react well to taxes from the King. Regarding the symbol of the pine tree, most people remember the American battle flag with a lone pine tree. There were several versions of the flag but the meaning would have been clear to the Navy that required pine trees for their own shipbuilding and repairs. The motto on the flag was "An Appeal to Heaven" which was a quote from John Locke suggesting that revolution was a right of the people when the normal options were closed to them. [8]

The American Credit Crisis

In an attempt to finance various get-rich-quick schemes, easy credit has caused British exporters to send a heck of a lot of goods to America, but due to American objections to the Townsend Acts, the Stamp Act, and the Boston Massacre, American colonists are reluctant to buy or slow to pay. It's not a complete embargo, but it certainly is an avoidance of British goods. British banks have been playing with the books in order to hide their exposure, but a prominent banker can no longer fool his partners, so he skips town and shows up in France. The economic bubble bursts. Bankruptcies increase, stocks fall. The East India Company is in trouble. They are pleading for Parliament to help. Next year, Parliament will pass the Tea Act. It will allow the East India Company to sell directly to the American colonies without paying a middle man in England first. This scheme will reduce the cost of tea while pumping money into the failing company. Everyone wins! Right? The colonists won't like propping up a British company while the America economy suffers, so the tea will be dumped into Boston Harbor. [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Of course the other reason for dumping tea into Boston Harbor was that cheap tea would kill the lucrative smuggling operation that Americans had going. However, in Virginia there were other problems. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson made use of British agents to sell their crops. Frankly, it was the only way to do business with England, but it was easy to get caught between low crop yields and big loans due. The Virginia planters felt like the British bankers and agents were cheating them, and then leaving the planters deep in debt with no way to catch up. In the modern day, under the best of circumstances, farmers can get caught out due to fluctuating markets. For example, a farmer might plant wheat in anticipation of a good market in a few months, but by then the price might drop, leaving the farmer without enough money to cover his basic expenses. Farming can be a gamble. This is where commodity markets come in. Investors take the gamble, and farmers get a more-or-less guaranteed price for their crops. They don't make as much money but then again... they lose a lot less too. [11] [12] [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1772, Wikipedia.

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