Yes, I know! Another controversial statement but well-documented from American and British correspondence.
As indicated in the previous post, Smuggling was making the American Colonies, especially New England wealthy. And then came the French and Indian War (Called the Seven Years War in Europe) which stretched from 1756-1763.
Rather than stifling smuggling, the practise went into hyper-drive and profits soared. Along with privateering, much money could be made by trading with the enemy who often would be desperate to be supplied as the British Navy tried to blockade and starve them.
Using a neutral port, often right next to an enemy colony; the Yankees would off-load the goods which would be transported right across the border. After awhile, the urgency and desperation by the enemy would have them tie up to an American ship, and off-load directly. The British Navy would often stand by helplessly as their own allies safe inside a neutral port would sabotage their military efforts.
Worse yet, Yankee ports found a loophole to directly trade with the enemy. If the American Colonies possessed prisoners of war, they could sail directly to the enemy under a flag of truce. Cleverly exploiting the measure, heavily laden fleets would descend upon a French port such as Guadelupe with one prisoner deposited on one ship apiece. When the prisoners ran out, flags of truce would be sold at the highest bidder and the ships would sail on with ‘virtual’ prisoners aboard. This is why William Coombs sailed his famous ships to Guadalupe and Martinique, French ports, to load up with arms and gunpowder for the Seige of Boston; he was a regular!*
Word was sent back to as high up as to the Prime Minister who, unknowingly, with these stern words – relayed back the opening shot that would soon be the American Revolution:
“The Commanders of His Majesty’s Forces, and Fleets, in North America and the West Indies, having transmitted repeated and certain Intelligence of an illegal and most permicious Trade, carried on by the King’s Subjects, in North America, and the West Indies, as well to the French Islands, as to the French Settlements on the Continent of America…by which the Enemy is, to the greatest Reproach & Detriment of Government, supplied with Provisions, and other necessities, wehreby they are principally, if not alone, enabled to sustain, and protract, this long and expensive War;…In order, therefore, to put the most speedy and effectual Stop to such flagitious Practises…so highly repugnant to the Honor, and well-being, of this Kingdom. It is His Majesty’s express will and pleasure, that you do forthweith make the strictest Enquiry into the State of this dangerous and ignominous Trade.”
-Prime Minister William Pitt, August 23rd, 1760.
If you want to know when the American Revolution began; it ws in the year of 1760 as not just the King but Parliament began to denounce America for, as far as they were concerned; treasonous acts. Best echoeing that wide-spread feeling, British Admiral John Montagu denounced America as,
“…a set of lawless piratical people…whose sole business is that of smuggling and defrauding the King of his duties.”
Here lay an impossible situation – American had to smuggle to prosper in the British Empire and yet to do so was to be treasonous to the Mother Country. Though victorious, Britian’s coffers were barren after the expensive world war; and they looked over at the rich and prosperous America and bitterly knew why. It was at this year that the King and Parliament began to make plans to pass laws to crack down on the smugglers by rigorous enforcement, installing customs agents loyal to the King and to pass ever more taxes to ‘get back’ some of the ill-gotten funds.
The end result was a desire to drain the resources of America and making penniless a proud, self-reliant and free people.
Worse yet, when these actions were taken, the Great Awakening wa in full swing in the American Colonies preaching republican values. Americans no longer needed the King as a necessary for their well-being; and more and more felt themselves to be free British citizens before God and Country.
As for what happened next, the rest is history.
* William Coombs brought two ships up laden with cannonball, gunpowder and muskets. General Knox had brought cannon to Boston but the Continental Army had practically no way to fight the British. Coombs gave free-of-charge his precious cargo to General Washington!