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REVISED EDITION WITH HELPS TO STUDY
CONCILIATION WITH AMERICA
With Selections from
OTHER WRITINGS OF BURKE, SPEECHES BY PITT AND
AND THE PARLIAMENTARY HISTORY
C. H. WARD
SCOTT, FORESMAN AND COMPANY
If every high-school student knew that the governmental oppression that caused the American Revolution was made in Germany,' our democracy would be more secure. For as long as there lurks in the back of the American consciousness a suspicion of English tyranny in 1775, so long will misunderstanding prevent the English-speaking nations from working in accord to develop Anglo-Saxon freedom. Not until the younger generation has learned to distinguish between the English freedom of 1775 and “the slavery that they may have from Prussia,' will America return to that “unsuspecting confidence in the mother country” which is vital to the future progress of democracy throughout the world. To teach that distinction is pre-eminently the task of the schools; on every hand there is a demand that teaching should be more in accord with the great fact of 1775 and that textbooks should bring into relief this truth: The American Revolution was not an attempt of England to tyrannize over colonies, but was a quarrel fomented by a German king as part of his program of despotic ambition.
To some teachers that may sound like an extreme statement adapted to the emotions of a new-found gratitude to England. Yet there is nothing novel or
exaggerated about it. Burke analyzed it completely in his Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents; Green explained it in the plainest terms; Fiske made it obvious; Trevelyan disclosed it fully. And if any. one supposes that these historians were making special pleas for the sake of amity, he may read the most convincing and elaborate of all testimonies in the work of a historian who was not swerved by any such motiveLecky. There was no English tyranny over America until a German king had tricked his colonists into hating his ministry, until he had created a servile House of Commons, and until he had inflamed against each other his subjects on two sides of the Atlantic.
Burke was not pleading for America against an English Toryism. He voiced the common feeling of Englishmen who had any real ideas about America, of most of the members of Commons who were not hired “king's men.” He spoke the common thought of England as it was before public opinion had been poisoned by a Hanoverian. He was pleading the cause of English freedom against a despotism as Hunnish as that which was recently plotted on Wilhelmstrasse. His speech is a revelation of that ideal of democracy -of "Magnanimity as the truest wisdom”-which has guided England, which has guided America, and by which both countries must henceforth be guided in concord if they are to fulfil a useful destiny.
The nature of Burke's plea for conciliation cannot be understood by any amount of study of the speech itself, nor can any mere introduction and notes reveal convincingly the amazing facts of 1775. An under
standing can be gained only by reading what typical Englishmen said while the American Revolution was being fomented, and by reading the judgments of various historians. This knowledge the ideal teacher seeks and finds by many days of exploration in a library; he sluices tons of irrelevant matter to acquire the precious ounces of information. The ideal teacher does this. The rest of us—if I may judge by my own caseteach what an editor provides, because it seems even more copious than a class has time for. Not till 1917 was I driven to learn more about this “slavery that they may have from Prussia.' The revelation has made the Conciliation much more entertaining to me and the students. For now there is a villain in the story, and we learn a very useful truth about English freedom. I feel touched and grieved because editors have never given so much as an inkling of the vital fact. I should suppose that all teachers of Burke would feel the same. This material has not been available to the student, and in many cases not even to the teacher. For the first time it is presented in one handy volume. The Collateral Readings from Burke's Works and the Speeches of Pitt and Fox, and the extracts from historians are not an appendix; they are illuminating material intended to be read side by side with the Burke.
I hope that the introduction and notes are contrived to make the Conciliation appear like the human and interesting document that it is. If that wish seems excessive optimism to those of us who have taught the speech for a decade or two, we should remember