Waiting on Events, 1776–1779
Unwilling to abandon the Declaratory Act, yet opposed to the use of force, the Rockingham party watched helplessly as Britain and the American colonies fought a destructive yet inconclusive war. The king, the ministry, and public opinion were convinced that Parliament should exercise its right to tax the colonies. Burke could make no headway against this delusion. The strain of constant but futile attempts, repeated over three parliamentary sessions, to awaken his countrymen from their dreams of coercion took its toll on him. He was bitterly disappointed when he was embarrassed by the strong and well-organised anti-American lobby, which undermined his claim to speak for Bristol. After the defeat of Lord John's motion considering Americans' grievances, the idea of secession was revived. Burke argued strongly in favour of seceding, provided that certain stringent conditions were met. Against the war, the opposition could do little but wait.
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