King George's Response to the Declaration of Independence

King George decided the colonists were traitors and rebels in the Proclamation, quoted below, issued in August, 1775. George never changed his mind, and in late 1775 persuaded Parliament, many of whose members owed their seats to George's patronage, to declare war. Two days before Congress declared independence - on July 2nd, 1776 - British General Howe landed at Staten Island with orders to crush the rebellion.

British citizens did not share the King's opinion. Although by August, 1776, Howe's force had grown to 32,000, 9,000 were German Mercenaries. 300,000 British had volunteered to fight in the Seven Years War - called the French and Indian War in the colonies - but to fight the colonists, Britain was only able to raise 50,000 recruits. And many foreign countries refused to allow George to hire their soldiers as mercenaries.

In September, 1776 Congress sent Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Edmund Rutledge to a peace conference with Howe, but the King had ordered Howe not to negotiate until Congress was dissolved and the Declaration revoked, so the meeting was a failure.

Right up to the moment our Founders declared independence, they hoped against hope to persuade George and his Parliament to recognize their rights as Englishmen, but with the proclamation below, the die was cast.

King George Proclaims Americans in a State of Rebellion, August 23, 1775

Whereas many of our subjects in divers parts of our Colonies and Plantations in North America, misled by dangerous and ill designing men, and forgetting the allegiance which they owe to the power that has protected and supported them; after various disorderly acts committed in disturbance of the publick peace, to the obstruction of lawful commerce, and to the oppression of our loyal subjects carrying on the same; have at length proceeded to open and avowed rebellion, by arraying themselves in a hostile manner, to withstand the execution of the law, and traitorously preparing, ordering and levying war against us:

And whereas, there is reason to apprehend that such rebellion hath been much promoted and encouraged by the traitorous correspondence, counsels and comfort of divers wicked and desperate persons within this realm:

To the end therefore, that none of our subjects may neglect or violate their duty through ignorance thereof, or through any doubt of the protection which the law will afford to their loyalty and zeal, we have thought fit, by and with the advice of our Privy Council, to issue our Royal Proclamation,

Hereby declaring, that not only all our Officers, civil and military, are obliged to exert their utmost endeavours to suppress such rebellion, and to bring the traitors to justice, but that all our subjects of this Realm, and the dominions thereunto belonging, are bound by law to be aiding and assisting in the suppression of such rebellion, and to disclose and make known all traitorous conspiracies and attempts against us, our crown and dignity;

And we do accordingly strictly charge and command all our Officers, as well civil as military, and all others our obedient and loyal subjects, to use their utmost endeavours to withstand and suppress such rebellion, and to disclose and make known all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which they shall know to be against us, our crown and dignity;

And for that purpose, that they transmit to one of our principal Secretaries of State, or other proper officer, due and full information of all persons who shall be found carrying on correspondence with, or in any manner or degree aiding or abetting the persons now in open arms and rebellion against our Government, within any of our Colonies and Plantations in North America, in order to bring to condign punishment the authors, perpetrators, and abetters of such traitorous designs.

Given at our Court at St. Jame's the twenty -third day of August, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, in the fifteenth year of our reign.

"God Save the King"

George Who?!



George William Frederick b. June 4, 1738; d. Jan. 29, 1820. Eldest son of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, by the Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. George was not really English, in fact, he was the first member of his line to actually be born in England!

 

Although educated in Britain, George did not seem to really understand the ideas of liberty that had evolved there. He wanted a degree of authority and personal control in political affairs that conflicted with the ideas of a representative and limited government. Perhaps that made it impossible for him to understand the rights the colonists claimed.