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[翻译字幕]THE MAKING OF A NATION - American History: The Shot Heard Around the World

来源:慢速英语   时间:2012-11-17 10:01:22

建国史话 (11):波士顿的夜晚茶会

From VOA Learning English, this is THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in Special English. I’m Steve Ember.

This week in our series, we look at the start of the American Revolution.

The road to revolution in the late seventeen hundreds took several years. There were protests against the British policy of taxing the colonies without giving them representation in Parliament.

To prevent trouble, the British sent thousands of soldiers to Boston, the largest city in Massachusetts.

Jayne Gordon, the director of education and public programs at the Massachusetts Historical Society, explains the mood at the time.

“We’re looking at a time of great tension, we’re looking at a time when there’s an expectation, I think, on both sides that something will happen but nobody knows exactly what or when.”

On March fifth, seventeen seventy, that tension led to violence.

It was the end of winter but the weather was still very cold. A small group of colonists began throwing rocks and pieces of ice at soldiers guarding a public building. They were joined by others, and the soldiers became frightened. They fired their guns.
 

On the night of December 16th, 1773, a group of colonists in Boston protested a British tax by throwing tea off of a British ship

Five colonists were killed. The shooting became known as the Boston Massacre.

The people of Massachusetts were extremely angry. The soldiers were tried in court for murder. Most of them were found innocent. The others received minor punishments.

Fearing more violence, the British Parliament removed most of the taxes on the colonists. Only the tax on tea remained.

The tensions eased for a while. Imports of British goods increased. The colonists seemed satisfied with the situation, until a few years later. Then the Massachusetts colony once again became involved in a dispute with Great Britain.

The trouble started because the government wanted to help the British East India Company. That company organized all the trade between India and other countries in the British empire.

By seventeen seventy-three, the company had become weak. The British government decided to let the company sell tea directly to the American colonies. The colonies would still have to pay a tea tax.

The Americans did not like this new plan. They felt they were being forced to buy their tea from only one company.

Officials in the colonies of Pennsylvania and New York sent ships from the East India Company back to Britain. In Massachusetts, the British governor wanted to collect the tea tax and enforce the law. When the ships arrived in Boston, some colonists tried to block their way. The ships remained just outside the harbor without unloading their goods.

On the night of December sixteenth, seventeen seventy-three, a group of colonists went out in a small boat. They got on a British ship and threw all the tea into the water.

Destroying the tea was a serious crime.

The colonists were dressed as American Indians so the British would not recognize them. But the people of Boston knew who they were. A crowd gathered to cheer them. That incident -- the night when British tea was thrown into Boston harbor -- became known as the Boston Tea Party.

“And all of a sudden, with the Tea Party, they say enough is enough.”

Gordon Wood, a history professor at Brown University in Rhode Island, says the Tea Party made Britain furious with the colonies.

Parliament reacted by passing a series of laws that punished the whole Massachusetts colony for the actions of a few men.

One of these laws closed the port of Boston until the tea was paid for. Other laws strengthened the power of the British governor and weakened the power of local officials throughout the colonies.

The laws were called the Coercive Acts. Historian Gordon Wood says they helped unite all the colonies against Britain, even though not everybody approved of the Boston Tea Party.

“The Virginians are appalled at the Tea Party. They just think that’s just terrible, the destruction of all that property. But when they see what the British do, the Coercive Acts, they say to themselves, 'If they can do that to Massachusetts, the British can do that to us.' And they’re on board. And that really is the turning point.”

In June of seventeen seventy-four, Massachusetts called for a meeting of delegates from all the other colonies to consider joint action against Britain.

This meeting was called the First Continental Congress. It was held in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in September of seventeen seventy-four. All the colonies except one were represented. The southern colony of Georgia did not send a delegate.

The delegates agreed that the British Parliament had no right to control trade with the American colonies or to make any laws that affected them. They said the people of the colonies must have the right to take part in any legislative group that made laws for them.

The First Continental Congress approved a series of documents that condemned all British actions in the colonies after seventeen sixty-three. The delegates approved a proposal by Massachusetts saying that the people could use weapons to defend their rights. They also organized a Continental Association to boycott British goods and to stop all exports to any British colony or to Britain itself. Local committees were created to enforce the boycott.

One of the delegates to the First Continental Congress was John Adams of Massachusetts. Years later, he would say that by the time the meeting took place, the American Revolution had already begun.

King George the Second announced that the New England colonies were in rebellion. Parliament made the decision to use troops against the colonists in Massachusetts in January of seventeen seventy-five.

The people of Massachusetts formed a provincial assembly and began training men to fight. Soon, armed groups were doing military exercises in towns all around Massachusetts and in other colonies.

British officers received their orders in April seventeen seventy-five. By that time, the colonists had been gathering weapons in the town of Concord, about thirty kilometers west of Boston.

“It’s a gentle landscape. There are no great mountains, there are no great valleys or waterfalls. It’s a gently rolling hillside, farm landscape. There are two rivers that come together to form another river.

Jayne Gordon from the Massachusetts Historical Society lives in the area. She describes what the scene must have been like.

“The houses are mostly made of wood. Many of them are not painted. In April the leaves would just be budding out, things would be greening up, and actually the first day of the revolution was a very warm spring day.”

The British forces were ordered to seize the colonists’ weapons. But the colonists were prepared. They knew that the British were coming.

Years later, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about what happened. The poem is about Paul Revere, one of three men who helped warn the colonial troops that the British were coming:

Listen my children and you shall hear

of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

On the eighteenth of April in seventy-five

hardly a man is now alive

who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend,

"If the British march by land or sea from the town tonight

Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch of the North Church tower as a signal light.

One if by land

And two if by sea

And I on the opposite shore will be

Ready to ride and spread the alarm

Through every Middlesex village and farm

for the country folk to be up and to arm."

When the British reached the town of Lexington, they found it protected by about seventy colonial troops. These citizen soldiers were called "Minute Men." They had been trained to fight with only a minute's warning. Eight colonists were killed.

Each side accused the other of firing the first shot in that first battle of the American Revolution. It became known as "the shot heard 'round the world."

From Lexington, the British marched to Concord, where they destroyed whatever supplies the colonists had not been able to save. Other colonial troops rushed to the area. A battle at Concord's north bridge forced the British to march back to Boston.

It was the first day of America's war for independence. When it was over, almost three hundred British troops had been killed. Fewer than one hundred Americans had died.

The British troops had marched in time with their drummers and pipers playing "Yankee Doodle." A Yankee Doodle was a man who did not know how to fight. The song was meant to insult the Americans. But in the end they were proud of it.

Following the battles at Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts colony organized a group that captured Fort Ticonderoga. This was a British position on Lake Champlain in New York. The other colonies began sending their own troops to help. And another meeting was called: the Second Continental Congress. That will be our story next week.

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.voanews.cn. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I’m Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

英国和美洲殖民地之间的关系在麻萨诸塞最为紧张。殖民地的居民因为英国对他们实行“征税无代表”的政策而表示抗议。为了控制局势,英国向麻萨诸塞最大的城市波士顿派遣了数千名英国士兵。1770年3月5号,紧张局势终于演变成为暴力冲突。

当时,冬天已经接近尾声,但天气依旧十分寒冷。一群殖民者向在一座公共大楼前站岗的士兵仍石头和冰块,而且人数越来越多,英国士兵感到恐慌,开枪打死了五名殖民地的居民,这起事件被称做“波士顿惨案”。

“波士顿惨案”引起了麻萨诸塞居民的极度愤慨。法院以谋杀罪对开枪的士兵进行审判,但是大多数人都被无罪释放,只有极少数人受到了轻微的处罚。因为担心出现更多的暴力,英国议会取消了大部分税务,但是茶叶税保留了下来。

税务的取消暂时缓解了紧张情绪,殖民地进口的英国商品逐渐增加,殖民地的居民似乎也对这种局面感到满意。但是好景不长,几年后,麻萨诸塞殖民地再次卷入了跟英国的纠纷。

当时,印度和英国其他殖民地之间的贸易一律由英国的东印度公司负责。但是到了1773的时候,这家公司已经经营得越来越差了。英国政府因此决定,允许东印度公司直接向美洲殖民地销售茶叶,殖民地继续向英国交纳茶叶税。美洲殖民地对此感到不满,觉得自己不应该被迫从一家公司购买茶叶。

宾夕法尼亚和纽约殖民地的官员不让东印度公司的船只停靠,让它们原路开回去,但是麻萨诸塞的英国总督却希望执行立法,按规定征税。东印度公司的船只抵达波士顿的时候,遭到了殖民者的阻止,只好停在港口外面,无法卸货。

1773年12月16号,一小群殖民者驾着小船出海,登上一艘英国货船,把船上的茶叶全部倒进了水中。这些殖民者为了不让英国人认出他们来,全都装扮成印第安人,但是他们瞒不了波士顿人。很多波士顿居民聚集在一起,为他们的行动喝彩。这起事件,历史上被称为“波士顿倾茶事件”。

“波士顿倾茶事件”引起了英国政府的愤怒。虽然是个别人的举动,但是英国议会还是决定,对整个麻萨诸塞殖民地进行处罚。英国议会通过的一系列法案再次把麻萨诸塞殖民地和英国政府之间的关系推向了紧张。其中一项法案要求,在这批茶叶得到经济赔偿前,暂时关闭波士顿港口。另外一些法案则加强了英国总督的权力,同时削弱了殖民地地方官员的权力。1774年6月,麻萨诸塞召集其他殖民地的代表开会,共同商讨对策。

1774年6月,麻萨诸塞召集其他殖民地的代表开会,商讨对策。这次会议被称为第一届大陆会议。会议是九月份在宾夕法尼亚的费城召开的,除了南部殖民地乔治亚以外,其它殖民地都派代表出席了会议。与会代表一致认为,英国议会无权控制跟美洲殖民地的贸易,无权制定任何涉及殖民地的立法。他们还指出,殖民地的居民应该有权参加任何涉及自身利益的立法会议。

第一届大陆会议通过一系列文件,对1763年以来英国在美洲殖民地采取的行动提出谴责。会议还通过了麻萨诸塞的一份提案,声称人民可以武装自卫。会议同时组建了一个大陆联合会,抵制英国商品,并停止对英国及其殖民地的出口,由各地的地方委员会负责落实抵制活动。参加第一届大陆会议的代表之一是麻萨诸塞的约翰·亚当斯,也就是后来美国的第二任总统。他在很多年后说过,第一届大陆会议召开时,美国革命就已经开始了。

英国国王乔治二世宣布,新英格兰殖民地的行动构成了反叛。英国议会1775年1月决定对麻萨诸塞进行军事镇压。麻萨诸塞的居民自行组建了民政大会,开始进行军事训练。没过多久,麻萨诸塞、乃至其他殖民地的小镇里到处都能看到全副武装的男人们在进行军事演练。

英国部队1775年4月接到了出兵的命令。那时候,美洲殖民者们在波士顿以西大约30公里的小镇康科德集中武器。英国军队奉命收缴这些武器,但是殖民地的人早就做好了抵抗的准备。

英国部队抵达一个叫做列克星敦的小镇时,发现大约有70名殖民地的民兵把守在那里。这些民兵被称为 "Minute Men",因为他们得到通知后,一分钟后就可以行动起来。双方开枪交火,结果有八个殖民地民兵被打死。美国独立战争的列克星敦第一枪是谁打响的?直到今天,也没有人知道。冲突双方互相推卸责任。不过,这一枪的意思不言而喻,被称为“回响在世界各地的一枪。”

英国部队穿过列克星敦,抵达康科德,销毁了殖民者来不及运走的所有储备和供给。其他殖民地的民兵赶来帮忙,双方在康科德镇北面的大桥附近交战,英军被迫退回波士顿。这就是美国独立战争的第一天。一天下来,共有将近300名英军士兵和不到一百名殖民地的民兵被打死。

英国军队前进的时候,会有鼓乐演奏,其中一只著名的曲子叫"Yankee Doodle"--扬基歌。这首歌是英国人为了侮辱殖民地的民兵专门写的。他们说,Yankee Doodle 指的是那些根本不会打仗的人。美国独立战争早期战斗结束后,美洲殖民地的人表示,他们很高兴被叫做Yankee Doodle。

列克星敦和康科德的战役结束后,麻萨诸塞政府组织民兵攻打并占领了纽约地区尚普兰湖畔的城堡泰孔德罗加堡。其他殖民地纷纷派兵增援,并组织召开了第二届大陆会议。