Chapter 6

    Exertions of Government in support of its Authority. 1768

    Upon the representations made to Government of the opposition to the Laws of Revenue at Boston, two Regiments of foot and a detachment from a third were ordered from Halifax to Boston and two others were sent from Ireland to support the Magistrates in the execution of the laws and protect the Servants of the Crown.

    Before the arrival of the Troops the Select Men of Boston sent circular letters to all the Towns in [91] the Province to Summons a Committee of Convention; which assembled at Boston, to consult on the emergency of affairs, in despight of the Governor; and it is not probable they would have seperated on his Orders for that purpose, if the Troops had not been just at hand.

    When they had certain advice of their being near the Harbour, they retired home.

    The two Regiments from Halifax arrived the latter end of October, but were refused to be billeted or Quartered in the Town and after some time, Quarters were hired for them by [92] direction of the Governor, which occasioned altercations between him and the Council and the Select Men of the Town.48

    The four Regiments finally were all quartered within the town of Boston, but much difficulty arose in providing accommodations for them and the townspeople[,] dissatisfied with the Military being sent amongst them, used every means to render their situation disagre[e]able and to find cause of quarrel with the Soldiers; and they, and the Country people, enticed many of them to desert. [93]

    Commodore Hood with his Majesty’s Ships from Halifax came to Boston in the month of November, and about the same time General Gage, Commander in Chief of the Army in America, came from New York and remained a short time at Boston.

    Major General Mackay[,] who was to have had the command of the Troops on this expedition, was drove off the Coast to the West Indies and Colonel Pomeroy of the 64th Regiment had the command in Boston ‘till his arrival in the Spring.

    After the arrival of the Fleet and Army the Commissioners came up from the Castle to Boston the beginning of November. But such was the Spirit of resentment against them that no one would rent me a house in the Town. [94]

    About the middle of October 1768 there was published in the Boston News Papers a Copy of the Proceedings of the Council of the Province, on the 27 and 29 July past.

    Fifteen Members of that Council presented an Address to General Gage on his arrival at Boston, and Petitions were sent to both Houses of Parliament by some of the Members of the Council independant of the Governor: In all of which they endeavoured to exculpate the town of Boston, and reflected on the Commissioners of the Customs [95] as the causers of the late riots and disorders, and asserting that they had retired to the Castle without sufficient reason, and with a view to bring reproach on the town and to cause Troops to be sent to Boston.

    Upon this occasion it was proposed by the Commissioners that the conduct of the Board should be supported in a Memorial to the Lords of the Treasury, when Mr. Temple expressed his disapprobation of their leaving the town and dissented from the rest in opinion as to the propriety of their retiring to the Castle [96] in consequence of the riot of the 10th June, and as the four Commissioners were particularly reflected on by the Council they thought it necessary, in vindication of their own characters, to declare to their Lordships that the representations in the Minutes of the Council and the Address to General Gage, were, as far as they reflected on them, false, and unjust. And they took leave to observe, one reason which influenced those Gentlemen to these proceedings, “The leading Members of the Council, in the opposition to [97] Government are nearly tied to Mr. Temple by marriage and as he takes a part different from Us, it was necessary to cast a reflection on our conduct to justify his behavior.”

    The Commissioners mentioned some other instances in the conduct of the Select Men and of the People, as being done in order to set their conduct in an unfavourable light, in vindication of which, they referred to the Affidavits of their Officers, and other papers, in relation to the riot of the 10th June, and to the Answers to some Queries proposed [98] to four principal Gentlemen in the Service of Government in the Province, which they presumed, would satisfy their Lordships, of the necessity and propriety of their retiring to the Castle and their remaining there in the execution of their Commission, did not the proceedings of the Town Meetings of the Council and Assembly, and last of all, of the Convention that was held in Boston, in defiance of Government, support them in the Steps they had taken. And they concluded with saying. “We can chearfully go on in the exercise of [99] our Commission, though exposed to the grossest misrepresentations of our Conduct, and continually experiencing the utmost Calumny and abuse, for our adherence to our duty, satisfyed that we shall not suffer in Your Lordships’ opinion on slight grounds, and that every allowance will be made for our conduct, in the critical Situation we are in, and the arduous Service in which we are engaged, though we cannot but lament the unhappy Constitution of this Government, where those who should be Councellors for the Crown are dependant on the Voice of the Representatives of the People for their [100] Annual Election. And therefore, it is no wonder, that to secure their approbation, the honor and dignity of Government are often sacrificed, and the most flagrant violations of the Peace and Order of Society passed over with impunity.”49

    In the Answer from the four Gentlemen before mentioned, they gave their opinion, “that from the Spirit which had been excited in the populace against all the Commissioners of the Customs, except Mr. Temple, they could not have remained long in safety in the town of Boston, after the seizure of the Sloop Liberty, [101] but would have been in great danger of violence to their persons and properties, from a Mob which at that time it was generally expected would be raised for that purpose.”

    “That it had been found by experience, that the authority of Government was insufficient, to restrain, suppress, or punish, the several Mobs which had been assembled since the 14th of Aug. 1765, in some of which felonious Acts of violence had been commit[t]ed, and we are of opinion, that at the time You retired to the Castle there was no probability that the same [102] authority could have had any greater force, in restraining, suppressing, or punishing a Mob raised against the four Commissioners of the Customs than another Mob which preceded it, and we are of opinion, that You could not have returned to Town, and executed Your Commission with safety, at any time after Your withdrawing before the arrival of his Majesty’s Troops.”50 [103]

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    In December 1768 both Houses of Parliament passed sundry resolves respecting the Proceedings at Boston, in the months of June and September.

    That the Declarations, Resolutions, and Proceedings, in the Town Meetings at Boston on the 14 June and 12 September, were illegal and Unconstitutional, and calculated to excite Sedition and insurrection in his Majesty’s Province of the Massachusetts Bay.

    That the Town had been in a State of great disorder and confusion, and the peace of the Town had at several times been disturbed by tumults of a dangerous Nature. [107]

    That neither the Council of the said Province, nor the ordinary Civil Magistrates, did exert their Authority, for suppressing the said riots and tumults.

    That the preservation of the publick peace and the due execution of the Laws became impracticable, without the aid of a military force, to support and protect the Civil Magistrates and the Officers of his Majesty’s Revenue.

    That the appointment at the Town Meeting on the 12 September of a Convention to be held in Boston on the 22nd of that Month of Deputies from the several Towns and Districts [108] in the Province, and the issuing a precept, by the Select Men of Boston, to each of the said Towns and Districts, for the Election of such Deputies, were proceedings subversive of His Majesty’s Government, and evidently manifesting a design in the Inhabitants of Boston, to set up a new, and Unconstitutional Authority Independant of the Crown of Great Britain.

    That the Election by several Towns and Districts of Deputies to sit in the said Convention and the meeting of such Convention in consequence thereof, were daring insults offered to his Majesty’s authority, and audacious usurpations of the Powers of Government. [109]51

    The Letters which Governor Bernard and other Servants of the Crown had written to Government in the Summer of 1768 having been laid before the House of Commons, copies of them were sent out to America and they were printed at Boston. Upon which the Town published an Appeal to the World, in vindication of themselves. And passed several violent resolves against the Governor, the Commissioners of the Customs &c, declaring that many of the letters and Memorials were false, scandalous and infamous libels. And directing the Select Men, to complain to proper Authority, that the Authors of them may be proceeded with according to Law, and brought to condign punishment.52 [110]