Chapter 12

    Opposition by the Town of Boston and the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1772 and 1773 [and 17]74 to the Revenue Laws. [199]

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    In October 1772 The Inhabitants Of Boston at a Town Meeting appointed a Committee of Correspondence to consist of twenty one persons, to state the Rights of the Collonists, and of this Province in particular, as Men, as Christians, and as subjects, to communicate and publish the same to the several Towns in this Province and to the World, as the sense of the Town, with the infringement and violations thereof that have been, or from time may be made; also requesting of each town a free communication of their sentiments on this subject. [201] And on the 20th of November following the Town received the report of this Committee, which was approved and transmitted to the several Towns in a letter of Correspondence from the Committee, all which were printed together with some Messages from the town to the Governour and his Answers, respecting the Salaries said to be granted by the Crown to the Judges of the Superior Court.

    The Town of Boston had now established a plan of communication and Correspondence, not only with the several towns in the province, but with the several great towns on the Continent, where the like measures were entered into.79

    In the month of March 1773 the House of Burgesses of the Colony of Virginia entered [202] into several resolutions for supporting the legal and constitutional rights of the Colonies in General; by these, a standing Committee of Correspondence, and Enquiry was to be Established between them and the other Colonies on the Continent, and this mode was adopted by most of the other Colonies, to correspond and communicate to each other all matters wherein the common welfare, and safety of the Colonies were concerned.

    Governor Hutchinson in his speech on opening the General Court in January 1773 took notice of these proceedings of the town of Boston, and entered into an argumentative State of the question, exposing the [203] principles that they had adopted and endeavouring to support the supreme authority of Parliament over the Plantations.

    Both the Council and Assembly in their Address in answer, entered largely into the argument, and did their utmost to support the new doctrine. And the Governor in his speech at the close of the sessions, entered further into the subject, and replyed to them both.80

    In this Sessions the House addressed the Governor in respect to the Salaries said to be granted to the Judges of the Superior Court by the Crown, and voted a Grant to them for the year ensuing, to which [204] the Governor refused to give his assent.

    They then passed some resolves, respecting said Judges, that if any of them should accept of, and depend upon the pleasure of the Crown for his support independant of the Grants, and acts of the General Assembly, he would discover that he had not a due sense of the importance of an impartial administration of Justice; that he is an Enemy to the Constitution, and has it in his heart to promote the Establishment of an Arbitrary Government in the Province.

    In this Sessions the Governor by Message applied to the House that the Province House might be repaired, but they declined [205] doing it, as the Governor did not receive his support from the Province.

    The House by Message applied to the Governour, for the use of the Province arms, for some new Artillery Corps to be raised, but he declined granting their request.

    After this Sessions of the General Court, matters subsided, and the summer went off pretty well, but towards the fall there was a report that the East India Company were going to send out Cargoes of Tea to America on their own account, to be disposed of at publick sale, by Consignees to be appointed for that purpose.

    Some duties had been taken off this Article at home, and though it retained the 3d duty in America, yet it was expected [206] that it would be sold so low as to defeat the schemes of the smug[g]lers, who had been long concerned in the Dutch Tea trade, and had supplied great part of the Continent with that article from Holland.

    Immediately a fresh ferment rose. The Continent was put in motion, and every mode of resistance to this measure was to be adopted. [207]

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    November 3

    The Mob assembled at Liberty Tree, and sent for the Merchants to whom the Tea expected from the India Company was reported to be consigned, and required them to refuse accepting such Commission. The Gentlemen refused to attend, or to comply with their request. The Mob grew riotous, and commit[t]ed some outrage at the Store of Mr Clark, one of the Consignees, but was dispersed. The Governor could not assemble a sufficient number of Members to make a Council, and the Sherriff was gone out of town to dinner.

    November 5

    Continuation of the [211] Town Meeting respecting the Tea Consignees, and violent Speeches used against them, and the Commissioners.

    November 8

    A Mob at night paraded the town with a great noise, but dispersed without doing any mischief.

    November 17

    A Mob at night committed a violent outrage on the dwelling house of Mr. R[ichar]d Clark, one of the Tea Consignees, broke the Windows and destroyed his furniture.

    After the former assault on Mr. Clark at his Store, an association of the Merchants was proposed for their mutual defence, but it fell through.

    November 18

    A Town Meeting send a Committee to the Tea [212] Consignees requiring them to resign. Violent speeches were made against all Commissioners. The Gentlemen refused to comply with the requisition of the Town. A publication appeared in the Spy to justify the Murder or assassination of the Commissioners &c.

    November 19

    The Tea Consignees prayed the Governor and Council for protection.

    November 23

    The Governor and Council met on the Petition of the Tea Consignees, and recommended to the Select Men, to keep the peace of the Town.

    The Town of Boston has brought the other towns in the Neighborhood to join [213] in chasing out the Tea Consignees and not to give them any Shelter. The Gentlemen have not slept in Boston for Several Nights past.

    November 24. Thanksgiving Day

    November 25

    Secret Meetings are held at Faneuil Hall of the Committees of Boston and the Neighbouring Towns and most of the fire Arms in town are buying up.

    November 26

    The Governor and Council met, and sat ‘till four O’Clock on the present State of Affairs, but no measures were taken to support the authority of Government.

    November 27

    Sunday Capt Hall in the Ship Dartmouth arrived from London, with the long expected Tea. [214]

    Monday 28 November 1773. Town Meeting, violent resolves. November 29th. A meeting of the people from the Town and Country at the old South Meeting. The Governor sent a Proclamation to them to disperse, which they treated with contempt, and passed many violent resolutions respecting the Tea and the Merchants to whom it was consigned, which they caused to be printed.

    The people took Captain Hall’s ship with the Tea on board into their care, and Custody, and placed 25 Armed men on board her.

    The Towns in the neighbourhood of Boston hold meetings—train, and prepare their Arms, and pass resolves similar to those passed in the Town of Boston. [215]

    On Monday the 28th in the Evening The Merchants to whom the Tea was consigned took Shelter in Castle William, and the next day the Commissioners of the Customs thought it best to go there, for their own security.

    The Meeting of the people was dissolved on Tuesday, after fixing on signals for their assembly by Day or night. The rest of the Week passed off without any assaults or mob[b]ings, but the people’s passions were still very violent, and expressed by the most extravagant threats against the Governour, Commissioners, &c. It was resolved the Tea should be sent back at all events.

    December 10th. Mr. Roach[,] the owner of Capt Hall’s Ship[,] declared that he had been compelled by threats to promise to send [216] back his ship with the Teas on board, but that now she should not sail with them, nor did he consider himself obliged to fulfil any promise so extorted from him, and they might do their worst with him.

    December 13. A Meeting of the Committees of the several Towns on Mr. Roach’s declaration.

    December 14. A meeting of the people in general at the old South Meeting, calling themselves the Body, on the same matter. They sent a Committee of ten, along with Mr. Roach, to the Collector, and obliged him to demand a Clearance outward for his Vessel, which he refused to Grant, whilst his Cargo inwards remained undischarged. [217]

    December 16. The Body assembled, obliged Mr. Roach to go to the Governour and demand a Let pass for his ship, which the Governour refused to grant. On Mr. Roache’s return to the Body with this answer, after a violent inflam[m]atory speech, the Meeting was dissolved, and they proceeded on board the three Vessels, at the Wharfs, with the Tea on board, when they hoisted up the Tea, broke the Chests, and threw the whole over board into the Water. Many hundreds were employed in this business. Their threats and noise were heard very plain at Castle William. Before nine in the Evening the work was finished, when they dispersed with three huzza’s.81 [218]

    After the destruction of the Tea the fury of the people subsided, and the Commissioners returned to their families before Christmas from the Castle, and held a Board in Boston on the 30th December.

    A few days after the Tea was destroyed, the people having notice that about half a Chest had been saved by a person in Dorchester out of the Quantity that had floated on the water, a number of them went disguised in search of it, but entered a wrong house, terrified the family, and rummaged the house over, then obliged the Man to go with them to his neighbour’s dwelling, which they searched in the same manner, and having found the Tea, brought it away and destroyed it. [219]

    January 1774. The Dealers in Tea in Boston were notified by the people, that they should not be allowed to sell any Tea after the 20th of January, and they who did not conform thereto, were to be the objects of resentment.

    The Town of Plymouth having entered into such like violent resolutions respecting the Tea, and Consignees, as the town of Boston, a number of the respectable inhabitants thought fit to make a protest against the said Resolutions, one of them coming up to Boston soon after, was visited by a party of the True Sons, who compelled him at the risk of tar and feathers, to sign a recantation, drawn up by them, which was published in the papers. [220]

    The Governor’s second son and one of the Consignees, who had married the daughter of Colonel Watson of Plymouth, having taken Shelter at his father in Law’s, with his Lady—the people of the place, having notice, came in the Evening, and threat[e]ned him with their resentment, if he did not remove immediately. It was then a snow storm, he beg[g]ed to have leave to remain there till the morning, the storm still continued the next day, but the people obliged them to turn out, and travel off in the midst of it.

    At Lexington a Young Woman going to a Dancing party, took with her a little tea for the Company. No sooner had the people without got notice, [221] than they broke in, took the young Woman in her best attire, payed her with a Coating of Tar and feathers, and in this manner led her in exhibition.

    At Marblehead they have lately erected an hospital for inoculation on one of the Islands near the town. Some of the Patients coming off sooner than the people thought they could be free from infection, they administered to them the general recipe and exhibited them to the Town with the Coating of Tar and feathers and were with difficulty restrained from going over, and burning the Hospital.

    On the 20th January[,] the day fixed for the venders of Tea to cease from selling that [222] article, a large bonfire was made before the Custom house, and a small Cask of damaged tea was bro[ugh]t up to be consumed in it. The Board was then setting, and a large Mob soon assembled, shouting and huzzaing.

    One Mr. Leonard[,] a Corn Merchant in Boston who had been suspected of having assisted in forming the Protest of some of the Inhabitants of Plymouth against the Resolves lately entered into by that Town, had his Store broke open, and his Ledger book of Accounts, and papers taken out. The person strongly suspected was a man who had been a servant, and was then in some share of business with him. Leonard advertized a reward, and described the suspected person. His Ledger was sent [223] back, but the papers were carried to Edes and Gill[’s] printing Office, he was threat[e]ned with their being printed, and it was said there was amongst them a Journal of the times, and a letter to some town in the Country, advising them not to adopt the resolve of the Town of Boston.

    On the 25th January in the Evening, John Malcolm, an Officer of the Customs, who had been tarred and feathered at Casco Bay for making a seizure, was taken out of his house in Boston, put into a Cart, strip’d naked, tarred, and feathered, punched with a long pole, beaten with Clubs, led to liberty tree, there whipt with Cords, and though a very cold night, led on to the Gallows, then whipt again, calling on him to curse the Governor and Commissioners. [224] There he prayed to have an end put to his misery, and that they would hang him outright, but this favor they would not grant, but led him back in the Cart a mile and a half to the North End, still naked, in the Cold.

    January 26. This day in the Evening the Essex smallpox hospital, on an Island near Marblehead, was burnt down by the people. They who perpetrated the act were prepared with Tar tubs &c, and set fire to the house, without awaking the people in it, who were obliged to fly in the cold, with scarce anything to cover them, and were beat and abused by the people without in their flight.

    In February two men who were suspected to have had [225] a hand in burning the Essex Hospital were taken from on board a Vessel at Marblehead, and committed to Salem Goal. In the Evening several parties came over from Marblehead, attacked the Goal, and rescued the prisoners.

    February 26. The Governor this day opened the General Court and in his speech to the Council and Assembly, he signified His Majesty’s disapprobation of the appointment of Committees of Correspondence, in various instances, which sit and act during the recess of the General Court by Prorogation: And both Houses in their Address in answer, entered into an argumentation, and vindication, of the appointment of such mode of correspondence, and did [226] not at all rescind from the measures they had adopted.82

    The House of Representatives soon after their meeting, entered into an enquiry, respecting the Conduct of Peter Oliver Esq., the Chief Justice of the Province, who had accepted of a salary from His Majesty for that duty, out of the Monies raised in America by the Act of the 7th George III.

    Then they came to several resolutions thereon, and made a remonstrance to the Governor and Council, praying that he might not be suffered to sit and act as Chief Justice, but forthwith be removed from the said Court, in answer to which, the Governor declined granting their request.

    Then the House of Representatives addressed the [227] Council, and laid a copy of the Governor’s answer before them, and prayed that they would advise thereon, and act and determine as they should judge proper. And two days after, the house waited on the Governor with a fresh address, urging him to take their former remonstrance into further consideration, and to take the advice of the Council—thereon, and every step for the removal of the Chief Justice from the Superior Court. To this the Governour gave them an excellent answer, and shewed the impropriety of their request.

    The Superior Court met without the Chief Justice, they adjourned for one Week, and afterwards till June.

    Notwithstanding the Governor’s answers, the House of Representatives proceeded to form [228] articles of Impeachment against the Chief Justice for receiving a Salary from His Majesty and on the 25th of February sent a Committee to the Governour, to acquaint him thereof, and desired that he would be in the Chair, that they might lay the same before the Governor and Council.

    The next day he sent them a Message, signifying that the process they had attempted to commence, was unconstitutional and that he could not shew any countenance to it.83

    Nevertheless, they sent a Committee, with the Impeachment to the Council Board, upon receipt of the Governor’s Message. And on the 28th, the Council sent a Message to the Governor, acquaint[ing] him therewith, and desiring to be informed when he would [229] be present with the Council to proceed on this business. And the next day the house sent up another Impeachment of the Chief Justice.

    On the 3rd of March the Governour sent a Message to the Council, wherein he exposed the absurdity of the request in their Message of the 28th of February.

    On the 4th of March, the Council acquainted the Governor by Message that since their Message of the 28th the House had laid upon the Council Table, Articles of Charge and Complaint against the Chief Justice, and as the Governor had had these laid before him, together with the Articles of Impeachment, and had declined acting on the latter, they desired to be informed what his determination was with [230] regard to the articles of charge and complaint.

    On the 7th March the Council, and on the 8th the House of Representatives, sent Committees with long Messages to the Governour, entering into argument with him, and justifying their proceedings respecting the Chief Justice.

    On the 9th March the Governor sent a Message to both houses wherein he shewed his disapprobation of their late proceedings, and that he could not neglect bearing publick testimony against them, and preventing them from proceeding any further in the same way, and then the General Court was prorogued. [231]84

    On the 5th March Mr. Hancock delivered an Oration to the People, to commemorate the Massacre of the 5th March 1770 in which the greatest reflections were made on the Military, and the passions of the People were inflamed, by the most violent invectives against Government.85

    About this time one Goddard travelled through the Continent to establish a Provincial Post Office, independant of government.

    On the 5th March the Brig Fortune arrived from London having 28 ½ Chests of Tea on board, the property of sundry Merchants in Boston.

    The next day in the Evening the Mob went on board, forced open the Hatches, hoisted up the Tea, [232] broke the Chests and discharged the Contents into the Water.

    A person who had confined another for debt in Cambridge Jail, was taken out of his house one evening, by a body of people, and compelled to walk with them to Cambridge, and there to sign an instrument, and release the Debtor from Confinement.

    A number of people assembled, and broke into the house of Capt. Jones of Weston, ransacked every part, and destroyed the furniture. The Mistress of the family who had lately lain in, was left exposed to the inclemency of the weather, having the Windows of her room all broke. [233]