Chapter 15

    Proceedings of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts Bay, and the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. 1774 [271]

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    September 27th

    The delegates of the county of plymouth passed several resolves similar to those in the other Counties, and resolved that they had no connection with or dependance on Great Britain than was stipulated with the King by their Ancestors, and that the interposition of any other power on Earth in their affairs, and more especially in attempts to tax, or even legislate for them, and that of the King himself, in any other manner than is provided by the original Compact, is an infraction of their rights, and that it was the duty of every man, and body of Men, to oppose with all their power, the execution of the late acts of the British Parliament. [275]

    And they recommended if any persons should be seized for contending for their liberties to make reprizals, by seizing and keeping in custody every Servant of the present tyrannical Government, and all such as had favoured or abet[t]ed their measures, and detain them till their friends were restored to their families safe and uninjured.107

    October 10

    Though the General had issued a Proclamation discharging the members of the General Court from their attendance at Salem the 7th instant, the day they had been summoned to meet, yet the Representatives assembled there [276] the 7th instant notwithstanding, to the number of ninety, chose a Chairman and Clerk, and published resolves reflecting on the General, and resolved themselves into a provincial Congress to meet with others to be joined to them at Concord the 11th instant.108

    Many Counties now have had meetings of Delegates from the several towns, where the most extravagant resolutions have been passed, denying the authority, and refusing all obedience to the Acts of Parliament, voting the Counsellors, and all who should acceptofficer under the Acts, Enemies to their Country, and resolving to arm and die in the defence of their Liberties.109

    October 13

    The Delegates from the several Towns in the province, having formed themselves into a provincial Congress at Concord, [277] sent a Committee, with a Message to the General, in which they express their apprehensions from the hostile preparations making on Boston neck, earnestly urge him to demolish the same, in order to quiet the minds of the people; in answer to which he assured them, that the works he had constructed, unless annoyed, would annoy nobody; representing, that their warlike preparations had made it necessary, pointing out their hostile treatment of the troops, and exhorting them to a more decent, and dutiful conduct.

    October 14

    The Provincial Congress resolved that the Collectors of [278] Taxes throughout the Province be advised not to pay the same to the Provincial Treasurer, and afterwards they adjourned to Cambridge.110

    About the same time a Committee from the County of Worcester presented an Address to the General, making a similar requisition, with that from the provincial Congress, respecting the dismantling the fortifications on the neck.111

    About this time appeared some resolves of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, tending to support the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay in their opposition to the late Acts of Parliament, and resolving that every person who shall accept any Commission [279] in any wise derived from the Act of Parliament for changing the form of Government in the Massachusetts Bay, ought to be held in detestation by all good men.112

    The provincial Congress at Cambridge on the 21 October passed a resolve respecting the new Counsellors, and others who had accepted, or acted under Commission or authority derived from the Act of Parliament of the last sessions, for changing the form of Government in this Province, requiring them to give satisfaction to this injured Province within ten days, by causing to be published in all the Boston Newspapers acknowledgement of their former misconduct, and renunciations of the Commissions; [280] and authority mentioned, on pain of being considered as infamous betrayers of their Country, and that their names should be published repeatedly, so that being entered on the Records of each town, as Rebels against the state, they may be sent down to posterity with the Infamy they deserve. They further resolved, that as the unnecessary and extravagant consumption of East India teas had much contributed to the political destruction of the Province, to recommend an abhorrence and detestation of all kinds of East India teas, as the baneful vehicle of introducing Despotism and Slavery [281] into this once happy Country, and to recommend that every town, and district, appoint a Committee to post up the names of all such as should sell or consume so extravagant and unnecessary an article of luxury.

    On the 26th October they voted to equip and hold in readiness to march at the earliest notice, one fourth at least of the Militia of the Province, that the private Men of each company should chuse a Captain, and two Lieutenants, and that the Captain and subalterns of each Battalion should chuse the field Officers to command the same; and the select Men of each town were to provide Arms and Ammunition, with [281] out delay, if not already provided, with a full stock. They further resolved that as the Monies assessed by the General Court were resolved not to be paid to the Provincial treasurer for obvious reasons, to appoint a Receiver General for these monies, and appointed one Henry Gardner for that purpose. And all Sheriffs, Collectors, and Constables, were recommended to comply with and execute the direction of this resolve. Then they published a resolve for a General Thanksgiving throughout the Province for Thursday the 15th December.113 [283]

    The Continental Congress had been sit[t]ing at Philadelphia from the beginning of September and on the 20th of October they published an Extract from their Votes, and proceedings, which was signed by the Delegates from twelve several Colonies, containing fourteen articles, as an association binding themselves and their Constituents to abide thereby.

    By this association they were not to import any Goods from Great Britain or Ireland, or any East India tea, or any British Molasses, Syrops, Panels, Coffee, or Piemento, or Wines from Madeira, or the W[estern] Islands, or foreign Indigo, [284] or any slaves after the 1st December.

    That after the 1st March next they will not purchase or use any East India tea whatever; or any Goods agreed not to be imported, which they shall have cause to suspect were Imported after the 1st December.

    This association, with several other articles to continue till the Acts imposing duties on sundry Goods imported into America, together with the clauses in Acts extending the powers of the Courts of Admiralty, sending home persons for trial for offences committed in America, the four acts of the last session respecting Boston, and the Massachusetts Bay, and extending the [285] limits of Quebec &c., are all repealed. And in case they are not repealed by the 10th September 1775, they associate not to export any merchandise or commodity whatsoever to Great Britain, Ireland, or the West Indies, except Rice to Europe.114

    The Continental Congress that had been held at Philadelphia during the Months of September and October, seperated at the close of the latter month, and then Extracts from their Votes, and proceedings, were published under the heads of a Bill of Rights, a list of Grievances, Occasional Resolves, an association, an Address to the people of Great Britain, a Memorial to the Inhabitants [286] of the British American colonies, and an Address to the inhabitants of Canada.115

    Amongst other things they set forth as their Right to participate in their Legislative Council, that they are not represented, and from their local and other circumstances cannot properly be represented in the British Parliament, that they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several Provincial legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be preserved, in all cases of Taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their sovereign. And they Resolve, that sundry Acts of Parliament relative to the Revenue, Admiralty, Massachusetts Bay, and Quebec, are infring[e]ments and [287] violations of the Rights of the Colonists, all which they say are impolitic, unjust, and cruel, as well as unconstitutional.

    The Provincial Congress was adjourned to the 23d November, but early in that month the General published a proclamation, pointing out the illegal proceedings of their former meeting, and their dangerous tendency, and warning all persons at their peril from assembling again, under the like pretences.116 However, they assembled at Cambridge, agreeable to their Adjournment.

    Amongst other resolves of the County of York, assembled in Congress November 1774, they published one, respecting W[illia]m Pepperrell, who had large possessions of Lands in that County, [288] but having accepted a seat at the Council Board they resolved that he ought to be detested by all good Men, and recommended it to the people to withdraw all connection and dealings with him, and to take no further lease of his farms, and if any one should become Tenant on such Estates, they were to be treated in like manner.117

    December 12

    The Resolves of the Provincial Congress that had been assembled at Cambridge, for some time past, were published. In these they approve and adopt the Resolves of the Continental Congress that had been assembled at Philadelphia, and they further resolve, that [289] after the 10th October next none of the Goods that had been prohibited by the General Congress from being imported into the Colonies, should be permitted to be sold, or bought; and they recommended the appointment of Committees of Inspection, to see the Resolves of the said Congress duly executed and they were to apply to the several merchants, and Traders, at that time, if the Acts complained of were not sooner repealed, to take an Inventory of all such Goods, Wares, and Merchandize, then on hand, requiring them to offer no more for sale; and if they refused, they were to take them into their own possession, to be stored at [290] the risk of the Owners, until the said Acts were repealed, and to publish their names, that they might be treated as Enemies to their Country. And they resolved, that this should extend to all Goods &c., of the Growth, production or manufacture of Europe, Imported from Great Britain, or Ireland. They further address the People by a Publication to all the Freeholders in the Province, pointing out to them their present situation, exhorting them to attend to their military discipline, and to provide those who were not supplyed with arms, and Ammunition, and that each town should pay its own minute men, who were to be kept in constant readiness.118 [291]

    On the 10 December they dissolved themselves, and recommended it to the several towns forthwith to elect, and depute members to a new Congress, to be held at Cambridge the 1st February.

    In consequence of the resolves of the General Congress, Committees of Inspection were appointed in several towns, of the different provinces, sixty-three were chosen at Boston, and this Inquisition was to pry into the conduct of each individual, and report as to what he bought or sold, eat, drank, or wore, spoke, or wrote, and many acts of violence, of cruelty and torture were exercised in the course of the proceedings in this new mode of tyranny. Several more Gentlemen now were drove from their dwellings, and obliged [292] to take shelter in Boston, particularly Colonel Chandler of Worcester, Colonel Jones of Westown[,] Colonel Watson of Plymouth, and Colonel Gilbert. The latter returning home one evening was fired at. The ball passed very near him, he made to the place from whence the report came, when a man walked off, saying “ah didn’t miss you, you damn’d tory, I meant it for your heart.” It was said that the people intended to have branded the Gentlemen, who fled from their persecutions with an R. in the forehead.

    About the 10th December His Majesty’s Order in Council arrived to prevent the Exportation of Military stores from Great Britain. Immediately after this the Assembly of Rhode Island passed an act [293] to provide a large quantity of powder and Military stores, to raise troops and appoint General Officers.119 And the Cannon from the fort at Newport was removed to Providence, to fortify that place as a post of defence, The People at Piscataqua and its neighbourhood assembled in Arms, seized on the Fort in the River, and carryed off the Great Guns of the fort, the fire Arms, and about 100 barrels of Gunpowder, that was there in store.120

    February 1, 1775

    The Provincial Congress assembled again at Cambridge, and soon after passed a resolve, strictly forbid[d]ing the People from furnishing the Army with any Military [294] Stores or supplying them with necessaries to enable them to take the field.

    They published Resolves urging the Militia in general to perfect themselves in Military discipline, and the Towns and districts to encourage the Manufactory of fire Arms, and Bayonets, and recommended to them to cause their respective proportions of the Province Tax to be paid into the hands of Henry Gardner of Stow, lately appointed Treasurer of the Province by the former Congress; and after appointing the 16th of March as a day of fasting and prayer they adjourned to meet at Concord on the 22nd of March.121 [295]

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