415 | To John Pownall

    Boston, Novr 26, 1765.

    Dear Sr.

    In my letters dated Novr 1 & 5,1 I gave you an Account of the proceedings of the Mob of Boston on those days whilst the general Court was sitting. I shall now proceed to show what Effect those Assemblies have had to establish a formal Democracy in this Town. To explain this I must go a little back to trace the Assemblage of which this new power is formed.

    For a long time past it has been Customary for two parties in this Town denominated from the North & South End to fight with one another on the 5 of November with the Image of a Pope at the head of each party. This disorder has exceeded the Power of the Government to prevent: last Year (Novr 5, 1764) I raised the Militia for that Purpose; nevertheless the two parties met, the South End gained the Victory, & the Captain of the North End2  was so near being killed, that he did not recover his senses for sevral days after. However this was only among themselves, & did not directly affect the Government.

    On the 14 of Augt last, when Mr Olivers Image was burnt, his building destroyed & his house dismantled, The Captain of the South End, Mr Mackintosh a Shoemaker, was notoriously the leader of that Mob, which was raised in the South end, & acted Visibly under the directions of Persons much his Superiors.3 In their procession they were joined by some of the North End: & whilst they were pulling down Mr Olivers Building, it was cried out that there was an Union between the North End and South end.4 Since which this Union has being considered of such importance, that Gentlemen of the first fashion have made it their Business to establish & confirm it. Ten days or more before the last 5 of Novr, Two Gentlemen, called the richest Merchants in this Town, entertained the principal Men of these parties, & reconciled them to one another, for other Purposes, I fear, than burning a Pope.

    In the Parades on the 1st & 5th Novr, the greatest order was observed: Capt Mackintosh of the South End was drest in blue & red, in a gold laced Hat & a gilt Gorget on his breast, with a Rattan Cane hanging at his wrist, & a speaking Trumpet in his hand, to proclaim his orders.5 He had sevral Officers under him who were distinguished by laced Hatts & wands in their Hands, & acted as Serjeants & Corporals: no one else had any Stick or offensive Weapon; & no Negro was suffered to appear in their Ranks. On the 5th of Novr The two Parties met before the Town house (the general Court then sitting) with their respective Stages adorned with Popes, Devils, & Stampmen with inscriptions upon Union & no Stamps. Then they publickly confirmed their Union, & having again paraded the Town, they met again upon an hill, where they burnt their Images & departed before it was dark: after which evry thing was quiet.6

    It has been usual upon this occasion to collect a good deal of Mony; but at this time the Collection exceeded all expectation: many contributed from affection, much more from fear. The Sum was so very considerable that the two Captains agreed to make a public Entertainment at a Tavern. Printed Ticketts, distinguishing 5 different Classes were sent about; Many of the Principal Gentlemen (among which were at least 3 of the Council, who did not go,) were invited; above 200 persons attended of all Sorts; at the head of the table, sat the two Capts, having the two Gentlemen, who reconciled them, on each side; sevral other (not many) Gentlemen of fashion7 were there, many of which have since expressed a kind of shame for it. Thus was celebrated the Union between these two bands, who (at a time when the Militia have refused to obey the Captain General, & it has been said publickly at a Town Meeting that they were not obliged to obey him) are said to be well trained, & ready to obey orders upon proper occasions.

    You may Imagine that the popular party is greatly elated with this accession of strenght founded upon the ruins of the power of Government. Some of them talk of it with an indiscretion that is amazing, as if this Town was to remain for ever independent of the Kings Government: one says “there has not being enough done, there wants more correction”; another says, “Let us see now, who will seize Merchants Goods, what Judge will condemn them, what Court will dare grant writs of Assistance now;”8 Other talk9 as familiarly of turning out the Governor, (for adhering to the King & Parliament) as they could do at Rhode Island or Connecticut. Mean while, Otis (who perhaps is as wicked a man as lives) publishes evry week inflammatory invectives against the Governor & Government but happily without being able to charge him with any one thing whatsoever but Acts of duty.10 Thus I live endeavouring to keep my Post till I receive orders from England, which I shall impatiently expect after the middle of next month.

    I shall enclose in the cover with this a duplicate of such parts of my former letter[s] as relate to the processions & Mobs. It will become necessary that these two letters should be Communicated to your board; I myself might referr to them: And yet I could wish that they may be so far considered as private letters that they may remain in your keeping for reasons I will give you in another letter to accompany this.

    I am &c

    J Pownall Esqr

    Dec 19 P.S11 to the letter to Mr Pownall dated Nov 26

    I intended to have added another letter to this, but am obliged to postpone it. In the Mean time I send you a News paper containing some Accounts upon which I have wrote to the Secretary of State: the next Ship will carry a duplicate of the same letter addressed to their Lordships. The Very appearance of Government seems to be ^very^ near its End

    AL, LbC BP, 5: 43-46, 63.

    Drawing of Boston Pope’s Day, 1767.  By Pierre Du Simitière. “Papers relating to N. England & N. York &c,”. p. 130. Pierre Du Simitière Manuscripts, Peter Force Collection. Yi 1412.Q.21. The Library Company of Philadelphia. This cartoon depicts the leaders of Boston’s North End and South End gangs, Henry Swift and Ebenezer MacIntosh (holding the speaking trumpet).