A Stated Meeting of the Society was held in the Hall of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Wednesday, 20 December, 1893, at three o’clock in the afternoon, Dr. Gould in the chair.
After the record of the Annual Meeting had been read, the Hon. Grover Cleveland and the Hon. Edward John Phelps were elected Honorary Members.
The following-named gentlemen were elected Resident Members: —
Mr. Henry E. Woods remarked that Mr. Davis, in his paper on Historical Work in Massachusetts, had omitted to mention the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, and added that the Society, although not incorporated, had a Massachusetts organization, which was effected 19 April, 1889. Mr. Woods further stated that the Massachusetts branch of this Society had issued, in August, 1889, a document showing the number of troops from each state enlisted in the Revolution, and, in the present year, a volume containing its By-Laws, and lists of Officers and Members; and that the Society had caused to be manufactured an iron and a bronze “marker” for the graves of soldiers of the Revolution.
Mr. Davis said that he was aware of the existence of the Society at the time when his paper was published, but he had not then seen its purposes as set forth in the separate organization of the Massachusetts branch, nor any of its publications. He felt that the Society deserved the same recognition that he had already accorded to those of a quasi-historical character.132
Mr. William W. Goodwin then spoke as follows concerning the Lady Mowlson scholarship: —
The catalogue of Harvard University, which was published yesterday, announces for the first time that the Lady Mowlson scholarship is open to undergraduates. The income of the scholarship is to be $200 a year, — the principal set apart for its foundation being $5,000. In giving the history of this scholarship, I shall only repeat what I have learned from our associate, Mr. Davis, who has had the good fortune to rescue from oblivion the records of the earliest scholarship given to Harvard College.
In the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society at its Annual Meeting, in October, 1887, Mr. Davis gave an account of the early history of that scholarship, so far as it was then known. This paper is entitled “The First Scholarship at Harvard College.” Certain details are there given concerning the journey of three Americans — Messrs. Peters, Weld, and Hibbins — to England, in 1641, who went on “some weighty occasions for the good of the country.” It appears that, as a result of their mission, £150 was granted to the library of Harvard College. Among other funds which were collected, Mr. Weld reports that Lady Mowlson gave him for a scholarship £100. This is the amount mentioned in Lady Mowlson’s deed of gift,133 dated 9 May, 1648, a copy of which, taken from the archives of Harvard College, has been reproduced for our Transactions. Although given in 1643, the money was kept, until 1713, in the country treasury, where the fund was increased by other gifts to £162 16s. 4d., on which sum an interest of £15 per annum was paid to the College until 1685. The payment of interest stopped in 1685; but when the fund was paid to the treasurer of Harvard College, in 1713, the Province generously added £263 14s. for interest, making the whole amount then received by the College £426 10s. 4d.
The second paper which Mr. Davis published is entitled “The Exhibitions of Harvard College prior to 1800,” which appeared in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for July, 1892. In this article it was announced that Mr. John Ward Dean, the Editor of the Register, had discovered that Thomas Mowlson was Lord Mayor of London in 1634, and that he was knighted in June of the same year.134 Although there was then no direct clue to the relationship between him and Lady Mowlson, it appeared that in 1614 a certain Thomas Moulson attended a meeting of the Court of Assistants of the Grocers’ Company in London, which was interested in American ventures, thus at least connecting one of the same name with American affairs.
In the third paper published by Mr. Davis in the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society for October, 1892, entitled, “The Lady Mowlson Scholarship at Cambridge,” it was stated that Mr. Henry F. Waters, the genealogist, now in London, by an original investigation discovered that Sir Thomas Mowlson died about 1638, leaving a widow, Dame Ann Mowlson, who was alive in 1643. This discovery gave rise to a strong presumption, borne out by further investigation, that the widow of Sir Thomas Mowlson was the Lady Mowlson who gave the scholarship to Harvard.
Further investigation brought out the wills of both Sir Thomas and Lady Mowlson. Abstracts of these wills were published by Mr. Waters in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for January, 1893. It appears that in her will Lady Mowlson leaves a bequest to her nephew, Mr. Anthony Radcliffe, “son of my brother, Mr. Edward Radcliffe, deceased.” From this it may be assumed that the maiden name of Lady Mowlson was Ann Radcliffe.135
The signature to Lady Mowlson’s deed of gift is witnessed by Mr. Arthur Barnardiston, who is described in her will as a son of her niece, Lady Thornton. This seems to show that Lady Mowlson’s gift to Harvard College met with the approval of her family. Her husband in his will leaves a bequest to his “cousin,” Anthony Radcliffe, who is probably the same person mentioned in Lady Mowlson’s will.
Our associate, Mr. Toppan, has contributed an interesting item concerning Lady Mowlson which he found in the “Calendar of the Committee for Compoundings,” etc. (Domestic, 1643–1660, Part I. 780), under date 3 May, 1643, which is as follows: —
“Lady Ann Moulson — sum lent towards the £20,000 to be sent to the Scottish army in the North as part of the £50,000 due by treaty to be paid 4 Sept. next with interest — £600 0s. 0d.”136
Another document, recently discovered at the State House, adds an incident in the history of this scholarship. The Sewall scholarship at Harvard College is based upon a gift of land given by Judge Samuel Sewall to the College, in 1696. A Memorial has been found in the Massachusetts Archives (Literary, LVIII. 181), which is as follows: —
Whereas I have lately given unto Harvard Colledge by Deed under hand & Seal, Five Hundred Acres of Land lying in the Narragauset Country near Mr. Alborough’s137
If this Honble Court shall see meet to grant a Suitable Sum of the Lady Moulson’s Money towards the building a House on sd Tract of Land, that it may be rendred capable of yielding an annual Income to said Colledge, I shall be thereby gratified & honoured, who am
Your Honours humble Servt
Novembr 30, 1698.
In his History of Harvard University (I. 512), Quincy mentions a gift of five hundred acres of land at Petaquamscott138 by Samuel Sewall and Hannah Sewall his wife, in 1696, at which time the Province was holding the Lady Mowlson fund.
The discovery of Lady Mowlson’s maiden name, Ann Radcliffe, is likely to prove very important at the present time, in an unexpected way. In view of the new relations between the Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women and Harvard University, it is thought desirable that the name of the former corporation should be changed, and a petition is to be sent to the Legislature of Massachusetts, asking that the institution be incorporated as Radcliffe College.
Mr. G. Arthur Hilton presented to the Society two documents that had been given to him by his uncle, the late Hon. Samuel Crocker Cobb, and which were found among the papers of General David Cobb in the old family mansion at Taunton: —
The original minutes of the Bristol County Convention, held at Taunton 28 and 29 September, 1774, made by the Secretary, Dr. David Cobb.
Mr. Abner C. Goodell, Jr., having been called upon, made the following remarks: —
Mr. President: I cheerfully comply with Mr. Hilton’s request by calling your attention particularly to the first paper presented by him, it being the original minutes of the Bristol County convention held at Taunton on the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth days of September, 1774, for the purpose of determining what course of action should be recommended by the convention to the several towns in the county in view of the recent Acts of Parliament, for closing the port of Boston,139 for better regulating the government of Massachusetts Bay,140 and for the impartial administration of justice there.141 The other paper, being the record of the doings of a similar convention held at Taunton on the fourth and fifth of January, 1775, I will, with your permission, reserve for another occasion.
The chief interest of the first paper is the light it throws upon the motives which induced the formation of the first Provincial Congress, and the steps by which the Congress was evolved. It will be remembered that after the dissolution of the first Assembly of 1774, held at Salem, which, contrary to the Governor’s wishes, had chosen delegates to the Continental Congress, Gage issued writs for convening a new Assembly in the same town on the fifth of October, and that upon the receipt of further advices from England he by proclamation revoked these writs a week before the day appointed for the beginning of the session. Since his new advices covered a list of councillors selected by the Crown and appointed by mandamus, in conformity to the Act of Parliament for better regulating the Government of Massachusetts Bay, and directly against the provisions of the charter of the province, and since such of the mandamus councillors as had not resigned or declined to accept the appointment were virtually refugees, under the protection of the army in Boston, it was not very likely that the Governor would reconsider his proclamation and endeavor to meet the deputies with his new councillors at his heels, even if his whole military force were sufficiently strong to escort them safely to Salem; and to have disregarded his instructions by recognizing the old councillors chosen at the previous May election would have cost him his commission, if not his life. But notwithstanding this improbability, ninety deputies assembled according to the call, and after waiting in vain two days for the Governor’s appearance, resolved themselves into a Provincial Congress, and adjourned, to meet, at Concord on the twelfth of the same month, certain other delegates specially appointed to attend a congress there. The congress at Salem was organized by the choice of John Hancock as chairman, and Benjamin Lincoln as clerk, and these officers were rechosen at Concord, — the former as President and the latter as Secretary.
On the occasion of celebrating the centennial anniversary of this event at Salem, I had the honor to prepare an address, which was published by the Essex Institute, before which it was delivered, and printed in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register as the first of a series of centennial addresses delivered in 1874 and 1875. In that address I endeavored to emphasize the fact that this first authoritative revolt against the unconstitutional Acts of Parliament dates from the seventh of October, at Salem, and not from the twelfth, at Concord, as had been generally represented. Up to the time of this Congress, and indeed until the spring of 1776, allegiance to the dominion of Great Britain was unequivocally avowed and faithfully maintained. Even the sanguinary conflicts at Lexington and Bunker Hill were but armed protests against the unconstitutional Acts of Parliament enforced by a partisan ministry. Later, however, when it became evident that there was no hope of redress from Parliament, the high officers of the Crown, nor the king himself, there was no alternative but ignominious submission, or revolution; and independence was therefore declared. I will not attempt here to go over that ground in detail. It is sufficient for the present purpose to call attention to the circumspect manner in which our fathers proceeded in every step in their dealings with the mother country.
Before the idea of a Provincial Congress was broached, it was a matter of grave consideration how political co-operation by representation should be brought about. The assembling of freeholders in a town-meeting called by the Selectmen without the consent of the Governor was prohibited by the Act of Parliament. There was, however, no express prohibition of county conventions, nor was the choice of delegates thereto forbidden, if made by the freeholders assembled voluntarily, or upon an unofficial call. Hence these artifices were resorted to to avoid any premature conflict with Parliament or with the royal Governor. Conventions were accordingly held in Worcester on the ninth of August (and on the thirty-first, by adjournment); in Middlesex, on the thirtieth and thirty-first of August; in Essex, on the sixth and seventh of September; in Suffolk, on the sixth of September; in Cumberland, on the twenty-first of September; in Hampden, on the twenty-second and twenty-third of September; in Plymouth, on the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh of September; and in Bristol (the convention the original report of the doings of which Mr. Hilton has presented to us), on the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth of September. A similar convention was held in Berkshire as early as the sixth of July, but not for the same purpose.
The resolves of the Suffolk convention followed those of Worcester and Middlesex in recommending that a provincial meeting or convention be held at Concord on the second Tuesday of October, but designated the body as a “Provincial Congress.” The resolutions of the Essex convention, which assembled on the same day with the Suffolk convention, declared it to be the opinion of the delegates that the representatives elected to the General Court should properly form such Provincial Congress, and recommended that the deputies be instructed by their constituents to resolve themselves into a Congress (if when assembled they should deem it necessary or expedient), “in order to consult and determine on such measures as they judge will tend to promote the true interests of his Majesty, and the peace, welfare, and prosperity of the province.” These resolutions, of course, had not transpired when the Suffolk resolutions were adopted; but on the twenty-second of September the town of Boston, impressed with the superior prudence of the course recommended by the Essex convention (in that it aimed at keeping the organization as closely conformable to the law as possible), adopted this course in their instructions to the Boston representatives; and Bristol, among other counties, followed the example of Boston.
Now, in the reports of these conventions as collected by Mr. William Lincoln, and published by the State in 1838, this later action of the town of Boston is not given, and as the Bristol resolutions there printed show only in general terms that the convention adopted the “measures and resolutions” of Suffolk, it does not there appear that Bristol approved the Essex plan. The paper before us shows — in the very words in which it was written — that a resolve was adopted, approving the Suffolk resolutions, and that, at the same time, the recommendation in the seventh resolution of the Essex convention was adopted. It therefore appeal’s that the course recommended to the towns of Bristol was that they choose representatives to the General Court at Salem on the fifth of October, rather than delegates to the Provincial Congress to be held at Concord a week later.
No less than six of the Resolves in these Minutes are omitted from the list printed by Lincoln. I have not examined the contemporaneous newspapers to ascertain if he followed their version, but I infer that he was satisfied that some, if not most, of the reports that he printed were imperfect, from the statement in his introduction that they were “unfortunately less full, but the most complete which could be obtained.” I will endeavor to point out the resemblances and differences of the Resolves found in this paper, and in Lincoln’s report, when these remarks are going through the press, for our Transactions, if agreeable to the Committee of Publication.142
An interesting feature of the Bristol Resolutions is the one in which the Convention expresses its determination to use “utmost endeavors to discountenance and suppress all mobs, riots, and breaches of the peace,” and to “afford all the protection in our power to the persons and properties of our loyal fellow-subjects.” This is in keeping with the sentiment generally entertained by the wisest patriots and the best men of that day. In my researches among the local as well as the provincial records of the time, I find this feeling more general and hearty than I had suspected. Let me read you a vote which I received from the town clerk of Wilbraham not long ago, showing how zealous the freeholders of that patriotic town were for the observance of law and the preservation of order. At a town-meeting held on the twenty-ninth of July, 1774, it was —
Resolved, That we are of the opinion that the many Mobs & riotous practises that have been amongst us have Been So far from helping the Common Cause of Liberty that they have retarded it & we do for our Selves abhor Such practise & recommend the Contrary to all our fellow Subjects & Every frind to America prefering the modarate peaceable & Steady persuance of Some proper means for Redress with Dependance upon a divine Benidiction.
I cannot but feel that the views now current of the wisdom and praise worthiness of some violent proceedings attending and preceding the Revolution are not in accord with the sincere convictions of all the best men of that period. It is doing a great injustice to the sober, sensible men who thought out, and wrought out, the problem of independence, to impute to them responsibility for, or sympathy with, such lawless proceedings as the affray in King Street, resulting in the so-called Boston Massacre, and the destruction of the tea in 1773. I, for one, protest against giving laudable prominence to these incidents which had no logical connection with independence, and which, as historical events, must be regarded rather as having retarded than hastened the triumph of the American cause. Why should those acts, which were confessedly in violation of the very laws which our fathers enacted and endeavored to enforce, and which were perpetrated years before the idea of independence was entertained, and were generally deplored by the most earnest protesters against British oppression, — why should those violations of law be brought into prominence in our school-books, and commemorated in public declamation and by monuments? Why is it that the grand and glorious example which our fathers set to us and to the world, in their orderly progress to peace, and truth, and victory over oppression, is overlaid by this deceptive glamour? When I think of what we are suppressing or neglecting in order to exult over indefensible conduct, it brings to mind Byron’s apostrophe to the degenerate Greeks: —
“You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet,
Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
Of two such lessons, why forget
The nobler and the manlier one?”
I am not unmindful of the fact that those turbulent proceedings have been applauded and pronounced important by some of the great men of the Revolution, and by none, perhaps, more emphatically than by John Adams. But this approval should be received with some discrimination. As for Mr. Adams, it should be known that he was impulsive, and apt to express himself strongly at times without much regard to consistency with his former declarations. He was, also, intensely impressed with the importance of any event in which he was particularly concerned or interested. In regard to the Boston Massacre, he may be quoted on both sides; because when he viewed the event as a politician, he could not free himself from the contagion of popular excitement, and when he viewed it as a political philosopher, or as a lawyer remembering that it was the foundation of his chief triumph in defence of an unpopular client, nobody has exceeded him in vehement denunciation of the mob in that fatal encounter for which he knew the aggressors had no just provocation. As to the origin of our national independence, it is curious to notice how Mr. Adams’s mind was wafted about by the winds of variable public opinion or affected by changes of moods and by difference of circumstances; thus, at one time, he says of Otis’s argument on the legality of the writs of assistance: —
“American independence was then and there born.”143
And again, of the Boston Massacre: —
“On that night the foundation of American independence was laid.”144
And still again, on the destruction of the tea: —
“This is the most magnificent movement of all.… I cannot but consider it as an epocha in history.”145
Doubtless if the old patriot were induced to give his calm and deliberate judgment of the importance of either of these events, in comparison with the formation of the Provincial Congress, or the first sanguinary vindication of our constitutional rights at Lexington and Concord, he would frankly disclaim the intention of assigning an inferior place to the latter.
According to my apprehension, the great fact which gives dignity to the Revolution has been too much left out of sight. The Revolution was the rising of the people, in the exercise of their constitutional right, against unconstitutional legislation. It was the taking up of arms against two, or at most three, unconstitutional Acts of Parliament. I am told that our young lawyers at Harvard, in their study of constitutional law, are just now greatly interested in the question of the power of the judiciary to control legislation. In this pursuit they will find it most profitable to consider those great fundamental principles which our fathers held to be inviolable, and for the maintenance of which they resorted to arms. It is seldom, even now and in this land of written constitutions, that a lawyer has the courage to attempt to argue for the judicial subversion of a law that has once received judicial recognition, even though he deems that law in conflict with the spirit of the Constitution or with natural and inalienable rights. But our fathers, being deprived of a proper forum in which to get unconstitutional legislation nullified, resorted to arms as their only constitutional remedy. They denied the obligation of Acts of Parliament passed ultra vires, and they set them aside at the point of the bayonet, — a decision certainly as conclusive as the judgment of any court. This assertion of the right of the people to war against unconstitutional legislation was not a novelty, but is specially noticeable in this case because out of it grew the first written Constitution which limited the power of the legislature, by ordaining the division of the government into the three co-ordinate branches, — the legislative, the execuutive, and the judicial.
To-day, the English lawyer, while ostensibly holding firmly to the doctrine of the absolute supremacy of the legislature, sometimes finds it necessary or convenient to evade the statute by giving it an interpretation different from that intended, and so avoids the bold step of declaring that it is not law. How far he has been influenced by observing the course of judicial procedure under our Constitution, I am not prepared to say. His theory will not stand in every imaginable contingency. Even the functions of our courts are not limited by the operation of the provisions of our written fundamental law. There may be laws which are not within the purview of the Constitution, which our courts have the right to set aside; and it is only upon this theory that some of the decisions of the courts during the formative period of our free government can be sustained. The paper before us is one of the records of the organization of a successful struggle against unconstitutional legislation; and those records show that in the preliminary steps of that endeavor to contest effectually and to the bitter end the doctrine of the absolute omnipotence of Parliament, it was wisely determined that everything should be done under color of law, and not tumultuously or seditiously so as rashly to precipitate Civil War.
The great issue of the Revolution, then, was neither more nor less than the establishment at the cannon’s mouth of the doctrine that there are laws to which even Parliament must bow, and of which the subject could not be deprived by the act of the supreme legislature. Just as the Puritans of England had taught the Throne that the king’s will is not absolute, our fathers settled the law, for all time, that if redress of legislative tyranny cannot be obtained in the courts, there remains a legitimate appeal to arms and a decision by wager of battle, — which even the old common law declared a satisfactory settlement of a controversy. Our hope for the continuance of good government rests more upon the courage and wisdom of our judiciary than upon the mere suffrages of a plurality of voters. Not that the courts are to so far forget their duty as to usurp the functions of the legislature by attempting to make laws, but that they are not to hesitate to relieve against the evils of unjust legislation when they are apparent and undisputed.
In another respect our fathers achieved something far higher than political independence. They wrought a peaceful revolution in the colonial policy of Great Britain. The relations between the imperial government and its foreign dominions to-day are in conformity with the ideas put forth by those who fought for American Independence. Indeed, greater privileges are now accorded by Britain to her colonies than our fathers ever dreamed of demanding.
How important, then, to have all the steps of progress from the first incipient whisper of Colonial discontent down to the final acknowledgment of our Independence preserved and made easily accessible to our students of history, jurisprudence, and political philosophy! The printing, nearly sixty years ago, of the Journals of the Provincial Congress, together with what had then been collected of the doings of the primary conventions, was a great step towards this end. But where are the records of the various Committees of Safety and of Correspondence? What attempt has been made to recover these, and to complete the work begun by Mr. Lincoln? Who will undertake to show the history of the evolution of that invaluable idea of curbing, through the judiciary, the power of the legislature to which, here, in imitation of the mother country, the courts had been wholly subordinate even during the progress of the Revolution? Such papers as the record before us are most useful to this end; and equally valuable and important are the records of the numerous towns, so far as they relate to public affairs during the same period.
The Rev. Edward G. Porter said: —
I am in hearty sympathy with Mr. Goodell in his effort to place the causes that led to the Revolution in their proper light. I agree with him that we have sometimes overlooked the legal elements of the question, as set forth in the conventions, and have been too willing to see only the dramatic and violent outbursts of popular feeling.
Yet when we consider what a tremendous influence those very outbursts had in shaping public sentiment and sustaining the measures formulated by the conventions, I think we must allow them a conspicuous place in our history. The Boston Massacre may have been a lamentable and utterly indefensible occurrence, but it was inevitable under the strain of feeling then existing between the citizens and the troops. It might have come a little earlier, or a little later, or in some different way, but under the existing conditions a conflict could hardly have been avoided. We need not praise riotous acts in estimating the far-reaching consequences to which they sometimes lead. Neither can we justly say, as students of history, that an event which, though it began in a street fracas, resulted in a great uprising of the town, is a puerile and insignificant event.
I do not see how we can fairly treat the pre-Revolutionary movements without giving prominence to such an affair as that in King Street. It seems to me it had a very logical connection with the subsequent independence. It certainly led to the immediate removal of the troops. The celebration of the Fifth of March was annually observed, and with great effect, until, at the close of the war, the Fourth of July took its place.
I will only add, since we have just been celebrating the Tea Party, that I cannot quite agree with Mr. Goodell in saying that our fathers ought not to be held responsible for, or regarded as in sympathy with, the destruction of the tea on that memorable December night. Where their sympathies were, I think is evident from all the utterances of their public meetings, and all the applause which the achievement elicited. As to the responsibility, one of the amusing things about it all is that it was never known precisely who were the responsible parties. But I do not see why we should not accept the deliberate opinions of John Adams and Quincy, and Sam Adams and Cushing and Warren, and the other patriots, as to the general approval and the deep significance of that unique event. They justified the whole transaction. They said they had done everything in their power to get rid of the tea, and having failed, they had to destroy it. They would rather pay damages than duty. But the deed could not be called riotous. It was most orderly and sober. No injury was done to any other property. The town was perfectly quiet. There was no outrage, no reckless spoliation, no disturbance of the peace. I see nothing to be ashamed of in the tea business. The Committees of Correspondence seem to have approved of it heartily. We know that on our part it stirred all the Colonies to greater resistance, and on the part of Great Britain it led at once to the Port Bill, which in turn soon brought on the war.
Mr. Goodell rejoined: —
I am glad of the opportunity which a reply to the remarks of the Rev. Mr. Porter affords me, to express more fully my views of the true purpose of the Fifth-of-March orations. As I understand it, the significance of the so-called Boston Massacre was not the wanton waste of human life by the soldiery, nor the just resentment by patriotic citizens of the insult and menace which attended the presence in the town of a foreign armed force, brought hither to reduce them to slavery, nor the courage which those citizens displayed in attacking foes unarmed. Such inferences are, as I conceive, not warranted by the contemporaneous evidence, nor by the professed purpose of the Fifth-of-March orations. The affray on that memorable evening in 1770 was indeed made the occasion for a renewal, by leading citizens, of a demand for the removal of the regular forces; and this demand was made with such spirit and vigor that Hutchinson, the acting-governor, reluctantly yielded to it, and the departure of the troops soon followed, in obedience to orders given by the military commander. Now it was this peaceful victory over an army whose boast it was that it never retreated, that was thought worthy to be annually celebrated in an oration. The scrupulous care of most of the orators not to eulogize the conduct and motives of the leaders in the affray is noticeable. Indeed, the very first of these orations expressly approves the advice of John Dickinson, the “Pennsylvania Farmer,” whose patriotic pamphlets were universally read with avidity and applause, that all disorderly proceedings and breaches of the peace be avoided.
I have been unable to find any reason, or excuse, rather, for doubting that the purpose professed by the town of Boston in inaugurating the series of annual orations, was the real one, — “to impress upon our minds the ruinous tendency of standing Armies in Free Cities,”146 and the necessity of such exertions as were made by the inhabitants to effect the withdrawal of the troops.
It is a most absurd supposition that the Boston Massacre had any logical connection with the idea of personal liberty or with political independence. Even as late as 1775, Warren, in one of these very Fifth-of-March orations, distinctly disclaimed any idea of separation from the Mother Country. This was only a little more than three months before he fell at Bunker Hill. It is an undeserved reproach to suggest that he was not sincere in this disclaimer; and it is equally unjust to the memory of the patriots who composed Iris audience to question their sincerity in applauding his sentiments. As for the idea which seems to possess some muddled minds that Attucks was fighting for the enfranchisement of his race when he led the assault in King Street, it is enough to say that at that time not only was negro slavery an institution of the Province, and, in form, a bondage as strict if not as objectionable as that which existed under the slave code of Virginia, or of the Carolinas, but one of the chief grievances alleged against the British troops was that some of their officers were freeing the slaves.147
So far from being a martyr for liberty in the common cause of his countrymen, it is not known that Attucks was a native of or domiciled in either of the Colonies. Recently it has been discovered that the name by which he is known in history, and commemorated on a public monument, appears in the finding of the coroner’s inquest148 as an alias for Michael Johnson. He was evidently a new-comer, fresh from a sea-voyage, and ready for any boisterous adventure. He is variously described as a negro, mulatto, or half-breed Indian, but never as a white man. Considering the unhappy subjection of either of these classes at that period, what possible connection has the brutal conduct of this man, partly intoxicated, and with no grievance, and no motive but a frenzied impulse caught from the surrounding excitement, at the head of a mob of boys or foolish young men — some of them of foreign birth, and bent on personal revenge — what possible connection, I ask, has his conduct with the subsequent achievement of political independence by the Anglo-Saxon sons of New England?
Now as to the Tea Party. After giving due weight to the mitigating circumstances which Mr. Porter has very justly and clearly stated, I do not think it certain that any of the patriots would have cared to have the proceeding repeated; and it seems to me that if the people engaged in that affair felt that they were doing the right thing they would scarcely have disguised themselves so effectually that it took more than a half-century of careful study and discussion to ascertain who they were. They knew that they were doing wrong, and that they were justly incurring penalties from which they could escape only by skulking and deception. The law-abiding public did not approve this lawlessness, notwithstanding the declarations of demagogues and writers straining for effect, and the emotional paragraph which John Adams jotted down in his Diary without much reflection or any regard to consistency. Men who court popular applause will be inconsistent. They believe, or profess to believe, one thing one day and the contrary on the next; but why should we, who are trying to ascertain the truth, assume that, as a rule, our fathers approved of, or instigated, rioting and mobs, or trespasses against the rights of property, when by the records they have left us we see that they professed to deplore such outrages. I have not found an instance in which any prominent member of the patriotic party publicly applauded any such proceeding, where the circumstances were such as to elicit from him a perfectly candid expression of opinion, while on the other hand the protests of law-and-order men are found of record all over the State, from Essex to Berkshire. Is it beyond dispute that these acts of violence were necessary in order to bring about independence? Was there not sufficient virtue in the people to have made the importation of the tea so unprofitable, by their abstinence from indulgence in the oriental drink, as to put an end to its importation, or even to have obliged the consignees to send their cargoes back?
I am happy to believe that the views I have expressed are in harmony not only with those of the best men of the Revolution, but with those of some of our most careful students of history to-day. A few years ago that accomplished and conscientious historiographer, Dr. Samuel Eliot, expressed similar views in a short history which he prepared as a text-book for schools; and we all remember how hard our late lamented friend the venerable Dr. Peabody found it to restrain his indignation at the suggestion that lawlessness and violence were among the approved methods by which our fathers acquired independence. Yet, Mr. President, I am aware that it is the opinion of some thorough students of the Revolutionary period that the deplorable turbulences and outrages of the decade next preceding the Declaration of Independence were efficient agents in producing the final result. If I understand him clearly that recondite investigator of the history of the Revolution, — perhaps our most profound and philosophic student of the men and measures of that time, — the Hon. Mellen Chamberlain, holds that these unlawful proceedings were not only inducements to the outcome of the Revolutionary War, but that such irregularities are inevitably, if not legitimately, incident to all political changes brought about by force.
I should regret to believe that there is no escape from this conclusion; but if the conclusion is unavoidable, — if we must continue to applaud the raid upon the tea-ships, — if we must single out the prowess of Crispus Attucks, in his cowardly, unprovoked attack on men who, according to the general understanding, could not strike back without express authority from the civil magistrate, and must magnify these events so that, in grandeur, they eclipse the formation of the Committees of Correspondence and of Safety, and the organization of the Provincial Congress, or are to be classed with the glorious encounters of 1775, at Lexington and Charlestown, — I think there is little consistency in our rebuking the mob violence with which we are threatened to-day, and that the story of the Revolution is so tarnished that we should —
“Weep to record, and blush to give it in.”
minutes of the bristol convention of 1774.149
 At a meeting of ye Gentn Deligates from ye following towns in ye County of Bristol, viz Taunton * &c,* held at ye Court house in Taunton on a̭ 28th & 29th days of Septr 1774 to consult upon proper measures to be taken at ye present alarming Crisis of our public affairs
*Dartmouth, Rehoboth, Freetown, Dighton, Swansey, Norton, Mansfield, Raynham, Berkeley, and Easton.*
†Zephḥ† Leonard Esqr chosen Chairman
 * When, after reading * ye Act of Parliament for Regulating ye Government of this Province & ye Resolves of † several † Counties,a̭ ye following Resolutions were unanimously adopted
*After having read *
† the †
a of Suffolk, Middlesex, &c.
 Whereas our Ancestors (of blessed memory) from a prudent care for themselves and a tender concern for their posterity [descendants] did thro a series of unparallelled dangers and distresses, purchase a valuable inheritance in this western world, and carefully transmitted the same to us their posterity, [their posterity] and whereas for many years past we have quietly enjoyed certain Rights and Priveliges stipulated by Charter and [repeatedly] confirmed by royal Engagements, which Rights and priveliges are now unjustly invaded by the pretended authority of *the*a the British Parliament, under pretext that it is inexpedient for us any longer to enjoy them, and as the same wise heads [Persons] † which † found out this inexpediency will no doubt in time discover that it is inexpedient for us to enjoy any rights and even any property at all; we ‡ cannot, [therefore] in Justice‡ to ourselves [& posterity], and in gratitude to our revered Ancestors, tamely stand by and suffer ourselves to-be stripped of every thing that is valuable and dear [to be § rested § from us], but are resolutely determined, at the risque of our fortunes and lives to defend our natural and compacted rights, and to oppose to our utmost all illegal and unconstitutional measures which have been or may be hereafter adopted by a British parliament or a british Ministry and tho we deprecate the Evils which are naturally consequent upon a breach of that mutual affection and confidence which has subsisted betwixt Great Britain and her Colonies, yet we think it better to comport with [suffer] those Evils than voluntarily to submit to perpetual Slavery — We are sensible that the important Crisis before us demands the exercise of much wisdom prudence and fortitude, and we sincerely hope that all our deliberations and actions will be guided by the principles of sound Reason, and a hearty desire to promote the true Interest of the whole Nation [British Empire] — accordingly we § premise § the following || Resolves || — viz —
* a *
† who †
‡ cannot, in justice ‡
§ wrested §
§ resolve in §
a̭ That we freely recognize George the third b̭ of great Britain c̭ as our rightfull Sovereign *(tho’ not jure divino in the Sense of Laud or Sacheverel)* and as allegiance and protection are reciprocal we are determined faithfully to yield the former as long as we are allowed the enjoyment of the latter, †and no longer.† —
**Omitted in the Journals.
††Omitted in the Journals.
That the Law being the Birthright of Americans as well as Britons it follows that they have an equal right to dispose of their own property, and that no power on Earth (an Omnipotent Parliament not excepted) can with any colour of Justice curtail or abridge that Right.
This paragraph omitted in the Journals.
That the claim of theb [a̭The late Acts] British Parliament of a power to [relating to ye] make Laws of sufficient force to bind the Colonies in all cases Whatsoever, is [Continent in general & this province in particular] [are] contrary to Reason and the Spirit of the English Constitution & if comply’d with [will] ‡reduces‡ us to the most abject state of servitude.
a Resolved That
b of the
That a late Act of that Parliament for blocking up the Port of Boston, whereby great numbers of innocent persons are reduced to want and Misery, is an instance of injustice and cruelty perhaps not parallelled in any civilized Nation —
This paragraph omitted in the Journals.
That the Act for better regulating the Government the Massachusetts Bay, by which the Charter thereof is mutilated and virtually annulled, and the Act for the impartial administration of government in the same province, both contain the grossest insults which effectually countenances murders and Assassinations, both contain the grossest insults that ever were offered a free people and ought to be resented as such by the Inhabitants of this province by a most vigorous opposition —
This paragraph omitted in the Journals.
That to accept a Commission or office to be aiding or assisting in the inforceing said Acts, is in effect to declare War against the people of this province, and the person so accepting ought to be treated as a dangerous Enemy to the public —
This paragraph omitted in the Journals
a̭ That all civil officers in this province considered as holding their respective offices by the Tenure specified in a late act of b̭ Parliament, deserve neither obedience nor respect but [we] will support *all such Civil* authority officers who professedly exercise their authority [that is] agreeable to the Charter of ye Provence Granted by King Wm. & Queen Mary †of blessed memory†
b the British
* all civil *
††omitted in the Journals.
 *2.* Resolved. That, it is our opinion, that the several Towns of this County should regulate themselves in all their publick [proceedings] † agreeable † to the Laws of this province.
**omitted in the Journals.
Resolved that considering the complexion of the times it absolutely [necessary] that every Town and inhabitant of that Town [be furnished] with arms & ammunition agreeable to the Laws of
This paragraph omitted in the Journals.
The Essex Resolve
This line omitted in the Journals.
That the course of judicial proceedings must in consequence of the preceding principles, be interrupted for a Season, and we therefore recommend it to all Creditors to exercise lenity and to all Debtors to pay their Just Debts —
This paragraph omitted in the Journals.
a̭ That we will use our utmost Endeavours to discountenance and suppress all Mobs Riots and breaches of the peace and will afford all the protection in our power to the persons and properties of our loyal fellow Subjects —
That in order to regain our ravished Rights, a non Exportation and non importation agreement under certain Restrictions, appears to us the most rational Step — but the particular discussion of this Article we leave to the grand Continental Congress now holden at Philadelphia, and as we place great Confidence in the abilities of the Gentlemen members of that Congress, we will chearfully subscribe to their Determinations —
Omitted in the Journals to the words “and as we place,” &c.
From “and as we place” to the end constitutes the last clause of the next, or sixth, Resolve in the Journals.
 Resolved that in all Things we will regulate ourselves by the opinion and advice of the continental Congress a̭ [See marginal note to preceding paragraph.]
a now sitting at Philadelphia.
That as our Brethren of the Town of Boston, who are now suffering under the Cruel hand of power by their port being bleek’d up [in ye Common cause of America] we will afford them all the support & relief in our power [wch their Curcumstances] may require
This paragraph omitted in the Journals.
Resolved. That we our Brethren a̭ of Boston [who] are now suffering under the cruel hand of power, in the common cause of America are [justly] entitled to all that support and relief which can we can, b̭ and are now ready, to afford them.
a of the town.
That upon a serious view of the present distressed Situation of this Province in general & of the Town of Boston in particular, it is the opinion of this whole Body that a provincial Congress is absolutely necessary and we fully agree with our respected Brethren in the Counties of Suffolk &c that the Members of the general Assembly ordered to be convened at Salem on the fifth Day of October next, will most properly form such a Congress, and we likewise recommend it to all the Towns in the province to instruct their Members accordingly
This paragraph omitted in the Journals. Instead thereof are the following Resolve and Votes: —
Resolved, That whereas, our brethren of the county of Suffolk have, by their spirited and noble resolutions, fully made known our sentiments, we therefore think it unnecessary for us to be more particular, as we most cheerfully adopt their measures and resolutions.
Voted, That the above proceedings be inserted in the public papers.
Voted, That the committee for the town of Taunton be empowered to call a meeting of this body whenever they think it necessary.
Voted, That the thanks of this body be given to the chairman, for his faithful services.
Voted, That this assembly be adjourned, and it was accordingly adjourned.
David Cobb, Clerk.
The thanks of the Society were given to Mr. Hilton for his acceptable gift.
Mr. Henry Williams said that he had several valuable manuscripts among his family papers which would eventually go into the cabinet of this Society, but that we must have some safe place of deposit for such treasures before the owners of original papers will be willing to transfer them to our cabinet.
Mr. Henry H. Edes suggested that such papers might be communicated to the Society at its meetings, and then be printed in our Transactions, if deemed of sufficient interest and value.
The President remarked that a fire-proof building, a library, and cabinet were among the possessions to which the Society aspired in the not distant future. He further observed that members having valuable documents in their possession might give them to the Society, but retain the custody of them till a safe repository should be provided for the Society’s use.