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Destruction of Governor Hutchinson's Property. Character of the Rioters in Boston. “Constitutional Courant.”
in time to save their lives, for the mob were prepared, by liquor and other excitement, for any deed. It was now midnight. With yells and curses they entered, and by four o'clock in the morning “one of the best finished houses in the colony had nothing remaining but the bare walls and floors.” Everything but the kitchen furniture was taken from the dwelling or utterly destroyed. The rioters carried off between four and five thousand dollars in money, a large quantity of plate, family pictures, and clothing, and destroyed the fine library of the lieutenant governor, containing a large collection of manuscripts relating to the history of the colony, which he had been thirty years collecting. This loss was irreparable. The street in front of the house was next morning strewed with plate, rings, and money—destruction, not plunder, being the aim of the mob. These proceedings were disgraceful in the extreme, and mar the sublime beauty of the picture exhibited by the steady and dignified progress of the Revolution. While no apology for mob rioters should be attempted, extenuating circumstances ought to have their due weight in the balance of just judgment. All over the land the public mind was excited against ministers and their abettors, and leading men in the colonies did not hesitate to recommend forcible resistance, if necessary, to the oppressions of the mother country. The principles underlying the violent movement in Boston were righteous, but the mass were too impatient for their vindication to await the effects of remonstrance and petition, argument and menace, employed by the educated and orderly patriots. As is commonly the fact, the immediate actors in these scenes were the dregs of the population. Yet it was evident that they had, in a degree, the sympathy of, and were controlled by, the great mass of the more intelligent citizens. The morning after the destruction of Hutchinson's house, a public meeting of leading men was held; expressions of abhorrence for the act were adopted, and the lieutenant governor received a pledge from the meeting that all violence should cease, if he would agree not to commence legal proceedings. He acquiesced, and order was restored. The disturbances thus begun in Boston were imitated elsewhere during the summer and autumn. These will be hereafter considered. It may properly be mentioned here that the opposition to the Stamp Act was not confined to the continental colonies. The people of the West India plantations were generally opposed to it, and at St. Kitts the stamp-master was obliged to resign. Canada and Halifax, on the continent, submitted, and remained loyal through the Revolution that followed. Boston, our present point of view, kept up the spirit of liberty, but avoided acts of violence. A newspaper appeared under the significant title of “THE CoNstitutionAL Court ANT, containing matters instructing to liberty, and no ways repugnant to loyalty; printed by Andrew Marvel, at the sign of the Bribe Refused, on Constitution Hill, North America.” Its headpiece was a snake cut into eight pieces (see page 508), the head part having N. E., the in
many. He also favored the law granting Writs of Assistance; and on the bench, in the Council, and in the Assembly he was always found on the side of the ministry. These facts account for the violent feelings of the mob against him. In 1768 he was an active coadjutor of Governor Bernard in bringing troops to Boston, which made him still more unpopular. When Bernard left the province, in 1769, the government devolved wholly upon Hutchinson. In 1770 the Boston massacre occurred, and much of the responsibility of that outrage was laid upon him. He was appointed governor in 1771, and from that time until he left for England, in 1774, he was in continual trouble with the Assembly. The popular feeling against him was greatly increased by the publicity given to certain letters of his sent to ministers, in which he recommended stringent measures against the colonies. Toward the close of 1773 the destruction of tea in Boston Harbor was aecomplished. The Sons of Liberty had then paralyzed the government, and there was not a judge or sheriff who dared to exercise the duties of his office against the wishes of the inflamed people. Hutchinson then resigned his office, and sailed for England in the spring of 1774. He died at Brompton, England, June 30th, 1780, aged sixty-nine years.
Proceedings in Boston in Relation to the Stamp Act. Effigies burned. Effect of the Stamp Act. Non-importation Associations
itials of New England, inscribed upon it, and the other pieces the initials of the other colonies. Accompanying the device was the motto, Join or DIE. The morning of the 1st of November, the day appointed for the Stamp Act to take effect in America, was ushered in at Boston by the tolling of muffled bells, and the vessels in the harbor displaying their flags at half mast, as on the occasion of a funeral solemnity. On Liberty Tree were suspended two effigies, representing George Grenville and John Huske; the latter the American member of Parliament whom I have mentioned as suggesting a heavy tax upon the colonies before the Stamp Act was proposed. A label, with a poetic inscription, was affixed to the breast of each." The figures remained suspended until about three o'clock in the afternoon, when they were cut down in the presence of several thousand people of all ranks, who testified their approbation by loud huzzas. The effigies were placed in a cart, and taken to the court-house, where the Assembly were sitting, followed by a vast concourse in regular procession; thence the people proceeded to the Neck, and hung the figures upon a gallows erected there. Speeches were made at the place of execution, and, after the lapse of an hour, they were taken down, torn in pieces, and the limbs thrown in the air. The people were now desired, by one of the leaders of the pageant, to go quietly home. They acquiesced, and Boston that night was remarkably tranquil. The Stamp Act had now become a law. As none but stamped paper was legal, and as the people were determined not to use it, business was suspended. The courts were closed, marriages ceased, vessels were delayed in the harbors, and the social and commercial operations of America were suddenly paralyzed. Few dared to think of positive rebellion; the strong arm of government held the sword of power above them, and a general gloom overspread the colonies. Yet hope was not extinct, and it pointed out a peaceable, but powerful, plan for effecting a repeal of the noxious act. The commerce between Great Britain and the colonies had become very important, and any measure that might interrupt its course would be felt by a large and powerful class in England, whose influence was felt in Parliament. The expediency of striking a blow at the trade occurred to some New York merchants, and, accordingly, on the 31st of October, the day before the act went into operation, a meeting was held, and an agreement entered into not to import from England certain enumerated articles after the first day of January ensuing.” The merchants of Phil
'The following are copies of the labels. On that representing Grenville, holding out a Stamp Act in his left hand: “YOUR Servant, Sirs; do you like my Figure? YOU've seen one Rogue, but here's a bigger. Father of Mischief how I soar Where many a Rogue has gone before. Take heed, my Brother Rogues, take heed, In me your honest Portion read: Dear cousin PETER, no Excuse, Come dance with me without your shoes; "Tis G–le calls, and sink or swim, You'd go to h-l to follow him.”
On the figure representing John Huske:
Quest. “What, Brother H-ske? why, this is bad!
Aus. Ah, indeed! but I'm a wicked Lad;
* The meeting was held at the house of George Burns, inn-keeper. As the agreement entered into there is a type of those adopted by the merchants and people of other colonies, I copy from the New York Mer
The Non-importation Agreements. Rockingham made Prime Minister. Apathy in Parliament. Domestic Manufacture.
adelphia readily responded to the measure, and on the 9th of December those of Boston entered into a similar agreement. Nor were the pledges confined to merchants alone, but the people in general ceased using foreign luxuries; articles of domestic manufacture came into general use, and the trade with Great Britain was almost entirely suspended." In July the Marquis of Rockingham, an honorable and enlightened statesman, succeeded Grenville in the premiership. His -cabinet was composed chiefly of the friends of --America, and, for a while, the colonists hoped for justice. General Conway, who had raised the first voice of opposition to ministers in their relations to the colonies, was made one of the Secretaries of State, and Edmund Burke, one of the earliest friends of America, was Rockingham's "' ..le secretary. But the new ministry, against the determined will of the king and the influence of a strong power behind the throne, found it difficult to depart from the line of policy toward the colonies adopted by Grenville, and the hopes of the Americans faded in an hour. A strange apathy concerning American af. fairs seemed still to prevail in England, notwithstanding every vessel from America carried tidings of the excited state of the people there. Parliament met in December. The CHARLEs, MARQUIs of RockINGHAM. king, in his speech, mentioned that From an English print.
cury of November, 1765, the portion of the proceedings of the meeting containing the resolutions. These were, “First, That in all orders they send out to Great Britain for goods or merchandise of any nature, kind, or quality whatsoever usually imported from Great Britain, they will direct their correspondents not to ship them, unless the Stamp Act be repealed. It is, nevertheless, agreed that all such merchants as are owners of, and have, vessels already gone, and now cleared out for Great Britain, shall be at liberty to bring back in them, on their own accounts, crates and casks of earthen-ware, grindstones, and pipes, and such other bulky articles as owners usually fill up their vessels with. Secondly, It is further unanimously agreed that all orders already sent home shall be countermanded by the very first conveyance; and the goods and merchandise thereby ordered not to be sent, except upon the condition mentioned in the foregoing resolution. Thirdly, It is further unanimously agreed that no merchant will vend dry-goods or merchandise sent upon commission from Great Britain, that shall be shipped from thence after the first day of January next, unless upon the condition mentioned in the first resolution. Fourthly, It is further unanimously agreed that the foregoing resolutions shall be binding until the same are abrogated at a general meeting hereafter to be held for that purpose. In witness whereof we have hereunto respectively subscribed our names.” [Here followed the names of more than two hundred of the principal merchants.] In consequence of the foregoing resolutions, the retail merchants of the city entered into an agreement not to buy or sell any goods shipped from England after the 1st of January.
This was the beginning of that system of non-importation agreements which hurled back upon England, with such force, the commercial miseries she had inflicted upon the colonies.
* The following extracts from a letter written by a gentleman in Newport, Rhode Island, to Hugh Gaine, the editor of the New York Mercury, and published in that paper early in 1768, will give the reader an idea of the industry of the colonists at that time: “Within eighteen months past four hundred and eighty-seven yards of cloth and thirty-six pairs of stockings have been spun and knit in the family of James Nixon of this town. Another family, within four years past, hath manufactured nine hundred and eighty yards of woolen cloth, besides two coverlids, and two bed-ticks, and all the stocking yarn for the family. Not a skein was put out of the house to be spun, but the whole performed in the family. We are credibly informed that many families in this colony, within the year past, have each manufactured upward of seven hundred yards of cloth of different kinds.”
Another letter, dated at Newport, 1765, says, “The spirit of patriotism is not confined to the sons of America, but glows with equal servor in the benevolent breasts of her daughters; one instance of which we think is worthy of notice. A lady of this town, though in the bloom of youth, and possessed of virtues and accomplishments, engaging, and sufficient to excite the most pleasing expectations of happiness in the married state, has declared that she should rather be an old maid than that the operation of the Stamp Act should commence in these colonies.”
Meeting of Parliament. Speeches of Pitt and Grenville. Boldness of Pitt. Proposition to repeal the Stamp Act
something had occurred in America which might demand the serious attention of the Legislature; but that body almost immediately adjourned until after the Christmas holidays, and it was the 14th of January before they reassembled. The king alluded to the disturbances in America, and assured the Houses that no time had been lost in issuing orders to the governors of the provinces, and to the commanders of the forces there, to use all the power of the government in suppressing riots and tumults. Pitt, who was absent on account of gout when the passage of the Stamp Act was under consideration, was now in his place, and, leaning upon crutches, nobly vindicated the rights of the colonies. After censuring ministers for their delay in giving notice of the disturbances in America, and animadverting severely upon the injustice of the Stamp Act, he proceeded to vindicate the Americans. “The colonists,” he said, “are subjects of this kingdom, equally entitled with yourselves to all the natural rights of mankind and the peculiar privileges of Englishmen; equally bound by its laws, and equally participating in the Constitution of this free country. The Americans are the sons, not the bastards, of England. Taxation is no part of the governing or legislative power. Taxes are the voluntary gift or grant of the Commons alone. . . . . . . When, therefore, in this House we give and grant, we give and grant what is our own. But in an American tax what do we do? We, your majesty's Commons for Great Britain, give and grant to your majesty, what? our own property 2. No ; we give and grant to your majesty the property of your majesty's Commons of America. It is an absurdity in terms.” Grenville also censured ministers for their delay. “The disturbances,” he said, “began in July, and now we are in the middle of January ; lately they were only occurrences; they 2 are now grown to disturbances, to tumults and riots. I doubt they border on open rebellion; and, if the doctrines of this day be confirmed, that name will be lost in revolution.” And so it was. Grenville also defended his own course, and dissented from Mr. Pitt respecting the right to tax the colonies. He claimed obedience from America, because it enjoyed the protection of Great Britain. “The nation,” he said, “has run itself into an immense debt to give them protection; and now they are called upon to contribute a small share toward the public expense—an expense arising from themselves—they renounce your authority, insult your officers, and break out, I might almost say, into open rebellion.” Fixing his eyes intently upon Pitt, he exclaimed, with great emphasis, “The seditious spirit of the colonies owes its birth to factions in this House. Gentlemen are careless of the consequences of what they say, provided it answers the purposes of opposition.” When Grenville ceased speaking, several members arose to their feet, among whom was Pitt. There was a loud cry of “Mr. Pitt, Mr. Pitt,” and all but he sat down. He immediately fell upon Grenville, and told him that, since he had challenged him to the field, he would fight him on every foot of it. “The gentleman tells us,” he said, “that America is obstinate, America is almost in open rebellion. I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest.” Alluding to the alleged strength of Great Britain and the weakness of America, he said, “It is true, that in a good cause, on a good ground, the force of this country could crush America to atoms; but on this ground, on this Stamp Act, many here will think it a crying injustice, and I am one who will lift up my hands against it. In such a cause your success would be hazardous. America, if she fall, would fall like the strong man; she would embrace the pillars of the State, and pull down the Constitution along with her.” Pitt concluded his speech with a proposition for an absolute and immediate repeal of the Stamp Act, at the same time recommending an act to accompany the repeal, declaring, in the most unqualified terms, the sovereign authority of Great Britain over her colonies. This was intended as a sort of salvo to the national honor, necessary, as Pitt well knew, to insure the repeal of the act. Burke, who had been elected to a seat in the House of Commons,” Conway, Barré, and others, seconded the views
History Debates, &c., of the British Parliament, iv., 292–7. * At this time Burke commenced his brilliant career as a statesman and an orator. Dr. Johnson asserted
Position of Lord Camden. Repeal of the Stamp Act. Causes that effected it. Rejoicings in England and America.
of Pitt, and with that great statesman were the principal advocates of a repeal. Chief.jus. tice Pratt, now become Lord Camden, was the principal friend of the measure in the Upper House, but was opposed to the Declaratory Act proposed by Pitt. “My position is this,” he said, in the course of debate; “I repeat it; I will maintain it to the last hour—taxa. tion and representation are inseparable. The position is founded in the law of nature. It is more : it is itself an eternal law of nature.” On the 18th of March a repeal bill was passed by a large majority of the men who, a few months previous, were almost unanimously in favor of the Stamp Act. It was carried in the House of Commons by a vote of two hundred and seventy-five to one hundred and sixteen. It met strenuous opposition in the House of Lords, where it had a majority of thirty-four. Thirty-three peers entered a strong protest, in which they declared that “such a submission of king, Lords, and Commons, in so strange and unheard-of a contest,” would amount to an entire surrender of British supremacy. The change in the opinions of members of the House of Commons was wrought more by the petitions, remonstrances, and personal influence of the London merchants, than by appeals from America, or by disturbances there. Ministers would not receive the petitions of the colonial Congress held at New York, because that assembly had not been legally summoned to meet by the supreme power. It was the importunities of London merchants and tradesmen, suffering severely from the effects of the non-importation agreements, that wrought the wondrous change. Half a million of dollars were then due them from the colonies, and, under the existing state of things, not a dollar of it was expected to be paid. Their trade with the colonies was suddenly suspended, and nothing but bankruptcy and ruin was before them. London being the business heart of the kingdom, with a cessation of its pulsations paralysis spread to other portions. Nothing but a retraction could save England from utter commercial ruin, and, perhaps, civil war. These were the considerations which made the sensible men in Parliament retrace their steps. According to Pitt's recommendation, a Declaratory Act, which affirmed the right of Parliament “to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever,” accompanied the bill. The repeal of : the Stamp Act became a law, by the reluctant signature of the king, on the day of its enact- March is ment. 1766. Great joy was manifested in London when the Repeal Act passed. Pitt had all the honor of the measure, and as he came out to the lobby of the House of Commons he was greeted by the crowd with the most extravagant demonstrations of joy. They clung about him like children upon a long-absent father. The ships in the river displayed their colors; houses at night, all over the city, were illuminated; and the most fulsome adulation was bestowed upon the king and Parliament for their goodness and wisdom Equally great was the joy that filled the colonies when intelligence of the repeal of the Stamp Act arrived. The Declaratory Act, involving, as it really did, the kernel of royal prerogatives which the colonists rejected, was, for the moment, overlooked, and throughout America there was a burst of loyalty and gratitude. New York voted statues to the king and to Pitt, both of which were presently erected;" Virginia voted a statue to the king;
that his two speeches on the repeal of the Stamp Act “were publicly commended by Mr. Pitt, and filled the
town with wonder.” * The statue of the king was equestrian, and made of bronze. It stood within the present inclosure at the
foot of Broadway, New York, called the Bowling Green. The statue of Pitt was of marble, and stood at