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Treatment of a Tide-waiter. Seizure of the Sloop Liberty. Excitement of the People. Public Meeting in Boston.
A new scene in the drama now opened. The commissioners of customs had arrived in May, and were diligent in the performance of their duties. The merchants were very restive under the strictness of the revenue officers, and these functionaries were exceedingly odious in the eyes of the people generally. On the 10th of June the sloop Liberty, Nathaniel Bernard master, belonging to John Hancock, arrived at Boston with a cargo of Madeira wine. It was a common practice for the tide-waiter, upon the arrival of a vessel, to repair to the cabin, and there to remain, drinking punch with the master, while the sailors were landing the dutiable goods." On the arrival of the Liberty, Kirke, the tidesman, went on board, just at sunset, and took his seat in the cabin as usual. About nine in the evening Captain Marshall, and others in Hancock's employ, entered the cabin, confined Kirke below, and landed the wine on the dock without entering it at the custom-house, or observing any other formula. Kirke was then released and sent ashore. Captain Marshall died suddenly during the night, from the effects, it was supposed, of over-exertion in landing the wine. In the morning the commissioners of customs ordered the seizure of the sloop, and Harrison, the collector, and Hallowell, the controller, were deputed to perform that duty. Hallowell proceeded to place the broad arrow upon her (the mark designating her legal position), and then, cutting her moorings, he removed the vessel from Hancock's Wharf to a place in the harbor under the guns of the Romney ship of war. This act greatly inflamed the people. Already a crowd had collected to prevent the seizure; but when the vessel was cut loose and placed under the protection of British cannon, a strong feeling of anger pervaded the multitude. The assemblage of citizens became a mob, and a large party of the lower class, headed by Malcomb, a bold smuggler, pelted Harrison and others with stones, attacked the offices of the commissioners, and, dragging a customhouse boat through the town, burned it upon the Common. The commissioners, alarmed for their own safety, applied to Governor Bernard for protection, but he told them he was utterly powerless. They found means to escape on board the Romney, and thence to Castle William, a fortress upon Castle Island, in the harbor, nearly three miles southeast of the city, where a company of British artillery was stationed.” The Sons of Liberty called a meeting at Faneuil Hall on the afternoon of the 13th." A large concourse assembled, and the principal business done was preparing a petition to the governor, asking him to remove the man-of-war from the harbor. The Council passed resolutions condemnatory of the rioters, but the House of Representatives took no notice of the matter. Legal proceedings were commenced against the leading rioters, but the difficulty of procuring witnesses, and the bad feeling that was engendered, made the prosecutors drop the matter in the following spring. Alarmed by these tumultuous proceedings, the governor requested General Gage, then in New York, and captain general of all the British forces in America, to act upon a permission already given him by Lord Hillsborough, in a secret and confidential letter, to order some royal troops from Halifax to Boston. Intelligence of this request leaked out, and the people of Boston were greatly irritated. The arrival of an officer sent by Gage to prepare quarters for the coming troops occasioned a town meeting, and a committee, consisting of James Otis, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and John Adams, was appointed to wait upon as mome, is the governor, ascertain whether the report was true, and request him to call - a special meeting of the Assembly." The governor frankly acknowledged that troops were about to be quartered in Boston, but refused to call a meeting of the Assembly until he should receive instructions from home. Bernard was evidently alarmed; he perceived the great popularity of the leaders who stood before him, and his tone was far more pacific
* The present fort upon Castle Island is called Fort Independence, so named by the elder Adams while visiting it when he was President of the United States, in 1799. It stands at the entrance of the harbor, and is one of the finest forts in America.
* The private meeting-place of the Sons of Liberty, according to John Adams, was the counting-room in Chase and Speakman's distillery, in Hanover Square, near the Liberty Tree.
Attempted Bribery of Patriots. Soundness of their Principles. Proposed Convention in Boston. Organization of the Meeting.
than it had recently been. Nor did his pliancy end here; he actually stooped to the base alternative of endeavoring to make some of those leaders his friends by bribes. He gave
Hancock a commission honoring him with a seat in the Council, but the patriot tore the parchment into shreds in the presence of the people. He offered John Adams the lucrative office of advocate general, in the Court of Admiralty, but Adams hurled back the proffered patronage with disdain. Bernard also approached that sturdy representative of the Puritans, Samuel Adams, but found him, though poor in purse, as Hutchinson on another occasion said, “ of such an obstinate and inflexible disposition that he could never be conciliated by any office or gift whatsoever.” The governor having peremptorily refused to convene the Assembly, the meeting recommended a convention of delegates from all the towns in the province, to meet in Boston within ten days. “A prevailing apprehension of war with France” was made the plausible pretense for calling the meeting; and they requested the people to act in accordance with a law of the colony, authorizing each one to provide himself with a musket and the requisite ammunition. Every town and district but one—more than a hundred in number"—sent a delegate. They met on the 22d, chose Mr. Thomas Cushing, late Speaker of the
Assembly, as their chairman, and petitioned Governor Bernard to summon a Gen- September.
• Faneuil Hall has been denominated “the cradle of American liberty,” having been the popular gathering-place of the Sons of Liberty during the incipient stages of the Revolution. It was erected in 1742, at the sole expense of Peter Faneuil, Esq., of Boston, and by him generously given to the town—the basement for a market, with a spacious and most beautiful hall, and other convenient rooms above, for public meetings of the citizens. It was burned in 1761, nothing but the brick walls remaining. The town immediately ordered it to be rebuilt. Mr. Faneuil had then been dead several years. The engraving shows it as it appeared during the Revolution. It was enlarged in 1805, by the addition of another story, and an increase of forty feet in its width. The hall is about eighty feet square, and contains some fine paintings of distinguished men. The lower part is no longer used as a market. From the cupola is obtained a fine view of the city and harbor. The original vane still turns upon the pinnacle. It is in the form of a huge
hopper, an emblem of devouring, and significant of the original occupation of the basement story. * At that time Massachusetts contained sixty-six regularly organized towns.
Governor Bernard's Proclamation. Meeting of the Convention. Arrival of Troops at Boston. Origin of Yankee Doodle
eral Court. The governor refused to receive their petition, and denounced the Convention as treasonable, notwithstanding the conservatism which the delegates from the country infused into the proceedings.' They disclaimed all pretension to political authority, and professed to have met “in this dark and distressing time to consult and advise as to the best manner of preserving peace and good order.” The governor warned them to desist from further proceedings, and admonished them to separate without delay. But the Convention, while it was moderate in its action, was firm in its assumed position. It remained in session four days, during which time a respectful petition to the king was agreed to ; also a letter to De Berdt, the agent of the colony in England, the chief topic of which was a defense of the province against the charge of a rebellious spirit. They also adopted an address to the people, in which the alarming state of the country was set forth; but submission to legal authority and abstinence from violent tumults were strongly inculcated. This was the first of those popular assemblies in America which speedily assumed the whole political power in the colonies. September 27, Two regiments of troops from Halifax, under Colonels Dalrymple and Carr,
1768. borne by a considerable fleet, arrived at Boston the day after the adjournment of the Convention. The people had resolved to oppose their landing. There was room for the troops in the barracks upon Castle Island, and the inhabitants insisted upon their being landed there. But the governor and General Gage determined to have the troops near at hand, and, pretending that the barracks were reserved for two other regiments, ordered by the home government from Ireland, proceeded to provide quarters in the town. The governor's Council refused to act in concert with him, and he took the responsibility upon himself
On Sunday morning the fleet sailed up the harbor,” invested the town, and, under cover
* The following is a copy of the governor's proclamation on the occasion. Being short, I give it entire, as a fair specimen of the mildest tone assumed by the royal representatives in America toward the people:
“To the Gentlemen assembled at Faneuil Hall under the name of a Committee or Convention :
“As I have lately received from his majesty strict orders to support his Constitutional authority within this government, I can not sit still and see so notorious a violation of it as the calling an assembly of people by private persons only. For a meeting of the deputies of the towns is an assembly of the representatives of the people to all intents and purposes; and it is not the calling it a Committee or Convention that will alter the nature of the thing. I am willing to believe that the gentlemen who so hastily issued the summons for this meeting were not aware of the high nature of the offense they were committing; and they who have obeyed them have not well considered of the penalties which they will incur if they should persist in continuing their session, and doing business therein. A present ignorance of the law may excuse what is past; a step further will take away that plea. It is, therefore, my duty to interpose this instant, before it is too late. I do, therefore, earnestly admonish you that instantly, and before you do any business, you break up this assembly, and separate yourselves. I speak to you now as a friend to the province and a well-wisher to the individuals of it. But if you should pay no regard to this admonition, I must, as governor, assert the prerogative of the crown in a more public manner. For assure yourselves (I speak from in struction) the king is determined to maintain his entire sovereignty over this province, and whoever shall persist in usurping any of the rights of it will repent of his rashness. FRA. BERNARD.
“Province House, Sept. 22d, 1768."
A respectful reply to this proclamation, signed by Mr. Cushing in behalf of the Convention, was sent to the governor, but he refused to receive the message.
* There were eight ships—the Beaver, Senegal, Martin, Glasgow, Mermaid, Romney, Launceston, and Bonetta. In the Boston Journal of the Times of September 29th, 1768, I find the following: “The fleet was brought to anchor near Castle William; that night there was throwing of sky-rockets, and those passing in boats observed great rejoicings, and that the Yankee Doodle Song* was the capital piece in the band
* This air, with quaint words, was known in Cromwell's time. See notice in the Appendix. Our lyric poet, G. P. Moskis, Esq., in the following pleasant song, in meter adapted to the air gives a version of
THE ORIGIN OF YANKEE DOODLE.
Once on a time old Johnny Bull flew in a raging fury,
Landing of the Troops. Imposing Military Display. Exasperation of the People. Non-importation Associations.
of the guns of the ships, the troops, about seven hundred in number, landed with charged muskets, fixed bayonets, colors flying, drums beating, and every other military parade usual on entering a conquered city of an enemy. A part of the troops encamped on the Common, and part occupied Faneuil Hall and the town-house. Cannons were placed in front of the latter; passengers in the streets were challenged, and other aggravating circumstances attended the entrance of the troops. Every strong feeling of the New Englander was outraged, his Sabbath was desecrated, his worship was disturbed, his liberty was infringed upon. The people became greatly exasperated; mutual hatred, deep and abiding, was engendered between the citizens and the soldiers, and the terms rebel and tyrant were daily bandied between them. All Americans capable of intelligent thought sympathized with Massachusetts, and the engine of non-importation agreements, which worked so powerfully against the Stamp Act, was put in motion with increased energy." These associations became general in all the colonies, under the sanction of the Assemblies. An agreement, presented by Washington in the House of Burgesses of Virginia, was signed by every member, and the patriotism of the people was every where displayed by acts of self-denial.”
of music. . . . . . . We now behold Boston surrounded, at a time of profound peace, by about fourteen ships of war, with springs on their cables and their broadsides to the town If the people of England could but look into the town, they would see the utmost good order and observance of the laws, and that this mighty armament has no other rebellion to subdue than what existed in the brain or letter of the inveterate G r B—d and the detested commis—rs of c s.” “October 3. In King [now State] Street, the soldiers being gathered, a proclamation was read, offering a reward of ten guineas to such soldier as should inform of any one who should attempt to seduce him from the service.” “October 6. In the morning nine or ten soldiers of Colonel Carr's regiment were severely whipped on the Common. To behold Britons scourged by negro drummers was a new and very disagreeable spectacle.” * The non-importation agreement of the people of Boston was, substantially, that they would not import any goods for the fall of 1768, except those already ordered; that they would not import any goods from Great Britain from the 1st of January, 1769, to the 1st of January, 1770, except salt, coals, fish-hooks and lines, hemp and duck, bar lead and shot, wool cards and card wires; that they would not import on their own account, or on commission, or purchase from any who should import, from any other colony in America, from January, 1769, to January, 1770, any tea, paper, glass, or painters' colors, until the act imposing duties on those articles should be repealed. * A letter from Newport, published in a New York paper in January, 1768, remarks that, at an afternoon visit of ladies, “It was resolved that those who could spin ought to be employed in that way, and those who could not should reel. When the time arrived for drinking tea, bohea and hyperion were provided, and every one of the ladies judiciously rejected the poisonous bohea, and unanimously, to their very great honor, preferred the balsamic hyperion.” The hyperion here spoken of was of domestic manufacture—the dried leaves of the raspberry plant.
the Duke of Grafton. The King's Speech, and the Response. Proposed Re-enactment of a Statute of Henry VIII.
Let us consider for a moment the acts of the British Parliament at this juncture. It assembled on the 8th of November. Pitt was ill at his country seat, Townshend was dead, and the Duke of Grafton, who had been one of the Secretaries of State in the Rockingham administration, was really at the head of this unpopular ministry. He was an able, straight-forward politician, a warm admirer and friend of Pitt, and a firm supporter of his principles." The king, in his speech from the throne, alluded to fresh troubles in America, and denounced, in strong terms, the rebellious spirit evinced by Massachusetts. The response of ministers assured the king of their determination to maintain “the supreme authority of Great Britain over every part of the British empire.” The address was adopted in the House of Lords, but met considerable opposition in the Commons, where the oppressive acts of the government toward America were severely criticised. Early in January the consideration of American affairs was taken up in Parliament. The petition - - from the Boston Convention was contemptuously reAwaustus Hesay, Derr or Gnarros. jected; the Lords recommended, in an address to the From an English print. king, the transmission of instructions to the Governor of Massachusetts to obtain full information of all treasons, and to transmit the offenders to England, to be tried there under a statute of the 35th of Henry VIII., which provided for the punishment of treason committed out of the kingdom. The address was opposed in the Commons by Pownall (who had been Governor of Massachusettsa), Burke, Barré, and Dowdeswell. The latter denounced the measure as “unfit to remedy the disorders,” and as “cruel to the Americans and injurious to England.” He also censured Hillsborough for taking the responsibility, during the recess of Parliament, of ordering colonial governors to dissolve the Assemblies. Burke thundered his eloquent anathemas against the measure. “At the request of an exasperated governor,” he exclaimed, “we are called upon to agree to an address advising the king to put in force against the Americans the Act of Henry VIII. And why? Because you can not trust the juries of that country' Sir, that word must convey horror to every feeling mind. If you have not a party among two millions of people, you must either change your plan of government, or renounce the colonies forever.” Even Grenville, the author of the Stamp Act, opposed the measure as futile and unjust. Yet the January 26, address and resolutions accompanying it were concurred in by a majority of one * hundred and fifty-five against eighty-nine.” On the 8th of February Mr. Rose Fuller moved to recommit the address, for he saw in the proposed rigor toward the Americans the portents of great evil to the nation. He al
luded to the miserable attempts to collect a revenue in America, and the monstrous evils.
growing out of them. “As for money,” he said, “all that sum might be collected in Lon
In Boston a party of some forty or fifty young ladies, calling themselves Daughters of Liberty, met at the house of the Rev. Mr. Morehead, where they amused themselves during the day with spinning “two hundred and thirty-two skeins of yarn, some very fine, which were given to the worthy pastor, several of the party being members of his congregation.” Numerous spectators came in to admire them. Refreshments were indulged in, and “the whole was concluded with many agreeable tunes, anthems, and liberty songs, with great judgment; fine voices performing, which were animated, in all their several parts, by a number of the Sons of Liberty.” It is added that there were upward of one hundred spinners in Mr. Morehead's society.
* The Duke of Grafton was the nobleman to whom the celebrated “Junius” addressed eleven of his scorching letters. In these he is represented as a most unscrupulous libertine in morals. He succeeded his grandfather in the family honors in 1757. He died on the 11th of March, 1811, aged seventy-five years.
* Cavendish's Debates.