Page images


Evasion of the Non-importation Agreements. Tea proscribed. Spirit of the Women. Spirit of the Boys.

one of the commissioners of customs and his friends," produced the utmost excitement, and it was with great difficulty that open hostility was prevented. Numerous fights with straggling soldiers occurred, and a crisis speedily arrived. While the non-importation agreements were generally adhered to faithfully, there were a few merchants who, loving mammon more than liberty, violated their obligations. In Boston they coalesced with the military officers, and many of the proscribed articles were imported in the names of the latter, ostensibly for the use of the soldiers. Many goods were Januarys, brought in and sold under this cover. This fact became known, and a meeting 1770. of citizens was held at Faneuil Hall to consider it. Spirited resolutions were adopted, among which was one agreeing not only “totally to abstain from the use of tea” (the excepted article mentioned in Hillsborough's letter), and from other of the enumerated articles, but that they would use all proper measures to prevent a violation of the non-importation pledges. From that time TEA was a proscribed article, and the living principle of opposition to British oppression was strongly manifested by the unanimity with which the pleasant beverage was discarded. Early in February the females of Boston made a public movement on the subject of non-importation, and the mistresses of three hundred families subscribed their names to a league, binding themselves not to drink any tea until the Revenue Act was repealed. Three days afterward the young ladies followed the example of the matrons, and multitudes signed a document in the following terms: “We, the daughters of those patriots who have, and do now, appear for the public interest, and in that principally regard their posterity—as such, do with pleasure engage with them in denying ourselves the drinking of foreign tea, in hopes to frustrate a plan which tends to deprive a whole community of all that is valuable in life.” All classes were thoroughly imbued with patriotism, and even the children were sturdy asserters of natural rights.” Disregarding these expressions of public sentiment, a few merchants in Boston continued to sell the proscribed articles. Among them were Theophilus Lillie and four others, who were particularly bold in their unpopular conduct. To designate his store as one to be February 2, shunned, a mob, consisting chiefly of half-grown boys, raised a rude wooden head 1770. upon a pole near Lillie's door, having upon it the names of the other importers. A hand was attached to it, with the dexter finger pointing to Lillie's establishment. The merchant was greatly irritated. One of his friends, named Richardson, a stout, rough man, tried to persuade a countryman to prostrate the pageant by running his wagon against it.

'Robinson, one of the commissioners, had made such representations of Mr. Otis in Britain as provoked him to make a publication in the Boston Gazette on the subject. For some expression used in that article Robinson attempted to pull Otis's nose at a coffee-house. An affray ensued, in which Mr. Otis was so severely beaten that he was obliged to leave the city and retire to his country residence. From the injuries then received he never thoroughly recovered. Heavy damages (£2000) were awarded him against Robinson for the assault, but Otis generously forgave his assailant, and refused to take the money.

* While the king's troops were in Boston, an incident occurred that evinced the bold spirit of even the little boys. In the winter they were in the habit of building little hills of snow, and sliding down them to the pond on the Common, for amusement. The English soldiers, to provoke them, would often beat down these hills. On one occasion, having rebuilt their hills, and finding, on their return from school, that they were again demolished, several of the boys determined to wait upon the captain and complain of his soldiers. The officer made light of it, and the soldiers became more troublesome than ever. At last a meeting of the larger boys was held, and a deputation was sent to General Gage, the commander-in-chief. He asked why so many children had called upon him. “We come, sir,” said the tallest boy, “to demand satisfaction.” “What!” said the general, “have your fathers been teaching you rebellion, and sent you to exhibit it here?” “Nobody sent us, sir,” replied the boy, while his eyes flashed and cheek reddened at the imputation of rebellion; “we have never injured or insulted your troops, but they have trodden down our snow-hills and broken the ice on our skating-grounds. We complained, and they called us young rebels, and told us to help ourselves if we could. We told the captain of this, and he laughed at us. Yesterday our works were destroyed the third time, and we will bear it no longer.” The nobler feelings of the general's heart were awakened, and, after gazing upon them in silent admiration for a moment, he turned to an officer by his side, and said, “The very children here draw in a love of liberty with the air they breathe. You may go, my brave boys, and be assured, if my troops trouble you again, they shall be punished.”—Lossing’s “1776,” p. 90.

February 9.

February 12.

Fracas at the Door of a Merchant. Death of a Boy. Its Effect on the Public Mind. Pardon of the Murderer. Riot in Boston.

The man was a patriot, and refused, and Richardson attempted to pull it down himself. The mob pelted him with dirt and stones, and drove him into Lillie's house. Greatly exasperated, Richardson brought out a musket and discharged it, without aim, into the crowd. Alad named Christopher Gore (afterward Governor of the Commonwealtha) was slightly wounded, and another, Christopher Snyder, son of a poor widow, was killed. The mob seized Richardson and an associate named Wilmot, and carried them to Faneuil Hall, where they were examined and committed for trial. Richardson was found guilty of mur. der, but Lieutenant-governor Hutchinson refused to sign his death warrant. After two years' imprisonment, he was pardoned by the king. The murder of the boy produced a great sensation throughout the country, and in Boston it was made the occasion of a most solemn pageant. His coffin, covered with inscriptions, such as “Innocence itself is not safe,” and others of like tenor, was taken to Liberty Tree, where a great concourse assembled, and thence followed the remains to the grave. In that procession between four and five hundred school-boys took the lead. Six of Snyder's playfellows supported the coffin; after them came the relatives and friends of the deceased, and nearly fifteen hundred of the inhabitants. The bells of the city were tolled, and those of the churches in the neighboring towns. The newspapers were filled with accounts of the murder and the funeral, and little Christopher Snyder was apotheosized as the first martyr in the cause of American liberty. A more serious occurrence took place a few days afterward. A soldier, passing the ropewalk of John Grey, got into a quarrel with the workmen, and was severely beaten. He went to the barracks, and, returning with some comrades, they beat the rope-makers, and chased them through the streets. A large number of the people assembled in the afternoon, determined to avenge the workmen, but were stopped by the military. It was Friday, and the act of vengeance was deferred until Monday, so as not to disturb the Sabbath. March 5, On the evening of Monday, between six and seven o'clock, about seven hundred men, 1770. with clubs and other weapons, assembled in King (now State) Street, shouting, “Let us drive out these rascals' They have no business here—drive them out !” The mob speedily augmented in numbers, and about nine o'clock an attack was made upon some soldiers in Dock Square, the mob shouting, “Town born, turn out ! Down with the bloody backs" at the same time tearing up the market-stalls. The fearful cry of “Fire, fire" was echoed through the town, and the inhabitants poured into the streets in terror and confusion. The whole city was in commotion, and before midnight the shouts of the multitude, the ringing of the alarum bells as if a great conflagration was raging, and the rattle of musketry, produced a fearful uproar. Two or three leading citizens endeavored to persuade the mob to disperse, and had, in a measure, secured their respectful attention, when a tall man, dressed in a scarlet cloak, and wearing a white wig, suddenly appeared among them, and commenced a violent harangue against the government officers and soldiers. He concluded his inflammatory speech by a loud shout, “To the main guard' to the main guard ” The populace echoed the shout with fearful vehemence, and, separating into three divisions, took different routes toward the quarters of the main guard. As one of these divisions was passing the custom-house, a boy came up, and, pointing to the sentinel on duty there, cried out, “That's the scoundrel who knocked me down.” Instantly a score of voices shouted, “Let us knock him down' Down with the bloody back kill him kill him " The sentinel loaded his musket, the mob in the mean while pelting him with pieces of ice and other missiles, and finally attempting to seize him. He ran up the custom-house steps, but, unable to procure admission, called to the main guard for assistance. Captain Preston, the officer of the day,

a 1809.

* This boy was an apprentice to a barber named Piemont, at whose shop some of the British officers were in the habit of shaving. One of them had come there some months previous to dress by the quarter, whose bill Piemont promised to allow to the boy who shaved him, if he behaved well. The quarter had expired, but the money could not be got, although frequently asked for. The last application was made on that evening, and, as the boy alleged, the officer knocked him down in reply to the “dun.” The sentry he pointed out as the man that abused him.—See “Traits of the Tea Party.”

Attack of the Mob upon the Soldiers. Discharge of Musketry. Three of the Citizens killed. Terrible Excitement in Boston.

detailed a picket guard of eight men with unloaded muskets, and sent them to the relief of the sentinel. As they approached, the mob pelted them more furiously than they had the sentinel, and a stout mulatto named Attucks, who was at the head of a party of sailors, shouted, “Let us fall upon the nest ' The main guard ' the main guard ” The soldiers now loaded their guns. Attucks dared them to fire; and the mob pressed so closely upon them that the foremost were against the points of their bayonets. The soldiers, perfectly understanding the requirements of discipline, would not fire without orders. Emboldened by what seemed cowardice, or, perhaps, by a knowledge of the law which restrained soldiers from firing upon their fellow-citizens without orders from the civil magistrates, Attucks and the sailors gave three loud cheers, beat the muskets of the soldiers with their clubs, and shouted to the populace behind them, “Come on don't be afraid of 'em—they daren't fire knock 'em over ! kill 'em " At that moment Captain Preston came up, and endeavored to appease the excited multitude. Attucks aimed a blow with a club at Preston's head, which was parried with his arm, and, descending, knocked the musket of one of the soldiers to the ground. The bayonet was seized by the mulatto, and the owner of the musket was thrown down in the struggle. Just then voices in the crowd behind Preston cried, “Why don't you fire 2 why don't you fire 2" The word fire fell upon the ears of Montgomery, the soldier struggling with Attucks, and as he rose to his feet he fired, and shot the mulatto dead. Immediately five other soldiers fired at short intervals; three of the populace were instantly killed, five dangerously wounded, and a few slightly hurt." The mob instantly dispersed. It was near midnight; the ground was covered with snow, the air was clear and frosty, and the moon, in its first quarter, gave just sufficient light to reveal the dreadful scene. It was a fearful night for Boston. A cry, “The soldiers are rising ! To arms! to arms! Turn out with your guns!” resounded through the streets, and the town drums beat their alarum call. Captain Preston also ordered his drums to beat to arms, and in a short time Colonel s Dalrymple, the commander of the troops in the absence of Gage, with LieuAss tenant-governor Hutchinson, at the head of a regiment, was on the spot. Order was at length restored, and the streets were quiet before dawn. Captain Preston, in the mean time, had been arrested and put in prison, and during the next forenoon the eight soldiers were also committed, under a charge of murder.

Early in the morning the Sons of Liberty March 6, collected in great numbers, and Faneuil Hall 1770. was crowded with an excited and indignant assembly. The lieutenant governor also convened his Council. A town meeting was legally warned and held that afternoon, in the Old South Meeting-house, then the largest building in the city, where it was voted “that nothing could be expected to restore peace and prevent carnage but an immediate removal of the troops.” Nearly three thousand voices were unanimous in its favor. A committee of fifteen, with Samuel Adams as chairman, was appointed to present the resolution

[ocr errors]

* Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, and James Caldwell were killed on the spot; Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr received mortal wounds, of which the former died the next morning, and Carr on Wednesday of the next week.

* This venerable and venerated edifice, that stood through all the storms of the Revolution, and yet remains, stands on the corner of Washington and Milk Streets. It is of brick, and was erected in 1729–30, upon the site of an edifice built by the Pedo-baptists in 1669. The ancient church was of cedar, two stories high, with a steeple, gallery, and pews. The “Old South” was the famous gathering-place of the people during the excitements of 1773. The British troops occupied it as a circus for the drill of cavalry in 1775, after removing all the wood-work within, except the eastern gallery and the pulpit and soundingboard. The British officers felt no compunctions in thus desecrating a Presbyterian chapel. It was repaired in 1782, and remains a fine model of our early church architecture. This view is from Washington Street.


Delegation of Patriots before the Governor, Boldness of the second Committee. Concessions. Removal of the Troops.

to the acting governor and his Council, and to Colonel Dalrymple. These officers were assured by Royal Tyler, one of the committee, that the people were determined to remove the troops out of town by force, if they would not go voluntarily. “They are not such people,” he said, “who formerly pulled down your house, that conduct these measures, but men of estates, men of religion. The people,” he continued, “will come in to us from all the neighboring towns; we shall have ten thousand men at our backs, and your troops will probably be destroyed by the people, be it called rebellion or what it may.” Hutchinson and Dalrymple were in a dilemma. They equally feared the popular indignation and the censure of ministers, and each endeavored to make the other responsible for the concessions which they saw must inevitably be made. Hutchinson would not promise the committee that more than one regiment of the troops should be removed; their report to the meeting was, therefore, quite unsatisfactory. In the afternoon another committee was appointed, consisting of seven of the former deputation," who bore the following resolution to the lieutenant governor : “It is the unanimous opinion of this meeting that the reply made to the vote of the inhabitants, presented to his honor this morning, is by no means satisfactory, and that nothing else will satisfy them but a total and immediate removal of all the troops.” Samuel Adams again acted as chairman. Hutchinson denied that he had power to grant their request; Adams in a few words proved to him that he had power conferred by the charter. The governor consulted with Dalrymple in a whisper, and then made the offer again to remove one regiment. The patriots were not to be trifled with. Adams, seeming not to represent, but to personify, the universal feeling, stretched forth his arm, as if it had been upheld by the strength of thousands, and, with unhesitating promptness and dignified firmness, replied, “Sir, if the lieutenant governor or Colonel Dalrymple, or both together, have authority to remove one regiment, they have authority to remove two, and nothing short of a total evacuation of the town, by all the regular troops, will satisfy the public mind or preserve the peace of the province.” The officers were abashed before this plain committee of a democratic assembly. They knew the danger that impended; the very air was filled with breathings of suppressed indignation. They receded, fortunately, from the arrogance they had hitherto maintained. Their reliance on a standing army faltered before the undaunted, irresistible resolution of free, unarmed citizens.” Hutchinson consulted his Council. The concession was agreed upon—the lieutenant governor, Council, and Dalrymple consenting to bear mutually the responsibility of the act—and the people were assured of the immediate removal of the troops. On Monday following the troops were conducted to Castle William, and Boston be- March 12. came quiet. 1770. The obsequies of the victims murdered on the night of the 5th were performed on the 8th.” The hearses met upon the spot in front of the custom-house, where the tragedy occurred, and thence the procession, in platoons six deep, marched to the Middle Burial-ground, wherein the bodies were deposited. As on the occasion of the burial of young Snyder, the bells of Boston and adjacent towns tolled a solemn knell, and again a cry of vengeance burst over the land. The story of the “Boston massacre,” as it was called, became a tale of horror, which every where excited the most implacable hatred of British domination; and the justifiable act of the soldiers, in defending their lives against a lawless mob, was exaggerated into an unprovoked assault of armed mercenaries upon a quiet and defenseless people. Captain Preston and the eight soldiers, after the lapse of several months, were put upon their trial before Judge Lynde for murder." John Adams, an eminent lawyer, one of the

* The committee consisted of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, William Molineux, William Phillips, Joseph Warren, Joshua Henshaw, and Samuel Pemberton.

* Snow's History of Boston.

* Attucks and Caldwell had no relatives, and were friendless. Their bodies were borne from Faneuil Hall. Maverick, only seventeen years of age, was borne from the house of his mother, in Union Street, and Gray from that of his brother, in Royal Exchange Lane.

* Captain Preston's trial commenced on the 24th of October, and lasted until the 30th. The trial of the soldiers commenced on the 27th of November, and ended on the 5th of December. So searching was the

Defense of the Soldiers by Adams. Result of the Trial. New Ministerial Proposition. Its Effects upon the Colonies.

leaders in the attempt to procure the removal of the troops, and greatly esteemed by the people for his patriotism, was solicited to undertake their defense. It was a severe ordeal for his independence of spirit, yet he did not hesitate. At the risk of losing the favor and esteem of the people, he appeared as the advocate of the accused, having for his colleague Josiah Quincy, another leading patriot, whose eloquent voice had been often heard at assemblies of the Sons of Liberty. Robert Treat Paine, afterward one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, conducted the prosecution, with great reputation, in the absence of the attorney general. A Boston jury was empanneled, and, after a fair trial, Captain Preston and six of the soldiers were adjudged not guilty. The other two, Montgomery and Killroy, who were known to have fired their muskets, were found guilty of manslaughter only. They were branded in the hand, in open court, and discharged. This trial, when all the circumstances are considered, exhibits one of the most beautiful of the many pictures of justice and mercy that characterized the Revolution, and silenced forever the slander of the British ministry who favored the revival of the Act of Henry VIII., that American jurors might not be trusted. March 5, On the very day of the “Boston massacre” Lord North asked leave to bring in 17” a bill in the House of Commons, repealing the duties upon glass, &c., mentioned in Hillsborough's circular, but retaining the three per cent. duty upon tea. This duty was small, and was avowedly a “pepper-corn rent,” to save the national honor. North's proposition met with little favor from either party. The friends of America asked for a repeal of the whole act, and the friends of government opposed a partial repeal as utterly fruitless of good. The bill, however, after encountering great opposition in both Houses, and particularly in the House of Lords, was carried, and received the royal assent on the 12th of April. When the intelligence of this act reached the colonies, it was regarded with very little favor. The same unrighteous principle was practically asserted, and the people felt that very little concession was made. But they were beginning, toward the close of 1770, to be less faithful in observing the non-importation agreements; and in October, at a meeting of the Boston merchants, it was resolved, in consequence of the almost universal violation of these agreements in New York, to import every thing but TEA. The Philadelphia and Charleston merchants followed their example, and that lever of coercion in the hands of the colonists, operating upon Parliament through English merchants, was almost wholly abandoned, much to the chagrin of the leading patriots. These associations, while they had a favorable political effect upon the colonies, were also instrumental in producing social reforms of much value. Many extravagant customs, such as pageantries at funerals, displays of costly finery at balls and parties, and kindred measures, involving great expenditure of time and money, were discontinued; new sources of wealth and comfort to be derived from home industry were developed; and, better than all, lessons of the strictest economy were learned. The infant manufactories of America received a strong impulse from the agreements, and homemade articles, first worn from necessity, became fashionable. The graduating class at Cambridge took their degrees in homespun suits, in 1770. For two years very little occurred to disturb the tranquillity of Boston. The brutal attack of Robinson had deprived the patriots of the services of James Otis, for insanity clouded his active mind and terminated his public career." But new men, equally patriotic stood

examination of witnesses by Mr. Quincy, that Mr. Adams was obliged to ask him to desist, for he was eliciting from them facts that were not only irrelevant to the case in hand, but dishonorable to the town. " James Otis, Jr., was the son of Colonel James Otis, of Barnstable, Massachusetts, where he was born February 5th, 1725. He graduated at Harvard College in 1743. He studied law with Mr. Gridley, then the first lawyer in the province, and commenced the practice of his profession at Plymouth at the age of twenty-one years. In 1761 he distinguished himself by his plea in opposition to the Writs of Assistance. His an- - 2 tagonist on that occasion was his law tutor, Mr. Gridley. *~2-2- ex & Of his speech at that time John Adams said, “James Otis was a flame of fire....... American independence was then and there born. Every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did,

« PreviousContinue »