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James Otis. The Boston Patriots. Hutchinson made Governor. His asserted Independence of the Assemblies.
ready to take his place. John Adams, then in the vigor of life, and rapidly rising in public estimation, was chosen to fill his place in the House of Representatives. He, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Joseph Warren (a young physician), Josiah Quincy, and Dr. Benjamin Church were the leaders in private meetings, now beginning to be held, in which schemes for public action were planned. These men were exceedingly vigilant, and noticed every infringement of natural or chartered rights on the part of government and its agents. In the House of Representatives they originated almost every measure for the public good, and the people esteemed them as the zealous guardians of their rights and privileges. When Hutchinson removed the General Court to Cambridge, they protested, contending that it Marshal, could be held, legally, only at Boston; and in all the struggles between the Assem- 1770. bly and the governor, during his administration, these men were foremost in defense of popular rights.
Lieutenant-governor Hutchinson received the appointment of governor in the spring of 1771. About the same time Dr. Franklin was chosen agent for Massachusetts, Dennis de Berdt being dead. When the Assembly convened in May, the subject of taxing the Myo salaries of crown officers, that of removing the General Court back to Boston, and 1771. kindred topics, produced considerable excitement in that body. Hutchinson told them that he had been instructed not to give his consent to any act taxing the income of the crown of. ficers, and he positively refused to adjourn the Assembly to Boston. The consequence was, that the Court was prorogued without making any provision for the public expense.
The next year Parliament, by special act, made the governors and judges of the colonies quite independent of the colonial Assemblies for their salaries; and Hutchinson informed the Massachusetts Assembly that henceforth his salary would be paid by the crown. The Assembly at once denounced the measure as a violation of the charter, and no better than a standing bribe of six thousand six hundred and sixty-six dollars a year from the crown to the governor. Other colonial Assemblies took umbrage, and made similar denunciations, and again the public mind was agitated.
ready to take up arms against Writs of Assistance.” Otis was elected to the Legislature in 1762, and was a member of the Stamp Act Congress held at New York in 1765. That year he wrote his celebrated pamphlet in defense of colonial rights. He held the office of judge advocate, but in 1767 resigned, and renounced all offices under government, because of encroachments upon the rights of the people. Brutally beaten by a commissioner of customs in the autumn of 1769, he was obliged to retire to his country residence. The injuries he received left their effects upon his mind, and from that time his reason was shattered. The great man, though in ruins, lived nearly thirteen years, when, on the 23d of May, 1782, while standing in the door of Mr. Osgood's house in Andover, he was killed by lightning. He had often expressed a desire to be thus deprived of life when it should please God to call him. In a commemorative ode, written at the time by the Hon. Thomas Dawes, the following lines occur:
“Yes, when the glorious work which he begun
Mr. Otis was a scholar as well as a statesman. He was complete master of classical literature,” and no American at that time possessed more extensive knowledge. He may be justly ranked among the founders of our republic, for he was truly the master of ceremonies in laying the corner-stone. He lived to see the work nearly completed, and beheld the wing of peace spread over the land.
* The following anecdote is related of Mr. Otis as illustrative of his ready use of Latin even during moments of mental aber. ration. Men and boys, heartless and thoughtless, would sometimes make themselves merry at his expense when he was seen in the streets afflicted with lunacy. On one occasion he was passing a crockery store, when a young man, who had a knowledge of Latin, sprinkled some water upon him from a sprinkling-pot with which he was wetting the floor of the second story, at the same time saying, Pluit tantum, nescio quantum, Scis me tu ? “It rains so much, I know not how much. Do you know?" Otis immediately picked up a missile, and, hurling it through the window of the crockery store, it smashing everything in its way, exclaimed, Fregität, nescio quot, Scis me tu ? “I have broken so many, I know not how many. Do you know?"
Further Agitation in Boston. Committees of Correspondence. Letters of Hutchinson and others. Petition for their Removal.
In the midst of this effervescence a circumstance occurred which augmented intensely the flame of rebellion burning in the hearts of the people. By it Boston was thrown into a violent commotion, and it was with great difficulty that the people were restrained from enacting anew the violence against Hutchinson in 1765. In October a town meeting was held, at which a large committee, composed of the popular leaders, was appointed to draw up a statement of the rights of the colonies, and to communicate and publish the same to the several towns of the province. This paper contained a list of all the grievances which Massachusetts had suffered since the accession of the reigning sovereign, and condemned a plan, said to have been in agitation for a long time, to establish bishops in America. It was the boldest exposition of the grievances and rights of the colonies yet put forth, and, by its suggestion, Committees of Correspondence, such as were soon afterward organized in Virginia, were appointed in the several towns." This paper was republished by Franklin in London, January, with a preface of his own, and produced a great sensation. At the opening of the * next session of the Legislature Hutchinson denounced the Boston address as seditious and traitorous, and violent discussions ensued. Just at this moment, when the public mind was greatly inflamed against Hutchinson, the Assembly received a communication from Dr. Franklin, inclosing several letters written by Hutchinson and others’ to Thomas Whately, a member of Parliament, then out of office, wherein they vilified the character of several of the popular leaders, advised the immediate adoption of coercive measures, and declared that there “must be an abridgment of what are called English liberties.” By what means Franklin obtained possession of these letters is not certainly known, for he was too honorable to divulge the names of parties concerned." They were sent to the Rev. Dr. Cooper, of Boston, and by him handed to Mr. Cushing, the Speaker of the Assembly. After having been shown privately to leading men for several months, they were made public. The town was at once in a violent ferment. A committee was appointed to wait upon the governor, and demand an acknowledgment or denial of the genuineness of the letters. He owned them as his, but declared that they were quite confidential. This qualification was not considered extenuating, and the Assembly adopted a petition to the king for the removal of Governor Hutchinson and Lieutenant-governor Oliver, as public slanderers, and enemies to the colony, and, as such, not to be tolerated. This petition was sent to Franklin, who was instructed to present it in person, if possible. This request could not be granted. He sent the petition to Lord Dartmouth, then at his country seat, who presented it to the king. After considerable delay, Franklin was informed that his majesty had referred it to his Privy Council. The publication of the letters produced excitement in England, and Franklin, to defend innocent parties, frankly took upon
* Dr. Gordon says (i., 207) that the system of Committees of Correspondence originated with James Warren, who suggested them to Samuel Adams while the latter was passing an evening with the former at Plymouth. Adams, pleased with the suggestion, communicated it to the leading patriots at the next secret eaucus, and that powerful engine in the Revolution was speedily put in motion. JAMEs WARREN was an active patriot. He was descended from one of the first settlers at Plymouth, and was greatly esteemed for his personal worth. He was chosen a member of the General Court of Massachusetts in 1760, and, though not a brilliant orator, was a deep and original thinker. He was for many years Speaker of the House of Representatives. At the close of the war he retired from public duties, and died at Plymouth, November 27th, 1808, aged eighty-two years. He was the husband of Mercy Warren, the historian. * The names of the several writers were Andrew Oliver, Charles Paxton, Thomas Moffatt, Robert Auchmuty, Nathaniel Rogers, and George Rome. Mr. Whately was dead when the letters were given to Franklin. * The late Dr. Hosack, of New York, in his memoir of Dr. Hugh Williamson, published in 1823, asserts that the papers were put into Franklin's hands by that gentleman, without any suggestion on his part. Williamson obtained them by stratagem from the office of Mr. Whately, brother of the late Thomas Whately, then dead. Mr. Whately suspected that Lord Temple, Pitt's brother-in-law, who had asked permission to examine the papers of Secretary Whately, was the man who abstracted them, and placed them in Franklin's hands. Whately charged the act upon Temple, and a duel was the result, in which the former was wounded. Of this affair Franklin knew nothing until it was over. In justice to others, he took the respons. ibility upon himself, as mentioned in the text. * The Privy Council consists of the cabinet and thirty-five peers.
Franklin before the Privy Council. Wedderburne's Abuse. Franklin's Vow. New Taxation Scheme. East India Company.
himself the whole responsibility of sending them to America. He was accordingly sumJanuary 29, moned before the Council, where he appeared without a legal adviser. Finding 1774. Wedderburne, the solicitor general, retained as counsel for Hutchinson, Franklin asked and obtained leave to have counsel also. He employed Mr. Dunning, one of the ablest Constitutional lawyers of the day, and toward the close of February the case was brought before the Privy Council. The solicitor general made a bitter attack upon Franklin, accusing him of dishonor in procuring private letters clandestinely, and charging him with duplicity and wily intrigue. The philosophic statesman received this tirade of abuse in silence, and without any apparent emotion, for he was conscious that he had violated no rule of honor or integrity. The accusations and pleadings of Wedderburne had their effect, however. His abuse greatly pleased the peers, and the pe. tition was dismissed as “groundless, scandalous, and vexatious.” A few days afterward Franklin received a notice of his dismissal from the responsible and lucrative office of postmaster general for LoRD DARTMoUTH." the colonies. This was an act of spite which re- From an English print. coiled fearfully upon ministers.” Early in 1773 a new thought upon taxation made its advent into the brain of Lord North. The East India Company,’ feeling the effects of the colonial smuggling trade, and of the nonimportation agreements, requested the government to take off the duty of three per cent. a pound on their tea, levied in America. Already seventeen millions of pounds had accumulated in their stores in England, and they offered to allow government to retain six pence upon the pound as an exportation tariff, if they would take off the three-pence duty. Here was a fair and honorable opening not only to conciliate the colonies, but to procure, without expense, double the amount of revenue. But the ministry, deluded by false views of national honor, would not take advantage of this excellent opportunity to heal the dissensions and disaffection in the colonies, but stupidly favored the East India Company, and utterly
* Lord Dartmouth succeeded the Earl of Hillsborough in the office of Secretary of State for the colonies, and as head of the Board of Trade, in 1772. Dartmouth was considered rather friendly to the colonies, and he and Franklin had ever been on terms of amity.
* On returning to his lodgings that night, Franklin took off the suit of clothes he had worn, and declared that he would never wear it again until he should sign the degradation of England and the independence of America. He kept his word, and more than ten years afterward, when, on the 3d of September, 1783, he signed a definitive treaty of peace with Great Britain, on the basis of absolute independence for America, he wore the same suit of clothes for the first time after his vow was uttered.
* The East India Company, still in existence, is a joint-stock company, originally established to carry on a trade by sea, between England and the countries lying eastward of the Cape of Good Hope. It was constituted by royal charter in 1600, and enjoyed the monopoly of the trade in those remote regions until 1688, when another corporation was chartered. The two united in 1702, and the monopoly thus granted to them was continued, by successive acts of Parliament, until 1804. It then received some important modifications, and the charter was renewed for twenty years. In 1833 an act was passed extending the charter, but abolishing the monopoly of the China trade, which the company had enjoyed nearly two hundred and fifty years. This company planted the British empire in India. It first established armed factories, and for many years competed with the French for the trade and political influence in the surrounding districts. Under the pretense of securing honest trade, they subdued small territories, until Lord Clive, the governor general of the company in India, by several victories, established British power there, and obtained a sway over some of the fairest portions of the Mogul empire. At the present time the British Indian empire comprises the whole of Hindostan, from the Himalaya Mountains to Cape Comorin, with a population of more than one hundred and twenty millions! At the time under consideration the East India Company was at the height of its success, commercial and political.
Tea Ships sail for America. Preparation for their Reception at Boston. Treatment of the Consignees. Handbills and Placards.
neglected the feelings of the Americans. It was a sacrifice of principle to mammon which produced a damage that no subsequent act could repair. On the 10th of May a bill was passed, allowing the company to export tea to America on their own account, without paying export duty. Ships were immediately laden with the article, and in a few weeks several large vessels, bearing the proscribed plant, were crossing the Atlantic for American ports. Agents or consignees were appointed in the several colonies to receive it, and the ministry fondly imagined that they had at last outwitted the vigilant patriots. Information of this movement had been received in the colonies, and, before the company's vessels arrived, preparations were made in the chief cities to prevent the landing of the cargoes. Public meetings were held, and the consignees were called upon to resign. In Boston the consignees were known to the public ; they were all friends of Governor Hutchinson. Two were his sons, and one (Richard Clarke') was his nephew. They were summoned to November 3, attend a meeting of the Sons of Liberty, convened under Liberty Tree, and re1773. sign their appointments,” but they contemptuously refused to comply. This meeting was announced by the town-crier in the streets, and by the ringing of bells for an hour. About five hundred persons assembled at the tree, from the top of which, fastened to a pole, a large flag was unfurled. Two days afterward a legal town meeting was held, at which John Hancock presided.” They adopted as their own the sentiments of eight resolutions passed at a public meeting in Philadelphia a month before, and appointed a committee to wait upon the consignees and request them to resign. These gentlemen equivocated, and the meeting voted their answer “unsatisfactory and daringly affrontive.” On the 18th anNovember, other meeting was held, and a committee appointed again to wait upon the con1773. signees. Their answer this time was more explicit. “It is out of our power to comply with the request of the town.” In the evening the house of Richard Clarke and his sons, in School Street, was surrounded by a crowd. A pistol was fired among them from the dwelling, and was responded to by the populace breaking the windows. The meeting, on receiving the reply of the consignees, broke up without uttering a word. This was ominous; the consignees were alarmed, for it was evident that the people had determined to stop talking, and henceforth to act. The governor called a meeting of the Council, and asked advice respecting measures for preserving the peace. A petition was presented by the consignees, asking leave to resign their appointments into the hands of the governor
* John Singleton Copley, the eminent painter, and father of Lord Lyndhurst, married a daughter of Richard Clarke. Both Copley and his father-in-law became early refugee Loyalists, and fled to England, where the latter was pall-bearer at Governor Hutchinson's funeral in 1780.
* The following is a copy of the hand-bill that advertised the meeting:
“To the Freemen of this and the neighboring Towns.
“GENTLEMEN-You are desired to meet at the Liberty Tree this day at twelve o'clock at noon, then and there to hear the persons to whom the TEA shipped by the East India Company is consigned, make a public resignation of their offices as consignees, upon oath; and also swear that they will reship any teas that may be consigned to them by the said company, by the first vessel sailing to London. O. C., Sec'y. “Boston, November 3, 1773. “Do Show me the man that dare take this down?”
The following hand-bill was also circulated about the same time:
“The true Sons of Liberty and supporters of the non-importation agreement are determined to resent any or the least insult or menace offered to any one or more of the several committees appointed by the body at Faneuil Hall, and chastise any one or more of them as they deserve; and will also support the printers in any thing the committee shall desire them to print.
“[G^ As a warning to any one that shall affront as aforesaid, upon sure information given, one of these advertisements will be posted up at the door of the dwelling-house of the offender.”
These placards, and others given in connection with the tea excitement, I copied from originals preserved
the Massachusetts Historical Society, in tome marked Proclamations.
* On the 12th the captain general of the province issued an order for the Governor's Cadets (Bostonians) to stand ready to be called out for the purpose of aiding the civil magistrates in keeping the peace. John Hancock was colonel of this regiment.
Arrival of Tea Ships. Proceedings in Boston. Monster Meeting at the “Old South." Speech of Josiah Quincy.
and Council, and praying them to take measures for the safe landing of the teas. The prayer was refused on the part of the Council, and the consignees, for safety, withdrew to the castle. While the Council was thus declining to interfere, one of the ships (the Dartmouth, Captain Hall) came to anchor near the castle. A meeting of the people of Boston and the neighboring towns was convened at Faneuil Hall,' which being too small for the assembly, it adjourned to the Old South Meeting-house. They resolved “that the tea shall Novemberg, not be landed; that no duty shall be paid; and that it shall be sent back in the 1773 same bottom.” They also voted “that Mr. Roch, the owner of the vessel, be directed not to enter the tea at his peril; and that Captain Hall be informed, and at his peril, not to suf. fer any of the tea to be landed.” The ship was ordered to be moored at Griffin's Wharf.” and a guard of twenty-five men was appointed to watch her. The meeting received a letter from the consignees, offering to store the teas until they could write to England and receive instructions, but the people were determined that the pernicious weed should not be landed. The offer was rejected with disdain. The sheriff then read a proclamation by the governor, ordering the meeting to disperse; it was received with hisses. A resolution was then passed, ordering the vessels of Captains Coffin and Bruce, then hourly expected with cargoes of tea, to be moored at Griffin's Wharf; and, after solemnly agreeing to carry their resolves into execution at any risk, and thanking their brethren from the neighboring towns, the meeting was dissolved. From that time until the 14th every movement on the part of the people re- perember, lating to the tea was in charge of the Boston Committee of Correspondence. The 1773. two vessels alluded to arrived, and were moored at Griffin's Wharf, under charge of the volunteer guard, and public order was well observed. On the 14th another meeting was held in the Old South,” when it was resolved to order Mr. Roch to apply immediately for a clearance for his ship, and send her to sea. The governor, in the mean while, had taken measures to prevent her sailing out of the harbor. Under his direction, Admiral Montague fitted out two armed vessels, which he stationed at the entrance of the harbor; and Colonel Leslie, in command of the castle, received Hutchinson's written orders not to allow any vessel to pass the guns of the fortress outward, without a permission signed by himself. On the 16th several thousand people (the largest meeting ever to that time peeemler, known in Boston) collected in the Old South and vicinity. Samuel Phillips Sav- 1773. age, of Weston, presided. The youthful Josiah Quincy was the principal speaker, and, with words almost of prophecy, harangued the multitude of eager and excited listeners. “It is not, Mr. Moderator,” he said, “the spirit that vapors within these walls that must stand us in stead. The exertions of this day will call forth events which will make a very different spirit necessary for our salvation. Whoever supposes that shouts and hosannas will terminate the trials of this day entertains a childish fancy. He must be grossly ignorant of the importance and value of the prize for which we contend; we must be equally ignorant of the power of those who have combined againt us; we must be blind to that malice, inveteracy, and insatiable revenge which actuate our enemies, public and private, abroad and in
* The following is a copy of the hand-bill announcing the meeting. The Dartmouth arrived on Sunday, and this placard was posted all over Boston early on Monday morning:
“Friends ! Brethren? Countrymen —That worst of plagues, the detested TEA shipped for this port by the East India Company, is now arrived in the Harbor; the Hour of Destruction, or manly opposition to the Machinations of Tyranny, stares you in the Face; every Friend to his Country, to himself, and to Posterity is now called upon to meet at Faneuil Hall, at nine o'clock This Day (at which time the bells will ring), to make united and successful resistance to this last, worst, and most destructive measure of administration.
“Boston, November 29, 1773.”
“Friends ! Brethren Countryment—The perfidious arts of your restless enemies to render ineffectual the resolutions of the body of the people, demand your assembling at the Old South Meeting-house precisely it two o'clock this day, at which time the bells will ring.”