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The Boston Port Bill proposed and adopted Thah in Parli - Apparent Defection of Conway and Barré. Burke.
manner. If it was decided not to give them up to independence, then ministers were ready to act efficiently. This question they wished settled as preliminary to further action. The appeal struck upon a tender chord, and awakened national sympathies; the address was adopted by an overwhelming majority, without a division. Feeling his position strengthened by this vote, Lord North brought forth the first of his vigorous schemes for subjugating the colonies and punishing the town of Boston. On the 14th of March he offered a bill which provided for the removal of customs, courts of justice, and government officers of every kind from Boston to Salem; and that “the landing, discharging, and shipping of wares and merchandise at Boston, or within the harbor thereof,” should be discontinued. It provided, also, that when the Bostonians should fully submit, the king should have the power to open the port." This was the famous Boston Port Bill, an act which crushed the trade of the city, and brought the greatest distress upon its inhabitants. Lord North justified the harsh measure, by asserting that Boston was the center of rebellious commotion in America, “the ringleader in every riot, and set always the example which others followed.” He thought that to inflict a signal penalty upon that city would strike at the root of the evil, and he referred to precedents where whole communities had been punished for the crimes of some of their members. The most violent language was used, by some of the supporters of the ministers, against the Americans. “They are never actuated by decency or reason; they always choose tarring and feathering as an argument,” said Mr. Herbert. Mr. Wan, another ministerial supporter, denounced the people of Boston as utterly unworthy of civilized forbearance. “They ought to have their town knocked about their ears and destroyed " he exclaimed, and concluded his tirade of abuse by quoting the factious cry of old Roman orators, “Delenda est Carthago.” Mr. Rose Fuller proposed the imposition of a fine; and even Barré and Conway, the undaunted friends of America, approved of the measure as lenient. and affecting only a single town. They voted for the bill, and for this apparent disaffection the people of Boston removed their portraits from Faneuil Hall. But Burke, who at that time o: o: began his series of splendid orations in favor of rom au English prut.
American liberty, denounced the whole scheme as essentially unjust, by confounding and pun
* The celebrated Charles James Fox, son of Lord Holland, made his first speech in Parliament on this bill. It was a strange beginning of his brilliant career. He objected to the power vested in the British crown to reopen the port of Boston. Neither party supported his suggestion.
* “Carthage must be destroyed.” This phrase was often used by Roman orators to excite the people to the utter destruction of Carthage, then the rival of the great city. During the revolutionary mania among the French this sentiment was often quoted as a threat against England.
* Edmund Burke, one of England's greatest statesmen, was born in Carlow, in Ireland, January 1st, 1730. He was educated at Dublin, and took his bachelor's degree in 1749. In 1753, having been unsuccessful in his application for the logic professorship at Glasgow, he went to London and entered at the Middle Temple. He early employed his pen in literature and his eloquence in politics. His first literary production of note was an essay on the Vindication of Natural Society, in imitation of Bolingbroke's style. In 1757 he published his essay on the Sublime and Beautiful. In 1758 he and Dodswell commenced the Annual Register, which acquired great celebrity. He accompanied Gerard (or Single Speech) Hamilton to Ireland in 1761, and, by the interposition of that gentleman, obtained a pension of fifteen hundred dollars on the Irish Establishment. On his return he was introduced to the Marquis of Rockingham, who made him his secretary, and procured his election to a seat in the House of Commons. There he eloquently and efficiently pleaded the cause of the Americans. On the downfall of North's administration he became pay-master
Opposition in Parliament to the Boston Port Bill. Passage of the Bill. Goldsmith's “Retaliation.” Epitaph for Burke
ishing the innocent with the guilty. “It is wished, then,” he said, “to condemn the accused without a hearing, to punish indiscriminately the innocent with the guilty! You will thus irrevocably alienate the hearts of the colonies from the mother country. Before the adoption of so violent a measure, the principal merchants of the kingdom should at least be consulted. The bill is unjust, since it bears only upon the city of Boston, while it is notorious that all America is in flames; that the cities of Philadelphia, of New York, and all the maritime towns of the continent, have exhibited the same disobedience. You are contending for a matter which the Bostonians will not give up quietly. They can not, by such means, be made to bow to the authority of ministers; on the contrary, you will find their obstimacy confirmed and their fury exasperated. The acts of resistance in their city have not been confined to the populace alone, but men of the first rank and opulent fortune in the place have openly countenanced them. One city in proscription and the rest in rebellion can never be a remedial measure for general disturbances. Have you considered whether you have troops and ships sufficient to reduce the people of the whole American continent to your devotion ? It was the duty of your governor, and not of men without arms, to suppress the tumults. If this officer has not demanded the proper assistance from the military commanders, why punish the innocent for the fault and the negligence of the officers of the crown The resistance is general in all parts of America; you must, therefore, let it govern itself by its own internal policy, or make it subservient to all your laws, by an exertion of all the forces of the kingdom. These partial counsels are well suited to irritate, not subjugate.” Pownall, Johnstone (late Governor of Florida), Dodsworth, Fox, and others fol. lowed Burke on the same side, but argument was of no avail. Without a division, the bill passed by an almost unanimous vote, and on the 31st of March it became a law by the
general, and obtained a seat in the Council. His great speeches against Warren Hastings, when on trial before the House of Commons, were such as the British Legislature had never before heard. He retired from Parliament in 1794, on a pension of six thousand dollars. During his political career he wrote much, and his compositions rank among the purest of the British classics. He died on the 8th of July, 1797, in the seventieth year of his age.
Goldsmith, in his Retaliation,” wrote the following epitaph for Burke. It was written in 1776, when Burke was in the midst of his career.
“Here lies our good Edmund, whose genius was such,
* The history of this poem is a “curiosity of literature." Goldsmith had peculiarities which attracted attention, and it was proposed, at a club of literary men, of which he was a member, to write characters of him in the shape of epitaphs. Dean Barnard, Cumberland, Garrick, and others complied. Garrick wrote the following couplet:
“Here lies poor Goldsmith, for shortness call'd Noll;
Goldsmith felt cased upon for retaliation, and at the next meeting produced the poem from which the following is an extract
f Afterward Lord Sydney.
Other oppressive Acts of Parliament. Madness of Ministers. Warnings of the Opposition unheeded. The “ Quebec Act."
Another bill soon followed, “for better regulating the government of Massachusetts Bay.” It was tantamount to an abrogation of the charter of that colony. It gave to the crown the appointment of counselors and judges of the Supreme Court, and the nomination of all other officers, military, executive, and judicial, was given to the governors, independently of any approval by the Council. The sheriffs were empowered to select jurors, a duty before performed by the select-men of the towns. All town meetings, except for elections, were prohibited. This bill, so manifestly hostile to the freedom of British subjects, elicited a warm debate, and Burke and Barré opposed it with all their might. “What can the Americans believe,” said Burke, “but that England wishes to despoil them of all liberty, of all franchise, and, by the destruction of their charters, to reduce them to a state of the most abject slavery '' . . . . . . As the Americans are no less ardently attached to liberty than the English themselves, can it ever be hoped that they will submit to such exorbitant usurpation, to such portentous resolutions !” Pownall warned ministers to pause. He alluded to that powerful engine, the Committees of Correspondence, then unceasingly working in the colonies, and assured ministers that their harsh measure would drive the people to the calling of a general Congress, and perhaps a resort to arms. All opposition was fruitless, and the bill passed the House by the overwhelming majority of two hundred and thirty-nine against sixty-four. Lord Shelburne and others vehemently denounced it in the Upper House, and eleven peers signed a protest in seven long articles. North had begun to work the lever of oppression so forcibly that it seemed not easy for him to desist. A third bill was introduced, intended to protect the servants of roy. Arms, alty in America against the verdicts of colonial juries. It provided for the trial in 1774. England of all persons charged in the colonies with murders committed in support of government. It was suggested by a retrospect of the “Boston massacre,” and was a most unjust and insulting comment upon the verdict in favor of Captain Preston and his soldiers. It was more—it guarantied comparative safety to those who might shoot a rebel in the name of the king. This measure was bitterly denounced by the opposition leaders. “This,” said Colonel Barré, “is, indeed, the most extraordinary resolution ever heard in the Parliament of England. It offers new encouragement to military insolence, already so insupportable. - - - - - - By this law Americans are deprived of a right which belongs to every human creature—that of demanding justice before a tribunal of impartial judges. Even Captain Preston, who, in their own city of Boston, had shed the blood of citizens, found among them a fair trial and equitable judges.” Alderman Sawbridge was more bold and recriminating in his denunciations of the measure. He called it “ridiculous and cruel;" asserted that it was meant to enslave the Americans, and expressed an ardent hope that they would not admit the execution of any of these destructive bills, but nobly refuse them all. “If they do not,” he said, “they are the most abject slaves upon earth, and nothing the ministers can do is base enough for them.” Again remonstrance was vain, and the bill passed the House by a majority of one hundred and twenty-seven to forty-four; in the Lords, by forty-nine to twelve. Eight peers entered a strong protest against it. It became a law by royal assent on the 20th of May. s A fourth bill, for quartering troops in America, was also brought in, and took the course of others. Rose Fuller, who generally supported ministers, attempted to break the severity of the several enactments, and produce a reconciliation with the colonies, by proposing a repeal of the act imposing the duty on tea. His proposition was negatived by a large majority. On the annunciation of the result, Mr. Fuller uttered these remarkable words: “I will now take my leave of the whole plan; you will commence your ruin from this day ! I am sorry to say that not only the House has fallen into this error, but the people approve of the measure. The people, I am sorry to say, are misled. But a short time will prove the evil tendency of this bill. If ever there was a nation rushing headlong to ruin, it is this.” Evidently anticipating rebellion in America, and distrustful of the loyalty of the newlyacquired colony of Quebec, or Canada, a fifth act was brought forward by ministers, making great concessions to the Roman Catholic population of that province. This law, known as
March 28. Proceedings in Massachusetts on Account of the Port Bill. Recall of Hutchinson. Division of Sentiment. Quebec Act
the Quebec Act, has already been noticed in detail on pages 156–7." Let us now turn our eyes back to the colonies, and observe the spirit of the people of Boston on hearing of the plans maturing for their enslavement and ruin. Intelligence of the passage of the Boston Port Bill reached Massachusetts in May. Already the Assembly had taken high, but correct ground on the subject of the salaries of crown officers in the colonies. In January that body resolved that it was incumbent upon the judges to determine at once whether they would receive their salaries direct from the crown, or depend therefor upon the votes of the Assembly. Chief justice Oliver was questioned upon this point, and replied that he should hereafter look to the crown for the emoluments of office. The Assembly then resolved, by a majority of sixtynine to nine, “That Peter Oliver hath, by his conduct, proved himself an enemy to the Constitution of the province, and is become greatly obnoxious to the good people of it; that he ought to be removed from the office of chief justice; and that a remonstrance and petition to the governor and Council, for his immediate removal, be prepared.” They also resolved to impeach the chief justice. The governor not only refused to remove him, but declared the acts of the Assembly unconstitutional.” Fortunately for Hutchinson's personal safety, but much to his chagrin, his recall accompanied the Port Bill, and General Gage was appointed his successor. Thus far, in all matters relative to the agitations in the colonies, Gage had behaved so discreetly that he enjoyed a considerable share of public confidence and esteem, and in proportion as the people of Boston detested Hutchinson they were disposed to respect the new governor. Hutchinson, deprived of the shield of delegated power, so much feared the resentment of the Boston populace, that he retired to his country house at Milton, where he remained in seclusion until a June 1, favorable opportunity offered for him to leave the province. It is an erroneous be”* lief that the people were unanimous in opposition to government and in support of republican views. For a while, when the issue came, the parties were very nearly balanced in Boston; and during the whole time of its occupancy by the British troops, until the evacuation in 1776, a large portion of the inhabitants were loyal. Before Hutchinson departed, one hundred and twenty merchants of Boston, and many lawyers, magistrates, and principal gentlemen of that town, and Salem, and Marblehead, signed an address to him, in which they expressed entire approbation of his public conduct, and affectionate wishes for his prosperity. These “addressors” were afterward obliged to recant. Some who would not left the province, and were the earliest of the refugee Loyalists. General Gage, doubtful what reception he should meet at Boston, proceeded with great caution. Four additional regiments were ordered to the rebellious town, but he went thither from New York unattended by any military except his staff. On the day when he
'A fact not noticed in the former consideration of the Quebec Act is worthy of record, as showing the actual despotic tendency of Parliamentary enactments at that time. By a provision of the act in question, the total revenue of the province of Canada was consigned, in the first instance, to a warrant from the Lord of the Treasury, for the purpose of pensioning judges during pleasure, and the support of a civil list, totally unlimited. . This first Lord of the Treasury, or prime minister, was thus in actual possession of the whole revenue of the province, and unrestrained in its expenditure, except by general instructions to use it “to defray the expenses of the administration of justice, and to support civil government in the colonies.” Similar despotic ingredients were profusely sprinkled throughout the whole batch of measures brought forward by Lord North to rule the Americans. The superficial observer is apt to consider the zeal of the Americans against Parliamentary measures highly intemperate and sometimes censurable, for apparently trifling causes aroused the most violent action. But the colonists clearly perceived the huge monster of despotism artfully covered under a fair guise, and what seemed but an insect, magnified by the microscope of prejudice, they knew to be the germ of a monster reality. The three per cent. duty on tea, considered alone, was but a grain of sand as an obstacle to friendly feelings, but the principle that slept there was a towering Alp.
* Peter Oliver, brother of Andrew Oliver, the stamp-master already noticed, was born in 1713, and graduated at Harvard in 1730. He was appointed judge of the Superior Court in 1756, and became chief justice when his brother-in-law, Hutchinson, was appointed governor. He was impeached by the Massachusetts Assembly in 1774. Judge Oliver soon afterward went to England. He died at Birmingham in October, 1791, aged nearly seventy-nine years.
Arrival of General Gage in Boston. Meenng in Faneuil Hall. Excitement among the People. Newspaper Devices.
entered the harbor the town was greatly excited, news of the Port Bill having just Myia arrived. He landed at Long Wharf, and was received with much respect by the 1774. immense crowd of people that met him. He was entertained by the magistrates and others at a public dinner, and on that evening Hutchinson was burned in effigy on the Common, in front of John Hancock's mansion. The next day a numerously attended town meeting, at which Samuel Adams presided, was held in Faneuil Hall to consider the Port Bill. The people were, indeed, at their “wits' end.” The decree had gone forth to blight the town; a governor, commissioned to execute the ministerial will, was present, and soldiers were on their way to support his authority. The meeting voted “That it is the opinion of the town that, if the other colonies come into a joint resolution to stop all importation from, and exportation to, Great Britain, and every part of the East Indies, till the act be repealed, the same will prove the salvation of North America and her liberties; and that the impolicy, injustice, inhumanity, and cruelty of the act exceed all our powers of expression; we, therefore, leave it to the just censure of others, and appeal to God and the world.” Paul Revere, an artist and mechanic of Boston, and one of the most active patriots, was sent to New York and Philadelphia to invoke sympathy and co-operation. A vast number of copies of the act, printed with heavy black lines around it, and some of them having the sepulchral device of skull and cross-bones rudely engraved as a head-piece, were scattered over the country, and cried in cities and villages as the “Barbarous, cruel, bloody, and inhuman murder "" The whole country was inflamed, and every where the most lively sympathy for the people of Boston was awakened. Orators at public gatherings, ministers in the pulpits, and the newspaper press throughout the land, denounced the oppression laid upon Boston as a type of what was in store for the whole country. Some of the newspapers placed at their head the significant device used during the Stamp Act excitement, a serpent cut in ten pieces, with the inscription “Join or die.' or “Unite or die.” The cause of Boston became the
'This is a substantial stone building, situated upon Beacon Street, fronting the Common. It was erected by Thomas Hancock, an uncle of Governor Hancock, in 1737. The present proprietor is a nephew of the governor.
* The engraving is a fac-simile, one fourth the size of the original, of a device upon one of these papers. Over the skull is a rude resemblance of a crown, and beneath the bones that of the Cap of Liberty, denoting that all was death and destruction between the crown and liberty. This device is supposed to be the work of Paul Revere, who engraved the pictures of the naval investment of Boston in 1768, and the Boston Massacre in 1770. Revere was a very ingenious man, an active patriot, and, as grand master of the Masonic fraternity in Massachusetts, had extensive influence. He was a co-worker with Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, and other compatriots in setting the ball of the Revolution in motion.
* The cut upon the next page is a fac-simile of one of those illustrations. I copied it from the Pennsylvania Journal, 1774, where it appeared for nearly a year, or until the colonies were fairly united by a Continental Congress. The loyal papers loudly condemned the use of the device. A writer in Rivington's