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Spirit of the American Press. Zeal of the Committees of Correspondence. Their importance. Fortification of Boston Neck.
first received Hutchinson's letters from Franklin) were very active in promoting hostility to the rulers, and the press exerted its power with great industry and effect."
The Massachusetts Spy and the Boston Gazette were the principal Whig journals, and through the latter, Otis, Adams, Quincy, Warren, and others communed with the public, in articles suited to the comprehension of all. Epigrams, parables, sonnets, dialogues, and every form of literary expression remarkable for point and terseness, filled these journals. The following is a fair specimen of logic in rhyme, so frequently employed at that day. I copied it from Anderson's Constitutional Gazette,” published in New York in 1775. That paper was the uncompromising opponent of Rivington's (Tory) Gazette, published in the same city:
“THE Quarrel with America fairly Stated.
“Rudely forced to drink tea, Massachusetts in anger
The Boston Committee of Correspondence were busy night and day preparing the people of the province for energetic action, and it needed but a slight offense to sound the battle cry and invoke the sword of rebellion from its scabbard.”
Alarmed at the rebellious spirit manifested on all sides, Gage removed the seat August of government from Salem back to Boston, and began to fortify the Neck. The To
work went on slowly at first, for British gold could not buy Boston carpenters, and workmen had to be procured from other places. The people viewed these warlike preparations with indignation, which was heightened by an injudicious act of Gage in sending a detach
show our acquiescence in those acts of Parliament so universally and justly odious to all America, that, on the contrary, we hoped we might, in that way, contribute to their repeal; though now, to our sorrow, we find ourselves mistaken. And we do now further declare, that we never intended the offense which this address has occasioned; that, if we had foreseen such an event, we should never have signed it; as it always has been and now is our wish to live in harmony with our neighbors, and our serious determination is to promote, to the utmost of our power, the liberty, the welfare, and happiness of our country, which is inseparably connected with our own.” The Committee of Correspondence declared the recantation satisfactory, and recommended the signers of it as true friends to America.
* There were five newspapers printed in Boston in 1774, as follows: the Boston Post, on Monday morning, by Thomas and John Fleet; the Boston News-Letter, by Margaret Draper (widow of Richard Draper) and Robert Boyle; the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post Boy and Advertiser, by Mills and Hicks; the Boston Gazette and Country Journal, by Edes and Gill; and the Massachusetts Spy, by Isaiah Thomas.-See Thomas's History of Printing.
* Anderson was the father of Dr. Alexander Anderson of New York, the earliest wood-engraver, as a distinct art, in America. Now (1850), at the age of seventy-six, he uses the graver with all the skill and vigor of earlier manhood.
* The committee of 1774 consisted of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin, John Adams, William Phillips, Joseph Warren, and Josiah Quincy. The importance of these committees of correspondence may be understood by the estimate placed upon them by a Tory writer over the signature of Massachusettensis. “This,” he said, “is the foulest, subtlest, and most venomous serpent ever issued from the egg of sedition. It is the source of the rebellion. I saw the small seed when it was implanted; it was a grain of mustard. I have watched the plant until it has become a great tree. The vilest reptiles that crawl upon the earth are concealed at the root; the foulest birds of the air rest upon its branches. I now would induce you to go to work immediately with axes and hatchets and cut it down, for a two-fold reason: because it is a pest to society, and lest it be felled suddenly by a stronger arm, and crush its thousands in its fall.”
Attempted Seizure of Arms and Ammunition at Cambridge. Alarm concerning Boston. Convention in Boston
september, ment of troops to seize a quantity of gunpowder belonging to the province, stored at 1774. Charlestown and Cambridge. This act greatly exasperated the people, and large numbers assembled at Cambridge, determined upon attacking the troops in Boston. About the same time, intelligence went abroad that the ships of war in Boston harbor were bombarding the town and the regular troops were massacring the people, sparing neither age nor sex. The news spread rapidly, and the thrill of horror produced by the report was succeeded by a cry of vengeance. In less than thirty-six hours the country for more than one hundred and seventy miles in extent was aroused. From the shores of Long Island to the green hills of Berkshire, “To arms' to arms'" was the universal shout. Instantly, on every side, men of all ages were seen cleansing and burnishing their weapons, furnishing themselves with provisions and warlike stores, and preparing for an immediate march ; gentlemen of rank and fortune exhorting and encouraging others by voice and example. The roads were soon crowded with armed men, marching for Boston with great rapidity, but without noise or tumult. Full thirty thousand men were under arms and speeding toward the town; nor did they halt until well assured that the report was untrue." At a convention of delegates from the several towns in Suffolk county, to which Boston belonged, held on the 6th of September, it was resolved that no obedience was due to any part of the late acts of Parliament. Collectors of taxes, and other officers holding public money, were recommended to retain the funds in their hands until the old charter was restored ; that persons who had accepted seats in the Council had violated the duty they owed to their country; that those who did not resign by the 20th of September should be considered public enemies; that the Quebec Act, establishing Romanism in Canada, was dangerous to Protestantism and liberty, and that they were determined to act on the defensive only so long as just reason required. They also recommended the people to seize and keep as a hostage any servant of the crown who might fall in their way, when they should hear of a patriot being arrested for any political offense. They drew up an address to General Gage, telling him frankly that they did not desire to commence hostilities, but that they were determined not to submit to any of the late acts of Parliament; they also complained loudly of the fortifications upon the Neck. Gage denounced the convention as treasonable, and, in reply to their address, declared that he should take such measures for the safety of his troops and the friends of government as he thought proper, at the same time assuring them that the cannon placed in battery on the Neck should not be used except to repel hostile proceedings. Unlike Governor Carleton of Canada, he had no word of kindness or act of conciliation for the patriots,” and they, in turn, reviled the governor and set his power at naught. Tarring and feathering and other violent acts became common, and the Tories or friends of government in the surrounding country were obliged to seek refuge in Boston. The eight military companies in the town, composed of citizens, were mostly broken up. John Hancock had been commander of a corps called the Governor's Independent Cadets. General Gage had dismissed him, and the company, indignant at the affront, appointed a committee, on the 14th of August, to
* See Hinman's Historical Collections from Official Records, &c., of Connecticut.
It was believed by some, that the rumor of the bombardment at Boston was set afloat by some of the leading patriots, to show General Gage what multitudes of people would rise up to crush his troops if he dared to abuse his power by committing the least act of violence.
* The kindness which Governor Carleton manifested toward the American prisoners captured at Quebec and the Cedars in 1776, did more to keep down rebellion in that province than any severe measures could have effected. Lamb says, that “in the spring of 1776, Governor Carleton addressed the prisoners with such sweetness and good-humor as was sufficient to melt every heart. “My lads,’ he said, ‘why did you come to disturban honest man in his government that never did any harm to you in his life? I never invaded your property, nor sent a single soldier to disturb you. Come, my boys, you are in a very distressing situation, and not able to go home with any comfort. I must provide you with shoes, stockings, and warm waistcoats. I must give you some victuals to carry you home. Take care, my lads, that you do not come here again, lest I should not treat you so kindly.”—Lamb's Journal of the American War, p. 89: Dublin, 1809.
Revolutionary Town Meetings. Order for Convening the Assembly countermanded. Meeting of the Assembly.
wait on the governor at Salem, and return him their standard, “as they had almost unanimously disbanded themselves.” The day before the meeting of the Suf. folk convention, the general Continental september 5, Congress met in Philadelphia, 1774. and as soon as information of its firm proceedings reached Massachusetts, the patriots assumed a bolder tone. Gage summoned the House of Representatives to meet at Salem, to proceed to business according to the new order of things under the late act of Parliament. Town meetings were held, but so revolutionary were their proceedings, that Gage countermanded his order for the Assembly. His right to countermand was denied, and most of the members elect, to the number of ninety, met at Salem on the day appointed. Gage, of course, was not there, and as nobody appeared to open the court or administer the oaths, they resolved themselves into a provincial Congress, adjourned to Concord, and there organized by choosing John Hancock president, and
"I copy from the Massachusetts Spy of September, 1774, the following lampoon in rhyme:
“.4 sample of gubernatorial eloquence, as lately exhibited to the company of cadets:
“Your Colonel H—n—k, by neglect
This is given as a specimen of the searlessness of the press at that time, for it must be remembered that
* A biographical sketch of Mr. Hancock will be found among those of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, in another part of this work.
* Flucker was Secretary of Massachusetts under Gage. Henry (afterward general) Knox, of the Revolution, married his
Appointment of Committees of Safety and Supplies. Appointment of military Officers. Spiking of Cannons.
Benjamin Lincoln, afterward a revolutionary general, secretary. A committee, appointed to consider the state of the province, prepared an address to Gage, which the Congress adopted, and then adjourned to Cambridge, where another committee was sent to present the address to the governor. In that address they protested against the fortification of the Neck, and complained of the recent acts of Parliament, while they expressed the warmest loyalty to the king and the government. Gage replied, as he did to the Suffolk committee, that his military preparations were made only in self-defense, and were justified by the war. like demonstrations on every hand. He concluded by pronouncing their Assembly illegal, and in contravention of the charter of the province, and warned them to desist. The denunciations of Gage had no other effect than to increase the zeal of the patriots. The Provincial Congress proceeded to appoint a Committee of Safety, at the head of which was John Hancock, giving it power to call out the militia. A committee was appointed to provide ammunition and stores, and the sum of sixty-six thousand dollars was approprioctober 26, ated for the purpose. Provision was also made for arming the people of the 1774. province. They appointed Henry Gardner treasurer of the colony, under the title of receiver general, into whose hands the constables and tax-collectors were directed to pay all public moneys which they received. Jedediah Preble, Artemus Ward, and Seth Pome. roy, were appointed general officers of the militia." The first did not accept the appointment, and Ward and Pomeroy alone entered upon the duty of organizing the military. Ammunition and stores were speedily collected at Concord, Woburn, and other places. Mills were erected for making gunpowder; manufactories were set up for making arms, and great encouragement was given to the production of saltpeter. The Provincial Congress disavowed any intention to attack the British troops, yet took measures to cut off their supplies from the country. Gage issued a proclamation, denouncing their proceedings, to which no attention was paid; and as the recommendations of the Provincial Congress had all the authority of law, he was unsupported except by his troops, and a few officials and their friends in the city. Apprehending that the people of Boston might point the cannons upon the fortifications about the town upon himself and troops, he caused a party of sailors to be landed by night from a ship of war in the harbor, who spiked all the guns upon the battery at Fort Hill. At a session of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, convened on the 23d of November, it was voted to enrol twelve thousand minute men—volunteers pledged to be ready to enter the field at a minute's notice—and an invitation was sent to Connecticut and Rhode Island to follow this example, and increase the number of minute men to twenty thousand. They elected the same delegates to the general Congress, to meet again in May, 1775; appointed Colonel Thomas and Colonel Heath additional generals; and adopted measures for the formation of a new Provincial Congress, to meet early in the ensuing year. They then adjourned to attend the general thanksgiving, held according to their own appointment.” When the year 1774 closed, the colonies were on the verge of open insurrection. Let us turn for a moment to view the progress of events in England. When the colonial agents there observed the manifest improbability of a reconciliation and the certainty of an appeal to arms, they were exceedingly active in their efforts to mold the popular opinion in favor of the colonies. The various addresses put forth by the
* For a sketch of the life of General Ward, see ant?, page 190. Pomeroy was in the battle of Lake George, in 1755, and was the soldier of that name whom Everett supposes to have shot Baron Dieskau. See page 109.
* This appointment was always made by the governor, as at the present day, but the patriots had absolutely discarded his authority.
daughter Lucy, in opposition to the wishes of her father, who desired a more advantageous match for her. Knox was a young bookseller in Boston, and Miss Flucker, who possessed considerable literary taste, became acquainted with him while visiting his store to purchase articles in his line. A sympathy of taste, feeling, and views produced mutual esteem, which soon ripened into love. Her friends looked upon her as one ruined in prospects of future social esteem and personal happiness, in wedding one who had espoused the cause of rebellion; but many of those very friends, when the great political change took place, were outcasts and in poverty, while Lucy Knox was the center of the first social circle in America.
Efforts of Franklin and others. Counteraction by Adam Smith and others. Proceedings in Parliament.
Continental Congress were printed and industriously circulated. Dr. Franklin and other friends of America traversed the manufacturing towns in the north of England, and by personal communications enlightened the people upon the important questions at issue. The inhabitants of those districts were mostly Dissenters, looking upon the Church of England as an oppressor; and, by parity of simple reasoning, its main pillar, the throne, was regarded equally as an instrument of oppression. They were, therefore, eager listeners to the truths respecting human rights which the friends of republicanism uttered, and throughout Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, and Northumberland, the people became much excited. Ministers were alarmed, and concerted measures to counteract the effects produced by these itinerant republicans. Adam Smith, the author of “The Wealth of Nations,” Wedderburne, the solicitor general, and other friends of the ministry, wielded their pens vigorously; and, at their solicitation, Dr. Roebuck, of Birmingham, a very popular man among the manufacturing population, followed in the wake of Franklin and his friends, and endeavored to apply a ministerial antidote to their republican poison. In this he was measurably successful, and the districts were quieted. Parliament assembled on the 30th of November. The king informed them that America was on the verge of open rebellion. When the usual address to the king was proposed in the House of Commons, the opposition offered an amendment, asking his majesty to Apax surro lay before Parliament all letters, orders, and instructions From a medallion by Tassie. relating to American affairs, as well as all the intelligence received from the colonies. Lord North opposed the amendment, because it made the first advances toward a reconciliation, and therefore was inconsistent with the dignity of the government! The address was replete with assurances of support for the king and ministers in all measures deemed necessary to maintain government in the colonies, or, in other words, in drawing the sword, if necessary, to bring the Americans to the feet of royal authority. A debate, characterized by considerable bitterness, ensued, but the amendment was rejected, and the loyal address was adopted by a vote of two hundred and sixty-four against seventy-three. Similar action was had in the House of Lords, and an address was carried by a vote of sixty-three to thirteen. Nine peers signed a sensible protest, which concluded with these words: “Whatever may be the mischievous designs or inconsiderate temerity which leads others to this desperate course, we wish to be known as persons who have ever disapproved of measures so pernicious in their past effects and future tendencies; and who are not in haste, without inquiry and information, to commit ourselves in declarations which may precipitate our country into all the calamities of a civil war.” Franklin and his associates caused strong remonstrances and petitions to be sent in from the northern manufacturing districts; and respectful petitions were also sent in from Lon. don, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, and other large towns, praying for a just and conciliatory course toward America. These petitions were referred to an inactive committee—“a committee of oblivion,” Burke called it—while a few counter petitions, procured by Roebuck, were acted upon immediately. Petitions from Americans, and even one from Ja
* Adam Smith was born at Kirkaldy, in Scotland, in 1723. At the age of three years he was carried off by some gipsies, but soon afterward was recovered. He was educated at Oxford, and was designed for the Church. He became an infidel in religious views, and of course turned his attention to other than clerical duties. He was the friend of Hume, Gibbon, and several of the most distinguished infidel writers of France. He wrote much, but the work on which his reputation rests is his “Inquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations,” published in 1771. It was for a long time the ablest work on political economy in the English language. He died in 1790, as he had lived, a contemner of Christianity