The resolutions and joint address of the Houses of Parliament, which were adopted in February, reached America in April, and gave great offence to the colonists generally instead of exciting terror, especially the part of the address which proposed bringing alleged offenders from Massachusetts to be tried at a tribunal in Great Britain. Massachusetts had no General Assembly at that time, as Governor Barnard had dissolved the last Assembly, and the time prescribed by the Charter for calling one had not arrived; but the House of Burgesses of the old, loyal Church of England colony of Virginia took the state of all the colonies into serious consideration, passed several resolutions, and directed their Speaker to transmit them without delay to the Speakers of the Assemblies of all the colonies on the continent for their concurrence. In these resolutions the House of Burgesses declare—"That the sole right of imposing taxes on the inhabitants of this colony is now, and ever hath been, legally and constitutionally vested in the House of Burgesses, with consent of the Council, and of the King or his Governor for the time being; that it is the privilege of the inhabitants to petition their Sovereign for redress of grievances, and that it is lawful to procure the concurrence of his Majesty's other colonies in dutiful addresses, praying the Royal interposition in favour of the violated rights of America; that all trials for treason, misprision of treason, or for any felony or crime whatsoever, committed by any persons residing in any colony, ought to be in his Majesty's courts within said colony, and that the seizing of any person residing in the colony, suspected of any crime whatsoever committed therein, and sending such person to places beyond the sea to be tried, is highly derogatory of the rights of British subjects, as thereby the inestimable privilege of being tried by jury from the vicinage, as well as the liberty of producing witnesses on such trial, will be taken away from the accused."
The House agreed also to an address to his Majesty, which stated, in the style of loyalty and real attachment to the Crown, a deep conviction that the complaints of the colonists were well founded. The next day Lord Botetourt, the Governor of Virginia, dissolved the House in the following words: "Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses, I have heard of your resolves, and augur ill of their effects. You have made it my duty to dissolve you; and you are dissolved accordingly."
The Assembly of South Carolina adopted resolutions similar to those of Virginia, as did the Lower House of Maryland and the Delaware counties, and the Assembly of North Carolina, and was on that account dissolved by Governor Tyron. Towards the close of the year, the Assembly of New York passed resolutions in concurrence with those of Virginia. The members of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, and of the Assembly of North Carolina, after their dissolution, met as private gentlemen, chose for moderators their late Speakers, and adopted resolutions against importing British goods. This was followed by other colonies, and the non-importation agreement became general. Boston had entered into the non-importation agreement as early as August, 1768, which was soon after adopted in Salem, the city of New York, and the province of Connecticut; but the agreement was not generally entered into until after the Virginia resolutions. "The meetings of non-importation associations were regularly held in the various provinces. Committees were appointed to examine all vessels arriving from Britain. Censures were freely passed on such as refused to concur in these associations, and their names were published in the newspapers as enemies of their country. The regular Acts of the Provincial Assemblies were not so much respected and obeyed as the decrees of these Committees."
Governor Barnard could not delay calling the General Assembly of Massachusetts beyond the time prescribed by the Charter for its meeting in May; and when it met, its first act was to appoint a Committee to wait on the Governor, and represent to him "that an armament by sea and land investing this metropolis, and a military guard with cannon pointed at the door of the State House, where the Assembly is held, are inconsistent with the dignity and freedom with which they have a right to deliberate, consult, and determine," and added, "They expect that your Excellency will, as his Majesty's representative, give effectual orders for the removal of the above-mentioned forces by sea and land out of this port, and the gates of this city, during the session of the said Assembly." The Governor answered: "Gentlemen, I have no authority over his Majesty's ships in this port, or his troops within this town, nor can I give any orders for the removal of the same." The House persisted in declining to do business while surrounded with an armed force, and the Governor at length adjourned it to Cambridge.
On the 6th of July the Governor sent a message to the House with accounts of expenditures already incurred in quartering his Majesty's troops, desiring funds for their payment, and requiring a provision for the quartering of the troops in the town and on Castle Island, "according to Act of Parliament." The next day, among other things, the House passed the following resolutions:
"That a general discontent on account of the Revenue Acts, an expectation of the sudden arrival of a military power to enforce said Acts, an apprehension of the troops being quartered upon the inhabitants, the General Court (or Assembly) dissolved, the Governor refusing to call a new one, and the people almost reduced to a state of despair, rendered it highly expedient and necessary for the people to convene their (town) committees to associate (in convention), consult, and advise the best means to promote peace and good order; to present their united complaints to the Throne, and jointly to pray for the Royal interposition in favour of their violated rights; nor can this procedure possibly be illegal, as they expressly disclaim all governmental acts.
"That the establishment of a standing army in this colony, in time of peace, is an invasion of national rights.
"That a standing army is not known as a part of the British constitution.
"That sending an armed force into the colony, under pretence of assisting the civil authority, is highly dangerous to the people, unprecedented and unconstitutional."
On the 12th of July the Governor sent a message to the House requesting an explicit answer to his message of the 6th, as to whether the House would or would not make provision for quartering the troops. After anxious deliberation, the unusually full House of 107 members present unanimously answered:
"As representatives, by the Royal Charter and the nature of our trust, we are only empowered to grant such aids as are reasonable, of which we are free and independent judges, at liberty to follow the dictates of our own understanding, without regard to the mandates of another. Your Excellency must, therefore, excuse us in this express declaration that as we cannot, consistently with our honour or interest, and much less with the duty we owe to our constituents, so we shall never make provision for the purposes mentioned in your messages."
Governor Barnard rejoined, in his last words to the Assembly, "To his Majesty, and if he pleases to his Parliament, must be referred your invasion of the rights of the Imperial sovereignty. By your own acts you will be judged. Your publications are plain and explicit, and need no comment." And he prorogued the Assembly until the 10th day of January, 1770. He wrote to Lord Hillsborough: "Their last message exceeds everything." Three weeks afterwards, the 1st of August, unexpectedly to himself, Barnard was recalled. He had expected to be appointed Governor of Virginia; but on his arrival in England he found that the British Ministers had promised the London-American merchants that they would never employ him again in America. He answered the purposes of the corrupt Ministerial oligarchy in England, to mislead the Sovereign on one hand and oppress the colonists on the other. But for him there would have been no ships of war or military sent to Boston; no conflicts between the citizens and soldiers; probably no revolutionary war. Barnard's departure from Boston was signalized by the ringing of bells, and firing of cannon, and bonfires at night. He was succeeded in the government by Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, a man who had rendered great service to his native country by his History, and his labours in the Legislature for ten years, but who had become extremely unpopular by his secret support of the English Revenue Acts and duplicate policy of Barnard, whom he at length equalled in avarice and deception, and greatly excelled in ability.
One of the most effective and least objectionable means of obtaining the repeal of the Revenue Acts was the agreement not to purchase or import goods of British manufacture or goods imported from British ports. At best the revenues arising from the operation of these Acts would not amount to L20,000 a year. They were maintained in England as a badge of the absolute authority of Parliament; they were resisted in America as a badge of colonial independence of taxation—without representation. There was no crime, political or moral, in refusing to buy goods of any kind, much less goods burdened with what they considered unlawful duties. Mr. Bancroft remarks:
"The agreement of non-importation originated in New York, where it was rigidly carried into effect. No acrimony appeared; every one, without so much as a single dissentient, approved of the combination as wise and legal; persons in the highest stations declared against the Revenue Acts, and the Governor wished their repeal. His acquiescence in the association for coercing that repeal led the moderate men among the patriots of New York to plan a union of the colonies in an American Parliament (similar to that which now exists in the Dominion of Canada), preserving the Governments of the several colonies, and having the members of the General Parliament chosen by their respective Legislatures. They were preparing the greatest work of their generation, to be matured at a later day. Their confidence of immediate success assisted to make them alike disinclined to independence and firm in their expectation of bringing England to reason by suspending their mutual trade.
"The people of Boston, stimulated by the unanimity and scrupulous fidelity of New York, were impatient that a son of Barnard, two sons of Hutchinson, and about five others, would not accede to the agreement. At a great meeting of merchants in Faneuil Hall, Hancock proposed to send for Hutchinson's two sons, hinting, what was true, that the Lieutenant-Governor was himself a partner with them in their late extraordinary importations of tea. As the best means of coercion, it was voted not to purchase anything of the recusants. Subscription papers to that effect were carried around from house to house, and everybody complied."
"A letter from New York next invited Boston to extend the agreement against importing indefinitely, until every Act imposing duties should be repealed; and on the 17th (of October), by the great influence of Molineux, Otis, Samuel Adams, and William Cooper, this new form was adopted." The opposition in Boston to the reception of goods from England became so general and determined, that even Governor Hutchinson quailed before it, and the soldiers stood silent and inactive witnesses of it. Mr. Bancroft says:
"Early in October (1769), a vessel laden with goods, shipped by English houses themselves, arrived in Boston. The military officers had been speculating on what would be done, and Colonel Dalrymple stood ready to protect the factors. But his assistance was not demanded. Hutchinson permitted the merchants to reduce the consignees to submission, and even to compel an English adventurer to re-embark his goods. One and another of the Boston recusants yielded; even the two sons of Hutchinson himself, by their father's direction, gave up 18 chests of tea, and entered fully into the (non-importation) agreement. Four still held out, and their names, with those of the two sons of Hutchinson, whose sincerity was questioned, stood recorded as infamous on the journals of the town of Boston. On the 15th another ship arrived; again the troops looked on as bystanders, and witnessed the complete victory of the people."
But in the following month, November, a new turn was given to public thought, and new feelings of joy were inspired throughout America, by a dispatch from Lord Hillsborough to the King's personal friend, Lord Botetourt, Governor of Virginia, promising the repeal of the obnoxious Revenue Acts, and to impose no further taxes on the colonies. Lord Hillsborough says:
"I can take upon me to assure you, notwithstanding information to the contrary from men with factious and seditious views, that his Majesty's present Administration have at no time entertained a design to propose to Parliament to lay any further taxes upon America for the purpose of raising a revenue; and that it is at present their intention to propose, the next session of Parliament, to take off the duties upon glass, paper and colours, upon consideration of such duties having been laid contrary to the true principles of commerce." Lord Hillsborough further informed Lord Botetourt that "his Majesty relied upon his prudence and fidelity to make such explanation of his Majesty's measures as would tend to remove prejudices and to re-establish mutual confidence and affection between the mother country and the colonies."
In Lord Botetourt's address to the Virginia Assembly, transmitting a copy of the dispatch, he said:
"It may possibly be objected that as his Majesty's present Administration are not immortal, their successors may be inclined to attempt to undo what the present Ministers shall have attempted to perform; and to that objection I can give but this answer: that it is my firm opinion that the plan I have stated to you will certainly take place, and that it will never be departed from; and so determined am I for ever to abide by it, that I will be content to be declared infamous if I do not, to the last hour of my life, at all times, in all places, and upon all occasions, exert every power with which I either am, or ever shall be, legally invested, in order to obtain and maintain for the continent of America that satisfaction which I have been authorized to promise this day by the confidential servants of our gracious Sovereign, who, to my certain knowledge, rates his honour so high, that he would rather part with his crown than preserve it by deceit."
These assurances were received by the Virginians with transports of joy, viewing them as they did as abandoning, never to be resumed, the design of raising a revenue in America by Act of Parliament. The General Assembly of Virginia, in reply to Lord Botetourt's address, thus expressed themselves:
"We are sure our most gracious Sovereign, under whatever changes may happen in his confidential servants, will remain immutable in the ways of truth and justice, and that he is incapable of deceiving his faithful subjects; and we esteem your lordship's information not only as warranted, but even sanctified by the Royal word."
It was understood and expected on all sides that the unproductive tax on tea would be repealed with the other articles enumerated in the Revenue Acts. Such was the wish of Governor Botetourt; such was the advice of Eden, the newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Maryland; Golden, who now administered the government of New York, on account of the death of More, assured the Legislature of the greatest probability that the late duties imposed by authority of Parliament, so much to the dissatisfaction of the colonies, would be taken off the ensuing session.
"Thus," says Mr. Bancroft, "all America confined its issue with Great Britain to the single question of the Act imposing a duty on tea." "Will not a repeal of all other duties satisfy the colonists?" asked one of the Ministerial party of Franklin in London. And he frankly answered, 'I think not; it is not the sum paid in the duty on tea that is complained of as a burden, but the principle of the Act expressed in the preamble.' This faithful advice was communicated to the Ministry; but what effect could it produce when Hillsborough administered the colonies, with Barnard for his counsellor?
[Footnote 309: Ramsay's Colonial History, Vol. I., Chapter iii., p. 359.
The following are the resolutions subscribed by the merchants and traders of New York, dated 27th August, 1768:
I. That we will not send for from Great Britain, either upon our own account or on commission, this fall, any other goods than what we have already ordered.
II. That we will not import any kind of merchandise from Great Britain, either on our own account or on commission, or any otherwise, nor purchase from any factor or others, any kind of goods imported from Great Britain directly, or by way of any of the other colonies, or by way of the West Indies, that shall be shipped from Great Britain after the first day of November, until the forementioned Acts of Parliament, imposing duties on paper, glass, etc., be repealed; except only the articles of coals, salt, sailcloth, wool, card-wool, grindstones, chalk, lead, tin, sheet-copper, and German steel.
III. We further agree not to import any kind of merchandise from Hamburg and Holland, directly from thence, nor by any other way whatsoever, more than we have already ordered, except tiles and bricks.
IV. We also promise to countermand all orders given from Great Britain, or since the 16th instant, by the first conveyance; ordering those goods not to be sent, unless the forementioned duties are taken off.
V. And we further agree, that if any person or persons subscribing hereto shall take any advantage, by importing any kind of goods that are herein restricted, directly or indirectly, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this agreement, such person or persons shall by us be deemed enemies to their country.
VI. Lastly, we agree, that if any goods shall be consigned or sent over to us, contrary to our agreement in this subscription, such goods so imported shall be lodged in some public warehouse, there to be kept under confinement until the forementioned Acts be repealed.]
[Footnote 310: The following is the portrait which Mr. Bancroft has drawn of the character of Barnard, and I cannot deny its accuracy:
"Trained as a wrangling proctor in an Ecclesiastical Court, he had been a quarrelsome disputant rather than a statesman. His parsimony went to the extreme of meanness; his avarice was insatiable and restless. So long as he connived at smuggling, he reaped a harvest in that way; when Grenville's sternness inspired alarm, it was his study to make the most money out of forfeitures and penalties. Professing to respect the Charter, he was unwearied in zeal for its subversion; declaring his opposition to taxation by Parliament, he urged it with all his power. Asserting most solemnly that he had never asked for troops, his letters reveal his perpetual importunity for ships of war and an armed force. His reports were often false—partly with design, partly from the credulity of panic. He placed everything in the most unfavourable light, and was ready to tell every tale and magnify trivial rumours into acts of treason. He was despondent when conciliation prevailed in England. The officers of the army and navy despised him for his cowardice and duplicity, and did not conceal their contempt." (History of the United States, Vol. VI., Chap. xli., p. 291.)]
[Footnote 311: History of the United States, Vol. VI., Chap. xlii., pp. 308, 309, 311. For the first non-importation resolutions adopted by the merchants of New York, see note on page 356.
"The trade between Great Britain and her colonies on the continent of America, on an average of three years (from 1766 to 1769), employed 1,078 ships and 28,910 seamen. The value of goods exported from Great Britain on the same average was L3,370,900; and of goods exported from the colonies to Great Britain and elsewhere L3,924,606." (Holmes' Annals, etc., Vol. II., p. 162.)]
[Footnote 312: History of the United States, Vol. VI., Chap, xlii., p. 311.
"To the military its inactivity was humiliating. Soldiers and officers spoke of the people angrily as rebels. The men were rendered desperate by the firmness with which the local magistrates put them on trial for every transgression of the provincial laws. Arrests provoked resistance. 'If they touch you, run them through the bodies,' said a captain of the 29th Regiment to his soldiers, and he was indicted for the speech."—Ib., p. 314.]
[Footnote 313: Quoted from Ramsay's Colonial History, Vol. I., Chap. iii., pp. 363, 364.]
[Footnote 314: Bancroft's History, Vol. VI., Chap, xlii., pp. 315, 316.
"The general tendency to conciliation prevailed. Since the merchants of Philadelphia chose to confine their agreement for non-importation to the repeal of Townshend's Act, the merchants of Boston, for the sake of union, gave up their more extensive covenant, and reverted to their first stipulations. The dispute about the Billeting Act had ceased in New Jersey and Pennsylvania; the Legislature of New York, pleased with the permission to issue colonial bills of credit, disregarded the appeal from Macdougall to the betrayed inhabitants of that city and colony, and sanctioned a compromise by a majority of one. South Carolina was commercially the most closely connected with England. The annual exports from Charleston reached in value about two and a quarter millions of dollars, of which three-fourths went directly or indirectly to England. But however closely the ties of interest bound Carolina to England, the people were high-spirited; and, notwithstanding the great inconvenience to their trade, they persevered in the strict observance of their (non-importation) association, looking with impatient anxiety for the desired repeal of the Act complained of."—Ib., pp. 317, 318.]
[Footnote 315: History of the United States, Vol. VI., Chap, xlii., p. 318.]
EVENTS OF 1770—AN EVENTFUL EPOCH—EXPECTATIONS OF RECONCILIATION AND UNION DISAPPOINTED.
This was the year of bloody collision and parliamentary decision, which determined the future relations between Great Britain and the American colonies. Dr. Ramsay observes:
"From the Royal and Ministerial assurances given in favour of America in 1769, and the subsequent repeal in 1770 of five-sixths of the duties which had been imposed in 1767, together with the consequent renewal of the mercantile intercourse between Great Britain and her colonies, many hoped that the contention between the two countries was finally closed. In all the provinces, excepting Massachusetts, appearances seemed to favour that opinion. Many incidents operated there to the prejudice of that harmony which had begun elsewhere to return. Stationing a military force among them was a fruitful source of uneasiness. The royal army had been brought thither with the avowed design of enforcing submission to the mother country. Speeches from the Throne and addresses from both Houses of Parliament had taught them to look upon the inhabitants of Massachusetts as a factious, turbulent people, who aimed at throwing off all subordination to Great Britain. They, on the other hand, were accustomed to look upon the soldiery as instruments of tyranny, sent on purpose to dragoon them out of their liberties.
"Reciprocal insults soured the tempers, and mutual injuries embittered the passions of the opposite parties. Some fiery spirits, who thought it an indignity to have troops quartered among them, were constantly exciting the townspeople to quarrel with the soldiers.
"On the 2nd of March, 1770, a fray took place near Mr. Gray's ropewalk, between a private soldier of the 20th Regiment and an inhabitant. The former was supported by his comrades, the latter by the ropemakers, till several on both sides were involved in the consequences. On the 5th a more dreadful scene was presented. The soldiers when under arms were pressed upon, insulted and pelted by the mob, armed with clubs, sticks, and snowballs covering stones. They were also dared to fire. In this situation, one of the soldiers, who had received a blow, in resentment fired at the supposed aggressors. This was followed by a single discharge from six others. Three of the inhabitants were killed and five were dangerously wounded. The town was immediately in commotion. Such were the temper, force, and number of the inhabitants, that nothing but an engagement to remove the troops out of the town, together with the advice of moderate men, prevented the townsmen from falling on the soldiers. Capt. Preston, who commanded, and the party who fired on the inhabitants, were committed to jail, and afterwards tried. The captain and six of the men were acquitted. Two were brought in guilty of manslaughter (and were lightly punished). It appeared on the trial that the soldiers were abused, insulted, threatened, and pelted before they fired. It was also proved that only seven guns were fired by the eight prisoners. These circumstances induced the jury to give a favourable verdict. The result of the trial reflected great honour on John Adams and Josiah Quincy, the counsel for the prisoners (promising young lawyers and popular leaders), and also on the integrity of the jury, who ventured to give an upright verdict in defiance of popular opinion."
A further hindrance to returning harmony in Massachusetts, as in the other colonies, was another ill-judged act of the British Ministers in making the Governor and judges wholly independent of the province in regard to their salaries, which had always been paid by the local Legislature in annual grants, but which were now, for the first time, paid by the Crown. The House of Assembly remonstrated against this innovation, which struck at the very heart of public liberty, by making the administrator of the government, and the courts of law, wholly independent of the people, and wholly dependent on the Crown, all holding their offices during pleasure of the Crown, and depending upon it alone for both the amount and payment of their salaries, and that payment out of a revenue raised by taxing the people without their consent.
The House addressed the Governor and judges to know whether they would receive their salaries as heretofore, by grants of the Legislature, or as stipends from the Crown. Three out of the four judges announced that they would receive their salaries as heretofore, by grants from the local Legislature; but Governor Hutchinson and Chief Justice Oliver announced that they would receive their salaries from the Crown. They therefore became more and more odious to the inhabitants, while the discussion of the new question of the relations of the Executive and Judiciary to the people, upon the grounds of public freedom and the impartial administration of justice, greatly increased the strength of the opposition and the importance of the local House of Representatives as the counterpart of the House of Commons, and as guardians of the rights of the people.
At an early period of Canadian history, the salaries of governors and judges were determined and paid by the Crown, out of what was called a casual and territorial revenue, independent of the representatives of the people, and the judges held their places during pleasure; but after much agitation, and a determined popular struggle of several years, a civil list for both the governors and judges was agreed upon and voted by the Legislature. The tenure of the offices of judges was made that of good behaviour, instead of pleasure; and executive councillors and heads of departments were made dependent upon the confidence of the Legislature, with the control of revenues of every kind raised in the country; since which time there have been peace, loyalty, and progress throughout the provinces of the Canadian Dominion.
To turn now to the affairs of the colonies as discussed and decided upon in the British Parliament, which met the 9th of January, 1770. The King, in opening Parliament, expressed his regret that his endeavours to tranquillize America had not been attended with the desired success, and that combinations had been formed to destroy the commercial connection between the colonies and the mother country. The opposition in both Houses of Parliament dwelt strongly on the prevailing discontents, both in England and in the colonies. Ministers, admitting these discontents, imputed them to the spirit of faction, the speeches and writings of agitators, and to petitions got up and circulated by their influence. Lords Camden and Shelburne resigned, disapproving of the policy of the Administration, as did soon after, on the 28th of January, 1770, the Duke of Grafton, First Lord of the Treasury, and was succeeded by Lord North as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Lord Chatham, after an absence of two years, recovered sufficiently to make his clarion voice once more heard in the councils of the nation against official corruption, and in defence of liberty and the rights of the colonies, the affairs of which now occupied the attention of Parliament. The British manufacturers and merchants who traded to America had sustained immense losses by the rejection of their goods, through the non-importing associations in America, and apprehended ruin from their continuance, and therefore petitioned Parliament, stating their sufferings and imploring relief. On the 5th of March Lord North introduced a Bill into the Commons for the repeal of the whole of the Act of 1767, which imposed duties on glass, red lead, paper, and painters' colours, but retaining the preamble, which asserted the absolute authority of Parliament to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever, and retaining, as an illustration of that authority, the clause of the Act which imposed a duty on tea. He said:—"The articles taxed being chiefly British manufactures, ought to have been encouraged instead of being burdened with assessments. The duty on tea was continued, for maintaining the parliamentary right of taxation. An impost of threepence in the pound could never be opposed by the colonists, unless they were determined to rebel against Great Britain. Besides, a duty on that article, payable in England, and amounting to nearly one shilling in the pound, was taken off on its exportation to America; so that the inhabitants of the colonies saved ninepence in the pound. The members of the opposition, in both Houses, advocated the repeal of the clause on tea, and predicted the inefficiency of the Bill should that clause be retained, and repeated the arguments on the injustice and inexpediency of taxing America by Act of Parliament; but the Bill was carried by a large majority, and assented to by the King on the 12th of April."
The repeal of the obnoxious port duties of 1767 left no pretence for retaining the duty on tea for raising a revenue, as the tea duty, at the highest computation, would not exceed L16,000 a year; and when Lord North was pressed to relinquish that remaining cause of contention, he replied:
"Has the repeal of the Stamp Act taught the Americans obedience? Has our lenity inspired them with moderation? Can it be proper, while they deny our legal right to tax them, to acquiesce in the argument of illegality, and by the repeal of the whole law to give up that honour? No; the most proper time to exert our right of taxation is when the right is refused. To temporize is to yield; and the authority of the mother country, if it is now unsupported, will in reality be relinquished for ever. A total repeal cannot be thought of till America is prostrate at our feet."
Governor Pownall, who had spent many years in America, and had preceded Barnard as Governor of Massachusetts, moved an amendment, to include the repeal of the duty on tea as well as on the articles included in the original motion of Lord North. In the course of his speech in support of the amendment he said:
"If it be asked whether it will remove the apprehensions excited by your resolutions and address of the last year, for bringing to trial in England persons accused of treason in America? I answer, no. If it be asked, if this commercial concession would quiet the minds of the Americans as to the political doubts and fears which have struck them to the heart throughout the continent? I answer, no; so long as they are left in doubt whether the Habeas Corpus Act, whether the Bill of Rights, whether the Common Law as now existing in England, have any operation and effect in America, they cannot be satisfied. At this hour they know not whether the civil constitution be not suspended and superseded by the establishment of a military force. The Americans think that they have, in return to all their applications, experienced a temper and disposition that is unfriendly—that the enjoyment and exercise of the common rights of freemen have been refused to them. Never with these views will they solicit the favour of this House; never more will they wish to bring before Parliament the grievances under which they conceive themselves to labour. Deeply as they feel, they suffer and endure with alarming silence. For their liberty they are under no apprehensions. It was first planted under the auspicious genius of the constitution, and it has grown up into a verdant and flourishing tree; and should any severe strokes be aimed at the branches, and fate reduce it to the bare stock, it would only take deeper root, and spring out more hardy and durable than before. They trust to Providence, and wait with firmness and fortitude the issue."
The statements of Governor Pownall were the result of long observation and experience in America, and practical knowledge of the colonists, and were shown by results to be true to the letter, though treated with scorn by Lord North, and with aversion by the House of Commons, which rejected his amendment by a majority of 242 to 204.
The results of the combinations against the use of British manufactures were illustrated this year by the candidates for the degree of Bachelor of Arts at Harvard College appearing dressed in black cloth manufactured wholly in New England. The general plan of non-importation of English manufactured goods was now relinquished on the repeal of the duties imposed upon them; but the sentiment of the principal commercial towns was against the importation of any tea from England. An association was formed not to drink tea until the Act imposing the duty should be repealed. This was generally agreed to and observed throughout the colonies.
But the retaining of threepence in the pound on tea did not excite so much hostility in the colonies against the Parliament as might have been expected. The Act of Parliament was virtually defeated, and the expected revenue from tea failed because of the resolution of the colonial associations of the people to use no tea, and of the merchants to import none on which the duty was charged. The merchants found means to smuggle, from countries to which the authority of Great Britain did not extend, a sufficient supply of tea for the tea-drinking colonists. Thus the tea-dealers and tea-drinkers of America exercised their patriotism and indulged their taste—the one class making an additional threepence a pound on tea by evading the Act, and the other class enjoying the luxury of tea as cheap as if no tea-duty Act of Parliament existed, and with the additional relish of rendering such Act abortive. The facilities for smuggling tea, arising from the great extent of the American coasts, and the great number of harbours, and the universality of the British anti-tea associations, and the unity of popular sentiment on the subject, rendered the Act of Parliament imposing the duty a matter of sport rather than a measure of oppression even to the most scrupulous, as they regarded the Act unconstitutional, and every means lawful and right by which the obnoxious Act could be evaded and defeated. It is probable that, in the ordinary course of things, the Act would have become practically obsolete, and the relations of the colonies to the mother country have settled down into quietness and friendliness, but for another event, which not only revived with increased intensity the original question of dispute, but gave rise to other occurrences that kindled the flame of the American revolution. That event was the agreement between the Ministry and the East India Company, which interfered with the natural and ordinary channels of trade, and gave to that Company a monopoly of the tea trade of America. From the diminished exportation of tea from England to the colonies, there were, in warehouses of the British East India Company, seventeen millions of pounds of tea for which there was no demand. Lord North and his colleagues were not willing to lose the expected revenue, as small as it must be at last from their American Tea Act, and the East India Company were unwilling to lose the profits of their American tea trade.
An agreement was therefore entered into between the Ministry and the Company, by which the Company, which was authorized by law to export their tea free of duty to all places whatsoever, could send their tea cheaper to the colonies than others who had to pay the exceptionable duty, and even cheaper than before it had been made a source of revenue; "for the duty taken off it when exported from Great Britain was greater than that to be paid for it on its importation into the colonies. Confident of success in finding a market for their tea, thus reduced in its price, and also of collecting a duty on its importation and sale in the colonies, the East India Company freighted several ships with teas for the different colonies, and appointed agents (or consignees) for its disposal." This measure united both the English and American merchants in opposition to it upon selfish grounds of interest, and the colonists generally upon patriotic grounds. "The merchants in England were alarmed at the losses that must come to themselves from the exportations of the East India Company, and from the sales going through the hands of consignees. Letters were written to colonial patriots, urging their opposition to the project. The (American merchants) smugglers, who were both numerous and powerful, could not relish a scheme which, by underselling them and taking a profitable branch of business out of their hands, threatened a diminution of their gains. The colonists were too suspicious of the designs of Great Britain to be imposed upon.
"The cry of endangered liberty once more excited an alarm from New Hampshire to Georgia. The first opposition to the execution of the scheme adopted by the East India Company began with the American merchants. They saw a profitable branch of their trade likely to be lost, and the benefits of it transferred to a company in Great Britain. They felt for the wound that would be inflicted on their country's claim of exemption from parliamentary taxation; but they felt, with equal sensibility, for the losses they would sustain by the diversion of the streams of commerce into unusual channels. Though the opposition originated in the selfishness of the merchants, it did not end there. The great body of the people, from principles of the purest patriotism, were brought over to second their wishes. They considered the whole scheme as calculated to seduce them into an acquiescence with the views of Parliament for raising an American revenue. Much pains were taken to enlighten the colonists on this subject, and to convince them of the eminent hazard to which their liberties were exposed.
"The provincial patriots insisted largely on the persevering determination of the parent state to establish her claim of taxation by compelling the sale of tea in the colonies against the solemn resolutions and declared sense of the inhabitants, and that at a time when the commercial intercourse of the two countries was renewed, and their ancient harmony fast returning. The proposed vendors of the tea were represented as revenue officers, employed in the collection of an unconstitutional tax imposed by Great Britain. The colonists contended that, as the duty and the price of the commodity were inseparably blended, if the tea were sold every purchaser would pay a tax imposed by the British Parliament as part of the purchase money."
[Footnote 316: Colonial History, Vol. I. Chap. iii., pp. 364, 365.
Several American historians have sought to represent the soldiers as the first aggressors and offenders in this affair. The verdict of the jury refutes such representations. The accuracy of Dr. Ramsay's statements given above cannot be fairly questioned; he was a member of South Carolina Legislature, an officer in the revolutionary army during the whole war, and a personal friend of Washington. Mr. Hildreth says: "A weekly paper, the 'Journal of the Times,' was filled with all sorts of stories, some true, but the greater part false or exaggerated, on purpose to keep up prejudice against the soldiers. A mob of men and boys, encouraged by the sympathy of the inhabitants, made a constant practice to insult and provoke them. The result to be expected soon followed. After numerous fights with straggling soldiers, a serious collision at length took place: a picket guard of eight men, provoked beyond endurance by words and blows, fired into a crowd, killed three persons and dangerously wounded five others." "The story of the 'Boston massacre,' for so it was called, exaggerated into a ferocious and unprovoked assault by brutal soldiers on a defenceless people, produced everywhere intense excitement. The officer and soldiers of the picket guard were indicted and tried for murder. They were defended, however, by John Adams and Josiah Quincy, two young lawyers, the most zealous among the popular leaders: and so clear a case was made in their behalf, that they were all acquitted except two, who were found guilty of manslaughter and slightly punished." (History of the United States, Chap. xxix., pp. 554, 555, 556.)
Dr. Holmes states that "the soldiers were pressed upon, insulted by the populace, and dared to fire; one of them, who had received a blow, fired at the aggressors, and a single discharge from six others succeeded. Three of the inhabitants were killed and five dangerously wounded. The town was instantly thrown into the greatest commotion. The drums beat to arms, and thousands of the inhabitants assembled in the adjacent streets. The next morning Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson summoned a Council; and while the subject was in discussion, a message was received from the town, which had convened in full assembly, declaring it to be their unanimous opinion 'that nothing can rationally be expected to restore the peace of the town, and prevent blood and carnage, but the immediate removal of the troops.' On an agreement to this measure, the commotion subsided. Captain Preston, who commanded the party of soldiers, was committed with them to jail, and all were afterwards tried. The captain and six of the men were acquitted. Two were brought in guilty of manslaughter. The result of the trial reflected great honour on John Adams and Josiah Quincy, the counsel for the prisoners, and on the integrity of the jury." (Annals, etc., Vol. II., pp. 166, 167.)
How much more honourable and reliable are these straightforward statements of those American historians of the times, and the verdict of even a Boston jury, than the sophistical, elaborate, and reiterated efforts of Mr. Bancroft, in the 43rd and 44th chapters of his History, to implicate the soldiers as the provoking and guilty causes of the collision, and impugning the integrity of the counsel for the prosecution, the court, and the jury.
In the Diary of J. Adams, Vol. II., p. 229, are the following words:
"Endeavours had been systematically pursued for many months by certain busy characters to excite quarrels, rencounters, and combats, single or compound, in the night, between the inhabitants of the lower class and the soldiers, and at all risks to enkindle an immortal hatred between them."—(Quoted by Mr. Hildreth, Vol. II., p. 409, in a note.)]
[Footnote 317: Ramsay's Colonial History, Vol. I., Chap. iii., pp. 370-372.]
EVENTS OF 1771, 1772, 1773—THE EAST INDIA COMPANY'S TEA REJECTED IN EVERY PROVINCE OF AMERICA—RESOLUTIONS OF A PUBLIC MEETING IN PHILADELPHIA THE MODEL FOR THOSE OF OTHER COLONIES.
By this unprecedented and unjustifiable combination between the British Ministry and East India Company to supersede the ordinary channels of trade, and to force the sale of their tea in America, the returning peace and confidence between Great Britain and the colonies was arrested, the colonial merchants of both England and America were roused and united in opposition to the scheme, meetings were held, associations were formed, and hostility throughout all the colonies became so general and intense, that not a chest of the East India Company's tea was sold from New Hampshire to Georgia, and only landed in one instance, and then to rot in locked warehouses. In all cases, except in Boston, the consignees were prevailed upon to resign; and in all cases except two, Boston and Charleston, the tea was sent back to England without having been landed. At Charleston, South Carolina, they allowed the tea to be landed, but not sold; and it rotted in the cellars of the store-houses. At Philadelphia, the consignees were forced to resign and send the tea back to England. At New York they did the same. At Portsmouth, New Hampshire, they sent the tea away to Halifax. At Boston the consignees were the sons of Hutchinson, the Governor, and he determined that it should be landed and sold; while the mass of the people, led by committees of the "Sons of Liberty," were equally determined that the tea should not be landed or sold.
As this Boston tea affair resulted in the passing of two Acts of Parliament—the Bill for closing the port of Boston, and the Bill for suspending the Charter and establishing a new constitution of government for Massachusetts—and these were followed by an American Congress and a civil war, I will state the transactions as narrated by three American historians, agreeing in the main facts, but differing in regard to incidental circumstances.
Dr. Ramsay narrates the general opposition to the scheme of the East India Company, and that at Boston in particular, in the following words:
"As the time approached when the arrival of the tea ships might be soon expected, such measures were adopted as seemed most likely to prevent the landing of their cargoes. The tea consignees appointed by the East India Company were in several places compelled to relinquish their appointments, and no others could be found hardy enough to act in their stead. The pilots in the River Delaware were warned not to conduct any of the tea ships into their harbour. In New York, popular vengeance was denounced against all who would contribute in any measure to forward the views of the East India Company. The captains of the New York and Philadelphia ships, being apprised of the resolution of the people, and fearing the consequence of landing a commodity charged with an odious duty, in violation of their declared public sentiments, concluded to return directly to Great Britain without making any entry at the Custom-house.
"It was otherwise in Massachusetts. The tea ships designed for the supply of Boston were consigned to the sons, cousins, and particular friends of Governor Hutchinson. When they were called upon to resign, they answered that 'it was out of their power.' The Collector refused to give a clearance unless the vessels were discharged of dutiable articles. The Governor refused to give a pass for the vessels unless properly qualified for the Custom-house. The Governor likewise requested Admiral Montague to guard the passages out of the harbour, and gave orders to suffer no vessels, coasters excepted, to pass the fortress from the town without a pass signed by himself. From a combination of these circumstances the return of the tea vessels from Boston was rendered impossible. The inhabitants then had no option but to prevent the landing of the tea, to suffer it to be landed and depend on the unanimity of the people not to purchase it; to destroy the tea, or to suffer a deep-laid scheme against their sacred liberties to take effect. The first would have required incessant watching, by night as well as by day, for a period of time the duration of which no one could compute. The second would have been visionary to childishness, by suspending the liberties of a growing country on the self-denial and discretion of every tea-drinker in the province. They viewed the tea as the vehicle of an unconstitutional tax, and as inseparably associated with it. To avoid the one, they resolved to destroy the other. About seventeen persons, dressed as Indians, repaired to the tea ships, broke open 342 chests of tea, and, without doing any other damage, discharged their contents into the water.
"Thus, by the inflexibility of the Governor, the issue of this business was different at Boston from what it was elsewhere. The whole cargoes of tea were returned from New York and Philadelphia; that which was sent to Charleston was landed and stored, but not offered for sale. Mr. Hutchinson had repeatedly urged Government to be firm and persevering. He could not, therefore, consistently with his honour, depart from a line of conduct he had so often and so strongly recommended to his superiors. He also believed that the inhabitants would not dare to perfect their engagements, and flattered himself that they would desist when the critical moment arrived.
"Admitting the rectitude of the American claims of exemption from parliamentary taxation, the destruction of the tea by the Bostonians was warranted by the great law of self-preservation; for it was not possible for them by any other means to discharge the duty they owed to their country.
"The event of this business was very different from what had been expected in England. The colonists acted with so much union and system, that there was not a single chest of any of the cargoes sent out by the East India Company sold for their benefit."
The Rev. Dr. Holmes, in his Annals of America, says:
"The crisis now approached when the colonies were to decide whether they would submit to be taxed by the British Parliament, or practically support their own principles and meet the consequences. One sentiment seems to have pervaded the entire continent. The new Ministerial plan was universally considered as a direct attack on the liberties of the colonists, which it was the duty of all to oppose. A violent ferment was everywhere excited; the Corresponding Committees were extremely active; and it was very generally declared that whoever should, directly or indirectly, countenance this dangerous invasion of their rights, is an enemy to his country. The East India Company, confident of finding a market for their tea, reduced as it now was in its price, freighted several ships to the colonies with that article, and appointed agents for the disposal of it. Some cargoes were sent to New York, some to Philadelphia, some to Charleston (South Carolina), and three to Boston. The inhabitants of New York and Philadelphia sent the ships back to London, 'and they sailed up the Thames to proclaim to all the nation that New York and Pennsylvania would not be enslaved.' The inhabitants of Charleston unloaded the tea and stored it in cellars, where it could not be used, and where it finally perished.
"The inhabitants of Boston tried every measure to send back the three tea ships which had arrived there, but without success. The captains of the ships had consented, if permitted, to return with their cargoes to England; but the consignees refused to discharge them from their obligations, the Custom-house to give them a clearance for their return, and the Governor refused to grant them a passport for clearing the fort. It was easily seen that the tea would be gradually landed from the ships lying so near the town, and that if landed it would be disposed of, and the purpose of establishing the monopoly and raising a revenue effected. To prevent this dreaded consequence, a number of armed men, disguised like Indians, boarded the ships and threw their whole cargoes of tea into the dock."
A more circumstantial and graphic account of this affair is given by Mr. J.S. Barry, in his History of Massachusetts, in the following words:
"On Sunday, November 28, 1773, one of the ships arrived, bringing one hundred and fourteen chests of tea. Immediately the Select Men held a meeting; and the Committee of Correspondence obtained from Rotch, the owner of the vessel, a promise not to enter it until Tuesday. The towns around Boston were summoned to meet on Monday; 'and every friend to his country, to himself, and to posterity,' was desired to attend, 'to make a united and successful resistance to this last, worst, and most destructive measure of administration.'
"At an early hour (Monday, November 29) the people gathered, and by nine o'clock the concourse was so great that Faneuil Hall was filled to overflowing. A motion to adjourn to the Old South Meeting-house, the 'Sanctuary of Freedom,' was made and carried; and on reaching that place, Jonathan Williams was chosen Moderator, and Hancock, Adams, Young, Molineux, and Warren, fearlessly conducted the business of the meeting. At least five thousand persons were in and around the building, and but one spirit animated all. Samuel Adams offered a resolution, which was unanimously adopted, 'That the tea should be sent back to the place from whence it came, at all events, and that no duty should be paid on it.' The consignees asked time for consideration, and 'out of great tenderness' their request was granted. To prevent any surprise, however, a watch of twenty-five persons, under Edward Proctor, was appointed to guard the ship during the night.
"The answer of the consignees was given in the morning (November 30); and after declaring that it was out of their power to send back the teas, they expressed their readiness to store them until otherwise advised. In the midst of the meeting the Sheriff of Suffolk entered, with a proclamation from the Governor, warning the people to disperse; but the message was received with derision and hisses, and a unanimous vote not to disperse. The master and owner of the ship which had lately arrived were then required to attend; and a promise was extorted from them that the teas should be returned without landing or paying a duty. The factors of two other vessels which were daily expected were next summoned, and similar promises were given by them; upon which the meeting, after voting to carry into effect, 'at the risk of their lives and properties,' their former resolves, quietly dissolved.
"After this dissolution, the Committee of Correspondence of Boston and its vicinity held meetings daily, and gave such directions as circumstances required. The other ships, on their arrival, anchored beside the Dartmouth (Rotch's vessel), that one guard might serve for all; and the inhabitants of a number of towns, at meetings convened for the purpose, promised to aid Boston whenever their services should be needed. At the end of twenty days the question must be decided, and if the teas were landed all was lost. As the crisis drew near the excitement increased. Hutchinson was confident that no violent measures would be taken. The wealth of Hancock and others seemed sufficient security against such measures. But the people had counted the cost, and had determined to risk all rather than be slaves.
"The eventful day (December 16) at last dawned; and two thousand from the country, besides the citizens of Boston, assembled in the Old South Meeting-house at ten o'clock, to decide what should be done. It was reported that Rotch, the owner of the Dartmouth, had been refused a clearance; and he was immediately instructed to 'protest against the Custom-house, and apply to the Governor for his pass.' But the Governor had stolen to his residence at Milton, and at three o'clock in the afternoon Rotch had not returned. What should be done? 'Shall we abide by our resolutions?' it was asked. Adams and Young were in favour of that course; Quincy, distinguished as a statesman and patriot, advised discretion; but the people cried, 'Our hands have been put to the plough; we must not look back;' and the whole assemblage of seven thousand persons voted unanimously that the tea should not be landed.
"Darkness in the meantime had settled upon the town, and in the dimly-lighted church the audience awaited the return of Rotch. At a quarter before six he made his appearance, and reported that the Governor had refused him his pass. 'We can do no more to save the country,' said Samuel Adams; and a momentary silence ensued. The next instant a shout was heard at the door; the war-whoop sounded; and forty or fifty men, disguised as Indians, hurried along to Griffin's Wharf, posted guards to prevent intrusion, boarded the ships, and in three hours' time had broken and emptied into the sea three hundred and forty-two chests of tea. So great was the stillness, that the blows of the hatchets as the chests were split open were distinctly heard. When the deed was done, every one retired, and the town was as quiet as if nothing had occurred."
The foregoing threefold narrative presents substantially the American case of destroying the East India Company's tea by the inhabitants of Boston. The account by Mr. Bancroft is more elaborate, digressive, dramatic, and declamatory, but not so consecutive or concise as the preceding. Governor Hutchinson, who had advised the very policy which now recoiled upon himself, corroborates in all essential points the narrative given above. He states, however, what is slightly intimated above by Dr. Ramsay, that the opposition commenced by the merchants against the monopoly of the East India Company, rather than against the tax itself, which had been paid without murmuring for two years, and that the parliamentary tax on tea was seized upon, at the suggestion of merchants in England, to defeat the monopoly of the East India Company, and to revive and perpetuate the excitement against the British Parliament which had been created by the Stamp Act, and which was rapidly subsiding. Governor Hutchinson says:
"When the intelligence first came to Boston it caused no alarm. The threepenny duty had been paid the last two years without any stir, and some of the great friends to liberty had been importers of tea. The body of the people were pleased with the prospect of drinking tea at less expense than ever. The only apparent discontent was among the importers of tea, as well those who had been legal importers from England, as others who had illegally imported from Holland; and the complaint was against the East India Company for monopolizing a branch of commerce which had been beneficial to a great number of individual merchants. And the first suggestion of a design in the Ministry to enlarge the revenue, and to habituate the colonies to parliamentary taxes, was made from England; and opposition to the measure was recommended, with an intimation that it was expected that the tea would not be suffered to be landed."
The Committees of Correspondence in the several colonies soon availed themselves of so favourable an opportunity for promoting their great purpose. It soon appeared to be their general determination, that at all events the tea should be sent back to England in the same ships which brought it. The first motions were at Philadelphia (Oct. 18th), where, at a meeting of the people, every man who should be concerned in unlading, receiving, or vending the tea, was pronounced an enemy to his country. This was one of the eight resolves passed at the meeting. The example was followed by Boston, November 3rd.
Then follows Governor Hutchinson's account of the meetings and gatherings in Boston: the messages and answers between their Committees and the consignees, Custom-house officers, and the ultimate throwing of the tea into the dock, substantially as narrated in the preceding pages, together with his consultations with his Council, and his remarks upon the motives and conduct of the parties opposed to him. He admits that his Council was opposed to the measures which he proposed to suppress the meetings of the people; he admits the universal hostility of the people of Boston and of the neighbouring towns to the landing of the tea; that "while the Governor and Council were sitting on the Monday, in the Council Chamber, and known to be consulting upon means for preserving the peace of the town, several thousands of inhabitants of Boston and other towns were assembled in a public meeting-house at a small distance, in direct opposition and defiance." He says he "sent the Sheriff with a proclamation, to be read in the meeting, bearing testimony against it as an unlawful assembly, and requiring the Moderator and the people present forthwith to separate at their peril. Being read, a general hiss followed, and then a question whether they would surcease further proceedings, as the Governor required, which was determined in the negative, nemine contradicente."
It may be asked upon what legal or even reasonable ground had Governor Hutchinson the right to denounce a popular meeting which happened at the same time that he was holding a council, or because such meeting might entertain and express views differing from or in defiance of those which he was proposing to his Council?
Or, what authority had Governor Hutchinson to issue a proclamation and send a Sheriff to forbid a public meeting which the Charter and laws authorized to be called and held, as much as the Governor was authorized to call and hold his Council, or as any town or township council or meeting may be called and held in any province of the Dominion of Canada? It is not surprising that a public meeting "hissed" a command which was as lawless as it was powerless. The King himself would not have ventured to do what Governor Hutchinson did, in like circumstances; and British subjects in Massachusetts had equal civil rights with British subjects in England.
Governor Hutchinson admits that the public meeting was not only numerous, but composed of all classes of inhabitants, and was held in legal form; and his objection to the legality of the meeting merely because persons from other towns were allowed to be present, while he confesses that the inhabitants of Boston at the meeting were unanimous in their votes, is the most trivial that can be conceived. He says:
"A more determined spirit was conspicuous in this body than in any former assemblies of the people. It was composed of the lowest, as well, and probably in as great proportion, as of the superior ranks and orders, and all had an equal voice. No eccentric or irregular motions, however, were suffered to take place—all seemed to have been the plan of but a few—it may be, of a single person. The 'form' of town meeting was assumed, the Select Men of Boston, town clerks, etc., taking their usual places; but the inhabitants of any other town being admitted, it could not assume the name of a 'legal meeting of any town.'" (A trivial technical objection.)
Referring to another meeting—the last held before the day on which the tea was thrown into the sea—Governor Hutchinson states:
"The people came into Boston from the adjacent towns within twenty miles, from some more, from others less, as they were affected; and, as soon as they were assembled (November 14th, 1773), enjoined the owner of the ship, at his peril, to demand of the Collector of Customs a clearance for the ship, and appointed ten of their number a committee to accompany him, and adjourned for two days to receive the report. Being reassembled (at the end of the two days), and informed by the owner that a clearance was refused, he was enjoined immediately to apply to the Governor for a pass by the Castle. He made an apology to the Governor for coming upon such an errand, having been compelled to it, and received an answer that no pass ever had been, or lawfully could be, given to any vessel which had not first been cleared at the Custom-house, and that upon his producing a clearance, such pass would immediately be given by the naval officer."
Governor Hutchinson knew that the Custom-house could not give the clearance without the landing of the tea and payment of the duty provided for; he knew that the Custom-house had been applied to in vain to obtain a clearance. His reference of the owner to the Custom-house was a mere evasion and pretext to gain time and prevent any decisive action on the part of the town meeting until the night of the 16th, when the 20 days after the entry of the ships would have expired, and the Collector could seize the cargoes for non-payment of duties, place it in charge of the Admiral at the Castle, and sell it under pretence of paying the duties. He says: "The body of the people remained in the meeting-house until they had received the Governor's answer; and then, after it had been observed to them that, everything else in their power having been done, it now remained to proceed in the only way left, and that the owner of the ship having behaved like a man of honour, no injury ought to be offered to his person or property, the meeting was declared to be dissolved, and the body of the people repaired to the wharf and surrounded the immediate actors (who were 'covered with blankets, and making the appearance of Indians') as a guard and security until they had finished their work. In two or three hours they hoisted out of the holds of the ships three hundred and forty-two chests of tea, and emptied them into the sea. The Governor was unjustly censured by many people in the province, and much abused by the pamphlet and newspaper writers in England, for refusing his pass, which it is said would have saved the property thus destroyed; but he would have been justly censured if he had granted it. He was bound, as all the Governors were, by oath, faithfully to observe the Acts of Trade, and to do his endeavour that the statute of King William, which established a Custom-house, and is particularly mentioned in the Act, be carried into execution."
In Governor Hutchinson's own statement and vindication of his conduct, he admits that the meetings of the people were lawfully called and regularly conducted; that they were attended by the higher as well as lower classes of the people; that they exhausted every means in their power, deliberately and during successive days, to have the tea returned to England without damage, as was done from the ports of New York and Philadelphia; and that by his own acts, different from those of New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, whose Governors were subject to the same oaths as himself, the opposers of taxation by the British Parliament were reduced to the alternative of defeat, or of throwing the tea in question into the sea, as the Governor had effectually blocked up every possible way to their having the tea returned to England. Governor Hutchinson does not pretend to the technical scrupulousness of his oath, applicable to ordinary cases, binding him to write to the Admiral to guard the tea by an increased number of armed vessels in the channel of the harbour, and to prevent any vessel from passing out of the harbour for sea, without his own permit; nor does he intimate that he himself was the principal partner in the firm, nominally in the name of his sons, to whom the East India Company had principally consigned as agents the sale of the tea in question; much less does he say that in his letters to England, which had been mysteriously obtained by Dr. Franklin, and of the publication of which he so strongly and justly complained, he had urged the virtual deprivation of his country of its constitution of free government by having the Executive Councillors appointed and the salaries of the governor, judges, secretary, and attorney and solicitor-generals paid by the Crown out of the taxes of the people of the colony, imposed by the Imperial Parliament. Governor Hutchinson had rendered great service to his country by his History, and as a public representative, for many years in its Legislature and Councils, and was long regarded as its chief leader; but he had at length yielded to the seductions of ambition and avarice, and became an object of popular hatred instead of being, as he had many years been, a popular idol. He had sown the seed of which he was now reaping the fruits.
It is not surprising that, under such circumstances, Governor Hutchinson's health should become impaired and his spirits depressed, and that he should seek relief from his burdens and vexations by a visit to England, for which he applied and obtained permission, and which proved to be the end of his government of Massachusetts; for General Gage was appointed to succeed him as Governor, as well as Commander-in-Chief of the King's forces in America.
In reviewing the last few months of Mr. Hutchinson's government of Massachusetts, it is obvious that his ill-advised policy and mode of proceeding—arising, no doubt, in a great measure, from his personal and family interest in speculation in the new system of tea trade—was the primary and chief cause of those proceedings in which Boston differed from New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston in preventing the landing of the East India Company's tea. Had the authorities in the provinces of New York and Pennsylvania acted in the same way as did the Governor of Massachusetts, it cannot be doubted that the same scenes would have been witnessed at Charleston, Philadelphia, and New York as transpired at Boston. The eight resolutions which were adopted by the inhabitants of Philadelphia, in a public town meeting, on the 8th of October, as the basis of their proceedings against the taxation of the colonies by the Imperial Parliament, and against the landing of the East India Company's tea, were adopted by the inhabitants of Boston in a public town meeting the 3rd of November. The tea was as effectually prevented from being landed at the ports of New York and Philadelphia as it was at the port of Boston, and was as completely destroyed in the damp cellars at Charleston as in the sea water at Boston.
[Footnote 318: The resolutions adopted by a meeting of the inhabitants of Philadelphia, on the 18th of October, 1773, afford a specimen of the spirit of all the colonies, and the model of resolutions adopted in several of them, even Boston. They were as follows:
"1. That the disposal of their own property is the inherent right of freemen; that there can be no property in that which another can, of right, take from us without our consent; that the claim of Parliament to tax America is, in other words, a claim of right to levy contributions on us at pleasure.
"2. That the duty imposed by Parliament upon tea landed in America is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions on them without their consent.
"3. That the express purpose for which the tax is levied on the Americans, namely, for the support of government, administration of justice, and defence of his Majesty's dominions in America, has a direct tendency to render Assemblies useless, and to introduce arbitrary government and slavery.
"4. That a virtuous and steady opposition to this Ministerial plan of governing America is absolutely necessary to preserve even the shadow of liberty, and is a duty which every freeman in America owes to his country, to himself, and to his posterity.
"5. That the resolution lately entered into by the East India Company, to send out their tea to America, subject to the payment of duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to enforce this Ministerial plan, and a violent attack upon the liberties of America.
"6. That it is the duty of every American to oppose this attempt.
"7. That whosoever shall, directly or indirectly, countenance this attempt, or in anywise aid or abet in unloading, receiving, or vending the tea sent or to be sent out by the East India Company, while it remains subject to the payment of a duty here, is an enemy to his country.
"8. That a Committee be immediately chosen to wait on those gentlemen who it is reported are appointed by the East India Company to receive and sell said tea, and request them, from a regard to their own character, and the peace and good order of the city and province, immediately to resign their appointments." (Ramsay's Colonial History, Vol. I., pp. 372, 373.)]
[Footnote 319: Ramsay's Colonial History, Vol. 1., Chap. iii., pp. 373-375.]
[Footnote 320: Holmes' Annals, etc., Vol. II., pp. 181, 182.]
[Footnote 321: Barry's History of Massachusetts, Second Period, Chap. xiv., pp. 470-473.
The historian adds: "The Governor was in a forlorn state, and was unable to keep up even a show of authority. Every one was against him. The Houses were against him. 'The superior judges were intimidated from acting,' and 'there was not a justice of the peace, sheriff, constable, or peace-officer in the province who would venture to take cognizance of any breach of law against the general bent of the people.'"—Ib., 473, 474.]
[Footnote 322: Governor Hutchinson, in a note, referring to the mercantile English letters which contained the suggestion not to allow the landing of the tea of the East India Company, says:
"These letters were dated in England the beginning of August, and were received in America the latter end of September and the beginning of October."
Mr. Bancroft states as follows the causes and circumstances of this disastrous tea agreement between the British Ministry and East India Company:
"The continued refusal of North America to receive tea from England had brought distress upon the East India Company, which had on hand, wanting a market, great quantities imported in the faith that that agreement (in the colonies, not to purchase tea imported from England) could not hold. They were able to pay neither their dividends nor their debts; their stock depreciated nearly one-half; and the Government must lose their annual payment of four hundred thousand pounds.
"The bankruptcies, brought on partly by this means, gave such a shock to credit as had not been experienced since the South Sea year, and the great manufacturers were sufferers. The directors came to Parliament with an ample confession of their humbled state, together with entreaties for assistance and relief, and particularly praying that leave might be given to export tea free of all duties to America and to foreign ports. Had such leave been granted in respect of America, it would have been an excellent commercial regulation, as well as have restored a good understanding to every part of the empire. Instead of this, Lord North proposed to give to the Company itself the right of exporting its teas. The existing law granted on their exportation to America a drawback of three-fifths only of the duties paid on importation. Lord North now offered to the East India Company a drawback of the whole. Trecothick, in the committee, also advised to take off the import duty in America of threepence the pound, as it produced no income to the revenue; but the Ministry would not listen to the thought of relieving America from taxation. 'Then,' added Trecothick in behalf of the East India Company, 'as much or more may be brought into revenue by not allowing a full exemption from the duties paid here.' But Lord North refused to discuss the right of Parliament to tax America, insisting that no difficulty could arise; that under the new regulation America would be able to buy tea from the Company at a lower price than from any other European nation, and that men will always go to the cheapest market.
"The Ministry was still in its halcyon days; no opposition was made even by the Whigs; and the measure, which was the King's own, and was designed to put America to the test, took effect as law from the 10th day of May, 1773. It was immediately followed by a most carefully prepared answer from the King to petitions from Massachusetts, announcing that he 'considered his authority to make laws in Parliament of sufficient force and validity to bind his subjects in America, in all cases whatsoever, as essential to the dignity of the Crown, and a right appertaining to the State, which it was his duty to preserve entire and inviolate;' that he therefore 'could not but be greatly displeased with the petitions and remonstrance in which that right was drawn into question,' but that he 'imputed the unwarrantable doctrines held forth in the said petitions and remonstrance to the artifices of a few.' All this while Lord Dartmouth (the new Secretary of State for the Colonies, successor to Lord Hillsborough) 'had a true desire to see lenient measures adopted towards the colonies,' not being in the least aware that he was drifting with the Cabinet towards the very system of coercion against which he gave the most public and the most explicit pledges." (History of the United States, Vol. VI., pp. 458-460.)]
[Footnote 323: See these resolutions, in a note on pp. 374, 375.]
[Footnote 324: "In South Carolina, some of the tea was thrown into the river as at Boston." (English Annual Register for 1774, Vol. XVII., p. 50.)]
EVENTS OF 1774—ALL CLASSES IN THE COLONIES DISCONTENTED—ALL CLASSES AND ALL THE PROVINCES REJECT THE EAST INDIA COMPANY'S TEA.
The year 1774 commenced, among other legacies of 1773, with that of the discontent of all the colonies, their unanimous rejection of the East India tea, stamped with the threepenny duty of parliamentary tax, as the symbol of the absolutism of King and Parliament over the colonies. The manner of its rejection, by being thrown into the sea at Boston, was universally denounced by all parties in England. The accounts of all the proceedings in America against the admission of the East India tea to the colonial ports, were coloured by the mediums through which they were transmitted—the royal governors and their executive officers, who expected large advantages from being assigned and paid their salaries by the Crown, independent of the local Legislatures; and the consignees of the East India Company, who anticipated large profits from their monopoly of its sale. Opposition to the tea duty was represented as "rebellion"—the assertors of colonial freedom from imperial taxation without representation were designated "rebels" and "traitors," notwithstanding their professed loyalty to the Throne and to the unity of the empire, and that their utmost wishes were limited to be replaced in the position they occupied after the peace of Paris, in 1763, and after their unanimous and admitted loyalty, and even heroism, in defence and support of British supremacy in America.
"Intelligence," says Dr. Holmes, "of the destruction of the tea at Boston was communicated on the 7th of March (1774), in a message from the Throne, to both Houses of Parliament. In this communication the conduct of the colonists was represented as not merely obstructing the commerce of Great Britain, but as subversive of the British Constitution. Although the papers accompanying the Royal message rendered it evident that the opposition to the sale of the tea was common to all the colonies; yet the Parliament, enraged at the violence of Boston, selected that town as the object of its legislative vengeance. Without giving the opportunity of a hearing, a Bill was passed by which the port of Boston was legally precluded from the privilege of landing and discharging, or of lading or shipping goods, wares, and merchandise; and every vessel within the points Aldeston and Nahant was required to depart within six hours, unless laden with food or fuel.
"This Act, which shut up the harbour of Boston, was speedily followed by another, entitled 'An Act for Better Regulating the Government of Massachusetts,' which provided that the Council, heretofore elected by the General Assembly, was to be appointed by the Crown; the Royal Governor was invested with the power of appointing and removing all Judges of the Courts of Common Pleas, Commissioners of Oyer and Terminer, the Attorney-General, Provost-Marshal, Justices, Sheriffs, etc.; town meetings, which were sanctioned by the Charter, were, with few exceptions, expressly forbidden, without leave previously obtained of the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor, expressing the special business of said meeting, and with a further restriction that no matters should be treated of at these meetings except the electing of public officers and the business expressed in the Governor's permission; jurymen, who had been elected before by the freeholders and inhabitants of the several towns, were to be all summoned and returned by the sheriffs of the respective counties; the whole executive government was taken out of the hands of the people, and the nomination of all important officers invested in the King or his Governor.
"In the apprehension that in the execution of these Acts riots would take place, and that trials or murders committed in suppressing them would be partially decided by the colonists, it was provided by another Act, that if any persons were indicted for murder, or any capital offence, committed in aiding the magistracy, the Governor might send the person so indicted to another county, or to Great Britain, to be tried.
"These three Acts were passed in such quick succession as to produce the most inflammatory effects in America, where they were considered as forming a complete system of tyranny. 'By the first,' said the colonists, 'the property of unoffending thousands is arbitrarily taken away for the act of a few individuals; by the second, our chartered liberties are annihilated; and by the third, our lives may be destroyed with impunity.'"
The passing of these three Bills through Parliament was attended in each case with protracted and animated debates.
The first debate or discussion of American affairs took place on the 7th of March, in proposing an address of thanks to the King for the message and the communication of the American papers, with an assurance that the House would not fail to exert every means in their power of effectually providing for objects so important to the general welfare as maintaining the due execution of the laws, and for securing the just dependence of the colonies upon the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain.
In moving this address to pledge Parliament to the exertion of every means in its power, Mr. Rice said: "The question now brought to issue is, whether the colonies are or are not the colonies of Great Britain." Lord North said, "Nothing can be done to re-establish peace, without additional powers from Parliament." Nugent, now Lord Clare (who had advocated the Stamp Act, if the revenue from it should not exceed a peppercorn, as a symbol of parliamentary power), entreated that there might be no divided counsels. Dowdeswill said: "On the repeal of the Stamp Act, all America was quiet; but in the following year you would go in pursuit of your peppercorn—you would collect from peppercorn to peppercorn—you would establish taxes as tests of obedience. Unravel the whole conduct of America; you will find out the fault is at home." Pownall, former Governor of Massachusetts and earnest advocate of American rights, said: "The dependence of the colonies is a part of the British Constitution. I hope, for the sake of this country, for the sake of America, for the sake of general liberty, that this address will pass with a unanimous vote." Colonel Barre even applauded the good temper with which the subject had been discussed, and refused to make any opposition. William Burke, brother of Edmund Burke, said: "I speak as an Englishman. We applaud ourselves for the struggles we have had for our constitution; the colonists are our fellow-subjects; they will not lose theirs without a struggle." Wedderburn, the Solicitor-General, who bore the principal part in the debate, said: "The leading question is the dependence or independence of America." The address was adopted without a division.
On the 14th of March, Lord North explained at large his American policy, and opened the first part of his plan by asking leave to bring in a Bill for the instant punishment of Boston. He stated, says the Annual Register, "that the opposition to the authority of Parliament had always originated in the colony of Massachusetts, and that colony had been always instigated to such conduct by the irregular and seditious proceedings of the town of Boston; that, therefore, for the purpose of a thorough reformation, it became necessary to begin with that town, which by a late unpardonable outrage had led the way to the destruction of the freedom of commerce in all parts of America: that if a severe and exemplary punishment were not inflicted on this heinous act, Great Britain would be wanting in the protection she owed to her most peaceable and meritorious subjects: that had such an insult been offered to British property in a foreign port, the nation would have been called upon to demand satisfaction for it.