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122. The assembly, exasperated to the highest degree, charged their governor with having misrepresented them at the court of Britain ; required him to produce copies of the letters he had sent; and on his refusal, wrote letters to the English ministry, accusing him of misrepresentation and partiality, complaining at the same time most grievously of the proceedings of parliament, as utterly subversive of the liberties of America, and the rights of British subjects.
123. The governor, at a loss how to defend himself, prorogued the assembly, and in his speech on the occasion, gave loose to his resentment, accusing the members of ambitious designs, incompatible with those of dutiful and loyal subjects. To counteract the circular letter of the province of Massachusetts Bay, lord Hillsborough, secretary for the American department, sent another to the governors of the different colonies, reprobating that sent by the assembly of Massachusetts Bay, as full of misrepresentation, and tending to excite a rebellion against the parent state.
124. Matters were now drawing to a crisis. The governor had been ordered to proceed with vigor, and by no means show any disposition to yield to the people as formerly. In particular, they were required to rescind that resolution by which they had written the circular letter above-mentioned ; and in case of a refusal, it was told them the assembly would be dissolved. As this letter had been framed by the resolutions of a former house, they desired, after a week's consultation, that a recess might be granted to consult with their constituents; but this being refused, they came to a determination, 92 against 17, to adhere to the resolution which produced the circular letter.
125. At the same time a letter was sent to lord Hillsborough, and a message to the governor, in justification of their proceedings. In both they expressed themselves with such freedom, as was by no means calculated to accord with the views of those in power. They insisted they had a right to communicate their sentiments to their fellow-subjects upon matters of importance; complained of the requisition to rescind the circular letter, as unconstitutional and unjust ; and insisted that they were represented as harboring seditious designs, when they were doing nothing but what was lawful and right. At the same time they condemned the late acts of parliament, as highly oppressive, and subversive of liberty. The whole was concluded by a list of accusations against their governor, representing him as unfit to continue in his station, and petitioning the king for his removal from it.
126. These proceedings were followed by a violent tumult at Boston. A vessel, belonging to a large merchant, had been seized in consequence of his having neglected some of the new regulations, and being taken under the protection of a man-ofwar, at that time lying in the harbor, the populace attacked the houses of the excise officers, broke their windows, destroyed the collector's boats, and obliged the custom-house officers to take refuge in Castle William, on an island situated at the en. trance of the harbor.
127. The governor now took the last step in his power to put a stop to the violent proceedings of the assembly, by dissolving it entirely ; but this was of little moment. Their behavior had been highly approved of by the other colonists, who had written letters to them, expressive of their approbation. After the dissolution of the assembly, frequent meetings were held by the people in Boston, which ended in a remonstrance to the governor, to the same purpose as some of the former; but concluded with a request, that he would assume such authority as to order the king's ships out of the harbor.
128. While the disposition of the Bostonians was thus going on from bad to worse, news arrived that the agent of the col. ony had not been allowed to deliver their petition to the king; it having been objected, that the
assembly without the governor was not sufficient authority. This did not allay the ferment; it was further augmented, by the news that a number of troops had been ordered to repair to Boston, to keep the inhabitants in
A dreadful alarm now ensued; the people called on the governor to convene a general assembly, in order to remove their fears of the military; who, they said, were to be assembled to overthrow their liberties, and force obedience to the laws to which they were entirely averse.
129. The governor replied, it was no longer in his power to call an assembly, having, in his last instructions from England, been required to wait the king's orders; the matter being then under consideration in England. Thus refused, the people took upon
themselves to call an assembly, which they termed a convention.
130. The proceedings and resolutions of this body partook of the temper and disposition of the late assembly; but they went a step further : and having voted, “That there is appre. hension in the minds of many, of an approaching rupture with France,” requested the inhabitants to put themselves in a posture of defence against any sudden attack of an enemy; and circular letters were directed to all the towns in the province,
acquainting them with the resolutions that had been taken in
the capital, and exhorting them to proceed in the same manner. · The town of Hatfield alone refused its concurrence.
131. The convention thought proper, however, to assure the governor of their pacific intentions, and renewed their request, that a general assembly might be called: but being refused an
audience, and threatened to be treated as rebels, they at last & thought proper to dissolve themselves, and sent over to Britain
a circumstantial account of their proceedings, with the reason for having assembled in the manner already mentioned.
132. On the very day the convention broke up, the troops arrived, and houses in the town were fitted up for their reception. Their arrival had a considerable influence on the people, and for some time put a stop to the disturbances; but the seeds of discord had taken such deep root, that it was impossible to quench the flame. The outrageous behavior of the people of
Boston had given great offence in England; and, notwithstand. : ing all the efforts of opposition, an address from both houses of
parliament was presented to the king; in which the behavior of the colony of Massachusetts Bay was set forth in the most ample manner, and vigorous measures recommended for re
ducing them to obedience. The Americans, however, continued EC stedfast in the ideas they had adopted.
133. Though the troops had, for some time, quieted the disturbances, yet the calm continued no longer than they were formidable on account of their numbers ; for, as soon as they were separated by the departure of a large detachment, the remainder were treated with contempt, and it was resolved to expel them totally. The country people took up arms for this purpose, and were to have assisted their friends in Boston ; but before the plot could be put in execution, an event happened which put an end to every idea of reconciliation between the contending parties.
134. On the 5th of March 1770, a scuffle happened between the soldiers and a party of town's people; the inhabitants poured in to the assistance of their fellow-citizens; a violent tumult ensued, during which the military firing upon the popu- . lace, killed and wounded several of them. The whole province now rose in arms, and the soldiers were obliged to retire to Cas. tle William to prevent their being cut to pieces. But on the trial, notwithstanding popular prejudice and apprehension, the captain and six of the men were acquitted: two men only being found guilty of man-slaughter.
135. In other respects, the determinations of the Americans
gained strength ; until at last the government determining to act with vigor, and, at the same time, with as much condescension as was consistent with its dignity, without abandoning their principles, repealed all the duties laid ; that on tea alone excepted : and this, it was thought, could not be productive of any discontent in America, as being an affair of very little moment; the produce of which was not expected to exceed sixteen thou. sand pounds sterling.
136. The oppositionists were strenuous in their endeavors to get this tax repealed ; insisting, that the Americans would con. sider it as an inlet to others; and, that the repeal of all the rest, without this, would answer no good purpose: the event showed that their opinion was well-founded. The Americans opposed the tea tax, with the same violence as they had done all the rest; and when they were informed that salaries had been set. tled on the judges of the superior court of Boston, the governor was addressed on the subject; the measure was condemned in the strongest terms; and a committee selected out of the sev. eral districts of the colony to inquire into it.
137. The new assembly proceeded in the most formal man. ner to disavow the supremacy of the British legislature, and accused the parliament of Great Britain of having violated the natural rights of the Americans, in a number of instances. Copies of the transactions of this assembly, were transmitted to every town in Massachusetts, exhorting the inhabitants to rouse themselves, and exert every nerve in opposition to the iron hand of oppression, which was daily tearing the choicest fruits from the fair tree of liberty.
138. These disturbances were also greatly heightened by an accidental discovery, that governor Hutchinson had written several confidential letters to persons in power, in England, complaining of the behavior of the people of the province, recommending vigorous measures against them, and asserting that “there must be an abridgment of what is called British liberty." Letters of this kind had fallen into the hands of the agent for the colony at London. They were immediately transmitted to ! Boston, where the assembly was sitting, by whom they were laid before the governor, who was thus reduced to a very mor. tifying situation.
139. Losing every idea of respect or friendship for him, as their governor, they instantly dispatched a petition to the king, requesting him to remove the governor and deputy-governor from their places : but to this they not only received an unfavorable answer, but the petition itself was declared groundless
and scandalous. Matters were now nearly ripe for the utmost extremities on the part of the Americans, and they were precipitated in the following manner.
140. Though the colonies had entered into a non-importation agreement against tea, as well as all other commodities from Britain, it had nevertheless found its way into America, though in smaller quantities than before. This was sensibly felt by the East-India Company, who had now agreed to pay a large sum annually to government; in recompense for which compliance, and to make up their losses in other respects, they were empowered to export their tea, free from any duty payable in England : and, in consequence of this permission, several ships freighted with this commodity were sent to North America, and proper agents appointed for taking charge of it.
141. The Americans, now perceiving that the tax was thus likely to be enforced, whether they were willing or not, determined to take every possible method to prevent the tea from being landed; well knowing that it would be impossible to hinder the sale, should the commodity once be brought on shore. For this purpose the people assembled in great numbers, forcing those to whom the tea was consigned, to resign their offices; and to promise solemnly never to resume them; committees were appointed to examine the accounts of merchants, and make public tests, declaring such as would not take them enemies to their country. Nor was this behavior confined to the colony of Massachusetts Bay; the rest of the provinces entered into the contest with the same warmth; and manifested the same resolution to oppose this invasion of their rights.
142. In the midst of this confusion, three ships arrived at Boston, laden with tea; but so much were the captains alarmed at the disposition of the people, that they offered, providing they could get the proper discharges from the tea-consignees, custom-house, and governor, to return to Britain without landing their
cargoes. The parties concerned, though they durst not order the tea to be landed, refused to grant the discharges required. The ships would have been obliged to remain in the harbor ; but the people, apprehensive that if they remained there, the tea would be landed in small quantities, and disposed of in spite of every endeavor to prevent it; resolved to destroy it at once.
143. This resolution was executed with equal speed and secrecy. The very evening after the above-mentioned discharges had been refused, a number of people, dressed like Mohawk Indians, boarded the ships, and threw their whole cargoes into