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The famous happenings of an eventful period in Boston's early history, from the dawn of the Revolution until the town became a city, are here handled with a fresh and vigorous touch. Many little-known incidents are introduced and a large amount of material hitherto the possession of some private family is included. The chapters on the early social and literary life, the establishment of the first theatre and the famous French visitors are of special interest. Miss Crawford's style achieves that happy mingling of historical accuracy and vivacious comment that have made her previous books so successful.
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Old Boston Days & Ways
From The Dawn Of The Revolution Until The Town Became A City
MARY CAROLINE CRAWFORD
Old Boston Days & Ways, Mary C. Crawford
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
CHAPTER I. THE MASTER OF THE PUPPETS. 3
CHAPTER II. THE CHALLENGE TO THE CROWN.. 9
CHAPTER III. TWO ENGLISH CHAMPIONS OF THE DAWNING REPUBLIC 16
CHAPTER IV. WHEN EARL PERCY LIVED OPPOSITE THE COMMON 20
CHAPTER V. THE SPRIGHTLY CHRONICLES OF JOHN ANDREWS 31
CHAPTER VI. THE MESSENGER OF THE REVOLUTION.. 48
CHAPTER VII. WHEN FANEUIL HALL WAS A PLAYHOUSE.. 62
CHAPTER VIII. A PAINTER OF FAIR WOMEN... 83
CHAPTER IX. JOHN HANCOCK AND HIS DOROTHY.. 94
CHAPTER X. THE MAN OF THE TOWN MEETING.. 110
CHAPTER XI. IN THE REIGN OF A REPUBLICAN "KING". 118
CHAPTER XII. AN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY AERONAUT.. 131
CHAPTER XIII. THE BEGINNINGS OF LITERATURE AND MUSIC.. 137
CHAPTER XIV. SOME FAMOUS FRENCH VISITORS TO THE TOWN 149
CHAPTER XV. TWO HEROES OF PEACE.. 168
CHAPTER XVI. SOCIAL LIFE IN THE TRANSITION PERIOD... 178
CHAPTER XVII. EARLY BOSTON THEATRES AND THEIR STARS. 185
Almost of necessity a town is a different thing, and has a social life quite distinct, from a city. On its political side it is endowed with color and individuality, from the very fact that its humblest inhabitant may, at town meeting, raise his voice to oppose the motion of the richest and most renowned man in the community. And, on the social side, it possesses a simplicity of interests, a delightful neighborliness, and a quality of charming intimacy which may never be claimed by a city.
So, in this book, — which takes up where my "St. Botolph's Town" dropped it, the story of Boston's share in the struggle for independence, — I have stopped just short of the time when we blossomed into a municipality and indulged in a mayor and aldermen.
The end of Boston's life as a town seemed to me really the end of an era and I thought I could paint a better picture of life and manners here, during the period which followed the Revolution, if I did not venture far into the history of the nineteenth century.
Besides, the niche that I have endeavored to fill in this book has been curiously vacant heretofore. No single volume happens to have covered intensively, so to speak, that very interesting formative period when the peculiar genius of Boston was beginning to find itself in art, in politics, and in civic life. Characteristically, I have passed lightly over the politics and have dealt with the personal rather than with the technical side of the arts. I am so incorrigibly of the opinion that the people of a period are its history!
My warm thanks are due to the Houghton Mifflin Company for their courtesy in permitting the quotations credited to Mr. James K. Hosmer's "Life of Samuel Adams," and to Mr. Harold Murdock's "Earl Percy's Dinner Table"; thanks I give also to Mr. Howard W. Spurr for his kindness in allowing extracts from Goss's "Life of Paul Revere," to Mr. Charles Knowles Bolton, of the Boston Athenaeum, for his personal helpfulness and for his generous permission to draw upon the rich illustrative material in the possession of the library, to Mr. Louis A. Holman, to Mrs. James A. Garland, who has helped me greatly in the Tudor data and pictures, to Mr. William Sumner Appleton, who has cooperated to the end that the lovely portrait of Mrs. Richard Derby might appear in the book, to Mr. William B. Clarke, for his service in connection with Revere's lantern-hanger, and to the New England Magazine, whose publishers have kindly placed at my disposal a wealth of rare information about old Boston.
The works which have been consulted in the preparation of this volume are many more than could be named here, and credit to them is, for the most part, given in the text. But my debt to the invaluable "Memorial History of Boston" is so great that I must acknowledge it here as well as there. I heartily thank also the many custodians and collectors who have helped me in my browsings among those contemporary newspapers and documents, without which no history of this period could be written, but for which, lacking the kindly aid of specialists, one would so often search libraries and bookshops in vain. m. c. c.
Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1909.
AN interesting essay might be written on the Scape-goats of History and in such a work a prominent place should be given to Thomas Hutchinson, lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts in 1760 and throughout the most trying period, — from the point of view of a King's man, — in the whole history of the colonies. Hutchinson was not at all a bad sort of person. He was honest, sincere, devoted, and he did faithfully his duty as he saw it. His error was simply that which is being made all around us to-day by men high in authority — as he was: distrust of the common people. Of course it is true, as James K. Hosmer has tersely said, that "Hutchinson ought to have known how to choose better, sprung as he was from the best New England strain and nurtured from his cradle in the atmosphere of freedom." But Hutchinson was the type of man who could not see beyond his own dooryard. And in that dooryard some very unpleasant things had happened to him and his.
Prejudice has so warped our judgment that most of us to-day credit Hutchinson with advocacy of the Stamp Act, just as the mob who destroyed his beautiful house did. Yet, from the first, he believed and declared that the King had made a great mistake in instituting this measure in the colonies. But he was the sworn servant of the crown and he conceived it to be his sacred duty to oppose the acts of unlawfulness which were being perpetrated on all sides. In the first great " strike " of the Bostonians, — the refusal of the people to use stamped paper, — he took exactly the position that law-abiding citizens everywhere take today, i. e. he condemned, with all the strength which he possessed, outbreaks of "mob violence." As a result he was credited with " standing for" the particular measure involved, — and had to pay the price.
While feeling about the Stamp Act was at fever heat a sermon preached against violence was interpreted by a half-drunken mob, who had heard only rumors of it, as urging them to resent the Act. Whereupon they literally tore to pieces the house of Thomas Hutchinson, the outward and visible sign of Crown Authority in America. I have in a previous book quoted entire the graphic letter written by Hutchinson to Richard Jackson on October 30, 1765, immediately after this disgraceful episode, and I challenge anyone, after reading what was done on that occasion, to declare without justification Hutchinson's firm conviction that the people of Boston stood in great need of authoritative government.
What Hutchinson did not take into account, of course, was the power of such men as George Washington and Samuel Adams to inspire in the unruly individuals who swayed the turbulent mass a sense of dignity, of fair-dealing and of responsibility. It is indeed to the vitalizing influence of the man whom Hutchinson derisively termed, "the master of the puppets,"
that we of to-day owe chiefly that change of heart on the part of the Bostonians which made possible the effective resistance of the Revolution.
Adams, "the man of the town meeting," as he has come to be generally called, is a character whom one has to know well to estimate fairly. He certainly was overweeningly masterful at times and one frequently detects in him a Jesuitical tendency to justify the means by the end which it is not easy to square with one's idea of simple honesty. Moreover, his trembling hands and weak voice, — due to a certain paralytic affection, — make him not at all the imposing hero of swash-buckling romance; there is indeed absolutely nothing of glamor in his personality. If, however, we put the emphasis upon the things the man did rather than upon the way he looked, and upon the cause for which he was laboring rather than upon the sometimes unworthy means he took to accomplish his purposes, we must admire him in spite of ourselves. Nor need we make a butt of Hutchinson in order to do this. Each was sui generis and while the lieutenant-governor, who lacked faith in the folk-mote, was spending his scant leisure hours collecting material for his valuable and wonderfully judicial works on New England history, Samuel Adams was making friends with the common people, — talking with them at their work and drinking flip with them at humble taverns after their work was done.
With Samuel Adams it seems to have been scarcely a question of choice. To protest against sovereign authority, as opposed to the folk-mote, appears to have been the logical expression of the man's own nature. There had been no encroachments to stir his blood to indignant protest when, at twenty-one, he chose for the subject of his master's thesis at Harvard the question: "Whether it be lawful to resist the Supreme Magistrate, if the Commonwealth cannot otherwise be preserved," and argued, in the presence of Governor Bernard and other dignitaries of the Crown, that such resistance would be the most natural thing in the world.
Adams believed in the folk-mote, as he did in a Supreme Being. To defend the one was as natural to him as to reverence the other. To understand Samuel Adams we must, therefore, understand the Town Meeting.
Gordon, a writer of the period, has this to say of the units which, at the time of the Revolution, made up Massachusetts: "Every town is an incorporated republic. The selectmen, by their own authority, or upon the application of a certain number of townsmen, issue a warrant for the calling of a town meeting. The warrant mentions the business to be engaged in and no other can be legally executed. The inhabitants are warned to attend; and they that are present, though not a quarter or a tenth of the whole, have a right to proceed. They choose a president by the name of moderator, who regulates the proceedings of the meeting. Each individual has an equal liberty of delivering his opinion, and is not liable to be silenced or browbeaten by a richer or greater townsman than himself. Every freeman or freeholder gives his vote or not, and for or against as he pleases; and each vote weighs equally, whether that of the highest or lowest inhabitant." . . All the New England towns were on the same plan in general and, at this particular time, there were in Massachusetts (which then included Maine also) more than two hundred towns containing in all 210,000 white inhabitants.
The town of towns among all these was of course Boston, which, though it had now lost the distinction of being the largest town in America, still remained the intellectual head of the country. Its common schools, in which Samuel Adams prepared for college,— and which he visited as a committeeman from 1753, —gave every child a good education; and Harvard was practically a Boston institution then as it is today. The ministry still continued to be the profession which attracted a number of the ablest intellects turned out by Harvard, and of these the best men were selected for Boston pulpits. But no minister stood out preeminent in politics now as in the time of the Mathers, for the merchants were fast coming to the fore and law was just beginning to be recognized as a profession worthy of an educated man. Samuel Adams was a maltster and, very likely, could have made a comfortable fortune for himself had he devoted to business the attention which he bestowed upon the pursuit of liberty for all men. At the bottom of the social scale, in the Boston of that day, were the negro slaves. The columns of the newspapers contain many advertisements of slaves for sale and of runaways sought by their masters. But these slaves were, most of them, family servants whose rights were carefully guarded and, soon after the Revolution, slavery became extinguished in Massachusetts. Few of the negroes were workmen at trades. Labor therefore was brought into no disrepute by their presence, and of all the classes in the community the men who worked with their hands were, in many ways, the most interesting, the most virile. The caulkers were bold politicians, and the ropewalk men were always to the fore when there was a redcoat to be harried or a gathering at the Liberty Tree to be sustained by their vigorous presence. These men it was who, by the efficient way in which they did their day's work, enabled John Hancock and his kind to flourish and amass wealth.
Copley, with his artist's insight, understood this very well, and when he painted a merchant prince, sitting in a carved chair with a chart of the distant seas spread out on the table before him, he very often gave a glimpse through the window of a busy wharf or a full-rigged ship, with its hint of sinewy men enlisted for hard, capable service. As a result of their work he seemed to say, these merchant princes can be painted in velvet breeches, silk stockings, and finely plaited linen stocks.
It was Boston's commercial prosperity which made possible the social life thus described by Bennett, an English visitor whom Scudder quotes: "Every afternoon, after drinking tea, the gentlemen and ladies walk in the Mall, and from thence adjourn to one another's houses to spend the evening, — those that are not disposed to attend the evening lectures; which they may do, if they please, six nights in seven the year round. What they call the Mall is a walk on a fine green or common adjoining to the south-west side of the town. It is near half a mile over with two rows of young trees planted opposite to each other with a fine footway between, in imitation of St. James Park; and part of the bay of the sea which encircles the town, taking its course along the north-west side of the Common, — by which it is bounded on the one side and the country on the other, — forms a beautiful canal in view of the walk.
"Their rural diversions are chiefly shooting and fishing. For the former the woods afford them plenty of game; and the rivers and ponds with which this country abounds yield them great plenty as well as variety of fine fish. The government being in the hands of dissenters they don't admit of plays or music-houses; but of late they have set up an assembly to which some of the ladies resort. But notwithstanding plays and such like diversions do not obtain here, they don't seem to be dispirited nor moped for want of them, for both the ladies and gentlemen dress and appear as gay, in common, as courtiers in England on a coronation or birthday. And the ladies here visit, drink tea, and indulge every little bit of gentility to the height of the mode, and neglect the affairs of their families with as good a grace as the finest ladies in London."
Of course it was rich folk whom the visitor has here depicted, people who had their portraits painted, and attended such dinners as that given by Ralph Inman (on July 16, 1772) and thus described by John Rowe: "I went early to Mr. Inman's who made the genteelest Entertainment I ever saw on acct of his son George taking his Degree yesterday — he had three hundred and forty seven Gentlemen & Ladies dined. Two hundred & Ten at one Table — amongst the Company The Govr & Family, the Lieut Governour & Family, The Admirall & Family & all the Remainder, Gentlemen & Ladies of Character & Reputation. The whole was conducted with much Ease & Pleasure & all Joyned in making each other Happy — such an entertainment has not been made in New England before on any Occasion."
The common people and their contact with the social life of the time are more adequately represented in Bennett's picture of an eighteenth century Sunday in Boston. "Their observation of the Sabbath (which they rather choose to call by the name of the Lord's Day, whensoever they have occasion to mention it) is the strictest kept that ever I saw anywhere. On that day no man, woman or child is permitted to go out of town on any pretence whatsoever; nor can any that are out of town come in on the Lord's Day. The town being situated on a peninsula there is but one way out of it by land; which is over a narrow neck of land at the south end of the town, which is enclosed by a fortification and the gates shut by way of prevention.
There is a ferry, indeed, at the north end of the town; but care is taken by way of prevention there also.
"And as they will by no means admit of trading on Sunday, so they are equally tenacious about preserving good order in the town on the Lord's Day: and they will not suffer any one to walk down to the waterside, though some of the houses are adjoining to the several wharfs, nor, even in the hottest days of summer, will they admit of anyone to take air on the Common which lies contiguous to the town, as Moorfields does to Finsbury. And if two or three people who meet one another in the street by accident stand talking together, if they do not disperse immediately on the first notice they are liable to fine and imprisonment. But that which is the most extraordinary thing is that they commence the Sabbath from the setting of the sun on the Saturday evening; and, in conformity to that, all trade and business ceases, and every shop in the town is shut up: even a barber is finable for shaving after that time.
Nor are any of the taverns permitted to entertain company; for in that case, not only the house, but every person found therein is finable. . . .
"As to their ministers, there is no compulsory tax upon the people for their support, but everyone contributes according to their inclination or ability; and it is collected in the following manner: every Sunday, in the afternoon, as soon as the sermon is ended, and before the singing of the last psalm, they have a vacant space of time, on which there are three or four men come along with long wooden boxes which they present to every pew for the reception of what every one is pleased to put in them. The first time I saw this method of collecting for the parson, it put me in mind of the waiters at Sadler's Wells, who used to collect their money just before the beginning of the last act. But notwithstanding they thus collect the money for the maintenance of the clergy in general, yet they are not left to depend entirely upon the uncertainty of what people shall happen to give, but have a certain sum paid them every Monday morning whether so much happens to be collected or not; and no one of them has less than a hundred pounds sterling per annum, which is a comfortable support in this part of the world."
The total population of the Boston thus described was now about sixteen thousand people. Practically all of these people were readers and there were newspapers to suit every stripe of political persuasion. The people may be said to have edited their papers themselves, for instead of the impersonal articles of the modern journal the columns of the press were given over, — after the news and advertisements had been inserted, — to letters signed by such pseudonyms as " A Chatterer," " Vindex," "Philantrop" and so on. Adams contributed constantly to the Boston Gazette, whose bold proprietors, Edes and Gill, made their sheet the voice of the patriot sentiment and gave their office to be a rallying point for the popular leaders. "Vindex" is a favorite signature of Adams about this time. The following letter, prepared for the anniversary of the repeal of the Stamp Act and printed in the Providence Gazette as well as in the publication of Edes and Gill, shows that Adams made no mistake in using his pen as a weapon: "When I consider the corruption of Great Britain, their load of debt, — their intestine divisions, tumults and riots, — their scarcity of provisions and the contempt in which they are held by the nations about them; and when I consider, on the other hand, the State of the American Colonies with Regard to the various Climates, Soils, Produce, rapid Population, joined to the virtue of the Inhabitants, — I cannot but think that the Conduct of Old England towards us may be permitted by Divine Wisdom, and ordained by the unsearchable providence of the Almighty for hastening a period dreadful to Great Britain.
"A Son of Liberty."
How inevitable it was that Adams should clash with Hutchinson we can easily see by placing alongside this extract a passage from a letter written not long after this, by the governor to a kinsman in Dublin, and pointing out that "the supreme absolute legislative power must remain in England." So, in the deepening strife, the Defender of Prerogative and the Man of the Town Meeting confront one another.
SHIPS of war, some little time before this, had cast anchor in the harbor, and two regiments were now (1770) encamped on the Common further to ensure the execution of the royal will. The cause of the coming of the troops had been the defiance by the Massachusetts legislature of the king's command to rescind a certain circular letter which had been sent out by Samuel Adams with the unmistakable purpose of securing the cooperation of the other colonies in resistance to the Townshend Acts. The king desired above all things to prevent any such union as this, and it occurred to him that he could do much to head it off by frightening the patriots with redcoats. But Parliament had its own quarrels with George III, and would not easily consent to this course. Accordingly, some excuse was needed to justify the unusual measure. The sacking of Hutchinson's house was made so to serve. Then, in June, 1768, there was a slight conflict between townspeople and revenue officers, in which no one was hurt, but which led to a great town meeting in the Old South Meeting-House, and gave color to Governor Bernard's complaint that Boston was a disorderly town, and that he was being intimidated and hindered in the execution of the laws there.
Yet the king's real purpose in sending the troops was, as has been hinted, to force the people to observe the odious Townshend Acts.
This being the case the arrival of the soldiers simply increased, of course, the danger of disturbance. Moreover, even according to British-made law, the men should have been lodged in Castle William down the harbor. The trouble which immediately ensued may be directly traced indeed to the infringement of this provision. For encounters between the soldiery and the town people soon became frequent, and in September, 1769, James Otis was brutally assaulted at the British Coffee House by one of the commissioners of customs, aided and abetted by two or three army officers.
Otis eventually became insane from being struck on the head in this affray, and the feeling of the people toward the soldiers naturally increased in bitterness.
The Boston Massacre was, then, as inevitable as the explosion of a cask of powder into which a lighted match has been thrown. For a week there had been collisions here and there throughout the town, and the affair before the Custom-house on King Street, in the course of which seven of Captain Preston's company fired into the crowd, killing five men and wounding several others, was but the logical climax to what had gone before. The slaughter of those five men, — one of whom was Crispus Attucks, now memorialized on Boston Common, — secured in a moment what a year and a half of decorous protest had failed to accomplish, — the withdrawal of the troops to the Castle. Hutchinson had to do this in spite of himself, for Samuel Adams, at the head of a committee just appointed by an immense mass-meeting in the Old South Church, came to him in the council chamber of the Town House and, in the name of three thousand freemen, commanded the removal of the soldiers.
When the news of this move reached Parliament the two regiments thus summarily withdrawn at the request of a mere citizen were dubbed by Lord North the " Sam Adams's regiments."
Yet, so strong still was self-restraint and a sense of justice in the community, that Captain Preston and his men had a fair trial, their counsel being people of no less importance than John Adams and Josiah Quincy. Six of the soldiers, together with the captain, were acquitted; the two men who were found guilty were branded on the hand.
In the diary of Deacon John Tudor, — a rare and privately published work, — I have come upon what seems a contemporary and an eminently fair account of this historic encounter: "March, 1770, On Monday evening the 5th current, a few Minutes after 9 O'clock a most horrid murder was committed in King Street before the Custom house Door by 8 or 9 Soldiers under the Command of Capt Thos Preston of from the Main Guard on the South side of the Town House. This unhappy affair began by Some Boys & young fellows throwing Snow Balls at the sentry placed at the Customhouse Door. On which 8 or 9 Solders Came to his assistance. Soon after a Number of people collected, when the Capt commanded the Soldiers to fire, which they did and 3 Men were Kil'd on the Spot & several Mortaly Wounded, one of which died next morning. The Capt soon drew off his Soldiers up to the Main Guard, or the Consequencis mite have been terable, for on the Guns fiering the people were alarm'd & set the Bells a Ringing as if for Fire, which drew Multitudes to the place of action. Levt Governor Hutchinson, who was Commander in Chefe, was sent for & Came to the Council Chamber, were some of the Magistrates attended. The Governor desired the Multitude about 10 O'clock to sepperat & go home peaceable & he would do all in his power that Justice shold be don &c. The 29 Regiment being then under Arms on the south side of the Townhouse, but the people insisted that the Soldiers should be ordered to their Barracks 1st before they would' sepperat, Which being don the people sepperated aboute 1 O'clock. Capt Preston was taken up by a warrent given to the high Sherif by Justice Dania & Tudor [the writer of the Diary] and came under Examination about 2 O'clock & we sent him to Goal soon after 3, having Evidence sufficient to commit him on his ordering the soldiers to fire; So aboute 4 O'clock the Town became quiet. The next forenoon the 8 Soldiers that fired on the inhabitants was also sent to Goal.
"Tuesday a. m. the inhabitants mett at Faneuil Hall & after some pertinant speeches, chose a Committee of 15 Gentlemen to waite on the Levt Governor in Council, to request the immediate removeal of the Troops. The message was in these Words. That it is the unanimous opinion of this Meeting that the inhabitants & soldiery can no longer live together in safety; that nothing can Ratonaly be expected to restore the peace of the Town & prevent Blood & Carnage but the removal of the Troops: and that we most fervently pray his Honor that his power & influence may be exerted for their instant removal. His Honor's Reply was. Gentlemen I am extremely sorry for the unhappy difference & especially of the last Evening & Signifieng that it was not in his power to remove the Troops &c &c.
"The Above Reply was not satisfactory to the Inhabitants, as but one Regiment should be Removed to the Castle Barracks. In the afternoon the Town Adjourned to Dr. Sewill's Meetinghouse [the Old South], for Fanieuil Hall was not larg enough to hold the people, their being at least 2,000, some supos'd near 4,000, when they chose a Committee to waite on the Levt. Governor to let him & the Council Know that nothing less will satisfy the people than a total & immedaiate removal of the Troops oute of the Town. — His Honor laid before the Council the Vote of the Town. The Council thereon expressed themselves to be unanimously of opinion that it was absolutely Necessary for his Majesty service, the good order of the Town &c that the Troops Should be immeditly removed oute of the Town.
"His Honor Communicated this advice of the Council to Col Dalrymple & desir'd he would order the Troops down to Castle William.
After the Col. had seen the Vote of the Council He gave his Word & honor to the Town's Committe that both Regiments should be remov'd without delay. The Comte return'd to the Town Meeting & Mr. Hancock, chairman of the Com'te Read their Report as above, which was received with a shoute & clap of hands which made the Meetinghouse Ring: So the Meeting was dessolved and a great number of Gentlemen appear'd to Watch the Center of the Town & the prison, which continued for II Nights and all was quiet again, as the Soldiers was all moved of to the Castle."
But the Yankee dead of that fifth of March were buried with a great funeral procession in the Granary Burying Ground and on each fifth of March after that, until the celebration of July 4th came to take its place, the day of the massacre was observed at Boston in stirring patriotic addresses. Before the news of the massacre had reached England, on the very day indeed of the event, Lord North brought in a bill to repeal the duties which the Bostonians so deeply resented with the exception of that on tea. This the king insisted upon retaining in order to avoid surrendering the principle at issue. The first effect of the royal generosity was to weaken the spirit of opposition in America and to create a division among the colonies. For the greater part of the Americans were desirous, after the fashion of mankind everywhere, to let things go on peaceably if possible. Hutchinson shrewdly observed, in June, 1772, that the union of the colonies seemed to be broken and he hoped it would not be renewed, for he believed it meant separation from the mother country, and that he regarded as the worst of calamities.
Already Dr. Franklin, the ablest man to whom Boston had ever given birth, had been appointed agent of Massachusetts in England and was striving in every way he could to harmonize the interests of the two contestants.
His efforts in this direction were variously received. In his Journal for "Wednesday 16 January, 1771," one reads: "I went this morning to wait on Lord Hillsborough. The porter at first denied his Lordship, on which I left my name and drove off. But before the coach got out of the square the coachman came
and said, 'His Lordship will see you, sir.' I was shown into the levee room where I found Governor Bernard, who, I understand, attends there constantly." Bernard and Franklin were not fond of each other, neither being able, truth to tell, to do the other justice. Moreover, Bernard and Hutchinson were friends and Franklin was bent, as subsequent developments showed, upon the removal from office of the author of the " Hutchinson letters."
In the autumn of 1772, an extra session of the assembly was wanted to consider what should be done about having the judges paid by the Crown. This Hutchinson refused to call, whereupon Samuel Adams devised a scheme by which assemblies were rendered unnecessary. Each town, at his suggestion, appointed a standing committee which could consult with committees from other towns and decide upon the action to be taken in case of emergency.
From the fact that the greater part of the work of these committees was necessarily done by letter they were called "Committees of Correspondence." This was the step that effectively organized the Revolution. For now there was always in session an invisible legislature which the governor had no means of stopping.
The next step was the extension of the plan so that there were committees of correspondence between the several colonies. From that to a permanent Continental Congress was an easy transition.
No sooner was the machinery for resistance at hand than there came a magnificent opportunity to use it and to challenge the Crown. The duty on tea had not been removed, and in America generally no tea was being imported from England. The colonists were smuggling it from Holland. Now, unless the Americans could be made to buy tea from England and pay the duty on it, the king must own himself defeated, — and the East India Company would be deprived of a valuable market. A law was accordingly pushed through Parliament authorizing the exportation of tea without the payment of duty in England. As a result, it was pointed out, the tea, plus the tax imposed by the Revenue Act, could be sold in America under the cost of tea smuggled from Holland.
It was supposed that the Americans would, of course, buy the tea that they could get most cheaply. Not yet had it been borne in upon the stupid ministers of the king that those men in America were contending for a principle, not looking for a bargain in groceries.
Clearly, theirs was the blindness of those who will not see. The attitude of the colonists towards tea had been repeatedly defined. Communication was slow in those days, to be sure, but all that happened eventually found its way to the mother country and the news that tea was a tabooed beverage in Boston could not have failed to reach those interested. A meeting had been held at Faneuil Hall in which the men had voted to abstain totally from the use of tea (many of them really liked it, too, in those days), and soon the mistresses of four hundred and ten families pledged themselves to drink no more tea till the Revenue Act was repealed.
A few days later, one hundred and twenty young ladies formed a similar league. "We, the daughters of those patriots," said they, "who have and do now appear for the public interest, and in that principally regard their posterity, — as such do with pleasure engage with them in denying ourselves the drinking of foreign tea, in hope to frustrate a plan that tends to deprive a whole community of all that is valuable in life." And, not to be behind the Daughters of Liberty, the students of Harvard College bound themselves, in 1768, to use no more of "that pernicious herb."
Even the children caught the infection of liberty. Hannah Winthrop writes to Mrs. Mercy Warren, in 1769: "I went to see Mrs. Otis, the other day. She seems not to be in a good state of health. I received a visit lately from Master Jemmy. I will give you an anecdote of him. A gentleman telling him what a Fine Lady his mama is & he hoped he would be a good Boy & behave exceeding well to her, my young master gave this spirited answer, I know my Mama is a fine Lady, but she would be a much finer if she was a Daughter of Liberty." It once even fell to the lot of John Adams to be rebuked by a Daughter of Liberty for having called for tea in her house. "Is it lawful for a weary traveler to refresh himself with a dish of tea, provided it has been honestly smuggled or paid no duties?" he asked. "No, sir," responded the lady. "We have renounced all tea in this place, but I'll make you coffee."
Even the word aroused resentment, it will be seen.
In New York, Philadelphia and Charleston, mass-meetings of the people voted that the consignees to whom the East India Company had shipped the odious tea should be ordered to resign their offices, and they did so. At Philadelphia the tea-ship was met and sent back to England before it had come within the jurisdiction of the custom-house. At Charleston the tea was landed, and as there was no one to receive it or pay the duty, it was thrown into a damp cellar and left there to spoil. In Boston things took a different turn. Three times the consignees were asked to resign, and three times they refused. Their stubbornness is the better understood when we learn that two of them were Governor Hutchinson's own sons. It was on Sunday, November 28, 1773, that the "Dartmouth," loaded with tea, arrived in Boston Harbor. From Rotch, the owner of the vessel, the Committee of Correspondence promptly obtained a promise that the ship should not be entered until Tuesday. On Monday the towns about Boston were invited to attend a mass-meeting in Faneuil Hall.
As the result of this and other similar meetings, the firm resolve that that tea should on no account be landed took possession of the people. Two other ships soon came to anchor near the " Dartmouth" and were guarded, as she was, by a committee of citizens. The consignees by this time would have been willing to yield, but Hutchinson would not give a permit to let the vessels go sailing back to England. So the days wore away and the time was fast drawing near when the tea would be seized under the law and brought on shore. Then came the last day and the Collector of Customs still refused absolutely to grant a clearance to the ships unless the teas were discharged.
The next day was December 16, 1773, and seven thousand people were assembled in town meeting in and around the Old South Meeting-House. Eagerly they awaited, in the fast-darkening church, the return of Rotch, who had been sent out to the governor's house in Milton to ask as a last resort for a passport from him. At nightfall the ship-owner returned with the word that the governor refused such a passport.
No sooner had he made this report than Samuel Adams arose and said: "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country." The words were a signal, but they were also a simple statement of truth. For by sunrise the next morning the revenue officers, in the ordinary course of events, would board the ships and unload their cargoes; then the consignees would go to the custom-house and pay the duty, — and the king's scheme would be crowned with success.
Yet not so did things fall out. For, the instant that Adams' words left his lips, a shout was heard in the street and some forty or fifty men, disguised as Indians, darted by the door and down towards the wharves, followed by the people. Rushing on board the tea-ships, the "Mohawks," as they were called, set themselves, in most businesslike fashion, to clearing the vessels of their cargoes. No violence was committed, no tea was taken. British historians are wont to characterize the affair as a riot, but it was very far indeed from being that. Henry Cabot Lodge, in his illuminating book on Boston, has called the tea-party "a picturesque refusal" on the part of the people of Boston to pay the tax. "But," he adds, truly, " it was also something more. It was the sudden appearance, in a world tired of existing systems of government, of the power of the people in action.
The expression may have been rude and the immediate result trivial, but the act was none the less of the gravest consequence. It was the small beginning of the great democratic movement which has gone forward ever since, and which it would have been well for English statesmen who were then concerned with it to have pondered deeply."
Retaliation was, however, the only idea that the king and his ministers could then entertain and, in spite of opposition on the part of certain far-seeing men in Parliament, two acts to express this were passed. One was the Boston Port Bill designed to suspend the trade and close the harbor of the town which had dared rebellion. The other was the Regulating Act, by which the charter of Massachusetts was annulled, its free government swept away and a military governor appointed with despotic power such as Andros had had, nearly a hundred years before.
Odd that those well-read English ministers did not press to its logical conclusion that analogy of Andros!
AT the time of the Boston Port Bill and the disturbances it entailed, just as at the time of Sir Harry Vane and his troubles, one must look at the march of events in old England, no less than in New England, in order to understand the whole situation.
The resistance of the Massachusetts men to the tyranny of the king was as much applauded by certain great souls in England as by the patriots in the other colonies. The quarrel, in a word, was not between England and America, but between George III and the principles for which America stood.
Of those principles two Englishmen of great distinction — William Pitt and Charles Fox — were champions. And because every American who cares for the cause of Liberty must be interested in these men, who braved unpopularity for Liberty's sake, I want here to retrace their glorious careers, even if in so doing I run somewhat ahead of my narrative.
The William Pitt referred to is he whom Heber described as "Young without follies, without rashness bold, And greatly poor amidst a nation's gold," not, of course, the great Earl of Chatham, whose speech on the Repeal of the Stamp Act is the glorious heritage of all English-speaking people.
"Untarnished Chatham's genuine child," the second Pitt has been called, a son, that is, whose eloquence, probity and high-minded statesmanship serve to render him the peer in history's pages of even his distinguished father.
"I am glad that I am not the eldest son. I want to speak in the House of Commons, like papa," is the exclamation attributed to young Pitt, then a youth of seventeen, when he learned (in August, 1776) that his father had become Earl of Chatham. It was indeed towards speaking in the House of Commons that all the lad's thoughts and hopes were directed. At Eton and Cambridge he made the orations of history and literature an intimate part of his mental equipment. In these debates, it is interesting to observe, he always studied both sides. His favorite employment, Macaulay tells us, was to prepare harangues on opposite sides of the same question, to analyze them and to observe which of the arguments of the first speaker were refuted by the second, which were evaded, and which were left untouched. This practice made following actual debates in the House of Commons as fascinating an occupation to him as visiting the circus is to the country lad who has been performing acrobatic stunts with the old farm horse.
Fox, who was eleven years Pitt's senior, used to relate with relish his first meeting with the gifted lad. The scene was the steps leading up to the throne of the House of Lords, and Pitt was there, with a group of college friends, listening to the debate. Fox, who was already the greatest debater and one of the greatest orators that had ever appeared in England, was disposed to sit quietly listening. But as the discussion proceeded he was repeatedly addressed by Pitt with an eager "Surely, Mr. Fox, that might be met thus," or " Yes, but he lays himself open to this retort." Fox was naturally much struck with the precocity of this lad, who, through the whole sitting, seemed to be thinking only how the speeches on both sides could be answered.
When Pitt was nineteen he passed, at the House of Lords, a day ever sad and memorable to him, but of the greatest interest to us as Americans. For France had just recognized the independence of the United States, and a great debate was expected. For this reason the Earl of Chatham insisted upon being in his place, though his health had of late been wretched.
His son supported him to his seat. Scarcely had the aged man risen to address the house when he fell back in convulsions. A few weeks later he died, and his favorite child and namesake followed his coffin in gloomy pomp from the Painted Chamber to the transept, in Westminster Abbey, where his own was destined to lie, near that of Fox.
It was now necessary for William, as a younger son, to follow a profession. In the spring of 1780 he became of age; immediately afterward he was called to the bar, and in the fall of that same year he offered himself as a candidate and was returned to Parliament. He meant to lose no time in putting into practice his genius for debate.
George the Third was still pursuing his obstinate course towards America, and Fox and Burke were doing their united best to oppose the suicidal policy of Lord North. To the support of the colonies Pitt immediately added his voice. On the 26th of February, 1781, he made his first speech to endorse a reform measure advocated by Burke. Fox, who had already risen to address the house, instantly gave way to him, admiring as he settled back in his place, the self-possession of the young orator and the exquisite silver voice in which he delivered his perfect but unpremeditated sentences. Burke was moved to tears, exclaiming joyfully: "It is not a chip of the old block; it is the old block itself." And Fox, who had no trace of envy in his make-up, replied tersely to a member who observed that Pitt would be one of the first men in Parliament: "He is so already."
Such seemed indeed to be the case. Pitt continued to speak often and eloquently in support of America, and in spite of the necessarily unpopular stand he had taken, he was offered, when he had scarcely completed his twenty-third year, the great place of chancellor of the exchequer! Before he was twenty-five he was the most powerful subject in Europe.
Now that he occupied a position of enormous influence his training bore fruit. Through his whole boyhood the House of Commons had never been out of his thought, and whether reading Cicero or Thucydides he was training for the conflicts of debate. He could forcibly yet luminously, therefore, present to his audience the most complicated, the most difficult of subjects. "Nothing was out of place," Macaulay records; "nothing was forgotten; minute details, dates, sums of money were all faithfully preserved in his memory. Even intricate questions of finance, when explained by him, seemed clear to the plainest man among his hearers."
Yet when all is said, it was because of Pitt's lofty character that his speeches were so great a success. Save for a hint of pride, he may be said to have had no faults. He was incapable of envy or fear, above any kind of meanness, and his private life was absolutely beyond reproach. In an age of venality, too, he never accepted bounties of any kind; and while he was surrounded by friends upon whom he had bestowed titles and rich annuities, he remained plain Mr. to the end of his life, and put up with a very meagre salary.
Pitt's love for England was deep and sincere even though he had espoused the cause of America. To England he devoted all that he had of strength and of service. When the battle of Austerlitz presaged the extent to which Bonaparte was later to humble the first nation of Europe, Pitt could not rally from the blow. He died January 23, 1806, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of that day when he first took his seat in Parliament. For almost twenty of those years he had been first lord of the treasury and undisputed chief of the administration. No English statesman had ever held supreme power so long; none had ever combated the tyranny of the Crown so successfully.
Charles James Fox, Pitt's great rival, possessed every charming human quality which Pitt lacked. The speeches of Pitt persuade by the elegance of their diction, the sincerity of their appeal, the loftiness of their tone; those of Fox charm by their warm admiration of everything great and beautiful, their fierce hatred of whatever is cruel and unjust. Dr. Johnson said of this orator that he made it a question whether the nation should be ruled by the scepter of George III or the tongue of Fox. Even Pitt, renowned for his coolness and self-possession, could not remain unmoved by the magnetic quality of Fox's eloquence. On one occasion when a Frenchman had been expressing wonder at the immense influence wielded by Fox, "a mere gambler and a man of pleasure," Pitt retorted, "You have not been under the wand of the magician."
At first Fox used his gifts very much as a magician might. He enjoyed juggling with the slow wits of his fellow-members and would speak without conviction or premeditation upon whatever subject was up for discussion. To him it was only a diverting game in which, by virtue of his gift of debate, he always held the best hand. His father had been as dissolute and unprincipled as the Earl of Chatham was clean-hearted and high-minded. As the merest lad Fox was plunged into such temptations as assailed Pitt at no time in his life. Like Pitt, however, he was graduated from college at an early age, and, like him also, he entered Parliament, when little more than a boy.
But if Fox, during the first five years of his public career, was reckless, in political, as in private life, he later threw himself with real earnestness into the American question. The more he studied it the more his warm heart and clear head were touched by the principles at stake, and after the election in which his friend, the beautiful Duchess of Devonshire, worked for his return to Parliament, — even bartering kisses for votes, it is said, — he was the colonies' champion in earnest.
Moreover, he had quarreled with Lord North, so that it suited his inclination as well as his convictions to oppose that personage with all possible vigor. When the Boston Port Bill was up for debate, he objected that it gave too much power into the hands of the Crown; a month later he vehemently denounced the attempt to tax the colonists without their consent; just before this he had cast his first vote with the Whig party in favor of repealing the duty on tea. Fox was at his best during the American War.
Throughout the six years of the War Parliament he never threw away an opportunity to speak for America, and the whisper that Charles Fox was on his legs would fill the House in a moment. To perfect himself in the arts of vindictive declamation, he read again the philippics of Demosthenes and, profiting by their tuition, he would pour upon Lord North such fierceness of personal attack as made the House fairly quake with apprehension. It was at this period, too, that he developed that gift of quick retort, ready wit, clear statement, and dashing attack which made him the first of parliamentary gladiators. Now that he was really in earnest, he could be much more compelling than heretofore.
It was quite in the spirit of a knight of King Arthur's court that he rode forth to redress the wrongs of America.
Yet Fox was never a professional politician in the sense that Pitt was. He too greatly loved a quiet hour with his books. As he grew older and abandoned his reckless way of living, the joys of Virgil and of gardening seemed to him vastly superior to those of debate. At the very height of his political career, he withdrew from public life to enjoy these quiet pleasures in the company of his dearly-loved wife, and only the encroaching greatness of Napoleon availed to lure him again from his idyllic retreat at St. Ann's Hill.
The opening of the year 1806, however, found him back in office, doing all that one man could to restore peace to England. In this he was not successful; seven months of negotiation served indeed to make it clear to him that war between Napoleon and England was inevitable. But he did succeed, that session, in putting through one important measure which had been dear to Pitt also. Year after year both these great men had raised their voices against the detestable trade in slaves by which England was being enriched, and now that he had power Fox determined to show that his sympathy with these poor oppressed creatures was not a mere matter of words. In June, 1806, therefore, he pledged himself to introduce a measure of total abolition.
It was his last speech in Parliament. Though he did not live to see it a law, he, and he alone, must ever be credited with the measure by which it was made a felony for British subjects to trade in negroes. For this, no less than for his service to the colonies, he should be eternally honored in America.
OF course the enforcement of the Boston Port Bill worked great hardship to the town. Boston was preeminently a trading center and, with its commerce cut off, its warehouses empty and its ships idle at the wharves, thousands were thrown out of employment. The other towns along the coast line refused, however, to take advantage of Boston's plight, and relief was freely sent to the boycotted city.
The legislature met now at Salem, for rebellious Boston could no longer be the seat of government, and to it came, soon after Gage had taken possession, a messenger to dissolve its sessions.
The members, however, held the door against this messenger and, before he had had a chance to deliver his lord's decree, a call to the other colonies had been sent out, — and the first step toward the initial meeting of the Continental Congress had been taken. To its sessions in Philadelphia John and Samuel Adams were sent as delegates, the absence of the former giving us the first of those remarkable letters from Abigail Adams to which reference will be made later, and that of the latter supplying to Dr. Joseph Warren the opportunity to draw up at Milton, in the county of Suffolk, a series of resolves which fairly set on foot the Revolution.
These resolves, nineteen in number, were by far the boldest doctrines ever adopted or promulgated in America, and probably did more than any one other thing to bring matters to a crisis. They declared that the sovereign who breaks his compact with his subjects forfeits their allegiance. They arraigned as unconstitutional the repressive acts of Parliament, and rejected all officers appointed under their authority.
They directed collectors of taxes to pay over no money to the royal treasurer. They advised the towns to choose their officers of militia from the friends of the people.
They favored a provincial congress, and promised respect and submission to the Continental Congress. They determined to act upon the defensive as long as reason and self-preservation would permit, but no longer.
They threatened to seize every crown officer in the province as hostages if the governor should arrest anyone for political reasons.
They also arranged a system of couriers to carry messages to town officers and corresponding committees. They earnestly advocated the well-known American principles of social order as the basis of all political action; exhorted all persons to abstain from riots and all attacks upon the property of any person whatsoever; and urged their countrymen to " convince their enemies that in a contest so important, in a cause so solemn, their conduct should be such as to merit the approbation of the wise, and the admiration of the brave and free of every age and country."
No sooner had General Gage heard of the adoption of these resolves than he sent to England for more troops, and began that campaign of confiscation which ended in the fight of Lexington and Concord. Before we proceed to discuss the natural and inevitable outcome of these resolves let us, however, examine a little the state of mind of those other officers who were associated with Gage in the difficult task of putting down the Bostonians.
The most interesting personality in the group was he whom we in America know best as Earl Percy, a man whose father had voted against the Stamp Act, who was himself opposed to the American war, but who yet felt it to be his duty to come to America with his regiment when orders to that effect were given. To this man we are able to come pretty close to-day for we are so fortunate as to have now available, — through the diligent scholarship of the late Edward Griffin Porter and the careful editing of Charles Knowles Bolton, — a number of letters sent by Percy to his kinsfolk in England during the period of his Boston service. On the voyage over he had written: "Surely the People of Boston are not Mad enough to think of opposing us," but three months later (July 5, 1774) we find him recording a fear " that we shall be obliged to come to extremities ... so extremely violent and wrong-headed are the people." A few days later he adds that "as General Gage received orders to remain at Salem, I have been left commanding officer of the camp.
. . . The people here talk much & do little; but nothing, I am sure, will ever reestablish peace & quiet in this country, except steadiness & perseverance on the part of the Administration. . . . The people in this part of the country are in general made up of rashness & timidity.
Quick and violent in their determinations, they are fearful in the execution of them unless, indeed, they are quite certain of meeting little or no opposition, & then, like all other cowards, they are cruel and tyrannical. To hear them talk you would imagine that they would attack us & demolish us every night & yet, whenever we appear, they are frightened out of their wits.
They begin to feel a little the effects of the Port Bill & were they not supported by the other Colonies, must before this have submitted.
One thing I will be bold to say, which is, that until you make their Committees of Correspondence and Congresses with the other Colonies high treason & try them for it in England, you must never expect perfect obedience & submission from this to the Mother Country."
"This is the most beautiful country I ever saw in my life," writes Percy, under the head, "Camp of Boston, Aug. 8, 1774," "& if the people were only like it, we shd do very well.
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