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[374] that repealing the Stamp Act would be a surrender
chap. XX.} 1765. Dec.
of sovereignty; and that the question was, shall the Americans, submit to us, or we to them? But others held the attempt at coercion to be the ruinous side of the dilemma.

While England was still in this condition of unformed opinion, the colonies were proceeding with their system of resistance. ‘If they do not repeal the Stamp Act,’ said Otis, who, nine months before had counselled submission, and who now shared and led the most excited opposition, ‘if they do not repeal it, we will repeal it ourselves.’ The first American ship that ventured to sea with a rich cargo, and without stamped papers, was owned by the Boston merchant, John Hancock. At the south, in the Savannah river, a few British ships took stamped clearances, but this continued only till a vigilant people had time to understand one another, and to interfere. In South Carolina, the Lieutenant Governor, pleading the necessity of the case, himself sanctioned opening the port of Charleston.

At New-York, the head quarters of the army, an attempt was made by the men of war to detain vessels ready for sea. The people rose in anger, and the naval commander, becoming alarmed by the danger of riots, left the road from New-York to the ocean once more free, as it was from every other harbor in the thirteen colonies.

It was next attempted to open the executive courts. In Rhode Island, all public officers, judges among the rest, continued to transact business. In New-York, the judges would willingly have held their

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