As its schools were for all its children, so the great
Chap. XXXVIII} 1768. Dec.
body of its male inhabitants of twenty-one years of age, when assembled in a Hall which Faneuil
, of Huguenot
ancestry, had built for them, was the source of all municipal authority.
In the Meeting of the Town
, its taxes were voted, its affairs discussed and settled; its agents and public servants annually elected by ballot; and abstract political principles freely debated.
A small property qualification was attached to the right of suffrage, but did not exclude enough to change the character of the institution.
There had never existed a considerable municipality, approaching so nearly to a pure democracy; and, for so populous a place, it was undoubtedly the most orderly and best governed in the world.
Its ecclesiastical polity was in like manner republican.
The great mass were congregationalists; each church was an assembly formed by voluntary agreement; self-constituted, self-supported and independent.
They were clear that no person or church had power over another church.
There was not a Roman Catholic
altar in the place; the usages of ‘papists’ were looked upon as worn-out superstitions, fit only for the ignorant.
But the people were not merely the fiercest enemies of ‘popery and slavery;’ they were Protestants even against Protestantism; and though the English church was tolerated, Boston
kept up its exasperation against prelacy.
Its Ministers were still its prophets and its guides; its pulpit, in which, now that Mayhew
was no more, Cooper
was admired above all others for eloquence and patriotism, by weekly appeals inflamed alike the fervor of piety and of liberty.
In the Boston Gazette
, it enjoyed a free Press, which gave currency