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[479] by Parliament was unconstitutional.1 The next
Chap. L.} 1773. Nov.
morning the consignees jointly gave as their answer: ‘It is utterly out of our power to send back the teas; but we now declare to you our readiness to store them until we shall receive further directions from our constituents;’2 that is, until they could notify the British Government. The wrath of the Meeting was kindling, when the Sheriff of Suffolk entered with a Proclamation from the Governor, ‘warning, exhorting and requiring them, and each of them there unlawfully assembled, forthwith to disperse, and to surcease all further unlawful proceedings at their utmost peril.’ The words were received with hisses, derision, and a unanimous vote not to disperse. ‘Will it be safe for the consignees to appear in the Meeting?’ asked Copley; and all with one voice responded, that they might safely come and return; but they refused to appear. In the afternoon Rotch the owner, and Hall the master of the Dartmouth, yielding to an irresistible impulse, engaged that the tea should return as it came, without touching land or paying a duty. A similar promise was exacted of the owners of the other tea-ships whose arrival was daily expected. In this way ‘it was thought the matter would have ended.’3 ‘I should be willing to spend my fortune and life itself in so good a cause,’4 said Hancock, and this sentiment was general; they all voted ‘to carry their Resolutions into effect at the risk of their lives and property.’

1 Hutchinson to Tryon, 1 Dec. 1773.

2 Thomas and Elisha Hutchinson &c. to John Scollay, 29 Nov. 1773.

3 S. Cooper to B. Franklin, 17 Dec. 1773.

4 Hutchinson to 3 Dec. 1773.

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