High School department.
Medford and the Stamp Act.[The following articles were prepared by pupils of the High School in connection with the work in American History.]
the Stamp Act, which was passed by the British Parliament in March, 765, required all legal documents and official papers to be written on stamped paper, and stamps were to be attached to articles such as books, newspapers, etc. The revenue from the stamp tax was to be used for supplies for the soldiers stationed on the frontier to put down Indian insurrections against the colonists. Although this revenue was to be used for the sole benefit of the colonists, they opposed the Stamp Act strenuously on the ground that ‘no taxation without representation’ was one of the fundamental principles of the English Constitution and one of the first rights of the colonists as Englishmen. The people of Medford also joined in opposing the Stamp Act, but in a much calmer manner than was displayed by the rioters of Boston, who mobbed Hon. Thomas Hutchinson and did much damage to his household effects. On the 21st of October, 1765, a town meeting was held in the meeting-house at 3 P. M. At this meeting it was voted to give instructions to the town representative, Stephen Hall, Esq., especially in regard to the Stamp Act. The people of Medford declared that their rights and privileges had been infringed upon and that the Stamp Act had taken away their privileges as free-born Britons. They expressed ‘unshaken loyalty to his present Majesty King George III.,’ and ‘great veneration to the august body of the British Parliament.’ They also expressed themselves ready to yield obedience to all laws of Parliament which were agreeable to their own constitution, but refused to obey them if any of their just liberties were taken away. Mr. Hall [p. 45] was further charged to ‘be no ways aiding or assisting in the execution of said act,’ but to work diligently towards having the act repealed. Although the people of Medford desired to have the Stamp Act repealed, they did not approve of the violent means which the rioters of Boston used to obtain this result, as was shown by the following action: On Oct. 20, 1766, at 2 P. M., a town meeting was held at the house of Mr. Hugh Floyd to give instructions to their representative, Stephen Hall, Esq., ‘relative to the losses sustained by sundry gentlemen upon the late disturbances at Boston on account of the Stamp Act.’ It was voted at this meeting that the town representative ‘be directed to use his influence, that such losses as were sustained by the Honorable Thomas Hutchinson Esq. on the 26th day of August, 1765, be made up to him, upon his application to the general assembly in a Parliamentary way.’
Medford and the tea tax.
when the rest of the Townshend Acts were repealed in 1770 the tax on tea was kept to help establish the authority of Parliament. Every town resented the tax and took action against it. In November, 1774, a warrant was issued to the voters of Medford to meet and decide what action, if any, should be taken in regard to the selling and drinking of East India tea. At this meeting they ‘voted that we will not use any East India Teas in our Families till the Acts be Repealed’—and also appointed a committee consisting of Benjamin Hall, Deacon Kidder, Deacon Warren, Caleb Brooks, and others, to post in some public place the names of those found selling or using tea in their families. Later we find that the town, being informed that ‘severall ships were already arrived in Boston with large quantities (of tea) on board and severall more [p. 46] daily expected,’ therefore, ‘to Prevent the many formidable evils consequent upon the Success of this alarming & subtle attempts to rivet the Chains of oppression,’ they
Resolved 1st That it is the incumbent duty of all free British Subjects in America to Unite in the use of all lawfull measures necessary and expedient for the preservation and security of their rights and priviledges, civil and Religious. 2nd. That it is the opinion of this Town, that the British parliment have no constitutional authority to tax these colonies without their own consent and that therefore the present duty laid upon teas imported here from Great Briton for the purpose of a Revenue, is a tax illegally laid upon and extorted from us. 3rd. That sd. India Company, exporting their own teas to the Colonies while charged with sd. duty, has a direct tendency to establish sd. Revenue act. 4th. That we will exert ourselves and join with our American bretheren in adopting and prosecuting all Legall and proper measures to discourage and prevent ye landing storing and vending and using those Teas among us, and that whosoever shall aid or assist sd. India Company, their Factors or Servants in either Landing, Storing or Selling the same does a manifest injury to his Country and deserves to be treated with severity and contempt. 5th. That we are ready at all times in conjunction with our American bretheren as Loyall subjects to risque our lives and Fortunes in the service and defence of his Majesty's person, crown & dignity and also as a free people in asserting and maintaining, inviolate our civil and Religious rights and priviledges against all opposers whatever. 6th. That the thanks of this Town be and are hereby given to our worthy bretheren in the Town of Boston for their unwearied care and pains in endeavoring to preserve our rights and priviledges free from innovation [p. 47] and furnishing this and our other Towns with Copies of their late proceedings.The stubbornness of the King, however, was proof against all such petitions, and a Revolutionary war compelled what a narrow statesmanship had refused to grant.1
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