Chapter 11: civil History.
In this history of a single town, it is not proposed to enumerate all the causes of the American Revolution, or the various events which occurred during its accomplishment; but some of those causes and events will be mentioned, with which the town of Cambridge had more or less intimate connection. One very prominent question at issue, in the commencement of the Revolutionary struggle, was whether or not the British Parliament had a legal right to impose taxes on the American provinces (which were not represented therein), without their consent. In the exercise of this pretended right of supremacy, among other methods for raising a revenue from the provinces, Parliament enacted a law, styled the Stamp Act, with a provision that it should take effect Nov. 1, 1765. With special reference to this Act, the American doctrine was affirmed, Oct. 29, 1765, by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, in fourteen resolutions, three of which were these:
III. Resolved, That no man can justly take the property of another without his consent; and that upon this original principle the right of representation in the same body which exercises the power of making laws for levying taxes, which is one of the main pillars of the British constitution, is evidently founded.
XII. Resolved, as a just conclusion from some of the foregoing resolves, That all acts made by any power whatever, other than the General Assembly of this Province, imposing taxes on the inhabitants, are infringements of our inherent and unalienable rights, as men and British subjects,and render void the most valuable declarations of our Charter.
XIII. Resolved, that the extension of the powers of the Court of Admiralty within this Province is a most violent infraction of the right of trials by juries,—a right which this House, upon the principles of their British ancestors, hold most dear and sacred, it being the only security of the lives, liberties, and properties of his Majesty's subjects here.1 A distinct opinion had been expressed by Cambridge, a fortnight earlier, at a town meeting held on the 14th day of October, 1765, when it was “Voted, That (with all humility) it is the opinion of the town, that the inhabitants of this Province have a legal claim to all the natural, inherent, constitutional rights of Englishmen, notwithstanding their distance from Great Britain; that the Stamp Act is an infraction upon these rights. One instance out of many, in our opinion, is this:—the Distributor of Stamps will have a sovereignty over every thing but the lives of the people, since it is in his power to summon every one he pleases to Quebec, Montreal, or Newfoundland, to answer for pretended or real breaches of this Act; and when the faithful subject arrives there, by whom is he to be tried? Not by his peers (the birth-right of every Englishman); no, but by the Judge of Admiralty, without a jury, and it is possible without law. Under these circumstances, the Stamp-Master may unrighteously get more than his Majesty will upon a balance by the stamps; for who would not rather pay the fine than be thus harassed, thus tried? Why are not his Majesty's subjects in Great Britain treated in this manner? Why must we in America, who have in every instance discovered as much loyalty for his Majesty, and obedience to his laws, as any of his British subjects (and whose exertions in some of the provinces during the last war have been greater), be thus discriminated? At this time especially, whilst we are under an almost insupportable load of debt, the consequence of this exertion. We believe it may be truly said that no one in Great Britain pays so great a tax as some in this province, in proportion to their estates. Let this Act but take place, liberty will be no more: trade will languish and die; our medium will be sent into his Majesty's exchequer, and poverty come on us as an armed man. The town, therefore, hereby advise their Representatives by no means whatsoever to do any one thing that may aid said Act in its operation; but that, in conjunction with the friends of liberty, they use their utmost endeavors that the same might be repealed:—That this vote be recorded in the Town Book, that the children yet unborn may see the desire their ancestors had for their freedom and happiness:— and that an attested copy of it be given to said Representatives.” While the inhabitants of Cambridge thus protested against the arbitrary exercise of power by Parliament, and against the enforcement of the Stamp Act in particular, they were not ready to encourage any violent outbreak of popular fury. During the  preceding August, by hanging him in effigy, breaking into his house, and destroying part of his furniture, some of the inhabitants of Boston had induced Mr. Secretary Oliver to promise that he would not act as Distributor of Stamps; and on the evening of the 26th of the same month, they attacked the house of Lieutenant-governor Hutchinson, who had rendered himself obnoxious by his subserviency to the British ministry, and “destroyed, carried away, or cast into the street, everything that was in the house; demolished every part of it, except the walls, as far as lay in their power; and had begun to break away the brick-work. The damage was estimated at about twenty-five hundred pounds sterling, without any regard to a great collection of public as well as private papers in the possession and custody of the Lieutenant-governor.” 2 At a town meeting in Cambridge three days later (Aug. 29), it was “Voted, that the inhabitants of this town do detest and abhor the riotous proceedings in the town of Boston, in robbing and destroying the dwelling-houses of the lieutenant-governor and others; and they will, on all occasions, use their utmost endeavors to secure their own inhabitants and their dwelling-houses and property against such ravages.” But when the Governor, in his address to the General Court, recommended that compensation should be made to the sufferers, and intimated that, if they did not make it voluntarily, they might soon be required to do so,3 the town voted, Oct. 14, 1765, that their “Representatives be and are hereby instructed by no means to vote for any moneys being drawn out of the Province treasury to make good the demands of the late sufferers, as mentioned in his Excellency's speech, have sustained.” In their reply to the Governor's address, Oct. 25, 1765, the House of Representatives said, “We highly disapprove of the late acts of violence which have been committed; yet till we are convinced that to comply with what your Excellency recommends will not tend to encourage such outrages in time to come, and till some good reason can be assigned why the losses those gentlemen have sustained should be made good rather than any damage which other persons on any different occasions might happen to suffer, we are persuaded we shall not see our way clear to order such a compensation to be made. We are greatly at a loss to know who has any right to require this of us, if we should differ with your Excellency in point of its being an act of justice which concerns the credit of the government.” 4 A year later, however, when the odious  Stamp Act had been repealed, and this subject was again considered, at a town meeting, October 27, 1766, “The inhabitants having taken into consideration the affair now pending in the Great and General Court, relative to the losses sustained by divers persons, by means of the outrage and violence of the mob in Boston, in the month of August, A. D. 1765,—Voted, That it be an instruction to the Representative of this town to use his best endeavors in the General Court that a compensation be made to the Lieutenant-governor and other sufferers (upon proper application by them made for that purpose), by advancing such sum or sums of money out of the public treasury as may be judged adequate to their losses; and that he likewise use his endeavors that such measures may be gone into for replacing such money in the Province treasury as shall appear just and equitable.” The General Court, after much discussion, enacted a law, granting compensation to the sufferers, and at the same time a free pardon to all “who had been guilty of any crimes or offences against law, occasioned by the late troubles.” The Governor was induced to give his approval, because, “if the act should not be approved in England, all the effect would be the suspending, for three or four months, of prosecutions which, experience had shown, could not be carried on:” “but as to the compensation, the act would have an immediate effect and could not be recalled. The act was disapproved, upon its being laid before the king, merely from the nature of it, and the danger of establishing a precedent; but the money was paid before the news arrived, and nothing further passed upon the subject.” 5 “On the 16th of May,  a copy of the Act of Parliament for the repeal of the Stamp Act was brought to Boston. No rejoicings, since the revolution, had been equal to those on this occasion.”6 But the people were not quite ready to forgive those members of the provincial government who had made themselves obnoxious by their advocacy of those arbitrary measures which threatened the extinction of popular liberty. At the organization of the government, later in the same month, “the Lieutenant-governor, the secretary, one of the judges of the Superior Court, and the attorney-general, were struck off from the council. Another of the judges, apprehensive of this slight, chose to resign  before the election came on.” 7 The intention to exclude from the Council some of those crown officers who were supposed to be too subservient to the British ministry, is foreshadowed in the instructions given to the Representative of Cambridge, May 26, 1766, two days before the meeting of the General Court. These instructions, reported by a committee consisting of Samuel Whittemore, Ebenezer Stedman, and Eliphalet Robbins, contain the usual protestation of loyalty to the crown, of a general confidence in the good intentions of Parliament, and of a desire for the continuance of friendship and harmony between the British government and the American Colonies. At the same time, they counsel the utmost watchfulness against any possible encroachment of arbitrary power, and contain other suggestions of much importance. Two of the instructions were as follows:—
With regard to the General Assembly, of which you will be, it is of the greatest importance that each branch should have its due weight and power; and as you are to have a part in the election of one of these branches, we instruct you to avoid giving your suffrage for any gentleman already holding offices incompatible with a seat there, or who, by any sort of dependence or connection, may be under temptations to yield to unreasonable demands of prerogative; and this we esteem of singular importance under the present circumstances of our public affairs. There is one thing more which we would enjoin upon you, as a matter of considerable importance; which is, that you endeavor to get a vote passed in the House, that a gallery be provided where as many persons as conveniently can, may be admitted to hear their debates; this is agreeable to the practice in the mother country, and may be attended with very salutary effects here; amongst other advantages which may arise from such an order of the House, we would hope that this would be one, namely, that it would give an opportunity to any person who desires it of seeing that nothing is passed by that assembly that is not of real benefit, and of advantage to their constituents, and that the Representatives of the people are patrons of their rights and privileges.8Soon after the close of this session of the General Court, news  arrived from England that the Parliament had by no means relinquished the intention to derive a revenue from the colonies, but had
At the same time commissioners of customs were appointed, and it was supposed that the collection of this tax was one of their principal duties. Popular discontent and excitement followed, as might have been expected. Associations were formed to encourage home manufactures, and to refrain from the use of foreign articles subject to taxation. At their next winter session, the House of Representatives prepared letters to several noblemen in England, praying them to obtain a repeal of the new tax act, and an address to the king; copies of which they sent to the Assemblies of the other colonies, asking their cooperation. These proceedings gave great offence in England. When the next General Court met, in May, 1768, “the Governor sent a message to the House, which engaged the whole of their attention. In pursuance of instructions which he had received, he required them, in His Majesty's name, to rescind the resolution of the last House of Representatives, in consequence of which a circular letter had been sent to the several assemblies upon the continent.” 9 A few days afterwards the demand was renewed, with a threat of dissolution as the penalty of refusal. After due consideration, and after preparing a letter to the English Secretary for the Colonies, in justification of their proceedings, the House refused to rescind, by a vote of ninety-two against seventeen. This decision was communicated to the Governor, who immediately executed his threat and dissolved the House. “It was thus made known that the vital right of representation was to be enjoyed only on the condition of a servile compliance with an arbitrary royal instruction.” 10 It was soon afterwards reported that three regiments of soldiers were to be stationed in Boston, to enforce submission to the government. The inhabitants thereupon assembled in town meeting, and sent a message to the Governor, inquiring if he expected such a military force, and requesting him to summon a new General Court. On his refusal, the town “Resolved, that as the people labor under many grievances, and as the Governor has declared himself unable, at the request  of the town, to call a General Court, which is the assembly of the states of the province, for the redress of such grievances, the town will make choice of a suitable number of persons, to act for them as a committee in convention, with such as may be sent to join them from the several towns in the province, in order that such measures may be concerted and advised, as his majesty's service and the peace and safety of his subjects in the province may require.” 11 The time fixed for the meeting of the Convention was Sept. 22, 1768. For some reason, which does not appear, Cambridge did not elect delegates until Sept. 29:—on which day, it was “put to vote, whether it be the mind of the inhabitants of this town to proceed on the article in the Warrant, relating to the choosing a person to join with the committees of Convention of the other towns in this Province, now sitting in Boston, and it passed in the affirmative. Also voted, that they will now make choice of one or more persons, as a committee . . . . to attend the Convention that may now or hereafter be sitting in Boston in this Province. Also voted that they will make choice of two persons for the purpose aforesaid. Then Andrew Bordman was chosen, who declined the service. Then Deac. Samll. Whittemore was chosen, who declined the service. Then Capt. Samll. Whittemore was chosen, who accepted said choice. Then Thomas Gardner was chosen, who accepted said choice.” If Cambridge was somewhat late in the election, her delegates were not a whit behind others in patriotism and resolution. Capt. Whittemore was the veteran, who, at the age of seventy-nine years, performed yeoman's service with his musket, on the memorable 19th of April, 1775; and Thomas Gardner, having been successively elected Captain and Colonel, sealed his patriotic devotion with his life-blood on Bunker Hill. In the succeeding years the conflict between arbitrary power and the rights and privileges of the people became more and more earnest. The British government insisted on its right to bind the colonies in all cases, to impose taxes without their consent, to place over them rulers not of their own choice, to overawe them by the presence of foreign troops, and to supersede established laws and customs by “Royal instructions.” On the other hand, while the people professed loyalty to the crown, they protested against this invasion of their inalienable rights as freeborn Englishmen, and indicated a determination to resist to the last extremity. Among other methods adopted for the accomplishment  of this purpose, at a town-meeting in Boston, Nov. 2, 1772, upon the motion of Samuel Adams, it was voted, “that a committee of correspondence be appointed, to consist of twenty-one persons, to state the rights of the colonies, and of this province in particular, as men, as Christians, and as subjects; to communicate and publish the same to the several towns in this province and to the world, as the sense of this town, with the infringements and violations thereof that have been, or from time to time may be, made: also requesting of each town a free communication of their sentiments on this subject.” At an adjourned meeting, Nov. 20, the report of this committee was accepted, and ordered to be printed in pamphlet form and distributed agreeably to the original vote. The response of Cambridge was prompt and decisive. The Records show that, at a town-meeting, Dec. 14, 1772, it was “Voted, That the letter and the book sent by order of the town of Boston to the Selectmen of Cambridge, signed in the name and by order of the town, William Cooper, Town Clerk, should be publicly read and acted upon. The Moderator12 protested against it, as it was not in the warrant; and the same was read accordingly. Voted, That a committee be appointed to write to the committee appointed by the town of Boston, and to acknowledge the vigilance and care, discovered by the metropolis, of the public rights and liberties, acquainting them that this town will heartily concur in all salutary, proper and constitutional measures for the redress of those intolerable grievances which threaten, and if continued must overthrow, the happy civil constitution of this province; and that said committee take under consideration the rights as stated by the committee of correspondence of the town of Boston, and the infringements and violations of the same, and to make report at the adjournment of this meeting.” [The Committee was then elected, consisting of Capt. Samuel Whittemore, Capt. Ebenezer Stedman, Capt. Ephraim Frost, Capt. Eliphalet Robbins, Capt. Thomas Gardner, Joseph Wellington, Abraham Watson, Jr., Nathaniel Sparhawk, and Samuel Thatcher, Jr.] “Voted, That said committee prepare instructions to the Representative, and report upon both forthwith, or as soon as may be.” The committee retired; the meeting not adjourned: in less than twelve minutes  returned, and presented their report upon the letter and resolves aforesaid, and also reported instructions for the Representative; which reports were received, and accepted, and voted by a majority of the inhabitants then present.
“ determined to lay small duties on paper, glass, and painters' colors, imported into America; to take off 12d., which had been charged in England on every pound of tea exported, and to lay 3d. only, payable upon its importation into America.”
The instructions:—To Capt. Thomas Gardner, Representative of the town of Cambridge in General Assembly. Sir, We, his Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Cambridge, in town-meeting legally assembled this fourteenth day of December, A. D. 1772, to consult upon such measures as may be thought most proper to be taken at this alarming crisis, and most conducive to the public weal, do therefore with true patriotic spirit declare, that we are and ever have been ready to risk our lives and fortunes in defence of his majesty King George the Third, his crown and dignity, and in the support of constitutional government. So, on the other hand, we are as much concerned to maintain and secure our own invaluable rights and liberties and that glorious inheritance which was not the gift of kings or monarchs, but was purchased at no less price than the precious blood and treasure of our worthy ancestors, the first settlers of this province, who, for the sake of those rights, left their native land, their dearest friends and relations, goodly houses, pleasant gardens and fruitful fields; and in the face of every danger settled a wild and howling wilderness, where they were surrounded with an innumerable multitude of cruel and barbarous enemies, and destitute of the necessaries of life; yet aided by the smiles of indulgent heaven, by their heroic fortitude (though small in number) they subdued their enemies before them, and by their indefatigable labor and industry cultivated this land, which is now become a fruitful field, which has much enriched our mother country, and greatly assisted in raising Great Britain to that state of opulence that it is now in; that if any people on earth are entitled to the warmest friendship of a mother country, it is the good people of this Province and its sister colonies. But alas, with what ingratitude are we treated, how cruelly oppressed! We have been sighing and groaning under oppression for a number of years; our natural and charter rights are violated in too many instances here to enumerate; our money extorted from us, and appropriated to augment our burdens; we have repeatedly petitioned our most gracious sovereign for a redress of grievances, but no redress has yet been obtained, whereby we have been almost driven to despair. And, in the midst of our distresses, we are still further alarmed with seeing  the Governor of the Province made independent of the people, and the shocking report that the Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature and other officers, have salaries affixed to their offices, dependent on the crown and ministry, independent of the grants of the Commons of this Province. By this establishment our lives and properties will be rendered very precarious, as there is the utmost danger that, through an undue influence, the streams of public justice will be poisoned. Can we expect the scales will be held equal between all parties? Will such Judges be unmoved by passion or prejudice, fear or favor? What a miserable situation will the man be in, under a corrupt administration, who shall dare to oppose their vile measures. Must he not expect to feel the keenest resentment of such administration, by Judges thus bribed to pursue the plan of the ministry? In fine, we look upon this last innovation so great a grievance, especially when added to the many other grievances we have been so long groaning under, as to be almost insupportable. We therefore think it seasonable and proper to instruct you, our Representative, in General Assembly, that you use your greatest influence at the next session of the General Court for a speedy redress of all our grievances. And inasmuch as it has been for some years past thought that the Judges of the Superior Court, especially since their circuits have been enlarged, have not had salaries adequate to their important services, we desire you would make due inquiry into this matter, and if you shall find it to be a fact, you would use your utmost endeavors that their salaries may be enlarged and made adequate to their merit and station; and in all our difficulties and distresses, depend upon your prudence and firmness.The business seems not to have been fully completed at this time, and the meeting was adjourned for three weeks:—
At an adjournment of the Town-meeting from December the fourteenth, A. D. 1772 to January the fourth 1773, the following report was read and accepted by a great majority: The Committee appointed to take under consideration the rights of the Colonists, and of this Province in particular, as stated by the town of Boston, and also a list of the infringements and violations of those rights, beg leave to report, That, in their opinion, the rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular, as men, as Christians and as subjects, are properly stated, and that the lists of the infringements and violations of those rights are notorious facts; and as there appears to be the greatest reason to apprehend,  agreeable to the intimation made to us in the said list of grievances, that stipends or salaries are affixed to the offices of Judges of the Superior Court, whereby they are made not only independent of the people, but absolutely dependent upon the Crown for their support, it is further the opinion of this Committee, that such establishment, if made, is in direct repugnancy with the Charter of the Province, and the invariable usage from the time the same was granted; that thereby a dangerous connection is formed, and an undue influence in their decisions introduced, and therefore tends to the poisoning the streams of justice in the land; that there will, moreover, be the utmost danger that the Bar may hereafter be overawed by a corrupt Court, insomuch that no gentleman of shining genius and abilities in the profession of the Law will dare to stand up in defence of an injured country. For these and many other reasons that may be offered, the Committee beg leave further to report the following resolve, viz: Resolved, as the opinion of this town, that the said establishment is a dangerous innovation and grievance, especially when added to the many other grievances we have been so long groaning under, and that we have the strongest aversion to a measure which is of so ruinous a tendency, and can never be reconciled to it.Before this last named town-meeting was held, the Committee of Correspondence, elected on the 14th of December, executed a part of the duty assigned to them, by addressing a letter to the Committee of Boston, which was published in the “Boston Gazette,” Dec. 28, 1772:—
In 1773, the British Ministry adopted another measure to secure the payment of a tax by the colonists. The East India Company, embarrassed by the accumulation of teas which the American merchants did not purchase, were encouraged to export them, on their own account, by an offer of a drawback of the whole duty payable in England on all such as should be exported to the British colonies in America; but the duty of three pence on a pound was still required to be paid at the port of entry. The tax demanded was very small, but it stood as the representative of a great principle; the right, namely, of Parliament to bind the colonies in all cases whatever,—which right was asserted by the ministry and denied by the colonists. The fire of contention, which had seemed to be smouldering for a time, now burst forth into a fierce blaze. Public meetings were held, and resolutions adopted, indicating a stern spirit of resistance. Cambridge placed on record its determination to maintain its rights:—
At a very full meeting of the inhabitants of the town of Cambridge, legally assembled, Nov. 26, 1773, Capt. Ebenezer Stedman was chosen Moderator. This town being greatly alarmed at an Act of the British Parliament, passed in the last session of Parliament, whereby the East India Company in London are empowered to export their teas on their own account to the British Plantations in America, and expose the  same to sale, subject to a duty, payable in America, to be collected by a set of worse than Egyptian taskmasters,—which, if submitted to, we fear will prove fatal to the Colonies:—and as we apprehend the sense of this town cannot be better expressed than by adopting the Resolves of the patriotic citizens of Philadelphia;—Resolved, that the disposal of their own property is the inherent right of freemen; that there can be no property in that which another can of right take from us without our consent; that the claim of Parliament to tax America is, in other words, a claim of right to levy contributions on us at pleasure. 2. That the duty imposed by Parliament upon tea landed in America is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions on them without their consent. 3. That the express purpose for which the tax is levied on the Americans, namely, for the support of government, the administration of justice, and the defence of his Majesty's dominions in America, has a direct tendency to render Assemblies useless, and to introduce arbitrary government and slavery. 4. That a virtuous and steady opposition to this ministerial plan of governing America is absolutely necessary to preserve even the shadow of liberty, and is a duty which every freeman in America owes to his country, to himself, and to his posterity. 5. That the resolution lately come into by the East India Company, to send out their tea to America, subject to the payment of duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to enforce the ministerial plan, and a violent attack upon the liberties of America. 6. That it is the duty of every American to oppose this attempt. 7. That whoever shall, directly or indirectly, countenance this attempt, or in any wise aid or abet in unloading, receiving or vending, the tea sent or to be sent out by the East India Company, while it remains subject to the payment of a duty here, is an enemy to America. And whereas the town of Boston have assembled twice on this alarming occasion, and at each meeting did choose a committee of very respectable gentlemen, to wait upon the persons who are appointed by the East India Company to receive and sell said tea, and in a genteel manner requested them to resign their appointment; notwithstanding the said factors have repeatedly refused to give them any satisfaction, but, on the contrary, their answers were evasive and highly affrontive: by such a conduct they have forfeited all right and title to any respect from their fellow-countrymen:—Therefore resolved, that this town will by no means show them any respect whatever, but view them as  enemies to their country. And whereas it is reported that the said factors of the East India Company by their conduct have rendered themselves despicable in the town of Boston, yet they can retire into the country towns, where they are treated with respect, which, if true, is truly scandalous:—Therefore resolved, that any one who shall harbor said factors in their houses, except said factors immediately make full satisfaction to this justly incensed people, are unfriendly to their country. Resolved, That any person or persons, inhabitants of this Province, that shall import any teas subject to the payment of a duty in America, are in an eminent degree enemies to their country, and ought to be treated with equal contempt and detestation with the present supposed factors. And, as it is very apparent that the town of Boston are now struggling for the liberties of their country: Therefore resolved, that this town can no longer stand idle spectators, but are ready, on the shortest notice, to join with the town of Boston and other towns, in any measures that may be thought proper, to deliver ourselves and posterity from Slavery.Within a month afterwards, the Gordian knot of this controversy was cut, by the destruction of the tea in Boston Harbor, after an earnest and protracted effort to induce the consignees to send it back to Europe. Whether any Cambridge men participated in this final act, or not, it is reasonably certain that they assisted in the preliminary measures. Hutchinson says, “the Committees of Correspondence of the towns of Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Brookline, and Cambridge, united, and held their meetings daily, or by short adjournments, in Faneuil Hall, or one of the rooms belonging to it, and gave such directions as they thought proper. Two of the other vessels with tea arriving from London, they were ordered by this new body to the same wharf where the first ships lay, under pretence of the conveniency of having the whole under one guard. It soon after appeared that a further conveniency accompanied it.” 13 The overt act is described in the “Boston Gazette,” Monday, December 20, 1773:— “On Tuesday last the body of the people of this and all the adjacent towns, and others from the distance of twenty miles, assembled at the Old South meeting-house,” and, after a fruitless negotiation with the parties in the interest of the government, “adjourned to the Thursday following, ten o'clock. They then met; . . . . and the people, finding all their efforts to preserve the property of the East India Company and return it safely to London, frustrated by the tea consignees, the collector of the customs,  and the Governor of the Province, dissolved their meeting. But behold what followed. A number of brave and resolute men, determined to do all in their power to save the country from the ruin which their enemies had plotted, in less than four hours, emptied every chest of tea on board the three ships commanded by the captains Hall, Bruce, and Coffin, amounting to 342 chests, into the sea, without the least damage done to the ships or any other property. The masters and owners are well pleased, that their ships are thus cleared, and the people are almost universally congratulating each other on this happy event.” This destruction of the tea excited the liveliest indignation of the British government. It was construed as an act of open rebellion, demanding condign punishment. “The words, often cited, of the arrogant, insolent, and galling Venn, were then uttered and circulated through the colonies: ‘The offence of the Americans is flagitious: the town of Boston ought to be knocked about their ears and destroyed. Delenda est Carthago. You will never meet with proper obedience to the laws of this country until you have destroyed that nest of locusts.’ These words embodied the feeling of England in an hour of her insolence.” 14 The Boston Port Bill followed, which took effect on the first day of June, 1774, enforced by an array of armed vessels, effectually preventing ingress or egress. The sympathy, not only of Massachusetts but of all the American Colonies, was excited on behalf of the oppressed and suffering inhabitants of the devoted town, which sympathy was manifested by material aid. Although Cambridge was to some extent a joint-sufferer with Boston, it was voted, at a town meeting, July 28, 1774, “That the Committee of Correspondence be a Committee to receive the donations that may be given by the inhabitants of this town for the relief of our distressed brethren in the town of Boston, now suffering for the cause of all America under an act of the British Parliament for blocking up the port of Boston; and that they transmit the same to the Committee appointed by the town of Boston to receive such donations for the purpose abovesaid.” The Port Bill was followed by a more comprehensive measure, abrogating the Charter of Massachusetts, in some important particulars, and changing the character of the government. It provided that the members of the Council should no longer be elected by the General Court, but that they, as well as the Governor and Lieutenant-governor, should be appointed by the King. The Lieutenant-governor (Thomas Oliver), and two members  of the Council Samuel Danforth and Joseph Lee), appointed under the provisions of this act, were inhabitants of Cambridge. Colonel Oliver was a man of wealth and character, but had not previously held public station, except military.15 It was indeed suggested by some, that his name was inserted in the commission by mistake, instead of Peter Oliver, the Chief Justice and a member of the old Council. Judge Lee had been a Representative, but never before a member of the Council; on the contrary, Judge Danforth was the senior member of that Board, having held office, by thirty-six successive elections, since May, 1739. The new Council (styled the Mandamus Council because its members were appointed by command of the King) consisted of thirty-six persons, of whom, however, only twenty-four accepted office; and of that number nine soon afterwards resigned.16 Its first meeting was at Salem, on the 8th day of August, 1774. The Governor had previously (June 17) dissolved the General Court, so that the sole governing power now vested in himself and the newly appointed Council. The struggle between arbitrary power and the spirit of liberty became more and more intense. Some of the results, of which Cambridge was the scene of action, and its inhabitants were among the more prominent actors and sufferers, are related at large in the “Boston Gazette” of Monday, Sept. 5, 1774:— On Wednesday last, the new Divan (consisting of the wretched fugitives with whom the just indignation of their respective townsmen, by a well-deserved expulsion, have filled this capital) usurped the seats round the Council Board in Boston. Their deliberations have not hitherto transpired. And with equal secresy, on Thursday morning, half after four, about 260 troops embarked on board 13 boats, at the Long Wharf, and proceeded up Mistic River to Temple's Farm, where they landed and went to the powder-house,17 on quarry-hill in Charlestown bounds, whence they have taken 250 half barrels of powder, the whole store there, and carried it to the castle. A detachment from this corps went to Cambridge and brought off two field pieces which had lately been sent there for Col. Brattle's Regiment. The preparation for this scandalous expedition caused  much speculation, as some who were near the Governor gave out that he had sworn the committee of Salem should recognise or be imprisoned; nay, some said, put on board the Scarborough and sent to England forthwith. The committee of Boston sent off an express after 10, on Wednesday evening, to advise their brethren of Salem of what they apprehended was coming against them, who received their message with great politeness, and returned an answer purporting their readiness to receive any attack they might be exposed to for acting in pursuance to the laws and interests of their country, as became men and Christians. From these several hostile appearances, the County of Middlesex took the alarm, and on Thursday evening began to collect in large bodies, with their arms, provisions, and ammunition, determining by some means to give a check to a power which so openly threatened their destruction, and in such a clandestine manner robbed them of the means of their defence. And on Friday morning, some thousands of them had advanced to Cambridge, armed only with sticks, as they had left their fire-arms, &c., at some distance behind them. Some, indeed, had collected on Thursday evening, and surrounded the Attorney-General's house,18 who is also Judge of Admiralty on the new plan, for Nova Scotia; and being provoked by the firing of a gun from a window, they broke some glass, but did no more mischief. The company, however, concerned in this, were mostly boys and negroes, who soon dispersed. On perceiving the concourse on Friday morning, the committee of Cambridge sent express to Charlestown, who communicated the intelligence to Boston, and their respective committees proceeded to Cambridge without delay. When the first of the Boston committee came up, they found some thousands of people assembled round the court-house19 steps, and Judge Danforth standing upon them, speaking to the body, declaring in substance that having now arrived at a very advanced age,20 and spent the greater part in the service of the public, it was a great mortification to him to find a step lately taken by him so disagreeable to his country, in which he conscientiously had meaned to serve them; but finding their general sense against his holding a seat at the Council Board on the new establishment, he assured  them that he had resigned said office, and would never henceforth accept or act in any office inconsistent with the charter-rights of his country; and in confirmation of said declaration, he delivered the following certificate drawn up by himself, and signed with his own hand, viz.:—
“Although I have this day made an open declaration to a great concourse of people, who assembled at Cambridge, that I had resigned my seat at the Council Board, yet for the further satisfaction of all, I do hereby declare under my hand that such resignation has actually been made, and that it is my full purpose not to be any way concerned as a member of the Council at any time hereafter. Sept. 2d, 1774. S. Danforth. A true copy. Attest N. Cudworth, CL.”Judge Lee was also on the court-house steps, and delivered his mind to the body in terms similar to those used by Judge Danforth, and delivered the following declaration, also drawn up and signed by him, viz.:—
Such is the account given in the “Boston Gazette” of the memorable proceedings in Cambridge on the second day of September, 1774, resulting in the compulsory resignation of three Mandamus Councillors, and the pledge of the Sheriff that he would not execute any precept sent to him under the new Acts of Parliament for altering the constitution of the Province. The importance of the events, and the vivid picture afforded of the excitement which then filled the public mind, may justify the reproduction of the history at full length. In the same paper23 is published “a true copy of a letter said to be wrote by General Brattle to the commander-in-chief, and picked up in this town last week,” viz.:—Cambridge, 2d Sept. 1774. As great numbers of the inhabitants of the County are come into this town since my satisfying those who were met, not only by declaration but by reading to them what I wrote to the Governor at my resignation, and being desirous to give the whole County and Province full satisfaction in this matter, I hereby declare my resignation of a seat in the new constituted Council, and my determination to give no further attendance. Jos. Lee. A true copy. Test, Nath. Cudworth, CL.Upon this a vote was called for, to see if the body was satisfied with the declarations and resignations abovesaid, and passed in the affirmative, nem. con. It was then moved to know whether that body would signify their abhorrence of mobs, riots, and the destruction of private property, and passed in the affirmative, nem. con. Col. Phips, the High-Sheriff of the County, then came before the Committee of the body, and complained that he had been hardly spoken of, for the part he had acted in delivering the powder in Charlestown Magazine to the soldiery; which the Committee candidly considered and reported to the body that it was their opinion the High-Sheriff was excusable, as he had acted in conformity to his order from the Commander-in-chief. Col. Phips also delivered the following declaration by him subscribed, viz.:—Col. Phips's answer to the honorable body now in meeting  upon the common, viz.:—That I will not execute any precept that shall be sent me under the new Acts of Parliament for altering the Constitution of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, and that I will recall all the venires that I have sent out under the new establishment. Cambridge, Sept. 2d 1774. David Phips. A true copy. Test, Nath. Cudworth, CL. Which was accepted as satisfactory.21About 8 o'clock, his Honor Lieut. Governor Oliver set off from Cambridge to Boston, and informed Governor Gage of the true state of matters and the business of the people;—which, as his Honor told the Admiral, were not a mad mob, but the freeholders of the County,—promising to return in two hours and confer further with them on his own circumstance as President of the Council. On Mr. Oliver's return, he came to the Committee and signified what he had delivered to the body in the morning, viz. that as the commissions of Lieut. Governor and President of the Council seemed tacked together, he should undoubtedly incur his Majesty's displeasure, if he resigned the latter and pretended to hold the former; and nobody appeared to have any objection to his enjoying the place he held constitutionally; he begged he might not be pressed to incur that displeasure, at the instance of a single County, while any other Counsellor held on the new establishment. Assuring them, however, that in case the mind of the whole Province, collected in Congress or otherwise, appeared for his resignation, he would by no means act in opposition to it. This seemed satisfactory to the Committee, and they were preparing to deliver it to the body, when Commissioner Hallowell came through the town on his way to Boston. The sight of that obnoxious person so inflamed the people, that in a few minutes above 160 horsemen were drawn up and proceeding in pursuit of him on the full gallop. Capt. Gardner of Cambridge first began a parley with one of the foremost, which caused them to halt till he delivered his mind very fully in dissuasion of the pursuit, and was seconded by Mr. Deavens of Charlestown, and Dr. Young of Boston. They generally observed that the object of the Body's attention, that day, seemed to be the resignation of unconstitutional counsellors, and that it might introduce confusion into the proceedings of the day if any thing else was brought upon the carpet till that important business was finished;  and in a little time the gentlemen dismounted their horses and returned to the body. But Mr. Hallowell did not entirely escape, as one gentleman of a small stature pushed on before the general body, and followed Hallowell, who made the best of his way till he got into Roxbury, where Mr.——overtook and stopped him in his chaise. Hallowell snapped his pistols at him, but could not disengage himself from him till he quitted the chaise and mounted his servant's horse, on which he drove into Boston with all the speed he could make; till, the horse failing within the gate, he ran on foot to the camp, through which he spread consternation, telling them he was pursued by some thousands, who would be in town at his heels, and destroy all friends of government before them. A gentleman in Boston, observing the motion in the camp, and concluding they were on the point of marching to Cambridge from both ends of the town, communicated the alarm to Dr. Roberts, then at Charlestown Ferry, who, having a very fleet horse, brought the news in a few minutes to the Committee, then at dinner. The intelligence was instantly diffused, and the people whose arms were nearest, sent persons to bring them, while horsemen were despatched both ways to gain more certain advice of the true state of the soldiery. A greater fervor and resolution probably never appeared among any troops. The despatches soon returning and assuring the body that the soldiers still remained and were likely to remain in their camp, they resumed their business with spirit, and resolved to leave no unconstitutional officer within their reach in possession of his place. On this the Committee assembled again, and drew up the paper of which the following is a copy, and at the head of the body delivered it to Lieut. Governor Oliver, to sign, with which he complied, after obtaining their consent to add the latter clause, implying the force by which he was compelled to do it. Mr. Mason, Clerk of the County of Middlesex, also engaged to do no one thing in obedience to the new Act of Parliament impairing our Charter.
The gentlemen from Boston, Charlestown, and Cambridge, having provided some refreshment for their greatly-fatigued brethren, they cheerfully accepted it, took leave, and departed in high good humor and well satisfied.
Cambridge, August 27, 1774. Mr. Brattle presents his duty to Governor Gage. He apprehends it his duty to acquaint his Excellency, from time to time, with every thing he hears and knows to be true, and is of importance in these troublesome times, which is the apology Mr. Brattle makes for troubling the General with this letter.This letter of Gen. Brattle had been printed in a hand-bill before it appeared in the “Gazette,” and he had prepared an explanation of it, which was already in the hands of the printer; but its publication was postponed until the next week, Sept. 12th. It was characteristic of the writer, manifesting a strong desire to stand well with both parties:—Capt. Minot of Concord, a very worthy man, this minute informed Mr. Brattle that there had been repeatedly made pressing applications to him, to warn his company to meet at one minute's warning, equipt with arms and ammunition, according to law; he had constantly denied them, adding, if he did not gratify them, he should be constrained to quit his farms and town: Mr. Brattle told him he had better do that than lose his life and be hanged for a rebel: he observed that many captains had done it, though not in the Regiment to which he belonged, which  was and is under Col. Elisha Jones, but in a neighboring Regiment. Mr. Brattle begs leave humbly to query whether it would not be best that there should not be one commission officer of the militia in the Province.This morning the selectmen of Medford came and received their town stock of powder, which was in the arsenal on quarry-hill, so that there is now therein the King's powder only, which shall remain there as a sacred depositum till ordered out by the Captain-General. To his Excellency General Gage, &c. &c. &c.
The Governor having dissolved the House of Representatives in June, writs were issued for the election of a new House, to assemble at Salem on the 5th of October. Meantime, the Council elected by the former House had been superseded by the Mandamus Council. Having already compelled the resignation  of some members of this new council, and knowing that many others had resigned or declined to accept the office, the inhabitants of Cambridge utterly refused to recognize the official authority of that obnoxious body, and, like most of the towns in the province, instructed their Representatives, Oct. 3, 1774, to join only with the Council which had been duly elected by the General Court: “To Capt. Thomas Gardner and the Honble John Winthrop Esq. Gentlemen, As you are now chosen to represent this town in General Assembly, to meet at Salem the 5th of this instant October, you are instructed and empowered to join with the Honble his Majesty's Council who were chosen by both Houses legally assembled in May last, and were approved, and are the only constitutional Council in this Province to act with them as an House of Representatives, or to act with the Delegates that are or may be chosen by the several towns in this Province, to form a Provincial Congress: to meet with them from time to time, and at such time and place as by them, or either of them, shall be agreed upon; to consult and determine (in either capacity) upon such matters and things as may come before you, and in such a manner as to you may seem most conducive to the real interest of this town and province, and most proper to deliver ourselves and all America from the iron jaws of slavery.” 24 A firm resolution to maintain their position at all hazards, and to resist arbitrary authority even unto blood, is indicated by votes adopted at the same town meeting, empowering the Selectmen to procure a carriage for the cannon belonging to the town, to purchase another cannon, and to furnish powder and balls for both; also to draw money from the treasury for the payment of drummers and fifers, for the instruction of fifers, the purchase of fifes, and the refreshment of soldiers, till further order. At a subsequent meeting, Nov. 28, 1774, it is recorded that, “whereas the Provincial Congress did, on the 28th day of October last, resolve and appoint Henry Gardner Esq. of Stow to be Receiver General of this Province, for reasons most obvious,” etc., the collectors of taxes were directed and required to pay the province taxes to said Gardner, and the town agreed to indemnify them; “and if any person or persons shall refuse to comply with the true and obvious spirit and design of the said resolve and this vote, this town will consider them as operating  with the enemies of the rights and liberties of this injured and oppressed people.” A few months later, the Revolutionary War commenced, and Cambridge became the Headquarters of the American army. Of the share borne by the inhabitants of the town in the military struggle which continued nearly eight years, a brief sketch will be given in another place. The record of civil proceedings of the town, during that period, is meagre; a few facts, however, may be gleaned. For many years after the commencement of resistance to the arbitrary measures of the ministry and of Parliament, loyalty to the King, or to the crown was professed. At length, absolute independence appeared to be the only safe and effectual solution of the difficulty. The Continental Congress, before adopting and proclaiming a declaration of Independence, naturally desired to know whether the people would abide by it, and sought advice from the several colonies. This question was referred to each town by the General Court of Massachusetts. At a town meeting in Cambridge, May 27, 1776, it was “unanimously voted, that whereas in the late House of Representatives of this colony, 10 May 1776, it was resolved, as the opinion of that House, that the inhabitants of each town in this Colony ought, in full town-meeting warned for that purpose, to advise the person or persons who shall be chosen to represent them in the next General Court, whether that, if the honorable Congress should, for the safety of the said Colonies, declare them independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain, they the said inhabitants will solemnly engage with their lives and fortunes to support them in the measure,— We the inhabitants of the town of Cambridge, in full town-meeting assembled and warned for the purpose abovesaid, do solemnly engage with our lives and fortunes to support them in the measure.” Most faithfully did they redeem their pledge. The inhabitants of Cambridge suffered the various privations and inconveniences incident to warfare, from which they sought relief in a quiet and peaceable manner. On the 18th of September, 1776, Edward Marrett, by direction of the town, petitioned the General Court that the hospital at Sewall's Point in Brookline might no longer be used for the treatment of small-pox, as coasters were fearful of passing up the river with fuel; and so much wood in Cambridge and the vicinity had been destroyed by the army, that the inhabitants and students could obtain none except at exorbitant prices. The Court ordered “that the barracks  standing within the fort at Sewall's Point be not used for a hospital, and that they be kept clear of infection.” 25 August 14, 1777, the General Court granted a parcel of nails ( “3300 double tens” ) to a Committee, for repairing the jail at Cambridge, the Committee not being able to obtain them elsewhere,—the said nails to be paid for by the town.26 September 10, 1777. “The petition of the selectmen of the town of Cambridge, in behalf of themselves and the inhabitants of said town, humbly sheweth,— That whereas the inhabitants of said town are in great necessity of the article of salt, and it not being in their power to procure the same at any price or to make the same, our wood being at so high a price as twelve dollars a cord, and as we understand the State have supplied most of the towns within the same with some considerable quantity of the article, and are still in possession of a quantity of the same, and therefore pray that we may be supplied with such a quantity as your honors in your wisdom may see fit,” etc.27 Sept. 24, 1777. “On the petition of Isaac Bradish, under-keeper of the gaol in Cambridge, setting forth that he hath in custody a number of Scotch and Hessian prisoners, (23 in all,) and is unable to procure bread-corn sufficient for their sustenance, and therefore praying he may be allowed to draw bread-corn out of the public stores for the support of said prisoners:—Resolved, that the Board of War be, and they hereby are directed to supply the said Bradish with eight barrels of flour for the purpose above mentioned; he the said Bradish paying for the same.” 28 It has already been stated that Cambridge instructed its Representatives, October 3, 1774, not to recognize the Mandamus Council, so called, but to join with the Council elected in the previous May, under the provisions of the Charter, or, if this were impracticable, “to act with the Delegates that are or may be chosen by the several towns in this Province to form a Provincial Congress.” Such a Congress was formed, and was succeeded by others, whose resolves and recommendations, by general consent, had the force of law,—administered chiefly by committees and other officers elected by towns. After the commencement of hostilities, advice was requested of the Continental Congress, respecting a more regular form of government. On the 9th of June, 1775, that Congress “Resolved, That no obedience being due to the act of parliament for altering the Charter of the colony  of Massachusetts Bay, nor to a governor and lieutenant-governor who will not observe the directions of, but endeavor to subvert, that charter; the governor and lieutenant-governor are to be considered as absent, and their offices vacant. And as there is no council there, and the inconveniences arising from the suspension of the powers of government are intolerable, especially at a time when General Gage hath actually levied war, and is carrying on hostilities against his majesty's peaceful and loyal subjects of that colony; that in order to conform, as near as may be, to the spirit and substance of the charter, it be recommended to the Provincial Congress to write letters to the inhabitants of the several places which are entitled to representation in assembly, requesting them to choose such representatives; and that the assembly, when chosen, should elect counsellors; which assembly and council should exercise the powers of government, until a governor of his majesty's appointment will consent to govern the colony according to the charter.” 29 This advice was accepted, and a General Court was duly organized. Not many months later, Governor Gage fled from the colony, independence was declared, and subjection to British authority and law was utterly renounced. Some new form of government, suitable to a free and independent people, was desired; and the General Court proposed to frame a constitution. the people of Cambridge manifested their disapprobation of this method, and at a town-meeting, June 16, 1777, “Voted, That the Representative of this town be and hereby is instructed not to agree to any attempt that may be made at present to form a new constitution for this State by the General Court, or any other body of men whatever, but to oppose any such attempt with all his influence.” And when the General Court, “acting as a Convention,” agreed upon such a Constitution, Feb. 28, 1778, and submitted it to the people for approval, it was unanimously rejected by the inhabitants of Cambridge. At a town meeting, May 25, 1778, “The plan of a constitution and form of Government for the State of the Massachusetts Bay, as proposed by the Convention, was read and fully debated on; the number of voters present was seventy-nine, all of them being freemen more than twenty-one years of age, and neither ‘a negro, indian, or molatto,’ among them; the question was determined by yeas and nays, when there appeared for the proposed form, none: and against it, seventy-nine.” This constitution was rejected by a large majority of the voters in the Commonwealth.  On the first day of September, 1779, a Convention of Delegates, elected for that special purpose, assembled at Cambridge,30 and continued in session by successive adjournments until March 2, 1780. As a result of its labors, it submitted a “Constitution or frame of government,” which was accepted by the people, and remained in force, without alteration, for the next forty years. The action of Cambridge indicates a watchful regard for popular rights, and at the same time a commendable disposition to yield individual preferences for the sake of having some established government: At a town meeting, May 22, 1780,
Voted, unanimously, in favor of the Declaration of the Bill of Rights in the new frame of government. . . . . Forty-three voted to adopt said frame of government, and with the following amendments, (two against it). By way of instructions to our Delegate for Convention:—We therefore instruct you to use your endeavors to procure an erasement of the clause in the 4th Article of the 1st Section of the 1st Chapter of the Constitution, empowering the General Court to impose and levy duties and excises upon any produce, goods, wares, merchandize, and commodities whatever, brought into, produced, manufactured, or being, within the Commonwealth; because we conceive such a power to be oppressive and dangerous to the subjects of the State. It is oppressive, as employing a great number of persons to collect the revenue, who will swallow up a considerable part of it, and who will have the most favorable opportunities to carry on iniquitous [practices] without being detected. It is likewise oppressive, as the money is raised upon the consumers, and instead of being a tax upon trade, much more considerable sums of money are taken from our consumers and thrown into the hands of the sellers than would otherwise be transferred, because the sellers will put their advance upon the money they pay as excise, in addition to the advance upon the articles of sale. It is also oppressive, as the officers must necessarily be trusted with a right to make a forcible entry into the most retired apartments; for if they have not this power, the widest door will be open for perjury. It is dangerous to the liberty of the subjects, as the government would of course be trusted with unknown sums of money, and sums which from their own nature must be uncertain, and by means of this money they may secure such influence as may subvert the liberty  we have purchased at so dear a rate. You are also instructed to obtain an insertion of a clause in the 2d article of the 6th chapter of the Constitution, whereby settled Teachers of morality, &c., and all persons whatever who do not pay taxes shall be excluded from a seat in the House of Representatives; because those persons who bear no part of the public burden can not be such competent judges of the ability of the people to pay taxes, as those who support their part. And as to the exclusion of settled Teachers of morality, &c., let it suffice to say that we think them very important officers in the State, and that the community must suffer much from having so great a number employed in services so distinct from their particular offices as undoubtedly will be, provided the insertion be not made. At the same time, we are not unwilling that gentlemen of this order, of shining abilities, should be introduced into superior departments by the suffrages of the people at large. However, we do not mean to be so strenuous in our objections as to decline receiving the whole as it stands, provided in the opinion of the Convention the amendments ought not to be made. Accordingly, we, being willing to give up our own opinion in lesser matters, in order to obtain a government whose authority may not be disputed, and which we wish may soon be established, do instruct and direct you in our name and behalf, to ratify and confirm the proposed form, whether the amendments be made or not.Soon after the adoption of the Constitution, uneasiness began to be manifested in various portions of the Commonwealth, followed by more or less tumultuary assemblages of the people, culminating, in 1786, in armed resistance to the government. From the name of a prominent leader, this has been called the “Shays Rebellion,” which at one time assumed a formidable aspect. The wide-spread disaffection which prevailed was not without cause. “A heavy debt lying on the State, added to burdens of the same nature, upon almost every incorporation within it; a relaxation of manners, and a free use of foreign luxuries; a decay of trade and manufactures, with a prevailing scarcity of money; and, above all, individuals involved in debt to each other, are evils which leave us under no necessity of searching further for the reasons of the insurrections which took place.” 31 The nature of the complaints made by the insurgents, under the name of “grievances,” may be gathered from the printed proceedings of  a convention at Hatfield, Aug. 22, 1786, declaring the following to be some of the “grievances and unnecessary burdens now lying upon the people:—The existence of the Senate; the present mode of representation; the officers of government not being annually dependent on the representatives of the people, in General Court assembled, for their salaries; all the civil officers of government not being annually elected by the representatives of the people, in General Court assembled; the existence of the Courts of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace; the Fee table as it now stands; the present mode of appropriating the impost and excise; the unreasonable grants made to some of the officers of government; the supplementary aid; the present mode of paying the government securities; the present mode adopted for the payment and speedy collection of the last tax; the present mode of taxation, as it operates unequally between the polls and estates, and between landed and mercantile interests; the present method of practice of the attornies at law; the want of a sufficient medium of trade, to remedy the mischiefs arising from the scarcity of money; the General Court sitting in the town of Boston; the present embarrassments on the press; the neglect of the settlement of important matters depending between the Commonwealth and Congress, relating to monies and averages.” “It is scarcely possible for a government to be more imperfect, or worse administered, than that of Massachusetts is here represented to be. Essential branches of the legislative and judicial departments were said to be grievous; material proceedings upon national concerns erroneous; obvious measures for paying the debt blindly overlooked; public monies misappropriated; and the constitution itself intolerably defective.” 32 “The immediate remedies proposed by this convention were, the issue of paper money which should be made ‘a legal tender in all payments, equal to silver and gold;’ a revision of the Constitution; and a session of the General Court forthwith, for the redress of the ‘grievances’ complained of.” 33 The first notice of this civil commotion found on the town records is under date of July 24, 1786:—
A letter to the Selectmen of Cambridge, and signed by John Nutting, purporting to be written by desire of a meeting of committees from the towns of Groton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, and Ashby, and requesting our concurrence in a County Convention to be held at Concord on the 23d of August next, in order to consult upon matters of public grievances, and find out means  of redress, having been read, it was Voted, that the Selectmen be desired to answer said letter, and express the attachment of this town to the present constitution and administration of government, and also to express our aversion to use any irregular means for compassing an end which the constitution has already provided for, as we know of no grievances the present system of government is inadequate to redress. Voted, that the above mentioned letter, signed by John Nutting and directed to the Selectmen of this town, be printed, together with their answer, and that the Selectmen cause the same to be done.The letter and reply were accordingly printed in the “Boston Independent Chronicle,” July 27, 1786, as follows:—
To the Selectmen of Cambridge. Gentlemen, We, the committees chose by the several towns hereafter mentioned, viz. Groton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, and Ashby, met at Groton the 29th day of June, 1786, to consult upon matters of public grievances; and after appointing a chairman for that day, it was thought best to notify all the towns in this county to meet by their committees, at the house of Capt. Brown, innholder in Concord, on the 23d day of August next, to consult upon matters of public grievances and embarrassments that the people of this Commonwealth labor under, and to find out means of redress, &c. By order of the committee: John Nutting, Chairman. Groton, July 19. 1786. N. B. It is expected that a committee front the Convention that is to set in Worcester County, the 15th of August, will attend.
When the Constitution of the United States was submitted to the several States, in 1788, for adoption, although it narrowly escaped rejection, being violently opposed by those who had recently manifested disaffection towards the State government, and by others who imagined that it involved an improper surrender of State rights, the voice of Cambridge was given in its favor by her two delegates, Hon. Francis Dana and Stephen Dana, Esq. Of the inhabitants of Cambridge, a great majority were true “sons of liberty.” Yet there were a few, chiefly office-holders, or citizens of the more wealthy and aristocratic class, who adhered to the British government. Some of this number made their peace and remained unmolested; others retired to Boston, on the commencement of hostilities, and subsequently found refuge in the British Provinces or in England. So many of this class resided on Brattle Street, that it was sometimes denominated  “Tory Row;” indeed they owned and occupied almost every estate bordering on that street, between Brattle Square and Mount Auburn. General William Brattle,34 Col. John Vassall,35 Penelope Vassall, widow of Col. Henry Vassall,36 Richard Lechmere37 (succeeded by Jonathan Sewall, June 10, 1771), Judge Joseph Lee,38 Capt. George Ruggles39 (succeeded by Thomas Fayerweather, Oct. 31, 1774), and Lieut.-gov. Thomas Oliver,40 owned and resided on contiguous estates; and their families composed a select social circle, to which few others were admitted. Prominent among those few were Judge Samuel Danforth,41 John Borland,42 and Col. David Phips.43 Of this circle of friends Madame Riedesel speaks in her Letters. Her husband was a General, captured with Burgoyne's Army, and was quartered in the Lechmere House, at the corner of Brattle and Sparks streets. She says,—
Of the loyalists before named, Judge Danforth retired soon after the outbreak in Sept., 1774, to the house of his son in Boston, where he died Oct. 27, 1777, aged about 81. Judge Lee is said to have dwelt in Boston during the siege, after which he returned to his estate, which he enjoyed unmolested until his death Dec. 5, 1802, at the age of 93. Capt. Ruggles sold his estate, Oct. 31, 1774, to Thomas Fayerweather, and removed from Cambridge; his subsequent history is unknown to me. All the others were regarded as enemies to the movement in behalf of liberty; they became “absentees,” and their estates, together with the estates of Ralph Inman, Esq.45 and Edward Stow, a mariner,46 were seized for the public use, and were leased by the Committee of Correspondence. Their account current with said estates for the year 1776 is preserved in a manuscript now in my possession. I copy a specimen:—
Never had I chanced upon such an agreeable situation. Seven families,44 who were connected with each other, partly by the ties of relationship and partly by affection, had here farms, gardens, and magnificent houses, and not far off plantations of fruit. The owners of these were in the habit of daily meeting each other in the afternoons, now at the house of one, and now at another, and making themselves merry with music  and the dance—living in prosperity, united and happy, until, alas! this ruinous war severed them, and left all their houses desolate, except two, the proprietors of which were also soon obliged to flee.Letters, Munsell's Ed., 1867, p. 140.
Dr. The estate of Thomas Oliver Esq. late of Cambridge, Absentee, to the Committee of Correspondence of the town, for the year 1776.Similar charges are made for services, and credits given for rent, in regard to the estates of John Borland, Esq., deceased, £ 27 rent;47 Richard Lechmere, Esq., £ 36 rent, and £ 6 for wood and brush which was taken off said estate;48 Jonathan Sewall, Esq., £ 26 13 4;49 John Vassall, Esq., £ 100; Widow Penelope Vassall, £ 15; William Brattle, Esq., £ 29; Ralph Inman, Esq.,  £ 40; Edward Stow, £ 10; David Phips, Esq., £ 40. Five of these estates were subsequently confiscated and sold by the Commonwealth; the estates of Lechmere (144 acres) and Oliver (96 acres), to Andrew Cabot, Esq., of Salem, Nov. 24, 1779; the estate of Sewall (44 acres) to Thomas Lee of Pomfret, Conn., Dec. 7, 1779;50 the estate of Phips (50 acres) to Isaiah Doane of Boston, May 25, 1781; and the estate of Vassall (116 acres) to Nathaniel Tracy, Esq., of Newburyport, June 28, 1781. Inman returned soon, and his estate was restored to him. The heirs of Borland and the widow Vassall succeeded to the ownership of their estates in Cambridge; but several houses and stores in Boston, formerly belonging to Borland, were advertised by the agents of the Commonwealth to be leased at auction, March 1, 1780. General Brattle conveyed all his real estate in Cambridge, Dec. 13, 1774, to his only surviving son, Major Thomas Brattle, and died in Halifax, N. S., October, 1776. By the persevering efforts of Mrs. Katherine Wendell, the only surviving daughter of General Brattle, the estate was preserved from confiscation, and was recovered by Major Brattle after his return from Europe,—having been proscribed in 1778, and having subsequently exhibited satisfactory evidence of his friendship to his country and its political independence. Besides the persons already named, there were a few other loyalists, or tories, in Cambridge, but not holding such a prominent position: John Nutting, carpenter, was proscribed in 1778; Antill Gallop, a deputy sheriff, who had promised conformity in September, 1774, is said by Sabine51 to have gone with the British troops to Halifax, in 1776; also George Inman (H. C. 1772, died 1789) and John Inman, sons of Ralph Inman, Esq. After the close of the war, it was proposed to permit the proscribed loyalists to return,—not indeed to share in the administration of the government, but to reclaim their confiscated estates. This proposition did not meet the approval of the inhabitants of Cambridge. At a town meeting, May 5, 1783, instructions to their representative, reported by a committee consisting of James Winthrop, Samuel Thatcher, and Abraham Watson, Esquires, were unanimously adopted:—
For taking into possession and leasing out said estate, the sum of £ 2. Also for supporting a negro man belonging to said estate, £ 3. 12 For collecting the personal estate, £ 3. —— Cr. By cash received as rent, £ 69.
Sir, the choice that this town has made of you, to represent  us in the General Court sufficiently proves the confidence we place in your integrity and abilities: and though we have no doubt of your attachment to the interest of the town and the welfare of the commonwealth, yet we think it expedient, in the present situation of affairs, to express our sentiments to you for the regulation of your conduct, that you may be enabled to act decisively and with vigor, whenever you shall be called upon to give your voice in the General Court upon the following subjects. The long and severe conflict which the United States have maintained with the King of Great Britain and his auxiliaries is now brought to a conclusion by a treaty in which our independence is fully recognized. But while with pleasure we anticipate the blessings of peace, it gives us no small uneasiness to observe an article in the treaty, which, in its consequences, may lessen the value and shorten the duration of it. The Congress are there bound earnestly to recommend it to the different States to provide for the restitution of the property of the absentees; and that they may return to America, and remain there twelve months in endeavoring to regain possession of their lost estates. This article, if the States should comply with it, will, we apprehend, be productive of as great if not greater calamities than any we have yet experienced. It is, however, some consolation, that the final ratification of that article depends upon the voice of the people, through the medium of their Representatives. Their conduct, upon this occasion, will determine whether it is to be a lasting peace or only a temporary cessation of hostilities. Whether Great Britain had the right they claimed of making laws binding on the then Colonies in all cases whatsoever, was a question that for a long time was fully discussed in numberless publications, previous to the connection being dissolved between that country and these States. By this means it was hardly possible there could be one person who had not considered the subject with attention, and was not prepared to give his voice on the question. At length the time arrived, when it became necessary to decide it by the sword. Then it became the duty of every man to declare his sentiments, and to make his conduct conform to his declarations. Happily for us, by far the greater part determined never to submit to the exercise of so unreasonable a claim; and in support of their determination have resolutely carried on a war, in which our enemies have practiced a degree of cruelty and destruction that has scarcely been equalled among civilized nations. A few, however, attentive to their own  emolument, or influenced by some other cause not more justifiable, abandoned their country, and sought for protection under the forces which invaded it, and with them united their efforts to subjugate their fellow-citizens, and in many instances have distinguished themselves by their cruelties and barbarities. Having thus taken their side of the question, they ought surely to abide the consequence. It is hardly conceivable that persons, who have discovered such an enmity to their country, and who have exerted every effort to overturn our government, will ever make peaceable subjects of it. Without spending time to particularize every objection that may be offered against the return of those persons who are described by the laws of this Commonwealth as Conspirators and Absentees, and being convinced as we trust you are, of the dangerous consequences that will attend the admitting them again to reside among us,—we instruct you to use your influence and endeavors, by all proper means to prevent any persons of the foregoing description from ever returning, or regaining their justly forfeited estates: and if any such persons have already crept in, that the most speedy and effectual measures may be adopted for their removal.