previous next

Chapter 37:

The Celtic-American Republic on the banks of the Mississippi.

September—October, 1768.

on Wednesday the twenty-eighth of September,
Chap. XXXVII} 1768. Sept.
just after the Convention broke up, the squadron from Halifax arrived, and anchored at noon in Nantasket Bay. It brought not two regiments only, but artillery also, which Bernard, by a verbal message, had specially requested. Dalrymple, the commander of the troops, ‘expressed infinite surprise that no quarters had been prepared.’ On Thursday, the twenty-ninth, a Council was summoned, at which Smith, the commanding officer of the fleet, and Dalrymple, were present. After much altercation, the Council adhered to the law; and the Governor to his declaration of a total want of power to do any thing in his province.1 ‘Since that resolution was taken to rise in arms in open rebellion,’ wrote Gage,2 ‘I don't see any cause to be scrupulous.’ On the following day the whole squadron was anchored near the [208] Romney,3 off Castle William, in the hope to intimidate
Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Sept.
the Council; but without success. At that moment Montresor, the engineer, arrived express from General Gage, to assist in recovering the Castle, if he should find it in the hands of the rebels; and he brought an order to land not one but both the regiments within the settled part of the town of Boston itself.4

The first of October, the order was to be execut-

ed. The Governor on the occasion stole away into the country, leaving Dalrymple to despise ‘his want of spirit,’5 and ‘to take the whole upon himself,’ without the presence of a civil officer. As if they were come to an enemy's country,6 eight ships of war with tenders were placed by the wharfs, with loaded cannon, and springs on their cables, so that they commanded the town; after this, the fourteenth and twenty-ninth regiments and a part of the fiftyninth, with a train of artillery and two pieces of cannon, effected their landing7 on the Long Wharf. Each soldier having received sixteen round of shot, they marched with drums beating, fifes playing, and colors flying, through the streets of the defenceless, unarmed, quiet town, which made not the least show of resistance, and by four in the afternoon they paraded on Boston Common.

‘All their bravadoes ended as may be imagined,’ said an officer. ‘Men are not easily brought to [209] fight,’ wrote Hutchinson, ‘8 when they know death

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
by the sword, or the halter will be the consequence.’-‘Great Britain,’ remarked a wise observer, “will sooner or later repent her mistaken policy.” 9

Dalrymple encamped the twenty-ninth regiment, which had field equipage; for the rest, he demanded quarters of the Selectmen. They knew the law too well to comply; but as the night was cold, the compassion of the inhabitants was moved for the soldiers, and about nine o'clock the Sons of Liberty allowed them to sleep in Faneuil Hall.10 ‘By management,’ said he, ‘I got possession of the School of Liberty, and thereby secured all their arms.’11

‘I will keep possession of this town, where faction seems to prevail beyond conception,’ he blustered;12 we shall see how he redeemed his word. For the present, the passive resistance which he encountered compelled him to ask aid of the Commander of the fleet. The troops were in a miserable condition, having neither quarters nor any means to dress their provisions.

On Monday, the third, Bernard laid before the Council Dalrymple's requisition for the enumerated allowances to troops in barracks. ‘We,’ answered the Council, ‘are ready, on our part, to comply with the Act of Parliament, if the Colonel will on his.’13

After two days reflection, the Council consented to the appointment of a commissary, if he would [210] ‘take the risk of the Province's paying’ the

Chap. XXXVII} 1768. Oct.
charge of his office. The condition was strictly right; for to appropriate money, was the attribute of the Assembly. Since there was no Assembly, no power in the Province could pledge its credit.14

‘Tyranny begins,’ said Samuel Adams,15 ‘if the law is transgressed to another's harm. It behoves the public to avail themselves of the remedy of the law. It is always safe to adhere to the law. We must not give up the law and the Constitution, which is fixed and stable, and is the collected and long digested sentiment of the whole, and substitute in its room the opinion of individuals, than which nothing can be more uncertain.’

While Hood meditated embarking for Boston to winter there,16 Gage came from New-York to demand, in person, quarters for the regiments in the town. The Council would grant none till the barracks at the Castle were filled.17

The Governor and the Sheriff attempted, at least, to get possession of a ruinous building, belonging to the Province; but its occupants had taken the opinion of the best lawyer, and kept them at bay.18

Bernard next summoned all the acting justices to meet him, and renewed the General's demand for quarters. ‘Not till the barracks are filled,’ they answered, conforming to the law.19 ‘How absurd [211] and ungrateful,’ cried Hutchinson.20 ‘The clause’

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
wrote Gage, ‘is by no means calculated for this coun– try, where every man studies law.’21 ‘I am now at the end of my tether,’ said Bernard to his Council, and he asked them to join him in naming a commissary. ‘To join in such appointment,’ answered the Council, ‘would be an admission that the Province ought to be charged with the expense.’ The officers themselves could not put the troops into quarters, for they would, under the Act, be cashiered, on being convicted of the fact before two justices of the peace. ‘Before two justices,’ exclaimed Gage, ‘the best of them the keeper of a paltry tavern.’22

At last, the weather growing so severe that the troops could not remain in tents, ‘the commanding officer23 was obliged to hire houses at very dear rates,’ as well as procure, at the expense of the Crown, all the articles required by Act of Parliament of the Colony. The Main Guard was established opposite the State House, and cannon were pointed towards the rooms in which the Legislature was accustomed to sit. But as the town gave an example of respect for law, there was nothing for the troops to do. Two regiments were there as idle lookers-on, and two more were coming to share the same inactivity. Every one knew that they could not be employed except on a requisition from a civil officer; and there was not a magistrate in the Colony that saw any reason for calling in their aid, nor a person in town [212] disposed to act in a way to warrant it. So that

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
after all that had been done, the spirit of the Colonies was as intractable as ever.

The Commissioners of the Customs, whose false alarms had brought troops to the Province, having received orders to return to Boston, wished to get from, the Council some excuse for their departure, as well as for their return. ‘They had no just reason for absconding from their duty,’ said Bowdoin;24 and the Council left them to return of themselves; but in an Address to Gage, adopted by a vote of fifteen out of nineteen,25 they explained how trivial had been the disorders on which the request for troops had been grounded. Gage became convinced by his inquiries, that the disturbance in March was trifling; that on the tenth of June the Commissioners were neither attacked nor menaced; that more obstructions had arisen to the service from the servants of Government, than from any other cause.26 But purblind in the light, he adopted the sentiments and language of Bernard; and advised barracks and a fort on Fort Hill to command the town; while the Governor urged anew a forfeiture of the Charter, and owned that ‘troops would not restore the authority of Government.’27 [213]

It was on every one's lips, that the die was thrown,

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
that they must wait for the event; but the parties who waited, were each in a different frame of mind. A troublesome anxiety took possession of Bernard, who began to fear his recall, and intercede to be spared.28 ‘These red coats make a formidable appearance,’ said Hutchinson, with an exulting countenance, and an air of complacency, buoyant with the prospect of rising one step higher. The soldiers liked the country they were come to, and, sure that none would betray them, soon deserted in numbers.29 The Commissioners were more haughty than before, and gratified their malignity by arresting Hancock and Malcom on charges, confidently made but never established.30 All were anxious to know the decision of the King and the New Parliament, respecting the great question between Government by consent and Government by authority.

But the determination of the King was evident from the first. ‘Chatham, even if he is crazed, is the person who most merits to be observed,’ wrote Choiseul;31 but the British Ministry had less discernment. Yielding to the ‘daily’32 importunities of the King, Grafton prepared to dismiss Shelburne.33 The assent of Camden was desired. ‘You are my pole star,’ Camden34 was accustomed to say to Chatham; ‘I have sworn an oath, I will go, I will go where you [214] lead.’ But now he encouraged Grafton to slight

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
their justly dissatisfied benefactor, as ‘brooding over his own suspicions and discontent.’35 ‘I will never retire upon a scanty income,’ he added, ‘unless I should be forced by something more compelling than the Earl of Shelburne's removal. You are my pole star, Chatham being eclipsed.’36

Grafton wished earnestly to gain Chatham's acquiescence in the proposed change, and repaired to Hayes to give assurances, that no new ‘bias’ swayed him from the connection, to which his faith was pledged. ‘My Lord's health,’ answered the Countess, ‘is too weak to admit of any communication of business; but I am able to tell your Grace, from my Lord himself, that Lord Shelburne's removal will never have his consent.’ The King awaited anxiously the result of the interview;37 and notwithstanding the warning, Shelburne was removed. To Camden's surprise,38 the resignation of Chatham instantly followed. Grafton and the King interposed with solicitations;39 but even the hope of triumphing over the aristocracy had lost its seductive power; and the Earl remained inflexible. Camden knew that he ought to have retired also;40 he hushed his scruples by the thought that [215] his illustrious friend had not asked him to do it;

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
and continued saying ‘He shall still be my pole star,’41 even while the emoluments of office were for a time attracting him to advise a public declaration from the King, that Townshend's revenue Act should be executed, and ‘Boston,’ ‘the ringleading Province,’ be ‘chastised.’42

The removal of Shelburne opened the Cabinet to the ignorant and incapable Earl of Rochford, who owed his selection to the mediocrity of his talents and the impossibility of finding a Secretary of State more thoroughly submissive.43 He needed money, being so poor as to have once told Choiseul with tears in his eyes, that if he lost the embassy which he then filled, he should be without resources44 He had a passion also to play a part, and in his moments of glorying, would boast of his intention to rival not Chatham, he would say, but Pitt;45 though he could not even for a day adhere steadily to one idea. ‘His meddlesome disposition,’ said Choiseul, ‘makes him a worse man to deal with than one of greater ability.’ ‘You,’ answered Du Chatelet,46 ‘may turn his foibles and defects to the advantage of the King.’ After his accession, the Administration was the weakest and the worst which England has known since its Revolution.

It had no sanction in public opinion, and the subservient Parliament was itself losing its authority and [216] the reverence of the nation. A reform was hence-

Chap. XXXVII} 1768. Oct.
forward advocated by Grenville. ‘The number of electors,’ such was his declared47 opinion, ‘is become too small in proportion to the whole people, and the Colonies ought to be allowed to send members to Parliament.’48

‘What other reason than an attempt to raise discontent,’ replied Edmund Burke as the organ of the Rockingham Whigs, ‘can he have for suggesting, that we are not happy enough to enjoy a sufficient number of voters in England? Our fault is on the other side.’ And he mocked at an American Representation and union with America as the vision of a lunatic.49

The opinions of Grenville were obtaining universal circulation, just as intelligence was received of the proceedings of the town of Boston relative to the proposed convention. From their votes, it was inferred that the troops would be opposed, should they attempt to land; that Massachusetts Bay, if not all the Colonies, must henceforward be considered as in a state of actual rebellion, and measures were concerting to rely upon superiority in arms, and to support authority in America, at all hazards. ‘Depend upon it,’ said Hillsborough to the Agent of Connecticut, who had presented him the Petition of that Colony, ‘Parliament will not suffer their authority to be trampled upon. We wish to avoid severities towards you, but if you refuse obedience to our [217] laws, the whole fleet and army of England shall en-

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
force it.’50

The inhabitants of Boston, on their part, resolved not to pay their money without their own consent,51 and were more than ever determined to relinquish every article that came from Britain, till the obnoxous acts should be repealed and the troops removed. With no hysteric weakness, or feverish excitement, they preserved their peace and patience, leaving the event to God.

It was on the banks of the Mississippi, that uncontrolled impulses first unfurled the flag of a Republic. The treaty of Paris left two European Powers sole sovereigns of the continent of North America. Spain, accepting Louisiana with some hesitation, lost France as the bulwark of her possessions, and assumed new expenses and new dangers, with only the negative advantage of keeping the territory from England.52 Its inhabitants were of French origin, and loved the land of their ancestry; by every law of nature and human freedom, they had the right to protest against the transfer of their allegiance. No sooner did they hear of the cession of their country to the Catholic King, than, in the spirit of independence, an Assembly sprang into being, representing every parish in the Colony; and at the instance of Lafreniere, they resolved unanimously to entreat the King of France to be touched with their affliction and their loyalty, and not to sever them from his dominions.53 [218]

At Paris, their envoy, John Milhet, the wealthiest

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
merchant of New Orleans, met with a friend in Bienville, the time-honored founder of New Orleans, and assisted by the gushing tears and the memory of the early services of the venerable octogenarian, he appealed to the heart of Choiseul. ‘It may not be,’ answered Choiseul; ‘France cannot bear the charge of supporting the Colony's precarious existence.’

On the tenth of July 1765, the austere and unamiable54 Antonio De Ulloa, by a letter from Havana, announced to the Superior Council at New Orleans, that he had received orders to take possession of that city for the Catholic King; but the flag of France was still left flying, and continued to attract Acadian exiles. At last, on the fifth of March 1766, during a violent thunder-gust and rain,55 Ulloa landed, with civil officers, three Capucine monks, and eighty soldiers.56 His reception by the turbulent colonists, already allured to republicanism, was cold and gloomy. He brought no orders to redeem the seven millions livres of French paper money, which weighed down a Colony of less than six thousand white men. The French garrison of three hundred refused to enter the Spanish service; the people to give up their nationality. Ulloa could only direct a Spanish Commissary to defray the cost of Government, and was obliged to administer it in New Orleans under the French flag by the old French officers. [219]

In May of the same year, the Spanish restrictive

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
system was applied to Louisiana; in September, an ordinance compelled French vessels having special permits to accept the paper currency in pay for their cargoes, at an arbitrary tariff of prices. ‘The extension and freedom of trade,’ remonstrated the merchants, ‘far from injuring States and Colonies, are their strength and support.’ The ordinance was suspended; but not till the alarm had destroyed all commerce. Unable to take possession of his office, Ulloa in September retired from New Orleans, to reside at the Balise.57 It was only there and in Missouri, opposite Natchez, and at the river Iberville, that Spanish jurisdiction was directly exercised.

This state of things continued for a little more than two years. But the arbitrary and passionate conduct of Ulloa, the depreciation of the currency with the prospect of its becoming an almost total loss, the disputes respecting the expenses of the Colony since the cession in 1762, the interruption of commerce, a captious ordinance which made a private monopoly of the traffic with the Indians, uncertainty of jurisdiction and allegiance, agitated the Colony from one end to the other.

It was proposed to make of New Orleans a republic, like Amsterdam or Venice; with a legislative body of forty men, and a single executive. The people in the country parishes met together; crowded in a mass into the city; joined those of New Orleans; and formed a numerous assembly, in which - [220] Lafeniere, John Milhet, Joseph Milhet, and the lawyer

Chap. XXXVII} 1768. Oct.
Doucet were conspicuous. ‘Why,’ said they, ‘should the two sovereigns form agreements which can have no result but our misery without advantage to either?’ On the twenty-fifth of October they adopted an Address to the Superior Council, written by Lafreniere and Caresse, rehearsing their griefs, and in their Petition of Rights, they claimed freedom of commerce with the ports of France and America, and the expulsion of Ulloa from the Colony. The Address, sustained by the signatures of five or six hundred persons, was adopted the next day by the Council, in spite of the protest of Aubry; and when the French flag was displayed on the public square, children and women ran up to kiss its folds; and it was raised by nine hundred men, amidst shouts of ‘Long live the King of France; we will have no King but him.’58 Ulloa retreated to Havana, and sent his representations to Spain; while the inhabitants of Louisiana took up the idea of a republic, as the alternative to their renewed connection with France. They elected their own Treasurer, and syndics to represent the mass of the Colony; sent their envoys to Paris with supplicatory letters to the Duke of Orleans and the Prince of Conti; and memorialized the French Monarch to stand as intercessor between them and the Catholic King. Their hope was to be a Colony of France or a free Commonwealth.59 [221]

‘The success of the people of New Orleans in

Chap. XXXVII.} 1768. Oct.
driving away the Spaniards,’ wrote Du Chatelet to Choiseul, on hearing the news, ‘is at least a good example for the English Colonies; may they set about following it.’60

1 Dalrymple to Gage, 2 Oct. 1768.

2 Gage to Bernard, 2 Oct. 1768.

3 Captain Smith to Commodore Hood, 5 Oct. 1768.

4 Bernard to Hillsborough, 1 Oct. 1768. Letters to the Ministry, 92. Proceedings of Council, Number v.

5 Oct. 1768, in Letters to Hillsborough, 126. Lieut. Colonel Dalrymple to Commodore Hood, 4-5 Oct. 1768.

6 Council of Massachusetts Bay to Hillsborough, 15 April, 1769. Letters, &c.

7 Captain Smith to Commodore Hood, 5 Oct. 1768. L. Col. Dalrymple to Gage, Bernard to Hillsborough.

8 Letter of Hutchinson to———, 8 Dec. 1768.

9 A Eliot to T. Hollis, 17 Oct. 1768.

10 Dalrymple to Gage, 2 Oct. 1768.

11 Dalrymple to Hood, 4 Oct. 1768.

12 Dalrymple to Gage, 2 Oct. 1768.

13 Bernard to Hillsborough. Letters to the Ministry, 94, 5 October, 1768; Dalrymple to Commodore Hood, 4 October, 1768; Captain Smith to Commodore Hood, 5 October, 1768.

14 Bernard to Hillsborough, 5 Oct. 1768. Major part of Council to Hillsborough, 15 April, 1769.

15 Samuel Adams in Boston Gazette, 10 October, 1768.

16 Commodore Hood to Mr. Stephens, Secretary of the Admiralty; Halifax, 12 Oct. 1768.

17 Gage to Commodore Hood, 18 Oct. 1768.

18 Bernard to Hillsborough, 18 Oct. 1768.

19 Compare Samuel Adams to Dennys De Berdt, Esq., Boston, 3 October, 1768.

20 Hutchinson to T. Pownall, 8 Nov. 1768.

21 Bernard to Hillsborough, 1 Nov. 1768; Gage to Hillsborough, 31 October, 1768.

22 Gage to Hillsborough, 31 Oct. 1768.

23 Hutchinson to———,8 Dec. 1768.

24 Votes of the Council, inclosed in Gov. Bernard's Letter, No 31. 5 Nov. 1768. Major part of the Council to Hillsborough, 59, 60.

25 Address to General Gage from fifteen members of the Council, 27 Dec. 1768; Letters to Hillsborough, 129, 134.

26 Governor Wentworth to the Marquis of Rockingham, New Hampshire, November 12, 1768. ‘It gives me great pleasure to find the General, since his arrival in Boston, has entirely the same sentiments.’ In Albemarle's Rockingham, II. 88. It is to be borne in mind that Wentworth was as loyal to Great Britain as any of them all.

27 Gage to Hillsborough, 31 Oct. 1768; Letters to Hillsborough, 33, 34. Bernard to Hillsborough, 12 Nov. 1768; Bernard to Secretary Pownall, 7 Nov. 1768.

28 Hutchinson to T. Whately, Boston, 17 Oct. 1768.

29 Andrew Eliot to Thomas Hollis, 17 Oct. 1768.

30 Gage to Hillsborough, No. 19 and No. 28, 5 March, 1769.

31 Choiseul to the French Embassy at London, 21 August, 1768.

32 Grafton's Autobiography.

33 Compare Frances to Choiseul, 7 Oct. 1768.

34 Camden to Chatham, 20 March, 1768. Chatham's Correspondence, III. 325.

35 Lord Camden to the Duke of Grafton, 29 Sept. 1768; in Campbell's Chancellors, v. 277.

36 Camden to Grafton, 4 September, 1768. The date of 4 Sept. seems to me the correct one.

37 Lady Chatham's Memorandum of a conversation with the Duke of Grafton, 9 Oct. 1768. Chatham Corr. III. 337.

38 Camden to the Duke of Grafton, 14 Oct. 1768. ‘Though I was apprehensive that Lord Shelburne's dismissal would make a deep impression upon Lord Chatham's mind, yet I did not expect this sudden resignation.’

39 King to Chatham, 4 Oct. 1768 Chatham Corr. III. 343.

40 Camden to Chatham, 20 March, 1768. ‘Indeed, my dear Lord, our seals ought to go together,’ &c. Chat. Corr. III. 325.

41 Camden to the Countess of Chatham, 22 October, 1768.

42 Camden to Grafton, 4 Sept. or 4 Oct. 1768.

43 Frances to Choiseul, 29 Sept. 1768.

44 Choiseul to Frances, 21 Sept. 1768.

45 Choiseul to Frances, 12 Oct. 1768.

46 Du Chatelet to Choiseul, 18 Nov. 1768; Same to Same, 28 Nov. 1768.

47 Grenville to William Knox, October, 1768, in Appendix to vol. II. of Extra Official State Papers, 23.

48 The State of the Nation, published in October, 1768.

49 Edmund Burke's Observations on a State of the Nation; Works, i., 295, 296, 298, Am. Ed.

50 W. S. Johnson to the Governor of Connecticut, 18 Nov. 1768.

51 Samuel Adams to Dennys De Berdt, 3 Oct. 1768.

52 Grimaldi to Fuentes, 11 May, 1767; in Gayarre, II. 160.

53 Gayarre Histoire de la Louisiane, II. 134, 135. Louisiana as a French Colony, by the Same, III. 127, 128.

54 Aubry to Lieut. Gov. Brown, 11 Nov. 1768. Aubry to the French Minister, 30 March, 1766, in Gayarre II. 157.

55 Memoire des Habitans, Gayarre, II. 182, 216. ‘La pluie, le tonla Nouvelle Orleans, le cinq Mars, à Midi. Le temps le plus affreux,’ &c. &c.

56 Compare letter of Choiseul to Du Chatelet, 23 May, 1768.

57 Gage to Shelburne, 17 January, 1767. Compare Aubry to Gage, 17 June, 1767.

58 Aubry to Lieut. Gov. Brown at Pensacola, 11 November, 1768. Compare Foucault to the Minister, 22 Nov. 1768, and the Paper published by Denis Braud, reprinted in Pittman's Mississippi: Appendix.

59 Ulloa to the Spanish Minister, Dec. 1768; Aubry to O'Reilly, 20 August, 1769; Gayarre, II. 281, 302. There is little need of looking beyond Gayarre, who rests his narrative on authentic documents.

60 Du Chatelet to Choiseul, 24 Feb. 1769.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: