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Chapter 5:

Boston ministered to by the continent.

June, July, 1774.

the martyr town was borne up in its agony by mes-
Chap. V.} 1774. June.
sages of sympathy. From Marblehead came offers to the Boston merchants of the gratuitous use of its harbor, its wharfs, its warehouses, and of all necessary personal attendance in lading and unlading goods. Forty-eight persons were found in Salem, willing to entreat of Gage his ‘patronage for the trade of that place;’ but a hundred and twenty-five of its merchants and freeholders addressed him in a spirit of disinterestedness, repelling the ungenerous thought of turning the course of trade from Boston. ‘Nature,’ said they nobly, ‘in the formation of our harbor, forbids our becoming rivals in commerce to that convenient mart. And were it otherwise, we must be lost to all the feelings of humanity, could we indulge one thought to seize on wealth and raise our fortunes on the ruin of our suffering neighbors.’

The governor, in his answer, threw all blame on Boston, for refusing to indemnify the East India [68] company, and he employed every device to produce

Chap. V.} 1774. June.
compliance. It was published at the corners of the streets that Pennsylvania would refuse to suspend commerce; that the society of Friends would arrest every step towards war; that New York had not named, and would never name, deputies to congress; that the power of Great Britain could not fail to crush resistance. The exasperation of the selfish at their losses, which they attributed to the committee of correspondence, the innate reverence for order, the habitual feeling of loyalty, the deeply-seated love for England, the terror inspired by regiments, artillery, and ships of war, the allurements of official favor, the confidence that the king must prevail, disposed a considerable body of men to seek the recovery of prosperity by concession. ‘The act,’ wrote Gage on the twenty-sixth, ‘must certainly sooner or later work its own way; a congress of some sort may be obtained; but, after all, Boston may get little more than fair words.’

The day after this was written, a town meeting was held. As Faneuil Hall could not contain the thronging inhabitants, they adjourned to the Old South Meeting-house. There the opposition mustered their utmost strength, in the hope of carrying a vote of censure on the committee of correspondence. The question of paying for the tea was artfully evaded, while ‘the league and covenant,’ which in truth was questionable both in policy and form, was chosen as the object of cavil. New York had superseded the old committee by a more moderate one; it was proposed that Boston should do the same. The patriot, Samuel Adams, finding himself not only prnscribed [69] by the king, but on trial in a Boston town

Chap. V.} 1774. June.
meeting, left the chair, and took his place on the floor. His enemies summoned hardihood to engage with him in debate, in which they were allowed the utmost freedom. Through the midsummer-day they were heard patiently till dark, and at their own request were indulged with an adjournment. On the next day, notwithstanding the utmost exertion of the influence of the government, the motion of censure was negatived by a vast majority. The town then, by a deliberate vote, bore open testimony ‘to the upright intentions and honest zeal of their committee of correspondence,’ and desired them ‘to continue steadfast in the way of well-doing.’

After this result, one hundred and twenty-nine, chiefly the addressers to Hutchinson, confident of a speedy triumph through the power of Britain, ostentatiously set their names to a protest which, under the appearance of anxiety for the prosperity of the town, recommended unqualified submission. They would have robbed Boston of its great name, and made it a byword of reproach in the annals of the world.

The governor hurried to the aid of his partisans, and on the following day, without the consent of the council, issued the proclamation, from which British influence never recovered. He called the combination not to purchase articles imported from Great Britain ‘unwarrantable, hostile, and traitorous;’ its subscribers ‘open and declared enemies of the king and parliament of Great Britain;’ and he ‘enjoined and commanded all magistrates and other officers within the several counties of the province, to apprehend [70] and secure for trial, all persons who might pub-

Chap. V.} 1774. June.
lish, or sign, or invite others to sign the covenant.’

No act could have been more futile or more unwise. The malignity of the imputation of treason was heightened by the pretended rule of law that the persons so accused might be dragged for trial to England. For any purpose of making arrests the proclamation was useless; but as the exponent of the temper of an administration which chose the gallows to avenge the simple agreement not to buy English goods, it was read throughout the continent with uncontrollable indignation. In Boston the report prevailed that as soon as more soldiers should be landed, six or seven of the leading patriots would be seized; and it was in truth the project of Gage to fasten charges of rebellion on individuals as a pretext for sending them to jail. On Friday, the first of July,

Admiral Graves arrived in the ‘Preston,’ of sixty guns; on Saturday the train of artillery was encamped on the common by the side of two regiments that were there before. On Monday these were reenforced by the fifth and thirty-eighth. Arrests, it was confidently reported, were now to be made. In this moment of greatest danger, the Boston committee of correspondence, Samuel Adams, the two Greenleafs, Molyneux, Warren and others being present, considered the rumor that some of them were to be taken up, and voted unanimously ‘that they would attend their business as usual, unless prevented by brutal force.’

‘The attempt to intimidate,’ said the patriots, ‘is lost labor.’ The spirit of defiance gave an impulse to the covenant. At Plymouth the subscribers [71] increased at once to about a hundred. The general

Chap. V.} 1774. July.
who had undertaken to frighten the people, excused himself from executing his threats, by his dread of the edicts of town meetings, which, he complained to the king, controlled the pulpit, the press, and the multitude, overawed the judges, and screened ‘the guilty.’ ‘The usurpation,’ said he, ‘has by time acquired a firmness that is not to be annihilated at once, or by ordinary methods.’

The arrival of Hutchinson in England lulled the king into momentary security. Tryon from New York had said, that the ministers must put forth the whole power of Great Britain, if they would bring America to their feet; Carleton, the governor of Canada, thought it not safe to undertake a march from the Saint Lawrence to New York with an army of less than ten thousand men; but Hutchinson, who, on reaching London, was hurried by Dartmouth to the royal presence without time to change his clothes, assured the king, that the port-bill was ‘the only wise and effective method’ of bringing the people of Boston to submission; that it had occasioned among them extreme alarm; that no one colony would comply with their request for a general suspension of commerce; that Rhode Island had accompanied its refusal with a sneer at their selfishness. The king listened eagerly. He had been greedy for all kinds of stories respecting Boston; had been told, and had believed that Hutchinson had needed a guard for his personal safety; that the New England ministers, for the sake of promoting liberty, preached a toleration for any immoralities; that Hancock's bills, to a large amount, had been dishonored. He had himself given [72] close attention to the appointments to office in Massa-

Chap. V.} 1774. July.
chusetts. He knew something of the political opinions even of the Boston ministers, not of Chauncy and Cooper only, but also of Pemberton, whom, as a friend to government, he esteemed ‘a very good man,’ though a dissenter. The name of John Adams, who had only in June commenced his active public career, had not yet been heard in the palace which he was so soon to enter as the minister of a republic. Of Cushing, he estimated the importance too highly. Aware of the controlling power of Samuel Adams, he asked, ‘What gives him his influence?’ and Hutchinson answered, ‘A great pretended zeal for liberty, and a most inflexible natural temper. He was the first who asserted the independency of the colonies upon the supreme authority of the kingdom.’ For nearly two hours, the king continued inquiries respecting Massachusetts and other provinces, and was encouraged in the delusion that Boston would be left unsupported. The author of the pleasing intelligence became at once a favorite, obtained a large pension, was offered the rank of baronet, and was consulted as an oracle by Gibbon, the historian, and other politicians of the court.

‘I have just seen the governor of Massachusetts,’ wrote the king to Lord North, at the end of their interview, ‘and I am now well convinced the province will soon submit;’ and he gloried in the efficacy of his favorite measure, the Boston port-act. But as soon as the true character of that act became known in America, every colony, every city, every village, and, as it were, the inmates of every farm-house, felt it as a wound of their affections. The towns of Massachusetts [73] abounded in kind offices. The colonies

Chap. V.} 1774. July.
vied with each other in liberality. The record kept at Boston shows that ‘the patriotic and generous people’ of South Carolina were the first to minister to the sufferers, sending early in June two hundred barrels of rice, and promising eight hundred more. At Wilmington, North Carolina, the sum of two thousand pounds currency was raised in a few days; the women of the place gave liberally; Parker Quince offered his vessel to carry a load of provisions freight free, and master and mariners volunteered to navigate her without wages. Lord North had called the American union a rope of sand; ‘it is a rope of sand that will hang him,’ said the people of Wilmington.

Hartford was the first place in Connecticut to pledge its assistance; but the earliest donation received, was of two hundred and fifty-eight sheep from Windham. ‘The taking away of civil liberty will involve the ruin of religious liberty also,’ wrote the ministers of Connecticut to the ministers of Boston, cheering them to bear their heavy load ‘with vigorous Christian fortitude and resolution.’ ‘While we complain to Heaven and earth of the cruel oppression we are under, we ascribe righteousness to God,’ was the answer. ‘The surprising union of the colonies affords encouragement. It is an inexhaustible source of comfort that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.’

The small parish of Brooklyn, in Connecticut, through their committee, of which Israel Putnam was a member, opened a correspondence with Boston. ‘Your zeal in favor of liberty,’ they said, ‘has gained a name that shall perish but with the glorious constellations of Heaven;’ and they made an [74] offering of flocks of sheep and lambs. Throughout

Chap. V.} 1774. July.
New England the towns sent rye, flour, peas, cattle, sheep, oil, fish; whatever land or sea could furnish, and sometimes gifts of money. The French inhabitants of Quebec, joining with those of English origin, shipped a thousand and forty bushels of wheat.

Delaware was so much in earnest, that it devised plans for sending relief annually. A special chronicle could hardly enumerate all the generous deeds. Maryland and Virginia contributed liberally; being resolved that the men of Boston, who were deprived of their daily labor, should not lose their daily bread, nor be compelled to change their residence for want. Washington headed a subscription paper with a gift of fifty pounds; and he presided at a convention of Fairfax county, where twenty-four very comprehensive resolutions, which had been drafted by George Mason and carefully revised and corrected by a committee, were, with but one dissentient voice, adopted by the freeholders and inhabitants. They derived the settlement of Virginia from a solemn compact with the crown, conceded no right of legislation to the British parliament, acknowledged only a conditional acquiescence in the acts of navigation, enumerated the various infringements of American rights, proposed non-importation and, if necessary, nonex-portation as means of temporary resistance, urged the appointment of a congress of deputies from all the colonies, and recommended that that congress should conjure the king, ‘not to reduce his faithful subjects to a state of desperation, and to reflect, that from their sovereign there could be but one appeal.’ As to the further importation of slaves, their words were: [75] ‘We take this opportunity of declaring our most

Chap. V.} 1774. July.
earnest wishes to see an entire stop for ever put to such a wicked, cruel, and unnatural trade.’ These resolves which expressed ‘the sense of the people of Fairfax county,’ were ordered to be presented to the first convention of Virginia. ‘We are not contending against paying the duty of three-pence per pound on tea as burthensome,’ said Washington; ‘No; it is the right only, that we have all along disputed.’

Beyond the Blue Ridge, the hardy emigrants on the banks of the Shenandoah, many of them Germans, met at Woodstock, and with Muhlenberg, then a clergyman, soon to be a military chief, devoted themselves to the cause of liberty. Higher up the Valley of Virginia, where the plough already vied with the rifle, and the hardy hunters, not always ranging the hills with their dogs for game, had also begun to till the soil, the summer of that year ripened the wheat-fields of the pioneers, not for themselves alone. When the sheaves had been harvested, and the corn threshed and ground in a country as yet poorly provided with barns or mills, the backwoodsmen of Augusta county, without any pass through the mountains that could be called a road, noiselessly and modestly delivered at Frederick, one hundred and thirty-seven barrels of flour as their remittance to the poor of Boston. Cheered by the universal sympathy, the inhabitants of that town ‘were determined to hold out and appeal to the justice of the colonies and of the world;’ trusting in God that ‘these things should be overruled for the establishment of liberty, virtue, and happiness in America.’

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