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retired, first on board the Romney dition of alarm, anxiety, and even deman-of-war, and then to Castle William. spair, they were then reduced. They A committee of the Council, in their state that, while waiting for a gracious report on this subject, say, that, answer to their petitions to the king, although the extraordinary circum- they were invaded with an armed force, stances attending the seizure of the impressing and imprisoning the persons sloop, might, in some measure, extenu- of their fellow-subjects, contrary to an ate the criminality of the riotous pro- express act of Parliament; that menceedings in consequence of it, yet, aces had been thrown out fit only for being of a very criminal nature, they barbarians, affecting them in the most declared their abhorrence of them, sensible manner, and that, “on acand requested that the governor would count of the obstruction of their navidirect prosecutions against the offend- gation, the situation of the town was ers. This report was accepted by the nearly such as if war had been formalCouncil, but in consequence of the dis- ly declared against it. To contend," solution of the Assembly, was not they said, “ against our parent state, acted upon by the House. Such, how- is, in our idea, the most shocking and ever, was the state of public feeling, dreadful extremity; but tamely to rethat no prosecutions could be success-linquish the only security we and our fully carried on.
posterity retain for the enjoyment of The excitement at Boston was great- our lives and properties without one ly increased about this time by the im- struggle, is so humiliating and base, pressment of some seamen belonging to that we cannot support the reflecthat town, by order of the officers of tion."*
the Romney, in direct violation News having reached Boston that of an act of Parliament, (the two regiments were on their way
from 6th Anne,) which declared, that “no Halifax for that city, and an officer mariner, or other person, who shall having been sent by General Gage from serve on board, or be retained to serve New York to provide quarters for these on board any privateer, or trading ship, troops, a town meeting was held, or vessel, that shall be employed in September 12th, and Governor America, nor any mariner or person, Bernard was urgently asked to sumbeing on shore in any part thereof, mon a new General Court. Acting unshall be liable to be impressed or taken der instructions, the governor refused. away by any officer or officers of, or It was thereupon proposed to hold a belonging to, her majesty's ships of convention in Boston—" in consequence
of prevailing apprehensions of a war The inhabitants of Boston were as- with France"-so they phrased the reasembled on this occasion, and their son of calling the convention, and the petition to the governor, praying his interference to prevent such outrages
* Pitkin's “ Political and Civil History of the for the future, shows to what a con- United States," vol. i., p. 229.
THE FIRST POPULAR CONVENTION.
meeting advised, significantly enough, house, with the exception of the counall persons to provide themselves with cil-chamber alone, the main guard with firearms at the earliest moment, and to two field-pieces being stationed at the observe a day of fasting and prayer. front. It was the Lord's Day, and such Delegates from more than a hundred a one as had never before been known towns met accordingly on the 22d of in Boston. The place looked like a September, and petitioned the gover- town in a state of siege. All the pubnor to summon a General Court. Ber- lic buildings were filled with soldiers ; nard refused peremptorily, and besides, sentinels were stationed in the streets, denounced their meeting as treasonable. and the people were challenged as they Disclaiming all pretensions to political passed to and from church. What authority, the convention, after a four wonder that they felt such a proceeddays' session, agreed upon a petition ing to be a bitter and unprovoked into the king, and sent a letter to the sult? What wonder that they were agent in England, to defend themselves roused to stern and nervous resistance ? against the charge of a rebellious spirit. At the opening of the new Parlia"Such,” says Mr. Hildreth, “was the ment, the papers relating to the colofirst of those popular conventions, des- nies, and particularly to the recent protined within a few years to assume the ceedings in Boston, were laid before whole political authority of the colo- the two Houses. Under strong excite
ment of feeling, as if the Americans The day after the convention broke were in some sort slaves, and had no up, the troops from Halifax arrived. rights to contend for, both Houses of The Council refused to take any steps Parliament, in a joint address to for providing quarters, and it was the king, recommended vigoreven feared that the landing of the ous measures in order to enforce obesoldiers might be opposed by the peo- dience; and even went so far as to beple. The guns of the ships were ac- seech the king to direct the governor cordingly pointed on the town, and of Massachusetts to make strict inquiries under their cover the troops were set as to all treasons committed in that ashore, and with muskets charged, bay- province since the year 1767, in order onets fixed, and a train of artillery, that the persons most active in comthey marched into Boston. The over- mitting them might be sent to England seers refused to appoint them quarters, for trial. This proposal, as a matter of but a temporary shelter was afforded course, gave great offence to the coloto one regiment in Faneuil Hall, while nists. the other pitched their tents on the The Legislature of Massachusetts Common. Next morning the governor was not in session when the news of ordered a portion to occupy the state- this address reached America; but the
House of Burgesses in Virginia, which * Hildreth s “ History of the United States," vol.
met shortly afterwards, in May, were ii., p. 547.
not tardy in expressing their sense of
it. They passed several spirited reso- | voted a petition that he be removed lutions, declaring their exclusive right from his office as governor, and were to tax themselves, and denying the roused to a high pitch of indignation right of the king to remove an of- by being called upon, not only to refender out of the colony for trial. An fund expenses incurred in finding quaraddress to his majesty was also agreed ters for the troops, but also to provide on, which stated, in a style of loyalty for the future in this respect. “General and real attachment to the crown, the discontent,” such is their language, "on deep conviction of the House of Bur- account of the Revenue Acts, the exgesses of Virginia, that the complaints pectation of a sudden arrival of a miliof the colonists were well founded. tary power to enforce them, an appreWhen the intelligence of these pro- hension of the troops being quartered ceedings reached the governor, Lord upon the inhabitants, and the General Botetourt, he suddenly dissolved the Court dissolved, the governor refusing Assembly. But the current of oppo- to call a new one, and the people resition was too strong to be resisted. duced almost to a state of despair, renThe members assembled at a private dered it highly expedient and necessary house, elected their speaker, Peyton for the people to convene by their comRandolph, Esq., moderator; and pro- mittees, to associate and consult upon ceeded to pass resolutions against im- the best means to promote peace and porting British goods. Their example good order, to present their united comwas followed by other colonies; and plaints to the throne, and pray for the non-importation agreements, which had royal interposition in favor of their before been entered into by Boston, violated rights; nor can this proceeding Salem, the city of New York, and the possibly be illegal, as they expressly colony of Connecticut, now became disclaim all governmental acts. That very general.
the establishment of a standing army The General Court met in Boston, in the colony in time of peace is an inMay 31st, and immediately resolved vasion of their natural rights; that a that it was improper for them to hold standing army is no part of the British a session in the midst of an armed force. constitution; and that to send an armed The governor, on their requesting the force among them under pretence of removal of the troops, declared that he assisting the civil authority, is highly had no authority over the troops. The dangerous to the people, and both unHouse then determined that they would precedented and unconstitutional.” not enter upon any business, or vote The governor, on the 12th of July, supplies, until their wishes were ac- calling upon them to declare positively
ceded to. The governor, June whether they would, or would not,
13th, adjourned the refractory make provision for the troops, they House to Cambridge. Bernard in- boldly spoke out as follows: “Of all forming them that he was about to go the new regulations, the Stamp Act not to England, the House unanimously excepted, this under consideration is
STURDY RESISTANCE OF THE COLONISTS.
most excessively unreasonable. Your to the more ardent patriots by the AsExcellency must therefore excuse us in sembly's yielding the point of dispute, this express declaration, that, as we can and providing quarters for the troops. not consistently with our honor and in- Alexander M’Dougall, one of the “Sons terest, much less with the duty we owe of Liberty," took the lead in denouncto our constituents, so we never willing this conduct, for which offensive make provision for the purposes in action he was imprisoned by order of your several messages above men- the Assembly. It must also be stated, tioned.” The governor thereupon pro- to the honor of the women of those rogued the Court until the 10th of days, that they were not a whit behind January, and early in August left for the men in being willing to make sacriEngland. The administration of af- fices for the common cause. fairs for the time being, came into the It having become evident that great hands of Lieutenant-governor Hutchin- loss was the consequence of the atson. Bernard's unpopularity in Mas- tempted taxation, Lord Hillsborough sachusetts did not prevent his being addressed a circular to the colonial knighted at home, as a reward for his governors, announcing the intention of zeal and devotion to the views of the the ministry to repeal all the clauses ministry.
of Townshend's act, which imposed duIt must not be supposed that Vir- ties on British goods, such duties being, ginia and Massachusetts stood alone in it was said, “contrary to the true printheir sturdy resistance to the course of ciples of commerce.? But as the duty the English ministry. On the con- on tea, and the right of Parliamentary trary, there was a universal sentiment taxation were still maintained, the anprevailing, that the colonies must de- nouncement produced no favorable effend their rights at all hazards. “Par- fect. The repeal of only part of the ty lines, too, throughout the colonies act was unanimously resolved, by the began now to be strictly drawn. The merchants met together in Boston, to partizans of the mother country were be a measure intended merely to quiet stigmatized as Tories, while the oppo- | the manufacturers in Great Britain, and nents of Parliamentary taxation took to prevent the setting up of manufacthe name of Whigs-old names lately tures in the colonies, and one that would applied in England as designations for by no means relieve trade from its difthe king's friends and their opponents." ficulties. It was, therefore, further reIn New York alone was a temporizing solved, to send for no more goods from spirit at all manifested. For two years Great Britain, a few specified articles there had been no Assembly; and a excepted, unless the revenue acts should
great effort having been made be repealed. A committee was ap
by men disposed to more mod-pointed to procure a written pledge erate measures, they obtained a ma- from the inhabitants of the town not jority in the newly elected Assembly, to purchase any goods from persons in September. Great offence was given who have imported them, or who shall
import them, contrary to the late parties might now have been amicably agreement; and another committee to settled ; but it was only a bare possiinspect the manifests of the cargoes of bility; neither side was disposed to all vessels arriving from Great Britain, yield, and the Americans were every and to publish the names of all im- day becoming less and less inclined to porters, unless they immediately de- be in subjection to, and dependent livered their goods into the hands of a upon, a government three thousand committee appointed to receive them. miles removed from them and their in
The vacillating course of the English terests. The natural and inalienable ministry deserves to be specially noted. rights of men began more and more to Weakness and folly seemed to charac- be inquired into. Reflections and disterize most of their plans with regard cussions on this subject produced a high to America. Steadily bent upon ob- sense of the value of liberty, and a taining revenue from the colonies, Par- general conviction that there could be liament, at one moment, were for en- no security for their property, if they forcing their laws; at the next, they were to be taxed at the discretion of a gave way for their repeal. Doing and British Parliament, in which they were undoing, threatening and retracting, unrepresented, and over which they had straining and relaxing, followed one af- no control. A determination not only ter the other as occasion required. to oppose the claim of taxation, but to Anxious to establish the supremacy keep a strict watch, lest it might be esof Parliament, but afraid to stem the tablished in some disguised form, took vigorous opposition of the colonies, possession of the public mind. they endeavored to pass such laws as The presence of the military in Boswould meet the wishes of the govern-ton was a perpetual source of irritation ment, without rousing the resistance and excitement, and it was hardly posof the colonists. Had the British min-sible but that collision must soon take istry been magnanimous enough to place. The soldiers looked on the peofrankly and fully yield the point in ple as turbulent, factious, and dispute, as to the right of taxation needing discipline; the people without representation, the colonies, regarded the soldiers as instruments of we doubt not, would have met them tyranny and outrage. Mutual insults in the same spirit with which they pro- and provocations were the result. At posed to settle the matter. On the last a serious collision took place on the other hand, if England seriously con- evening of March 5th. An excited templated the use of force, nothing mob, smarting under a sense of defeat could have been more unwise and inex- in a street fight a few days before, pedient than to make partial conces-armed themselves with clubs and besions, to hesitate, and to employ only a gan to abuse the soldiers in the grossshow of force which irritated, without est manner; these, on their part, were compelling obedience or even respect. with difficulty restrained from march
Possibly the differences between the ling out and falling on the mob. The