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   Chapter 29 1773).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 5081

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Troops in Boston.]

[Sidenote: Collision with the mob.]

Repeal could not destroy the feeling of injury in the minds of the colonists; and repeal did not withdraw the coercive acts nor the troops. The garrison in Boston, sustained at the expense of the British treasury, was almost as offensive to the colonists of Massachusetts as if they had been taxed for its support. From the beginning the troops were looked upon as an alien body, placed in the town to execute unpopular and even illegal acts. There was constant friction between the officers and the town and colonial governments, and between the populace and the troops. On the night of March 5, 1770, an affray occurred between a mob and a squad of soldiers. Both sides were abusive and threatening; finally the soldiers under great provocation fired, and killed five men. The riot had no political significance; it was caused by no invasion upon the rights of Americans: but, in the inflamed condition of the public mind, it was instantly taken up, and has gone down to history under the undeserved title of the Boston Massacre. Next morning a town meeting unanimously voted "that nothing can rationally be expected to restore the peace of the town and prevent blood and carnage but the immediate removal of the troops." The protest was effectual; the troops were sent to an island in the harbor; on the other hand, the prosecution of the soldiers concerned in the affray was allowed to slacken. For nearly two years the trouble seemed dying down in Massachusetts.

[Sidenote: Samuel Adams.]

[Sidenote: Committee of Correspondence.]

That friendly relations between the colonies and the mother-country were not re-established is due chiefly to Samuel Adams, a member of the Massachusetts General Court from Boston. His strength lay in his vehemence, his total inability to see more than one side of any question, and still more in his subtle influence upon the Boston town meeting, upon committees, and in private conclaves. He seems to have determined from the beginning that independence might come, ought to come, and must come. In November, 1772, he introduced into the Boston town meeting a modest proposition that "a committee of correspondence be appointed … to state the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects;-and also request of each Town a free communication of their Sentiments on this subject." The committee blew the coals by an enumeration of rights and grievances; but its chief serv

ice was its unseen but efficient work of correspondence, from town to town. A few months later the colony entered into a similar scheme for communication with the sister colonies. These committees of correspondence made the Revolution possible. They disseminated arguments from province to province: they had lists of those ripe for resistance; they sounded legislatures; they prepared the organization which was necessary for the final rising of 1774 and 1775.

[Sidenote: "Gaspee" burned.]

[Sidenote: Tea.]

[Sidenote: Hutchinson letters.]

[Sidenote: Boston Tea-party.]

Shortly before the creation of this committee, an act of violence in Rhode Island showed the hostility to the enforcement of the Acts of Trade. The "Gaspee," a royal vessel of war, had interfered legally and illegally with the smuggling trade. On June 9, 1772, while in pursuit a vessel, she ran aground. That night the ship was attacked by armed men, who captured and burned her. The colonial authorities were indifferent: the perpetrators were not tried; they were not prosecuted; they were not even arrested. On Dec. 16, 1773, a similar act of violence marked the opposition of the colonies to the remnant of the Townshend taxation acts. The tea duty had been purposely reduced, till the price of tea was lower than in England. Soon after the appointment of the Committees of Correspondence public sentiment in Massachusetts was again aroused by the publication of letters written by Hutchinson, then governor of Massachusetts, to a private correspondent in England. The letters were such as any governor representing the royal authority might have written. "I wish," said Hutchinson, "the good of the colony when I wish to see some fresh restraint of liberty rather than the connection with the parent state should be broken." The assembly petitioned for the removal of Hutchinson, and this unfortunate quarrel was one of the causes of a decisive step, the Boston Tea-party. An effort was made to import a quantity of tea, not for the sake of the tax, but in order to relieve the East India Company from financial difficulties. On December 16, the three tea ships in the harbor were boarded by a body of men in Indian garb, and three hundred and forty- two chests of tea were emptied into the sea. Next morning the shoes of at least one reputable citizen of Massachusetts were found by his family unaccountably full of tea. In other parts of the country, as at Edenton in North Carolina, and at Charleston in South Carolina, there was similar violence.

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