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very severe storm of snow and snowdrift set in at dusk. but for the happy expedient that the father of the young It must be noticed that the door of the dovecote looked pigeons adopted. He stood in the doorway with his tail to the northwest, from whence the storm was coming, so spread out to the storm, and the wings in a fluttering
that the snow blew right into the portal where the young position, evidently with the intention of stopping the pigeons were lying, only a few days old.
draught, so as to shelter his naked offspring, and there The storm was very severe-so much so that it was he stood for hours with the snow thick upon his back Thought to be the hardest that had happened for many and tail, breaking the intensity of the cold. But for this cars, and the young brood would have no doubt perished the young must have died.
THE “SONS OF LIBERTY,” AND NEW YORK CITY IN THEIR TIME.
By Evert A. DCYCKINCK. In January, 1770, there was a conflict in the streets of placards and handbills of a derisive and defiant character, New York city between the military and the people-a issued on the part of the soldiery, abounded in the city. renewal of the old warfare around the liberty-pole in the The valiant Sears, with a party of his friends, came upon Fields. An unsuccessful attempt was made by some sol. a trio of soldiers engaged in posting one of the chaldiers, on the 13th, to bring down the pole by cutting its lenges. One of the soldiers drew his bayonet for an supports and exploding gunpowder in a hole bored in assault, when he, with his fellows, were carried off to the the wood, followed by an assault on the citizens at the mayor's office... neighboring public-house of Montayne's, a place of resort | A body of twenty soldiers now made their appearance on the line of Broadway at the lower end of the grounds, with drawn bayonets and cutlasses, who were met by the which was much frequented by the patriots. In another citizens with such means of defense as chance supplied. effort, on the 16th, the assailants, sheltering themselves The mayor ordered the soldiers to their barracks, when in a ruined building near at hand, succeeded in cutting they retreated to Golden Hill, a considerable eminence down the pole, which they sawed in pieces, and, in a still to be recognized in the elevation of the lower part spirit of bravado, piled up in front of Montayne's tavern of John Street. Here they charged upon the throng of door.
citizens who had gathered to the spot. Francis Field, a An“indignation” meeting, held on the Common, natu. Quaker, standing in his doorway, was wounded by a rally followed these exasperating incidents. It was nu-sword or bayonet thrust. Three other citizens and a merously attended.
sailor were wounded. • Three thousand,"
The soldiers in various says Holt's paper,“were
instances were successpresent." Resolutions
fully resisted and overwere passed demanding
powered in the miscelthat the soldiers off
laneous conflict, which duty should no longer
threatened to assume be permitted to work
larger proportions, for the citizens, and
when the soldiers were that they should not
ordered by their officers leave their barracks
to their barracks. Other after roll-call. A com
disturbances of a like mittee was appointed to
character ensued. Meanseek permission from
while, to give a flavor the Corporation to re
of legality to the propmove the vacant build
erty, the sanction of the ing on the Common,
Corporation was now which had been a
sought to be obtained covert to the assailants
for the erection of a of the liberty - pole.
new liberty-pole on the THE CITY HALL, WALL STREET, AS IT STOOD ORIGINALLY, The following day ENGRAVED BY DR. ANDERSON.
old public ground.
Failing to obtain this concession from the prudent Common Council, the citizens purchased from a private owner a piece of land near the old spot, upon which they erected with imposing ceremonies a new pole of great height, firmly secured in the ground and formidably cased with iron bars, clasped by thick iron hoops. This mast was surmounted by another, supporting a gilt vane, on which was inscribed in large letters the word “Liberty.” Another night-attack was made on this, the fifth libertypole, in the following March, by a party of the troops about leaving the Province. They had vowed to carry off with them a portion of it as a trophy. Unable to make any impression on the well-protected trunk, these Homeric contestants were endeavoring to unship the topmast, when they were discovered by several passing citizens, who called others to their aid. The Sons of Liberty, we may mention, were at this time kept out of their resort at Montanye's by a usurping conservative faction, who had made their own terms with the landlord. Not to be without that indispensable adjunct of political action in New York from time immemorial, a good dining-hall, the “Sons” purchased a tavern, kept by one Bicker, on the site of the present Herald building, to which the name of Hampden Hall was given. Hither the soldiers, reinforced by their comrades from the barracks, drove the citizens for refuge, and here the assailants were kept at bay while St. George's bell sounded an alarm to the town. An officer of the regiment arriving, as on similar occasions, the soldiers were sent back to their quarters, and the liberty-pole was left by them at their departure unharmed. Simultaneously with these later conflicts between the citizens and soldiery, a coolness had arisen between the popular party and the Assembly, which, under the influence of the accession of the Delancey family to the Government side, was pursuing a reactionary course. An issue of bills of credit was proposed, and subsidies were granted for the support of the troops. This was met on the 16th of December, 1769, by the circulation of a stirring handbill denouncing the scheme. It was signed “A Son of Liberty,’” and was addressed, “To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York.” A meeting was held in the Fields, and a committee appointed, with Lamb at its head, to remonstrate with the city representatives in the Assembly. The latter refused to recede from the action they had taken. Another censorious publication appeared, still further to arouse the resentment of the House. Lamb, the leader at the meeting, was summoned to the bar as an abettor of the libels, as they were pronounced. He indignantly maintained that he had but exercised the right of a free-speaking Englishman, and was dismissed. The matter, however, was not suffered to drop here. Colden, by advice of the Council and Assembly, issued a proclamation, of. fering a reward of £100 for the discovery of the author of the obnoxious handbill. An inquisitorial search was made at the office of Parker, the conductor of the Gazette. The paper was found to have been printed there. Parker was arrested, and, with his apprentices, examined before the Council. Threatened with the loss of his office, under the Government, of Provincial Postmaster, which he had received from I'ranklin, he gave evidence which led to the arrest and committal to prison of Alexander McDougal, as the author. McDougal, the son of a Scotchman, a man destined to rise to high military rank in the coming War of the
Revolution, was an early though not one of the most active members of the association of the Sons of Liberty. He now stood forth, the unflinching champion of popular rights. Bancroft characterizes him in few words: “A man who had made a fortune as a sailor, and had himself carefully cultivated his mind. Courageous and fiery, yet methodical and self-possessed.” “He is a person of some fortune,” writes Colden to the Earl of Hillsborough, in February, at the time of the arrest, “and could easily have found the bail required of him, but he chose to go to jail, and lies there imitating Mr.Wilkes in everything he can.”f Colden in another communication calls him “The American Wilkes.” The great London agitator was then in the height of his reputation as the successful defender of the liberty of the subject in a long and obstinate contest with Parliament. For the previous five years his name had been in everybody's mouth. Patriots in New York caught up the popular cry of the day, and attached to it McDougal. An arrest which had been adjudged illegal for an alleged libel had brought Wilkes into notice. “Here,” said the Sons of Liberty, “is the case repeated with McDougal.” The scene, to be sure, was somewhat different. For the British House of Commons there was the New York Assembly; and, for a chamber in the Tower, a room in the new jail in the Fields. It was not necessary, at that distance, that McDougal should possess the talents or the vices of the original, or that the New York handbill should rival in venom the North Briton. It was a ready, plausible outcry. So Number Forty-five, the issue of Wilkes's journal which contained his insult to the King, the basis of his prosecution, was eagerly adopted by the Sons of Liberty, and “Forty-five " rang through the streets. The friends of McDougal thronged to visit him at the prison, announcing themselves to the jailer: “We are Forty-five.” This enthusiasm was displayed with unusual gusto at the anniversary dinner of the 19th of March, the great day of the repeal of the Stamp Act, held by the party at their new quarters at Hampden Hall. Wilkes, McDougal and Liberty were freshly remembered. Exactly forty-five toasts were drank, and when the dinner was over, the company, proceeding past the liberty-pole to the jail where their champion was confined, saluted him with forty-five cheers. In April a Bill for a libel was found by the grand jury against McDougal, who, now consenting to give bail, was released. While the cause was still untried, he was, some months after, in December, arraigned on the same accusation at the bar of the Assembly, when he was defended by one of the members, George Clinton—the first Governor of New York after the Revolution. Refusing to answer, he was, for contempt, again committed to jail. A habeas corpus was sued out for his relief, but, notwithstanding these exertions, he was kept a prisoner for several months, till March, 1771, when the Assembly was prorogued, and the whole affair seems to have been finally dropped. The maintenance of the non-importation agreement now became the test of the popular party. It was a measure which, from the outset, had its peculiar difficulties, and from its contravention of the laws of trade, a perfect enforcement at any time was scarcely practicable. Colden had prophesied, at the start, that it would be of short duration. “It must raise the price of the commod
ities on hand,” said he, “and the people in the country will not bear the infliction.” Originating with New York, the compact had been faithfully kept by her merchants. “The imports of the city,” says Bancroft, “fell off more than five parts in six.” In Pennsylvania and New England the agreement had been less rigorously observed. In several of the Southern States the imports had increased. The inequality was at the expense of the patient merchant. By the Summer of 1770 the restriction was limited to tea alone, which now remained the only one of the enumerated articles on which duties were to be collected under the Townshend Act. Relief had recently been granted from the other impositions in a Bill introduced into Parliament in April, by Lord North; who had at the time declared that “the duty on tea must be retained, as a mark of the supremacy of Parliament, and the efficient declaration of its right to govern the colonies.” The people of America understood the challenge, accepted it, and the consumption of tea languished throughout the colonies. The non-importation agreement bore hard upon the East India Company. Its large stock of teas lay idle in its warehouses, bringing ruin to its finances, and causing much commercial distress. Parliament at length, in the Spring of 1773, came to its relief by extending the drawbacks of duties, so that its tea could be sent to America free of all taxation. The duty of three pence per pound to be paid by America herself was still retained, as the test of submission. It was confidently expected that the low price at which tea could now be offered would reopen the market in the Provinces, as if resistance had been a question of economy, and not of principle. The East India Company accordingly made preparations for a liberal exportation of the article. Consignments were to be forwarded to their agents at the main seaports, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston. Though the New York merchants, with their brethren in other cities, had, as we have seen, after a while abandoned the general non-importation agreement, it was not with the consent of the Sons of Liberty, who constituted the advance-guard of the democratic element in the city, and would hold no compromise with the royal policy. They were the hands of the Revolution. Argument had been exhausted. England must be brought practically to feel the inconveniences of her measures. Her wealth arises from her trade; we will punish her where she is most sensitive. To enforce a sumptuary regulation, the more if unsanctioned by law, you must have detectives and a Vigilance Committee ready to strike. The Sons of Liberty in New York were quite prepared to do the rough work of repression personally in the city, and by correspondence beyond it. Thus, when a certain Nathan Rogers, of Boston, arrived in town, in May, 1770, a known importer of English goods, spite of the agreement, the Committee, with a great crowd of spectators, called at his lodgings, bearing a gallows on which he was suspended in effigy. Not finding him at home—he was dining out of town—they left a letter, to be forwarded to him, and further contented themselves with a procession through the town and the burning of effigy and gallows at the Common. The hint was sufficient. Rogers, without returning to his lodgings, left at two o'clock in the morning for Boston. In the letter of the Committee addressed to the Sons of Liberty in Philadelphia, in which these circumstances are
related, Rogers is described as “a man about five feet eight inches high, pretty corpulent, round-shouldered, stoops a good deal, and generally appears in green and gold, or purple and gold.” As the defection from the non-importation agreement grew in force, the Sons of Liberty were loud in opposition; but as no successful resistance could be made, they gradually became silent, waiting a new opportunity, which presented itself with the greater prominence given to the agitation of the tea question by the action of the East India Company. The year 1773 furnishes an incident or two in the history of public buildings in New York worthy of record. The corner-stone of the New York Hospital was laid by Governor Tryon in September, two years after the charter had been granted by Lord Dunmore. The site, on the present Broadway opposite Pearl Street, was then considered quite a country location. There is an anecdote illustrative of this preserved by the late Dr. John Watson. When Dr. Tillary was appointed surgeon to the institution, in 1776, he felt constrained to resign the position, in consequence of the hospital being so far out of town On the 29th of December the Colonial Governor's residence within the Fort, which had been rebuilt after the conflagration which figured so largely in the Negro Plot, was discovered at midnight to be on fire. Governor Tryon and his wife barely saved their lives, escaping through an unfrequented side-door, while their daughter leaped from a second-story window. A servant-girl, Elizabeth Garrett, perished in the flames. The adjoining buildings were saved by great exertions of the citizens. The Great Seal of the Province was discovered in the ashes, two days after the fire, uninjured. The tea-ships for New York sailed at the end of October, 1773. Ample preparations were made to deal with them on their arrival. The Sons of Liberty were formally reorganized. At a meeting on the 29th of November they adopted a series of stringent resolutions denouncing any one who should engage in any way in the introduction of the tea as an “enemy to the liberties of America.” A body of “Mohawks” was in readiness to act. New York was quite ready, and but for the delay in the appearance of the expected vessel, which was driven by stress of weather to the West Indies, might have anticipated Boston in the famous destruction of the tea. “The ‘Mohawks,’” as Mr. Dawson remarks, “who so gallantly discharged the tea at Boston, were a power existing also in New York. The object of the organization was the same in both cities, Lamb and his colleagues in New York being constantly engaged in confidential correspondence with Paul Revere and his colleagues in Boston.”f The course of action was alike. Every influence of persuasion, backed by more powerful menaces, was brought to bear upon the agents, consignees, and others concerned, that the vessels might be sent back without unloading their cargo. In Boston this course promised success, but the Government was likely to interfere with her customs prerogative when, a second and third vessel having arrived, the “Mohawks” stepped in, and, on the night oi the 16th of December, threw the tea overboard in the harbor. At Charleston the authorities pursued the course threatened at Boston; but when, in default of action by the consignees, they had seized the tea, they found no one willing to purchase or consume. At Philadelphia the ship was sent back on the instant.
* Leake’s “Life of Lamb,” 63–5. Wicinity,” 28.
+ “The Park and its
At New York, Governor Tryon proposed, on its arrival, to take the tea, as the stamps had been taken, into the Fort ; but the popular meeting to which the proposition was made indignantly rejected it. There must be no such admission of the enemy within the fortress. The pilots were warned not to bring the vessel beyond Sandy Hook. There, when the Nancy came, on the 18th of April, 1774, she was required to remain. Her captain, Lockyer, was permitted to come to the city under safe regulations—it being understood that the cargo was to be carried back unbroken to England. A popular demonstration, it was agreed upon, should be made at his departure. A few days after, on the 22d, another ship, the London, arrived. It was reported that there were eighteen chests of tea on board. This, Captain Chambers denied, and the ship was permitted to come to her wharf at the city. The Committee of the Sons of Liberty were not satisfied, and, presenting themselves in full force, required an examination of the cargo, upon which the captain admitted he had the tea on board, as a venture of his own. The Committee, shipowners, and captain, then withdrew for consultation to Fraunces' Tavern, in Broad Street. The people, meantime, were gathered at the dock. The
“Mohawks” were preparing for action, when the more impatient of the crowd, at eight in the evening, without disguise, entered the ship, and quietly emptied the contents of the tea-chests into the river. The next day was the one appointed for the significant escort to Captain Lockyer on his departure. He was attended from his lodgings at the Coffee House, in Wall Street, by an immense concourse of the people in procession to the dock, with music and the ringing of the city bells, the libertypole, gayly dressed for the occasion, taking part in the triumph : nor was he parted with by the Committee in charge till they had seen his vessel well out at sea. Captain Chambers, for whom there was an eager search in the city, was found to have sailed in the Nancy. Acts of defiance to the Government like these, sustained by an irregular, though deeply felt, expression of the popular feeling, carried on by local and partial committees somewhat loosely united by pledges and correspondence, demanded, for the safety and efficiency of those concerned in them, a more general union and authoritative sanction of the several Provinces. There was a large class also, of the merchants, lawyers and others,