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parties concerned, however, though they durst not order the tea to be landed, refused to grant the discharges required. The ships, therefore, would have been obliged to remain in the harbour: but the people apprehensive that if they remained there, the tea would be landed in small quantities, and disposed of in spite of every endeavour to prevent it; resolved to destroy it at once.
This resolution was executed with equal speed and secrecy. The very evening after the above-mentioned discharges had been refused, a number of people dressed like Mohock Indians boarded the ships, and threw into the sea their whole cargoes, consisting of three hundred and forty chests of tea; after which, they retired without making any further disturbance or doing any other damage. No tea was destroyed in other ports, but the same spirit was manifested.
At Philadelphia the pilots were enjoined not to conduct the vessels up the river; and at New York, though the governor caused some tea to be landed under the protection of a man of war, he was obliged to deliver it up to the people, to prevent its being sold.
The destruction of the tea at Boston, which happened in 1775, was the immediate prelude to the disasters attending civil discord. Government finding themselves every where insulted and despis ed, resolved to enforce their authority by all possible means; and as Boston had been the principal scene of the riots and outrages, it was determined to punish that city in an exemplary manner. Parliament was acquainted, by a message from his majesty, with the undutiful behaviour of the inhabitants of Boston, as well as of all the colonies, recommending at the same time the most vigorous and spirited exertions to reduce them to obedience. The parliament in its address promised a ready compliance; and the Americans now seemed to have lost many of their partizans.
It was proposed to lay a fine on the town of Boston. equal to the price of the tea which had been destroyed, and to shut up its port by armed vessels, until the refractory spirit of its inhabitants was subdued; which, it was thought must quickly yield, as a total stop would thus be put to their trade. The bill was strongly opposed on the same ground that the other had been; and it was predicted, that instead of having any tendency to reconcile or subdue the Americans, it would infallibly exasperate them byond any possi. bility of reconciliation.
The petitions against it were presented by the colony's agent, who pointed out the same consequence in the strongest terms, and in the most positive manner declared the Americans never would submit to it; but such was the infatuation attending every rank and degree of men, that it never was imagined the Americans would dare to resist the parent state openly; but would in the end submit implicitly to her commands. In this confidence a
third bill was proposed, for the impartial administration of justice, by such persons as might be employed in the suppression of riots and tumults in the province of Massachusetts Bay. By this act it was provided, "That should any person acting in that capacity, be indicted for murder, and not be able to obtain a fair trial in the province, they might be sent by the governor to England, or to some other colony, if necessary, to be tried for the supposed crime."
These three bills having passed so easily, the ministry proposed a fourth, relative to the government of Canada; which it was said, had not yet been settled upon any proper plan. By this bill the extent of that province was greatly enlarged; its affairs were put under the direction of a council, in which Roman Catholics were to be admitted; the Roman Catholic clergy were secured in their possessions, and the usual perquisites from those of their own profession. The council above-mentioned, were to be appointed by the crown; to be removed at its pleasure, and to be invested with every legislative power, except that of taxation.
No sooner were these laws made known in America, than they cemented the union of the colonies, beyond the possibility of dissolving it. The Assembly of Massachusetts Bay had passed a vote against the judges accepting salaries from the crown, and put the question, Whether they would accept them as usual, from the general assembly? Four answered in the affirmative, but Peter Oliver, the chief justice, refused. A petition against him, and an accusation, were brought before the governor; but the latter refused interfering in the matter; but as they still insisted for justice against chief justice Oliver, the governor thought proper to dissolve the assembly.
In this situation of affairs, a new alarm was occasioned by the Port bill. This had been totally unexpected, and was received with the most extravagant expressions of displeasure among the people; and, while these continued, the new governor, general Gage, arrived from England.
He had been chosen to this office on account of his being well acquainted in America, and generally agreeable to the people; but human wisdom could not now point out a method, by which the flame could be allayed. The first act of his office, as governor, was to remove the assembly to Salem, a town seventeen miles distant from Boston, in consequence of the late act. When this wo intimated to the assembly, they replied by requesting him to tipoint a day of public humiliation, for deprecating the wrath of aven, but met with a refusal. When the assembly met at Sadu hey passed a resolution, declaring the necessity of a general to cess, composed of delegates from all the provinces; in order for ey might take the affairs of the colonies at large, under wer consideration; and five gentlemen, who had been remarka
ble for their opposition, were chosen to represent that of Massachusetts Bay. They then proceeded, with all expedition, to draw up a declaration, containing a detail of the grievances, which they laboured under; and the necessity of exerting themselves against lawless power; they set forth the disregard that had been paid to their petitions, and the attempts of Great Britain to destroy their ancient constitution; and concluding with exhorting the inhabitants of the colony to obstruct, by every method in their power, such evil designs, recommending, at the same time, a total renunciation of every thing imported from Great Britain, until a redress of grievances could be procured.
Intelligence of this declaration was carried to the governor on the very day that it was completed, on which he dissolved the assembly. This was followed by an address from the inhabitants of Salem, in favour of those of Boston, and concluding with these remarkable words, "By shutting up the port of Boston some ima
gine that the course of trade might be turned hither, and to our "benefit; but nature, in the formation of our harbour, forbids our becoming rivals in commerce to that convenient mart; and were "it otherwise, we must be dead to every idea of justice, lost to all "feelings of humanity, could we indulge one thought to seize on "wealth, and raise our fortunes on the ruin of our suffering neigh"bours."
It had been fondly hoped by the ministerial party in England, that the advantages which other towns might derive from the annihilation of the trade of Boston, would make them readily ac quiesce in the measure of shutting up that port, and rather rejoice in it than otherwise; but the words of the address above-mentioned, seemed to preclude all hope of this kind; and subsequent transactions soon manifested it to be altogether vain.
No sooner did intelligence arrive of the bills passed in the session of 1774, than the cause of Boston became the cause of all the colonies. The port-bill had already occasioned violent commotions throughout them all. It had been reprobated in provincial meetings, and resistance to the last had been recommended against such oppression. In Virginia, the 1st of June, 1774, the day on which the port of Boston was to be shut up, was held as a day of humiliation, and a public intercession in favour of America was recommended. The style of the prayer enjoined at this time, was, that "God would give the people one heart, and one mind, "firmly to oppose every invasion of the American rights.
The Virginians, however, did not content themselves with act of religion only: they recommended, in the strongest manner. general congress of all the colonies; as fully persuaded thary attempt to tax any colony in an arbitrary manner, was, in reserian attack upon them all. The provinces of New York and Ed in sylvania, were, however, less sanguine than the rest, beiice a
closely connected in the way of trade with Great Britain, that the giving it up entirely, appeared a matter of the most serious magnitude and not to be thought of but after every other method had failed.
The intelligence of the remaining bills, respecting Boston, spread a fresh alarm through the continent, and fixed those who had appeared the most wavering. The proposal of giving up all commercial intercourse with Great Britain was again proposed; contributions for the relief of the inhabitants of Boston were raised in every quarter; and they received addresses from the other provinces, commending them for the heroic courage with which they sustained their calamity.
The Bostonians, thus supported, did every thing in their power to promote the general cause. An agreement was framed, which, in imitation of former times, was called a solemn league and covenant. By this, the subscribers most religiously bound themselves to break off all communication with Great Britain after the expiration of the month of August ensuing, until the obnoxious acts were repealed; at the same time, they engaged neither to purchase nor use any goods imported after that time, and to renounce all connexion with those who did, or refused to subscribe to this covenant; threatening to publish the names of the refractory; which at this time was a punishment too serious to be despised.
Agreements of a similar nature were immediately entered into throughout all America. And although general Gage attempted to counteract the covenant, by a proclamation, wherein it was declared an illegal and traitorous combination, threatening with the pains of the law, such as subscribed or countenanced it. But it was now too late for proclamations to have any effect. The Americans retorted the charge of illegality on his own proclamation, and insisted that the law allowed subjects to meet, in order to consider of their grievances, and associate for relief from oppression.
Preparations were now made for holding a general Congress. Philadelphia, as being the most centrical, and considerable town, was chosen as the place of its meeting. The delegates of whom it was composed, were elected by the representatives of each province, and were in number from two to seven from each colony, though no province had more than one vote.
The first Congress, which met at Philadelphia, in the beginning of September, 1774, consisted of fifty-one delegates. The novelty and importance of the meeting, excited universal attention; and their transactions were such as rendered them respectable. The first act of Congress, was an approbation of the conduct of the inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay, and an exhortation to continue in the same spirit which they had begun. Supplies for the suffering inhabitants were strongly recommended, as they were reduced to great distress by the operation of the Port-bill;
and it was declared, that in case an attempt should be made to enforce the obnoxious acts by arms, all America should join to assist the town of Boston; and should the inhabitants be obliged, during the course of hostilities, to remove further up into the country, the losses they might sustain should be repaired at the public expense.
They next addressed general Gage by letter; in which, having stated the grievances of the people of Massachusetts colony, they informed him of the fixed and unalterable determination of all the other provinces, to support their brethren, and to oppose the cruel and oppressive British acts of Parliament; that they were appointed to watch over the liberties of America; and entreated him to desist from military operations, lest such hostilities might be brought on, as would frustrate all hopes of reconciliation with the parent state.
The next step was to publish a declaration of their rights. These they summed up in the rights belonging to Englishmen ; and particularly insisted, that as their distance rendered it impossible for them to be represented in the British parliament, their provincial assemblies, with the governor appointed by the king, constituted the only legislative power within each province. They would, however, consent to such acts of parliament, as were evidently calculated merely for the regulation of commerce, and securing for the parent state the benefits of the American trade; but would never allow that they could impose any tax on the colonies, for the purpose of raising a revenue, without their consent. They proceeded to reprobate the intention of each of the new acts of parliament; and insisted on all the rights they had enumerated, as being unalienable; and what none could deprive them of. The Canada act they particularly pointed out as being extremely inimical to the colonies, by whose assistance it had been conquered; and they termed it, "An act for establishing the Roman Catholic religion in Canada, abolishing the equitable system of English laws, and establishing a tyranny there."
They further declared in favour of a non-importation and nonconsumption of British goods, until the acts were repealed, by which duties were laid upon tea, coffee, wine, sugar, and molasses imported into America, as well as the Boston Port-act, and the three others passed in the preceding session of Parliamenta
The new regulations against the importation and consumption of British commodities, were then drawn up with great solemnity; and they concluded with returning the warmest thanks, to hose members of Parliament, who had, with so much zeal, but without success, opposed the obnoxious acts of Parliament.
Their next proceedings were, to draw up a petition to the king, an address to the British nation, and another to the colonies, all of which being in the usual strain of American language, adopted for