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pression upon the minds of the American public. In their joy for the repeal of the stamp-act, and in their eagerness to resume their ordinary occupations, the colonists regarded it as a harmless sally of wounded pride, and cheerfully renewed their commercial intercourse with the mother country.
But the evil genius of Britain still fostered in the cabinet the idea of raising a revenue in America. Lord Rockingham having been superseded by the Duke of Grafton, Charles Townsend, the then chancellor of the exchequer, brought into the House of Commons, in the year 1767, a bill, which was quickly passed into a law, for granting duties in the British colonies on glass, paper, painters' colors, and tea. This proceeding again kindled a blaze throughout the provinces. In their estimation, it proved that the declaratory act was not intended to be a dead letter, and it gave
rise to bold and acute discussions as to the distinction between tax-bills and bills for the regulation of trade. To add to the alarm of the colonists, a board of commissioners of customs was established at Boston; which step convinced them that the British government intended to harass them with a multiplicity of fiscal oppressions. They therefore again had recourse to petitions, remonstrances, and non-importation agreements. The seizure of the sloop Liberty, belonging to Mr. Hancock, a popular leader, for an infringement of the revenue laws, incited the populace of Boston to renewed acts of violence, which drove the commissioners of the customs to take shelter in Castle William. To suppress this spirit of insubordination, his Majesty's ministers stationed some armed vessels in the harbor, and quartered two regiments of foot in the town
How were the Americans affected, by the repeal of the stamp act?
of Boston. The intention of the British government to send this force to Boston having been announced, the selectmen of ninety-six towns of the State of Massachusetts, met at Faneuil Hall, in that town; but this assembly, which had excited great alarm among the friends of government, merely recommended moderate measures, and then dissolved itself. The day after the breaking up of this convention, the troops arrived, and landed without opposition under the protection of the guns of the armed vessels in the harbor.
The intelligence of the refractory spirit thus manifested by the inhabitants of Boston, produced such irritation in the British parliament, that in February, 1769, both Houses concurred in an address to his Majesty, prompting him to vigorous measures against all persons guilty of what they were pleased to denominate treasonable acts; and beseeching him, in pursuance of the powers contained in an obsolete statute of the 35th of Henry VIII., to seize the offenders, and cause them to be tried by a special commission within the realm of Great Britain. This imprudent suggestion was encountered by strong resolutions on the part of the provincial assemblies; and the colonists again had recourse to non-importation agreements, and, in some instances, sent back to Great Britain cargoes of goods which had actually arrived. Thus the distresses of the British manufacturers were renewed; and ministers were induced, by their earnest remonstrances, to repeal all the newly imposed duties, except that on tea. This reservation being a practical assertion of the right of parliament to impose in
W bat meeting was held at Faneuil Hall?
ternal taxes on the American States, was very odious to the colonists, who, however, relaxed their associations so far as to allow the importation of all articles except tea, the use of which commodity they forbore, or supplied themselves with it by smuggling.
PETITION AND REMONSTRANCE, 1773.
Thus was tranquillity restored to most of the colonies. But the presence of the troops in the town of Boston was a perpetual source of irritation in the province of Massachusetts. The Bostonians regarded the soldiers with an evil eye, as the instruments of tyranny designed to be used for the destruction of their liberties, and availed themselves of every opportunity which occurred to annoy and insult them. In resisting a violent act of aggression, a party of the military were obliged to fire on the populace, of whom three were killed and five dangerously wounded. In times of public excitement, nothing is more irritating to the populace, and nothing more painful to men of cultivated minds, than the interference of the military. When that interference is attended with fatal consequences, the frenzy of the people rises to the utmost height. Such was the case with the inhabitants of Boston. On hearing of the melancholy event, some obscure individuals caused the drums to beat to arms, and the townsmen assembled to the amount of some thousands. They were, however, happily appeased by the intervention of several patriotic leaders, whose zeal was allayed by prudence, and in consequence of whose interference with the Lieutenant-Governor the obnoxious
What was a source of irritation to the Bostonians ?
troops were sent out of the town. Artful means were, however, resorted to for the purpose of keeping alive their resentment. On the morning of the day appointed for the burial of the slain, most of the shops in Boston were shut. The bells of that town, of Charlestown, and Roxbury, rang out muffled peals. Mournful processions moving from the houses of the murdered dead, as they who had fallen by the fire of the military were denominated, united with the corpses at the spot where they had met their fate. Here forming into a body, they marched six a-breast, followed by the carriages of the gentry, through the main streets to the place of interment.
Immediately after the affray, which was productive of such sad consequences, Captain Preston, the officer who commanded the party who had fired upon the people, had been committed to prison, together with a number of private soldiers who were implicated in that act. The firing had taken place on the 5th of March, and though the trial of the accused did not take place till the following November, there might have been reason to apprehend that, in appearing, for a decision on a case of life and death before a Boston jury, they would run the greatest hazard of falling victims to infuriated prejudice. But, in this instance, the Bostonians gave evidence of their English descent. In capital cases Englishmen, in modern times at least, have almost uniformly exercised an impartial administration of the law. Such was the temper which was manifested by the court and jury on the trial of Captain Preston and his comrades. After a patient investigationof the case, all the prisoners were acquitted of murder, and two being found guilty of manslaughter, were immediately burnt in the hand and discharged. It is a fact not to be omitted, that they were defended, and zealously defended,
Describe the interment.
by the celebrated John Adams and Josiah Quincy, than whom there did not exist more ardent advocates of the cause of American freedom.* The former of these gentlemen, in warning the jury against giving way to popular impressions, expressed himself in the following energetic terms:"The law, in all vicissitudes of government, fluctuations of the passions, or flights of enthusiasm, will preserve a steady, undeviating course; it will not bend to the uncertain wishes, imaginations, and wanton tempers of men. To use the words of a great and worthy man, a patriot and a hero, an enlightened friend to mankind, and a martyr to liberty-I mean Algernon Sidney—who, from his earliest infancy, sought a tranquil retirement under the shadow of the tree of liberty, with his tongue, his pen, and his sword,
“The law,” says he, “no passion can disturb. It is void of desire and fear, lust and anger. It is mens' sine affectu; written reason; retaining some measure of the divine perfection. It does not enjoin that which pleases a weak, frail man, but, without any regard to persons, commands that which is good, and punishes evil in all, whether rich or poor, high or low. It is deaf, inexorable, inflexible.” Yes,' said Mr. Adams, 'on the one hand, it is inexorable to the cries and lamentations of the prisoners; on the other, it is deaf, deaf as an adder, to the clamors of the populace.?
Notwithstanding this firmness on the part of the counsel for the prisoners, and notwithstanding the impartiality of the jury and of the judge, which latter, in his summing up
* It is also a fact worthy of notice, that the counsel for the crown, Samuel Quincy, Esq. Solicitor-General, was the brother of Josiah Quincy, and on the termination of the siege of Boston, in 1776, he left the country with other loy. alists, and held the office of attorney for the crown in the island of Antigua, until his death in 1789.
Who defended Captain Preston &c?