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his country; and that committees should be appointed to wait on the agents of the East India Company, and to demand of them a resignation of their appointments. Terrified by these proceedings, a great majority of the consignees complied with this requisition; but in Massachusetts these agents, being the relatives and friends of the governor, and expecting to be supported by the military force stationed in Boston, were determined to land and offer for sale the obnoxious commodity. *As the tea ships were
* Notifications were immediately posted up, inviting every friend to his country to meet forthwith and concert united resistance to the arbitrary measures of Britain. A crowded meeting was held, and a resolution adopted, “that the tea should not be landed, that no duty should be paid, and that it should be sent back in the same vessel.' A watch was also organized to prevent it from being secretly brought on shore. A short time was then allowed for the captain to prepare to return home with his cargo. Governor Hutchinson refused to grant him the requisite permission to pass the castle. Otl er vessels, laden with
arrived. The agitation increased, and on the 18th of December, the inhabitants of Boston and the adjoining towns assembled to determine what course should be pursued. At this important meeting, Josiah Quincy, desirous that the consequences of the measures to be adopted should be first seriously contemplated, thus addressed his fellow citizens:— It is not, Mr. Moderator, the spirit that vapors within these walls that will sustain us in the hour of need. The proceedings of this day will call forth events which will make a very different spirit necessary for our salvation. Whoever supposes that shouts and hosannas will terminate our trials, entertains a childish fancy. We must be grossly ignoran of the value of the prize for which we contend; we must be equally ignorant of the power of those who have combined against us; we must be blind to that inveterate malice and insatiable revenge which actuate our enemies, abroad and in our bosom. to hope that we shall end this controversy without the sharpest conflicts—or to flatter ourselves that popular resolves, popular harangues, and popular acclamations, will vanquish our foes. Let us consider the issue; let us look 10 the end; let us weigh and deliberate, before we advance to those measures which must bring on the most trying and terrible struggle this country ever saw.' In the evening the question was put, . Do you abide by your former resolution to prevent the landing of the tea?' The vote was unanimous in the affirmative. Application was again made to the governor for a pass.
After a short delay, his refusal was communicated to the assembly. Instantly a person, disguised like an Indian, gave the war whoop from the gallery. At this signal, the people rushed out of the house and hastened to the
lying in the harbor, ready to land their cargoes, the leading patriots, apprehensive that if the tea were once warehoused, the opposition of the people to its sale might gradually give way, and deeming decisive measures absolutely necessary in the present circumstances, boarded the vessels, and emptied the tea-chests into the water.
The British ministry rejoiced that this outrage had occurred, and that it had occurred in the town of Boston, which they had long regarded as the focus of sedition, from whence a spirit of resistance to British authority was diffused throughout the colonies. It now lay at their mercy, as having been guilty of a flagrant delinquency, and as meriting exemplary punishment. Determined to chastise its mutinous inhabitants for their numerous delinquencies, and to bend them to submission, Lord North, then prime minister, on the 14th of March, made a motion in the House of Commons, “That leave be given to bring in a bill for the immediate removal of the officers concerned in the collection and management of his majesty's duties and customs from the town of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay in North America; and to discontinue the landing and discharging, lading and shipping of goods, wares, and merchandise, at the said town of Boston, or within the harbor thereof. The deep silence which followed the annunciation of this motion marked the sense of the House as to the
wharves. About twenty persons, in the dress of Mohawks, boarded the vessels, and, protected by the crowd on shore, broke open three hundred and forty-two chests of tea and emptied their contents into the ocean. Their purpose accomplished, the multitude returned without tumult to their habitations.
Hale's United States.
What became of the tea?
serious consequences which it involved; but it met with no opposition, except on the part of Alderman Sawbridge and Mr. Dowdswell. Even Colonel Barre, the great advocate of the rights of the colonies, spoke in favor of it, and it passed without a division. No debate occurred on the first reading of the bill on the 18th of March; and the second reading, which took place on the 21st of the same month, was only interrupted by a few adverse remarks made by Mr. R. Fuller. On the 25th, a petition was presented against the bill, signed by several natives of North America, at that time resident in London; after the reading of which the House discussed its provision in committee. Mr. Fuller availed himself of this occasion to move, that, instead of the closing of the port of Boston, which measure, he argued, would be detrimental, not only to American, but also, to British interests, a fine should be imposed on the offending community. This amendment was opposed by the prime minister, who said that he was no enemy to lenient measures, but that it was evident that, with respect to the inhabitants of Boston, resolutions of censure and warning would avail nothing,—that it was then the time to stand out, to defy them, to proceed with firmness and without fear, and that they would never reform till severe measures were adopted. With a lamentable want of fore: sight his lordship thus proceeded: 'I hope that we every one feel that this is the common cause of us all; and unanimity will go half way to the obedience of the people of Boston to this bill. The honorable gentleman tells us, that the act will be a piece of waste paper, and that an army will be required to put it into execution. The good of this act is, that four or five frigates will do the business without
On the 25th what petition was presented?
any military force. With a similar blindness to futurity, Mr. Charles Jenkinson exclaimed, “We have gone into a very expensive war for the attainment of America; the struggle which we shall now have to keep it will be of little expense. Thus rash and short-sighted are statesmen when their passions obtain the mastery over their judgment! After a lengthened debate, in the course of which the bill was powerfully opposed by Mr. Burke and Mr. Dowdswell, it passed the Commons with but very few negatives; and having been hurried through the House of Lords, it finally received the royal assent, and was passed into a law.
The Boston port-act was speedily followed by still more alarming measures. The free constitutions of the American provinces had presented strong impediments against the views of his majesty and his ministers. Among these, the charter of Massachusetts was pre-eminent for the liberality of its principles. Being well aware, that whilst this charter subsisted he could never effectuate his designs, Lord North determined to set it aside. When Charles II. deemed it necessary for his purposes to abrogate the franchises of the city of London, and of other corporate towns in England, he attacked their charters by quo warrantos; but the process of law is tedious, and in this case the issue of legal proceedings might be uncertain.
The minister, therefore, decided upon bringing the omnipotence of parliament to bear upon the contumacious inhabitants of the offending colony. Accordingly, on the 28th of March, 1774, on the allegation that an executive power was wanting in the province of Massachusetts, and that it was highly necessary to strengthen the hands of its magistracy, he
What was said by Charles Jenkinson?
proposed to bring in a bill, authorizing the governor for the time being to act as a justice of the peace, and empowering him to appoint at his will and pleasure the officers throughout the whole civil authority, such as the provost marshal and the sheriffs; to which latter officers was to be delegated the nomination of juries, who had formerly been elected by the freeholders and inhabitants of the several towns of the province. It was also his lordship’s intention to vest in the crown the appointment of the council, which, under the provisions of the ancient constitution, had heretofore been elected by the general court. The latter provision was introduced into the bill at the suggestion of Lord Gorge Germaine, who was pleased to say, that he would not have men of a mercantile cast every day collecting themselves together, and debating about political matters; he would have them follow their occupations as merchants, and not consider themselves as ministers of that country. In pursuance of this suggestion, which was thankfully received by the premier, there were added to the bill severe restrictions on the holding of public town meetings. Leave was given to bring in the bill without a single objection, except on the part of Mr. Byng, the member for Middlesex; and though, in its progress through the House of Commons, many weighty arguments were urged against it, especially by Governor Pownall and Mr. Dowdswell, it was carried on the 2d of May, by a majority of 239 against 64 voices. In the House of Lords it was severely animadverted upon; but a division of 92 to 20 evinced that the majority of the peers of the realm entered heartily into the views of the ministry as to coercing the American colonies. The Duke of Richmond, however, and eleven other peers, protested against it for the follow
What did this bill provide?