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About this time a discovery was made, which very greatly in- CHAP. II, creased the ill temper already so prevalent throughout New Eng- 1778. land. Doctor Franklin, the agent for several of the colonies, Hutchinson's
correspondence and among others for Massachussetts, by some unknown means, with the Adobtained possession of the letters which had been addressed by sent over by Governor Hutchinson, and by Lieutenant-Governor Oliver, to the department of state. These letters, many of which were private, he transmitted to the General Court. They were obu viously designed, and well calculated, to induce a perseverance on the part of the Government in the system which had so greatly tended to alienate the affections of the colonies. The opposition was represented to be confined to a few factious turbulent men, whose conduct was by no means generally approved, and who had been emboldened by the weakness of the means used to restrain them. More vigorous measures were recommended, and several specific propositions, peculiarly offensive to the colony, were made, among which was the alteration of their charters, and the rendering the high officers dependent solely on the Crown for their salaries.
petition for the
Inflamed by these letters, the Assembly unanimously resolved, The Assembly “ That their tendency and design were to overthrow the Constitu- removal of the tion of the Government, and to introduce arbitrary power into the Lieutenant-Go province.” At the same time a petition to the King was voted, pray
message to the Governor, That the making provision for His Excellency's support, independent of the grants and acts of the General Assembly, and His Excellency receiving the same, is an infraction upon the rights of the inhabitants granted by the royal charter," -Gordon, yol. i. p. 310.
CHAP.II. ing him to remove Governor Hutchinson and Lieutenant Governor
Oliver, for ever, from the government of the colony. This petition was transmitted to Doctor Franklin, and laid before the King in Council, where it was heard; and in a few days the Lords of the Council reported, “ that the petition in question was founded upon false and erroneous allegations; and that the same is groundless, vexatious, and scandalous, and calculated only for the sedi'itious purposes of keeping up a spirit of clamour and discontent
n the provinces.” This report His Majesty was pleased to arHutchinson is prove. Governor Hutchinson, however, was soon afterwards General Gage. removed, and General Gage appointed to succeed him.
MEASURES TO ENFORCE THE ACT CONCERNING DUTIES-FER
MENT EXCITED IN AMERICA-THE TEA IS THROWN INTO THE
THE fears entertained by Massachussetts, that the spirit of Measures to en
force the exe
1 opposition which had been roused in the colonies might cution of the gradually subside, were not permitted to be of long continuance. duties, The determination of the colonies not to import tea from England, had so lessened the demand for that article, that a very considerable quantity had accumulated in the magazines of the East India Company. They urged the minister to take off the import American duty of threepence per pound, and offered, in lieu of it, to pay double that sum on exportation. This fair opportunity for accommodation was rejected, and either as a mere indulgence to the company, or with the intent to give operation to their revenue system in America, drawbacks were al. VOL. II.
CHAP. III, lowed on tea exported to the colonies, and the duty on that arti
cle exported by the company was entirely taken off. After these encouragements had been held forth, the company (not without some hesitation, and, as is understood, assurances from government that they should in no event be permitted to sustain a loss,) proceeded to make shipments to the colonies on their own account. Large quantities were consigned to agents in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and other principal places on the Continent.
The crisis now approached ; and the conduct of the colonies, in this precise point of time, was to determine, whether they would submit to be taxed by the British Parliament, or meet the consequences of a practical application, to their situation, of the opinions they had maintained. If the tea should be landed, it would be sold; the duties would consequently be paid, and the precedent for taxing them established; the opposition to which would, it was feared, become every day less and less. The same sentiment on this subject appears to have pervaded the whole continent at the same time. This ministerial plan of importation was every where considered as a direct attack on the liberties of the people of America, which it was the duty of all to oppose. A violent ferment was every where excited ;-the corresponding committees were extremely active; and it was almost universally declared that whoever should, directly or indirectly, countenance this dangerous invasion of their rights, was an enemy to his country. The consignees were generally compelled to relinquish their appointments; and in most instances, the ships bringing the tea were obliged to return with it. In Charleston, after much opposition, the tea was permitted to be landed, but was immediately lodged in damp CHAP. III. cellars, where it long remained, and was finally spoiled.
At Boston, the people in a meeting adopted the spirited reso- Ferment excited lutions, which had before been entered into Philadelphia, and appointed a committee to wait on the consignees to request their resignation. This request not being complied with, another large meeting * assembled at Faneuil Hall, where it was voted with acclamations, “ that the tea shall not be landed, that no duty shall be paid, and that it shall be sent back in the same bottoms." With a foreboding of the probable consequences of the measure
* The language said by Mr. Gordon to have been used at this meeting, proves many of the people of Boston to have been already ripe for the revolution. To the more cautious among the sons of liberty, who had some apprehensions lest they should push the matter too far, and involve the town and colony in a quarrel with Great Britain, others answered, “ It must come to a quarrel between Great Britain and the colony sooner or later ; and if so, when can be a better time than the present? Hundreds of years may pass away before the parliament will make such a number of acts in violation of the British constitution as it has done of late years, and by which it has excited so formidable an opposition to the measures of ministry. Beside, the longer the contest is delayed, the more administration will be strengthened. Do not you observe, how the government at home are increasing their party here, by sending over young fellows to enjoy appointments, who marry into our first families, and so weaken the opposition ? By such like means, and by multiplying posts and places, and giving them to their own friends, or employing them to the corruption of their antagonists, they will increase their own force faster, in proportion, than the force of the country party will increase by population. If then we must quarrel, ere we can have our rights secured, now is the most eligia ble period. Our credit also is at stake ; we must venture, and unless we do, we shall be discarded by the sons of liberty in the other colonies, whose assistance we may expect upon emergencies, in case they find us steady, resolute and faith