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miles distant from Boston, in consequence of the late act. When this was intimated to the assembly, they replied by requesting him to appoint a day of public humiliation, for deprecating the wrath of heaven, but met with a refusal. When the assembly met at Salem they passed a resolution, declaring the necessity of a general Congress, composed of delegates from all the provinces; in order that they might take the affairs of the colonies at large, under their consideration, and five gentlemen, who had been remarkable for their opposition, were chosen to represent that of Massa chusetts 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 Britaiv, 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 as. sembly. This was followed by an address from the inhabitants of Salem, in favour of those of Boston, and concluding with these ree markable 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. 66 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 acquiesce in the measure of shutting up that port, and rather rejoice in it than otherwise; but the words of the address above-men, tioned, 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 ses sion of 1774, than the cause of Boston became the cause of all the colonies. The port-bill had already occasioned violent commo. tions 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 acts
of religion, only; they recommended, in the strongest manner, a general congress of all the colonies; as fully persuaded that an attempt to tax any colony in an arbitrary manner, was, in reality, an attack upon them all.'. The provinces of New York and Penn, sylvania, were, however, less sanguine than the rest, being so closely connected in the way of trade with Great Britain, that the giving it up entirely, appeared a matter of the most serious mag. nitude, 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 pro, vinces commending them for the heroic courage with which they sustained their calamity. i.
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, hor use, any goods imported after that time, and to renounce all conrexion with those who did, or refused to subscribe to this covenant; threatening to publish the names of the refrac. tory ; whịch at this time was a punishment too serious to be des, pised.
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 de. clared 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 Ame. ricans 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 oppres, sion,
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 begin, ning of September 1774, consisted of fifty-one delegates. The novelty and importance of the meeting, excited universal atten. tion; and their transactions were such as rendered them respect. able. The first act of Congress, was an approbation of the con
duct 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 se. curing for the parent state the benefits of the American trade; but would never allow that they could impose any tax on the colo. nies, 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 Parliament.
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 those 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 some time past, that a repetition is altogether unnecessary. It is sufficient to say, they were executed in a masterly manner, both with respect to the style, and composition, and ought to have impressed the people of England with more favourable sentiments of the Americans, than they were at that time willing to entertain.
All this time the disposition of the people had corresponded with the warmest wishes of congress. The first of June had been kept as a fast, not only throughout Virginia, where it was first proposed, but through the whole continent. Contributions for the relief of the inhabitants of Boston were recommended, and raised throughout the country. Even those who were most likely to derive the greatest advantages from the Port bill, with a generosity unequalled, refused to enrich themselves at the expense of their suffering neighbours. The inhabitants of Marblehead, who were among the number, though situated in the neighbourhood of Boston, and
most likely to receive benefit from the stoppage of their trade, did 7 not attempt to avail themselves of it; but so far from it, that they
generously offered the use of their harbour, wharves, and stores, rent free.
In the mean time the British forces at Boston were continually augmenting in number, which greatly increased the general jea lousy and disaffection; the country people were ready to rise at a moment's warning ; and the experiment was tried, by giving a
false alarm, that the communication was to be cut off between the permanent town and country ; in order to reduce the former by famine to a As compliance with the acts of parliament. On this intelligence, the
country people assembled in great numbers, and could not be satisfied, till they had sent messengers into the city, to inquire into
the truth of the report. These messengers were enjoined to ine form the people in Boston, that if they should be so pusillanimous
as to make a surrender of their liberties, the province would not think itself bound by such examples; and that Britain, by breaking their original charter, had annulled the contract subsisting between them,
and left them to act as they thought proper. The people in every other respect manifested their inflexible determination to adhere to the plan they had so long followed. The new counsellors and judges were obliged to resign their offices, in order to preserve their lives and properties from the fery of the multitude. In some places they shut up the avenues to the court houses ; and when required to make way for the judges, replied, that they knew of none but such as were appointed by the ancient usage and custom of the province.
They manifested in every place the most ardent desire of learning the art of war; and every one who could bear arms, was most assiduous in procuring them, and learning the military exer. cise. Matters at last proceeded to such an height, that general Gage thought proper to fortify the neck of land which joins the town of Boston to the continent. This, though undoubtedly a prudent measure in his situation, was exclaimed against by the Ame
ricans, in the most vehement manner; but the general instead of giving ear to their remonstrances, deprived them of all power of acting against himself, by seizing the provincial powder, ammu. nition, and other military stores, at Cambridge and Charlestown This excited such indignation, that it was with the utmost difi. culty the people could be restrained from marching to Boston, and attacking the troops. Even in the town itself, the company of ca* dets, that used to attend the governor, disbanded themselves, and returned the standard he had presented them with, on his acces. sion to the government. This was occasioned by his having de prived the celebrated John Hancock (afterwards President of Congress) of his commission of colonel of the cadets. A similar instance happened of a provincial colonel having accepted a seat in the new council, upon which twenty-four officers resigned their commissions in one day.
In the mean time a meeting was held of the principal inhabi. tants of the towns adjacent to Boston; the purport of which was, publiciy to renounce all obedience to the late acts of parliament, and to enter into an engagement to indemgify such as should be prosecuted on that account: the members of the new council were declared violators of the rights of their country: all ranks and degrees were exhorted to learn the use of arms; and the receivers of the public revenue were ordered not to deliver it into the treasury, but to retain it in their own hands until the constitution should be restored, or a provincial congress dispose of it otherwise.
A remonstrance against the fortifications of Boston Neck was next prepared, in which, however, they still declared their un willingness, to proceed to hostilities; asserting as usual their de termination not to submit to the acts of Parliament they had already so much complained of. The governor to restore tranquillity if possible, called a general assembly ; but so many of the council had resigned their places, that he was induced to counter mand its sitting by proclamation.
This measure, however, was deemed illegal ; the assembly met at Salem; and after waiting a day for the governor, voted themselves into a provincial congress, of which John Hancock was chosen president. A committee was instantly appointed, who waited on the governor concerning the fortifications on Boston Neck ; but nothing of consequence took place, both parties cri. minating each other.
The winter was now coming on, and the governor, to avoid quartering the soldiers on the inhabitants, proposed to erect bar. racks for them ;, but the select-men of Boston compelled them to desist. Carpenters were sent for to New York, but they were re. fused ; and it was with great difficulty that he could procure win. ter lodgings for his troops. Nor was it with less difficulty that he procured clothes ; as the merchants of New York told him " that they would never supply any article for the benefit of men sent as enemies to their country.". This disposition prevailing