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MILITARY DEMONSTRATIONS AT BOSTON-LIFE AT MOUNT VERNON.
them jealous of the least distinction between | September, to devise measures for the public this country and that, lest the same principle may be extended to taxing them."*
Boston continued to be the focus of what the ministerialists termed sedition. The General Court of Massachusetts, not content with petitioning the king for relief against the recent measures of Parliament, especially those imposing taxes as a means of revenue, drew up a circular, calling on the other colonial Legislatures to join with them in suitable efforts to obtain redress. In the ensuing session, Governor Sir Francis Bernard called upon them to rescind the resolution on which the circular was founded, they refused to comply, and the General Court was consequently dissolved. | The governors of other colonies required of their Legislatures an assurance that they would not reply to the Massachusetts circular, these Legislatures likewise refused compliance, and were dissolved. All this added to the growing excitement.
safety; but disclaiming all pretensions to legislative powers. While the convention was yet in session (September 28th), the two regiments arrived, with seven armed vessels. "I am very confident," writes Commodore Hood from Halifax, "the spirited measures now pursuing will soon effect order in America."
On the contrary, these "spirited measures"! added fuel to the fire they were intended to quench. It was resolved in a town meeting, that the king had no right to send troops thither without the consent of the Assembly; that Great Britain had broken the original compact, and that, therefore, the king's officers had no longer any business there.*
The "selectmen " accordingly refused to find quarters for the soldiers in the town; the council refused to find barracks for them, lest it should be construed into a compliance with the disputed clause of the mutiny act. Some of the troops, therefore, which had tents, were encamped on the common; others, by the governor's orders, were quartered in the state
Memorials were addressed to the Lords, spiritual and temporal, and remonstrances to the House of Commons, against taxation for rev-house, and others in Faneuil Hall, to the great enue, as destructive to the liberties of the colonists; and against the act suspending the legislative power of the province of New York, as menacing the welfare of the colonies in general.
Nothing, however, produced a more powerful effect upon the public sensibilities throughout the country, than certain military demonstrations at Boston. In consequence of repeated collisions between the people of that place and the commissioners of customs, two regiments were held in readiness at Halifax to embark for Boston in the ships of Commodore Hood, whenever Governor Bernard, or the general, should give the word. "Had this force been landed in Boston six months ago," writes the commodore, "I am perfectly persuaded no address or remonstrances would have been sent from the other colonies, and that all would have been tolerably quiet and orderly at this time throughout America."+
Tidings reached Boston that these troops were embarked, and that they were coming to overawe the people. What was to be done? The General Court had been dissolved, and the governor refused to convene it without the royal command. A convention, therefore, from various towns, met at Boston, on the 22d of
* Chatham's Correspondence, vol. ili., pp. 189-192. + Grenville Papers, vol. iv., p. 362.
indignation of the public, who were grievously scandalized at seeing field-pieces planted in front of the state-house; sentinels stationed at the doors, challenging every one who passed; and, above all, at having the sacred quiet of the Sabbath disturbed by drum and fife, and other military music.
THROUGHOUT these public agitations, Washington endeavored to preserve his equanimity. Removed from the heated throngs of cities, his diary denotes a cheerful and healthful life at Mount Vernon, devoted to those rural occupations in which he delighted, and varied occasionally by his favorite field sports. Sometimes he is duck-shooting on the Potomac. Repeatedly we find note of his being out at sunrise with the hounds, in company with old Lord Fairfax, Bryan Fairfax, and others; and ending the day's sport by a dinner at Mount Vernon, or Belvoir.
Still he was too true a patriot not to sympa. thize in the struggle for colonial rights which now agitated the whole country, and we find
* Whately to Grenville. Gren. Papers, vol. iv., p. 389.
WASHINGTON AND GEORGE MASON-CORRESPONDENCE.
him gradually carried more and more into the | Such as these, were they not to consider the current of political affairs. valuable object in view, and the good of others, might think it hard to be curtailed in their liv ing and enjoyments."
This was precisely the class to which Washington belonged; but he was ready and willing to make the sacrifices required. "I think the scheme a good one," added he," and that it ought to be tried here, with such alterations as our circumstances render absolutely necessary." Mason, in his reply, concurred with him in opinion. "Our all is at stake," said he, "and the little conveniences and comforts of life, when set in competition with our liberty, ought to be rejected, not with reluctance, but with pleasure. Yet it is plain that, in the to
A letter written on the 5th of April, 1769, to his friend, George Mason, shows the important stand he was disposed to take. In the previous year, the merchants and traders of Boston, Salem, Connecticut, and New York, had agreed to suspend for a time the importation of all articles subject to taxation. Similar resolutions had recently been adopted by the merchants of Philadelphia. Washington's letter is emphatic in support of the measure. "At a time," writes he, "when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke, and main-bacco colonies, we cannot at present confine tain the liberty which we have derived from our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer the purpose effectually, is the point in question. That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment in defence of so valuable a blessing, is clearly my opinion; yet arms should be the last resource the dernier ressort. We have already, it is said, proved the inefficacy of addresses to the throne, and remonstrances to Parliament. How far their attention to our rights and interests is to be awakened, or alarmed, by starving their trade and manufactures, remains to be tried.
"The northern colonies, it appears, are endeavoring to adopt this scheme. In my opinion, it is a good one, and must be attended with salutary effects, provided it can be carried pretty generally into execution.
our importations within such narrow bounds as the northern colonies. A plan of this kind, to be practicable, must be adapted to our circumstances; for if not steadily executed it had better have remained unattempted. We may retrench all manner of superfluities, finery of all descriptions, and confine ourselves to linens, woollens, &c., not exceeding a certain price. It is amazing how much this practice, if adopted in all the colonies, would lessen the American imports, and distress the various trades and manufactures of Great Britain. This would awaken their attention. They would see, they would feel, the oppressions we groan under, and exert themselves to procure us redress. This, once obtained, we should no longer discontinue our importations, confining ourselves *still not to import any article that should hereThat there will be a difficulty attending it every- after be taxed by act of Parliament for raising where from clashing interests, and selfish, de- a revenue in America; for, however singular I signing men, ever attentive to their own gain, may be in the opinion, I am thoroughly conand watchful of every turn that can assist their vinced, that, justice and harmony happily relucrative views, cannot be denied; and in the stored, it is not the interest of these colonies to tobacco colonies, where the trade is so diffused, refuse British manufactures. Our supplying and in a manner wholly conducted by factors our mother country with gross materials, and for their principals at home, these difficulties taking her manufactures in return, is the true are certainly enhanced, but I think not insur- chain of connection between us. These are the mountably increased, if the gentlemen in their bands which, if not broken by oppression, must several counties will be at some pains to ex-long hold us together, by maintaining a conplain matters to the people, and stimulate stant reciprocation of interests." them to cordial agreements to purchase none. but certain enumerated articles out of any of the stores, after a definite period, and neither import, nor purchase any themselves. * * I can see but one class of people, the merchants excepted, who will not or ought not to wish well to the scheme, namely, they who live genteelly and hospitably on clear estates.
The latter part of the above quotation shows the spirit which actuated Washington and the friends of his confidence; as yet there was no *thought nor desire of alienation from the mother country, but only a fixed determination to be placed on an equality of rights and privileges with her other children.
A single word in the passage cited from
LORD BOTETOURT-ADDRESS TO THE KING.
to sedition; but vain and luxurious, and easily captivated by parade and splendor. The latter foibles were aimed at in his appointment and fitting out. It was supposed that his titled rank would have its effect. Then to prepare
Washington's letter, evinces the chord which | sented to him as factious, immoral, and prone still vibrated in the American bosom; he incidentally speaks of England as home. It was the familiar term with which she was usually indicated by those of English descent; and the writer of these pages remembers when the endearing phrase still lingered on Anglo-Ameri- | him for occasions of ceremony, a coach of state can lips even after the Revolution. How easy would it have been, before that era, for the mother country to have rallied back the affections of her colonial children, by a proper attention to their complaints! They asked for nothing but what they were entitled to, and what she had taught them to prize as their dearest inheritance. The spirit of liberty which they manifested had been derived from her own precept and example.
The result of the correspondence between Washington and Mason, was the draft by the latter of a plan of association, the members of which were to pledge themselves not to import or use any articles of British merchandise or manufacture subject to duty. This paper Washington was to submit to the consideration of the House of Burgesses at the approaching session in the month of May.
was presented to him by the king. He was allowed, moreover, the quantity of plate usually given to ambassadors, whereupon the joke was circulated that he was going "plenipo to the Cherokees."*
His opening of the session was in the style of the royal opening of Parliament. He proceeded in due parade from his dwelling to the capitol, in his state coach, drawn by six milkwhite horses. Having delivered his speech according to royal form, he returned home with the same pomp and circumstance.
The time had gone by, however, for such display to have the anticipated effect. The Virginian legislators penetrated the intention of this pompous ceremonial, and regarded it with a depreciating smile. Sterner matters occupied their thoughts; they had come prepared to battle for their rights, and their proThe Legislature of Virginia opened on this ceedings soon showed Lord Botetourt how occasion with a brilliant pageant. While mili- much he had mistaken them. Spirited resolutary force was arrayed to overawe the republi- tions were passed, denouncing the recent act can Puritans of the east, it was thought to daz- of Parliament imposing taxes; the power to zle the aristocratical descendants of the cava- do which, on the inhabitants of this colony, liers by the reflex of regal splendor. Lord was legally and constitutionally vested in the Botetourt, one of the king's lords of the bed- House of Burgesses, with consent of the counchamber, had recently come out as governor ofcil and of the king, or of his governor, for the the province. Junius described him as "a cringing, bowing, fawning, sword-bearing courtier." Horace Walpole predicted that he would turn the heads of the Virginians in one way or other. "If his graces do not captivate them, he will enrage them to fury; for I take all his douceur to be enamelled on iron."* The words of political satirists and court wits, however, are always to be taken with great distrust. However his lordship may have bowed in presence of royalty, he elsewhere conducted himself with dignity, and won general favor by his endearing manners. He certainly showed promptness of spirit in his reply to the king on being informed of his appointment. When will you be ready to go?" asked George III. "To-night, sir."
He had come out, however, with a wrong idea of the Americans. They had been repre
* Grenville papers, iv., note to p. 330.
time being." Copies of these resolutions were ordered to be forwarded by the speaker to the Legislatures of the other colonies, with a request for their concurrence.
Other proceedings of the Burgesses showed their sympathy with their fellow-patriots of New England. A joint address of both Houses of Parliament had recently been made to the king, assuring him of their support in any further measures for the due execution of the laws in Massachusetts, and beseeching him that all persons charged with treason, or misprision of treason, committed within that colony since the 30th of December, 1767, might be sent to Great Britain for trial.
As Massachusetts had no General Assembly at this time, having been dissolved by government, the Legislature of Virginia generously took up the cause. An address to the king
Whately to Geo. Grenville. Grenville papers.
Er. 37.] WASHINGTON AND THE ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION-HOOD AT BOSTON. 117
which he had entered upon office. His semiroyal equipage and state were laid aside. He
was resolved on, stating, that all trials for treason, or misprision of treason, or for any crime whatever committed by any person re-examined into public grievances; became a siding in a colony, ought to be in and before strenuous advocate for the repeal of taxes; and, his majesty's courts within said colony; and authorized by his despatches from the minisbeseeching the king to avert from his loyal try, assured the public that such repeal would subjects, those dangers and miseries which speedily take place. His assurance was receivwould ensue from seizing and carrying beyonded with implicit faith, and for a while Virginia sea any person residing in America suspected was quieted.
of any crime whatever, thereby depriving them of the inestimable privilege of being tried by a jury from the vicinage, as well as the liberty of producing witnesses on such trial.
Disdaining any further application to Parliament, the House ordered the speaker to transmit this address to the colonies' agent in Eng: land, with directions to cause it to be presented to the king, and afterwards to be printed and published in the English papers.
Lord Botetourt was astonished and dismayed when he heard of these high-toned proceedings. Repairing to the capitol on the following day at noon, he summoned the speaker and members to the council chamber, and addressed them in the following words: "Mr. Speaker, and gentlemen of the House of Burgesses, I have heard of your resolves, and augur ill of their effects. You have made it my duty to dissolve you, and you are dissolved accordingly."
The spirit conjured up by the late decrees of Parliament was not so easily allayed. The Burgesses adjourned to a private house. Peyton Randolph, their late speaker, was elected moderator. Washington now brought forward a draft of the articles of association, concerted between him and George Mason. They formed the groundwork of an instrument signed by all present, pledging themselves neither to import, nor use any goods, merchandise, or manufactures taxed by Parliament to raise a revenue in America. This instrument was sent
throughout the country for signature, and the scheme of non-importation, hitherto confined to a few northern colonies, was soon universally adopted. For his own part, Washington adhered to it rigorously throughout the year. The articles proscribed by it were never to be seen in his house, and his agent in London was enjoined to ship nothing for him while subject
The popular ferment in Virginia was gradually allayed by the amiable and conciliatory conduct of Lord Botetourt. His lordship soon became aware of the erroneous notions with
"THE worst is past, and the spirit of sedition the spring of 1769.* When the commodore broken," ," writes Hood to Grenville, early in wrote this, his ships were in the harbor, and troops occupied the town, and he flattered quelled. But it only waited its time to be sehimself that at length turbulent Boston was ditious according to rule; there was always an
irresistible "method in its madness."
In the month of May, the General Court, A committee immediately waited on the govhitherto prorogued, met according to charter. with dignity and freedom while the town was ernor, stating it was impossible to do business invested by sea and land, and a military guard was stationed at the state-house, with cannon pointed at the door; and they requested the have such forces removed out of the port and governor, as his majesty's representative, to gates of the city during the session of the Assembly.
ity over either the ships or troops. The court The governor replied, that he had no authorpersisted in refusing to transact business while so circumstanced, and the governor was obliged to transfer the session to Cambridge. There he addressed a message to that body in July, requiring funds for the payment of the troops, Assembly, after ample discussion of past grievand quarters for their accommodation. The ances, resolved, that the establishment of a standing army in the colony in a time of peace was an invasion of natural rights; that a standing army was not known as a part of the British constitution, and that the sending an armed force to aid the civil authority was unprecedented, and highly dangerous to the peo
After waiting some days without receiving an answer to his message, the governor sent
* Grenville Papers, vol. iii.
THE DUTY ON TEA-DEATH OF LORD BOTETOURT.
to know whether the Assembly would, or would not, make provision for the troops. In their reply, they followed the example of the Legislature of New York, in commenting on the mutiny, or billeting act, and ended by declining to furnish funds for the purposes specified, "being incompatible with their own honor and interest, and their duty to their constituents." They were in consequence again prorogued, to meet in Boston on the 10th of January.
So stood affairs in Massachusetts. In the mean time, the non-importation associations, being generally observed throughout the colonies, produced the effect on British commerce which Washington had anticipated, and Parliament was incessantly importuned by petitions from British merchants, imploring its intervention to save them from ruin.
or rather he knew the royal will was inflexible,
On the very day in which this ominous bill was passed in Parliament, a sinister occurrence took place in Boston. Some of the young men of the place insulted the military while under arms; the latter resented it; the young men, after a scuffie, were put to flight, and pursued. The alarm bells rang,-a mob assembled; the custom-house was threatened; the troops, in protecting it, were assailed with clubs and stones, and obliged to use their fire-arms before the tumult could be quelled. Four of the populace were killed and several wounded. The troops were now removed from the town, which remained in the highest state of exasperation; and this untoward occurrence received the opprobrious and somewhat extravagant name of "the Boston massacre."
The colonists, as a matter of convenience,
Early in 1770, an important change took place in the British cabinet. The Duke of Grafton suddenly resigned, and the reins of government passed into the hands of Lord North. He was a man of limited capacity, but a favorite of the king, and subservient to his narrow colonial policy. His administration, so eventful to America, commenced with an error. In the month of March, an act was passed, re-resumed the consumption of those articles on voking all the duties laid in 1767, excepting that on tea. This single tax was continued, as he observed, "to maintain the parliamentary right of taxation," the very right which was the grand object of contest. In this, however, he was in fact yielding, against his better judgment, to the stubborn tenacity of the king.
He endeavored to reconcile the opposition and perhaps himself, to the measure, by plausible reasoning. An impost of three pence on the pound could never, he alleged, be opposed by the colonists, unless they were determined to rebel against Great Britain. Besides, a duty on that article, payable in England, and amounting to nearly one shilling on the pound, was taken off on its exportation to America, so that the inhabitants of the colonies saved nine pence on the pound.
Here was the stumbling-block at the threshold of Lord North's administration. In vain the members of the opposition urged that this single exception, while it would produce no revenue, would keep alive the whole cause of contention; that so long as a single external duty was enforced, the colonies would consider their rights invaded, and would remain unappeased. Lord North was not to be convinced;
which the duties had been repealed; but continued, on principle, the rigorous disuse of tea, excepting such as had been smuggled in. New England was particularly earnest in the matter; many of the inhabitants, in the spirit of their Puritan progenitors, made a covenant to drink no more of the forbidden beverage until the duty on tea should be repealed.
In Virginia the public discontents, which had been allayed by the conciliatory conduct of Lord Botetourt, and by his assurances made on the strength of letters received from the ministry, that the grievances complained of would be speedily redressed, now broke out with more violence than ever. The Virginians spurned the mock-remedy which left the real cause of complaint untouched. His lordship also felt deeply wounded by the disingenuousness of ministers which had led him into such a predicament, and wrote home demanding his discharge. Before it arrived, an attack of bilious fever, acting upon a delicate and sensitive frame, enfeebled by anxiety and chagrin, laid him in his grave. He left behind him a name endeared to the Virginians by his amiable man
Holmes's Amer. Annals, vol. ii., p. 173.