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afterwards in castle William. After a consi- Chap.h. derable length of time had elapsed, the governor 1768. moved the council to take into consideration July some measure for restoring vigour and firmness to government. To this application the council made a reply, in which they state, "that the disorders which happened were occasioned by the violent and unprecedented manner in which the sloop Liberty had been seized by the officers of the customs." And the inhabitants of Boston, in a justificatory memorial, supported by affidavits, say, "the principal occasion of the late tumults arose from the haughty conduct of the commissioners and other officers appointed by them. The Romney man of war, having moored before the town, intimidated the- coasting vessels bringing provisions, fire wood, &c. committed many acts of violence and outrage, and in particular, by cutting away a vessel from mr. Hancock's wharf, detaining her several days, w ithout any legal proceeding filed against her, &c. This irritated the people, who patrolled the streets in a tumultuous manner, broke several windows to the value of about five pounds sterling, burnt a pleasure boat belonging to the collector and then dispersed at about eleven o'clock at night." f
f Prior documents.
Chap, n. A petition, presented to the governor by the 1768. inhabitants assembled in a town meeting a few days after this event, praying the removal of the Romney, after representing the grievances of which the people complained, and the remonstrances which had been transmitted to parliament, and the petitions to the throne, proceeds to state that they had waited the effect of these applications with the greatest attention to the public peace, until they found themselves invaded with an armed force, seizing, impressing, and imprisoning the persons of their fellow subjects, contrary to express acts of parliament.
Menaces, they said, had been thrown out fit only for barbarians, which already affected them in a most serious manner, and threatened them with famine and desolation; as all navigation was obstructed, upon which alone their whole support depended, and the town was, at that crisis, in a situation nearly such as if war was formally declared against it.
Although the people thus justified, or rather excused this act of violence, the legislature did not think proper to afford it their countenance. A committee of both houses appointed to inquire into the state of the province, after reprobating in their report the circumstances attending the seizure, to which they attribute the mob which was collected, declare their utter abhorrence and detestation of a procedure which they pronounce to be very criminal; and desire the governor to direct the attorney general to pro- Chap. H. secute all persons concerned in the riot. They 1768. also requested that a proclamation might be issued, offering a reward to any person who should make discoveries by which the rioters or their abettors might be brought to condign punishment.
This report, however, seems to have been rather intended to save appearances, than to have produced any real effect corresponding with, the sentiment it expressed. It was perfectly understood that no person would dare to inform, or even to appear as a witness in any prosecution which might be instituted by the attorney general; and as if completely to prevent further proceedings, several persons, who had been active in producing the riots, were placed on the grand jury for the succeeding term. Suits were afterwards instituted against mr. Hancock and others, owners of the vessel and cargo; but, as it was thought unsafe to hazard the trial of them, they were never prosecuted to a final decision.8
This riot, which completely demonstrated the impracticability of executing, by ordinary means, the obnoxious laws which government seemed determined to enforce, though it might not occasion, certainly accelerated a measure,
cHAP.n. which tended, in no inconsiderable degree, to 1768. irritate still further the angry dispositions already so prevalent in Boston.
Representations had already been made by the governor to administration, stating the necessity of stationing a military force in the province for the protection of the officers employed in collecting the revenue, and of the magistrates in preserving the public peace ; and orders to detach at least one regiment, on that service, had already been given to general Gage, who was directed to select for the command of it, an officer, on whose prudence, resolution, and integrity he could entirely rely. The transactions respecting the seizure of the sloop Liberty rendered any attempt to produce a countermand of these orders entirely abortive, and probably was the cause that two regiments instead of one, were detached by general Gage.
.Before the arrival of this military force, the governor had used expressions intimating that it might be expected; in consequence of which a committee of the inhabitants was deputed in a town meeting to wait on his excellency, and
September, know on what the suspicions he had expressed were founded, and also to pray him to convene another general assembly.
The answer of the governor confirmed their fears respecting a military force, though he assured them that he had no official communication on the subject; and contained also the information, that no other assembly could be Chap. H. convoked, until his majesty's commands for 1768. that purpose should be received.
It seems to have been supposed that a dissolution of the assembly of Massachusetts would dissolve also the opposition to the measures of administration; and that the people, having no longer constitutional leaders, being no longer excited and conducted by their representatives, would gradually become quiet, and return to, what was termed, their duty to government. But the opinions expressed by the house of representatives were the opinions of the great body of the people, and had taken too deep root to be so readily suppressed. The most active and energetic part of society had embraced them with enthusiasm and the dissolution of the assembly only created a necessity for devising others, perhaps more efficient expedients; and hastened a mode of conducting their opposition, which was afterwards universally adopted.
The answer of the governor to their message being reported, the meeting immediately proceeded to resolve, "that to levy money within that province by any other authority than that of the general court, was a violation of the royal charter, and of the undoubted natural rights of British subjects.
That the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Boston would, at the peril of