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New counsellors and judges.
CHAP. III. this report, the inhabitants of the adjacent 1774. county of Worcester assembled in arms, and
dispatched two messengers to inquire into the fact, with assurances of immediate assistance, should it be true.
With the laws relative to the province, governor Gage received a list of thirty-two new counsellors, of whom twenty-four, a suffi. cient number to carry on the business of the government, accepted the office, and entered on its duties.
All those, who accepted offices under the new system, were denounced as enemies to their country. The new judges were every where prevented from proceeding in the ad. ministration of justice. When the court. houses were opened, the people crowded into them in such numbers, that the judges could not obtain admittance, and on being ordered by the officers to make way for the court, they answered that they knew no court independent of the ancient laws and usages of their country and to none other would they submit. The houses of such of the new counsellors, as were in the country, were surrounded by great bodies of the people, whose threatening countenances and expressions announced to them, that they must resign their offices, or be subjected to the fury of an enraged populace. The former part of the alternative was generally embraced.
Obliged to resign.
In the present irritable state of the public CHAP. III. mind, and critical situation of public affairs, it 1774. was almost unavoidable, that every day should furnish new matter of discontent and jealousy. General Gage deemed it necessary, for the security of the troops, to fortify Boston neck; Boston neck and, in consequence of this circumstance, it yas seriously contemplated entirely to evacuate the town, and remove the people into the country. Congress was consulted on this proposition, and having taken it into consideration, were deterred by the difficulties attending the meastire, from recommending it. They, how. ever, referred it to the provincial congress, and declared the opinion, that, if it should be deemed necessary, the expense of the removal ought to be borne by all the colonies..
This circumstance was soon succeeded by another, which excited still greater alarm. The time for the general muster of the militia approached ; and the governor, either feeling, or affecting to feel, apprehensions from their violence, seized upon the ammunition and Military stores, which were lodged in the provincial selzed by arsenal at Cambridge, and had them transported to Boston. He also seized on the powder in the magazines at Charlestown and some other places, which was partly private and partly provincial property.
The ferment excited by this measure may readily be conceived. The people assembled
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CHAP. III. in great numbers, and were, with difficulty dis1774. suaded by some considerate and influential
characters, from marching immediately to Boston, and demanding a re-delivery of the stores. Not long afterwards, the fort at Portsmouth in New Hampshire was attacked by an armed body of provincials, and carried by storm; and the powder it contained transported in boats to a place of safety. A similar measure was adopted in Rhode Island. These acts of violence are probably attributable, in some degree, to the example set by general Gage, and partly, to the royal proclamation prohibiting the exportation of arms and ammunition to the colonies.
About the same time, a report reached Connecticut, that the ships and troops had attacked the town of Boston, and were actually firing on it. Several thousand men immediately assembled in arms, and marched with great expedition a considerable distance, before they were undeceived respecting the truth of the report.
It was in the midst of these ferments, and while these indications that the commencement of hostilities was daily looked for were multi. plying on every side; that the people of Suffolk, the county in which Boston 'stands, assembled in convention and passed the several resolves already mentioned, which in boldness exceed any that had been heretofore adopted.
Governor Gage had, before the general fer. ment had arisen to its present alarming height,
for defence in Massachussetts.
issued writs for the election of members to a CHAP. III. general assembly, to meet in the beginning of 1774. October. He had afterwards by proclamation, countermanded these writs; but his proclamation was unattended to. The elections were held without regarding the authority of the governor, and the delegates thus elected, assembled and voted themselves a provincial congress. The affairs of the colony were conducted by them, as if they had been regularly and legitimately invested with all the powers of government; and their recommendations were regarded as the most sacred laws.
They drew up a plan for the defence of the Preparations province; provided magazines, ammunition, and stores, for twelve thousand militia, and enrolled a number of minute men, so called from their engaging to appear in arms at a minute's warning.
On the approach of winter, the general had ordered temporary barracks to be erected for the troops, partly for their security, and partly to prevent the disorders which, in the present temper of parties, would unavoidably have resulted from quartering them in the town. Such, however, was the detestation in which they were held, and the dislike to see them provided for in any manner, that the select men and committees obliged the workmen to quit the employment, although they were paid for their 'labour by the crown, and although
CHAP. II. employment was at that time with difficulty 1774. obtained. He was not much more successful
in his endeavours to engage carpenters in New York, and it was with considerable difficulty that these temporary lodgments were erected.
The agency for purchasing winter covering for the troops was offered to almost every mer. chant in New York, but such was the danger of engaging in so obnoxious an employment, that not only those who were sincerely attached to the resistance now made by America to the views of administration, but those also, who were in secret friendly to those views, refused undertaking it, and declared “ that they never would supply any article for the benefit of men
who were sent as enemies to their country.” November. In Great Britain, a new parliament was
assembled, and the king in his opening speech informed them, “ that a most daring spirit of resistance and disobedience still prevailed in Massachusserts, and had broken forth in fresh violences of a very criminal nature; that the most proper and effectual measures had been taken to prevent these mischiefs; and that they might depend upon a firm resolution to withstand every attempt to weaken or impair the supreme authority of this legislature over all
dominions of the crown.” Proceedings The addresses proposed re-echoed the senti.
ments of the speech, and amendments offered were rejected in both houses by very great
King's speech in parliament.
of that body,