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About this time a discovery was made, which Chap. in. very greatly increased the ill temper already so 1773. prevalent throughout New England. Doctor JTM^^ Franklin, the agent for several of the colonies, S^^tk and among others for Massachussetts, by some smrion u unknown means, obtained possession of the tor rnausn. letters which had been addressed 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 obviously designed, • and well calculated to induce a perseverance on the part of 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.
Inflamed by these letters, the assembly unanimously resolved "that their tendency and
and acta of the general assembly, and his excellency's receiving the same, is an infraction upon the rights of the inhabitants granted by the royal charter."
Girdm, vo1. I. p. 3t0.
nor and 1ieutena governor.
Chap. in. design was to overthrow the constitution of the 1774. government, and to introduce arbitrary power p?tit?o^or1y Jnto the province." At the same time, a petition clover, to the king was voted, praying him to remove lieutenant governor Hutchinson, and lieutenant governor
rnvfmnr. ° .
Oliver, forever, 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 seditious purposes of keeping up a spirit of clamour and discontent in the provinces. This report, his majesty was pleased to approve. Hntchinson Governor Hutchinson, however, was soon
is succeeded . J
>>y Gag* afterwards removed, and general Gage appointeu to succeed him.
The fears entertained by Massachusetts, that the spirit of, opposition which had been roused in the colonies might gradually subside were not permitted to be of long continuance. 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 three pence per pound, and offered, in lieu of it, ° pay double that sum on exportation. This iair opportunity for accommodation was rejected, ChAP- "i. and either as a mere indulgence to the com- 1774. pany, or with the intent to give operation to their revenue system in America, drawbacks J^J^^ were allowed on tea exported to the colonies,"Sf£" and the duty on that article exported by the ST""* 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 eolonies 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, tq 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
vOi. ii, x
Chap.iil on the liberties of the people of America, which 1774. it was the duty of all to oppose. A violent SSSL ferment was every where excited; the corresAn,erica' ponding 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 cellars, where it long remained and was finally spoiled.
At Boston, the people in a meeting adopted the spirited resolutions which had before been entered into in 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 accla- Chap. m. mations "that the tea shall not be landed, that 1774. 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 about to be adopted, and a wish that those consequences should be seriously contemplated, a leading member* thus addressed the meeting.
* 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 tons of liberty, who had expressed some apprehensions lest they should push the matter too far, and involve the town and colony in a quarrel witti Great Britain, others answered; "It must come to a quarrel between Great Britain and the colony sooner or later, and if so, what 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 administration. 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 best families and so weaken the opposition? By such like means, and by multiplying posts and places, and giving them to their own friends, or applying 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 eligible 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 faithful."