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those of superior stations, entered into regular combinations against it.
Circular letters were sent from Massachusetts colony to all the others, setting forth the injustice and impropriety of the behaviour of the British legislature. Meetings were held in all the principal towns. It was proposed to lessen the consumption of all foreign manufactures, by giving proper encouragement to their own. Continual disputes ensued betwixt the governors and general assemblies, which were aggravated by a letter from lord Shelburne, to governor Barnard of Massachusetts Bay, containing complaints of the people he governed. The assembly, exasperated to the highest degree, charged their governor with having misrepresented them at the court of Britain; required him to produce copies of the letters he had sent; and on his refusal, wrote letters to the English ministry, accusing him of misrepresentation and partiality, complaining at the same time most grievously of the proceedings of parliament, as utterly subversive of the liberties of America, and the rights of British subjects. The governor, at a loss how to defend himself, prorogued the assembly, and in his speech on the occasion, gave a loose to his resentment, accusing the members of ambitious designs, incompatible with those of dutiful and loyal subjects. To counteract the circular letter of the province of Massachusett's Bay, lord Hillsborough, secretary for the American department, sent another to the governors of the different colonies, reprobating that sent by the assembly of Massachusetts Bay, as full of misrepresentation, and tending to excite a rebellion against the parent state.
Matters were now drawing to a crisis. The governor had been ordered to proceed with vigour, and by no means show any disposition to yield to the people as formerly. In particular they were required to rescind that resolution by which they had written the circular letter above mentioned; and in case of a refusal, it was told them that they would be dissolved. As this letter had been framed by the resolutions of a former house, they desired after a week's consultation, that a recess might be granted to consult with their constituents; but this being refused, they came to a determination 92 against 17, to adhere to the resolution which produced the circular letter.
At the same time a letter was sent to lord Hillsborough, and a message to the governor, in justification of their proceedings. In both, they expressed themselves with such freedom, as was by no means calculated to accord with the views of those in power. They insisted they had a right to communicate their sentiments to their fellow subjects, upon matters of importance, complained of the requisition to rescind the circular letter, as unconstitutional and unjust: and particularly insisted, that they were represented as harbouring seditious designs, when they were doing nothing but what was lawful and right. At the same time they condemned the late acts of Parliament as highly oppressive, and subversive of liberty. The whole was concluded by a list of accusations against their governor, representing him as unfit to continue in his station, and petitioning the king for his removal from it. · These proceedings were followed by a violent tumult at Boston. A vessel belonging to a capital trader, had been seized in consequence of his having neglected some of the new regulations, and being taken under the protection of a man of war, at that time lying in the harbour;, the populace attacked the houses of the Excise officers, broke their windows, destroyed the collector's boats, and obliged the custom-house officers, to take refuge in Castle William, on an island situated at the entrance of the harbour. The governor now took the last step in his power to put a stop to the violent proceedings of the assembly, by dissolving it entirely ; but this was of little moment. Their behaviour had been highly approved of by the other colonies, who had written letters to them, expressive of their approbation,
After the dissolution of the assembly, frequent meetings were held by the people in Boston, which ended in. a. remonstrance to the governor, to the same purpose as some of the former; but concluding with a request, that he would take upon him to order the king's ships out of the harbour. While the disposition of the Bustonians was thus going on from bad to worse, news arrived that the agent of the colony, had not been allowed to deliver their petition to the king; it having been objected, that the assembly without the governor, was not sufficient authority. This did not allay the ferment; it was further augmented,
by the news that a number of troops had been ordered to repair to Boston, to keep the inhabitants in awe. A dreadful alarm now ensued; the people called on the governor to convene a general assembly, in order to remove the fears of the military; who they said were to be assembled to overthrow their liberties, and force obedience to laws to which they were entirely averse. The governor replied, it was no longer in his power to call an assembly, having in his last instructions from England, been required to wait the king's orders ; the matter being then under consideration there.
Thus refused, the people took upon themselves to call an assembly, which they termed a Convention. The proceedings and resolutions of this body, partook of the temper and disposition of the late assembly, but they went a step farther; and having voted." That there is apprehension in the minds of many, of an approaching rupture with France,” requested the inhabitants to put themselves in a posture of defence, against any sudden attack of an enemy; and circular letters were directed to all the towns in the province, acquainting them with the resolutions, that had been taken in the capital, and exhorting them to proceed in the same manner. The town of Hatfield alone refused its concurrence. The convention thought proper however, to assure the governor of their pacific intentions, and renewed their request that a general assembly might be called; but being refused an audience, and threatened to be treated as rebels, they at last thought proper to dis. solve themselves, and sent over to Britain a circumstantial account of their proceedings, with the reason for having assembled in the manner already mentioned.
On the very day the convention brøke up, the troops arrived, and houses in the towo were fitted up for their reception. Their arrival had a considerable influence on the people, and for some time put a stop to the disturbances; but the seeds of discord had taken such deep root, that it was impossible to quench the fame. The outrageous behaviour of the people of Boston, had given great offence in England : and, not withstanding all the efforts of opposition, an address from both houses of Parliament was presented to the king; in which the behaviour of the colony of Massachusetts Bay was set forth
in the most ample manner, and vigorous measures recommended for reducing them to obedience. The Americans however, continued stedfast in the ideas they had adopted. · Though the troops had for some time quieted the disturbances, yet the calm continued no longer than they were formidable on account of their number, but as soon as they were separated by the departure of a large detachment, the remainder were treated with contempt, and it was even resolved to expel them altogether. The country people took up arms for this purpose, and were to have assisted their friends in Boston; but before the plot could be put in execution, an event happened which put an end to every idea of reconciliation betwixt the contending parties.
On the 5th of March 1770, a scufle happened between the soldiers, and a party of the town's people ; the inha. bitants poured in to the assistance of their fellow.citizens; a violent tumult ensued, during which the military fired upon the populace, killed and wounded several of them.
The whole province now rose ip arms, and the soldiers were obliged to retire to castle William to prevent their being cut to pieces. Let it be remembered, however, that on the trial, notwithstanding popular prejudice and apprehension, the captain and six of the men were acquitted : two men only being found guilty of man-slaughter.
In other respects, the determinations of the Americans gained strength ; until at last, government determining to act with vigour, and, at the same time, with as much condescension as was consistent with its dignity, without abandoning their principles, repealed all the duties laid; that on tea alone excepted: and this, it was thought could not be productive of any discontent in America, as being an affair of very little moment ; the produce of which was not expected to exceed sixteen thousand pounds sterling.
The opposition, however, were strenuous in their endea. yours to get this tax repealed; insisting, that the Americans would consider it as an inlet to others; and, that the repeal of all the rest, without this, would answer no good purpose: the event shewed that their opinion was well founded. The Americans opposed the tea tax with the same violence, as they had done all the rest; and at last, when they were informed, that salaries bad been settled on
the judge of the superior court of Boston, the governor was addressed on the subject : the measure was condemned in the strongest terms; and a committee selected out of the several districts of the colony to enquire into it.
The new assembly proceeded in the most formal manner to disavow the supremacy of the British legislature ; and accused the parliament of Great Britain of having violated the natural rights of the Americans, in a number of instances. Copies of the transactions of this assembly, were transmitted to every town in Massachusetts, exhort. ing the inhabitants to rouse themselves, and exert every nerve in opposition to the iron hand of oppression, which was daily tearing the choicest fruits from the fair tree of liberty.
These disturbances were also greatly heightened by an accidental discovery, that governor Hutchinson had written several confidential letters to persons in power in England, complaining of the behaviour of the people of the province, recommending vigorous measures against them; and among other things, asserting, that, there must be an abridgment of what is called British liberty.” Letters of this kind, had fallen into the hands of the agent for the colony at London. They were immediately transmitted to Boston, where the assembly was sitting, by whom they were laid before the governor, who was thus reduced to a very mortifying situation.
Losing every idea of respect or friendship for him, as their governor, they instantly dispatched a petition to the king, requesting him to remove the governor, and deputygovernor from their places : but to this they not only received an unfavourable answer, but the petition itself was declared groundless and scandalous..
Matters were now nearly ripe for the utmost extremities on the part of the Americans; and they were precipitated in the following manner. Though the colonies had entered into a non-importation agreement against tea, as well as all other commodities from Britain, it had nevertheless found its way into America, though in smaller quantities than before. This was sensibly felt by the East India company, who had now agreed to pay a large sum annually to government; in recompense for which compliance, and to make up their losses in other respects, they