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This procedure has been interpreted into a measure for the establishment of a union of the colonies. The statement is not sustained by the records.
Soothed by the permission to emit paper money, for without it the affairs of New York were at a stand, the assembly was asked to vote a supply to the troops. The conflict of opinion was high. Some in despite of the suspending act advocated an absolute refusal—others were for a middle course—to vote the supply without recognizing the obligation. The chief justice and several of the council, dependents of the crown, came into the House, and after much entreaty, by a majority of two votes, a small aid was granted without any preamble to the bill, or the least reference in terms to the mutiny or suspending acts. Yet this body had formally approved the resolutions of Virginia, and had voted thanks to the merchants for their adherence to the non-importation pact.
An appeal was now openly made from the assembly to the people. Two days after this vote,* an address, over the signature of “ A Son of Liberty to the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City of New York," appeared. stigmatized the grant to the troops as an admission of the authority that enacted the revenue laws. In this point of view, Massachusetts and South Carolina had condemned them. Was this a grateful return to the former for their sympathy as to the suspending act ? No. It is betraying the common cause of liberty. Can there be a greater farce to impose on the people than to vote thanks to the merchants for their non-importation agreement, and at the same time to “counteract it by countenancing British acts, and complying with ministerial requisitions incompatible with our freedom ?” What is more grievous, this grant
* December 17, 1769.
is “to support troops kept here, not to protect, but to enslave us. The assembly is flattered with the success of a bill to emit paper money when it is known only to be a snare, for it will not obtain the royal assent." The address then charged a political coalition, and advised a meeting in the fields, that they should go thence in a body to their representatives and insist upon their joining the minority. If they refuse, send the tidings to every assembly on the continent, and publish them to the world.
This bold rebuke was presented to the assembly by the speaker, and a resolution was passed declaring it “an infamous and seditious libel.” In a vote of a full house Philip Schuyler stood alone in the negative.* The next day, at his instance, EDMUND BURKE was appointed the agent of New York; and a motion made by him, that all elections of representatives in the assembly should be by ballot, was carried. This was but a momentary triumph. The ultra royalists rallied, and, though a public meeting | urged "the inestimable privilege,” the measure was finally defeated.
With a pliant majority in an assembly elected for seven years, the ministerial party felt secure of their ascendency, and boasted their strength.
The rabble, as the active patriots were called, were now openly derided; and the soldiery, justly regarding as a triumph the recent vote for their support, and galled by the recollection of their past humiliation, gave vent to their feelings. “The Liberty Pole shall down,” was the cry of the soldiers.
Under cover of night a party of them attempted to blow it up. A few citizens interfering, the soldiers, abandoning their purpose for the present, assailed them and were resisted. Attempts on the pole were repeated, and
+ The leaders were Sears, McDougall, Lamb.
* 20 to 1.
at last, though sentinels of the citizens had been stationed around it, succeeded.
A public meeting was immediately called by the Sons of Liberty, “Soldiers found at night with arms, or out of their baracks,” were denounced as "enemies to the people,” and a solemn engagement was formed to bring the first offender to justice.
The sailors now rushed from the wharves and from the ships. Successive affrays took place, until, after a fight on “Golden Hill," a tardy order from the mayor brought the troops to obedience. “The Liberty Pole shall STAND," was the cry of the triumphant people. To quiet them, a right of property in it with a plot of ground was bought, and, after being drawn in procession, decorated with flags and ribbons, a tall mast was raised amid cheers and shouts, cased with iron and surmounted by a vane, with the words inscribed in bold characters—“Liberty and Property.”
“The persons engaged in these riots,” Colden writes to the ministry, "consist chiefly of Dissenters, who are very numerous, especially in the country, and have a great influence on the country members of assembly. The most active among them are Independents from New England or educated there, and of republican principles.”
The excitement of the people was not permitted to subside. The recent vote of the assembly as to the alleged “libel” was believed to warrant an attempt to intimidate the press, and a proclamation was issued for the discovery of the author. Captain Alexander McDougall, to whom it was traced, was arrested, and refusing to give bail, was committed to prison. Upon his arrest he exclaimed, “I rejoice that I am the first to suffer for liberty since the commencement of our glorious struggles."
This native of the lone Hebrides, who, with the perse
verance of a Scot, had, as a sailor, made his way to fortune, nursing, in his life of perils on the ocean, the faith and education of his far home, was not to be dismayed. From “the new jail,” again and again he addressed the people through the press, sustaining his charges and vindicating his opposition. When oppression becomes personified it loses half its dangers. Public sympathy is then awakened, directed, concentrated. The imprisoned sailor was deemed the true type of an imprisoned commerce.
To soften the rigors of his confinement, to evince a detestation of its authors, and in his person to plead the public wrongs, became a duty of patriotism. On the anniversary of the repeal of the stamp act, his health was drank with honors, and the meeting, in procession, visited him in his prison. Ladies of distinction daily thronged there. Popular songs were written and sung under his prison bars, and emblematic swords were worn. Hiy name was upon every lip. The character of each individual conspicuous in the great controversy became a subject of comment, and the applause which followed the name of Schuyler, gave a new value to the popularity his firmness had acquired.
McDougall was one of the people, and at a time when aristocratic feelings were prevalent, the importance attached to an individual of obscure birth, elevated the commonalty above artificial distinctions, and commended to the aspiring spirits of the day the lesson of resistance.
The servile instruments of the government added new causes of dissatisfaction. After an imprisonment of three months a grand-jury was packed, composed of the dependents of the governor. De Lancey, the leader of the loyalists who had been denounced in the address, and De Noyelles, another member of the House who had moved his arrest, took their seats with the court, and
yielding to this influence, an indictment was found against him.
This persecution, the more odious because under the form of law, produced its natural effects. The intelligence of these occurrences the more quickened the pulse of Boston. The affrays with the soldiers here taught them what to fear, the courage of McDougall what to dare.
Ere the murmurs and applauses of its townsfolk at the events in New York had ceased, Boston became a scene of blood. The people would no longer brook the insults of the soldiers. Defiances were given. Sneers and taunts provoked to blows. The soldiers discharged their pieces among a crowd in a public street. Several townsmen were wounded, a few killed. The bells rang: The old Boston drums beat the alarm. “The troops must to their barracks," was the universal cry. A town meeting was called. In flocked their neighbors—Samuel Adams, a humble but educated man, now their fearless leader, confronted the royal governor. The departure of the troops was demanded, insisted upon, compelled. They retired from the town.
The “ Boston massacre,' the ear of every colonist far and near.
Though the question of British monarchy in America was now solved, no solution of it yet appeared. Addresses, petitions, remonstrances—all had failed; and the only effective, peaceful resistance was about to be relin quished.
The merchants of New York had to this hour remained true to their engagements, although their warehouses were empty and their harbor deserted. It would seem as though they had seen in the future the buoyant glories of this metropolis, and felt that theirs was a mis
* March 5, 1770.