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images borne on a bier, after passing down the main street, marched directly through the old state house and under the council-chamber itself, shouting at the top of their voices : “Liberty, property, and no stamps.” Giving three huzzas of defiance, they next, in Kilby Street, demolished the frame of a building which they thought Oliver destined for a stamp office, and with the wooden trophies made a funeral pyre for his effigy in front of his house on Fort Hill.
“ The stamp act shall not be executed here,” exclaimed one who spoke the general sentiment. “Death to the man who offers a piece of stamped paper to sell ! ” cried others. "All the power of Great Britain,” said a third, “ shall not oblige us to submit to the stamp act.” “We will die upon the place first,” declared even the sober-minded. “We have sixty thousand fighting-men in this colony alone,” wrote Mayhew. “And we will spend our last blood in the cause,” repeated his townsmen.
Hutchinson directed the colonel of the militia to beat an alarm. “My drummers,” said he, “ are in the mob.” With the sheriff, Hutchinson went up to disperse the crowd. 66 Stand by, my boys,” cried a ringleader; “let no man give way;" and Hutchinson, as he fled, was obliged to run the gauntlet, not escaping without one or two blows. At eleven, the multitude repaired to the Province House, where Bernard lived, and after three cheers they dispersed quietly.
“We have a dismal prospect before us,” said Hutchinson, the next morning, anticipating “ tragical events in some of the colonies.” “The people of Connecticut,” reported one whose name is not given, “have threatened to hang their distributor on the first tree after he enters the colony.” “If Oliver,” wrote Bernard, with rueful gravity, “had been found last night, he would certainly have been murthered.” “If he does not resign,” thought many, “there will be another riot to-night, and his house will be pulled down about his ears.” So the considerate self-seeker, seasonably in the day-time, “gave it under his own hand” that he would not serve as stamp officer; while Bernard, deserting his post as guardian of the public peace, hurried to
the castle, and did not cease trembling even within its walls. At night, a bonfire on Fort Hill celebrated the
people's victory. Several hundred men were like: wise gathered round the house of Hutchinson. “Let
us but hear from his own mouth,” said their leader, “ that he is not in favor of the stamp act, and we will be easy;" but Hutchinson evaded a reply.
The governor, just before his retreat, ordered a proclamation for the discovery and arrest of the rioters. “If discovery were made," wrote Hutchinson, “it would not be possible to commit them.” “ The prisons," said Mayhew, 6 would not hold them many hours. In this town, and within twenty miles of it, ten thousand men would soon be collected together on such an occasion.” And on the next Lord's Day but one, before a crowded audience, choosing as his text, “I would they were even cut off which trouble you; for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty," he preached fervidly in behalf of civil and religious freedom. “I hope,” said he, “no persons among ourselves have encouraged the bringing such a burden as the stamp act on the country.”
The distrust of the people fell more and more upon Hutchinson. “He is a prerogative man,” they cried. “He grasps at all the important offices in the state." "He himself holds four, and his relations six or seven more.” “He wiped out of the petition of Massachusetts every spirited expression." "He prevailed to get a friend of Grenville made agent for the colony." "He had a principal hand in projecting the stamp act.” “He advised Oliver against resigning." "He granted writs of assistance, which are no better than general warrants.” “He took depositions against the merchants as smugglers.”
Thus the rougher spirits wrought one another into a frenzy. At nightfall, on the twenty-sixth, a bonfire in front of the old state house collected a mixed crowd. They first burned all the records of the hated vice-admiralty court; next ravaged the house of the comptroller of the customs; and then, giving Hutchinson and his family barely time to escape, split open his doors with broad-axes, broke his
escape, so giving Hutes of the comed vice
furniture, scattered his plate and ready money, his books and manuscripts, and at daybreak left his house a ruin.
The coming morning, the citizens of Boston, in townmeeting, expressed their “detestation of these violent proceedings,” and pledged themselves to “suppress the like disorders for the future.” “I had rather lose 17 my hand,” said Mayhew, “than encourage such outrages ;” and Samuel Adams agreed with him. But they, and nearly all the townsmen, and the whole continent, applauded the proceedings of the fourteenth of August; and the elm, beneath which the people had on that day assembled, was solemnly named “the Tree of Liberty.”
The officers of the crown were terror-stricken. The attorney-general did not dare to sleep in his own house, nor two nights together in the same place; and for ten days could not be found. Several persons, who thought themselves obnoxious, left their houses and removed their goods. Hutchinson fled to the castle, wretched from constant agitation of mind. His despair dates from that moment. He saw that England had placed itself towards the colonies in the dilemma that, “if parliament should make concessions, their authority would be lost ; if they used external force, affection was alienated for ever.”
“ We are not bound to yield obedience,” voted the freemen of Providence, repeating the resolves of Virginia. The patriots of Rhode Island, remembering the renowned founders of the colonies, thanked God that their pleasant homes in the western world abounded in the means of “ defence.” “That little turbulent colony,” reported Gage, " raised their mob likewise.” And on the twenty-eighth day of August, after destroying the house and furniture of one Howard, who had written, and of one Moffat, who had spoken in favor of the power of parliament to tax America, they gathered round the house of their stamp officer, and, after a parley, compelled him to resign.
At New York, the lieutenant-governor expressed a wish to the general for aid from the army. “You shall have as many troops as you shall demand, and can find quarters for,” replied Gage; and he urged Colden to the exertion of
the civil power. “The public papers,” he continued, “ are
- pred the moon ascited to movoltas crammed with treason, and the people excited to revolt.” But, meantime, Macevers, the stamp officer of New York, resigned ; “ for,” said he, “if I attempt to receive the stamps, my house will be pillaged.” “Macevers is terrified,” said Colden to a friend; “but I shall not be intimidated ; and the stamps shall be delivered in proper time;" intending himself to appoint a stamp distributor.
On the third of September, Coxe, the stamp offiSept. cer for New Jersey, renounced his place.
On the previous night, a party of four or five hundred, at Annapolis, pulled down a house, which Zachariah Hood, the stamp-master for Maryland, was repairing, to be occupied, it was believed, for the sale of the stamps; and shaking with terror, yet not willing to part with the unpopular office, which had promised to be worth many hundreds a year, he fled from the colony to the fort of New York. The Maryland lawyers were of opinion that the stamp-tax must be declared invalid by the courts of Maryland, as a breach of chartered rights. One man published his card, refusing to pay taxes to which he had not consented. All resolved to burn the stamp paper, on its arrival in Annapolis; and the governor had no power to prevent it.
On the fifth, Bernard, at Boston, whose duty it was, after the resignation of Oliver, to take possession of the stamped papers that might arrive, set forth to a very full council that “ he had no warrant whatsoever to unpack a bale of them or to order any one else to do so; and it could not be conceived that he should be so imprudent as to undertake the business.”
On the ninth, a ship entered Boston, bringing news of the change of ministry, which created great joy and the sanguine expectation of the speedy repeal of the stamp act. George Meserve, the stamp distributor for New Hampshire, arriving in the same vessel, resigned his office before stepping on land ; and, on his return to Portsmouth, repeated his resignation on the parade, in the presence of a great multitude.
Assured of the protection of Fitch, the governor of Con
necticut, who at heart was a lukewarm royalist, Ingersoll sought to reason the people into forbearance. “The act," said he, “ makes it your interest to buy the stamps. When I undertook the office, I meant a service to you.” “Stop advertising your wares,” he was answered, “ till they arrive safe at market.” “ The two first letters of his name," said another, " are those of that traitor of old. It Sebe: was decreed our Saviour should suffer; but was it better for Judas Iscariot to betray him, so that the price of his blood might be saved by his friends ?” The multitude, surrounding his house, demanded if he would resign. “I know not,” he replied, “if I have power to resign ;” but he promised, if stamps came to him, to reship them, or leave his doors open to the people to do with them as they would.
New Haven, his own town, spoke out with authority in town-meeting. On Tuesday, the seventeenth, they elected as one of their representatives Roger Sherman, one of the great men of his time, a farmer's son, who had been educated at the common school, after the custom of New England, and, having begun life as a shoemaker, developed high capacity as a jurist and a statesman. They next, by public vote, “ earnestly desired Ingersoll to resign his stamp office immediately.” “I shall await,” said Ingersoll, “ to see how the general assembly is inclined.” But the cautious people were anxious to save their representatives from a direct conflict with the British parliament, lest it should provoke the forfeiture of their charter; and already several hundreds of them, particularly three divisions from Norwich, from New London, and from Windham and adjacent towns, had come out on horseback, with eight days' provisions, resolved to scour the colony through, till their stamp officer should be unearthed and reckoned with.
To save his house from the peril of an attack, Ingersoll rode out from New Haven, in company with the governor, intending to place himself under the protection of the legislature, which was to convene on Thursday, at Hartford.
On Thursday morning, Ingersoll set forward alone. Two or three miles below Wethersfield, he met an advanced party of four or five; half a mile further, another of thirty;