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would appear that an attack upon the soldiers, probably in the belief that only the loss of lives could occasion their removal from the town, had been premeditated ; and that, after being long insulted with the grossest language, they were repeatedly assaulted by the mob with balls of ice and snow, and with sticks, before they were induced to fire. This representation receives strong support from the circumstance that Captain Preston, after a very long and public trial, was acquitted by a Boston jury; and that of the eight soldiers who were prosecuted, six were acquitted, and the remaining two found guilty, not of murder, but of manslaughter only. Mr. Quincy and Mr. John Adams, two very eminent lawyers, and distinguished leaders of the patriotic party, consented to defend Captain Preston and the soldiers, and, by doing so, sustained no diminution of their influence. Yet this event was very differently understood through the colonies. It was generally believed to be a massacre equally barbarous and unprovoked, and increased in no inconsiderable degree the detestation in which the soldiers stationed among the people were every where held. : In the middle and southern colonies, the irritation against the mother country appears to have subsided in a considerable degree ; and no disposition was manifested to extend their opposition further than to defeat the collection of the revenue, by entirely
preyenting preventing the importation of tea. Their attention was a good deal taken up by an insurrection in North Carolina, where a number of ignorant people, supposing themselves to be aggrieved by the fee bill, rose in arms for the purpose of shutiing up the courts of justice, destroying all officers of government and all lawyers, and of overturning the government itself. Governor Tryon marched against them; and having, in a decisive battle, totally defeated them, the insurrection was quelled, and order restored.
In Massachussetts, where very high notions of American rights had long prevailed, and where the doctrine, that the British parliament had no right to legislate for the Americans, was already maintained as a corollary from the proposition that the British parliament could not tax them; a gloomy discontent with the existing state of things was every where manifested. That the spirit of opposition lately excited, seemed expiring, without having established on a secure and solid basis the rights they claimed, produced, in the bosoms of that inflexible people, apprehensions of a much more serious nature than would have been created by any conflicts with which they could be threatened. This temper displayed itself in all their proceedings. The legislature had been removed from Boston, its usual place of sitting, to Cambridge, where the governor still continued to convene them. They remonstrated against this as an intolerable grievance, and for two sessions refused to do business. In one of these remonstrances they insisted on the right of the people to appeal to Heaven in disputes between them and persons in power, when those in power shall abuse it.
When assembled in September, the general court was informed by the governor, that his Majesty had ordered the provincial garrison in the castle to be withdrawn, and regular troops to succeed them. This they declared to be so essential an alteration of their constitution, as justly to alarm a free people.
From the commencement of the contest, Massachussetts appears to have deeply felt the importance of uniting all the colonies in one system of measures; and in pursuance of this favourite idea, a committee of correspondence was at this session elected to communicate with such committees as might be appointed by other colonies. Similar committees were soon afterwards chosen by the different towns*
* An account of the origin of these committees, and of their mode of proceeding, is thus given by Mr. Gordon, and is not unworthy of attention : “Governor Hutchinson and his adherents having been used to represent the party in opposition, as only an uneasy factious few in Boston, while the body of the people were quite contented; Mr. Samuel Adams was thereby induced to visit Mr. James Warren of Plymouth. After conversing upon the subject, the latter proposed to originate and establish committees of
throughout the province, for the purpose responding with each other, and of expressing, in
correspondence in the several towns of the colony, in order to learn the strength of the friends to the rights of the continent, and to unite and increase their force. Mr. Samuel Adams returned to Boston, pleased with the proposal, and communicated the same to his confidants. Some doubted whether the measure would prosper, and dreaded a disappointment, which might injure the cause of liberty; but it was concluded to proceed. The prime managers were about six in number, each of whom, when separate, headed a division; the several individuals of which collected and led distinct subdivisions. In this manner the political engine has been constructed. The different parts are not equally good and operative. Like other bodies, its composition includes numbers who act mechanically, as they are pressed this way or that way by those who judge for them; and divers of the wicked, fitted for evil practices, when the adoption of them is thought necessary to particular purposes, and a part of whose creed it is, that in political matters the public good is above every other consideration; and that all rules of morality, when in competition with it, may be safely dispensed with. When any important transaction is to be brought forward, it is thoroughly considered by the prime managers. If they approve, cach communicates it to his own division : from thence, if adopted, it passes to the several subdivisions, which form a general meeting in order to canvass the business. The prime managers, being known only by few to be the promoters of it, are desired to be present at the debate, that they may give their opinion when it closes. If they observe that the collected body is in general strongly against the measure they wish to have carried, they declare it to be improper : is it opposed by great numbers, but not warmly, they advise a reconsideration at another meeting, N 4
some degree, officially, the sentiments of the people, Their reciprocal communications were well calculat
and prepare for its being then adopted: if the opposition is not considerable either in number or weight of persons, they give their reasons, and then recommend the adoption of the measure. The principal actors are determined on securing the liberties of their country, or perish in the attempt.
“ The news of his Majesty's granting salaries to the justices of the superior court afforded them a fair opportunity for executing the plan of establishing committees of correspondence through the colony. The most spirited pieces were published, and an alarm spread, that the granting such salaries tended rapidly to complete the system of their slavery,
“ A town meeting was called, and a committee of correspondence appointed to write circular letters to all the towns in the province, and to induce them to unite in measures. The committee made a report, containing several resolutions contradictory to the supremacy of the British legislature. After setting forth, that all men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please, they proceed to a report upon the natural rights of the colonists, as men, Christians, and subjects; and then form a list of infringements and violations of their rights. They enumerate and dwell upon the British parliament's having assumed the power of legislation for the colonies in all cases whatsoever—the appointment of a number of new officers to superintend the revenues the granting of salaries out of the American revenue, to the governor, the judges of the superior court, the king's attorney and solicitor general. The report was accepted, copies printed, and six hundred circulated through the towns and districts of the province, with a pathetic letter addressed to the inhabitants; who were called