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the hope was entertained, that the general CHAP. II. system on which the colonies relied for success 1769. in their opposition to the scheme of establishing the right in Britain to tax them, would still be adhered to.
These hopes were blasted by New York. That town, at first determined to import as usual, with the exception only of articles subject to the duty, provided the large commercial towns of Boston and Philadelphia would accede to the proposition.
These towns refused to depart from the nonimportation agreement, and strenuously urged their brethren of New York to persevere with them in the glorious struggle. On receiving this answer, it was communicated to the people; and their opinion, on the question of rescinding or adhering to the non-importation agreement, was taken in their respective wards, when a New York, decided majority was found in favour of im- part from porting generally, with the single exception of impermetten such articles as might be subject to duty. This determination was immediately communicated, and excited in New England and Philadelphia the most lively chagrin. Their remonstrances against it were, however, inef. The example fectual, and the agreement thus openly departed followe from in New York, was soon universally abandoned. The association was now confined to the single article of tea.
CHAP. II. In justification of themselves, it was alleged 1769. by the people of New York, that the towns of
New England had not fairly observed their engagements, and that the merchants of Albany had been in the practice of receiving goods from Quebec.
No sufficient evidence in support of these assertions was ever adduced. But it is certain that extreme difficulty attended a perseverance in the plan which had been adopted. Indepen. dent of the privations to which the associators were exposed; of the great loss encountered by the merchants, whose business was suspended; it was not easy to surmount the obstacles which opposed themselves to a continued union, in the same measure, of rival towns, jealous of the commercial prosperity of each other, and conscious that if the agreement should be evaded by others, ruin must be the fate of those
who should adhere to it. . 1770. About this time a circumstance occurred,
· which threatened, for the moment, effects the most extensively serious. The two regiments stationed in Boston to support, as was said, the execution of civil power, and preserve the peace of the town, could not fail to be viewed by the inhabitants with very prejudiced eyes. Frequent quarrels arose between them, and at length an affray took place in the night, near the gates of their barracks, which brought out captain Preston, the officer of the day, with a
part of the main guard between whom and CHAP. II. some young men blows ensued; on which they 1770. fired and 'four of the people were killed.
The alarm bells were immediately rung, the drums beat to arms, and an immense multitude assembled, who, inflamed to madness by the view of the dead bodies, were with some difficulty restrained from rushing on the twentyninth regiment, which was then drawn up under arms in king street, by the exertions of the lieutenant governor, who promised that the laws should be enforced on the perpetrators of the act, and by the efforts of several respectable and influential individuals. They were prevailed on to disperse, after the regiment had been marched to the barracks. Captain Preston, and the soldiers who had fired, were committed to prison for trial; and, on the next day, upwards of four thousand persons assembled at Faneuil hall, and addressed to the lieutenant governor, a message, stating it to be “the unanimous opinion of the meeting, that the inhabitants and soldiers can no longer live together in safety; that nothing can rationally be expected to restore the peace of the town, and prevent further blood and carnage, but the immediate removal of the troops; and they, therefore, most fervently prayed his honour, that his power and influence might be exerted for their instant removal."
CHAP. II. In answer to this message, the lieutenant 1770. governor expressed his extreme sorrow at the
melancholy event which had taken place, and declared that he had taken measures to have the affair inquired into, and justice done. That the military were not under his command but received their orders from the general at New York, which orders, it was not in his power to countermand. That, on the application of the council for the removal of the troops, colonel Dalrymple their commanding officer, had engaged that the twenty-ninth regiment, which had been concerned in the affair, should be marched to the castle, and there placed in barracks, until further orders could be received from the general; and that the main guard should be removed, and the fourteenth regiment so disposed of, and laid under such restraints, that all occasions of future disturbance should be removed. This answer was voted to be unsatisfactory, and a committee was immediately deputed to wait on the lieutenant governor and inform him, that nothing less could satisfy them than an immediate and total removal of the troops.
This vote was laid before the council, by mr. Hutchinson, who had succeeded Bernard in the government of the province. The council declared themselves unanimously of opinion “that it was absolutely necessary for his majesty's service, the good order of the town, and the peace of the province, that the troops CHAP. II. should be immediately removed out of the 1770. town of Boston.”
This opinion and advice were made known to colonel Dalrymple, who gave his honour, that measures should be immediately taken for their removal, and that no unnecessary delay should be practised. Highly gratified with this assurance, the meeting secured the tranquillity of the town, by appointing a strong military watch, and immediately dissolved.
This transaction was very differently related by the different parties concerned in it. Mr. Gordon, whose history was written when the resentments of the moment had subsided, and who appears to have carefully collected the facts of the case, states it in such a manner, as very nearly, if not entirely, to exculpate the military characters concerned in it. It 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 circumstances, that captain Preston, after a very long and Trial and public trial, was acquitted by a Boston jury; of and that of the eight soldiers who were prose
VOL. 11. .
acquittal of captain Preston.