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governor was appointed “ superintendent of marine,” and a revenue system was established. In May, seventeen hundred and eighty-four, New-Haven and New-London were declared by her to be free ports. All persons removing there for the purpose of commerce, were to become free citizens; and immunities were offered to foreign capitalists who should engage in trade. This act cautiously provided, that no countenance should be given by it to the slave trade, and that it should not contravene any regulations which congress might be invested with, for the purpose of regulating commerce. Having granted to that body the power of raising an impost, she in the mean time imposed specific duties on certain enumerated articles, and an advalorem duty of five per cent. on all other imports, not the growth, produce, or manufacture of the United States, whether imported by land or water from any of the states, with a remission to those imported by citizens of the state through another state for their own consumption These duties were subsequently increased as to specified articles, most of which were selected with a view to encourage domestic manufactures, for which purpose, she had enacted laws granting bounties.* Subsequent to thiş legislation for local objects, she passed an act“vesting congress with power to regulate the commerce of the United States."
While the other members of the confederacy had manifested so strongly their sense of the evils which the policy of England had inflicted upon them, it was to have been expected that Massachusetts, as the largest navigating state, would have been the earliest to feel, the loudest to reclaim against, the most zealous to oppose, the measures which paralyzed her industry. But that energetic state was yet under the influence of the party which had been signally hostile to Washington, and jealous of the general government.
* May, 1784.-A bounty of two pence per ounce on raw silk raised and spun within the state. In 1787, she exempted from taxation buildings appro. priated to the manufacture of woollen cloths, and the operatives from the poll tax, and gave a bounty on spun yarn. Iron works were also exempted from assessment, except slitting mills.
The actual leader of this party was Samuel Adams; the nominal head, John Hancock. This gentleman was the child of good fortune. It had conferred upon him an importance to which he had not been destined by nature.
Limited in his information, and narrow in his views, he was content with the influence he had acquired over the less instructed population, in which he was much aided by the exterior graces of manner which adorned this possessor of enormous wealth. Jealous of his superiors, his flatterers were his advisers ; hence his “great vanity, and excessive caprice.” He was elected the governor of Massachusetts in seventeen hundred and eighty, and continued in office until seventeen hundred and eighty-five, when he resigned his place, shrinking from the responsibilities of a trying crisis. During his administration the government lost its dignity, the laws their influence.
Soon after the peace, when financial order was most demanded, her delegates to Congress were instructed to use "unremitting endeavours" to abolish the office of superintendent of Finance, and to have an annual Treasury Board elected, which, it is seen, was done. A solemn warning was uttered against the dangers of the moneyed influence in the hands of a single person. The refugees were proscribed as aliens*—their property confiscated. A military peace establishment was declared unauthorized by and inconsistent with the Articles of the confederation
-dangerous and unnecessary. The Cincinnati were denounced,t and Knox and Heath concealed their eagles. * Samuel Adams was chairman of the committee.--Files of General Court.
By “Gerry's great zeal.”-His Life, i., 420. S. Adams to Gerry: "I The judiciary were directed to suspend judgment in actions by British creditors, and a suspension of the interest on debts due to them was continued by law. Members of Congress were declared ineligible to State offices, and even its secretary was required to be annually chosen. Thus an absurd and mischievous jealousy of the powers of that impotent body was sought to be widely circulated. When the voice of freedom is heard in such trills, it must be weak indeed.
But the term of this delusion was approaching its close. This fever of the imagination was abating. The people of Massachusetts, though fond of excitement, were too intelligent, longer to submit to the thraldom of the narrow opinions of narrow-minded partisans. Grave realities_strong necessities were pressing upon them. These must be met, and met by men equal to the coming crisis. The selfish and the speculative party of the Adamses was for a time cast aside, and a body of patriots—persons of large views, generous purpose, high courage-were charged with the public confidence.
New York having lost her vantage ground, by the inAuence of George Clinton, Massachusetts now stood, where from her exertions and her sacrifices, her numbers and her resources, Massachusetts had a right to stand, in the very foreground of national politics.
Hancock was succeeded by Bowdoin, the descendant of an affluent Huguenot who took refuge from religious persecution on the bleak, wild, weather-beaten shore of the province of Maine.
look upon it to be as rapid a stride towards a military nobility as ever was made in so short a time.” John Adams to Gerry : “My countrymen give reputations to individuals that are real tyrannies. No man dare resist or oppose them. No wonder, then, that such reputations introduce chivalry, &c. The cry of gratitude-gratitude is animal magnetism.”
Inheriting an ample fortune, he devoted his leisure to science, was an early and valued correspondent of Franklin, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.*
Chosen by his townsmen of Boston to the legislature, he took an active part in urging the plan of union proposed at Albany in seventeen hundred fifty-four. He next filled a seat in the Council, where he continued until seventy-four, leading the opposition of that body to the arbitrary proceedings of Governor Bernard; and thereafter was among the foremost in the revolutionary assemblies, until called to preside over the convention, which formed the constitution of the state in seventy-nine.
Thus mature in counsel, and fitted for executive functions, Bowdoin's long-cherished preference of an efficient union commended him to its highest office in the moment of greatest exigency, and well did he perform his arduous task; for his sense was strong, his decision manly, his views largely prospective.
In April, eighty-five, a town meeting was held at Boston under the auspices of Higginson, in whose measures, influenced by the mechanics of that place, Hancock concurred. At this meeting, a petition was preferred to Congress, to contravene the prohibitions of England; and a circular was addressed to other maritime places, which, after stating the heavy port charges and other duties levied by her, so prejudicial to the carrying-trade of the confederacy, proposed that Congress should be empowered to regulate commerce, in order “ to secure reciprocity ; and to form a national establishment,” to provide for the national debts, and to protect the trade.
Governor Bowdoin, in his first message,t took high ground. John Adams complained, from London, that England treated “the United States as a foreign nation."* Bowdoin admitted the undoubted right of foreign nations to regulate their trade, and asserted that “ the United States have the same right, and can and ought to regulate their trade, on the same principle.” He insisted on their duty to vest the power of regulation in Congress, but did not stop here. “It is of great importance," he proclaimed, " and the happiness of the United States depends upon it, that Congress should be vested with all the powers necessary to preserve the Union, to manage the general concerns of it, and promote its common interest.” With this intent, he proposed a convention whose agreement, when confirmed by the States, would comprehend these powers.
* Address before the Maine Historical Society, by the Hon. Robert J.. Winthrop.
† May 31, 1785.
This message produced its desired effect. The legislature passed a resolution, on the first of July, declaring that the powers of Congress were “not fully adequate to the great purposes they were originally designed to effect," and urging congress to recommend “a convention from all the States, to revise the confederation, and report to congress how far it may be necessary, in their opinion, to alter or enlarge the same, in order to secure and perpetuate the primary objects of the Union.” The governor was requested by the General court, to address a letter on this subject to congress, enclosing, for their approbation, a circular to each of the States.
A short time before, an act had been passed, intended to retaliate the British restrictions; and, the next day, a law was enacted, levying discriminating duties, “ to encourage agriculture, and to promote manufactures,” and imposing an excise duty, and taxes upon luxuries.
The immediate motive to this protective legislation was the recent enactment of Connecticut. Bowdoin ad
* Life of Gerry, i., 483.