Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

BOSTON TEA PARTY."

153

of many people in England as well as of the colonists. Parliament, however, put a sting in its repeal, for it passed a Declaratory Act, maintaining that the British government had the right to bind the colonies “in all cases whatsoever.” At the time, the joy of the Americans over their victory prevented their noticing the full force of this declaration.

They understood its meaning better when the king ordered General Gage, the British commander at New York, to send two regiments to Boston (1768). These troops were quartered in the very centre of the town, and they had frequent quarrels with the citizens. Finally (1770) a fight occurred in which the soldiers fired, in self-defence, and killed several of the people. This was called the “ Boston Massacre"; and the citizens never forgot or forgave the blood stains then made on the snow of King Street. Two years later that feeling showed itself in the destruction by the Rhode Islanders of the Gaspee, an armed British schooner stationed off the coast to prevent smuggling.

2. To

159. The New Taxes; the “ Boston Tea Party.". Meanwhile (1767) the king and his party tried a new scheme of taxation. They imposed a duty on glass, paper, paints, and tea. The object of the Stamp Act had been to raise money to pay the king's soldiers in this country. This new tax had not one object, but three: 1. To pay the soldiers sent here to do the king's will.

pay

the governors, judges, and other officers of the crown in the colonies, thus making them wholly dependent on the king and not on the people, as they had been before. 3. To give large sums of money to leading citizens and thus hire them to use their influence for the king.

But the Americans were not to be caught in this trap. They saw that George III. was endeavoring to exalt his own power and deprive them of theirs, and that the tax was for that purpose. The result was that the merchants agreed not to import any of the taxed articles. Others, like Samuel Adams, went further, and bound themselves “to eat nothing, drink nothing, wear nothing” imported from England until all the duties on goods

1 King Street, now State Street. The soldiers were tried for murder; James Otis and Josiah Quincy of Boston defended them. All but two were acquitted. They were convicted of manslaughter, and branded in the hand in open court.

should be taken off.

Parliament then decided to take off all taxes

on these goods except one of a few cents a pound on tea.

This duty was retained, not for the money it would yield, but to maintain the right of the British government to tax the colonies. The price of the tea was purposely put so low that the Americans could actually buy it, tax and all,

cheaper than they Samuel Adams, the "Father of the Revolution."

could smuggle it (From Miss Whitney's Statue of Adams, in Adams Square, Boston.)

from Holland." But though the colonists wanted the tea, they declared that they would not take it, even as a gift, if any tax, even the smallest, was demanded. Parliament again made the mistake of supposing that our forefathers did not mean what they said. Three tea-ships were accordingly sent to Boston, and cargoes were likewise despatched to other American ports. When the vessels came into Boston Harbor (1773) the citizens refused to permit the tea to be landed. But if the ships were not unloaded within twenty

[graphic]

1 Up to this time the colonists smuggled most of their tea from Holland; only about one pound in ten came from England.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

THE PORT OF BOSTON CLOSED.

155

days the custom-house officers had the right to unload them. The nineteenth day came, and unless something decisive was done the tea would be brought ashore at sunrise the next morning. An immense meeting was held in the Old South Church. After discussing the matter all day, until evening set in, it was at length found to be impossible to get the vessels sent back to England. Samuel Adams then rose and said, “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country.” These words were the signal for action. Suddenly a company of citizens disguised as Indians appeared at the church door and gave a war-whoop. Then they rushed down to the wharf, and, going on board the vessels, emptied every chest of tea — about $100,000 worth — into the harbor. Thus they settled the question that, in case of necessity, tea could be made to mix, and mix well, with salt water.

160. Parliament closes the Port of Boston and places a Military Governor over the People; the First Continental Congress; Action of Massachusetts; the “ Minute Men.'

When Parliament heard of the destruction of the tea the wrath of the king's party rose to white heat. They passed a law (1774) which closed the port of Boston to all trade until the people paid for the tea, and made humble submission to the king. A second law took the government entirely out of the hands of the people, and put the colony under the rule of General Gage, who was sent from England to Boston with several regiments of soldiers.?

1 General Gage (see page 153) was one of those who took part in Braddock's disastrous expedition. (See Paragraph 141.) He was in England in 1773.

2 Parliament enacted two other laws, known as the Transportation and the Quebec Acts. The first gave British officers who were accused of committing murder - as in the case of the “ Boston Massacre the right of trial in England, where, of course, everything would be in their favor. (By a law of a different date, Americans who committed murder, in resisting oppression, might be sent to England for trial, where, of course, everything would be against them.) The Quebec Act united the territory north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi - which the colonists considered theirs — with Canada. The object was to conciliate the French Canadians, and, if need be, to get their help in punishing the colonists. The Americans called these the “ Intolerable Acts."

« EelmineJätka »