Paying the Excise Man
With the repeal of the all but one of the Townshend duties and the new
government of Lord
North eager to avoid more trouble with the colonies, colonial
moderates and royal officials hope to discredit the radical opposition. By
the end of 1773 there had been a peaceful interlude of about three years.
But in December of that year the so-called Boston Tea Party and London's
reaction in the early months of 1774 shattered the quiet and gave the
revolutionary movement its final crisis which would end in bloodshed in
the spring of 1775. The quick breakdown
of royal authority in all the
colonies between Spring, 1774 and 1776 was the most significant feature of
this third crisis. It shows the limits of a government’s options without
effective political control.
Quiet Before the Storm
|After the second crisis subsided with the repeal of
the Townshend duties (except on Tea), radical activity disappeared in every
|Even Massachusetts was relatively quiet.
Governor. in Oct. 1770 set out to wreck the popular party by using
the kinds of tactics Adams and his faction had developed
in the first two crises.
used loyal press to
attack S Adams. |
built a personal following by taking
advantage of divisions among merchants over the
radicals' policies, especially the boycott|
|House of Representatives
(lower house of the Assembly) again supported
the governor as it had done in the years before the Stamp Act.
Samuel Adams had only the town meeting as vehicle
for keeping the revolutionary movement alive. Even his opportunistic
alley, John Hancock, deserted him.
|Radicals bided their
time and built a “revolutionary substructure.” In 1772 Adams got
the Boston Town
Meeting to set up a committee of correspondence to keep
alive the cause of colonial rights.
Other Massachusetts town meetings did the same thing.
|Tea tax was their
so was the issue of the Civil List and the source for paying the salaries of
royal officials. Although he had no proof, S. Adams suspected London
was ready to pay Hutchinson and Oliver out of
the King's funds.
delay in approving salary appropriations prompted the House to inquire. In
June 1772 Hutchinson admitted the Civil List payments from tariff revenues
and announced superior court justices would also be paid from those
revenues. The House then refused to pay the governor anything out of
the fall, 1772 the town
meeting voted to correspond with other towns on the tea tax.|
TWO INCIDENTS BOOST THE
|B. Franklin sends the letters to the Massachusetts
Assembly leaders and rumors begin to spead|
1773, S. Adams read the letters in the House in closed session.
Thereafter, carefully edited versions were published in
Franklin was brought before the Privy Council and received a harsh rebuke.|
Affair.Rhode Island. Spring, 1772 the Gaspee patrolled the coastal waters looking
for smugglers. The captain was high-handed – stopped ships and confiscated
cargoes without warrants, commandeered supplies on shore. June 9, 1772 the
ship ran aground. That night 150 people from Providence boarded it, chased its
crew ashore and burned it.
Burning of the Gaspee.|
ruled it was high treason. But then he resigned in Aug, 1772 and
was replaced by
Lord Dartmouth who appointed a commission that
found no evidence for prosecution since no Providence citizens would testify. But the
colonial newspapers picked up the story and likened the investigation to Star Chamber.|
|Commission met in
Province in early 1773; RI radicals sent appeals of support to other
The radical faction in the Virginia
House of Burgesses proposed
a legislative committee
of correspondence. The Burgesses passed it unanimously.
THe radicals met at
Raleigh Tavern and set up a provincial-wide Standing Committee of
Correspondence in Spring, 1773 composed of:
|By end of
all but three colonial assemblies had passed similar committees.
TEA PARTY AND
THE FINAL CRISIS
The Coercive Acts
were passed by large majorities.
Clearly in England there was strong support for punishing the continued
colonial resistance. The exception in Parliament was the Rockingham faction
(including Edmund Burke) and Chatham” [Pitt] followers.
|Boston Port Act
closes the port|
Justice Act provides for royal
officials accused of crimes to be tried in England.|
The Massachusetts Bay Regulating Act 20 May 1774.
|the elected Assembly was to be replaced by a Mandamus
council nominated by the Governor (General Gage), to sit at
Marblehead (Mandamus means "we command"). |
|the Governor was given the power to appoint/dismiss all law
|there were to be no Town Meetings without royal assent
|there was to be no election of juries by the freeholders|
Reaction to the
crucial colony was Massachusetts, the object of the Coercion Acts. The
experience there illustrates the problem of enforcement.
Thomas Gage takes charge in May, 1774
Profile: Military governor of
Montreal, 1760-63, Commander-in-Chief, British Army in North America, 1763-1775;
Gov. of Mass, 1774-75. Firm but ineffectual supporter of imperial rule. In first
two crises he advised using army to intimidate the protestors, but he also
worked to avoid clashes between soldiers and civilians and would not use troops
without instructions from civil authorities.
Limits of his instructions and his
Gage summons a new General Court [House and Council] to meet in Salem.
Elections to the House produce a contentious group.
The House adopts S Adams' proposal
for a inter-colonial Continental Congress.
S. Adams and his allies begin a non-importation
covenant in the colony.
Gage’s rule of no town meetings is opposed.
In August Gage received the Regulating Act; when he publishes a
list of Council nominees, a storm of popular fury ensues.
Many councilors leave Boston
Conventions and town meeting are held throughout the colony –
all illegal without the governors consent.
At these meetings the language suggests that force would be
appropriate in fighting the Coercion Acts.
[September, 1774] denounce the
Coercive Acts as
unconstitutional, demand boycott [Solemn League and Covenant], recommend
Gage saw he could not control the situation with the number of
troops he had. He did not convene the new General Court at Salem out of fear for
Gage asks for military enforcements
and tells London that more then a rabble is involved in the resistance.
control of gun powder supply at Boston, leading to another uproar.
Irregular militia training
begins in Massachusetts
Provincial Congress meets in October, 1774, with delegates
sent by towns reacting to Gage’s refusal to convene the General Court.
Outside Boston, this body, with local committees, became the only effective
government in the province.
Support for Massachusetts builds in summer and fall of 1774
Virginia: In Spring the first organized standing Committee
of Correspondence was set up by the radicals.
A new governor, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore had to deal with
a difficult situation.
He calls Burgesses to meet in May, 1774, having delayed to
avoid the trouble of the previous year. But the timing was unfortunate because
news of Boston’s plight had arrived by then. Jefferson, hoping that
spread down the coast, joined other radicals to declare a day of fasting and
prayer, a demonstration of defiance. Dunmore dissolves Burgesses.
Meeting at Raleigh Tavern instead, another Association is formed
and the Committee of Correspondence is set to work.
Meetings are held throughout the colony
Dunmore called another election but
before all the returns were in
he prorogued the legislaure. He did not allow Burgesses to meet for nearly a year.
Virginia leaders held a convention in
Elected Washington, Patrick Henry,
Richard Henry Lee delegates to the Continental Congress
Jefferson, who became ill, wrote some
instructions for the delegates to take to the Congress including the radical
idea that Parliament had no right to legislate in any way for the colonies,
neither their internal affairs nor their trade. This stand was too extreme for
conservatives in the convention and they adopted a milder version
|56 delegates from 12 colonies|
|Each delegate to have one vote.|
|Endorse Suffolk Resolves on 17 September|
Galloway Plan. Rejected as too conservative,
that the degree of connection with Britain Galloway proposed was not acceptable|
|it also compromised the autonomy of each colony.|
|Passed declaration denouncing the Coercive Acts and the
criticizing all revenue measures since 1763 and declared 13 Parliamentary acts
since 1763 to be unconstitutional. |
for economic sanctions against Britain|
|Following the Congress the fabric of royal government
unraveled. By the end of 1774 Committees of Association took executive powers, local congresses
acted as legislatures.
|Early in 1775 the positions of the colonies and
London pointed to armed conflict.
|Parliament votes troops and declares New England in rebellion|
|North is supported by large majorities|
|Conciliatory moves: In February,
1775, Lord North startled the House of Commons by introducing and
passing a conciliatory resolution; but the offer
did not have satisfactory terms nor the
confidence in the ministry and the king and
it had been effectually prejudiced by the passage, in March and
April, of bills restraining the trade of the colonies to Great Britain
and the British West Indies, and by further provisions for
providing for armed conflict. It was
on the first of the restraining bills, that relating to New England,
that Burke made his great speech on conciliation
|The strategy of Samuel Adams and the radicals was to make the British
act first so they could be described as aggressors, convincing other colonies to
join Massachusetts. The major challenge for the radicals in this final stage was
to unite the colonies against London.|