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DUTIES PARTIALLY REPEALED — REGULATORS.

85

The ill treatment received by Massachusetts met with the ready sympathy of the other colonies, and her firmness won their highest admiration.

In the spring of 1770 all the duties laid by Townshend's bill were repealed, except that on tea, which the ministers insisted on retaining for the purpose of supporting that right to tax America which they asserted, and which, as it substituted a duty of three pence per pound, for that of a shilling a pound paid as an export duty, would practically supply them with tea at ninepence per pound less than they had previously paid. This measure was carried in the House by two hundred and four votes to one hundred and forty-two.

The motives assigned by the ministers for the bill were the "dangerous combinations which the proposed duties had occasioned" beyond the Atlantic,1 and the dissatisfaction they had created at home among the merchants who traded to the colonies.

Among the occurrences of this period two may be mentioned, very different in their character, but both showing the readiness of the colonists to resist what they regarded as oppression. One was a popular insurrection in North Carolina in 1771, caused by the alleged extortion of illegal fees by the public officers, and the lawyers, and the peculation of the receivers of taxes. They called themselves Regulators, a term borrowed from a voluntary association in South Carolina for the punishment of horse-thieves and other offenders. After four or five years of complaint, a large body of the Regulators from several of the middle counties tumultuously assembled in May, 1771, with Herman Husbands, originally from

1 Ann. Regis. 1770, page 73.

2

2 This man, after the lapse of more than twenty years, took a leading

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REGULATORS SUBDUED-— GASPEE.

Pennsylvania, as their leader, to demand a redress of their grievances. Governor Tryon set out from Newberne with three hundred militia to quell the insurrection, and on his march was joined by large reinforcements of volunteers. He met the insurgents then posted on the Alamance, a small branch of Haw river, and consisting of about two thousand men, most of whom were ill-armed or without arms. From a war of words the parties fell to blows, and the Governor having some artillery, the insurgents were soon put to flight, and Husbands made his escape to Pennsylvania. In this "battle of Alamance," as it has been called, the militia had nine men killed, and sixty-one wounded. The insurgents had twenty-one killed, but the number of their wounded was not known. The authority of the government being thus restored, twelve of the insurgents were convicted of treason, and six were executed. The Regulators warmly resented the part which the lower counties had taken against them; and Governor Martin, who succeeded Tryon, so profited by that feeling, that those who in 1771 had been in arms against the government, were among its warmest supporters during the Revolution.

2

The other occurrence was the destruction of the revenue schooner Gaspee, which, having greatly annoyed the people of Rhode Island, was purposely decoyed, by a vessel to which she gave chase, into shallow water, where she ran aground. She was then boarded by the part in the first Pennsylvania insurrection, showing that he was as ready to resist the just requisitions of law as its abuses.

1

Grahame, in his account of this insurrection of the Regulators, has fallen into blunders with which he is not often chargeable. The above account is taken from Jones's Vindication of North Carolina, II. Martin's History, and Wheeler's Hist. Sketches.

2 June, 1772.

TAX ON TEA OPPOSED IN THE COLONIES.

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people of Providence and set on fire. After an ineffectual attempt by the government to detect and punish the offenders, an act of Parliament was passed for trying similar offences in England.

The Parliament, as well as the ministry, being determined to maintain the right of taxing the colonies, the tax on tea was retained. The repeal of the other duties took place about the same time that Captain Preston's men in the riot fired on the people of Boston.

Lord North, who had succeeded the Duke of Grafton as premier, defended the tax on tea, which was ninepence lower than that which the colonists, in common with every other British consumer, had hitherto paid. It was expected that they would thus be reconciled to the new duty.

Such, however, was not the result. The colonists were well aware that if the present low duty was submitted to, it would hereafter become a precedent for any degree of taxation, however onerous. The opposition to the claims of Great Britain therefore underwent no diminution; and committees of correspondence, on the recommendation of Virginia, were appointed in all the colonies to confer with each other on the best means of serving the common cause, and of keeping alive the spirit of resistance.

In Massachusetts this was effectually done by the ministry. In 1771 Governor Hutchinson refused his assent to a tax-bill, because the commissioners of the customs had been assessed as others, and both they and the Governor adhering to the ground they had first taken, no tax-bill was passed that year. The provision made by the government for the entire support of the Governor, so as to render him independent of the Legislature, afforded new ground of complaint and alarm.

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TEA DESTROYED IN BOSTON.

Meanwhile, one of the expedients of the colonists for acting on the interests of Great Britain proved, after a partial success, impracticable. The non-importation agreements were found to press too heavily on the colonial merchants to be continued. Being violated or evaded in some of the cities, the others excused themselves for taking the same course, to prevent ruin; and at length no part of these acts of self-denial remained in force, except that regarding tea.

The consumption of this commodity had consequently been so much diminished, that the East India Company sustained great loss. They therefore proposed to the ministry to repeal the tax altogether, instead of merely reducing it, and in that event they would pay double the amount on its export. The proposal was rejected; but, to favor the Company, a drawback was allowed on its exportation. Large quantities were then shipped by the Company to the principal ports of the colonies; but it being apprehended by the colonists that if the importation were permitted, the commodity would find a sale, and thus the duty, which constituted a part of the price, would be collected, they determined it should not be landed. In most of the ports, accordingly, the ships which brought it were compelled to return with it.

In Massachusetts they went a step further. Many of the citizens of Boston finding that the consignees would not send back the tea, as they had done in New York and Philadelphia, after keeping watch on the wharves to prevent the landing of it, held a meeting at which it was decided that the tea should not be landed. Meanwhile, the vessels which brought it, unable to obtain clearances at the custom-house, could not leave the port. In this posture of affairs, several parties of men, some of them disguised as Indians, went on board the vessels, broke

HUTCHINSON'S LETTERS.

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open the chests of tea, and threw it into the water. This memorable occurrence took place in December, 1773, and it seemed to have been done with a full sense of its importance, and of its probable consequences.

The public excitement in this colony was the greater from the publication of certain letters written by the Governor (Hutchinson), and the Lieutenant-Governor (Oliver), to an under secretary in England, which spoke of the people of the colony in very disparaging terms, and strongly recommended the most coercive measures against them. Although these letters were confidential, Dr. Franklin, then the agent for Massachusetts, obtained possession of them, and sent them over to the Speaker of the Assembly during its session in 1773. The liveliest indignation was excited in the Assembly: in a petition and remonstrance to the king, after the strongest denunciation of those officers, their immediate removal was insisted on.

Dr. Franklin having presented the Massachusetts petition, the ministers decided that it should be fully discussed before the Privy Council, and the first meeting of that body was postponed to give Franklin an opportunity of appearing by counsel. At the second meeting no less than thirty-five members were present, and counsel both for Hutchinson and Franklin also attended. Wedderburn, then Solicitor-General, and subsequently Lord Loughborough, who appeared for Hutchinson, adroitly assailed Franklin for having invaded the rights of private correspondence,' so that it seemed as if it was Franklin and not Hutchinson who was upon trial. As Franklin could give no account of how he obtained possession of these original letters without violating his

The letters, though addressed to persons in office, were private and confidential. — Ann. Reg. for 1774.

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