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"This," said Hutchinson, referring to the action of Boston, "was the boldest stroke that had been struck in America." Writing to Sir Francis Bernard, he spoke of it as "an unfortunate event, and what every body supposed impossible after so many men of property had made part of the meetings, and were in danger of being liable for the value of it. It would have given me a much more painful reflection," he continued, "if I had saved it by any concession to a lawless and highly criminal assembly of men, to whose proceedings the loss must be consequently attributed, and the probability is that it was a part of their plan from the beginning."

"We do console ourselves," wrote John Scollay, chairman of the Selectmen of Boston, and prominent in the affair, "that we have acted constitutionally."

"The most magnificent movement of all," wrote John Adams in his diary. "There is a dignity, a majesty, a solemnity in this last effort of the patriots that I greatly admire. This destruction of the tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, so intrepid and inflexible, and it must have so important consequences, and so lasting, that I cannot but consider it as an epoch in history. The question is whether the destruction of the tea was necessary? I apprehend it was absolutely and indispensably so.... To let it be landed would be giving up the principle of taxation by Parliamentary authority, against which the continent has struggled for ten years.... But, it will be said, it might have been left in the care of a committee of the town, or in Castle William. To this many objections may be urged."

The historian Ramsay says: "If the American position was right in relation to taxation, the destruction of the tea was warranted by the great law of self-preservation. For it was not possible for them by any other means within the compass of probability to discharge the duty they owed to their country."

"I cannot but express my admiration of the conduct of this people," writes an 'Impartial Observer' in the "Boston Evening Post" of December 20, 1773.... "I shall return home doubly fortified in my resolution to prevent that deprecated calamity, the landing the tea in Rhode Island, and console myself with the happier assurance that my brethren have not less resolution than their neighbors."

"It became," says Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, "a simple question, which should go under, British tea or American liberty? That volunteer band of Liberty Boys performed their work 'better than they knew,' averting contingencies which must have caused immediate bloodshed, and accomplishing results of the greatest importance to the American cause."

Wm. C. Rives, in his Life of James Madison, says: "This memorable occurrence was undoubtedly, in the immediate sequence of the events which it produced, the proximate cause of the American Revolution."

A Tory pamphleteer of the time gives us the Loyalist view of the affair. He says: "Now the crime of the Bostonians was a compound of the grossest injury and insult. It was an act of the highest insolence towards government, such as mildness itself cannot overlook or forgive. The injustice of the deed was also most atrocious, as it was the destruction of property to a vast amount, when it was known that the nation was obliged in honor to protect it."

We subjoin some of the comments of candid British writers respecting the affair. Mr. Massey says: "The question of taxation was virtually settled by this signal failure to enforce the law, or rather by the absence of any attempt to protect the property of merchants who had made their ventures by the express authority, if not at the instance of the British government."

While speaking of the destruction of the tea as the "crowning outrage," Lecky says, "It will probably strike the reader that every argument which shewed that the tea duty was not a grievance, was equally powerful to show that it was perfectly useless as a means of obtaining a revenue. It would be difficult indeed to find a more curious instance of legislative incapacity than the whole transaction displayed."

Hear Carlyle:

    "Thursday, December 16, 1773. What a contention is going on far over seas at Boston, New England. The case is well known and still memorable to mankind. British parliament, after nine years of the saddest haggling, and baffling to and fro under constitutional stress of weather, and such east winds and west winds of parliamentary eloquence as seldom were, has made up its mind that America shall pay duty on their teas before infusing them, and America, Boston more especially, is tacitly determined that it will not, and that to avoid mistakes the teas shall never be landed at all....

    "Rotch's report done, the chairman (an Adams 'American Cato,' subsequently so called,) dissolves the sorrowful seven thousand, with these words, 'The meeting declares it can do nothing more to save the country," we'll naturally go home then and weep. Hark however! almost on the instant, in front of the Old South Meeting House, a terrific war-whoop, and about fifty Mohawk Indians, with whom Adams seems to be acquainted, and speaks without interpreter: Aha!

    "And sure enough, before the stroke of seven these fifty painted Mohawks are forward without noise to Griffin's wharf, have put sentries all round them, and in a great silence of the neighborhood, are busy in three gangs upon the dormant tea ships, opening their chests and punctually shaking them out into the sea. Listening from the distance you could hear distinctly the ripping open of the chests and no other sound. About ten P.M. all was finished, ... the Mohawks gone like a dream, and Boston sleeping more silently even than usual."

In England, the news of the destruction of the tea at Boston was received with astonishment, not unmixed with anger. Men of all parties were swept into the hostile current. Coercive measures were at once brought forward in parliament. In the debates that ensued, a member said, "The town of Boston ought to be knocked about their ears and destroyed." Moderate and judicious men made a gallant stand against the bill shutting up the port of Boston, but the current was irresistible, and the measure, with others of like character, passed by overwhelming votes. Burke, on the question of the repeal of the tea tax, made one of his noblest efforts. Colonel Barré told the House that if they would keep their hands out of the pockets of the Americans they would be obedient subjects. Johnstone, formerly governor of Florida, who had before predicted to the East India Company, that exporting tea on their own account was absurd and would end in loss, now predicted that the Port Bill would, if passed, be productive of a general confederacy to resist the power of Britain, and end in a general revolt. His utterances were prophetic indeed. These measures did unite the colonies, and produced a general revolt ending in American independence.

Accounts vary greatly as to the number and appearance of the tea party. The original body which arrived so opportunely at the door of the "Old South," and which may have included Molineux, Revere, and the more prominent leaders, was probably not numerous. They, however, had passed the word, and trusty coadjutors were not long in following them. Colonel Tudor and Colonel Stevens say they were not disguised, but all other accounts state that they were in the Indian dress, or something resembling it.

The historian, Gordon, places their number at seventeen, "though judged to be many more as they ran across Fort Hill." "Our number was between twenty-eight and thirty," says Wyeth, one of the party. Hutchinson says about fifty, and many have since adopted his statement. Tudor, in his "Life of Otis," says seventy or eighty. Colonel Ebenezer Stevens agrees with him. "None put the number lower than sixty, nor higher than eighty," is the recollection of "a Bostonian," fifty years after the event. John Andrews was told that they mustered on Fort Hill to the number of about two hundred. "From one hundred to one hundred and fifty being more or less actively engaged" thought Hewes, one of the actors. "Two or three hundred dressed like Indians," wrote Dr. Cooper to Dr. Franklin.

These varying estimates may be accounted for in this way. Those who report the smaller number either repeated what they were told, or saw only one of the parties on its way to the ships, while the others speak of the entire body after its separate parts had united at the wharf. Some may mean only such of the party as were in Indian dress. If we place the number on board the ships at fifty or sixty, and estimate those at work by the sides of the vessels at sixty or seventy, we shall probably not be far out of the way, the whole number then aggregating from one hundred and ten to one hundred and thirty. The names of more than one hundred of these have been preserved.

Who were these men? "Depend upon it," said John Adams to Hezekiah Niles in 1819, "These were no ordinary Mohawks. The profound secrecy in which they have held their names, and the total abstinence of plunder, are proofs of the character of the men." But two of the recognized leaders of the people were there,--Dr. Young and Thomas Molineux. Most of them were mechanics and apprentices, but they were mechanics of the stamp of Revere, Howard, Wheeler, Crane and Peck, men who could restrain and keep in due subordination the more fiery and dangerous element, always present in popular demonstrations. That element was not wholly absent on this occasion, for Mackintosh, the leader in the Stamp Act riots, was present with "his chickens," as he called them, and active in destroying the tea. There were also professional men, like Dr. Young and Dr. Story, and merchants, such as Molineux, Proctor, Melvill, Palmer, May, Pitts and Davis, men of high character and standing, so that all classes were fairly represented. As might be expected, those appointed for the work, and who were in Indian dress, were largely men of family and position in Boston.

A writer in the American Magazine of History attempts to discredit the statement that the party were in Indian dress, intimating that it was an afterthought, intended to deceive the authorities, and lead them to the belief that the disguise was too complete to allow of identification for arrest or punishment. Cavils like this are superfluous in view of the abundant testimony to the contrary. The sworn protest of Captain Bruce, of the "Eleanor," one of the tea-ships, given on a subsequent page in this volume, is of itself sufficient evidence upon this point. The number of those who, prepared as they were, on the spur of the moment, really bore any very great resemblance to Indians, was no doubt small. A large number of the actors hastily assumed such disguises as were nearest at hand.

No doubt the principals in this transaction pledged one another to keep their connection with it a profound secret, and they did so, but the young apprentices and volunteers, who, without premeditation, joined the party on its way to the wharf, were under no such restraint, and we can only wonder that they made no revelation concerning an event of such importance. It was not until a very late period of their lives that any of them opened their lips publicly about it, and when more than half a century had elapsed since it occurred.

The names of fifty-eight of these men, given below, are taken from Thatcher's "Traits of the Tea Party," published in 1835, while nine or ten of them were yet living, the source whence all later lists have been derived. Possibly this list is identical with that mentioned as having once been in the possession of Peter, the son of Benjamin Edes, the printer. Of this list it is safe to say that, while far from being complete, it is correct as far as it goes. The names that follow the list of 1835, have been gleaned from a great variety of sources, principally family tradition.