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In a letter dated New York, November 5th, Abraham Lott, one of the New York consignees, says, that if the tea arrives subject to duty, "there will be no such thing as selling it, as the people would rather buy so much poison, as they say it is calculated to enslave them and their posterity, and are therefore determined not to take what they call the nauseous draught." The tenor of these letters and of the American newspapers, must have given the British public an inkling of what was to come.

It was thought by all the colonies that this was the precise point of time when it was absolutely necessary to make a stand, and that all opposition to parliamentary taxation must be for ever given up, if this critical moment was neglected. The only practical way open to defeat the measure seemed to be through popular demonstrations.

The press now became more active than ever in its political discussions. As to the mode of payment of the tea duty, it said: "We know that on a certificate of its being landed here, the tribute is, by agreement, to be paid in London. The landing, therefore, is the point in view, and every nerve will be strained to obtain it." It was asked in New York, "are the Americans such blockheads as to care whether it be a hot red poker, or a red hot poker which they are to swallow, provided Lord North forces them to swallow one of the two?"

"All America is in a flame on account of the tea exportation," wrote a British officer at New York to a friend in London. "The New Yorkers, as well as the Bostonians and Philadelphians, it seems, are determined that no tea shall be landed. They have published a paper in numbers called the 'Alarm.' It begins, 'Dear countrymen,' and goes on exhorting them to open their eyes, and then, like sons of liberty, throw off all connection with the tyrant--the mother country.' They have on this occasion raised a company of artillery, and every day almost, are practicing at a target. Their independent companies are out, and exercise every day. The minds of the townspeople are influenced by the example of some of their principals. They swear that they will burn every tea-ship that comes in; but I believe that our six and twelve pounders, with the Royal Welch Fusileers, will prevent anything of that kind."

Philadelphia, the largest town in the colonies, led off in the work of opposing the plans of the home government. In a handbill signed "Scævola," circulated there, with the heading, "By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall," the factors appointed, by the East India Company were characterized as "political bombardiers to demolish the fair structure of liberty;" and it was said that all eyes were fixed on them, and they were urged to refuse to act.

At a large meeting held at the State House on October 18, resolutions were passed declaring that the duty on tea was a tax imposed on the colonists without their consent, and tended to render assemblies useless; that the shipment by the East India Company was an attempt to enforce the tax, and that every one who should be concerned in the unloading, receiving or vending the tea, was an enemy to his country. In accordance with one of the resolutions of the meeting, a committee was appointed to wait on the consignees in that city, to request them, from regard to their own characters and the public peace, and good order of the city and Province, immediately to resign their appointment. The Messrs. Wharton gave a satisfactory answer, which was received with shouts of applause. Groans and hisses greeted the refusal of another firm to commit themselves, until the tea arrived. So general and so commanding was the movement, however, that in a few days they also resigned. "Be assured," wrote Thomas Wharton, one of the consignees, "this was as respectable a body of inhabitants as has been together on any occasion, many of the first rank. Their proceedings were conducted with the greatest decency and firmness, and without one dissentient voice."

A few days after the action of Philadelphia, a meeting was held at the city hall, New York, (October 26,) when the tea consignees were denounced, and the attempted monopoly of trade was stigmatized as a "public robbery." The press was active, and handbills were circulated freely among the people. A series of these called the "Alarm," has been already mentioned. "If you touch one grain of the accursed tea you are undone," was the sentiment it conveyed. "America is threatened with worse than Egyptian slavery.... The language of the revenue act is, that you have no property you can call your own, that you are the vassals, the live stock, of Great Britain." Such were the bold utterances of the New Yorkers. Within three weeks the New York agents withdrew from the field. It was thereupon announced that government would take charge of the tea upon its arrival.

The New York Sons of Liberty at once reorganized; owners and occupants of stores were warned against harboring the tea, and all who bought, sold or handled it, were threatened as enemies to the country. Handbills were issued, notifying the "Mohawks" to hold themselves in readiness for active work. At the very moment when the tea was being destroyed in Boston, handbills were circulating in New York calling a meeting of "all friends to the liberties and trade of America," for one o'clock the next day, at the city hall, "on business of the utmost importance."

John Lamb, one of the most active of the Sons of Liberty of New York, afterwards a colonel of artillery in the Revolutionary army, was the speaker at the meeting, and the large assembly unanimously voted that the tea should not be landed. The governor sent a message to the people by the mayor, engaging upon his honor that the tea should not be sold, but should remain in the barracks until the council advised to the delivery of it, or orders were received from England how to dispose of it, and that it should be delivered in an open manner at noon-day. The mayor having asked if the proposals were satisfactory, there was a general cry of "no! no!" The people were at length quieted with the assurance that the ship should be sent back.

It was at Boston, the ringleader in rebellion, that the issue was to be tried. It was then the most flourishing commercial town on the continent, and contained a population of about sixteen thousand, almost exclusively of English origin. Though there were no sidewalks in the town, and, except when driven aside by carts or carriages, every one walked in the middle of the street, "where the pavement was the smoothest," an English visitor had twenty years before pronounced it to be, "as large and better built than Bristol, or any other city in England except London." The only land communication between Boston and the surrounding towns at that period, was by way of the narrow neck at its southern extremity. Her inhabitants were industrious, frugal and enterprising, and were equally distinguished for their pertinacity and independence. They were nearly all of the same church, and were strict in the observance of Sunday. Though many had acquired a competence, few were very rich or very poor, and their style of living had little diversity. In her free schools all were taught to read and write. A score of enterprising booksellers, among them Henry Knox, imported into the colony all the standard books on law, politics, history and theology, while a free press and town meetings instructed her citizens in political affairs. Her mechanics, many of whom were ship-builders, were active in all town meetings. Ever jealous of her rights, she had grown up in their habitual exercise, and was early and strenuous in her opposition to the claims of parliamentary supremacy. Even her divines, many of whom were distinguished by their learning and eloquence, gave the sanction of religion to the cause of freedom. For these reasons Boston was the fittest theatre for the decisive settlement of the grave question at issue.