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Article Index

  November 30. Captain, EZEKIEL CHEEVER.[14]

  Thomas Urann. William Dickman. Samuel Peck. Thomas Bolley. John Rice. Joseph Froude. Obadiah Curtis. George Ray. Benjamin Ingerson. Adam Collson. Daniel Hewes. Joseph Eayres. William Sutton. Ebenezer Ayres. William Elberson. Benjamin Stevens. James Brewer. Rufus Bant. William Clap. Nicholas Pierce. Thomas Tileston. Richard Hunnewell.

[Illustration: Signature, Ezekiel Cheever]

[Illustration: MAJOR GEN^L. JOSEPH WARREN

Slain at the Battle of Bunker Hill _June 17 1775_

(_Copied from the Boston print of 1782, it being from the London print previous to this date._)

"May our land be a land of liberty, the seat of virtue, the asylum of the oppressed, a name, a praise in the whole earth."--JOSEPH WARREN.

March 5, 1772.]

Hancock and Henry Knox were members of this volunteer guard. Volunteers were, after the first night, requested to leave their names at the printing-office of Edes and Gill; the duty of providing it having devolved upon the committee of correspondence.

    Obadiah Curtis, born in Roxbury, Mass., in 1724; died in Newton, Mass., November 11, 1811. He was a wheelwright by trade, and his wife, Martha, kept an English goods store, at the corner of Rawson's Lane, (now Bromfield Street,) and Newbury (now Washington) Street, and accumulated a handsome estate. Becoming obnoxious to the British authorities, Mr. Curtis removed with his family to Providence, remaining there until after the evacuation of Boston. A person who saw him at this time thus describes his appearance: "He was habited according to the fashion of gentlemen of those days,--in a three-cornered hat, a club wig, a long coat of ample dimensions, that appeared to have been made with reference to future growth, breeches with large buckles, and shoes fastened in the same manner."

    James Henderson was a painter, in Boston, at the beginning of this century.

    Daniel Hewes, a mason by trade, resided on Purchase Street, where he died July 9, 1821; aged 77. He was a brother of George Robert Twelves Hewes.

    Robert Hitchborn was a cooper, on Anne Street, in 1789.

    Thomas Knox, Jr., a branch pilot, died in Charlestown, Mass., in April, 1817; aged 75. He joined the Masonic Lodge of St. Andrew in 1764. In 1789 his residence was on Friend Street.

    Joseph Lovering was a tallow chandler. He lived on the corner of Hollis and Tremont Streets, opposite Crane and the Bradlees. Joseph Lovering, Jr., held the light by which Crane and others disguised themselves in Crane's carpenter's shop, on the evening of December 16. Lovering was a prominent member of the Charitable Mechanic Association, was many years a selectman and a fireward under the old town government of Boston, and was also a member of the first Board of Aldermen, under Mayor Phillips. He followed his father's business, and was some years a partner in the firm of J. Lovering & Sons.

    Joshua Pico, a cooper, on Sheaffe Street, residing on Clarke Street; died in January, 1807.

    Joseph Pierce, Jr., was a merchant, at 58 Cornhill, in 1799.

    Nicholas Pierce was a bricklayer, on Back (Salem) Street, in 1800.

    John Rice was deputy-collector at Boston, 1789.

    Benjamin Stevens was a tailor, at 33 Marlboro' Street, in 1789.

    Jonathan Stodder was a member of St. Andrew's Lodge of Freemasons, in 1779.

    Thomas Tileston, born September 21, 1735, was a carpenter on Purchase Street, in 1789. His father, Onesiphorous Tileston, also a housewright and a man of wealth, was captain of the Artillery Company in 1762.

    John Winthrop resided in Cambridge Street, and died February 12, 1800; aged 53.

The power and influence of the Boston committee of correspondence, which played so important a part in the tea affair, can best be estimated by a glance at the list of names of its members. They were, Samuel Adams, James Otis, Joseph Warren, William Molineux, Dr. Benjamin Church, William Dennie, William and Joseph Greenleaf, Dr. Thomas Young, William Powell, Nathaniel Appleton, Oliver Wendell, Josiah Quincy, Jr., John Sweetser, Richard Boynton, John Bradford, William Mackay, Nathaniel Barber, Caleb Davis, Alexander Hill, and Robert Pierpont.

After the dissolution of the meeting of November 29, the committee met, and called on the committees from other towns to join them on all necessary occasions. Besides sending accounts of these events to all the towns, they also wrote to the committees of Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York and Philadelphia, explaining their course, acting, as they said, "in the faith that harmony and concurrence in action uniformly and firmly maintained, must finally conduct them to the end of their wishes, namely, a full enjoyment of constitutional liberty." They received cheering replies and encouraging assurances from all quarters.

At the meeting next morning, a letter to John Scollay from the consignees, containing their long-delayed proposals, was read. They expressed sorrow that they could not return satisfactory answers to the two messages of the town, as it was utterly out of their power to send the teas back, but said they were willing to store them until they could communicate with their constituents, and receive their further orders respecting them. This letter irritated the meeting, and it declined to take action upon it.

Before taking final leave of these obstinate gentlemen, I make a few citations from the recently published volume of "The Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson." Writing to his son at the castle on November 30, Hutchinson says: "The gentlemen (consignees), except your uncle Clarke, all went to the castle yesterday. I hope they will not comply with such a monstrous demand." Hancock and Adams, he says, were two of the guard of the tea ship.

Thomas Hutchinson, Jr., to his brother Elisha:

    "CASTLE WILLIAM, December 14, 1773.

    ... I imagine you are anxious to know what the poor banished commissioners are doing at the castle. Our retreat here was sudden, but our enemies do not say we came too soon. How long we shall be imprisoned 'tis impossible to say.... I hear there is a meeting of the _mobility_ to day, but don't know the result. I hardly think they will attempt sending the tea back, but am more sure it will not go many leagues. The commissioners are all with us, and we are as comfortable as we can be in a very cold place, driven from our families and business, with the months of January and February just at hand.

    P.S.--Our situation is rendered more agreeable by the polite reception we met with from Col. Leslie, and the other gentlemen of the army."

And on January 9, 1774, he writes:

    "The Bostonians say we shall not return to town without making concessions. I suppose we shall quit the castle sometime this week, as we are all provided with retreats in the country. I have had a disagreeable six weeks of it, but am in hopes the issue will be well."

And again, on January 21, dated Milton:

    "I wrote you some time ago I was in hopes our harassment was drawing to a close, and that we should leave the castle last week. Mr. Faneuil and myself coming off caused a supposition that we intended for Boston, which was the cause of Saturday's notification which I sent you.[15] Mr. Faneuil is since returned to the castle, and I am really more confined than if I was there, as I keep pretty close to my home. Mr. Jonathan Clarke sails in a few days for England, of which I am very glad, as it may prevent misapprehension of our conduct on that side of the water.

A proclamation from the governor was brought in to the meeting by Sheriff Greenleaf, which he begged leave of the moderator to read. Objection was made, but at the suggestion of Samuel Adams the meeting consented to hear it. The governor charged that the meeting of the previous day "openly violated, defied and set at naught the good and wholesome laws of the Province, and as great numbers were again assembled for like purposes, I warn," he said, "exhort and require you, and each of you, thus unlawfully assembled, forthwith to disperse, and to surcease all further unlawful proceedings at your peril." The reading was received with general and continued hisses, and a vote that the meeting would not disperse. Mr. Copley, the son-in-law of Mr. Clarke, inquired whether the meeting would hear the Messrs. Clarke, and whether they would be safe while coming to and returning from the meeting, and whether two hours would be allowed him in which to consult with them. The request of Copley, who was sincerely desirous of effecting a peaceful solution of the difficulty, was granted, and the meeting then adjourned until two o'clock.

The proceedings of this afternoon briefly stated were, the promise of Rotch, the owner, and Hall, the captain of the "Dartmouth," and the owners of the two other vessels expected with teas, that that article should not be landed, but should go back in the same ships, and the apology of Mr. Copley for the time he had taken, he having been obliged to go to the castle, where the consignees decided that it would be inexpedient for them to attend the meeting, but added to their former proposal that the tea should be submitted to the inspection of a committee, and also saying that as they had not been active in introducing the tea, they should do nothing to obstruct the people in returning it.

This was voted unsatisfactory. Resolves were then passed to the effect that all who imported tea were enemies to the country; that its landing and sale should be prevented, and that the tea should be returned to the place whence it came. And the meeting also voted to send these resolves to every seaport in the colonies and to England. The committee of correspondence was charged to make provision for the continuation of the watch, and "the brethren from the country" were thanked for their "countenance and union," and desired to afford their assistance on notice being given, and it was also declared to be "the determination of this body to carry their votes and resolves into execution at the risk of life and property."

Speaking of this meeting, Hutchinson says: "A more determined spirit was conspicuous in this body than in any of the former assemblies of the people. It was composed of the lowest as well, and probably in as great proportion, as of the superior ranks and orders, and all had an equal voice. No eccentric or irregular motions were suffered to take place. All seemed to have been the plan of a few, it may be of a single person."

And in a private letter, dated December 1, Hutchinson writes:

    "While the rabble was together in one place, I was in another, not far distant, with his majesty's council, urging them to join with me in some measure to break up this unlawful assembly, but to no purpose. I hope the consignees will continue firm, and should not have the least doubt of it if it was not for the solicitation of the friends of Mr. Clarke. If they go the lengths they threaten, I shall be obliged to retire to the castle, as I cannot otherwise make any exertions in support of the king's authority."

The committee of correspondence omitted no step that prudence or caution could suggest to carry out the determination of the town. A letter from Philadelphia, just then received, said: "Our tea consignees have all resigned, and you need not fear, the tea will not be landed here nor at New York. All that we fear is that you will shrink at Boston. May God give you virtue enough to save the liberties of your country!"

A second and a third vessel soon arrived, and the selectmen gave peremptory orders, to prevent clandestine landing of the tea, and directed them to be anchored by the side of the "Dartmouth," at Griffin's Wharf. One guard answered for the three vessels. As the time drew near for the landing or return of the tea, the excitement of the community increased. "Where the present disorder will end," wrote Hutchinson, "I cannot make a probable conjecture; the town is as furious as in the time of the stamp act." "The flame is kindled," so wrote the wife of John Adams, "and like lightning, it catches from soul to soul.... My heart beats at every whistle I hear, and I dare not express half my fears."

Twenty days after her arrival in the port, a vessel was liable to seizure for the non-payment of duties on articles imported in her, nor on landing a portion of her cargo, could she be legally cleared. On official advice from the governor to Colonel Leslie, commander of the castle, and Admiral Montagu, the latter ordered the ships of war, "Active" and "King Fisher," to guard the passages to the sea, and permit no unauthorized vessels to pass. "The patriots," said Hutchinson, "now found themselves in a web of inextricable difficulties." "But where there is a will there is a way," and the patriots had more resources than the governor dreamed of.

Rotch, the owner of the "Dartmouth," was summoned before the committee (December 11), and was asked by Samuel Adams, the chairman, why he had not kept his pledge, to send his vessel and tea back to London. He replied that it was out of his power to do so. He was advised to apply for a clearance and a pass. "The ship must go," said Adams, "the people of Boston and the neighboring towns absolutely require and expect it."

The journals of the day are filled with items concerning the tea question. Little else was now thought of. They contained the resolves of the Massachusetts towns, encouraging Boston to stand firm, and assuring her of their support, and accounts from Philadelphia and New York of the determination to nullify the tea act, and of the declination of the consignees in the latter place.

The "Gazette," of December 13, editorially says: "The minds of the public are greatly irritated at the delay of Mr. Rotch, to take the necessary steps towards complying with their peremptory requisition." On this day an important session of the committee of the five towns already named took place at Faneuil Hall. "No business transacted matter of record," is the brief but suggestive entry as to its doings.

Dorchester, in legal town meeting, declared that, "should this country be so unhappy as to see a day of trial for the recovery of its rights by a last and solemn appeal to Him who gave them, they should not be behind the bravest of our patriotic brethren." Marblehead affirmed that the proceedings of the brave citizens of Boston, and of other towns, in opposition to the landing of the tea, were rational, generous and just; that they were highly honored for their noble firmness in support of American liberty, and that the men of the town were ready with their lives to assist their brethren in opposing all measures tending to enslave the country." Under date of December 3, the people of Roxbury voted that they were in duty bound to join with Boston, and other sister towns, to preserve inviolate the liberties handed down by their ancestors. Next day the men of Charlestown declared themselves ready to risk their lives and fortunes. Newburyport, Malden, Lexington, Leicester, Fitchburg, Gloucester, and other towns, also proferred their aid when needed.

The "Gazette," under date of Salem, December 7, has the following: "By what we can learn from private intelligence, as well as the public proceedings of a number of principal towns contiguous to the capital, the people, if opposed in their proceedings with respect to the tea, are determined upon hazarding a brush, therefore those who are willing to bear a part in it in preserving the rights of this country, would do well to get suitably prepared." This looked like business.

On the morning of December 14, the following handbill appeared in Boston:

    Friends! Brethren! Countrymen! The perfidious act of your reckless enemies to render ineffectual the late resolves of the body of the people, demands your assembling at the Old South Meeting House, precisely at ten o'clock this day, at which time the bells will ring."

The meeting thus called was largely attended. Samuel Phillips Savage,[16] of Weston, was chosen moderator. Bruce, the master of the "Eleanor," promised to ask for a clearance for London, when all his goods were landed, except the tea, but said that, if refused, "he was loth to stand the shot of thirty-two pounders." Rotch, accompanied by Samuel Adams, Benjamin Kent, and eight others, applied to the collector of the port for a clearance, and reported, on his return, that the collector desired to consult with the comptroller, and promised an answer on the following morning. The meeting then adjourned until Thursday.

[Illustration: Signature, Sam Phillips Savage]

Next day Rotch, with the Committee, proceeded to the Custom House. Harrison, the Collector, and Comptroller Hallowell, were both present. The owner said that he was required and compelled at his peril by the meeting to make the demand for the clearance of his vessel for London, with the tea on board, and one of the committee stated that they were present only as witnesses. The Collector unequivocally and finally refused to grant his ship a clearance until it should be discharged of the teas. The result was reported to the meeting on the following morning.