Faneuil Hall and Boston Harbour - North American Colonies

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (1898) by Edgar Sanderson

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Virginia was dissolved by the Governor for condemning the proposed transmission to England of persons accused of treason. Swiftly now and surely, matters were thus drifting to the cataract of civil war.

Lord North became prime-minister in 1770, and all the American import-duties were repealed, saving the tax of threepence per pound on tea, which was maintained as a matter of principle. The revenue from this source was only three hundred pounds a year, but the government, in its "firm" attitude, supported by the king, thus defied the colonial contention that the home Parliament had no constitutional right to tax at all those who did not send representatives to that assembly. There had already been a small conflict between the troops of General Gage and the citizens of Boston, in which three men were shot dead and eight wounded by the soldiers, two of whom were tried and convicted of manslaughter. An English revenue-schooner, which had run aground in 1772, was destroyed by the people of Rhode Island. In the following year, an ominous step was taken by the men of Virginia, when the leading burgesses united the colonies by appointing a committee to maintain correspondence and communication with them.

The final provocation given to the colonists was one of a peculiar kind, in the shape of a favour conferred. The East India Company was in financial difficulties when Lord North arranged for them to get rid of a large quantity of tea lying in their London warehouses, by permitting its shipment to America without payment of the English duty, then fixed at one shilling per pound. The colonists, paying only threepence, would drink their tea more cheaply than the people of England. The subterfuge aroused hot indignation. New York and Philadelphia prevailed on the captains of the tea-ships which arrived there to depart without unloading their cargoes. At Charlestown, the tea was landed, but no man would purchase it, and it lay in the cellars until it was spoiled by damp. In Boston, as all the world knows, a party of citizens, after a meeting held at the famous Faneuil Hall, since called the "cradle of liberty", boarded the ships, in the disguise of Indians, and blackened the surface of the harbour-waters by emptying overboard some hundreds of tea-chests. The men of Massachusetts, who headed the cause of freedom at the north, as … continue reading »

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