Shifting Tides and Shipping Tea Imperial Administration and Colonial Responses, 1770-1774
Burning of the Gaspee • Revenue cutter ran aground on June 9, 1772, near Warwick, R. I. • Burned to waterline on June 10 by Providence, R. I., Sons of Liberty • Investigation by Royal Governor and Special Royal Commission failed to find perpetrators. • Fear in colonies was that the accused would be removed to England for trial. • Committees of Correspondence circulated rumors, fears, and ideas.
Committees of Correspondence • Earliest use appears to have been in Mass. In response to 1764 currency act; use escalated in wake of Gaspee incident. • New Massachusetts committee established in November 1772 headed by Joseph Warren and Samuel Adams. Its official purpose was to state "the rights of the colonists, and of this province in particular, as men, as Christians, and as subjects; to communicate and publish the same to the several towns in this province and to the world as the sense of this town". • March 1773, Virginia’s House of Burgesses created a standing Committee of Correspondence whose members included Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson • By 1774, all colonies but Pennsylvania had such committees. • Mechanism by which subsequent 1st Continental Congress was planned and summoned.
Hutchinson Letters • Benjamin Franklin leaked letters showing Thomas Hutchinson asking for more regular troops to be sent to Boston. • Bostonians outraged; Hutchinson force to return to England. • Rather than see innocent people punished for the leak, Franklin admitted leaking the letters, was reprimanded, and returned to Pennsylvania. (Major event in making him a “patriot.”
Example of Hutchinson letter To Commodore Gambier Boston, June 30, 1772. Dear Sir, ... Our last ships carried you the news of the burning of the Gaspee schooner at Providence. I hope if there should be another like attempt, some concerned in it may be taken prisoners and carried directly to England. A few punished at Execution Dock would be the only effectual preventive of any further attempts... Thos. Hutchinson
Rex. v. Knowles, ex parte Somersett (1772) • "... The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political; but only positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasion, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory: it's so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from a decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged." –William Murray, Lord Mansfield. • Southern slaveholders fear Mansfield’s decision might be applied to colonies. • "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of Negroes?" –Samuel Johnson
Boston Tea Party • 1773 Tea Act undercut smugglers and colonial Merchants. • Dartmouth arrives in Nov., agrees to leave, but Hutchinson blocks harbor to prevent it. • Dec. 16, 1773, 342 cases of tea thrown overboard. Worth $1.9 million today.
Other Tea Parties • In Philadelphia and New York, ship owners agreed to leave port with the tea. • Peggy Stewart burned in Annapolis on October 19, 1774, for attempting to deliver tea in defiance of colonial boycott, imposed after Coercive Acts were passed.
Coercive Acts • Boston Port Act • Massachusetts Government Act • Administration of Justice Act • Quartering Act • Quebec Act • Also, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, and Benjamin Church were charged with the "Crime of High Treason" • Led to convening of First Continental Congress in September 1774.