Economic causes of the Boston Tea Party
When the tea-ship Nancy, Captain Lockyier, arrived at Sandy Hook, below New York, her master wisely heeded the advice of the pilot, and went to the city without his vessel. Already a notice had appeared in Holt's journal of that city, for the "Mohawks" to be in readiness when a tea-ship should arrive; and the captain found public sentiment so strong against receiving the tea, that he resolved to return to England with his cargo.
While he was in the city, a circumstance occurred which justified him in making his decision. A merchant vessel arrived with eighteen chests of tea hidden away in her cargo. The wide-awake Sons of Liberty, suspecting smuggling, searched the vessel, and on finding the tea, cast the whole of it into the waters of the harbor. The captain was advised to leave New York as quickly as possible. As he and Lockyier put off in a boat for their respective vessels, at Whitehall (foot of Broad street), a multitude who had gathered there shouted a farewell; and while cannon-peals from the Fields shook the city, the people hoisted a British flag on the Liberty-Pole in token of triumph.
At Boston, yet the focus of resistance to British oppression, the greatest demonstrations concerning the tea-ships occurred. When the people heard of the sailing of these ships, they resolved to resist the landing of their cargoes at all hazards. The subject was discussed at the clubs and coffee-houses, with great warmth.
The consignees were two of Governor Hutchinson's sons and his nephew, Richard Clarke, the father-in-law of John Singleton Copley, the artist. Their near relationship to the detested governor made them more obnoxious in the eyes of the Sons of Liberty. They were invited to appear before a meeting of citizens to be held under Liberty-Tree, on the 3d of November, where about five hundred citizens assembled, some of them leaders of popular opinion.
A flag floated over the consecrated tree. The consignees did not appear, and a committee was appointed to wait upon them. They repelled the committee with discourtesy, and refused to agree, as was demanded of them, to return the tea to London in the same ships in which it should arrive. When the committee reported to the meeting, there was a cry--"Out with our enemies! Out with them!" The excited people were persuaded to disperse, and two days afterward a regular town-meeting was held.
The next day another committee called upon the consignees with a request that they should resign. Their answer was: "It is out of our power to comply with the request of the town." On receiving this reply, the meeting broke up without the utterance of a single word; and that night a crowd gathered in front of Clarke's house, when a pistol-ball was fired among them from a window of the dwelling. Nobody was hurt, and the affair ended in the smashing of Clarke's windows.
The silence of the town-meeting, on its dissolution, was ominous. The consignees felt it to be so. It plainly indicated that talking was over, and henceforth there would be action. They saw that they were now to be dealt with by the able committee of correspondence and the populace, and they were alarmed. The governor called a meeting of his council to consult about measures for preserving the public peace. The consignees, thoroughly frightened, petitioned leave to resign their appointments into the hands of the governor and council, but their prayer was refused. Believing themselves to be in personal peril, they fled from the city and took refuge in Castle William.
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