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From the decided opposition to this act, and the indignation manifested against it, in all parts of the colonies, it was deemed proper to repeal it. It was accordingly repealed on the 18th of March, 1766. Much opposition, however, was made to its repeal. Several speakers in both houses of parliament denied the right of taxing the colonies. Mr. Pitt, afterwards lord Chatham, said, “it is my opinion that this kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the colonies. We are told that America is obstinate, almost in open rebellion. I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest. The Americans have been wronged ; they have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for the madness you have occasioned ? No; let this country be the first to resume its prudence and temper.” He concluded by saying that it was his opinion that the stamp act be repealed, absolutely, totally, and immediately.
In 1767, an act passed the British parliament, laying a heavy duty on tea, glass, paper, and other articles. This act re-kindled the resentment and excited a general opposition among the people of the colonies; and they contended that there was no real difference between the principle of the new act and the stamp act. This act produced resolves, petitions, &c. similar to those with which the colonies opposed the stamp act, and in various parts, particularly in Massachusetts, on the suggestion of Samuel Adams, it was agreed not to import and consume British manufactures.
In 1769, both houses of parliament passed a joint address to his majesty, approbatory of his measures, and that they would support him in such further measures as might be found necessary, to maintain the civil magistrates in a due execution of the laws in Massachusetts-Bay. The assembly of Virginia, in this year, passed resolutions complaining of the recent acts of parliament, and remonstrated against the right of transporting the freeborn subjects of America to Eng land, to be tried for alledged offences committed in the colonies. In 1770, on the 2d of March, the Boston massacre took place.
In 1773, the people of Boston who were determined not to pay duties on tea, collected in a town meeting and resolved that the tea should not be landed. At the dissolution of the mecting, about twenty persons, in the disguise of Mohawk Indians, went on board some ships, broke open three hundred and forty-two chests of tea, and discharged their contents into the water. In Philadelphia, where the spirit of opposition, although not less deep, was less loud, they unloaded some of the cargoes and stored the tea in damp cellars, where it soon
moulded. Whole cargoes were returned from New York and Philadelphia. When the news of the destruction of the tea reached England, they determined to punish the people of Boston. In 1774, a bill was passed in parliament, called the Boston Port Bill, to discontinue the landing or shipping of any goods, wares, or merchandize, at the harbour of that city. This was followed by an act authorising the quartering of soldiers in the houses of the citizens. General Gage, in character of commander in chief of the royal forces, and governor of Massachussetts, arrived at Boston, with a military force, to enforce the acts of the parliament.
The words whigs and tories were now introduced, to distinguish the names of the parties. By the former, were meant those who were for supporting the colonies in their opposition to the tyrannical acts of the British parliament. By the latter, those who were in favour of Great Britain and opposed to resistance.
During these commotions, the first Congress of delegates, chosen and appointed by the several colonies and provinces, met at Carpenter's Hall, in the city of Philadelphia, on the 5th of September, 1774. Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, was unanimously elected President, and Charles Thompson, Secretary. On the 27th September, congress unanimously resolved, that from and after the 1st of December, 1774, there should be no importation from Great Britain or Ireland, of British goods. On the 8th of October, it was resolved that the congress approve the opposition of the inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay, to the execution of the obnoxious acts of Parliament. On the 22d of September, they passed a resolution recommending delegates to meet again at Philadelphia, on the 10th May, 1775. The congress was then dissolved.
On the 19th of April, 1775, the first battle was fought between the Americans and the king's troops, at Lexington, Massachusetts. The revolutionary war began with this battle ; for here the first blood was spilt. The British had sixty five killed, one hundred and eighty wounded, and twenty eight made prisoners. Of the Americans, fifty one were killed, thirty eight wounded, and four were missing. At Lexington a monument has been erected to the memory of those who were killed in that town, with a suitable inscription on it, including the names of those who fell. The die was cast! the blood of these martyrs was the cement of the union of these states: the Americans rose as one man to revenge their brethren's blood, and at the point of the sword to assert and defend their native rights. Those who fell in this battle were revered by their countrymen, as martyrs who had died in the cause of liberty.
On the 10th May, 1775, the delegates from the several colonies, with the exception of Rhode Island, assembled at the state house in Philadelphia, when Peyton Randolph, was a second time unanimously elected president, and Charles Thompson, secretary. A few days after they met, Mr. Randolph being under the necessity of returning home, John Hancock, of Massachusetts, was unanimously elected president.
On the 17th of June, the memorable battle of Bunker's Hill took place, where the gallant resistance of a handful of undisciplined troops, taught a lesson to the British which they remembered during the contest.
In the same month Congress resolved to raise several companies of riflemen, &c. and that a general should be appointed to command all the continental forces raised, or to be raised, for the defence of American liberty; and GEORGE WASHINGTON, was unanimously elected. Congress, at the same time, resolved, that they would maintain, assist, and adhere to George Washington, with their lives and fortunes.
On the first of August, Congress adjourned to meet on the 5th of September. On the 5th of September, 1775, Congress again convened, and proceeded to the important business entrusted to them. They provided for raising armies, building vessels of war, and authorised the capture of all ships and vessels belonging to the inhabitants of Great Britain. They also resolved that ten millions of dollars should be raised for the purpose of carrying on the war.
On the 10th of June, 1776, a motion was made by Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, seconded by John Adams, of Massachusetts, that a committee should be appointed to prepare a declaration to the following effect : “ That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connexion between them and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” The committee consisted of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Sherman, and Mr. R. R. Livingston. Mr. Jefferson, though the youngest on the committee, was chairman, he having received one more vote than Mr. Adams.. The committee met and appointed Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams, a sub-committee. Mr. Jefferson urged Mr. Adams to write the declaration, and Mr. Adams urged Mr. Jefferson to do it. Mr. Jefferson consented, and the next day submitted the original draft, as it was presented to Congress. On the first day of July, the committee reported the declaration to Congress, and it was discussed and amended on the second and third, and finally, on the fourth of July, the Declaration of Independence was agreed to and signed.
A NEW AMERICAN
ADAMS, SAMUEL, one of the most distinguished patriots of the American Revolution, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 22d of September, 1722. His ancestors were among the first settlers in New England. His parents were highly respectable. His father was, for many years, a representative for the town of Boston, in the Massachusetts house of Assembly, in which he was annually elected till his death.
Samuel Adams received the rudiments of a liberal education at the grammar school under the care of Mr. Lovell, where he was remarkably attentive to his studies. His conduct was similar while he was at college, and during the whole term he had to pay but one fine, and this was for not attending morning prayers, in consequence of having overslept himself. By a close and steady application, he made considerable proficiency in classical learning, logic, and natural philosophy; but as he was designed for the ministry, a profession to which he seems to have been much inclined, his studies were particularly directed to systematic divinity. Why Mr. Adams did not assume the clerical character, so congenial to his views and habits, does not appear. In 1740, and 1743, the respective degrees of bachelor and master of arts were conferred upon him. On the latter occasion, he proposed the following question for discussion, “whether it be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot otherwise be preserved?” He maintained the affirmative of this proposition, and thus evinced, at this period of his life, his attachment to the liberties of the people. While he was a student, his father allowed him a regular stipend. Of this, he saved a sufficient sum, to publish, at his own expense, a pamphlet, called "Englishmen's Rights."
He was put an apprentice to the late Thomas Cushing, an eminent merchant. For this profession he was ill adapted, and it received but a small share of his attention. The study of politics was his chief delight. At this time he formed a club, each member of which agreed to furnish a political essay for a newspaper called the Independent Advertiser. These essays brought the writers into notice, who were called, in derision, “the Whipping Post Club.”
His limited knowledge of commerce rendered him incompetent to support himself by that pursuit. His father, however, gave him a considerable capital, with which he commenced business. He had not been long in trade when he credited one of his countrymen with a sum of money.
This person, soon after, met with heavy calamities, which he represented to Mr. Adams, who never demanded the amount, although it was nearly half the value of his original stock. This, and other losses, soon consumed all he had.
At the age of twenty-five, his father died, and, as he was the oldest son, the care of the family and management of the estate, devolved upon him.
Early distinguished by talents, as a writer, his first attempts were proofs of his filial piety. By his efforts he preserved the estate of his father, which had been attached on account of an engagement in the land bank bubble. He became a political writer during the administration of Shirley, to which he was opposed, as he thought the union of so much civil and military power, in one man, was dangerous. His ingenuity, wit, and profound argument, are spoken of with the highest respect by those who were contemporary with him. At this early period he laid the foundation of public confidence and esteem.
It may be proper to mention that his first office in the town was that of tax-gatherer, which the opposite party in politics often alluded to, and in their controversies would style him Samuel the Publican. While the British regiments were in town, the tories enjoyed a kind of triumph, and invented every mode of burlesquing the popular leaders : but, where the people tax themselves, the office of collector is respectable ; it was, at that time, given to gentlemen who had seen better days, and needed some pecuniary assistance, having merited the esteem and confidence of their fellow townsmen. Mr. Adams was ill qualified to fill an office which required such constant attention to pecuniary matters; and, his soul being bent on politics, he passed more time in talking against Great Britain than in collecting the sums due to the town. He grew embarrassed in his circumstances, and was assisted, not only