D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) Hurd.

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) online

. (page 33 of 118)
Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 118)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

not forfeited his right to them by his loyalty to his king, want
of attachment and a reasonable submission to the British Gov-
ernment, and love to his fellow-subjects. These are so foreign
to the character of the people of this country that calumny
itself has never been able to fix it upon them, and we huvo
evinced our loyalty to our king and our affection to the British
Government and our mother country on all occasions by our own
readiness to assist in any measures with our blood and treasure,
to extend their conquest and to enlarge their dumintons, from
which they reap so many and great advantages. At the same
timo that we reflect on our happiness in having a natural and
constitutional right to all the privileges of our fellow-suhjects
in Great Britain, we behold with pain ond sorrow any attempts
to deprive us of these, and cannot but took on such attempts as



instances of the greatest unkindness and injustice. Thi* is the
subject of our present complaint, which not witbout rea3on
echoes from every uioutb in every section of this distressed and
injured country. Our youth, the flower of this country, are
many of them slain, our treasure exhausted in the service of
our mother country, our trade and all the numerous branches
of business dependent on it reduced and almost ruined by se-
vere Acts of Parliament, and now wc are threatened by a late
Act of Parliament with being loaded with internal taxes, with-
out our consent or the voice of a single representative in Par-
liament, and with beiug deprived of that darling privilege of
an Englishman, trial by his peers, the consequence of the iin-
cunstitutiunal extension of the power of Courts of Admiralty in
America. These two are the main pillars of the British Con-
stitution and the glory of every freeman, so that the depriving
us of these creates such a distinction between us and our fellow-
subjects as cannot be accounted for upon any principle of jus-
tice and impartiality. And we certainly have never given uny
occasion, for we shall say nothing on this occasion of our ina-
bility to pay the many and great taxes laid upon us by the
Stamp Act, of the many more crimes opened by it which oan-
not but be committed by many people, however desirous they
may be to avoid thein, of the prodigious penalties annexed to
them, or of the great hardship in subjecting the trial of them
to the judgment of such a court, and such a manner of correc-
tion, or of the many great disadvantages that must arise from
these measures to Great Britain herself. These are obvious
facts, and have already been handled in such a masterly and
convincing manner by some of the friends of buth this Mother
Country and of the British Constitution (for they cannot be
separated) as to render it unnecessary to enlarge on them.

" You, sir, represent a people who are not only descended
from the first settlers of this country, but inhabit the very spot
they first possessed. Here was first laid the foundation of the
British empire in this part of America, which from a small be-
ginning has increased and spread in a manner very surprising
and almost incredible, especially when we consider that all this
has been effected without the aid or assistance of any power on
earth ; that we have defended, protected, and secured ourselves
against the invasions and cruelty of savages and the subtitty
and inhumanity of our inveterate and natural enemies, the
French; and all this without the appropriation of any tax by
stamp or stamp acts laid upon our fellow-subjects in any part
of the king's dominions for defraying the expenses thereof.
This place, sir, was at tirst the asylum of liberty, and we hope
will ever be preserved sacred to it, though it was then no more
than a wilderness inhabited only by savage men' and beasts.
To this place our fathers (whose names ho revered), possessed
of the principles of liberty in their purity, disdaiuing slavery,
lied to enjoy those privileges which they had an undoubted
right to, but were deprived of by the hands of violence & op-
pression iu their native country. We, sir, their posterity, the
freeholders and other inhabitants of the place, legally assem-
bled tor that purpose, possessed of the satuc sentiments and re-
taining the same ardor for liberty, think it our indispensable
duty on this occasion to express to you their own sentiments of
the stump act and its fatal consequences to the country, and to
enjoin it upon you, us you regard not only the welfare, but the
very being, of this people, that you (consistent with an alle-
giance to the king and a relation to the Government of Great
Britain), disregarding all proposals for that purpose, exert all
your powers aud influence to oppose tho exoeutiou of the Stump
Act, at least until we hear the issue of our pctitiou for relief.
Wo likewise, to avoid disgracing the memory of our ancestors,
as well as the reproaches of our own consciences and the curses
of posterity, recommend it to you to obtain, if possible, in tho

Hon. House of Representatives of tho Province a full und ex-
plicit assertion of our rights, and to have the same entered on
the public records, that all generations yet to come may be con-
vinced that we have not only a just sense of our rights and lib-
erties, but that we never, with submission to Divine Providence,
will bo slaves to any power on earth. And as we have at all
times an abhorrence of tumults and disorders, we think our-
selves happy in being at present under no apprehension of any,
and in having good and wholesome laws sullieient to preserve
the peace of the Province in all future time unless provoked by
some imprudent measures, so we think it by no means advisa-
ble for your interest yourself in the protection of Stamp papers
or stamp otliecs. The ouly thing we have further to recom-
mend to you at this time is to observe on all occasions a suita-
ble frugality and economy in the public expenditure, and that
you consent to no unnecessary or unusual grants at this time
of distress, when the people are grouuing uuder the burden of
heavy taxes, and that you use your endeavors to inquire into
and bear testimony against any past, and to prevent any future,
unconstitutional draft on the public treasury.

" Jaues Wakukn, per order."

On the 16th of January, 1766, the following peti-
tion sent to the selectmen was acted on by the town,
and it is introduced into this narrative, with its list of
names, to show who were active in resisting the first
step which resulted so disastrously to the iuterests of
Great Britain :

" To the Selectmen :

"Gentlemen, — We, the subscribers, freeholders in the town
of Plymouth, having the highest sense of the noble patriotism
and generous conduct of the town of Boston in many instances,
mure especially with regard to the difficulties we are now in-
volved in, and the injurious oppressions we are uutharrasscd
with; and being fully convinced of the very great advantages
that have resulted from their spirit aud conduct not only to
every part of this Province, but to the whole continent, and as
we conceive the good people of this town are unanimous in this
sentiment, and would be very glad of an opportunity to express
their gratitude to the town of Boston for their spirited conduct,
do hereby desire you to call a town meeting as speedily as may
be, to know if the town will, for the reasons above, vote an ad-
dress of thanks to the town of Boston.
"Dec. 30, 1765.
" Amaziah Churchill. Ebenczer Churchill.

Nath* Foster. Ephratui Cobb.

John Blaokmer. Stephen Sampson.

Joseph Barttett. Benjamin Warren.

Nehemiah Ripley. Elkanah Watson.

David Turner. Thomas Davis.

Thomas Spooner. Ephraim Spooncr.

Samuel N. Nelson, John Russell.

Cornelius Holmes. John Churchill.

Joseph Rider, Jr. Jeremiah Holmes.

Ebenezer Nelson. Lemuel Jackson.

Ezekicl Morton. Pcrca Tilson.

Silas Morton. Lazarus l.o Baron.

\V m Riekard. James Warren.

W m Rider. Thomas Mayhew.

Nath 1 Goodwin. Thomas Jackson.

Thomas Torrey, Nathan Delano.

Thomas S. Howland. Isaac Lothrop.

AbielShurtleif. W» Watson."

The following address of thanks was adopted:



" To the Inhabitttutu of the Town of Botton ;

" At a time when the rights and liberties of this country are
invaded, and the inhabitants threatened with the loss of every-
thing that is dear to them ; when they are embarrassed with
every distress that is the never-failing consequence of slavery
and poverty, no man or society of men who are sharers in the
C'iminun calamity (unless totally destitute of every spark of
public virtue and patriotism ), can remain unfueling and in-
active spectators, but must be ready on all occasions to bless
the hearts which feel, and the hands which exert themselves to
avert the evil threatened, and to restore that happiness which
constantly attends tho full enjoyment of natural aud constitu-
tional rights and liberties; we, therefore, the inhabitants of thu
Town of Plymouth, animated with a spirit of public virtue
and love of our country, as well as gratitude to all our bene-
factors, and more especiaUy to such as have distinguished
themselves in the common cause of their country in this day of
dUtrcss and difficulty, and being assembled in town meeting
for that purpose, as a public testimony of our esteem and grati-
tude, beg you to accept our united and general thanks for the
invariable attachment you have on all occasions, and particu-
larly on the present, shown to the principle of liberty, and for
the vigorous exertion of your loyal and legal endeavors to
secure to your country the uninterrupted enjoyment of that
blessing, and to transmit the same entire and perfect to the
latest posterity. Instances of this, much to your own honor
and tho interests of your country, distinguished by the un-
erring marks of disinterestedness and generosity, crowd on our
minds on this occasion. But to avoid the imputation of pro-
lixity, permit us to single out a few, which are rucent, and
must readily occur to every one's mind, and which are suffi-
cient of themselves to justify our sentiments and merit the
gratitudo of every well-wisher to this country.

"The new regulation with regard to mourning, which has
not only saved tho country a great and needless expense, and
in a manner abolished a ridiculous pageantry, but produced
consequences in our mother country very benelicial to us and
all, principally at your expense, as your merchants were the
principal importers and venders of those articles, a measure
which at the same time that it retlects a lustre upon your con-
duct, shows by the success of it that tho people of this country
have virtue enough to prefer its interest to any fashion that
may stand in competition with it, however established by long
custom and very particular prejudice. The opposition you
have at all times made, both to the foreign and domestic inva-
sion of our rights, particularly the legal and warrantable meas-
ures you have taken to prevent the execution of the Stamp Act i
in the province. The spirited and noble application you have
made to have tho custom-houses and courts of justice opened
in tlie Province, upon which our welfare, peace, and tranquillity
so much depend; the testimony you havo from first to last
borne against, and tho abhorrence you havo expressed of all
outrageous tumults and illegal proceedings and their conse-
quences very early taken to restore tranquillity und the security
of property in your town, the capital of the Province, and tho
good example thereby given to the other towns of that love of
peace and good order which influenced you, and which we
think sufficient to destroy all those injurious connections, tho
work of some people's imaginations, and from which they
affect to draw consequences not only disadvantageous to you,
but to the whole country. To conclude that you and your pos-
terity may ever be prevented of the full enjoyment of that lib-
erty you have so laudably asserted and contended for; that
your trade and commerce, the source of riches and opulence to
this country may be extended and flourish; that you may ever
continue to deserve and have the justice done you, to be pos-

sessed of the love and esteem of your fellow-countrymen, who,
renouncing that aolecisin in politics which arises from an un-
natural distinction between lunded and commercial interest,
shall exert themselves to encourage your hearts and strengthen
your hands, are the sincere wishes and ardent prayers of your
fellow-subjects to the best of kings, your fellow-sufferers in the
calamities of this country and your fellow-laborers in the vine-
yard of liberty, the inhabitants of the town of Plymouth.

"Thomas Maviikw.

"James Wauukn.

11 Elkanaii Watson.
" Plymouth, Jan. 16, 1706."

la response to the above, the following reply was
received from the selectmen of Boston. :

"Boston/, March 10, 1766.
"The inhabitants of the town of Boston, legally assembled in
Faneuil Hall, have received with singular pleasure your re-
spectful address of the 16th of January last. The warm senti-
ments of public virtue which you therein express is a sufficient
evidence that the most ancient town in New England, to whose
predecessors this province in a particular manner is so greatly
iudebted for their neeessary aid in its original settlement, still
retain the truly noble spirit of our renowned ancestors. When
we recollect the ardent love of religion and liberty which in-
spired the breasts of those worthies, which induced them, at a
time when tyranny had laid its oppressive hand on church and
state in their native eountry, to forsake their fair possessions
and seek a retreat in this distant part of the earth; when we
reflect upon their early care to lay a solid foundation for learn-
ing, even in a wilderness, as the surest if not the only means of
preserving and cherishing the principles of liberty and virtue,
and transmitting them to us their posterity, our mind is tilled
with deep veneration, and we bless and revere their memory.
When we consider the immense cost and pains they were at in
subduing, cultivating, and settling this land with the utmost
peril of their lives, and the surprising increase of dominion,
strength, and riches which have accrued to Great Britain by
their exponse and labor, we confess we feel an honest indigna-
tion to think there ever should have been any among her sons
so ungrateful as well as unjust and cruel as to seek their ruin.
Instances of this too frequently occur in the past history of our
country. The names of Randolph, Andros, and others are
handed down to us with infamy; and the times in which we
live, even these very times, may furnish some future historian
with a catalogue of those who look upou our rising greatness
with an envious eye, and while we and our sister colonies have
been exerting our growing strength in the most substantial
service to the mother-country, by art and intrigue have wick-
edly attempted to seduce her into measures to enslave us. it,
tbeu, gentlemen, the inhabitants of this metropolis have dis-
covered un invariable attachment to tho principles of liberty
when it has been invaded; if they have made the most vigorous
exertions for our country when she has been threatened with
the loss of everything that is dear; if they have used their ut-
most endeavors that she may be relieved from those difficulties
with which she is at this time embarrassed ; if they have takcu
the warrantable and legal measures to prevent that misfortune,
of all others the most to be dreaded, the execution of the Stamp
Act, and, as a necessary means of preventing it, have made any
spirited application for opening the custom-houses and courts
of justice; if, at the same time, they have borne their testimony
against outrageous tumults and illegal proceedings, and given
any examples of the love of peace and good order, — next to the
consciousness of having done their duty is the satisfaction of



meeting with the approbation of any uf their fellow-country-
men. Tint the spirit of our venerable forefathers revive
and be diffused through every comuiunity in this land; that
liberty, both civil and religious, the grand object in view, may
still be felt, enjoyed, and vindicated by the present generation,
und the fair inheritance transmitted to our latest posterity, is
the fervent wish of this metropolis.

"Sahukl Aiiams.

" John Ruihiock.

"John Hancock."

The Stamp Act was repealed on the lGth of Janu-
ary, 1760', and the threatening cloud was dissipated
for a time, to appear again after the lapse of a few
years, with more serious and lasting consequences.

In 1708 the first light-house was built on the Gurnet
at an expense of ten hundred and sixty-eight pounds.
Iu the House of Representatives it waa ordered, June
14th in that year, "that Col. Warren and Capt.
Thomas, with such as the lion. Board shall join, be
a Committee to agree with a meet person to take the
care of the light-house ou the Gurnet, near Plymouth
harbor, now nearly finished, to report at the next
session of this Court, and that said Committee be in-
structed to prepare a proper advertisement, to be
lodged at the impost office, setting forth that a light-
house is there erected, and the course to steer with
safety on sight thereof at sea." Gamaliel Bradford
was joined by the Board, and John Thomas was ap-
pointed the first keeper, at a salary of sixty pounds.

The year 1709 wsis made memorable by the forma-
tion of the Old Colony Club, under whose auspices
that long line of celebrations was inaugurated which
has made the anniversary of the landing of the
Pilgrims a hallowed day in the land. The founders
of the club were Isaac Lothrop, Pelham Winslow,
Thomas Lothrop, Klkanah Cushman, John Thomas,
Edward Winslow, Jr., and John Watson, to whom
were added soon after the organization, George Wat-
son, James Warren, James Hovey, Thomas Mayhew,
William Watson, Gideon White, Elkanah Watson,
Thomas Davis, Nathaniel Lothrop, John Russell, Ed-
ward Clarke, Alexander Scammell, Peleg Wadsworth,
and Thomas Southworth Howland. All these gentle-
men are intimately associated with the history of Plym-
outh during their time. They were of mixed political
faith, and represented various degrees of loyalty to
the crown. Isaac and Thomas Lothrop, Elkanah
Cushman, John Watson, James Warren, James
Hovey, Thomas Mayhew, Elkanah Watson, Thomas
Davis, Nathaniel Lothrop, John Russell, Alexauder
Scammell, and Peleg Wadsworth were afterwards
pronounced in their advocacy of war. Pelham Wins-
low, son of Gen. John Winslow, an attorney-at-law,
John Thomas, Edward Winslow, Jr., Gideon White,
and Thomas S. Howland adhered with more or less

firmness to the crown, and the first three became ex-
patriated loyalists. The records of the club indicate
that a difference of opinion on the questions of the
day, which were constantly assuming greater import-
ance, was the rock on which it finally split, aud which
led to its dissolution. While we of to-day are in-
debted to the club as the founder of the celebration of
the anniversary of the landiug, the embarrassment
which surrounds the discovery that the wrong day has
been celebrated must be charged to their account. The
day fixed on by the club in 1709 for an observance was
the 22d of December. Because seventeen years before,
at the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752,
eleven days had been dropped to make the necessary
correction, the club thought it necessary to drop eleven
days also, and it thus converted the 1 1 th of December,
the day of the lauding in 1020, into the 22d. It is
true that in 1752 the difference between the old and
new styles had become eleven days, but the simple
question was, What was the difference at the time of
the lauding? a question to which the answer was ten.
It is now settled beyond dispute that since the adop-
tion of the new style the 21st of December is the
true anniversary.


WAR OF 1812.

The course taken by the town with reference to
the Stamp Act indicated plainly enough the spirit of
its people and the course they would be likely to pur-
sue under the pressure of heavier burdens. That
obnoxious act was repealed, but new taxes were laid
on glass, paper, lead, and other articles iu everyday
use, which once more deepened the gloom which had
appeared to be gradually dissipating. Lord North
succeeded the Duke of Grafton as prime minister, a
man sufficiently fitted for the performance of ordinary
official duties in peaceful times, but wanting iu the
grasp of mind necessary to compreheud the extraordi-
nary difficulties and complications surrounding him,
and possessed of that easy and pliable disposition
which yielded to the stronger will of the blind aud
obstiuate royal master under whom he served. A
proposition was received from the seleetmeu of Bos-
ton to cease the importation of foreign goods, and
the town chose a committee, consisting of James
Warren, John Torrey, Isaac Lothrop, Thomas May-
hew, and Elkanah Watson, to cousider the subject.



The following report of the committee was unani-
mously adopted by the town, March 26, 1770 :

" Every man not destitute of the principle of freedom and
independence, and tbut has sensibility enough to feet the least
glow of patriotism, must at this time be strongly impressed
with a seuse of the misfortunes of their country in general and
of the town of lioston in particular, where a military force has
for somo time been stationed, to aid and support the execution
of laws designed to subvert the liberties of English subjects in
America, and more effectually to answer the purpose to begin
by suppressing that spirit of freedom which has at all times
distinguished that town in a manner that will not only secure
them the upplause of the present age, in spite of the malice of
placemen and pensioners and all their adherents, but trunsmit
their character and cuuduct down tu posterity in the faithful
pages of impartial history in the most illustrious vein, there to
stand a munument of admiration to posterity of their unpar-
alluled firmness and disinterestedness in the cause of this coun-
try, when the names of their enemies, however dignified now
by titles of distinction, shall be rescued from oblivion to per-
petuate their infamy, and their posterity, notwithstanding the
excessive emoluments they now enjoy at the expense of family
and every tender feeling, shall be undistinguished and neglected.
Affected with theso sentiments, and iufluenced by the principle
of gratitude and justice to the merits of their brethren of the
town of Uoston in general and the respectable inhabitants there
in particular, and willing to contribute all in their power to
support them in their laudable purpose of resisting tyranny
and oppression and establish their rights for thomselves and
their country, which tbey are entitled to as men and English-
men, the Inhabitants of Plymouth

" Jitaulve tbut their thanks be sent to the inhabitants of
Boston, and that tbey will assist them in their resistance; en-
courage non-importation, and bold in detestation those who
continue to import; and encourage frugality, industry, and
manufactures in the country, and discourage the use of super-
fluities, and particularly that of tea; and, further, that a Com-
mittee be chosen to discover and report on such cases in the
town as muy be in violation of this Resolve."

In obedience to this resolve a committee was
chosen, consisting of Thomas Mayhew, Ichabod
Shaw, Thomas Lothrop, Ephraim Cobb, James War-
ren, Thomas Jackson, and John Torrey.

On the 13th of November, 1772, a petition was
sent to the selectmen, signed by one hundred citizens
of the town, asking them to call a meeting to consider
the further and continued violation of popular rights.
At this meeting a committee chosen in the fore-
noon, consisting of James Warren, Thomas Mayhew,
Tliomas Lothrop, John Torrey, William Watson, and
Nathaniel Torrey, reported in the afternoon substan-
tially as follows :

1st. That the people in the province are entitled to
all the rights that the people of Great Britain can
claim by nature and the Constitution.

2d. That these rights have been violated.

3d. That the support of the Supreme Court judges
in any other manner than by the free grants of the
people is an infraction of our rights aud, in connec-

tion with the independence of the Governor, tends to

Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 118)