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of that year they pledged themselves, their lives, their
fortunes, to prevent effectually the enforcement of the
stamp act, and declared there was no safety for the
colonies " except in a firm union of the whole ".

From that day this organization spread to the other
colonies. Its members constituted, at that time, the
radical part of the population. They opposed all con-
cessions to English authority. They first foresaw in-
dependence, not for a nation, but for the several colo-
nies, and were the first to propose armed resistance.
They welcomed every event that widened the gulf be-
tween the colonies and the mother-country, and they
proved their faith by being ready for the conflict when
it came.

The tories. — At the other extreme were the royal-
ists, or tories. They would grant everything England
asked. They defended every measure of taxation.
They looked upon the sons of liberty and their associ-
ates as rebels against the authority of the king, and
saw no future for the colony but as a dependency of
Great Britain.

The conservatives. — Between these extremes stood

202 Revolutio:n^ary Sentiments [Period VI

the great mass of the people. They deplored the
tyranny of the English ministry, but hoped for recon-
ciliation. They had suffered enough from French and
Indian troubles. They desired peace above all else,
and to obtain it were willing to wait and suffer still.
To win over this element both the other parties applied
all their arts; in the end most of the conservatives
joined the patriots.

Repeal of the stamp act, 1766. — Their utter in-
ability to enforce the pro-
visions of the stamp act, to-
gether with the active oppo-
sition of Pitt, Barre, and
Burke, finally induced the
British ministry to consent
to its repeal (March 13, 1766).
When the news reached
Xew York (May 20) it was
welcomed by the people as a

Edmund Burke. 1729-1797 g-g^ ^f COUCCSsion from the

king. Arrangements were at once made to celebrate
his twenty-fifth birth-day, which would occur on the
4th of June. Their manner of doing this was charac-
teristic of the times, but would hardly be allowed in
the same place (city hall park) to-day. They roasted
an ox and provided twenty-five barrels of beer, a hogs-
head of rum, and sugar and all necessary ingredients
for making punch. On a pole they suspended twenty-
five tar-barrels, and near by placed twenty-five cannon.
The governor attended, the flag of England was un-
furled, the band played "God save the king", and
every one indulged in most extravagant revelry.

They went beyond this; the people petitioned the

1766] Summary 203

assembly to erect a statue to Pitt. The request was
granted, and on account of his "benignity", one to
king George was voted also. Pitt's statue was to be
in brass and the king's in bronze ; but Pitt's was finally
made of marble, and the king's of lead.


1. Death of Governor DeLancey, 1760.

2. Dr. Golden, governor; his character.

3. Dr. Colden and the judiciary.

-t. Changes in England; character of George III.
Taxation without consent; excuse for.

5. Restrictions on American commerce.

6. Direct taxation.

7. Effect of these measures in New York.

8. The stamp act congress of 1765; action of;.
New York's share in.

9. The stamp act riots in Xew York ; Holt's Xew
York Gazette; " Pro Patria ".

10. The great meeting in " the fields."

11. The committee of correspondence.

12. The "non-importation agreement" in Xew

13. William Pitt in parliament.

14. Arrival of Governor Moore; his acts.

15. The assembly recalled.

16. The " Sons of Liberty " and their action.

17. The tories and their ideas.

18. The conservatives; the three parties.

19. Repeal of the stamp act; Pitt, Barre, and
Burke; the news in Xew York; the celebration.

20. The two statues.

The First Conflict of the Revolutioj^^

The mutiny act. — AYhen their rejoicings were over,
it was discovered that the king and parliament were
not so generous as had been supposed. With the re-
peal of the stamp act came the passage of the " mutiny
act"*, by which the colonists were to furnish free
quarters to the king's troops.

The burden would fall most heavily on Xew York, it
being the headquarters of the royal troops f. The
assembly voted only a limited supply bill, declaring
that troops were unnecessary. This action produced
irritation which soon found expression among the

The liberty pole. — When the king's birthday was
celebrated, there had been erected what came to be
known as " the liberty pole ". It bore the equivocal
inscription, " The King, Pitt, and Liberty." This the
soldiers out down (Aug., 1760), and the next day a
large crowd assembled to replace it. The soldiers
jeered at them and prodded citizens with their bayo-
nets, and severely wounded two of them. In Septem-
ber the pole was again cut down and again replaced.
This time it was securely fastened with iron bands.

* See Declaration of Independence.
f A standing army of twenty battalions was kept in


1767] ^^Ew York Disfraiichised 205

New York disfranchised. — When news of the action
of the New York assembly on the " supply bill " reached
England, the indignation of the king and parliament
knew no bounds. They spent whole days in devising
some plan to bring the refractory colony to terms.
Little else was talked of but the free language of the
Xew York press, the defiant conduct of the sons of
liberty, and the petition of the Xew York merchants.
This petition was a temperate paper, stating the diffi-
culties in which they were placed, and asking for more
generous treatment in the matter of duties.

In May, 1767, the measure was perfected which, it
was thought, would bring Xew York to terms. Its
assembly having defied the king it should be dissolved
and the colony disfranchised. It was declared that the
other colonies had been "refractory", but New Y^ork
had added "impudence". By the provisions of the
new measure of parliament of June, 1767, the assem-
bly of Xew York was forbidden to exercise any further
legislative functions until it conformed to the require-
ments of the king by making provision for British

At the same time a new system of taxation was de-
Tised. Duties were placed upon paper, glass, tea, and
painters' colors, and commissioners of customs were
established. "Writs of assistance" were authorized,
and indemnity for losses sustained during stamp act
riots was required. The reply of the assembly was to
vote such a supply bill as they thought sufficient, and
then to continue their sessions as though nothing had
happened* until permanently dissolved by Governor

* See Mrs. Lamb's "History of the Citv of Xew
York", i.738.

20G First Conflict OF THE Eevolutio?^^ [Period VI

Moore (February 2, 1768), and a new election was

The new assembly elected in the same month was as
difficult to manage as the one that had been dissolved.
Governor Moore was conciliatory. His amiable tem-
perament made him anxious to please his people, while
his traditional sympathies were all with King George.
In the midst of his efforts to harmonize two such an-
tagonistic elements he suddenly died (September,
1769), and again the government passed into the hands
of Dr. Golden.

The treaty of Fort Stanwix^ 1768. — So early as
1764 the Six Nations began to make complaints about
the fraudulent seizure of their lands, under pretended
patents. Among the lands in dispute were 700,000
acres between the Hudson and the Mohawk. This
complaint became so pronounced that in 1768 Sir Wil-
liam Johnson was authorized to confer with the Indians
in regard to its settlement.

As lands lying in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and
Virginia were also in dispute Sir William concluded to
call a congress at Fort Stanwix. This met September,
1768. More than 3,000 Indians were present. The
agreement llnally gave to the Indians £2,000 in money
and goods, on condition of their releasing to the crown
the lands in dispute. This purchase included those
tracts recovered by Governor Bellomont.

Oolden Hill, 1770. — The old animosity which the
soldiers felt for the people cropped out again in an
attack upon the liberty pole, and this finally culminated
in what is known as "The Golden Hill Gonflict ",

1770] Golden Hill Conflict 207

One pole had been cut down by the soldiers in the
night time, and when the sons of liberty had replaced
it with a better one they determined to guard it.

The attempts of the soldiers to cut this one resulted
in several conflicts. At length it was cut down, sawn
in pieces, and piled in front of the building in which
the sons held their meetings.

This resulted in a general meeting of all the sons of
liberty, in which it was resolved that any soldier found
on the streets after roll-call "should be treated as a
common enemy", and a committee was appointed to
enforce the resolution.

On the evening of January 18, Isaac Sears with a
few other sons of liberty caught some soldiers posting
bills ridiculing the resolutions; whereupon they seized
the offenders and were marching them oS to the
mayor's office, when they were met by a larger band of
soldiers who attempted a rescue. More sons gathered,
followed by more soldiers, and the fight became gen-
eral. The battle was chiefly with clubs and cart stakes
though a few used cutlases. Gradually the soldiers
were driven toward what was known as Golden Hill*.
Here the fight raged for some time; many were
wounded and several killed before the officers came and
took the troops back to the fortf.

* A district embraced between the present streets of
Cliff, William, John, and Fulton.

t It was at this time that Governor Colden wrote to
the British ministry: " Whatever happens in this place
has the greatest influence on the other colonies. They
have their eyes perpetually on it and are governed

208 Summary [Period VT

This and not Lexington was the first conflict of the
revolution. During these troubles messages of sym-
pathy and encouragement were constantly passing back
and forth between Xew York and Boston.


1. The " mutiny act " in Xew York.

2. The first liberty pole.

3. New York disfranchised, 1767; reasons for^
action of parliament.

4. The new system of taxation; writs of assistance.

5. Action of the assembly, and its dissolution, 1768.

6. The new assembly; action of.

7. The treaty of Fort Stanwix, 1768.

8. Tlie Golden Hill contest, 1770; story of.


The Tax on Tea

Governor Duiimore.— The years 1771 and 1772
were comparatively peaceful
in Xew York. The new gov-
ernor, the earl of Dunmore,
had arrived in October, 1770,
and had been received with
every show of loyalty by the
colonists. He declined the
salary which the assembly
voted him on the ground that
the governor was thereafter

Earl of Dunsiore. 1732-1809 , -i '^ l. . 4-1,^ ^^^^-^

to be paid by the crown.
This was a part of the plan of disfranchisement. It
was expected that the crown would more than re-
imburse itself from the duties levied on the ports under
the tax-bill about to go into effect.

Dunmore was not fond of the duties of his office,
preferring the pleasures of the chase, for which there
were abundant opportunities in the territory he had
come to govern. The only matter in which he distin-
guished himself was in a suit against Lieutenant-Gov-
ernor Golden for his salary as governor during the half-
year that Golden had served and Dunmore had been
preparing to come to New York. The earl soon
wearied of the office and was transferred to Virginia.


210 The Tax on Tea [Period VI

GrOvernor Tryon. — He was succeeded by Sir William
Try on, July, 1771, who had tried to govern Xorth
Carolina but had failed. As Tryon was the last Eng-
lishman ever sent over to govern Xew York, it is well
to know more of the man. In Carolina he had made
himself odious by his petty tyranny. On his arrival
in New York he at once made the acquaintance of the
landed aristocracy, and sedulously courted their favor.
At the same time he listened with apparent interest to
the complaints of the merchants and assured them
that their rights should be protected. While Tryon
flattered all, he was at the same time cautious. He
took up his abode inside the fort, in the house pro-
vided for him *.

Meeting of the assembly^ 177*2. — Governor Tryon
prorogued the assembly until 1772, when at its first
meeting he manifested a most ardent desire "to co-
operate in every measure that will promote the honor
and dignity of his majesty's government and advance
the felicity of a people distinguished by their loyalty
to the best of sovereigns ". To this complimentary

* One event during Governor Tryon's term shows
the deep undercurrent of charity which was not dis-
turbed by the mad tide of political events that on the
surface was sweeping everything before it. This was
the founding in 1773 of the " Xew York hospital"
by New York citizens. It was erected at a point on
Broadway at the head of Pearl street, then far out of
town. The main building was finished in time to serve
as barracks for British soldiers during the revolution,
and it sheltered many a Union soldier during the civil
war. In 1873 it was demolished and its site covered
with blocks of stores.

1772] Restrictions on Trade 211

address the assembly replied with expressions of their
great confidence in the "wisdom and kindness of their
new governor.

Tryoii county. — The governor now visited the
Mohawk country (1772), and reviewed the militia which
Sir William Johnson had organized and which was so
soon to be turned against the colony. He endeavored
to perpetuate his name in the new county formed from
Albany, Tryon county (see map, page 225); and he
returned to Xew York well pleased with the people he
had been sent to govern. Indeed, it now seems that it
would have been an easy matter for England at that
period to conciliate her colonies.

Restrictions on trade. — A change in the ministry
of England (1770) had procured the repeal of all duties
except that on tea. The city of Xew York was suffer-
ing from, the effects of the "non-importation agree-
ment", and there was a strong feeling in favor of the
removal of all restrictions on trade.

Rhode Island had already removed them, and the
other colonies were keeping the agreement in a half-
hearted manner, while Xew York had remained entirely
faithful tc it. During five years her trade had been
prostrated and her ruined merchants began to feel that
they had suffered enough.

The tax on tea. — The "committee of one hun-
dred " favored the removal of all restrictions on impor-
tations with the single exception of tea. The East
India company, which had a monopoly of the tea-
trade, being on the verge of bankruptcy was willing to
pay England twice the amount of the tax if trade with
the colonies could be resumed.

212 The Tax on Tea [Period YI

King George and his ministry could not yield to
their refractory colonies, so another plan was devised
to save the pride of England and pacify the colonies.
The tax should not be removed, but the duty which
the East India company paid should be remitted ; then
the colonies could pay the tax and still get their tea
cheaper than before.

But the Americans were not haggling over the price
of tea; they were standing for the principle of "no
taxation without representation". Tea was shipped
to the four principal ports at the same time, — to New
York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston. When
news of this plan reached the colonies, the whole
country was in arms.

The newspapers were filled with communications
warning the people not to touch the tea; merchants
who had favored submission were afraid to receive it,
and the agents for its sale withdrew. Thereupon it
was announced that on its arrival the government
would take charge of the tea.

The imported tea. — The ship for Boston reached
its destination first. The whole cargo was thrown
overboard to mix with the brine of the bay. On the
very day that this was being done in Boston, New
York was flooded with hand-bills sent out by the sons
of liberty calling for a meeting of " all the friends of
liberty" at one o'clock the next day, at the city hall.
A large crowd assembled. It was addressed by John
Lamb and Robert R. Livingstone. The latter stated
that he had a message from the governor, who declared
that the tea should be put into the fort at noon-day,
remain there until "the king's orders in regard to it

1774] The Imported Tea 213

were known'", and should not be taken out except at

When asked if this was satisfactory, the people an-
swered with a shout " Xo! no I no! ■' Mr Lamb then
asked if the tea should be landed under any circum-
stances; to which there was an immediate and unani-
mous cry of " Xo ! no! no ! "

A series of resolutions was then adopted which
declared that "whoever should aid or abet the intro-
duction of tea while it was subject to duty or should
handle, cart or store the same or buy or sell it " should
be considered "an enemy to the liberties of Amer-
ica"; that whether those duties were paid in England
or America their liberties would be equally affected;
and lastly, that " whosoever shall transgress any of these
resulutions, we will not deal with nor employ nor have
any connection with him-'^."

The tea-ship was daily expected, but the winter
months went by and it did not come. In April, 1774,
Governor Tryon and family sailed for England, and
for the fifth and last time the government came into
the hands of Dr. Golden.

The Mohawks ami the tea. — Hardly had Tryon's
ship disappeared through the narrows, when the tea-
ship Nancy appeared. The pilot refused to bring her
into port. Taking their cue from Boston, an organiza-
tion from among the sons of liberty was formed calling
themselves " Mohawks ". They agreed to look after
the tea, and they kept their word. The captain was
allowed to go ashore to consult with his consignee and

* This is the first " boycott " recorded in our State.

214 The Tax on Tea [Period VI

to purchase supplies. Xo one else was permitted to
land from his ship. Circulars were posted asking the
people to come together at a given hour " to meet the
captain of the tea-ship ". Thousands came. The cap-
tain, Lockyear, came out upon the veranda of his
hotel, and was introduced to the populace. They
cheered him, the bands played, and while the bells
tolled and flags were flying the crowd escorted Captain
Lockyear to his ship, and saw him off*. Another
ship, The London^ came with a small quantity of tea
on board, which was summarily thrown into the sea.
So ended this attempt at taxation.


1. Dunmore and Tryon, the last English governors;
character of each.

2. Founding of Xew York City Hospital, 1773.

3. Tryon and the assembly.

4. Tryon's visit to the Mohawks; Tryon county.

5. Difficulty caused by " non-importation agree-
ment ".

6. The merchants' committee of one hundred and
the tax.

7. A new plan for getting the tax money.

8. Opinions of the people.

9. Meeting in city hall on tax; resolutions passed.

10. Departure of Tryon and arrival of the tea-ship;
action of the sons of liberty.

* The president of Kings college. Dr. Myles Cooper,
was a staunch loyalist, and refused to allow the college
flag to be displayed. See page 222.

Continental Congresses

The great meeting in ^^the fields", 1774. — On

May 16, 1774, a meeting of citizens was called to
decide on some plan of concerted action. This meet-
ing appointed the " committee of fifty-one " to cor-
respond with the other colonies in an effort to secure
united action among them.

The " committee of fifty-one " appointed a sub-
committee of four: Alexan-
der McDougal, Isaac Low,
James Duane, John Jay.
This committee recommend-
ed a general congress of de-
puties from all the colonies,
and wrote to Boston asking
the patriots there to name
the time and place of meet-
ing. This action was too

.Tames Duane. 1733-1797 , « ,-, - ti

slow lor the sons of liberty,
and they issued a call for a general meeting in " the
fields " on July 6.

This gathering was a momentous one in the history
of the country; an immense concourse responded to
the call. They were addressed by a stripling whom
few knew, but of whom the whole country was, later,


210 The Meeting in the Fields [Period VI

to hear much. This was Alexander Hamilton, then
but seventeen, and a student in King's college.

His speech, an earnest of his future career, fired the
hearts of the people. They passed resolutions con-
demning "the Boston port bill", and took measures
to raise funds for the benefit of the sufferers from
that act.

They approved the action of the "committee of
fifty-one", but insisted that the non-intercourse
agreement should be enforced until all duties were

Delegates to the continental congress^ 1775. —

The plan for a general con-
gress having been agreed up-
on, the "committee of fifty-
one " made its nomina-
tions: Philip Livingston,
John Alsop, Isaac Low,
James Duane, and John Jay.
Again appeared the three
parties, and the election of
this delegation was a test of

Philip Livingston. 1716-1778 ^^leU' strength. The dele-
gates nominated represented the sober, conservative
element of Xew York. The leader of this party was
John Jay, a Huguenot, destined thereafter to be dis-
tinguished as the first chief justice of our State and
of the United States. The leader of the radical
wing was Alexander McDougall, a Scotchman.

These two parties sought the same end but by differ-
ent means. The radicals approved of a delegation to
congress, but tried to substitute men of their own

1774] First Continental Congkess 217

party in its membership, while the efforts of the tories
were turned in the direction of an attempt to aefeat
the election.

The delegates were, however, elected by a majority
and were soon on their way to Philadelphia, where
the congress was to meet. When they took their de-
parture they were escorted to the water's edge by a
large delegation of citizens who bade them " God-
speed". It was, in those days, a long journey, and
the affairs in which they were to take part were most
serious. Xew York has never had occasion to regret
the selection made, nor to apologize for the part those
delegates took in the first continental congress.

The first continental congress^ 1774. — In this
congress which met at Philadelphia September 5, 1774,
were laid the foundations of American independence.

Five historic papers were put forth by this body: 1.
An address to the people of the colonies; 2. An ad-
dress to the Canadians; 3. An address to the people
of Great Britain; 4. An address to the King; 5. A
declaration of rights.

The declaration of rights. — The last was the
composition of John Jay. It contained a terse state-
ment of the rights claimed by the colonists, which
were: 1. The right to life, liberty, and property; 2.
The right to tax themselves; 3. The right to assemble
peaceably to petition for the redress of grievances; 4.
The right to enjoy all the privileges of Englishmen ;
5. x\ll the rights granted by the colonial charters.

At the first meeting of the Xew York assembly after
this continental congress, the venerable Governor

218 The Provikoial Convention^ [Period VI

Golden, in his message, was very conservative. He
spoke of the "alarming crisis", and urged the assem-
bly to countenance all measures calculated to increase
the public distress.

End of the assembly. — There was an attempt by
the patriotic side of the assembly to obtain an indorse-
ment of the action of the continental congress, but it
failed by a vote of eleven to twelve, — so small was the
recognition then given to the services of men whose
names have since been held in highest honor.

The assembly, being thus constituted, naturally re-
fused to choose delegates to the second continental
congress; and fortunately, for their refusal opened up
another and a better way. If this assembly was too
conservative for the people, it was yet too radical for
the governor. It met on April 3, 1775, and adjourned
to May 3. Two days before the assembly was to meet
it was prorogued by the governor and it never met
again ^.

The committee of sixty. — It now became neces-
sary to choose delegates to the Philadelphia congress,
and the people set about it in their own way. The old
committees of "one hundred" and of " tifty-one "

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 34)