Local Reactions to the Boston Tea Party

The famed Boston Tea Party was December 16th, 1773.   This protest sparked debates throughout New England as towns decided whether, and how, to react.   It is worth checking the records of your town, in old town meeting records, in town books, etc., to see if and how the Tea Party was discussed.

FamilySearch has online town records for a number of towns in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont.  See if you can find your town’s reaction.  Did they align with the tax protest?  Or did they oppose it?  Let me know what you found.

Here is an example of the reaction in Dover, New Hampshire, which I’ve transcribed from an entry in the “Dover, NH Town Book no. 9 1757-1807,” p. 130 on the City Clerk’s web site.

It was eye opening to read such soaring political rhetoric come from my own town.  The way history is taught we risk getting the false impression that such words could come only from the hands of one man in Braintree or two or three Virginians assembled in Philadelphia.  But the seeds of the American Revolution were scattered far more broadly.

130

At a legal meeting of the qualified Voters of the Town of Dover
This Tenth Day of January 1774 convened at the Friend’s Meeting=
House in said Town on purpose to consider of the Innovations
Attempted to be made on American Priveledges — — —

                Colo Otis Baker Esquire was chosen Moderator –

                Although we deprecate every thing which in its
Infant motions tends to alienate the affections which ought
To subsist among the Subjects of the same King, yet, we cannot
Longer behold the arts used to curtail the Priveledges purchased
With the blood and Treasure of British America, and of New England
In particular, for their Posterity without bearing our Testimony
against them — —

                As these Colonies have ever recognized the protestant
Kings of Great Britain as their Lawful Sovereign, and We in
This province the Man whom the King has pleased to send us
As his Representative – We acknowledge this Representative
From our first formation into a Government has had a
Negative Voice on all Bills proposed for Laws in the man=
=ner his Majesty has at home ——————————

                And as it doth not appear that any Parliament have been
Parties to any Contracts made with the European Settlers in this
Once howling Wilderness, now become a pleasant field, We look on
Our Rights too dearly bought, to admit them now as Taxmasters

— — Since (by Laws as firm as the honor of crowned heads can make
Them, and which we have no apprehension so good and gracious
A King as we obey, will suffer to be abridged) we have parliaments ^of
Our own – who always with the greatest Chearfulness furnished
His Majesty such Aids as he has been pleased to require from time
to time according to the abilities of the People, and even beyond them;
of which, none but themselves could be adequate Judges. —

                Why the King’s Subjects in Great Britain should
Frame Laws for his Subjects in America, rather than the reverse
We cannot well conceive, as we do ^not admit it to be drawn from any
Pact made by our ancestors, or from the Nature of the British
Constitution, which makes Representation essential to Taxation

— — and this supposed Power of Parliament for taxing America
Is quite novel, some few Instances for the better Regulation of
Trade excepted, which nomore prove their supposed Rights, than                                                                                                                the
the Tortious Entry of a Neighbor into the Infant’s fields does that
of the Intruder – but if Superior Strength be the best plea, how
would they relish the Alternative? which if political arithme=
=tic deceives not advances with Hasty Strides; tho’ nothing
But downright Oppression will ever effect it -- --

Therefore Resolved first – That any attempts to take the
Property of any of the King’s Subjects for any purpose whatsoever
Where they are not represented, is an Infraction of the English
Constitution; and manifestly tends as well to destroy It
as the Subject’s private property, of which, recent proofs
are plenty. -- --

Resolved 2ly That We, and our American Brethren, are the
Liege People of King George the Third, and therefore have
As full, and ample a Claim, to all the Priviledges & Immuni=
=ties of Englishmen as any of his Subjects three Thousand
Miles distant — — The Truth of which, our Demeanour clearly
evinces. — — —

Resolved 3ly That the Parliament in Britian by suffering the
East India Company to send us, their Teas Subject to a Duty
On landing, have in a Measure testified a Disregard to the
Interests of American, whose liberal Services ill deserve
Such ungenerous treatments. — — —

Resolved 4ly That we are of Opinion that any seeming
Supineness of this Province in these very … very interesting
Matters, hath proceeded from a Consideration of their
Smallness among their Brethren, rather than from
Any insensibility of impending Evils. — —

Resolved 5ly that this Town approves the general Exertions,
And noble Struggles, made by the opulent colonies through
The Continent, for preventing so fatal a Catastrophe as is
Implied in Taxation without Representation vizt Slavery.
Than which, to a generous Mind, Death is more
Eligible — —

Resolved 6ly That We are, and always will be ready in
every constitutional Way, to give all the Weight in our
                                                  power
132 [new page]

Power to aver so dire a Calamity ——

Resolved 7ly That a Dread of being enslaved Ourselves, and
Of transmitting the Chains to our Posterity (by which we
should justly merit the Chains their Curses) in the principal Induce=
=ment to these Measures. — —

                And Whereas our house of Commons have
A Committee for corresponding with those of the Several
Colonies on these matters, and Committees of the Several
Towns in this Government to correspond with each other
At the  necessary times, may be subservient to the common
Cause — Therefore resolved that a Committee to consist
Of five persons be chosen for that purpose —

Voted. — that Col.o Otis Baker Esqr., Capt. Caleb Hogdon, 
Capt Stephen Evans, Capt Joshua Wingate, & John 
Wentworth Junr. or either three of them be the Committee
of Correspondence for this Town.

Voted that the proceedings of this Meeting be entered in the
Records of this Town and that an attested Copy thereof,
Be sent to the Committee of Correspondence at Portsmouth
To assure then, and all concerned that out Hearts are knit
With those, who with the Weal (as it is constitutionally fixed)
of our most gracious Sovereign, and all his Numerous Sub=
=jects — —

These Votes and Resolves after being maturely considered were
Unanimously passed by the Voters present at said Meeting —
After which, followed a Dissolution. —


                                    Otis Baker – Moderator

Recorded agreeable to the proceedings at said
Meeting —
                             PR. John Wentworth Junr. Clerk P Tem:
Cite as: Robert Cameron Weir, “Local Reactions to the Boston Tea Party,” Yourigins.com, posted 30 December 2016 (http://www.yourigins.com/local-reactions-to-the-boston-tea-party.html : accessed [access date]).
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