Слике страница
PDF
ePub

66

Contest for Self-government. The death of De Lancey in 1760 left the executive chair and the office of chief justice vacant. The assembly insisted upon a tenure during good behavior" for supreme-court judges, but Colden, who now acted as governor, vetoed the measure. The popular party contended that "all authority is derived from the people." In 1762 the assembly appealed to the king for "the independency of so important a tribunal." The "involuntary taxes and impositions" were also denounced as contrary to a state of liberty." Exemption from such taxes was declared to be "the ground principle of every free state," without which there could be "no liberty, no happiness, no security." But these appeals, like many others, were unheeded.

66

The Stamp Act in New York. To raise a permanent revenue in America, Parliament proposed a stamp duty. Again the New York assembly remonstrated that the great badge of English liberty was "the being taxed only with their consent." In 1764 it advocated united action against the objectionable duty. "This is the beginning of official action in behalf of American union for American interests, and the honor of it belongs to New York." The Stamp Act was passed in 1765 and was generally denounced in New York. "Join or Die became the motto of one of the newspapers. The hated act was printed and carried through the streets with a death's head affixed to it, and styled "The folly of England and the ruin of America." William Smith, William Livingston, and John Morin Scott, all educated at Yale, led the popular party. "I will cram the stamps down the throats of the people with the end of

[ocr errors]

my sword," boasted Major James, an English officer in New York. In revenge a mob destroyed all the furniture in his house and threatened personal violence. Such was the spirit in this colony.

66

Stamp Act Congress.-Massachusetts, taking the suggestion from New York, sent letters to every assembly on the continent, calling a conference," and in October, 1765, the Stamp Act Congress met in New York City. Nine colonies were represented. Robert R. Livingston was a prominent member and said, "There should be no New-Englanders, no NewYorkers, but all of us Americans." A "Declaration of Rights and Grievances," written by John Cruger, a petition to George III., penned by Philip Livingston, and a memorial to each House of Parliament were adopted. The congress made the colonies "a bundle of sticks which cannot be bent or broken."

Stamps in New York City.-Meanwhile the stamps reached the city, and all the vessels lowered their colors in token of "mourning, lamentation, and woe." "The first man that either distributes or makes use of stamped paper" was warned "to take care of his house, person, and effects." The merchants agreed to import no goods while the Stamp Act was in force. Isaac Sears, John Lamb, Gershom Mott, William Wiley, and Thomas Robinson were appointed a committee to correspond with merchants in other colonies (Oct. 31). "It is better to wear a homespun coat than to lose our liberty," declared Holt's New York Gazette. As November approached "the whole city rose up as one man in opposition to the Stamp Act." The Sons of Liberty, led by Sears, Lamb, and McDougall, hanged Colden, Lord

Bute, and the hated British ministers in effigy and spiked the king's cannon. On March 13, 1766, the obnoxious act was repealed. During the five months it was a law, four vessels brought stamps to New York. Those on one ship were seized and burned, but the rest were guarded in the City Hall by the Sons. The stamp agent was forced to resign. General Gage was power

less to enforce the act.

A

In

Gratitude for Repeal of the Stamp Act. To express their joy at the repeal of the measure, the assembly voted a statue to William Pitt and one to the king. marble statue of Pitt was erected in Wall Street. the Revolution British soldiers mutilated it, and to-day its headless form is owned by the New York Historical Society. The leaden statue of the king on horseback was set up in Bowling Green, but when the Declaration of Independence was read to Washington's army (July 9, 1776) the soldiers pulled it down, and from it 42,000 bullets were made "to be used in the cause of independ ence. The joy of the people was short-lived. The Stamp Act was repealed, but the right to tax the colonies was still maintained, and in 1767 duties were levied on glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea. The people objected and renewed their non-importation compacts.

[ocr errors]

First Battle of the Revolution.-To force the colonies to obedience, British troops were sent to America. The assembly of New York refused to provide "quarters, bedding, drink, soap, and candles" for them (1766). The soldiers in anger cut down a liberty-pole erected by the patriots, but it was put up again and stood till 1770, when it was again cut down. This led to an en

counter known as the battle of Golden Hill, in which one patriot was killed and a number wounded. This was "the first conflict in the war of the American Revolution," and it took place over a month before the Boston massacre. The Sons of Liberty then bought a piece of land and erected on it a third pole dedicated to "Liberty and Property." It stood for six years.

New York Punished: McDougall's Trial.-New York's refusal to supply the royal troops led Parliament to suspend the legislative power of the assembly. For two years there was no legislation. The newly elected assembly was still more patriotic and was dissolved (1769). The next assembly, however, was more favorable to the governor and, when Colden promised that the objectionable duties would be removed, £2,000 were appropriated for the support of the troops. This action angered the populace. A hand-bill by a "Son of Liberty" denounced the act of the assembly as being due to "some corrupt source," and called the people to meet next day. About 1,400 "betrayed inhabitants" met and condemned the assembly. The governor offered a reward for the author of the hand-bill. Alexander McDougall was arrested on the charge of libel, but his prison life was an ovation. So numerous were his admirers that he was obliged to set apart certain hours for their reception. After several months he was released without being tried.

7

CHAPTER XVI.-NEW YORK ON THE EVE OF REVOLUTION

New Governors.-Amid these disturbances a new governor, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, arrived, but only to be transferred to Virginia in a few months. North Carolina then gave up her governor, William Tryon, who became the last royal governor of New York. During his rule the fourteenth county, Tryon, was organized in the territory west of Schenectady.

The Tea Contest. The general non-importation agreement, well kept at first, was soon broken in Philadelphia and at Boston, to the great injury of New York. The appeals of English and American merchants were at last heard, and Parliament removed all duties but that on tea (1770). Lord North, the king's chief minister, retained the threepence tea-tax in order to maintain the right to tax the colonies. Here was the root of the trouble. The colonists were contending for principle, not pence. They would not buy the taxed tea and used sassafras bark and sage instead.

Tea Destroyed in New York.-The East India Company owned a large quantity of tea which could not be sold in England and therefore asked Parliament for relief. Parliament removed the duty on all tea sent to America except the threepence. This made tea cheaper in New York than in London, but the artful change and secret bribe did not delude the colonists. They would not touch the tea and prepared to prevent its landing. Governor Tryon declared that the tea should be delivered to the owners " even if it is sprinkled with blood."

« ПретходнаНастави »