History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 6

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII.
CHARLES TOWNSHEND USURPS THE LEAD IN GOVERNMENT
ADMINISTRATION OF CHATHAM.

OCTOBER 1766–MARCH 1767.

THE people of Massachusetts lulled themselves into the belief that they were “restored once more” to the secure enjoyment “of their rights and liberties;” but their secret enemies combined to obtain an American army and an American tribute, as necessary for the enforcement of the navigation acts, and even for the existence of government. When the soldiers stationed in New York had, in the night of the tenth of August 1766, cut down the flagstaff of the citizens, the general reported the ensuing quarrel as a proof of “anarchy and confusion,” and the need of troops for the support of “the laws.” Yet the New York association of the Sons of Liberty had dissolved itself; and all efforts to keep up “its glorious spirit” were subordinated to loyalty. “A few individuals” at Boston, having celebrated the anniversary of the outbreak against the stamp act, care was taken to report how healths had been drunk to Otis, “the American Hampden, who first proposed the congress;” “to the Virginians,” who sounded the alarm to the country; to Paoli and the struggling Corsicans; to the spark of liberty that was thought to have been kindled in Spain. From Bernard, who made the restraints on commerce intolerable by claiming the legal penalty of treble forfeits from merchants whom his own long collusion had tempted to the infraction of a revenue law, came unintermitted complaints of illicit trade. At Falmouth, now Portland, an attempt to seize goods, under the disputed authority of writs of assistance, had been defeated by a mob; and the disturbance was made to

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