The Rebels of New England

In early October 1765 the proposed convention of delegates from Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and South Carolina met in New York. They all agreed upon a declaration of principles and asserted the right of Britain’s colonies to be exempted from all taxes imposed without their consent.

While leading the other colonies into secession from England, Massachusetts began a long tradition of “seceding” from political compacts it had joined. In 1804 the State seriously considered secession rather than accept President Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase; the same in response to Jefferson’s embargo of trade in 1808; and again in 1812 opposing President Madison’s War – and while trading with the enemy. John Quincy Adams and others opposed the annexation of Texas in 1846 and threatened secession. New England abolitionists agitated for secession from the 1830s through 1860 over the South’s labor system for which they were largely responsible with their profitable transatlantic slave trade.

The Rebels of New England

“About this time there arose a society known as the “Sons of Liberty” which took strong ground against the usurpation of Parliament. They exerted great influence as the merchants of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and many other places agreed not to buy or import any British goods until the Stamp Act was repealed.

The British government heard of these proceedings with anger and alarm. The new ministry, at the head of which was the Marquis of Rockingham, saw that the Stamp Act must be repealed or the colonists compelled by force of arms to comply. He preferred the former. After a long and angry debate, the Act was repealed.

In February 1768, the General Court of Massachusetts led the agitation with other colonies to demand a redress of grievances from the Crown, preferred charges against the Royal Governor and petitioned the King for his removal. The Governor then dissolved the Massachusetts Assembly and in early October British troops arrived to overawe the colonists.

In 1769, Parliament censured the treasonous conduct of Massachusetts, approved the employment of additional troops to put down the rebellious, and asked the King to authorize the Governor to arrest the traitors and have them sent to England for trial. The following year came the Boston “massacre” in which three Bostonians were killed and several wounded after confronting British troops. After 1774’s Boston tea party Parliament closed the port of Boston and dissolved the House of Burgesses. The latter formed itself into a committee to agitate the other colonies into rebellion against the British Crown.

In May of 1775, Royal Governor and General Thomas Gage fortified Boston Neck, seized the military stores at Cambridge and Charlestown and conveyed them to Boston.”

(History of the United Statesfrom the Earliest Settlements to 1872. Alexander H. Stephens. E.J. Hales & Son, Publisher. New York, 1872, excerpts pp. 163-167)

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