Throwing Off the British Yoke  Part II

The Stamp Act served to separate men into two parties, and to give these body and form. From this time until the open rupture in 1775, they confronted each other in the city, the "Tory," '"Royalist," or "ministerial " party, as it was variously called, on one side, and the " Whig," " patriot," or " rebel " party on the other. Each party had, of course, its leaders. First on the Royalist side was Lieutenant Governor Golden, who, until the newly appointed governor, Sir Henry Moore, should arrive, was clothed with supreme authority. Golden was eighty years of age at this time, a man of stanch loyalty, but stubborn, and lacking in tact and discernment. Next to him was General Thomas Gage, whom the Whig newspapers called irreverently " Tom Gage," the commander in chief of the British forces in America, whose large, double house stood on the present site of Nos. 67 and 69 Broadway. There was Major Thomas James, commander of the regiment of artillery and owner of the beautiful country seat " Vauxhall," on the banks of the Hudson near the foot of the present Chambers Street, and greatly disliked by the patriots for his arrogance and boastful threats. Other leaders were the Rev. Dr. Samuel Auchmuty, rector of Trinity Church; the Rev. Dr. Myles Cooper, president of King's College, later banished for his Tory sentiments and pamphlets; John Antill, postmaster; Daniel Horsmanden, chief justice of the province ; Samuel Bayard, assistant secretary ; Colonel William Bayard, the great merchant; John Harris Cruger, treasurer of the city; John Griffiths, aster of the port; Thomas Buchanan, to whom later the tea ships were consigned ; and many others, officeholders or those who received in some way largess from the king.

The patriots, on the other hand, were men without office or the hope of it, since their very acts disbarred them. Chief among them in boldness and energy was Isaac Sears, a merchant in the West India trade. John Lamb, an optician by trade, who later became a colonel in the Revolutionary army, was equally prominent. There was Alexander McDougall, a Scotchman by birth, and later a major general on the patriot side; John Morin Scott, an eminent lawyer; and Marinus Willett, who had marched with Abercrombie to Lake George and Ticonderoga, with Bradstreet to Fort Fron tenac, and who later became a lieutenant colonel in the New York line, and in 1807 mayor of New York.

Sir Henry Moore arrived toward the close of 1765, and at once ordered a change of policy. He was a very different man from the acting governor, Golden, being bland, persuasive, soft-voiced, shrewd, and tactful. He " came as a friend among friends," he said, " and not to a revolted province ; " and he gave orders to dismantle the fort and scatter the soldiers, while he set about healing the wounds his predecessor had made. Very soon a much better feeling existed, although the two parties still stood to their arms and kept a wary eye upon each other. An incident that occurred during the summer of. 1766 impressed this forcibly on the governor's mind.

The Sons of Liberty, a patriotic society of the day, erected a "liberty pole" on June 4, 1766, the king's birthday, in honor of the repeal of the Stamp Act, and further celebrated the day with firing of cannon, a grand barbecue on the common, and bonfires in the evening. The flag that was later flung from the pole bore the words: "The King, Pitt, Liberty." Now, the repeal of birthday, in honor of the repeal of the Stamp Act, and further celebrated the day with firing of cannon, a grand barbecue on the common, and bonfires in the evening. The flag that was later flung from the pole bore the words: "The King, Pitt, Liberty." Now, the repeal of two desperate attacks upon it, but were twice repulsed by the patriots, until at length, to keep the peace, Governor Moore interposed, and ordered the soldiers to cease their attempts. The latter now remained quiet until over three years had elapsed, and then one night sallied out against the pole, and cutting it down, piled the fragments against the door of Montague's Tavern, where the Sons of Liberty held their meetings.

This was adding insult to injury. The next day nearly the whole city, we are told, met on the common and passed resolutions " that all soldiers below the rank of orderly who appeared armed on the streets should be deemed disturbers of the peace, and be liable to arrest, together with all those found out of their barracks after roll call."

The soldiers met this by writing an insulting placard, which they posted throughout the city. Three of them were caught in the act by two stalwart Sons of Liberty, Isaac Sears and Walter Quackenbos, who attempted to take them as prisoners to the mayor's office, but were discovered by a party of soldiers from the lower barracks, who rushed to the rescue. But the Liberty Boys were also on the alert, and hurrying to the aid of their comrades, armed with canes, sticks, stones, bludgeons, and knives, a brisk battle was fought, in which the soldiers were worsted—not, however, until one patriot had been thrust through with a bayonet, and several others wounded. The next day, the soldiers, smarting under a sense of defeat, renewed the attack, first upon a woman who was going to market, then upon a party of sailors passing through the streets, one of whom, an old man, was stabbed with a bayonet and fell. Being driven off, they renewed the attack in the afternoon, and were again repulsed. This two days' battle with the military began January 18, 1770. The Boston massacre, in which it has been said the first blood spilled in the Revolution was shed, occurred March 5, 1770, or nearly two months later.

We have all read of the famous " Boston Tea Party " of December 16, 1773, following the duty laid upon tea by Parliament. New York had hers also, although it did not take place until some three months later, for the reason that the tea ship destined for New York was about three months overdue, having been driven out of her course by a storm. This first tea ship, the Nancy, was due in New York November 25, 1773, and the " Mohawks," an order similar to that which destroyed the tea in Boston, had made ready to receive her; at the same time the Sons of Liberty, which, under Governor Moore's pacific reign, had nearly died out, was revived and panoplied for the fray.

Sir William Tryon, a man of very different character, haughty, cruel, remorseless, had succeeded Moore in 1771, and by his words and manner quickly excited a feeling of resistance throughout the province. At last, on April 18, 1774, the long-expected tea ship was reported, and the Mohawks made ready to receive her. She had fallen in with a cyclone on the voyage, her captain, Lockyer, reported, had lost her mizzenmast and an anchor, sprung her main top mast, and sustained other injuries. As " Holt's Journal" of April 21 said:

" Ever since her departure from Europe she has met with a continued succession of misfortunes, having on board something worse than a Jonah, which, after being long tossed on the tempestuous ocean, it is hoped, like him, will be thrown back upon the place from whence it came. May it preach a lesson there as useful as the preaching of Jonah was to the Ninevites."

In this spirit the people received the tea which Parliament had decided to tax in order, as Lord North observed, " to try the question with America."

By agreement with the Sons of Liberty the New York pilots refused to bring the Nancy farther than Sandy Hook. There she was boarded by a committee of the Sons, who took possession of her boats, that her crew might not escape, and thus prevent her being sent back to England, which had been determined on. Lockyer consented to go back, and was allowed to come up to the city and see his consignee, but was not permitted to approach the customhouse, lest he should enter his vessel.

Before he could sail, however, the London, Captain Chambers, was reported. She, too, was boarded at Sandy Hook by the Liberty Boys; but as her captain positively declared he had no tea on board, he was allowed to come up to his dock. However, the committee had received private advices from Philadelphia that tea was on board, and as the London swung into her berth, about four in the afternoon, the whole committee boarded her and ordered the hatches opened, saying they were certain that she carried tea, and assuring Captain Chambers that they were ready to open every package in the cargo in order to find it; whereupon the captain, seeing concealment to be impossible, confessed that he had eighteen chests on board. Report this the committee invited him to the great public room of Fraunces's Tavern to deliberate on the matter. They decided " to communicate the whole sense of the matter to the people, who were convened near the ship, which was accordingly done." The Mohawks were prepared to do their duty under cover of darkness, but the people were so impatient that before night fell a number of them boarded the ship, took out the tea which was at hand, broke the cases, and emptied their contents into the river, without doing any harm to the ship or cargo. Several persons of reputation were placed below to keep tally, and about the companionway to prevent ill-disposed persons from going below the deck.

At ten o'clock the people all dispersed in good order, but in great wrath with the captain; and it was not without some risk of his life that he escaped.

By this time Captain Lockyer was able to fix the hour of departure for his return voyage; the people were informed of it and invited to meet on the dock whence he was to depart, and give him an idea of the feeling among them in regard to the taxed tea. He was to leave on Saturday morning at nine o'clock. " The bells will give notice about an hour before he embarks from Murray's Wharf," said the placards that were posted all over the city. As nine o'clock struck, the committee waited on him at his lodgings at the coffeehouse, and escorted him to its balcony, that he might sec the people and be seen by them. As he appeared, a band struck up " God Save the King," and the people raised a great shout. Then a procession was formed with the captain and committee at its head, and to the sound of martial music moved down Wall Street to Murray's Wharf, where a small sloop lay ready to take the captain to his ship down in the lower bay. The captain and the committee boarded this sloop. Captain Chambers, finding New York pretty warm for him, also took passage. Then the little craft spread sail and moved down harbor, while the city bells rang for joy, the ship.; in the port flaunted their gayest colors, the much- fought-for liberty pole on the common flamed with colors to its peak, and cannon planted at its base thundered forth the triumph of the people.

Website: The History
Article Name: Throwing Off the British Yoke Part II
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY:   A Brief History of the City of new York by Charles Burr Todd; American Book Company 1899
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