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- The Emancipation of Massachusetts - 65/65 -


to issue a warrant to apprehend his master, against whom he swore." [Footnote: Hutch. _Hist_. iii. 279, 280.] "Then I went up to the custom-house door and knocked, ... I saw my master and Mr. Munroe come down-stairs, and go into a room; when four or five men went up stairs, pulling and hauling me after them.... When I was carried into the chamber, there was but one light in the room, and that in the corner of the chamber, when I saw a tall man loading a gun (then I saw two guns in the room) ... there was a number of gentlemen in the room. After the gun was loaded, the tall man gave it to me, and told me to fire, and said he would kill me if I did not; I told him I would not. He drawing a sword out of his cane, told me, if I did not fire it, he would run it through my guts. The man putting the gun out of the window, it being a little open, I fired it side way up the street; the tall man then loaded the gun again.... I told him I would not fire again; he told me again, he would run me through the guts if I did not. Upon which I fired the same way up the street. After I fired the second gun, I saw my master in the room; he took a gun and pointed it out of the window; I heard the gun go off. Then a tall man came and clapped me on the shoulders above and below stairs, and said, that's my good boy, I'll give you some money to-morrow.... And I ran home as fast as I could, and sat up all night in my master's kitchen. And further say, that my master licked me the next night for telling Mrs. Waldron about his firing out of the custom-house. And for fear that I should be licked again, I did deny all that I said before Justice Quincy, which I am very sorry for. [Footnote: Kidder's _Massacre_, p. 82. Deposition 58.]

"CHARLOTTE BOURGATE + (his mark)."

* * * * *

While it is inconceivable that a cool and sagacious politician, whose object was to convince Parliament of the good faith of Massachusetts, should have relied upon such incredible statements to sway the minds of English statesmen and lawyers, it is equally inconceivable lie should not have known they were admirably adapted to still further exasperate an already excited people; and that such was his purpose must be inferred from the immediate publication of the substance of this affidavit in the newspapers. [Footnote: _Boston Gazette_, March 19, 1770.]

Without doubt a vote was passed on the 26th of March, a week after the committee had presented their report, desiring them to reserve all the printed copies not sent to Europe, as their distribution might tend to bias the juries; but even had this precaution been observed, it came too late, for the damage was done when the Narrative was read in Faneuil Hall; in fact, however, the order was eluded, for "many copies, notwithstanding, got abroad, and some of a second edition were sent from England, long before the trials of the officer and soldiers came on." [Footnote: Hutch. _Hist._ iii. 279.] And at this cheap rate a reputation for magnanimity was earned.

How thoroughly the clergy sympathized with their champion appears from their clamors for blood. As the time drew near it was rumored Hutchinson would reprieve the prisoners, should they be convicted, till the king's pleasure could be known. Then Dr. Chauncy, the senior minister of Boston, cried out in his pulpit: "Surely he would not counteract the operation of the law, both of God and of man! Surely he would not suffer the town and land to lie under the defilement of blood! Surely he would not make himself a partaker in the guilt of murder, by putting a stop to the shedding of their blood, who have murderously spilt the blood of others!" [Footnote: Hutch. _Hist._ iii. 329, note.] Adams attended when the causes were heard and took notes of the evidence; and one of the few occasions in his long life on which his temper seems to have got beyond control was when the accused were acquitted. His writings betray unmistakable chagrin; and nothing is more typical of the man, or of the clerical atmosphere wherein he had been bred, than his comments upon the testimony on which the lives of his enemies hung. His piety caused him to doubt those whose evidence was adverse to his wishes, though they appeared to be trying to speak the truth. "The credibility of a witness perhaps cannot be impeach'd in court, unless he has been convicted of perjury: but an immoral man, for instance one who will commonly prophane the name of his maker, certainly cannot be esteemed of equal credit by a jury, with one who fears to take that sacred name in vain: It is impossible he should in the mind of any man." [Footnote: _Boston Gazette_, Jan. 21, 1771.]

And yet this rigid Calvinist, this incarnation of ecclesiasticism, had no scruple in propagating the palpable and infamous lies of Charlotte Bourgate, when by so doing he thought it possible to further his own ends. He was bitterly mortified, for he had been foiled. Yet, though he had failed in precipitating war, he had struck a telling blow, and he had no reason to repine. Probably no single event, before fighting actually began, left so deep a scar as the Boston massacre; and many years later John Adams gave it as his deliberate opinion that, on the night of the 5th of March, 1770, "the foundation of American independence was laid." Nor was the full realization of his hopes long delayed. Gage occupied Boston in 1774. During the winter the tireless agitator, from his place in the Provincial Congress, warned the people to fight any force sent more than ten miles from the town; and so when Paul Revere galloped through Middlesex on the night of the 18th of April he found the farmers ready. Samuel Adams had slept at the house of the Rev. Jonas Clark. Before sunrise the detachment sent to seize him was close at hand. While they advanced, he escaped; and as he walked across the fields toward Woburn, to the sound of the guns of Lexington, he exclaimed, in a burst of passionate triumph, "What a glorious morning is this!"

Massachusetts became the hot-bed of rebellion because of this unwonted alliance between liberality and sacerdotalism. Liberality was her birthright; for liberalism is the offspring of intellectual variation, which makes mutual toleration of opinion a necessity; but that her church should have been radical at this crisis was due to the action of a long chain of memorable causes.

The exiles of the Reformation were enthusiasts, for none would then have dared defy the pains of heresy, in whom the instinct onward was feebler than the fear of death; yet when the wanderers reached America the mental growth of the majority had culminated, and they had passed into the age of routine; and exactly in proportion as their youthful inspiration had been fervid was their later formalism intense. But similar causes acting on the human mechanism produce like results; hence bigotry and ambition fed by power led to persecution. Then, as the despotism of the preachers deepened, their victims groaning in their dungeons, or furrowed by their lash, implored the aid of England, who, in defence of freedom and of law, crushed the theocracy at a blow. And the clergy knew and hated their enemy from the earliest days; it was this bitter theological jealousy which flamed within Endicott when he mutilated his flag, and within Leverett when he insulted Randolph; it was a rapacious lust for power and a furious detestation of rival priests which maddened the Mathers in their onslaught upon Dudley, which burned undimmed in Mayhew and Cooper, and in their champion, Samuel Adams, and which at last made the hierarchy cast in its lot with an ally more dangerous far than those prelates whom it deemed its foe. For no church can preach liberality and not be liberalized. Of a truth the momentary spasm may pass which made these conservatives progressive, and they may once more manifest their reactionary nature, but, nevertheless, the impulsion shall have been given to that automatic, yet resistless, machinery which produces innovation; wherefore, in the next generation, the great liberal secession from the Congregational communion broke the ecclesiastical power forever. And so, through toil and suffering, through martyrdoms and war, the Puritans wrought out the ancient destiny which fated them to wander as outcasts to the desolate New England shore; there, amidst hardship and apparent failure, they slowly achieved their civil and religious liberty, and conceived that constitutional system which is the root of our national life; and there in another century the liberal commonwealth they had builded led the battle against the spread of human oppression; and when the war of slavery burst forth her soldiers rightly were the first to fall; for it is her children's heritage that, wheresoever on this continent blood shall flow in defence of personal freedom, there must the sons of Massachusetts surely be.


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