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From a Gentleman in Boston



Boston, December 20, 1774.

As nothing can have a greater tendency to promote and encourage a general obedience to the laws of any state, than a strict and regular observation of them by the Legislators themselves, so it is natural to suppose that no method would prove more effectual to put in practice the Proceedings of the Continental Congress, than an examplary adherance to them by the gentlemen who composed that august body, and from whom those Resolutions, &c˙, originated. How far their examples will promote this end, and how strictly and conscientiously some of their Members abide by their own Resolutions, will appear evident from the following Resolves, passed in Congress, which may serve as a text, or a motto, to the narrative that follows it:

"In, Congress, OCTOBER 11th, 1774. As the Congress have given General Gage an assurance of the peaceable disposition of the people of Boston, &c˙, Resolved unanimously, That they be advised still to conduct themselves peaceably towards his Excellency General Gage, and his Majesty' s Troops now in Boston, as far as can possibly be consistent with their immediate safety and the security of the Town, avoiding and discountenancing every violation of his Majesty' s property, or any insult to his Troops; and that they peaceably and firmly persevere in the line they are now conducting themselves, on the defensive."

On Monday, the 12th instant, our worthy citizen, Mr˙ Paul Revere, was sent express from only two or three of the Committee of Correspondence at Boston, as I am credibly informed, (of whom no number under seven are empowered to act,] to a like Committee at Portsmouth, New-Hampshire, informing them, as ' tis said, "That orders had been sent to the Governours of these Provinces, to deliver up their several Fortifications or Castles, to General Gage, and that a number of Troops had, the preceding day, embarked on board the transports, with a design to proceed and take possession of said Castles;


that in consequence thereof the House of Assembly of Rhode-Island had caused their Fort to be dismantled and the Guns, Ammunition, &c˙, to be removed to Providence."

Upon receiving this intelligence, the Committee at Portsmouth was called together, to advise what was to be done in so alarming a crisis; but not having a full meeting, nor able to determine upon any measures proper to be taken, they concluded to defer the matter, till the next day, when a fuller meeting of said Committee was expected, but two or three warm zealous members, having the good of their country more at heart than the others, and thinking any further deliberations on so important an affair unnecessary, gave out their orders early the next morning for the drums to be beat to raise Volunteers to go and take the King' s Fort. With difficulty a number of men were persuaded to convene, who proceeded to the Fort, which is situated at New-Castle, an Island about two miles from the Town, and being there joined by a number of the inhabitants of said New-Castle, amounted to near four hundred men; they invested the Fort, and being refused admittance by the Commander of it, who had only five men with him, and who discharged several guns at them, scaled the walls, and soon overpowered and pinioned the Commander; they then struck the King' s colours, with three cheers, broke open the Powder House, and carried off one hundred and three barrels of Powder, leaving only one behind.

Previous to this expresses had been sent out to alarm the country; accordingly a large, body of men marched the next day from Durham, headed by two Generals;Major Sullivan, one of the worthy Delegates, who represented that Province in the Continental Congress, and the Parson of the Parish, who having been long-accustomed to apply himself more to the cure of the bodies than the souls of his parishioners, had forgotten that the weapons of his warfare ought to be spiritual, and not carnal, and therefore marched down to supply himself with the latter, from the King' s Fort, and assisted in robbing him of his warlike stores. After being drawn up on the parade, they chose a Committee, consisting of those persons who had been most active in the riot of the preceding day, with Major Sullivan and some others, to wait on the Governour, and know of him whether any of the King' s Ships or Troops were expected. The Governour, after expressing to them his great concern for the consequences of taking the Powder from the Fort, of which they pretended to disapprove and to be ignorant of, assured them that he knew of neither Troops or Ships coming into the Province, and ordered the Major, as a Magistrate, to go and disperse the people. When the Committee returned to the body, and reported what the Governour had told them, they voted that it was satisfactory, and that they would return home. But, by the eloquent harangue of their Demosthenes, they were first prevailed upon to vote that they took part with, and approved of, the measures of those who had taken the Powder. Matters appeared then to subside, and it was thought every man had peaceably returned to his own home, instead of this Major Sullivan, with about seventy of his clients, concealed themselves till the evening, and then went to the Fort, and brought off in Gondolas all the small arms, with fifteen 4-pounders, and one 9-pounder, and a quantity of twelve and four and twenty pound shot, which they conveyed, to Durham, &c. The day following, being Friday, another body of men from Exeter, headed by Colonel Folsom, the other Delegate to the Continental Congress, marched into Portsmouth, and paraded about the Town, and having passed several votes expressive of their approbation of the measures that had been pursued by the bodies the two preceding days, in robbing the Fort of the Guns, Powder, &c˙, retired home in the evening without further mischief.

Thus, by this false alarm, was a great part of that Province, which though staunch in the cause of liberty, before in a state of peace and good order, kept for three days in the greatest confusion, and the good people of it persuaded, by a few flaming demagogues, to commit a most outrageous overt act of treason and rebellion.

No history, I believe will furnish us with an instance of a King' s Fort being taken and his colours struck by his own subjects in a time of peace, and without any cause or


provocation. Is such conduct as this in the Delegates of that Province consistent with their professed loyalty to the King, or their own solemn resolutions in Congress? Can it be expected that the inhabitants of these Colonies will be prevailed upon to abide by the Resolves of that body, when its own Members are the first to, break through and violate them? How cautious ought Committees of Correspondence, as well as others, to be in raising and propagating such false reports, at a time when the people are so extremely credulous, and their minds so apt to be alarmed, and take fire upon the most trivial matters. Some of the Committee at Boston, appear by their conduct to have no other aim than to endeavour to bring the other Towns and Provinces into the same state with that of Boston and Massachusetts, and seem desirous of having their distresses alleviated by obliging other Towns to partake with them.