More, prompted by my new favorite book about the antecedents of the Revolution:
In this case, two documents -- one which shows how serious the colonists were about the non-importation program and one, a pamphlet that appeared in Boston in November 1774 that's just sheer fun.
Follow me below the Great Orange croissant:
The first document was one of the major achievement of the First Continental Congress which convened September 5, 1774, because twelve of the thirteen colonies were alarmed at what they saw as the arbitrary proceedings of Parliament (Georgia's royal governor, James Wright, refused to allow the legislature to send delegates). Congress's mission was threefold: Congress had to define American grievances, define the colonies' constitutional relationship with Britain, and develop a plan for the redress of those grievances.Wikipedia has a list of the delegates for those of you who can look for relatives on it.
The Continental Congress met at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia
because the Pennsylvania Provisional Congress was already meeting at the Pennsylvania State House (the building you know as Independence Hall that the National Park Service guides there will never call anything but the old Pennsylvania State House). They did what their mission said they were supposed to do, and on October 20, 1774, they issued the Articles of Association. I'm going to annotate it, and I'm going to show you more of the text than my class is going to see this week.
First, a preamblic listing of the colonies involved with assurances that this will be a loyal document:
We, his majesty's most loyal subjects, the delegates of the several colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the three lower counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, and South-Carolina, deputed to represent them in a continental Congress, held in the city of Philadelphia, on the 5th day of September, 1774, avowing our allegiance to his majesty, our affection and regard for our fellow-subjects in Great-Britain and elsewhere,Loyal. Allegiance. Fellow-subjects. This, to cushion what comes next:
affected with the deepest anxiety, and most alarming apprehensions, at those grievances and distresses, with which his Majesty's American subjects are oppressed; and having taken under our most serious deliberation, the state of the whole continent, find, that the present unhappy situation of our affairs is occasioned by a ruinous system of colony administration, adopted by the British ministry about the year 1763, evidently calculated for enslaving these colonies, and, with them, the British Empire.Yes, we've waited for eleven years. Yes, we're using the word "enslaving" to describe our powerlessness to stop what this ruinous system is doing to us. It's Parliament's fault too:
In prosecution of which system, various acts of parliament have been passed, for raising a revenue in America, for depriving the American subjects, in many instances, of the constitutional trial by jury, exposing their lives to danger, by directing a new and illegal trial beyond the seas, for crimes alleged to have been committed in America: And in prosecution of the same system, several late, cruel, and oppressive acts have been passed, respecting the town of Boston and the Massachusetts-Bay, [The Coercive Acts] and also an act for extending the province of Quebec, so as to border on the western frontiers of these colonies, establishing an arbitrary government therein, and discouraging the settlement of British subjects in that wide extended country; thus, by the influence of civil principles and ancient prejudices, to dispose the inhabitants to act with hostility against the free Protestant colonies, whenever a wicked ministry shall chuse so to direct them.In case you had any question that the Quebec Act was involved in the minds of the colonists, here's the proof, and it's not just the New England delegates speaking. And now the mission statement:
To obtain redress of these grievances, which threaten destruction to the lives liberty, and property of his majesty's subjects, in North-America, we are of opinion, that a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement, faithfully adhered to, will prove the most speedy, effectual, and peaceable measure: And, therefore, we do, for ourselves, and the inhabitants of the several colonies, whom we represent, firmly agree and associate, under the sacred ties of virtue, honour and love of our country, as follows:There are fourteen of them. We'll investigate most of them.
1. That from and after the first day of December next, we will not import, into British America, from Great-Britain or Ireland, any goods, wares, or merchandise whatsoever, or from any other place, any such goods, wares, or merchandise, as shall have been exported from Great-Britain or Ireland; nor will we, after that day, import any East-India tea from any part of the world; nor any molasses, syrups, paneles, coffee, or pimento, from the British plantations or from Dominica; nor wines from Madeira, or the Western Islands; nor foreign indigo.No good, wares or merchandise. At this point, British North American colonists purchased almost 26% of all the domestically produced goods exported out of England -- about half of the earthenware, ironware, silk goods, printed cotton and linen, and flannels, and almost ¾ of all the nails that British manufacturers exported. Nails. And especially no East India tea, from anywhere.
2. We will neither import nor purchase, any slave imported after the first day of December next; after which time, we will wholly discontinue the slave trade, and will neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or manufactures to those who are concerned in it.This isn't a wink-wink nudge-nudge clause either. It's saying "Hey, West Indian sugar growers. You have a glut of slaves and you want to sell them north? Find somebody else to buy them."
3. As a non-consumption agreement, strictly adhered to, will be an effectual security for the observation of the non-importation, we, as above, solemnly agree and associate, that from this day, we will not purchase or use any tea, imported on account of the East-India company, or any on which a duty hath been or shall be paid; and from and after the first day of March next, we will not purchase or use any East-India tea whatever; nor will we, nor shall any person for or under us, purchase or use any of those goods, wares, or merchandise, we have agreed not to import, which we shall know, or have cause to suspect, were imported after the first day of December, except such as come under the rules and directions of the tenth article hereafter mentioned.REALLY no East India Tea. We mean it.
4. The earnest desire we have not to injure our fellow-subjects in Great-Britain, Ireland, or the West-Indies, induces us to suspend a non-exportation, until the tenth day of September, 1775; at which time, if the said acts and parts of acts of the British parliament herein after mentioned, ate not repealed, we will not directly or indirectly, export any merchandise or commodity whatsoever to Great-Britain, Ireland, or the West-Indies, except rice to Europe.This is to give the staple-producing colonies another harvest, but it's presented to look altruistic, and it protects the rice producers of South Carolina beyond 1775.
5. Such as are merchants, and use the British and Irish trade, will give orders, as soon as possible, to their factors, agents and correspondents, in Great-Britain and Ireland, not to ship any goods to them, on any pretence whatsoever, as they cannot be received in America; and if any merchant, residing in Great-Britain or Ireland, shall directly or indirectly ship any goods, wares or merchandize, for America, in order to break the said non-importation agreement, or in any manner contravene the same, on such unworthy conduct being well attested, it ought to be made public; and, on the same being so done, we will not, from thenceforth, have any commercial connexion with such merchant.Our merchants and ship owners will cooperate too.
6. That such as are owners of vessels will give positive orders to their captains, or masters, not to receive on board their vessels any goods prohibited by the said non-importation agreement, on pain of immediate dismission from their service.
So far, nothing you wouldn't have expected (not even the repetition of the tea non-importation). But here it starts to get interesting:
7. We will use our utmost endeavours to improve the breed of sheep, and increase their number to the greatest extent; and to that end, we will kill them as seldom as may be, especially those of the most profitable kind; nor will we export any to the West-Indies or elsewhere; and those of us, who are or may become overstocked with, or can conveniently spare any sheep, will dispose of them to our neighbours, especially to the poorer sort, on moderate terms.We're going to become wool producers in competition with England. But that's not all. Behold! A moral program!
8. We will, in our several stations, encourage frugality, economy, and industry, and promote agriculture, arts and the manufactures of this country, especially that of wool; and will discountenance and discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse-racing, and all kinds of games, cock fighting, exhibitions of shews, plays, and other expensive diversions and entertainments;Again, what you might expect. But since New England doesn't do any of this, how do we involve New England?
and on the death of any relation or friend, none of us, or any of our families will go into any further mourning-dress, than a black crepe or ribbon on the arm or hat, for gentlemen, and a black ribbon and necklace for ladies, and we will discontinue the giving of gloves and scarves at funerals.New England didn't just give gloves and scarves, it also gave out mourning jewelry:
This ring is one of the rings that was handed out at the funeral of Reverend Samuel Dunbar in 1783. The Museum of Fine Arts has older mourning rings in its collection.
The next two are easier to read in modern English:
9. No price-gouging.
10. Any transactions conducted before the enactment of no importation shall benefit the citizens of Boston.
Both good suggestions, and the benefit for the people of Boston makes this especially patriotic in an all-for-one kind of way. And now begin the real innovations:
11. That a committee be chosen in every county, city, and town, by those who are qualified to vote for representatives in the legislature, whose business it shall be attentively to observe the conduct of all persons touching this association; and when it shall be made to appear, to the satisfaction of a majority of any such committee, that any person within the limits of their appointment has violated this association, that such majority do forthwith cause the truth of the case to be published in the gazette; to the end, that all such foes to the rights of British-America may be publicly known, and universally contemned as the enemies of American liberty; and thenceforth we respectively will break off all dealings with him or her.Local committees to monitor, publication and shunning as punishment for the enemies of American liberty. Shaming! Something new here.
12. That the committee of correspondence, in the respective colonies, do frequently inspect the entries of their customhouses, and inform each other, from time to time, of the true state thereof, and of every other material circumstance that may occur relative to this association.A bureaucratic structure to monitor the customhouses to make sure the non-importation program is working, a reminder that price gouging is unpatriotic, and a call to shun and shame not just people, but entire colonies that don't participate.
13. That all manufactures of this country be sold at reasonable prices, so- that no undue advantage be taken of a future scarcity of goods.
14. And we do further agree and resolve that we will have no trade, commerce, dealings or intercourse whatsoever, with any colony or province, in North-America, which shall not accede to, or which shall hereafter violate this association, but will hold them as unworthy of the rights of freemen, and as inimical to the liberties of their country.
Finally, a summary, which I'll recap until we get to the truly radical part. A summary of the particular goods that will not be trafficked, including everything taxed in the Townshend Acts, a reminder that non-importation will be in place until each of the Coercive/Intolerable Act and the Quebec Act are repealed. Not that there was all that much chance of that, but then, Parliament had repealed the Stamp Act seven years previously.
And we recommend it to the provincial conventions, and to the committees in the respective colonies, to establish such farther regulations as they may think proper, for carrying into execution this association.It's not enough that the Continental Congress is acting as a de facto national government in issuing these articles, here we have a call to each of the governing bodies in British Colonial America to indulge in self-government. No royal governor involved. The Declaration of Independence can't be too far away now.
The Loyalists (estimated at 20% of the population, and including a significant number of the merchant class), assembled an exhaustive list of reasons why none of this would work: American manufacturers couldn't satisfy the current demand for imported goods, non-importation meant non-exportation as well, it would damage civil society, and why would anyone voluntarily forgo the material pleasures they had enjoyed for a half-century?
The response to this was a pamphlet that appeared in Boston in November 1774, called The Wonderful appearance of an angel, devil & ghost, to a gentleman in the town of Boston, in the nights of the 14th, 15th, and 16th of October, 1774.
The link above is to a pdf file of the entire document, and it's courtesy of one of T.H. Breen's former grad students who posted it for Hallowe'en 2011. He does a great job with it, but I'll give you my summary anyway.
The pamphlet is addressed to a (now chastened) man who traded with Britain in violation of the non-importation program:
. . . and it is now made public at his desire, as a solemn warning to all those, who, for the sake of agrandizing [sic] themselves and their families, would entail the most abject wretchedness upon millions of their fellow-creatures.”The gentleman is visited on three successive nights by an Angel who warns that Satan will arrive the next night to discuss imperial politics, Satan, who tells the gentleman that supporting the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, and the Intolerable Acts has made him an enemy of the country, and the ghost of one of his deceased Puritan ancestors to lecture his degenerate offspring (the gentleman), saying essentially that we didn't make the treacherous crossing and fight off Indians and wild beasts so you could commit treason. The lesson of the pamphlet? It’s time for Americans to step up and be counted for Liberty.
I have no idea if Charles Dickens was aware of the existence of this pamphlet, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was.
So that brings us to the end of 1774. The North Bridge in Concord awaits.