Christopher Snyder



In spite of the threatening attitude of the citizens, four or five Boston merchants continued to import and sell tea, the specially proscribed article. The women of Boston protested against this violation of a sacred pledge. The mistresses of three hundred families subscribed their names to a league, binding themselves not to drink any tea until the revenue act was repealed. Three days afterward the maidens of Boston were gathered in convention in the home of an opulent merchant, and there signed their names to the following pledge: "We, the daughters of those patriots who have and do now appear for the public interest, and in that principally regard their posterity--as such, do with pleasure engage with them in denying ourselves the drinking of foreign tea, in hopes to frustrate a plan which tends to deprive a whole community of all that is valuable in life."

The recusant merchants were unmoved, and Theophilus Lillie announced his intention to import and sell tea in spite of public opinion. That opinion soon appeared embodied in a little mob, composed chiefly of half-grown boys, who set up a wooden post in front of Lillie's store, with a rudely carved head upon it, and a hand pointing to the merchant's door as a place to be avoided. Lillie was exasperated, but dared not interfere. A neighboring merchant of his stripe, named Richardson, a rough, stout man, having more courage, tried to get a farmer, who was passing in his cart, to knock down the post with his hub. The man was a patriot and refused, when Richardson rushed out and attempted to pull it down with his own hands. He was pelted with dirt and stones. In violent anger, he came out of Lillie's house, into which he had been driven by the mob, with a shot-gun, and discharged its contents, without aim, into the little mob. A lad named Samuel Gore was slightly wounded, and another, named Christopher Snyder, was killed. He was the son of a poor German widow. The mob seized Richardson and an associate and hurried them to Faneuil Hall, where the citizens speedily assembled to the number of two or three hundred. Richardson was tried and found guilty of murder, but Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson refused to sign the death-warrant. After he had lain in prison two years, the king pardoned the offender.

The murder of Snyder produced a profound sensation in the public mind throughout the colonies, as a prophecy of coming war. In Boston his funeral was made the occasion of a solemn pageant. His coffin was covered with inscriptions. One of these was: "Innocence itself is not safe." It was borne to Liberty Tree, where a very large concourse of citizens of every class assembled, and followed the remains to the grave. In that procession nearly five hundred children took part. The pall was carried by six of the victim's school-mates. Relatives and friends and almost fifteen hundred citizens followed. The bells of the city and of the neighboring towns tolled while the procession was moving; and in the newspapers, and by the lips of grave speakers in the pulpit and on the rostrum, little Christopher Snyder was spoken of as the first martyr to the cause of liberty in America. Dalrymple and his vicious Twenty-ninth regiment were impatient in the presence of such a popular demonstration. He wanted to be set at murderous work among the Bostonians, whom he thoroughly hated, but was restrained by the civil magistrates.





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