Boston Committee of Correspondence





In 1774 the Boston Committee of Correspondence had invited the committees of nine towns in the vicinity to a conference "on the critical state of public affairs." They had come with alacrity, and with hundreds of the yeomanry had joined the citizens of Boston in that town-meeting over which Samuel Adams had presided. That meeting, largely composed of those who would be most injured by the closing of the port, had resolved to stand firmly by their rights, whatever might befall them. They had addressed a Circular Letter to all the colonies, proposing a more stringent nonimportation league than any before; confessing that "singly they must find their trial too severe," and imploring the sympathy and support of the other provinces, each of whose being, as a free people, depended upon the issue. "We think the archives of Constantinople (synonymous with despotic rule) might be searched in vain for a parallel," they said. "To reason upon such an act would be idleness. You will doubtless judge every British-American colony deeply concerned in it, and contemplate and determine upon it accordingly." This was the Circular Letter which Paul Revere was bearing to New York and Philadelphia, whose Sons of Liberty forwarded it to the more southern colonies.

The responses to the appeal from Boston and a letter from New York proposing a General Congress were marvellous for unanimity of sentiment. The action of the Virginia House of Burgesses was a fair type of the general indication of public sentiment. When the circulars and the Port Bill reached that body, all other business was at once suspended, that the documents might be discussed. They adopted strong resolutions of condolence with the citizens of Boston, and appointed the first day of June, when the Port Bill was to go into operation, as a fast. The royal governor (Lord Dunmore) was officially offended, and the next day he dissolved the Assembly. The delegates, eighty-nine in number, ressembled in the Apollo-room at the Raleigh tavern in Williamsburgh, organized themselves into a voluntary convention and prepared an address to their constituents, in which they declared that an attack upon one colony was an attack upon all. They also recommended a General Congress as suggested by New York, and adopted other measures of resistance to oppression. They recommended a meeting of the burgesses in convention at Williamsburgh on the first of August, and then adjourned. Twenty-five of the delegates remained to participate in the services of the fast-day.

There was a very full attendance of the burgesses at the Apollo-room on the day appointed. They adopted a stringent agreement concerning non-exportation as well as non-importation, and recommended the cultivating of crops for manufacturing purposes, and improvements in the breed of sheep. On the 5th, they appointed seven delegates to represent Virginia in the General Congress to meet at Philadelphia early in September, as had been proposed by massachusetts. They then adjourned, each pledging himself to do all in his power to effect results contemplated in their proceedings. The Apollo-room, in the Raleigh tavern, was ever afterward regarded as the Virginia "cradle of liberty."





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