Report of the Committee of the Town of Boston
The town of Boston now legally convened at Faneuil Hall, have directed us, their committee, to acquaint you of their present miserable situation, occasioned by the exorbitancy of the military power, which, in consequence of the intrigues of wicked and designing men to bring us into such a state of bondage and ruin, in direct repugnance to those rights which belong to us as men, and as British subjects, have long since been stationed among us.
The soldiers, ever since the fatal day of their arrival, have treated us with an insolence which discovered in them an early prejudice against us, as being that rebellious people which our implacable enemies had maliciously represented us to be. They landed in the town with all the appearance of hostility! They marched through the town with all the ensigns of triumph! and evidently designed to subject the inhabitants to the severe discipline of a garrison! They have been continuing their enormities by abusing the people, rescuing prisoners out of the hands of justice, and even firing upon the inhabitants in the street, when in the peace of Grod and the King; and when we have applied for redress in the course of the law of the, land, our magistrates and courts of justice have appeared to be overawed by them; and such a degree of mean submission has been shewn to them, as has given the greatest disgust, even to the coolest and most judicious persons in the community. Such has been the general state of the town.
On Friday the 2d instant, a quarrel arose between some soldiers of the 29th, and the rope-maker’s journeymen and apprentices, which was carried to that length, as to become dangerous to the lives of each party, many of them being much wounded. This contentious disposition continued until the Monday evening following, when a party of seven or eight soldiers were detached from the main guard- under the command of Captain Preston, and by his orders fired upon the inhabitants promiscuously in King street, without the least warning of their intention, and killed three on the spot; another has since died of his wounds, and others are dangerously, some it is feared mortally, wounded. Captain Preston and his party now are in jail. An inquiry is now making into this unhappy affair; and by some of the evidence, there is no reason to apprehend that the soldiers have been made use of by others as instruments in executing a settled plot to massacre the inhabitants. There had been but a little time before a murder committed in the street by two persons of infamous characters, who had been employed by the commissioners and custom house officers. In the present instance there are witnesses who swear that when the soldiers fired, several muskets were discharged from the house, where the commissioners’ board is kept before which this shocking tragedy was acted; and a boy, servant of one Manwaring, a petty officer in the customs, has upon oath accused his master of firing a gun upon the people out of a window of the same house, a number of persons being at the same time in the room; and confesses that himself, being threatened with death if he refused, discharged a gun twice by the orders of that company. But as it has been impossible for any person to collect a state of facts hitherto, we are directed by the town to give you this short intimation of the matter for the present, and to entreat your friendship to prevent any ill impressions from being made upon the minds of his Majesty’s ministers, and others against the town, by the accounts which the commissioners of the customs and our other enemies may send, until the town shall be able to make a full representation of it, which will be addressed to you by the next conveyance.
This horrid transaction has occasioned the greatest anxiety and distress in the minds of the inhabitants, who have ever since been necessitated to keep their own military watch; and’ his Majesty’s council were so convinced of the imminent danger of the troops being any longer in town, that upon application made by the inhabitants, they immediately and unanimously advised the lieutenant governor to effect their removal ; and Lieutenant Colonel Dalrymple the present commanding officer, is now removing all the troops to Castle William.
We are, with strict truth, Sir,
Your most faithful and obedient servants,
John Hancock, Wm. Phillips,
Sam. Adams, Jos. Warren,
MoLiNETJX, Sam. Pemberton,
Committee of the Town of Boston.
To Thomas Pownall, Esq.
Boston, March 12, 1770.