Oppose the Vending of the Tea with Our Lives and Fortunes

in about Warren

Dates: October 23, November 2, and November 3, 1773

Author: Abiel Ruddock as secretary of the Boston North End Caucus

“October 23, 1773.  Gibbons Sharp Moderator.

Voted – That this body will oppose the vending any Tea, sent by the East India Company to any part of the Continent, with our lives and fortunes.

Voted – That there be a committee chosen to correspond with any Committee chosen in any part of the town, on this occaision; and call this body together at any time they think necessary. – Paul Revere, Abiel Rudduck and John Lowell the Committee.”


“November 2d, 1773.  At a meeting of the Caucus held at the Green Dragon. Nathaniel Holmes, Moderator. Abiel Ruddock, Secretary.

Voted – That a committee be chosen to wait upon the Committee of Correspondence of this town, and desire their attendance here. Committee, B. Kent, E. Proctor, and G. Johonnot.

Voted – That a committee be chosen to wait on John Hancock, Esq. and desire him to meet with us. Committee, John Winthrop, Capt. Matchet, and G. Johonnot.

Voted – That this body are determined that the Tea shipped or to be shipped by the East India Company shall not be landed.

Voted – That a committee be chosen to draw a resolution to be read to the Tea Consignees to-morrow 12 O’Clock, noon, at Liberty Tree: and that Dr. Thos. Young, and Church, and Warren , be a committee for that purpose, and make a report as soon as may be.

And the Committee reported as follows. Viz. that Thos. and Elisha Hutchinson, R. Clarke & Sons, and Benjamin Fanueil, by neglecting to give satisfaction as their fellow-citizens just expected from them in this hour, relative to their acceptance of an office destructive to this Community, have intolerably insulted this body, and in case they do not appear, forthwith, and satisfy their reasonable expectation, this body will look upon themselves warranted to esteem them enemies to their Country; and will not fail to make them feel the weight of their resentment.”


“November 3d, 1773. Wednesday, 12 O’Ck.

Voted – That this result be accepted.

Voted – That Capt. Proctor, John Lowell, G. Johonnot, James Swan, John Winthrop and T. Chase be a committee to get a flag for Liberty Tree.

Voted that Thos. Hichborn and John Boit be a committee for posting up said notification.”

Source: Goss, Elbridge H. The Life of Colonel Paul Revere. 2 vols. Boston: Joseph George Cupples, 1891, pp. 641-643 appendix includes the complete minutes of the North End Caucus.

Commentary: Weeks prior to the arrival at the Port of Boston of three ships carrying East India Company taxed tea, the North End caucus members, including leading Patriots, pledged to “oppose vending of the tea.” Although they expressed steadfast opposition on principle, the mode of opposition was far from settled. Actions included coordinating with other caucuses in town, meeting with prominent Whig merchant John Hancock, engaging the general public at Liberty Tree, preparing for distant communications via the Boston Committee of Correspondence, and publicly calling the tea consignees to task for their willingness to sell the taxed tea. In the latter action at the Liberty Tree, Joseph Warren, in committee with fellow Patriot physicians Church and Young, took on one of his only public speaking roles during the entire tea crisis. Given Warren’s interlocking memberships in politically active clubs, leadership roles in most of them, and doctor-patient relationships with both key Whig and Loyalist protagonists, it is hard to imagine that Warren did not play an outsized role in the subsequent Destruction of the Tea.

From the October 23rd behind-the-scenes North End Caucus’ opposition to the selling of the tea, it would be a huge leap to its total destruction eight weeks later on December 16th right under the noses of armed British army and navy contingents based a mile away at Castle William.

Coincidentally, the execution of Levi Ames for serial burglaries draw spectators by the thousands to Boston Common on October 21, 1773.  Colonial society did not take kindly to crimes against property.

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