The Port Bill Received at Boston

in about Warren


Friday, May 13, 1774.

On this day there was a numerous and respectable meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of this town, legally warned and assembled at Faneuil Hall, to consider an edict lately passed by the British Parliament, for shutting up the harbor, and otherwise punishing the inhabitants;  and to determine upon proper measures to be taken by the town thereon.

After making choice of Mr. Samuel Adams, Moderator of the meeting, the edict was distinctly read by the Clerk; and the nature and tendency, as well as the design of it, being explained in the observations of several gentlemen upon it, the town came into the following vote, nem. con:

Voted, That it is the opinion of this town, that if the other, Colonies come, into a joint resolution to stop all importation from Great Britain, and exportations to Great Britain, and every part of the West Indies, till the Act for blocking up this harbor be repealed, the same will prove the salvation of North America and her liberties. On the other hand, if they continue their exports and imports, there is high reason to fear that fraud, power, and the most odious oppression, will rise triumphant over right, justice, social happiness, and freedom.

And, Ordered, That this vote be forthwith transmitted by the Moderator to all our sister Colonies, in the name and behalf of this town.

Then it was moved for consideration what measures were proper for the town to take on the present emergency; whereupon several judicious, spirited and manly proposals were made, which being debated with a candour, moderation, and firmness of mind becoming a people resolved to preserve their liberty, it was voted, that the Moderator, with John Rowe; Esq., Mr. Thomas Boylston, William Phillips, Esq., Dr. Joseph Warren, John Adams, Esq., Josiah Quincy, Esq., Thomas Cushing, Esq., Mr. Henderson Inches, Mr. William Mollineaux, and Mr. Nathaniel Appleton, be a Committee to take the several proposals that have been, and others that may be made, into consideration, and report to the town as soon as may be.

After which the town made choice of Mr. Oliver Wendell, Isaac Smith, Esq., Mr. William Dennie, Mr. William Powell, and Mr. John Pitts, to repair immediately to the towns of Salem and Marblehead, to communicate the sentiments of this metropolis to the gentlemen there, consult with them, and make report at the adjournment.

Then the meeting was adjourned to Wednesday next, the 18th instant, at ten of the clock in the forenoon.”

Source: Force, P. American Archives. IVth Series. A Documentary History of the English Colonies in North America, from the King’s Message to Parliament of March 1774 to the Declaration of Independence by the United States. Published by M. St Clair Clarke and Peter Force, 1837. Vol. I, p. 331.

Commentary: Peter Force noted that the Port Bill was received in Boston via a Captain Jenkins, whose ship arrived there on Tuesday, May 10, 1774.  On Friday the 13th about noon, Thomas Gage arrived aboard the frigate HMS Lively and landed at Castle William.  Gage was the newly appointed Governor of Massachusetts in addition to his existing post as general in charge of all British forces in North America.

The bill closed the Port of Boston in reprisal for the Destruction of the Tea. It deliberately deprived merchants, artisans, and laborers of their livelihoods in a town dependent upon trade and commerce.  It was draconian in that it punished all townspeople – whether Patriots, Loyalists, and non-aligned.  Tory ministry policy makers hoped to isolate Boston and Massachusetts from the other colonies, force monetary restitution to the East India Tea Company for losses sustained in the Tea Party of the previous December, and encourage citizens to become pliant to ministerial policies through economic necessity and self-interest.

Joseph Warren was named to a Town Meeting committee to recommend a responsive course of action.

The Boston Committee of Correspondence dispatched Paul Revere the following day, well before the Town of Boston committed to a particular plan of action, carrying express letters to Patriot committees in provinces to the South.  The letters implored solidarity and concerted action to resist England’s punishment of Boston.

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