Bostonian's Give Up Their Arms for Promised Liberties!

May 21, 1775 Bostonian's give up their arms for promised liberties!

"With the British takeover of Boston, the citizens gave up their arms for a little liberty in moving about, but the new rulers changed the rules as they went along to the point, “The anxiety indeed is so great to get out of town, that even were we obliged to go naked, it would not hinder us.”

May 21, 1775 — a correspondent writing from Boston in the Pennsylvania Journal of June 7th, says:

"As to the inhabitants removing, they are suffered to go out under certain restrictions. This liberty was obtained after many town-meetings, and several conferences between their committee and General Gage.

The terms mutually agreed to were:

'That the inhabitants should deliver up all their arms to the selectmen.'

This was generally done, though it took up some days. On this condition the inhabitants were to have had liberty to move out of town, with their effects, and during this to have free egress and regress. But mark the event. The arms being delivered, orders were issued by the general, that those who inclined to remove, must give in their names to the selectmen, to be by them returned to the military town major, who was then to write a pass for the person or family applying, to go through the lines or over the ferry. But all merchandise was forbid; after a while, all provisions were forbid; and now, all merchandise, provisions, and medicine.

Guards are appointed to examine all trunks, boxes, beds, and everything else to be carried out; these have proceeded to such extremities, as to take from the poor people a single loaf of bread and half a pound of chocolate; so that no one is allowed to carry out a mouthful of provisions; but all is submitted to quietly. The anxiety indeed is so great to get out of town, that even were we obliged to go naked, it would not hinder us.

But there are so many obstructions thrown in the way, that I do not think those who are most anxious, will be all out in less than two or three months. Vastly different from what was expected; for the general at first proposed, unasked, to procure the admiral's boats to assist the inhabitants in the transportation of their effects, which is not done, and there are but two ferry boats allowed to cross. They have their designs in this, which you may easily guess at. We suffer much for want of fresh meat. The transports, with the marines, are all arrived."

Diary of the American Revolution. From newspapers ... v.1. Frank Moore, 1860.

Photo: The Bostonians in distress. 1774. Print shows a re-drawn and reversed image of the famous British political cartoon where Bostonians held captive in a cage are suspended from the "Liberty Tree." Three British sailors standing in a boat feed them fish from a basket labeled "To -- from the Committee of --" in return for a bundle of papers labeled "Promises"; around the tree and in the background are cannons and British troops. The paper in the hand of one jailed Bostonian says "They tried with the Lord in their Trouble & He saved them out of their Distress. CVIL 13." Library of Congress."

© 2020-2022 Clifford Olsen/250Years America’s Founding

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