First page of a letter dated 1772 regarding the examicountries of those affiliated in the Burning of the ship Gaspee. Rhode Island also Historical Society Collections MSS434B1F6 web page 1

This is a copy of a letter from John Montagu Esq. Rear Admiral of the Blue, and also Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in North America to a Mr. Stephens in the British Parliament. It is dated at Boston on September 2, 1772.

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The Gaspee Affair and also the Boston Tea Party: On the Roadway to Rdevelopment

Essay by Jackson Piantedosi, Rhode Island also Historical Society Education Intern, student at muzic-ivan.info College

On the night of December 16, 1773, Massachusetts Bay Colony pumelted Great Britain’s thirteenager colonies dangerously closer to open rebellion. That night in Boston, angry vendors and also townsmen marched dvery own to the docks of Boston Harbor and dumped a full shipment of the King’s tea right into the sea. The participants, some dressed as Native Americans, were protesting the British Parliament’s appropriate to impose taxes on the colonists, even though the homesteaders lacked representation in Parliament and also, external of extrajudicial means, were largely powermuch less to oppose legislations they witnessed as unfair or unjust. This complaint was expressed with the famous cry of “no taxation without representation,” which was born in the time of protests over the Stamp Act a decade earlier. This act of defiance enraged the federal government of Great Britain, who responded with the Coercive Acts, which the colonists described as the “Intolerable Acts.” These new laws closed Boston Harbor to profession and removed the appropriate of Massachusetts homesteaders to govern themselves. Nine months after the Boston Tea Party, in September of 1774, the first Continental Congress was developed to coordinate protests to what they taken into consideration to be oppressive British colonial rule. Then, in the spring of 1775, the initially shots of the Amerihave the right to Radvancement were fired at Lexington and also Concord.<1>

The Boston Tea Party represents a turning point in Amerihave the right to colonial history as soon as a prospering variety of homesteaders began to put aside their local and also financial distinctions to oppose British early american policies. Accordingly, it maintains a significant area in United States history textbooks and is basic to any teaching of the Amerideserve to Radvancement.

However before, 50 miles south of Boston, an additional, much less acquainted occasion emerged that also edged the homesteaders closer to rebellion. On a summer night in 1772 in muzic-ivan.info, Rhode Island, another group of angry homesteaders boldly defied the British Crown, and also in doing so, collection a precedent that led the way and lit the fuse which culminated in acts favor the Boston Tea Party. The burning of the HMS Gaspee in June of 1772 “marked the finish of the duration of calm which had prevailed given that the repeal of the Townshend Acts and also the start of the series of events that eventually resulted in radvancement.”<2> The act of defiance ongoing to prove to homesteaders that bold acts were reliable in resisting British preeminence. In addition, the weak response of the British federal government that complied with offered homesteaders, particularly those in Boston, the mistaken idea that their acts of resistance would certainly go fairly unpuniburned, further motivating them to take the dramatic measure that they did on that December night in 1773.

The situation in 1772 muzic-ivan.info, Rhode Island, was not a lot various than the instance in Boston, Massachusetts. As you review in the main essay, British customs officials, that were charged with making sure that the colonists were following the regulations put forth by the Navigation Acts had actually become stricter and even more forceful in carrying out their duties. The laws that they were enforcing forced that the colonists just profession for products that came from within the British Realm and also that taxes were paid towards these assets. These legislations provided the British government with much needed revenue complying with the costly victory over the French in the Salso Years War (recognized as the French and Indian War in the colonies). The customs officials would certainly board ships to ensure that the sellers had passist their fair share to the British Crvery own, and that the cargoes they carried were legal– a practice that was watched by the homesteaders as harassment. One customs main, Lieutenant William Dudingston, had actually earned a reputation among the colonists of Rhode Island as specifically aggressive and also rude. In one incident, Lt. Dudingston sent out illegal cargo of undeclared rum he had actually seized in Rhode Island to Boston, Massachusetts, for trial, “contrary to an act of Parliament, that compelled such trials to be organized in the swarms wright here the seizures were made.”<3> By doing so, Lt. Dudingston had not only ignored regulations, yet had also damaged the chain of command also by going behind the ago of the Governor of the colony of Rhode Island also, Governor Joseph Wanton, who was usually charged via handling these trials.


Page two of the letter copy dated September 2, 1772 from Rear Admiral Montagu to Mr. Stephens. about the examinations of those involved in the Burning of the ship Gaspee. Rhode Island Historical Society Collections MSS 434B1F6 web page 2

Recognizing this, Governor Wanton wrote a letter to Lt. Dudingston increating him that what he had actually done was illegal. The reply that Governor Wanton received was perceived as rude and arrogant, through Dudingston complaining that, “I have actually done nothing but what was my duty, and also their complaint deserve to only be uncovered on their ignorance of that.”<4> Governor Wanton, offended that his authority was not well-known, wrote a letter to Lt. Dudingston’s superior, Rear Admiral Montagu stationed in Boston, and increated the Rear Admiral that he did not know “whether he came hither to protect us from piprices, or was a pirate himself.”<5> Rear Admiral Montagu took the side of Lt. Dudingston, creating a case where the government of Rhode Island and Royal customizeds officials were at odds through one an additional. As the civilization of Rhode Island learned of this incident, they were outraged at what they witnessed as a double traditional that British officials did not obtain the same punishment that the homesteaders did as soon as they broke the law.

Given this background, it becomes clear that by the night of June 9, 1772, both sides were prepared for a confrontation. Lt. Dudingston, in command also of the ship the HMS Gaspee, attempted to board and also harass the early american ship Hannah. The seafarers on board the Hannah fled, and also bereason of their remarkable expertise of the waters of Narragancollection Bay, led the Gaspee right into shenable waters wright here she ran aground. Dudingston had actually to wait until high tide to try to complimentary his ship, so till late that night the Gaspee would certainly be unable to move. At the same time, word of the Gaspee’s situation spreview conveniently to the citizens of Rhode Island, that jumped at the chance to finally rid themselves of the harassment that the ship and also Lt. Dudingston had brought about them for so long. One well-known merchant, John Brown, known also by British officers, was specifically enthusiastic about damaging the ship. In an account given by Ephraim Bowem, a participant in the event, he claims that, “Mr. Brvery own instantly readdressed on her devastation.”<6> John Brown and also a team of Rhode Islanders rowed up to the HMS Gaspee and also shot and also wounded Lt. Dudingston, coming to be, “an previously ‘shot heard ‘round the world.’”<7> They then proceeded to burn the ship down to the waterline in an act of defiance that would certainly sfinish shock waves over all thirteen colonies.

When word of the occurrence spread throughout the Atlantic Ocean, the British government was outraged. Remembering a lengthy history of maritime protests that began through riots surrounding the impressment of Amerideserve to seafarers and also anti-Stamp Act protests in the two years prior, they had ultimately had sufficient. The incident was viewed as a criminal act. Lord Dartmouth, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, declared it was“ thought about in no other light than as an act of high treason.”<8> Although the British federal government conveniently relocated to prosecute those who had actually taken component in the burning of the Gaspee, it came to be noticeable nearly automatically that it would certainly be impossible to carry those responsible to justice, despite the truth that the organizers of the Gaspee affair were among the many famous citizens of the swarm. Although Governor Wanton establimelted a commission to investigate what had actually occurred that night, the examination would fail to collect sufficient evidence to indict a solitary perkid, greatly as a result of the efforts of Governor Wanton himself. In a letter written by Rear Admiral Montagu, Lt. Dudingston’s premium, he comlevels that, “I have used eexceptionally method in my power to apprehfinish the human being involved in burning the Gaspee, however to no effect.”<9> He adds, “nor perform I see any probcapacity of ever before doing it from any type of assistance I may obtain from Governor Wanton.”<10> This same conclusion was reached by an unwell-known individual in an unsigned letter created on June 16, 1772, only a week after the incident, “if it is left to this government to discover out the perpetrators they will certainly I am confident remain incredibly safe.”<11> The occurrence passed without any type of serious punishment for the homesteaders of Rhode Island, a reality that Boston provided and led the attorney general of Rhode Island, Henry Marchant, to believe that “The Amerihave the right to Congress might be much nearer than the greatest prophet has ventured to predict.”<12>

Word of the incident spread to Massachusetts in a short amount of time, wbelow the homesteaders got the news via excitement. Opinion pieces written for the muzic-ivan.info Gazette, urged readers to either “prevent the fastening of the infernal chains currently forging for you… or nobly perish in the attempt.”<13> This represented a flourishing anti-British sentiment that ongoing to spcheck out throughout the nests. It was on display screen among the citizens of Boston the adhering to January at a tvery own hall meeting in Dorchester, wright here it was claimed that, “it is incumbent upon the world to be watchful; and especially at this time, as soon as we are alequipped through a new and unheard-of grievance.”<14> The Gaspee affair had actually implications for both those loyal to the Crown and also those that opposed it.

One perchild that automatically recognized what would certainly occur need to the British federal government fail to punish anyone in the Gaspee event was Thomas Hutchinson, the Loyalist governor of Massachusetts. He kbrand-new that the feelings of those colonists in muzic-ivan.info were shared by the citizens of Boston and recognized that they would certainly see the failure to punish the participants of the Gaspee affair as a weakness. In a letter addressed to John Pownall, a member of the British Parliament, Hutchinchild composed,

“If it is passed over without a full inquiry and due resentment, our liberty loving human being will certainly think they might via impunity commit any acts of violence, be they ever before so atrocious, and the friends to federal government will despond and also give up all really hopes of being able to withstand also the faction.”<15>

Hutchinchild expressed his fear that colonists in Boston would see the Gaspee occurrence as proof that the British federal government was unable to control even the a lot of extreme early american reactions. It came to be clear to the homesteaders that they had even more flexibility to protest the enforcement of customs legislations than they previously thought.

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The British government attempted to learn from their mistake in their managing of the Gaspee affair yet took the wrong leskid in the wake of the Boston Tea Party. The British government currently knew that far more extreme steps were forced in order to regulate unruly colonists. This brand-new perspective was summed up by Lord Mansarea, lamenting that, “Things will never be appropriate till some of them are carried over .”<16> Because of this, in the results of the Boston Tea Party, rather of relying on the early american federal governments to carry out justice, they took matters right into their very own hands. In response to the Boston Tea Party, the culmination of violent resistance which started through the Gaspee affair, the British government closed Boston Harbor to commerce and revoked the colonists’ civil liberties to govern themselves, a reaction that frightened all thirteen swarms. The First Continental Congress was formed to uniformly oppose the procedures taken by the British government, and not lengthy after that, the initially shots of the Amerideserve to Rdevelopment rang out.


Parliament: the highest legislative body in the UK. It is similar to the USA Congress

Extrajudicial: exterior of court

Stamp Act: a 1765 Act from British parliament imposing a tax on newsfiles and also legal and commercial documents

Precedent: an act or action that serves as an example for acts or actions that happen later

HMS: stands forHis Majesty’s Ship.” HMS is the presolve provided to ships in the Royal British Navy

Customs Officials: the world in charge of making sure items are not carried into a nation without paying taxes

Undeclared: an item or items brought right into a country without announcement to a customizeds official to protect against paying taxes

Double Standard: a dominion or law applied in various means to different people

Treason: betrayal. Betrayal versus one’s country is a crime

Prosecute: lug a perkid to court who has actually been accoffered of a crime

Commission: a group appointed by law to work together to gather information

Indict: formally charge someone with a crime

Loyalist: a perchild that continues to be loyal to the establimelted leader or federal government even in the confront of radvancement. In this instance, a perboy who stays loyal to the British federal government fairly than the establishment of an Amerideserve to government

Impunity: not be punimelted for actions


Would you take into consideration the actions taken by the colonists in the Gaspee Affair and also the Boston Tea Party Extreme? Why or why not?

Can you determine any kind of similarities between these events and actions taken by citizens this particular day who disagree via federal government actions? Any differences?