Putting Down the Mob, Defending Law and Order

Liberty Letters, Samuel Adams, 1766

This Town has always been very careful during the late Times of Calamity to preserve as much as possible Good order among its Inhabitants, of which they gave an Early Proof when a dangerous Mob arose and some Outrages were committed by Persons as yet unknown. A good deal of Mischief was done as all the World have been told, however after all the Exaggerations the whole Damage is short of 4000 pounds — but it will appear the less surprising that so much was done when it is considered that the Mob was sudden and unexpected and appeared so furious as to occasion a general Consternation, and besides it being in the night, it was not easy to distinguish between them and the innocent People.

Yet the Inhabitants were far from being inactive in their Endeavors to suppress immediately — they made diverse Attempts and took every step that could be thought of amidst the Confusion. A number went to the Governor’s House to take his Excellency’s Orders but he was not in town — from whence one would conclude that he was no more apprehensive of such a tumult from any Appearances than others were.

If there had been any reason to have expected it, we presume his Excellency’s Care for the Peace and Order of the Government would have procured the first Intelligence and that he would have thought it his duty to have been present or at least that he would have taken the necessary Precautions and given Orders to have prevented it — but the Inhabitants were left to do the best they could, and there is no doubt but much more mischief would have been done if they had not made use of Art and Persuasion when they fortunately wanted the Countenance of his Excellency’s Authority.

As a town they expressed their Detestation of such Proceedings early the next day and assured the civil Magistrate that they were ready to assist to their utmost in restoring the Peace of the Town as you will see by the inclosed vote and we may venture to assure you that the Efforts of Persons of every order and Condition in town in Consequence of this Resolution was the principal Means of suppressing the Mob which was done in one day.

Yet we have been ungratefully and publicly charged with being tame Spectators of this Outrage and have been told that our reputation suffers much in the Opinion of the World on this Account. But whatever representation may have been made to our Prejudice, which we think we have some good reason to suspect, our most inveterate Enemy dare not openly assert that the civil Authority in this County and even throughout the Province has not as good reason to be assured of the Assistance of the People in the legal Exercise of Power as in any County in England.

Editor: Steve Farrell. To facilitate easier reading I have modernized and corrected spelling, eliminated abbreviations, and separated one large paragraph into several smaller paragraphs. The copyright of the original of this text from “The Writings of Samuel Adams 1764-1769 by Samuel Adams ” is in the Public Domain.

This edited version Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal.

Source: The Writings of Samuel Adams: The Town of Boston to Dennvs De Berdt, October 22, 1766.

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