Betsy Ross Flag - Network Design

Protocols of Liberty: Communication, Innovation, and teh American Revolution [Book Banner from Title Page Image] Betsy Ross Flag - Network Design
William Warner [Author Name]
The University of Chicago Press [Publisher Name]
Overview [Link]
Introduction [Link]
Chapter 1 [Link]
Chapter 2 [Link]
Chapter 3 [Link]
Chapter 4 [Link]
Chapter 5 [Link]
Chapter 6 [Link]
Conclusion [Link]

The Varied Declarations of four Towns

LINK: Countersigning -- Varied Declarations of 4 Towns of Massachusetts -- Responses to the VA Committee of Correspondence -- Pennsylvania Convention

The towns of colonial Massachusetts were not simply different from one another. They took pride in the differences of geography, settlement history, and commercial development that made each distinct from one another.

The differences of the towns can be read in the tone and style of the replies to The Votes and Proceedings. Here is a sample of four replies, with a brief account of the style, mood, and message of each communication. Each of these responses were considered noteworthy enough by the Boston Committee of Correspondence that it arranged to have them reprinted in several of the newspapers of Boston.

Cambridge (Middlesex co.)
14 Dec 1772

Style: refined and learned, the use of  complex syntax to tie together one rhetorical period

Mood: elevated indignation, a pathetic appeal to the suffering of ‘our worthy ancestors’

Message: we of Cambridge grasp the larger historical context of this crisis; in this regard we are the equals of our colleagues in Boston

“We Freeholds and other Inhabitants of Cambridge…Do therefore with true patriotic spirit, declare, that we are and ever have been, ready to risk our lives and fortunes in defense of this Majesty King GEORGE the Third, …So, on the other hand, are as much concerned to maintain and secure our invaluable rights and liberties… [which] were purchased at no less price than the precious blood and treasure of our worthy ancestors, the first settlers of this province, who for the sake of those rights left their native land, their dearest friends and relations, goodly houses, pleasant gardens and fruitful fields, and in the face of every danger, settled a wild and howling wilderness, where they were surrounded with an innumerable multitude of cruel and barbarous enemies; …yet aided by the smiles of indulgent heaven, by their heroic fortitude…they subdued their enemies before them;…”

Boston Gazette
, 21 Dec 1772 (1)

Pembroke (Plymouth co.)
28 December 1772

Style: legal in its concision, its carefully balanced phrasing and logical rigor; restrained and efficient but intellectually dispassionate

Mood: calm in its business-like determination to confront the crisis

Message: Knowing our rights under the law, we of Pembroke issue this stern warning that the empire is now at risk. 

Resolved, That it is particularly necessary, in the present alarming crisis of our affairs, to give our opinion, and cause it to be known, that not a few men only, of factious spirits, as has been falsely represented, but the whole body of the people complain and are uneasy. 

Resolved, That acts of the British parliament made for, and executed within the limits of this province, are in our opinion against law and the most essential principles of our constitution.

Resolved, That if the measures so justly complained of, by this province and the other colonies on the continent, are persisted in and enforced by fleets and armies, they must, (we think of it with pain), they will in a little time, issue in the total dissolution of the union between the mother country and the colonies.”

Boston Gazette
, 11 Jan 1773 (3)

Petersham (Worchester co.)
4 Jan 1773

Style: Urgent, popular, frontier directness, with the use of extreme hyperbole in both thought and expression

Mood: a passionate sense of the crisis makes the town ready for extreme measures (escape to the ‘aboriginal natives’) as well as millenarian faith in ‘that all-powerful God’ whose arms can deliver us.

Message: Although we are a small rustic town on the western margins of Massachusetts settlement, we of Petersham face the political crisis by making ourselves one with the metropolis in our suffering and acts.

“The time may come, when if you continue your integrity, that you may be driven from your goodly heritages(?) ; and if that should be the case,….we invite you to share with us in our small supply of the necessaries of life; And, should the voracious laws of tyranny still haunt us, and we should not be able to withstand them, we are determined to retire and seek refuge among the inland aboriginal natives of this country, with whom we doubt not but to find more humanity & brotherly love than we have lately received from our mother country.”

 “…it becomes us in our present melancholy situation, to rely no longer on an arm of flesh, but on the arms of that all-powerful GOD, who is able to unite the numerous inhabitants of this extensive territory, as a band of brothers in one common cause; who can easily give that true religion which shall make us his people indeed, that spirit which shall fit us to endure temporary hardships, for the procurement of future happiness’…”

Boston Gazette
, 18 Jan 1773 (1)

Gorham (Cumberland co., Maine)
7 Jan 1773

Style: Frontier gothic with the use of the poignant detail; rated V for violence Mood: Determined, strong

Message: We in Gorham know what violence is and have the courage to respond to this new threat to our lives and liberties.

“But the People of this Town of Gorham have an Argument still nearer at hand: Not only may we say that we enjoy an Inheritance purchased by the blood of our Forefathers, but this Town was settled at the Expense of our own Blood; we have those amongst us, whose Blood streaming from their own Wounds watered the Soul from which we earn our Bread! Our Ears have heard the infernal Yells of the native Savage Murderers---Our Eyes have seen our young Children weltering in their Gore, in our own Houses, and our dearest Friends carried into the Captivity by Men more savage than the Savage Beasts themselves!” 

Boston Gazette, 15 Feb 1773
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