Thomas Hutchinson, chief justice and lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, despite his goal to prevent the passage of the dreaded Stamp Act, was violently hated by the people of Boston. In the middle of dinner on August 26, 1765, the most violent mob in the history of America attacked the mansion of Governor Hutchinson. If he and his family had not fled the table and escaped their home, they might not have lived through the ordeal. But, why would an angry Boston mob ransack the home of man who wanted to better the lives of the people?
The day after the attack, Thomas Hutchinson appeared in court to defend against the accusation of him supporting the Stamp Act. Wearing the only clothing he had left (some even borrowed), he called God, his Maker, to witness:
I never, in New England or Old, in Great Britain or America, neither directly nor indirectly, was aiding, assisting, or supporting, or in the least promoting or encouraging what is commonly called the STAMP ACT, but on the contrary, did all in my power, and strove as much as in me lay, to prevent it.
Hutchinson was born in 1711 and grew up in a family of merchants. They produced no physicians, lawyers, teachers, or ministers in the course of a century and a half. They were all devoted to developing property and networking trade, based on kinship lines at every point.
Thomas, in the fifth generation, was the end of this developing merchant clan. He was the one that accumulated all of the energy of the family and was the perfect merchant. Thomas’ father, Colonel Thomas Hutchinson, married a merchant’s daughter, which perfectly fit the family’s ideology. This marriage increased contacts three fold between the two families. This set the perfect pattern for young Thomas’ life.
Thomas entered Harvard at the age of twelve. He inherited much from his father, which became a fortune by the time of the revolution. He had fifteen times his original capitol in cash, eight houses, including the Boston mansion, two wharves, a variety of lots and shop properties in Boston, and a universally admired house in suburban Milton with a splendid setting and a hundred acres of choice land. Basically, Hutchinson was a very rich man.
He entered the world of Politics at the age of twenty-six. During the rest of his political life, he did more than most Americans when it comes to serving his country. He was a provincial assemblyman, speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, councilor, lieutenant governor, chief justice, governor, he went through the entire course of public offices and of official honors, and he was also America’s most accomplished historian.
Yet still, this great American was violently protested against because it was thought that he was for the Stamp Act. Even some who knew him personally said that they saw some, “malignancy of heart”, a deep personality trait that made them hate him. All of his great deeds were forgotten about when they believed he was a traitor.
When Hutchinson came in contact with the New Jersey governor, Francis Bernard, he was given the vacant position of chief justiceships. Bernard was only using this appointment to feed his own greed. This put Hutchinson in direct conflict with the opposition merchants and populist politicians much before the Stamp Act ordeal. But, Hutchinson didn’t seek this position, nor did he attempt to forge a political alliance with the previous chief justice, Stephan Sewall. Governor Bernard was granted a substantial salary and the gift of Mount Desert Island, off the southeast coast of Maine.
During the time before the Stamp Act was passed, Hutchinson fought long and hard to prevent it from being passed at all. But, since it was passed, the people of Boston believed that he must have been promoting it all along. In reality, it was the uncaring British government that passed it without considering Hutchinson’s arguments.
So, the people of Boston took immediate violent action. Plus, when the Stamp Act finally went into effect, it was Hutchinson’s brother-in-law, Andrew Oliver that became the stamp master for Massachusetts. This made it seem even more as if Hutchinson was behind the passing of the Stamp Act.
So, the mob did its will and went against Hutchinson and attacked his home. This whole ordeal can be directly related to a person’s personal privacy and its protection by law. There isn’t a law that prevents freedom of press or speech. In fact, it would be unconstitutional. And, it is situations like Hutchinson’s that make us question which is more important: privacy or freedom? I feel that freedom is more important.
Anyone should have the ability to say what he or she wishes. Whether newspapers wanted to print that Hutchinson was a traitor (drastically affecting his life), or some teenager wants to wear a t-shirt that depicts profanity, freedom of speech allows and protects it.
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