|Mural of the Ipswich Remonstrance in 1687.|
Almost 90 years before the first shot of the American Revolution, an event took place in another Massachusetts town that helped turn the tide of history. In the seacoast town of Ipswich, north of Boston, on the eve of August 22, 1687 the esteemed Rev. John Wise of Chebacco Parrish gathered together an emergency meeting of the Selectmen and other leading citizens of the town to discuss a course of action against the recently appointed Governor's warrant to impose taxes on the colonies without the consent of their representatives.
One of Governor Andros's first acts was to pass an ordinance demanding a tax of a penny on a pound to afford him revenue. The Colonies had previously appropriated its own taxes according to each town's needs. Although the new Governor's warrant aroused general opposition, most towns submitted to the new ruling including appointing tax collectors.
When the Ipswich men met, "They all agreed that this warrant act for raising revenue, abridged their liberties as Englishmen." and “that it was not the town’s duty any way to assist that ill method of raising money.” The right to assemble for town meetings having been denied the colony by Governor, they called a legal assembly the following day by virtue of choosing a commissioner to assess the inhabitants for laying of rates and voted unanimously that:
"The town then considering, that this act doth infringe their liberty, as freeborn English subjects of His Majesty, by interfering with the Statute Laws of the land, by which it was enacted, that no taxes should be levied upon the subjects without the consent of an Assembly, chosen by the Freeholders for assessing of the same, they do therefore vote, that they are not willing to choose a commissioner for such an end without said privilege, and, moreover, consent not, that the Selectmen do proceed to lay any such rate until it be appointed by a General Assembly, concurring with Governor and Council."This rebellion was the beginning of the American protest against taxation without representation which finally led to Independence.
|Mural on the Ipswich Riverwalk depicting the arrest.|
What followed was the arrest of the seven principle individuals involved for being "factiously and seditiously inclined, and disaffected to his Majesty's government." They were brought before a jury hand-picked by the prosecution. When claiming their rights as Englishmen the judges stated that they had left their rights in England when they left, telling Rev. John Wise, "you have no more privileges Left you then not to be Sold for Slaves." The revolters were jailed and heavily fined. Rev. Wise was also revoked his ministerial authority for a period of time. And, among them, Maj. Samuel Appleton refused to give the bond and was kept prisoner in Boston from November until March under harsh conditions.
The Dominion came to an abrupt halt in 1689, when word arrived in the colonies about the removal of James II from the throne in the Glorious Revolution. Some poetic justice was had when Maj. Samuel Appleton helped escort Andros to Castle Island in Boston Harbor as a prisoner before he was shipped back to England. The new British sovereigns, William and Mary, issued the colonists new charters.
The Rev. John Wise, whose writings were reprinted and popular in the years preceding the American Revolution, is said to have inspired the Declaration of Independence with these words originally written in 1700:
“The first human subject and original of civil power is the people . . .
and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please. The end of all good government is to cultivate humanity and promote the happiness of all, and the good of every man in all his rights, his life, liberty, estate, honor, etc., without injury or abuse done to any.”