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May, 1775. Voted to raise one hundred and twenty men in the parishes, ready to march on an alarm, to be raised by the several militia officers in town. The minute men shall assemble next Thursday on the common, to choose their officers, and for two months to assemble three half days in the week to learn their duty. The privates in the two companies to be paid at the rate of four shillings per day while in actual service. Committees were appointed to procure ammunition and guns, to establish night watches and cause the great gun of king Philip's day "to be swung."
May 27, 1776. In the warrant for the March meeting of this year, an article was inserted in these words. "To know the minds of the town about coming into a state of independency." The subject thus proposed for consideration was postponed at several succeeding meetings, to this time, when the town unanimously voted that if the honorable congress shall declare the colonies independent of Great Britain, the inhabitants will solemnly engage to support it in that measure with their lives and fortunes.
July, 1776. The towns in the state having been required to procure their proportion of troops in two levies. This town voted a bounty of seven pounds in addition to the other wages of the soldiers for enlisting. Seventy men received this bounty. A committee were appointed to provide for the families of the soldiers in distress. Committees of safety and correspondence were chosen this and in all subsequent years of the war. The aggregate amount of services by soldiers of this town during the year must have been equal to fifty-five men, employed twelve months each. At this time the population did not exceed two thousand souls.* The inhabitants were nearly all husbandmen, and had very little property excepting real es
* The substance of a census recorded by Samuel Dexter, Esq., in 1765.
No. of houses.
No. of inhabitants.
Fourth parish, now Dover,
A Table shewing the number of soldiers in the first parish, and partially paid by it, collected from a report made by captain Joseph Guild, and recorded in the parish books.
Fifty-five soldiers from the first parish only, the aggregrate of whose services during the year 1776 were equal to twenty-two men employed twelve months each.
February, 1777. The town voted a bounty of twentyfour pounds to each man who would enlist for three years, or during the war. Forty-nine soldiers received this bounty. Having voted bounties to certain classes of soldiers, it became necessary for the town to reward all other men in the public service, according to their respective merit. The town attempted to do this, but met with difficulty in the details. Then each parish assumed the business of paying such soldiers as belonged to it. The parishes raised the money by taxes. In the year 1778, the first parish imposed a tax on its inhabitants for the above purpose, of four thousand four hundred and eighty-five pounds, so that a corporation organised solely for religious purposes, became an efficient body to furnish the means of the war.
1778. The method adopted last year to support the war, was observed this. The first parish alone had thirtythree men employed one month near Boston, seventeen men in other places, and thirty men in the army. The select men, militia officers, and special committees, were authorised and requested to exert themselves to procure soldiers and borrow money. In January, 1778, the town approved the articles of confederation of the colonies. May, 1778. The inhabitants in town meeting, approved of the state constitution proposed by a committee of the provincial congress, by a vote of ninety-eight to thirty-one. This model of a state constitution was rejected by a large majority in the state. The next year the town instructed its representative to vote for a convention, for the purpose of proposing a form of state government to the people.
May, 1779. The town again exerted itself to procure the enlistment of soldiers. A vote passed that the quota of men from each parish, should be in proportion to the taxes paid by each parish. Provisions were then made for borrowing money to pay the soldiers.
1780. The committee which was appointed last year to hire soldiers, reported that they had performed that service, and had paid them twelve thousand pounds. The number employed was sixty-six, and the amount of services equal to twenty-two men, twelve months each. During this and subsequent years of the war, demands were made on the town for a supply of beef for the army. To meet this demand, the town assessed 100,000 pounds on the inhabitants, and 8,000 pounds more for the purchase of fourteen horses for the army. The committee authorised to hire soldiers this year, reported that it could not be done. A small number however, were afterwards hired, and twenty-six men drafted from the companies to complete the number required. Great difficulties arose in collecting the taxes, on account of the fluctuation of the currency. The town ordered a table of depreciation to be made, and that the taxes should be collected in hard money agreeably to it. The credit of the town was so bad, or money so scarce, that the town was obliged to stipulate with their contractor for beef, that it would pay him twenty per cent. in addition to the price of the beef, if it failed to pay at the time agreed on. It likewise voted to make a deduction of two shillings in the pound, to persons who made prompt payment of their taxes.
War taxes. Bringing into view the taxes assessed by the town and parishes during the war, and the sums borrowed, the annual expenditures may be estimated at eight thousand dollars in our present currency. All estimates however of this kind, are liable to great doubts, on account of the fluctuation in the value of the paper money then current. The nominal amount of the expenditures very imperfectly denotes the weight of the burden. Before the war, the taxes for the support of government, were comparatively small, and seem to have been increased eight or ten times by it. The pecuniary distress of this town at the present time, would not be so great as that in 1780, should its annual taxes be increased to sixty thousand dollars. The
inhabitants were nearly all husbandmen; they had little money. The sums borrowed being nearly all of them quite small, varying from one to ten pounds, shows clearly the great scarcity of money. That the war had exhausted their means of paying, seems quite manifest, for notwithstanding their strong attachment to the cause which they supported, they at last complained to the general court, that their burdens were so great that unless they could be diminished, many would be under the necessity of removing out of the town.
In the common cause, the people in the town acted and suffered with great unanimity; and in the same proportion, that they felt indignation against the enemy, did they possess kindness for their own friends. As the strong current of popular feeling ran all one way, there was a smooth surface on the public proceedings of the town. The gravest and most able men, assumed their proper stations in society; neither the records, nor tradition have transmitted the knowledge of any event which proves the least disorder by reason of debate or contrariety of opinion, except in the following instance.
At the commencement of the revolution, there resided in Dedham, the Rev. William Clark, the episcopal minister of a very small society, composed of individuals in Dedham and Stoughton, living on a salary of fifty pounds, twenty of which was paid to him by the society in England, for propagating religion in foreign parts. Soon was his little flock driven from their humble church, standing on a place about sixty rods south of the new court house, which was afterwards used for a store house for the soldiers. Mr. Clark then repaired to a dwelling house, and there secretly performed the services of his religion. He carefully abstained from all political discussions or affairs. In the spring of 1777, two loyalists in their distresses fleeing from the people who persecuted them, asked of Mr. Clark, information of a place, to which they might flee for an asylum. This request he so far complied with, that he gave to the loyalists a recommendation directed to persons in another county. For this a prosecution was brought against him. The town committee first reported that he and two other persons of his flock, were enemies to their country, and were recorded as such in the town records. Then a considerable number, who sought his condemna
tion carried him by force, before the revolutionary tribunal at Boston, which had been appointed to try all similar cases. He was denied the privilege of council; he was about to be acquitted however, for he was not convicted of any crime excepting that of giving succour to a fellow man in distress. He was required to swear allegiance to the Commonwealth, which he refused. For this refusal he was condemned to be transported to foreign parts, and was immediately confined in a prison ship in Boston harbour. By means of his hard usage and confinement, he lost his health, and in a great measure the use of his speech. Dr. Ames of Dedham, a decided whig being acquainted with his suffering, interfered in his behalf, and procured his liberty, and a license to go out of the country. He soon went away, and as the only means of support, sought and obtained a pension. Two of Mr. Clark's society were recorded as enemies to the country, but were no further prosecuted. These individuals are known to this generation, and it is impossible to believe that the public safety required any proceedings against them. Mr. Clark, was a peaceable and humble man devoted to his profession; he had no party to support him. The stones directed against the windows of his church, the frequent insults he met abroad, had early admonished him of his danger among the resolute sons of liberty; he was therefore cautious and retired. So it is while a society is agitated with the most magnanimous resolution to defend their liberties, some will ever be so misguided, that they will, under the pretext of supporting their rights, wickedly violate the liberty of others. Mr. Clark was an episcopalian. Did any of his persecutors cherish a vague hope that if the minister was ignominiously driven away, the inheritance of his church, the Colburn estate, might become the inheritance of others?* This I should not dare to affirm. But I may be pardoned for saying it seems to be heresy rather than treason for which he suffered; as one other gentleman whose abilities and influence, made him more dangerous to liberty, escaped prosecution. During the revolution, there were many substantial and influential men here who regulated the measures adopted by the town.
* Did any one ever ask himself the question, has not the immediate successor of Mr. Clark, avenged his wrongs?