Riots Over Coffee - From Loyal Nine to Sons of Liberty
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Now, on to the Loyal Nine…
The Loyal Nine were a group of Boston artisans who first took action in protest of Great Britain during the Stamp Act Crisis.
It is interesting that this group is not more celebrated in the United States because, though they were far from revolutionaries, their actions would lay the groundwork for the Sons of Liberty and, later, the Revolutionary War.
What is also fascinating is than none of the men involved with the Loyal Nine are names we might recognize today (though they did work closely with many more well known Founders).
When news of the Stamp Act reached the American Colonies, the situation in Massachusetts was tense.
Already suffering from an economic downturn, due in large part to the end of the French and Indian War (not to mention a string of bankruptcies to the wealthiest colonists), Boston was severely impacted by the new tax.
Furthermore, the British soldiers who were stationed in the city were behaving cruelly to the people, looking down on them as uncivilized, second class citizens.
This is when a group of men organized as the Loyal Nine.
The Loyal Nine
The Loyal Nine were of the ‘middling sort.’
By this, we generally mean they were artisans who owned businesses but were not the wealthy gentlemen who controlled the city.
The group consisted of two distillers, two jewelers, two braziers (AKA brass smiths), a painter, a printer and a ship captain.
The Green Dragon Tavern
These men met at The Green Dragon Tavern, a building owned by the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons and overseen by Grandmaster Dr. Joseph Warren.
At the time, taverns weren’t just places for swilling booze. Commonly known as coffee house, taverns were places where citizens conducted personal and professional business. If course they commonly drank…tea. And coffee. And ale.
Throughout the 1760’s, the Green Dragon Tavern would become known as the ‘Headquarters of the Revolution’ with many important secret meetings taking place.
Not to be confused with the Loyalists (which was not a term in common use back in 1765), the Loyal Nine came together with the goal of removing the corrupt Royal Governor from the city.
Additionally, they wanted the soldiers to be stationed elsewhere, as the number of troops was roughly equal to that of able-bodied men in town.
To put that into perspective, a nation would have to land an army of three million in modern New York City for an equal comparison.
The Loyal Nine became the main organizers of protest and resistance to the overbearing acts of Parliament, though they made sure not to be seen leading the way.
Instead, they organized local hooligans to carry out the acts and take the credit, which the ruffians were happy to do.
When a man name Andrew Oliver was appointed as Stamp Distributor, the Loyal Nine riled up the town. They convinced a large group of angry citizens to hang Oliver in effigy before heading over to his house and destroying much of his belongings.
Though Oliver was quick to quit the following day, the Loyal Nine had their followers bring him to the Liberty Tree (a large elm in the city where public meeting often took place) and resign in front of everyone.
The Sons of Liberty
The Loyal Nine instructed their followers through several more riots, destroying the homes and belongings of many Tories along the way.
Eventually this group dissolved and the Nine became founding members of the more important, and recognizable, Sons of Liberty.
The Sons of Liberty took the reigns from the Loyal Nine and went on to lead Boston from a rebellious mob into a revolutionary movement.
For those of you who are interested, the names of the Loyal Nine were Benjamin Edes, John Avery, Thomas Chase, Thomas Crafts, Henry Bass, Steven Cleverly, Joseph Field, John Smith and George Trott.
There were Founders throughout the colonies who organized against the Stamp Act.
Check some of them out here:
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