The burning of effigies in Boston (1765)

On October 10th 1765 the London Chronicle published a letter from Boston, dated August 26th, describing unrest in the city in protest against the Stamp Act. The letter described the burning of effigies representing tax stamp officials:

“Very early on Wednesday morning, the 14th instant, were discovered hanging on a limb of the great trees at the south of this town, two effigies, one of which by the labels appeared to be designed to represent a Stamp Officer, the other a Jackboot with a head and horns peeping out of the top. The report of the images soon spread through the town and brought a vast number of spectators, and had such an effect on them that scarce any could attend to the talk of day labour, but all seemed on the wing for freedom.

About dusk the images were taken down, placed on a bier, supported in procession by six men followed by a great concourse of people, some of the highest reputation, and in the greatest order, echoing forth Liberty and Property – No Stamps, etc. having passed through the town house they proceeded down King-street, where an edifice had lately been erected for the good of the Stamp Office. Here they halted and went to work to demolish that building. This being finished, many of them loaded themselves with their wooden trophies and proceeded, bearing the two effigies, to the top of Fort Hill, where a fire was soon kindled, in which one of them was burned. The populace after this went to work on the barn, fence, garden, etc. And here it would have ended, had not some indiscretions, to say the least, been committed by his friends within, which so enraged the people they were no to be restrained, though hitherto no violence had been offered to anyone…

The next day the honourable gentleman who had been appointed to the duty of Distributor of Stamps, supposing himself to be the object of their derision, informed the principal gentlemen of the town that as it appeared disagreeable to the people, he should request the liberty of being excluded from that office; and in the evening the populace reassembled, erected a pyramid, intending a second bonfire, but upon hearing of the resignation they departed.”