Rough Diplomacy

The Loyal 9

In 1765, a group of colonists  called themselves the Loyal Nine , they wanted to protest the Stamp Act. As the group got bigger, they became known as the Sons of Liberty.

Very little is known about the Loyal Nine as they operated in complete secrecy. Since they were a close-knit group made up of nine men, the organization functioned informally and left very little in terms of a paper trail.

The membership of the Loyal Nine consisted of club secretary John Avery, a distiller by trade, Henry Bass, a cousin of Samuel Adams, Thomas Chase, a distiller, Stephen Cleverly, a brazier, Thomas Crafts, a painter, Benjamin Edes, printer of the Boston Gazette, Joseph Field, a ship captain, John Smith, a brazier, and George Trott, a jeweler. All nine men would go on to become active members of the Sons of Liberty, and to date four of the nine men are documented to have participated in the Boston Tea Party.

Sometime after the Stamp Act was passed in March 1765, the Loyal Nine began meeting at the office of the Boston Gazette with the goal of preventing the act from taking effect that November. In August, they found a mob captain among the common people to do their bidding: a shoemaker by the name of Ebenezer Mackintosh.

(Re enactor )Ebenezer Mackintosh

The Loyal Nine enlisted Ebenezer Mackintosh to rally large crowds of commoners to their cause, and provided the protesters with food, drink, and supplies.

Mackintosh already had experience leading unruly mobs. Once a year on November 5, Boston’s lower classes celebrated Pope Night, an anti-Catholic holiday in which rival gangs from the North and South Ends battled for the honor of burning an effigy of the pope. As the leader of the South End gang, Mackintosh could easily gather two or three thousand men on short notice. The Loyal Nine arranged for the gangs to unite in protest against the Stamp Act. With Mackintosh as their leader,the officers of the group were wined, dined, and outfitted by John Hancock and other local merchants.

The Loyal Nine organized these mobs by putting anti-Stamp Act pamphlets and signage all over the streets of Boston, hanging effigies of public officials and others who supported the Stamp Act, as opposed to the Pope in earlier protests of Mackintosh.

Basically, the Stamp Act was a form of tax, and just like the today the British were taxing so much it was hard for patriots to make a viable income by each passing act that was implemented.

The Stamp Act outraged colonists, and the Loyal Nine was formed with the intent of preventing the Stamp Act from taking effect and further encumbering future taxes.

The Loyal Nine identified the targets of the mobs and set strict boundaries about how far the violence could escalate on their intended victims. In secrecy, these “actions” were carefully planned, organized, and directed by the Loyal Nine.

The intent of the Loyal Nine in the summer of 1765 was not independence, that notion was too premature; it was focused on the goal of repealing the Stamp Act. In August of 1765, the paths of the Loyal Nine and the Sons of Liberty crossed and ultimately merged.

Though,  Loyal Nine incited, organized, and managed mob rule in the streets of Boston ,these Patriot mobs used tactics of fear, force, intimidation and violence to demonstrate against  targeted pro-Stamp Act supporters and officials.

For example, under the direction of the Loyal Nine, Mackintosh led two mob actions that August, two more in November, and another in December. The first of these protests took place under a large elm tree in Hanover Square near the Chase and Speakman distillery.  The tree became known as the Liberty Tree, and was a central gathering place for speeches, processions, and the hanging of effigies.

The world should never forget where stood the Liberty Tree, so famous in your annals- Lafayette in Boston

The businessmen took care to keep their own identities secret and let Mackintosh take responsibility for the actions of the mob. Henry Bass, one of the Loyal Nine, admitted as much in a December 1765 letter:

We do everything in order to keep this and the first Affair Private: and are not a little pleas’d to hear that McIntosh has the Credit of the whole Affair.Members of the Loyal Nine may have participated in the Stamp Act protests along with Mackintosh and his mob. Witnesses reported seeing “gentlemen” dressed as workmen in the crowd, and one witness saw a rioter’s trouser leg slide up, revealing silk stockings.The businessmen later distanced themselves from Mackintosh. Some felt he had allowed the protests to become too violent, particularly the August 26 raid that destroyed the home of Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson. Fearing Mackintosh was another “Masaniello” (an Italian fisherman who had led a proletarian rebellion in the 17th century), they replaced him with Thomas Young and William Molineaux, members of their own social circle

Acting Governor Thomas Hutchinson in this North Square home. Hutchinson rushed to King Street where he found an angry crowd.  Hutchinson confronted a shaken Captain Preston: “Do you know, Sir, you have no power to fire on any body of the public collected … except you have a civil magistrate with you give orders?””Let the law have its course. I will live and die by the law.”

The Sons of Liberty, however, forbade their members from carrying weapons to avoid violence and keep the elite on their side. By the time the boycotts were over the elite would now consist of members of the Sons of Liberty.

The men of the Loyal Nine joined the Sons of Liberty and became an integral part of that organization.

Although not a member of the Loyal Nine, Samuel Adams, who by the summer of 1765 was emerging on the scene as an important Patriot leader and organizer, met and worked with the group and probably influenced it. It is no coincidence Samuel Adams is often credited as being the founder and leader of the Sons of Liberty, and that the Loyal Nine merged into the Sons of Liberty. The Loyal Nine all became active members of the Sons of Liberty. By some accounts, they were the leaders of the organization in its earliest days.

By the end of 1765, Sons of Liberty groups had sprouted up in every state in the colony.

Women also joined the cause by forming local chapters of the Daughters of Liberty, which organized spinning groups to spin cloth and supported a boycott against British imports. We still exist today.

Also, Loyal Nine members Henry Bass, Thomas Chase, and Benjamin Edes became members of the North End Caucus, a political group reputedly involved in the planning of the Boston Tea Party. John Avery, Thomas Chase, Steven Cleverly, and Thomas Crafts attended the planning meeting. It was held in a small counting room above Chase and Speakman’s distillery. At the actual event, Bass, Chase, Crafts, and Edes actively participated in the destruction of British East India Company .




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