J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, September 04, 2015

“Those Diversions which usually accompany such Proceedings”

The New-London Gazette of 23 Aug 1765 offered this report on an event in that Connecticut town the night before:
Yesterday, a little before Night, the Effigy of J—d I——l, Esq; late Agent for this Colony, (but now distributor of Stampt Paper for the same) was hung up by the Neck in the most public part of this Town, having a young Imp of the Devil at his right Shoulder, represented as dictating him, and a Stamp Act at his Breast, under which was an inscription in Praise of LIBERTY; in this position the Effigy continued about an Hour; when it was taken down, and being fixt on a Pole was carried thro’ the Town, amidst the loud Acclamations of some Hundred People: this Ceremony being over, there was a repeated discharge of Cannon from the Battery, and the Effigy being properly fixt over a Bon-fire, it was consumed.  
The next week the same newspaper published a more detailed report on that event, adding that the procession included “People of all Professions, and Denominations, and accompanied with various kinds of Musick, Guns, Drums, &c. and incessant Acclamations of the Multitude, the Number far exceeding whatever had been known to assemble in this Place on any Occasion”!

That was the second time in two days that Jared Ingersoll had been hanged in effigy in New London County.

The 30 August New-London Gazette also included this report from a little to the north:
We hear from Windham, that on the Morning of the 26th Instant [i.e., of this month], certain ever memorable and most respectable Gentleman, made his Appearance in Effigie, suspended between the Heavens and the Earth, (as an Emblem of his being fit for neither), he was cloathed in white and black, with a View to represent the great Contrast of his Character, he once indeed (to his praise be it spoken) when in public Trust reflected Honor upon himself and Country, but now, O detestable Change! has for the Sake of a pitiful Pension, basely undertaken to be the Tool of Oppression, and to spread Misery and Poverty among his Friends and Brethren of this Colony, by collecting from them the small remains of Wealth they are now possessed of.
Now as each Beast of Prey, tho’ pinch’d for Food,
Yet spares his Brother Natives of the Wood;
So holds he still close Union with the Devil,
To Virtue only and his Friends uncivil.
A little above him was represented the Enemy of all honest Men [i.e., the Devil], with a Piece of Stampt Paper in his Hand offering it to him, but by his Aspect appeared very doubtful of Success.—

Underneath was written these Mottos,  viz. LIBERTY, in Capitals; below, May this be the Fate of all Enemies to Liberty and Property. On the other Side, Property, below, Behold the Man who refers his private Interest to publick Trust.

They continued in this Position ’till Evening, when thee was a prodigious Concourse of People gathered, the Effigies were taken down, and carried through the Town, attended by a large Proesssion, with the loudest Acclamations of the People—

The Procession being ended, the Effigies were consumed in that Element which is the most proper to blot out the blackest Crimes by an Intire Demolition of the Object. The Rest of the Evening was spent in those Diversions which usually accompany such Proceedings.
That last line feels somewhat ironic, but it suggests that people in Connecticut should consider hanging and burning the stamp master in effigy was just something you did.

TOMORROW: Back to New London County.

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