This event will be part of the Explorers’ “Friday Coffee” series, but I prefer tea, so I’ll share a story about tea that led up to “Leslie’s Retreat.”
According to Susan Mason Smith, interviewed in 1842 when she was “in her 80th year,” her father David Mason in 1774
was on a Com[mitt]ee (in Salem) to prevent the introduction of Tea in this Town.—Smith apparently said “public square”; her interviewer wondered if that meant the common.
2 large chests, smuggled into Salem by a coloured man,—were seized—& put in Col Mason’s chamber closet for safe keeping over night—
This Tea was taken away the next day by the school boys who had much amusement in burning it on the Common
The story continued:
Mrs Mason was in feeble health, & it was thought necessary, that she should use Tea for her recovery for her relief. Her husband proposed to obtain special leave that she might use such a remedy; but she said “No, she would rather suffer inconvenience then it should be said she was enjoying a privilege her husband was appointee to take from her friends & neighbors.[”]That autumn, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress’s Committee of Safety asked Mason “to make private preparation for the Revolution” by “collecting military Stores for the use of the Country.”
Come the following February, the stores David Mason had collected—namely a large number of cannon—were being mounted on carriages in the north of Salem. And Lt.-Col. Alexander Leslie and his redcoat soldiers had orders to search for them.
My “Friday Coffee” talk is scheduled to start at 10:00 A.M. at 10 Federal Street in Salem. I’m a bit worried about arriving on time from Middlesex County, but the session can run until noon, so we’ll get through everything eventually.