[AUTOGRAPH DOCUMENT, SIGNED, BY EPHRAIM DOOLITTLE IN JULY 1776, REGARDING A CRACK DOWN ON LOYALISTS IN MASSACHUSETTS DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION]
by [American Revolution]: Doolittle, Ephraim
Petersham, Ma, 1776. pp. Folio. Minor fold wear and foxing, a few tiny holes along the center fold, affecting just a handful of words. Very good. An excellent Revolutionary-era document recording the minutes of a meeting of several Massachusetts Committees of Safety, concluded just eight days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Ephraim Doolittle, who signed and probably wrote up these minutes, was a prominent figure and political agitator in Revolutionary Massachusetts. He had served in the French and Indian War, at both Ticonderoga Crown Point, and as a colonel of Massachusetts minutemen in 1775, participating at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775. The document begins, "At a Convention of the Committee of Safety of the Towns of Hutchinson, Templeton, Athol and Petersham." The meeting was called to discuss how Tories would be treated in these central Massachusetts towns. They resolved that Tories "should deliver all their arms and emplements of war immediately into the hands of the select men of Petersham, and that they should not go out of the town of Petersham without a pass" and "that no more than two should assemble together at any place except public worship, legal town meetings, or funerals." If any Tories "should presume to violate any such restrictions...at such a crittical day as the present that this body will use their utmost influence that they…shall be commited to close confinement and there be continnued until our polittical troubles are at an end." In particular, the Rev. Aaron Whitney, an outspoken Loyalist, was called out for punishment after having "publickly declared that he will keep open doars for the assembling of such persons." The minutes go on to trace the reasons for these restrictions, including a 1775 "riotous assembling" of several Tories who had "entered into a combination or covenant utterly subversive of our natural and charter'd rights and tending to strengthen and assist the enemies of our constitution." A list of twenty-four restricted persons follows, including John Chandler, a prominent, long-time selectman and local politician who had once served alongside Doolittle, but whose Loyalist leanings made him an enemy at this point. In fact, this document can be seen as the culmination of the struggle between Loyalists and Revolutionaries in central Massachusetts. Doolittle and Chandler has been at odds for a decade regarding issues of taxation and other controversial matters related to the Crown, and the situation had now come to a head. A very interesting Revolutionary Massachusetts document, written at a critical moment in the course of the American Revolution. The first copies of the Dunlap broadside of the Declaration arrived in Boston on July 13, and the first Massachusetts printings were the same day, so it seems unlikely that the news had reached rural Petersham by July 12. Still, the Revolutionary spirit in central Massachusetts is evident, even obvious, in the present document. Kenneth J. Moynihan, A HISTORY OF WORCESTER, 1674-1848, pp.59-71.
(Inventory #: WRCAM50975)
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