George Robert Twelve Hewes, a Boston shoemaker, participated in many of the key events of the Revolutionary crisis. Over half a century later, Hewes described his experiences to James Hawkes. When Parliament passed the Tea Act in 1773, colonists refused to allow cargoes of tea to be unloaded. In the evening of December 16, with Hewes leading one group, the colonists dressed in “the costume of a Indian.” They boarded the ships in Boston harbor and dropped the tea overboard. Hewes’ account shed light on how resistance became revolution. The“Boston Tea Party,” as it became known in the 19th century, became a powerful symbol of the Revolution. And Hewes, artisan and ordinary citizen, was celebrated as a venerable veteran of the struggle for Independence.
Although the excitment which had been occasioned by the wanton massacre of our citizens, had in some measure abated, it was never extinguished until open hostilities commenced, and we had declared our independence. The citizens of Boston continued inflexible in their demand, that every British soldier should be withdrawn from the town, and within four days after the massacre, the whole army decamped. But the measures of the British parliament, which led the American colonies to a separation from that government, were not abandoned. And to carry into execution their favourite project of taxing their American colonies, they employed a number of ships to transport a large quantity of tea into the colonies, of which the American people were apprised, and while resolute measures were taking in all the capital towns to resist the project of British taxation, the ships arrived, which the people of Boston had long expected.
The particular object of sending this cargo of tea to Boston at that time, and the catastrophe which befell it, have been referred to in the preface. It has also been recorded, among the most important and interesting events in the history of the American revolution; but the rehersal of it at this time, by a witness, and an actorin that tragicomical scene, excitesin the recollection of it a novel and extraordinary interest.
On my inquiring of Hewes if he knew who first proposed the project of destroying the tea, to prevent its being landed, he replied that he did not; neither did he know who or what number were to volunteer their services for that purpose. But from the significant allusion of some persons in whom I had confidence, together with the knowledge I had of the spirit of those times, I had no doubt but that a sufficient number of associates would accompany me in that enterprise.
The tea destroyed was contained in three ships, laying near each other, at what was called at that time Griffin’s wharf, and were surrounded by armed ships of war; the commanders of which had publicly declared, that if the rebels, as they were pleased to style the Bostonians, should not withdraw their opposition to the landing of the tea before a certain day, the 17th day of December, 1773, they should on that day force it on shore, under the cover of their cannon’s month. On the day preceding the seventeenth, there was a meeting of the citizens of the county of Suffolk, convened at one of the churches in Boston, for the purpose of consulting on what measures might be considered expedient to prevent the landing of the tea, or secure the people from the collection of the duty. At that meeting a committee was appointed to wait on Governor Hutchinson, and request him to inform them whether he would take any measures to satisfy the people on the object of the meeting. To the first application of this committee, the governor told them he would give them a definite answer by five o’clock in the afternoon. At the hour appointed, the committee again repaired to the governor’s house, and on inquiry found he had gone to his country seat at Milton, a distance of about six miles. When the committee returned and informed the meeting of the absence of the governor, there was a confused murmur among the members, and the meeting was immediately dissolved, many of them crying out, Let every man do his duty, and be true to his country; and there was a general huzza for Griffins wharf. It was now evening, and I immediately dressed myself in the costume of an Indian, equipped with a small hatchet, which I and my associates denominated the tomahawk, with which, and a club, after having painted my face and hands with coal dust in the shop of a blacksmith, I repaired to Griffins wharf, where the ships lay that contained the tea. When I first appeared in the street, after being thus disguised, I fell in with many who were dressed, equipped and painted as I was, and who fell in with me, and marched in order to the place of our destination. When we arrived at the wharf, there were three of our number who assumed an authority to direct our operations, to which we readily submitted. They divided us into three parties, for the purpose of boarding the three ships which contained the tea at the same time. The name of him who commanded the division to which I was assigned, was Leonard Pitt. The names of the other commanders I never knew. We were immediately ordered by the respective commanders to board all the ships at the same time, which we promptly obeyed. The commander of the division to which I belonged, as soon as we were on board the ship, appointed me boatswain, and ordered me to go to the captain and demand of him the keys to the hatches and a dozen candles. I made the demand accordingly, and the captain promptly replied, and delivered the articles; but requested me at the same time to do no damage to the ship or rigging. We then were ordered by our commander to open the hatches, and take out all the chests of tea and throw them overboard, and we immediately proceeded to execute his orders; first cutting and splitting the chests with our tomahawks, so as thoroughly to expose them to the effects of the water. In about three hours from the time we went on board, we had thus broken and thrown overboard every tea chest to be found in the ship; while those in the other ships were disposing of the tea in the same way, at the same time. We were surrounded by British armed ships, but no attempt was made to resist us. We then quietly retired to our several places of residence, without having any conversation with each other, or taking any measures to discover who were our associates; nor do I recollect of our having had the knowledge of the name of a single individual concerned in that affair, except that of Leonard Pitt, the commander of my division, who I have mentioned. There appeared to be an understanding that each individual should volunteer his services, keep his own secret, and risk the consequences for himself. No disorder took place during that transaction, and it was observed at that time, that the stillest night ensued that Boston had enjoyed for many months.
During the time we were throwing the tea overboard, there were several attempts made by some of the citizens of Boston and its vicinity, to carry off small quantities of it for their family use. To effect that object, they would watch their opportunity to snatch up a handful from the deck, where it became plentifully scattered, and put it into their pockets. One Captain O’Conner, whom I well knew, came on board for that purpose, and when he supposed he was not noticed, filled his pockets, and also the lining of his coat. But I had detected him, and gave information to the captain of what he was doing. We were ordered to take him into custody, and just as he was stepping from the vessel, I seized him by the skirt of his coat, and in attempting to pull him back, I tore it off; but springing forward, by a rapid effort, he made his escape. He had however to run a gauntlet through the crowd upon the wharf; each one, as he passed, giving him a kick or a stroke.
The next day we nailed the skirt of his coat, which I had pulled off, to the whipping post in Charlestown, the place of his residence, with a label upon it, commemorative of the occasion which had thus subjected the proprietor to the popular indignation.
Another attempt was made to save a little tea from the ruins of the cargo, by a tall aged man, who wore a large cocked hat and white wig, which was fashionable at that time. He had slightly slipped a little into his pocket, but being detected, they seized him, and taking his hat and wig from his head, threw them, together with the tea, of which they had emptied his pockets, into the water. In consideration of his advanced age, he was permitted to escape, with now and then a slight kick.
The next morning, after we had cleared the ships of the tea, it was discovered that very considerable quantities of it was floating upon the surface of the water; and to prevent the possibility of any of its being saved for use, a number of small boats were manned by sailors and citizens, who rowed them into those parts of the harbour wherever the tea was visible, and by beating it with oars and paddles, so thoroughly drenched it, as to render its entire destruction inevitable.
Source: James Hawkes, A Retrospect of the Boston Tea Party (New York, 1834), pp. 36–41.
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Origins. George Robert Twelves Hewes was the sixth of nine children, being the fourth of seven sons. His father, also named George, was a Massachusetts tanner who ended up in debtors ’ prison at least twice. Hewes ’ s father died young, and George was sent into apprenticeship as a shoemaker. Shoemaking was a poor man ’ s trade and not a desirable way to start out in life, but Hewes had little choice. He was bound to a harsh master, ill fed and clothed and possessed a streak of lively mischief that earned him the occasional whipping.
Boston Youth. He and his fellow apprentices scavenged about the town of Boston, looking to beg or steal anything they could get to eat. Hewes played pranks on his master and drank and frolicked in the streets during public celebrations, along with the hundreds of servants, apprentices, laborers, and artisans of Boston. During the 1750s and 1760s, Pope ’ s Day (5 November) was a particularly boisterous holiday. Young people formed into companies and paraded with effigies of the Pope, the Devil, and other hated figures, exacting treats and money from the wealthy of the town and brawling with rival groups. Hewes finished his apprenticeship in 1763; standing only 5 ’ 1 ”. he was too small to join the British army though he tried. He struggled as a shoemaker, built a shop, and married at age twenty-six. His wife was the daughter of a poor church sexton and brought him no dowry. Hewes tried his hand at fishing, and like his father, found himself frequently in trouble for debts. He was imprisoned when he could not pay for the suit in which he wooed his future wife.
Revolutionary Activity. Despite his insignificant stature and prospects, Hewes became an active participant in the events that rocked Boston and led to revolution. In 1770 four thousand British soldiers were stationed in a town of fewer than sixteen thousand inhabitants. The common people of the town clashed with the soldiers, who competed for jobs and housing. A series of violent incidents, including the murder of an eleven-year-old boy by a customs informer, led to boiling tensions. Hewes was among the crowd outside the British barracks on King Street on the night of 5 March 1770 and was a participant in the deadly affray known as the Boston Massacre. A sentry struck the unarmed Hewes on the shoulder with his musket, and he stood among the crowd as British troops shot and killed five citizens.
Sons of Liberty. In the angry days after the massacre Hewes gave a deposition for the prosecution of the British soldiers who fired on the crowd. Hewes ’ s courage and outspokenness came to the notice of prominent revolutionaries in the town. His street savvy was useful to the Sons of Liberty, the Patriot group that organized demonstrations against British taxation and oppression. Among his other resources, Hewes had a knack for whistling; he could issue a shrill and piercing signal during an important moment of a demonstration, calling the crowds to order for instructions or maneuvers. On the night of 16 December 1773 Hewes ’ s talents for civil unrest reached their historic pinnacle as he was among the small group of disguised men that boarded three merchant ships and dumped tea into Boston Harbor. Hewes, dressed as an Indian, his face and hands daubed with coal dust, was an officer in the raid: one participant recollected serving under “ Captain Hewes. ” The Boston Tea Party was not by any means an uprising of the rabble: wealthy merchants and lawyers such as John Hancock and Samuel Adams coordinated the event. Tea dumpings took place from Nova Scotia to South Carolina. But young and obscure men led the raid so as to deflect attention from the more prominent Patriots.
War Activities. Hewes continued as an important figure in the streets of Boston, but by 1775 the number of British troops grew to a staggering 13,500. Soldiers broke up Hewes ’ s shoe-repair shop and used it for firewood. The day after the Battle of Bunker Hill he saw the corpses of British soldiers dumped into an open pit on the common. Hewes escaped the British quarantine of the city and compiled an impressive war record with several stints as a militiaman and a privateer. Like many revolutionary soldiers, he enlisted for one- to three-month periods, returning home to work and take care of his family. Privateering was government-sanctioned piracy. The Continental Congress authorized voyages to raid British shipping, the spoils to be divided among the crew. Hewes made little profit on these voyages; he continued to live from hand to mouth, supporting his wife and four children. Hewes put in a total of twenty months service in the Patriot cause, well above the average, and then returned to his workaday world, where he struggled to support his family until the 1830s, when he became a fixture at parades as one of the oldest known surviving revolutionary veterans. He applied for a pension and produced the required documentation to prove his service. Still lively and quick-witted in his nineties, he attracted the attention of journalists and biographers. Two books were written in these years based on his recollections of his experiences.
Alfred F. Young, “ George Robert Twelves Hewes (1742-1840): A Boston Shoemaker and the Memory of the American Revolution, ” William and Mary Quarterly. 38 (1981): 561-623.
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August 25, 1742 - November 5, 1840
George Robert Twelves Hewes (August 25, 1742 – November 5, 1840) was one of the last survivors of the American Revolution. He participated in the political protests in Boston at the onset of the Revolution, including the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. Later he fought in the American Revolutionary War as a militiaman and privateer. Shortly before his death at the age of 98, Hewes was the subject of two biographies and much public commemoration.Early life
George Robert Twelves Hewes was born in the South End of Boston, the son of George Hewes, a poor tanner and chandler who had moved to Boston from his family home in Wrentham, Massachusetts, which was located in present day Plainville, Massachusetts. Hewes's unusual third name evidently came from his maternal grandmother, whose maiden name was Twelves.Alfred F. Young, The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution (Boston: Beacon Press,1902'), 17.
At the age of fourteen Hewes was apprenticed to a shoemaker named Downing. Disliking both his master and his craft, Hewes tried to enlist in the British army but was rejected for being too short (he stood at only five feet, one inch tall). Upon turning twenty-one in 1763, Hewes opened his own shoemaking shop and began a long, poverty-stricken career. In January 1768 he married Sarah "Sally" Sumner, the daughter of a Baptist sexton. Before being caught up in the political unrest of 1770, Hewes was an average member of Boston's lower class, never belonging to any church or association, and never participating in politics.Later life
George Hewes lived in Wrentham until after the outbreak of the War of 1812. This period of time was relatively unremarkable. He and Sally had fifteen children, and probably eleven survived birth.Young, 69. He remained a poor shoemaker. In 1812 two of his sons followed in his footsteps and joined the militia. Apparently their willingness to fight was unusual for Wrentham citizens at the time.Young, 70.
After the war George and Sarah Hewes followed a few of their children to Richfield Springs in Ostego County, New York. George was then seventy-four years old. Hewes never escaped from the poverty that haunted him his entire life. Even in his old age he continued to earn money making shoes. Sarah died in 1828 at the age of 77. In his later years he relied on various friends and relatives for support, moving from house to house. He became, however, a notable figure in the community, being one of the last survivors of the Revolutionary War and appearing at Independence Day festivities in his militia uniform every Fourth of July. During these years Hewes converted to Methodism and began reading the Bible frequently.Rediscovery
The 1830s were a period when the American Revolution experienced a revival in the public memory. Battles and events from the revolution were being newly commemorated.Young, xv. During this period, in 1833, a writer named James Hawkes discovered Hewes in Richfield Springs and wrote a biography about him, A Retrospect of the Boston Tea-Party.
Hawkes's book became popular, and in 1835 Hewes toured New England as a celebrity. He sat for a portrait by Joseph Cole, called simply The Centenarian. which now hangs in the Old State House in Boston. Benjamin Bussey Thatcher wrote a second biography, Traits of the Tea Party. He was the guest of honor at an elaborate ceremony on the Fourth of July attended by the lieutenant governor and by other Revolutionary War veterans. All along his route he was adored by the public for his age, his health, his pleasant demeanor, and for his role in the seminal events of the Revolution.
Both Hawkes and Thatcher were amazed by Hewes's memory. Hewes remembered details of his stages of life clearly, and he could recall his memories smoothly. He could recall how things looked, how things tasted, and how he felt at that time even though he was in his nineties.
Although Hewes was not by any means a pivotal player in the Revolution or an important public figure, he helped to secure the American Revolution as an important event in American history. He was rediscovered at a time when the Boston Tea Party and other early events of the revolution were also being rediscovered. He continues to be notable today through his biographies, which give the impressions of a common person of the revolution reflecting on his participation at the end of his life.Living octopus
alexarae713 Threads: 1
Author: Alexa Reininger
The question was: What did the Revolution mean to George Hewes? In other words, what do you think was the greatest effect it had on him?
Growing up poor in the 1700's meant being subjected to the harsh inequalities amongst people and their rank. For George Hewes who was forced into the occupation of being a shoemaker, life did not treat him well. No matter how hard he tried, Hewes was never able to move up on the social ladder. "Where you ended up in life depended much on where one started out" (15). As a common man, the effect of the Revolution helped George Hewes and others transform society's views on equality among everyone.
One of the first instances in which Hewes was brought to action was the fateful night of the Boston Massacre. Already aware of "how irritating it was to be challenged by British sentries after dark" (36), Hewes saw the crowd as being defensive against the redcoats. The man who was there to collect a bill from one of the soldiers was a barber or otherwise considered lower class. It was at that moment that Hewes realized just how serious the problem of inequality was. Among the others murdered that night, all five of them were working men. The Massacre was one of the many events that stirred the colonists into action. Hewes "turned out because of a sense of kinship with his 'townsmen' in danger; he stood his ground in defense of his rights; he was among the people who delegated on their behalf; he attended the trial, and, as he remembered it, by testifying" (41). The events that led up to and ultimately contributed to the Massacre proved just how dangerous the soldiers and upper-class seemed to be. After that night, Hewes had become a political man.
Another event that stirred George Hewes into action was the Boston Tea Party which occurred 4 years after the Massacre. On December 16, 1773, Hewes was one of the self-invited volunteers who volunteered to dump tea overboard in protest against the government. Most of those present at Griffin's Wharf were lower class or journeymen. The group as a whole were orderly and Hewes was "singled out of rank and made an officer in the field" (44). He was especially known for his whistling talent, which was known as a way to assemble a crowd. In addition to his recollecting his actions at the tea Party, Hewes recalled seeing some other higher ranked individuals dumping tea such as John Hancock. "The rich and powerful- the men in 'ruffles' - has become his associates. John Hancock and he breaking open the same chest of tea at the Tea Party remained for Hewes a symbol of a moment of equality" (57). This, to George Hewes, was what the events meant to him. Equality amongst the classes was important.
With regards to the incident concerning John Malcolm and George Hewes, there is also a sense of equality and justice. After standing up for a defenseless child and being called a 'vagabond', Hewes requited to the insults with the fact that although he was a poor man, at least he was in good credit with the town and had not been tarred and feathered (48). Upon hearing Hewes' comments, Malcolm struck him on the head with his cane. After going to the courts and swearing a warrant, Hewes was told that the law would have its course with Malcolm. Not liking that answer, a crowd dragged Malcolm from his home and proceeded to tar and feather him. "What was lost to the public was that Hewes was at odds with the crowd. He wants justice from the courts, not a mob; after all, he had sworn out a warrant against Malcolm" (50). All in all, the people won that day and not the courts. The brutality, however, meant nothing to Hewes. He did not want to be the source of anyone's pain. He knew what it was like to be treated unjustly and that was not the course that he wanted to take. However, after encountering Malcolm after several weeks, there was a change of attitude and manner in him as Malcolm humbly acknowledged Hewes. "Hewes' mood was one of triumph as Malcolm had been taught a lesson. The issue for Hewes was respect for the poor, honest citizen who was standing up for a child (51).
As for the war, Hewes shared some of the events preceding his deployment; however, he also experienced a small sense of change concerning his rank among others. While privateering with others just like him, there was a change in authority. Although he was cheated out of his wages and money, "what Hewes remembered was that the captain deferred to him and his mates, not the other way around" (64). All Hewes wanted in his life was equality and respect. While on board, he received just that. "Life at sea left a memory of rights asserted as well as respected by the captains and crew who worked together. There was a memory of respect from his betters such as George Washington, his captains, and even John Hancock. For a moment, it was as if everyone worked and fit together was one" (66).
To George Robert Twelve Hewes, the Revolution meant a way for providing equality and justice to those who were not able or as fortunate to grow up in a higher ranked family. It was the moment for a nobody to become a hero in a town that never recognized him before. After the Revolution, George Hewes was celebrated for what he helped contribute to.
Granted that the Revolutionary War did not grant full equality to everyone, the events that preceded as well as the war, helped prove to the government that everyone should have an equal chance at achieving what they want. For Hewes, being the common man that he was, the war meant a call for action against society's ill will towards the lesser individuals. Hewes was a prideful survivor after the war because he knew that he was able to overcome and outlive all of those who outranked him many years before.
For George Hewes. who was forced into the occupation of being a shoemaker, life did not treat him well.
"Where you ended up in life depended much on where one started out"
Add more specific context for this quote, as it seems out of place right after the social ladder sentence.
It was at that moment that Hewes realized just how serious the problem of inequality was.
Add more detail as to why he realized this. What did the soldier do to the lower class barber? I would also consider placing this sentence after you talk about the five working class me killed.
Hewes "turned out because of a sense of kinship with his 'townsmen' in danger; he stood his ground in defense of his rights; he was among the people who delegated on their behalf; he attended the trial, and, as he remembered it, by testifying"
Although the sentence structure works, I would recommend staying away from integrating quotes completely into your answer. This gives the reader, again, more context and also lets you further explain how a quote supports what you say.
Overall great topic, but I would recommend working on your commas and context!
The name George Robert Twelve Hewes probably isn’t one that would be recognized by many people. Most people that start life poor and eventually orphaned and work a dead end job don’t get much more recognition than a passing nod on their way to work. Yet famous figure Andy Warhol seems to have a valid statement in saying, “…everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Because in George Hewes’ situation, that is the case.
George R. T. Hewes, although a lowly Boston shoemaker, participated in many key events of the Revolutionary crisis. Growing up as a strong willed boy in a broken home, he seemed to have a lot of pent up anger that was released after witnessing the five deaths in 1770. After the Boston Massacre, he continued to get into altercations with Loyalists and British soldiers. However, he was all but forgotten by history until over half a century later when he described his experiences to Benjamin Bussey Thatcher and James Hawkes, who wrote detailed biographies on him. Hewes' life was no more extraordinary than anyone else’s at that time in history. His story is a common one of many lower class citizens at the time. Not until the writing of the biography “A Retrospect of the Boston Tea Party”, was there any spark in Hewes' popularity. Even then as he toured Boston like a celebrity, it was short lived. Hewes’ popularity wasn’t due to the fact that he had been involved in such a historic event, as much as it was due to the exclusiveness of him being one of the last known accomplices of the Tea Party.
According to historian Alfred Young, the term "Boston Tea Party" did not officially appear in any sort of print until 1834. Up until 1834 the event was usually referred to as the ‘Destruction of the Tea in Boston’, which it was originally called by John Adams. Most American writers were scared to write in celebration about the destruction of property. This began to change in the 1830s, however, especially with the publishing of the biographies of George Hewes, who.
The late 1700’s was a turbulent time in the history of the colonies. Great Britain was increasing its exploitation and unfair treatment towards the colonist by each day by actions such as adding tax after tax on the colonist. Right in the middle of all this conflict was a lowly, Bostonian shoemaker named George Robert Twelves Hewes. The story of this man is told by Albert Young in The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution. This simple shoemaker was present in some of the most historic events that led up to and that were part of the American Revolution. He was present for two of the most well known events of that time. Hewes was on scene at The Boston Massacre and The Boston Tea Party. He was one of the many who threw barrels of tea that now historic night. He was one of the many common men of the time that helped secure the independence of this country. The American Revolution meant much to the future of this country, and it also meant something to Hewes. The meaning of the American Revolution to Hewes was that it gave him a way to escape the uneventful life of a shoemaker, changed his practice of deference, made him feel as though he was an equal to all men, and allowed him to be part of something.
A shoemaker was one of the lowest possible professions to have in Boston during the time of George Hewes. No person dreamed of being a shoemaker, but Hewes was not given much of a choice because his father could not afford a better apprenticeship. “Shoemaking was never an occupation of his choice, he being more inclined to active pursuits” (Young 20). Young shows us that although shoemaking was Hewes’ profession it was not one he wanted. Even more clues that point to Hewes not wanting to be a shoemaker appear in the text. He disliked his apprenticeship so much that he tried to end it. “The proof is that Hewes tried to end his apprenticeship by the only way he saw possible: escape to the military” (Young 23). Hewes lacked the size.
Shoemaker and the Revolution
Alfred F. Young shows us a glimpse of the American Revolution through the eyes of George Robert Twelves Hewes, a poor shoemaker of the “Humble Class”. What do we know about Hewes? Why is it that he is honored when the rest of his associates have been forgotten? What compelled Hewes to explore the chaotic world of Politics? And why is he remembered as a hero?
Hewes played a vital role throughout the Revolution. We read three major events in which he participated, in Young’s The Shoemaker and The Tea Party. The three major events shaped the Revolution, and have influenced Americans for hundreds of years. “He was a nobody who briefly became a somebody in the Revolution and, for a moment the end of his life, a hero”.
To understand Hewes ambition and determination one must start from his youth. Hewes was born in Boston in 1742, and was the sixth of nine children. He was unusually short, five feet, one inch. Hewes received very little fortune from his family. His father (a soap boiler), died when he was seven, leaving his family poor and in debt. His mother was a very strict woman, showing almost no love or affection, and often whipping him for his disobedience. Because of such lower standings Hewes was put to shoemaking. “Shoemaking was never an occupation of his choice”. The only way to escape the Apprentice world was to become like so many other men, a Soldier. The Military to Hewes was his door to opportunity. However, the small misfortune of height stood in the way, He was rejected for his size. “I could not pass muster, Hewes told Hawkes, because I was not tall enough”. Although small height, his determination was huge. We see this determination when he tries to enlist for a second time, heightening his heels and stuffing his stockings with paper and rags. Once again, rejected when the Captain saw through his trick. He then returned to the apprentice w.Related Essays:
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