The Revolution of 1689 in Boston, Massachusetts

The Revolution of 1689 in Boston, Massachusetts was an extension of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England. By comparison, it was a very small, very short revolution. It took place on April 18, 1689 and ended that day, though the consequences of it would keep the colonists explaining themselves after the revolution had past.
The Revolution of 1689 was nothing like the revolution that would start in Boston and grow to be the American Revolution less than 100 years later. It was not based on the same arguments. It did not have the same scope. It did not involve a colonial attempt to separate from their mother country – England. The phrase “No taxation without representation” had not yet been uttered, let alone vigorously spewed through the lips of ardent Patriot orators. The wants of the colonists were much simpler during the Revolution of 1689. They wanted Royal Governor Edmund Andros out of the colonies and their government returned to the state it had been in before he came.

King James II had sent Edmund Andros to the colonies to exert his (the king’s) control over them. He was a king that quarreled with Parliament and wished to enforce the “Divine Right of Kings,” which gave him immunity from the law and complete control of his subjects. As the colonists were his subjects and he felt them too independent, he saw a need to bring them together under one government, led by his lackey – Edmund Andros. Andros would provide the instigation needed for the Revolution of 1689.

Edmund Andros brought together Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Plymouth, Connecticut and New York under his rule. He called the group, the “Dominion of New England.” As the “Dominion,” these colonies were subject to all the same tax laws and restrictions. Edmund Andros imposed taxes that infuriated the colonists. He also restricted their ability to hold town meetings. The colonists were given only one local meeting a year to discuss issues.

The initial reaction to Andros’ impositions was not a revolution, but a messenger. The people of Boston sent Increase Mather, a prominent Puritan minister, to go to England and present the authorities with the colonists’ complaints against the “Dominion of New England” and Edmund Andros. However, before Increase reached England, a revolution had begun in England.

The Glorious Revolution of England was essentially the removal of King James II, the drafting and enforcing of a Bill of Rights and the placement of James’ daughter Mary and her husband William as the new monarchs. King James II had managed to upset the people so much that the Whigs and the Tories united in dislike of him and effectively had him removed. The Bill of Rights justified this removal. Mary and William were appointed and vowed to uphold the new Bill of Rights. This would not have had any effect on the colonists’ position, but those clever colonists came up with a way to get what they wanted.

After the people of Boston heard of the Glorious Revolution, they arrested Edmund Andros and sent him back to England. This was the extent of the Revolution of 1689 in Massachusetts. However, they still had some issues to deal with. The new King and Queen saw no problem with Andros or the new Dominion. Nonetheless, Increase Mather was allowed to plead the case of the colonists. He told the King and Queen that Andros had contradicted the Bill of Rights with his laws in the colonies. The King and Queen relented and had the Dominion dissolved, with the exception of Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which would remain combined.

The Glorious Revolution of 1689 in Massachusetts may not have been the world-changing event that the American Revolution was, but it did set the stage for further rebellion. The American Revolution did not happen until 86-years later, but the spirit of rebellion never truly left Massachusetts. It started as a little revolution in 1689 that left the colonists loyal to the King, Queen and Parliament and exploded into a need for independence that would shape the world as we know it today.

Sources

The Glorious Revolution and English Rights in America, retrieved 1/13/11, chsbs.cmich.edu/timothy_hall/bofr/5thlesson/grinamerica.htm