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Part III. Nathaniel Hawthorne

III. The Hutchinson Mob

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"Nothing was heard of our chair for some time afterwards,'' answered Grandfather.' "One day in September, the same Andrew Oliver, of whom I before told you, was summoned to appear at high noon under Liberty Tree. This was the strangest summons that had ever been heard of; for it was issued in the name of the whole people, who thus took upon themselves the authority of a sovereign power. Mr. Oliver dared not disobey. Accordingly, at the appointed hour he went, much against his will, to Liberty Tree."

Here Charley interposed a remark that poor Mr. Oliver found but little liberty under Liberty Tree. Grandfather assented.

"It was a stormy day," continued he. "The equinoctial gale blew violently, and scattered the yellow leaves of Liberty Tree all along the street. Mr. Oliver's wig was dripping with water-drops; and he probably looked haggard, disconsolate, and humbled to the earth. Beneath the tree, in Grandfather's chair,--our own venerable chair,--sat Mr. Richard Dana, a justice of the peace. He administered an oath to Mr. Oliver that he would never have anything to do with distributing the stamps. A vast concourse of people heard the oath, and shouted when it was taken."

"There is something grand in this," said Laurence. "I like it, because the people seem to have acted with thoughtfulness and dignity; and this proud gentleman, one of his Majesty's high officers, was made to feel that King George could not protect him in doing wrong."

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"But it was a sad day for poor Mr. Oliver," observed Grandfather. "From his youth upward it had probably been the great principle of his life to be faithful and obedient to the king. And now, in his old age, it must have puzzled and distracted him to find the sovereign people setting up a claim to his faith and obedience."

Grandfather closed the evening's conversation by saying that the discontent of America was so great, that, in 1766, the British Parliament was compelled to repeal the Stamp Act. The people made great rejoicings, but took care to keep Liberty Tree well pruned and free from caterpillars and canker-worms. They foresaw that there might yet be occasion for them to assemble under its far-projecting shadow.

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Grandfather's Chair
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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