The arrival of camp supporters for the British 14th and 29th regiments, on January 6, 1769, further exasperated Boston’s Puritan citizens. The regiment and followers mostly mustered from Catholic Ireland.
It may have been enough that Europe concluded 125 years of religious wars orchestrated by everyone. The Calvinist, Catholic, Protestants, Church of England, Eastern Orthodox and various royal families all picked up the musket to eliminate the other.
In the middle of the European religious wars Puritans left England because they believed the English church was similar to Catholicism. The Puritans that immigrated to the Colonies, ruled under an English charter, while practicing their concept of Puritanism.
Just a little diversion before we get to the point. Puritans wished to worship God directly. A good idea, right? Other religions built a hierarchy of priests and other religious leaders between God and the worshipper. The Quakers of Boston worshipped God individually and directly, resulting in a decentralized church hierarchy. The Puritans found it difficult to accept the Quakers format, especially if led by a woman.
Ann Hutchinson, an emigre from England and the great, great grandmother of Thomas Hutchinson (a well-respected historian and future Governor of Massachusetts) was banished several times for demanding her Quaker religious rights. She finally relented and left for Rhode Island. Ann was greeted with open arms by Roger Williams, Governor of Rhode Island. Roger was a Puritan, also banished by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Thirty-five years before the Boston witch trials the Puritan community banished Mary Dyer. She was a bit too stubborn. On her third return to Boston they hanged her along with three male disciples for insisting on their religious right of worship.
You guessed it. Catholics from Ireland, arriving this day in Boston Harbor were not welcomed. A Catholic priest could not conduct mass or conduct funerals in Massachusetts until John Adams wrote the current Massachusetts Constitution in 1780. It wasn’t until 1830, that Catholics could hold office.
This should provide texture to the impact of hundreds of Catholic camp followers arriving this day in Boston. The level of fear among the citizens increased proportionately. The arrival of 300 camp supporters (washer women, prostitutes and young criminals) along with 4,000 soldiers and 1,000 sailors created a mix of social classes with no respect for the Puritan Sabbath. Boston’s population of 4,000 adults were overwhelmed by their new guests. Additionally, the mix of foreign dependents was over-bearing and drained Boston’s welfare network. Condescension, friction and street violence eventually led to March 5, 1770, the date of the Boston Massacre.
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