January 2, 1769, John Hancock Goes to Trial
January 2, 1769, the Court of the British Admiralty began a trial against John Hancock for smuggling Madeira wine into Boston.
I suppose John Hancock’s employees should not have locked the custom’s official in the brig of the ship IN 1768 while they unloaded several hundred pipes of wonderful Madeira wine, in the middle of the night to avoid the Townshend Acts.
We can debate whether the tax on the wine was illegal, or taxed twice the amount of Portuguese wine imported to England. We probably can document the oligopoly Parliament created by restricting competition for wine, copper, gold, rum, paper, paint, lead and gun powder. If a jury of the 18th Century had an opportunity to view the global economy of the 21st Century, they would clearly label John Hancock as a distributor, not a smuggler.
The march to the Boston Massacre, The Tea Party and the American Revolution, was as much to do with “taxation without representation. . . “as it was to a subjugation of the Colonies to the English economy. Several recessions between 1765 and 1776, can be attributed to England’s restraint of trade, particularly in all Colonial ports.
Poor John, as a result of the verdict his prized ship the Liberty is confiscated and turned into a British military schooner. The ship is eventually burned (1769) by Rhode Islanders upset that the Liberty had taken in tow two commercial vessels for violating customs duties.
The pictured below were other properties owned by John Hancock. He was rated as one of the richest Colonials of his time. It appears he was quite politically liberal with his wealth in support of the cause against British subjugation. As we know he was rather forthright in protesting the events known as the "Bloody riot perpetrated on King Street"
and in boldy signing his death warrant on the Declaration of Independence."
January 2, to January 5, 1769, from the Boston Evening Post.
Boston Under Military Rule ,1768-1769> journals complied by Oliver Morton Dickerson PH. D; Boston, Chapman and Grimes 1936.