Proclamation of the New Hampshire
Legislature on the Mast Tree Riot


The general condition of so many people in the colonies remained poor and desperate as they watched a small number own huge tracts of land or accumulate fortunes. For instance, in Boston the tax records show that, shortly before the American Revolution, the richest one percent of the property owners owned forty percent of the city's wealth. Poor people in New Hampshire, needing firewood, chopped down trees on the estates of the rich. The British surveyor-general, Daniel Dunbar, found that the local townspeople would not help him in discovering the culprits. He assembled a small force of his own, but when he arrived in the town of Exeter in April 1734, his men were attacked and beaten by a group of local residents. An official report1 by the New Hampshire legislature follows.
From Voices of A People's History, edited by Zinn and Arnove

Whereas a great number of ill disposed persons assembled themselves together at Exeter in the Province of New Hampshire, on the 23d of April last past about 9 of the clock at night, and the[n] and there in a riotous, tumultuous and most violent manner came into the house of Captain Samuel Gilman of said Exeter (who kept a public house in said town) and did then fall upon beat wound and terribelly abuse a number of men hired and imployed by the Honorable David Dunbar, Esq. as Surveyor General of his Majesties woods, as assistants to him in the execution of said office, many of which were beat and so abused that they very narrowly escaped with their lives (as appears by examinations taken by power of his Majesties Justices of the Peace for said province) all of which is a very great dishonor to this his Majesties province and contrary to all laws and humanity, and ought to be detested and abhorred by all parts of the legislative power. In order therefore to the finding out and bringing to condign punishment the transgressors and abettors of so vile a piece of disobedience, and in order that so great an odium may not rest upon this province, and to convince his Majestic that such villainies are abhorred by the province in general, Therefore in the House of Representatives voted, that his Excellency the Governor and Council be earnestly desired to order a strict examination into that affaire that the utmost justice may be done to his Majestic and that the persons concerned therein may no longer escape the punishment they have by their actions so justly deserved.


1 of the New Hampshire Legislature on Mast Tree Riot (1734). In Richard Hofstadter and Michael Wallace, eds., (New A. Knopf, 1970), pp. 110-11. From vol. 4, p. 678.

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