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Bostonians really did tar and feather people

J. L. Bell has a series of articles up on Owen Richards, one of His Majesty's customs agents, who was tarred and feathered on May 18, 1770 for seizing a schooner for smuggling - and then paraded around town for four hours:

A court filing in January 1771 stated he “lost his Cloaths, Money, and Papers to the Amount of near £20 st[erling]. And in order to satiate their abandoned Brutality, they set fire to the Feathers as they stuck in the Tar, upon his naked back.”


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There's a scene set in Boston in the John Adams series HBO did several years ago which shows this, and it's so much more violent and horrible looking than I ever imagined after years of Looney Tunes style depictions.

Voting closed 27

It was a form of torture resulting in severe burns and often death. It wasn't some lighthearted prank.

Voting closed 23

Substantial third degree burns in a pre-antibiotic era meant a very unpleasant death over a period of several days

Voting closed 19

Bell's writing is substantially responsible for my growing suspicion over the years that I would have been a Loyalist.

Voting closed 19

1. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, etc.
2. The newly opened Eastern Townships of Quebec (my ancestor's choice)
3. England, even if you had never been there
4. The Caribbean
5. Westward, before the Louisiana Purchase
6. Florida
7. Ontario
8. Other?

Voting closed 22

I think a lot of us, myself included, who imagine that we would have been revolutionaries in 1776, or staunch abolitionists in 1860, or resistance fighters in 1940s France, would have likely been the sort of quiet, don’t make waves people who would have gone along to get along.

With that said, it is important to keep in mind that none of the authority exercised by the
King’s agents, i. e., the colonial governor etc, was in any way legitimate.

Voting closed 23