PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTOR
“To view a case of this sort thro the Flames of Passion, must give you a dissagreable Turn against the Rules of Justice. – The Passions are sometimes, excused by Law."
John Mein, Tory printer of the Boston Chronicle, published an article attacking British stateman William Pitt. Benjamin Edes and John Gill countered in the 18 January 1768 issue of their Boston Gazette. (Edes’ home was later a gathering place for Sons of Liberty to disguise themselves as Indians before the Boston Tea Party.) The editorial by “Americus” argued that Mein abandoned his journalistic responsibility by espousing “Jacobite” party politics rather than being an independent observer. Mein stormed into the Gazette’s office, demanding to know the author’s identity. Gill refused, and Mein caned his rival. Gill hired Adams to sue, and won. In March of 1769, Mein appealed, with Auchmuty and Kent representing him and Adams and James Otis representing Gill, who won again, though with reduced damages. Adams credited a speech of James Otis as “a flame of fire” that sparked the move towards American independence. Soon after the trial recorded here, during an argument with a Crown customs official, Otis was severely beaten on the head. He was rarely lucid for the rest of his life, and died after being hit by a bolt of lightning.
The four pages present contain John Adams's minutes for three separate cases tried in 1769. Of the three, Gill vs. Mein was perhaps the most intriguing. It embroiled Adams in a newspaper feud involving assault, libel, and freedom of the press, and revealed the growing chasm between American Patriots defenders of the imperial prerogative.
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