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Gaspee HistoryPage Up


Go to
Gaspee Raiders
for biographical information on the Americans in the boats attacking the Royal Navy ship Gaspee.


Books: American Colonial and Revolutionary War history or the people involved. We have suggestions for you.




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Joseph Bucklin Society.

References in brackets [  ] or in curly brackets {  } on any page in this website are to books, or other materials, listed in the Joseph Bucklin Society Gaspee Bibliography, or to materials held by the Joseph Bucklin Society.

This is a continuation from page 2 of this article.

Law as Weapon: Lawsuits to punish custom collections in Rhode Island and Massachusetts (continuation).

In Rhode Island and Connecticut, thanks to their charters and politics, vice admiralty court proceedings were stayed by Whig judges of the common pleas court. The local courts assumed the same jurisdiction that England vested with King=s Bench courts. This was a constitutional tradition made sacred to English lawyers by Lord Coke=s great struggle against admiralty at the beginning of the 17th Century.

In Rhode Island it became commonplace that a Whig local civil judge would side with a merchant against the enforcement of the Trade and Customs Acts and employ English Constitutional Law to prevent vice admiralty proceedings for the collection of import duties or the seizing of contraband or to libel carriers of illegal goods.

Our research to date indicates that the attack on the Gaspee was really an attempt to serve an arrest warrant on Dudingston and get him into a Rhode Island court for judgment of the legality of his actions. Our article on this subject has points which  lawyers find significant but which historians have generally overlooked. Read theory of the attack on the Gaspee being a legal proceeding!

Suggested  Books and Materials to Read

An Act Enabling Sheriffs, Constables Etc, to Require Aid and Assistance in the Execution of Their Respective Offices Referring to Criminals. 1698.

Boston Evening Post, reporter. "Letters from the Commissioners of the American Customs to the Lords of Trade, 16 June 1768,." Boston Evening Post, 18 Sep.1769, 1.

Carter, Clarence Edwin, ed. The Correspondence of Gen. Thomas Gage with the Secretaries of State 1763 - 1775. New Haven, CT, 1931.

Kidder, Frederick. History of the Boston Massacre. 1870.

Oliver, Peter. Origin and Progress of the American Revolution. Edited by Douglas Adair and John A. Schutz. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1961.

Reid, John Phillip. In a Defiant Stance. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 1977.

Wilkins, George G. "Daniel Malcolm and Writs of Assistance." Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings 58 (1924): 5.

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