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Medford men were with Washington at Monmouth, at Brandywine, at the crossing of the Delaware, and in other places, and fought bravely for the liberties and independence of their country.
Mr. Nowell, in his diary, kept at Boston, has the following:
“ Aug. 6, 1775: Skirmishing up Mistick River. Several soldiers brought over here wounded. The house at Penny Ferry, Malden side, burnt.” “Aug. 13. — Several gondaloes sailed up Mistick River, upon which the Provincials and they had a skirmish; many shots exchanged, but nothing decisive.”
It appears from these records that the enemy attempted incursions here, but were promptly met and repulsed by our fathers. This event put the inhabitants of Medford in a state of watchfulness and defence at the very earliest period of the Revolution.
A detachment of troops from the army at Cambridge were ordered east; and, on the 13th September, 1775, they encamped for the night in Medford, having Benedict Arnold as their commander.
After the battles of Lexington and Concord, our patriot fathers felt themselves pledged to the cause, and much anxiety arose about the selection of their Representative to the General Court. They felt that the most momentous questions might come up for discussion, and that the decision of Massachusetts might be final. The gentleman they first chose declined. The choice then fell on Capt. Thomas Brooks, as a man whose solid judgment, characteristic decision, and burning patriotism, fitted him for the trying emergencies. So ably and promptly did he fill his trust, that the town elected him eight times in succession. From his own farm he supplied the army with wood while in Charlestown and on Winter Hill.
June 10, 1776: The Selectmen assemble the inhabitants of Medford for this high and solemn purpose, namely:
“ To know the minds of the town, - whether, should the Honorable Congress, for the safety of the said Colonies, declare them independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain, they, the said inhabitants, will solemnly engage, with their LIVES and FORTUNES, to support them in the measure. “ Voted in the affirmative, unanimously.” The Declaration of Independence was read from the pul
pit in Medford on the first Sunday after its arrival. After this, the question of preparing and adopting a form of free, representative government came before every mind with deep impressiveness ; and Sept. 20, 1776, found our fathers assembled to discuss it. They voted that they were “ready for a constitution and a form of government for the future.” That year, for the first and only time, two representatives were chosen, — Captain Thomas Brooks, and Mr. Stephen Hall, 3d.
When towns were dissatisfied with any laws, it was usual to instruct their representative to “ declare against them.”
The expenses of war were borne without a murmur in Medford ; and every person made a cheerful sacrifice of whatever was necessary to promote the cause of freedom. In 1776, the inhabitants tax themselves £226, in addition to the current expenses of the year.
March 3, 1777: “Voted to raise our quota of men for the fifteen battalions for the Continental army."
Sept. 22, 1777: The town voted to raise £778. 4s. for the expenses of the war.
During these hard times, Medford had two ministers to support, and Mr. Osgood asked for more salary. The town, March 2, 1778, granted him £100 as a gratuity.
May 25, 1778: « Voted to pay each person six shillings per day who served under Capt. Blaney, as soldiers for Medford, last winter.”
“Voted that the Selectmen be the Committee for supplying the families of the Continental soldiers.”
May 28, 1778: “ Voted to raise the sum of £1,400 towards defraying the charges of the town the ensuing year.”
Nov. 30: “ Voted to raise £1,600, in addition to the £1,400 voted last May.”
1779: William Earl, of Medford, was “powder-monkey" on board the ship-of-war Bon Homme Richard, Sept. 23, 1779, then commanded by Capt. Paul Jones. On that day, the captain encountered the British ship-of-war Serapis, greatly his superior in force; and, after a most desperate and bloody engagement off Flamborough Head, he captured her. Young Earl lost his leg in that battle, and afterwards received a pension. He pursued, in Medford, the trade of a tailor. He was a good citizen, and a good singer.
1779: Voted to raise £3,000 for current expenses, and to borrow $12,000 for three months.
Oct. 18, 1779: “Voted to raise $7,380 to pay the soldiers.”
June 29, 1781: “ Voted to raise' £400 towards purchasing the beef, and £270 for purchasing the clothing."
July 30, 1781: “Voted to raise £200 in specie for raising the men.”
These items show any thing but backwardness in sustaining the cause of independence.
The people of Massachusetts felt the need of a Constitution, or form of civil government. A convention for drafting one was called, and they present the result of their labors Feb. 28, 1778. In drafting this Constitution, the Legislature acted as a Convention. They sat at Cambridge.
May 25, 1778: The inhabitants of Medford express their opinion. The record runs thus:
“ The Constitution and form of government being read, it was put to vote; and there appeared to be thirteen in favor of it, and twenty-three against it.”
“ The Constitution for Massachusetts Bay" was rejected.
The question, whether the State desired a Constitution, was put; and our records, May 17, 1779, have the following:
“Put to vote, — Whether the town choose at this time to have a new Constitution or form of government made. Yeas, 22; nays,
They appoint a Committee to instruct their Representative (Capt. Thomas Brooks). The record is thus:
“ May 17, 1779: The Committee appointed to instruct their Representative relative to forming a new Constitution of civil government in this State report, -- That said Representative use his best endeavors and influence, that, if the General Court are empowered by the majority of freeholders of said State to call a convention to form said Constitution of government, said convention may consist of no person or persons belonging to said General Court."
A new movement was made, and another convention called ; separate counties held preparatory meetings; and, October, 1779, Stephen Willis, 3d, was chosen Delegate to meet in convention at Concord. When the town came to act on the doings of this convention, as they regarded a new