Ipswich and the Revolution

We love sharing about the North of Boston’s vast, rich history.  In honor of Independence Day, we’re going back to the birth of our country and the key role played by the North of Boston region…

We tend to associate the beginning of the American Revolution with Boston, but did you know that the Revolution actually had its roots a little further north?

In 1683, Reverend John Wise was appointed the minister of Ipswich’s Chebacco Parish (which was later to become Essex).  Wise had a the reputation of being confident and outspoken and soon gained immense respect from his congregation. It was also said that he was one heck of a wrestler and allegedly threw a horse over a fence, but that doesn’t have anything to do with this story.

revolution_1689_sign

Sign in Ipswich. (Photo: http://www.historicipswich.org/rev-john-wise/)

Horse wrestling aside, a few years after his appointment, Reverend Wise earned his place in history.  In 1689, Sir Edmund Andros was appointed Royal Governor of Massachusetts.  Andros immediately put a “Province Tax” into order, collecting money from each town.  Reverend Wise argued that this tax violated citizens’ rights as Englishmen and that they should not be taxed without representation – a sentiment that was later echoed by outraged colonists leading up to the American Revolution.  Wise led a protest (which included fellow Ipswich-ite Samuel Appleton) and the group was arrested and tried in Boston, imprisoned, and fined for their misconduct.  The town of Ipswich paid Wise’s fines and people in Boston, now outraged and inspired by Wise, had their own uprising and saw to it that Governor Andros was arrested.  Wise had unknowingly started a small spark that would soon lead to the Revolution.

Later on in his memoirs, Reverend Wise wrote:

““The first human subject and original of civil power is the people. For as they have a power, every man over himself in a natural state, so upon a combination they can and do bequeath this power unto others, …and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please…The end of all good government is to cultivate humanity and promote the happiness of all, and the good of every man in all his rights, his life, liberty, estate, honor, etc., without injury or abuse done to any.”

Sound familiar? Thomas Jefferson was inspired by Wise when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.  Perhaps “WIse” was more than just the good Reverend’s name…

Ipswich History Mural by Alan Pearsall for EBSCO, 2006 Local color dabbed into mural -- "Residents star as characters in painting of historic scenes" By David Rattigan,  Boston Globe ,  January 14, 2007

Ipswich History Mural by Alan Pearsall for EBSCO, 2006
Local color dabbed into mural — “Residents star as characters in painting of historic scenes”
By David Rattigan, Boston Globe , January 14, 2007

 

Sources:

The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich

Rev. John Wise