Former Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson dies in England

On this day in 1780, the reviled former royal governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, who served from 1771 to 1774, dies in Brompton, England.

In one of American history’s great ironies, Hutchinson, the great-great-grandson of one of the most famous people to be expelled from Massachusetts for being too radical, the religious leader Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), was exiled from Massachusetts for being too conservative.

Born in Boston in 1711, Thomas Hutchinson began life with all the advantages of the merchant-elite class to which his father belonged. Hutchinson quickly established his intelligence and business savvy by graduating from Harvard at age 15; he accumulated significant wealth in his own right by age 24. In 1737, Hutchinson, now a married man, entered politics as a Boston selectman and representative to the General Court. He immediately began lobbying against the use of paper currency–thought to favor the economic position of the poor–and in 1749 he succeeded in pushing the adoption of hard currency, based upon British silver, through the Massachusetts Assembly. Although his political career continued to flourish, his popularity with the average people of Boston would never recover from this act, which they considered detrimental to their financial interest.

By the time the Stamp Tax of 1765 enraged Bostonians, Hutchinson had become lieutenant governor. He opposed the Stamp Tax in principle but upheld it as British law. Bostonians were not impressed by his private objections to the tax and showed their anger by ransacking his Boston home, including his invaluable private library.

Caught again between his loyalty to the crown and his understanding of his fellow colonists, Hutchinson had the grave misfortune of serving as acting governor during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. Hutchinson had warned the British to be careful not to raise colonial ire. Nonetheless, he suffered the consequences when frightened British soldiers fired on a rock-hurling mob. Hutchinson removed the soldiers to Castle William in Boston Harbor and a relatively peaceful three-year lull ensued.

In 1773, Frederick, Lord North, British chancellor of the exchequer, attempted to save the East India Company by changing the tax structure to give the company an effective monopoly on colonial trade. Colonists responded to the measure with threats of violence and the Boston Tea Party. By then, Benjamin Franklin, who was serving as the colonial postmaster in London, had published some of Hutchinson’s private correspondence giving advice on how to subdue colonial unrest. The people of Massachusetts considered his advice an unforgivable betrayal.

When the king placed Massachusetts under martial law with General Thomas Gage as governor following the Boston Tea Party in 1774, Thomas Hutchinson left for England, never to return.


Terrorists attack London Bridge

During one horrific 8-minute period on June 3, 2017, eight people were killed as a band of terrorists drove a van through a pedestrian walkway on the London Bridge. The men then exited, armed with pink steak knives, and proceeded to slash and stab people in a nearby market. The more

Duke of Windsor weds

In France, the duke of Windsor–formerly King Edward VIII of Great Britain and Northern Ireland–marries Wallis Warfield, the American divorcee for whom he abdicated the British throne in December 1936. Edward, born in 1896, was the eldest son of King George V, who became the more

An American walks in space

One hundred and 20 miles above the earth, Major Edward H. White II opens the hatch of the Gemini 4 and steps out of the capsule, becoming the first American astronaut to walk in space. Attached to the craft by a 25-foot tether and controlling his movements with a hand-held oxygen more

Crackdown at Tiananmen begins

With protests for democratic reforms entering their seventh week, the Chinese government authorizes its soldiers and tanks to reclaim Beijing’s Tiananmen Square at all costs. By nightfall on June 4, Chinese troops had forcibly cleared the square, killing hundreds and arresting more

Nixon calls Cambodian operation a success

In a televised speech, President Richard Nixon claims the Allied drive into Cambodia is the “most successful operation of this long and difficult war,” and that he is now able to resume the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces had more

Le Duc Tho joins negotiations in Paris

Le Duc Tho, a member of the North Vietnam Communist Party’s Politburo, joins the North Vietnamese negotiating team as a special counselor. The Paris peace talks had begun in March 1968, but had made little headway in ending the war. In August 1969, Tho and Henry Kissinger would more

Josh Gibson hits ball 580 feet in Yankee Stadium

On this day in 1937, The Sporting News reports that catcher Josh Gibson of the Negro League’s Homestead Grays hit a ball two feet from the top of the façade of Yankee Stadium, 580 feet from home plate. If Negro League records were kept alongside those of the National and American more

Western author Larry McMurtry is born

Larry McMurtry, one of the most talented modern writers working in the western genre, is born in Wichita Falls, Texas. McMurtry’s family had been involved in Texas ranching for three generations, and he was exposed to ranching life from an early age. McMurtry, however, more

Larry McMurtry is born

Bestselling novelist Larry McMurtry is born on this day in Wichita Falls, Texas. Many of his novels will be set in Texas and the West. McMurtry was raised by his grandparents, first-generation pioneers who settled Archer City, Texas. McMurtry, who read nothing but drugstore more

Lew Wasserman dies

In the words of Jack Valenti, the longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA): “If Hollywood is Mount Olympus, Lew Wasserman is Zeus.” Wasserman, an agent and studio executive who was arguably the most influential mogul in Hollywood for some 40 years more

Natural gas explosion kills 500 in Russia

In a freak and tragic accident, a natural-gas pipeline explodes in Russia’s Ural Mountains just as two trains pass it. The explosion occurred near the town of Ufa in what was then the Soviet Union and was the result of poor judgment by pipeline workers. They were aware that the more

Bush and Gorbachev end second summit meeting

President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev end their three-day summit meeting with warm words of friendship but without any concrete agreement concerning German reunification. Bush and Gorbachev held their second summit conference in Washington, D.C. The main more

Union disaster at Cold Harbor

On this day, Union General Ulysses S. Grant makes what he later recognizes to be his greatest mistake by ordering a frontal assault on entrenched Confederates at Cold Harbor, Virginia. The result was some 7,000 Union casualties in less than an hour of fighting. Grant’s Army of more