George Hewes

December 7, 2016 History

The late 1700??™s was a turbulent time in the history of the colonies. Great Britain was increasing its exploitation and unfair treatment towards the colonist by each day by actions such as adding tax after tax on the colonist. Right in the middle of all this conflict was a lowly, Bostonian shoemaker named George Robert Twelves Hewes. The story of this man is told by Albert Young in The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution. This simple shoemaker was present in some of the most historic events that led up to and that were part of the American Revolution. He was present for two of the most well known events of that time. Hewes was on scene at The Boston Massacre and The Boston Tea Party. He was one of the many who threw barrels of tea that now historic night. He was one of the many common men of the time that helped secure the independence of this country. The American Revolution meant much to the future of this country, and it also meant something to Hewes. The meaning of the American Revolution to Hewes was that it gave him a way to escape the uneventful life of a shoemaker, changed his practice of deference, made him feel as though he was an equal to all men, and allowed him to be part of something.
A shoemaker was one of the lowest possible professions to have in Boston during the time of George Hewes. No person dreamed of being a shoemaker, but Hewes was not given much of a choice because his father could not afford a better apprenticeship. ???Shoemaking was never an occupation of his choice, he being more inclined to active pursuits??? (Young 20). Young shows us that although shoemaking was Hewes??™ profession it was not one he wanted. Even more clues that point to Hewes not wanting to be a shoemaker appear in the text. He disliked his apprenticeship so much that he tried to end it. ???The proof is that Hewes tried to end his apprenticeship by the only way he saw possible: escape to the military??? (Young 23). Hewes lacked the size necessary to join the military. Just the fact that Hewes tried to end his apprenticeship as a shoemaker to join the British military shows how much Hewes did not enjoy the life of a shoemaker. The military life of a British soldier was nothing to get excited about. They lived in cramped quarters and were many times whipped by their commanding officers for their wrongs. If this is the life that Hewes wanted to escape to imagine how much he disliked his position as a shoemaker??™s apprentice. The American Revolution finally gave Hewes an escape from his day job that he had long been hoping for. Hewes spent so much time in a profession that he disliked, and now he is able to throw barrels of tea from a British ship while dressed as an Indian, and fight against the British forces for his independence. To Hewes the events of the American Revolution meant having an escape from the mundane life of a shoemaker.
Most people of the time showed deference to their superiors often times when their superiors did not deserve respect. Hewes??™ life as a poor shoemaker in Boston did not give him much sense of belonging or accomplishment. Hewes??™ involvement in the American Revolution changed this part of him. ???His experiences transformed him, giving him a sense of citizenship and personal worth??? (Young 55). Hewes went from a poor man showing deference to individuals he deemed superior to becoming a man who would defy the British monarchy, and even fight against them. In the hours following the Boston Massacre Hewes showed this change in personality during a conflict with Sergeant Chambers of the Twenty Ninth Regiment and other soldiers. ???Chambers ???seized and forced??? the cane from Hewes, ???saying I had no right to carry it. I told him I had as good a right to carry a cane as they had to carry clubs??? (Young 39). This event happened just hours after the Boston Massacre. More specifically it happened at 1:00 A.M. the morning after the massacre. So quickly after the Boston Massacre Hewes??™ attitude of deference had changed. He did not react as he might have done before this event. Hewes probably would have not gotten into a conflict with the military officer if this had been before the Boston Massacre. This single event of the revolutionary time period changed how Hewes acted at the time of the conflict with the officer.
The events of the American Revolution also made George Hewes feel as though he was on the same level as all other men. When recounting the Boston Tea Party Hewes claims that he was throwing tea overboard alongside Samuel Adams and John Hancock. ???Mr. Hewes, however, positively affirms, as of his own observation, that Samuel Adams and John Hancock were both actively engaged in the process of destruction??? (Young 56). Benjamin Thatcher was skeptical about Hewes??™ claims. This is because it was planned for the well-known leaders to not be present at the Tea Party. Hewes??™ claims about tossing tea alongside John Hanckock are most likely false, but it shows a bigger picture. Young explains this in a clear way. ???Hewes in effect had brought Hancock down to his own level??? (Young 57). At no other time previously in his life could Hewes claim to be an associate of the great John Hancock. Although one could dispute Hewes??™ claims there is no denying that after this event he felt as though he was an equal of John Hancock and all others by his side.
There is no proof that George Hewes ever belonged to any institutions such as a church, town meetings, or any other associations. He could not have taken part in the local government because he was a poor shoemaker. He most likely did not own enough land to take part in voting. Young explains Hewes??™ lack of membership in any associations. ???It was not that he was a loner. There was simply not much for a poor artisan to belong to??? (Young 31). The American Revolution and the events leading up to it gave him something to belong to. He did not have to be wealthy nor did he have to be a man of stature to demand freedom from the British. Being a simple shoemaker who was growing weary of unfair treatment by Great Britain was more than enough to be a part of the American Revolution. To Hewes the American Revolution meant that it was his chance to be a part of something.
The events of the American Revolution were important to George Robert Twelves Hewes. Before this time he was just a lowly shoemaker, but after the events in Boston and in the revolution he was a changed man. The American Revolution gave him excitement that was not provided by being a shoemaker. It meant that changed this poor mans personality was forever changed. Hewes gained a sense of self worth and accomplishment that he did not once have. Things were never the same for Hewes. Although he was recognized many years after the events of the Boston Massacre and Tea Party he is someone who will forever be remembered. His picture still hangs proudly in the Old State House in George Hewes??™ town of Boston where many of the historic events that forever changed the future of the colonies and Hewes took place.


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