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In Their Own Words

July 23, 1775

Account of Tarring and Feathering

The following is an affidavit prepared by Savannah loyalist John Hopkins on July 29, 1775 at the request of Gov. James Wright. That same day, Wright wrote Lord Dartmouth in England telling of the breakdown of royal authority in Savannah, and wanted to include with his letter a statement from Hopkins, who had been tarred and feathered five days earlier by local Sons of Liberty for having drank to toasts offensive to the Whig cause.

Savannah, Georgia

July 29, 1775

About 9 of the clock in the evening of the 24 instant as I was sitting at supper with my family there came to my house a number of persons (some were in disguise) and opened the door. Joseph Reynolds of Savannah, bricklayer, Captain McCluer and Captain Bunner, at present of Savannah, mariners, laid hold of me, without saying anything to me. As soon as the aforesaid people laid hold of me, a great number rushed in and hurried me out of my house and led me to the outside of the town. They consulted to tar and feather me, but the majority resolved to carry me to a more public place. Accordingly they led me into the middle of the square near the dial in Savannah and stripped me of my jacket and shirt and with great reluctance left the rest of my apparel on me and then they proceeded to tar and feather me and immediately put me into a cart and carted me up and down the streets of Savannah for upwards of three hours in the above condition.

During the time they carted me to the Liberty Tree and there swore they would hang me. Bunner said he was rather fat but he would go up the tree and hang me. Bunner further said that unless I would drink “Damnation to all Tories and success to American Liberty!” I should be hung immediately, which request I was obliged to comply with. They continued to abuse me, gave me a great deal of ill language and upbraided me with my conduct. some on or other said that if they could lay hold of the parson they would put him along side of me in the cart. I also heard said in the mob that Mr. Smith should be next and that they intended to continue on until they had tarred and feathered all the Tories, or words to that affect.

I saw in the aforesaid mob, together with the persons aforementioned, Thomas Lee, carpenter, John Spencer, carpenter, Alexander Phoenix, merchant, Ambrose Wright, planter, Samuel Wells, mariner, Francis Arthur of Savannah, surveyor, Oliver Bowen, merchant, John McCluer and Captain McCluer, Joseph Habersham and Francis Harris, gentlemen, Quintin Pooler, merchant, Captain Hawkins, mariner,, and Thomas Hamilton, butcher, and several others that I cannot recollect. Between the hours of 12 and 1 of the clock they discharged me at the vendue house with orders “to beg all American pardon.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), p. 32.