The Ipswich Post Office Mural portrays Reverend John Wise and Major Samuel Appleton gathered with other Ipswich men in 1687 in opposition to taxes imposed by Sir Edmund Andros.
On April 18, 1689 leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reclaimed control of the government from the crown-appointed governor, Sir Edmund Andros. Major Samuel Appleton of Ipswich was given the honor of handing Andros into the boat which conveyed him to prison on Castle Island in Boston Harbor, and was appointed to serve on the new ruling council.
“Appleton’s Pulpit” in Saugus
Only a year earlier Major Appleton had been imprisoned by Andros. On the evening of August 23, 1687 the Rev. John Wise gathered town leaders to organize opposition against a new tax imposed by Andros. A hastily called town meeting the next day voted that “no taxes should be levied upon the subjects without consent of the Assembly chosen by the Freeholders” and refused to appoint a tax collector.
On September 19, a warrant was issued for the arrest of several Ipswich men for being “seditiously inclined and disaffected to his Majesty’s government.” Major Appleton took refuge in Saugus, where he delivered an address denouncing Andros from a rocky cliff that is known today as “Appleton’s Pulpit”. Additional warrants were issued against him for “absconding himself.” The others eventually gave bond, but the 62-year-old Major Appleton scorned the appearance of submission and refused to make any apology. He remained imprisoned in the cold Boston Jail through the winter.
Samuel Appleton served as a justice of the Quarterly and General Sessions Court in Ipswich, and was a judge on the Court of Oyer and Terminer which was held in Ipswich on April 16, 1692 as the last of the witchcraft trials. At this court, unlike Salem, all were acquitted. He died on May 15, 1696.
The next time you are at the Ipswich post office, look up at the large mural which portrays the events of that first evening which led to Ipswich adopting the motto “The Birthplace of American Independence 1687.” There stands Major Samuel Appleton, who through his words and deeds bore witness to the people’s’ rights nearly a century before the Declaration of Independence.
Sam Appleton’s grave at the Old North Burial Ground in Ipswich