Petition of L.W. Tapan complaining of depridations committed by squirrels from the Common upon the plants etc in his conservatory, 1856 February 28, City Council proceedings, (Collection #0100.001), City of Boston Archives
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To the Mayor, and Board of Aldermen of the City of Boston,
Your petitioner Respectfully Represents -
That hertofore the City of Boston has been so renowned for the Acts of Civilization and domestic peace that it was proudly termed the Athens of America, but so it was that immediate predecessors of your honor and your honorable body actuated by some idea unknown to your petitioner caused it to be brought to this city and introduced into that portion of the public domain known as the Common, certain native Americans, yet in that barbarous and uncivilized condition which your petitioner is informed is technically called in the Law books feral natural which though known to the learned English as Squirrels are by the natives of Boston popularly called “Adjidaumo.” Your petitioner is informed, as by the subsequent narration will evidently appear that these animals were not natives of the County of Suffolk, nor accustomed to the reign of law and order, but ill conditioned marauders and filibusters whose acts ought not to receive the countenance of the worshipful fathers of the City.
Your petitioner humbly represents that he is the proprietor of a GreenHouse or Conservatory attached to his mansion near to the Common, wherein he is accustomed to keep many plants, shrubs, and fruit bearing trees of exotic descent but native to this good City, to the great comfort of himself and his family. That the said Conservatory was a lawful institution confined within the boundaries of the petitioner’s lands and that neither the roots nor the branches of the plants and trees thereof were encouraged to nor in fact did they insinuate themselves into the soil of other people and especially into that held by the Corporation of the City of Boston or …to overshadow the same and that fence of said grounds was a good sufficient and lawful fence as to the fence viewers of Boston shall be made evident if your honors so direct.
The which notwithstanding and nevertheless, on the night of the 20th of February, your petitioner and his family having retired to rest with that confidence which all the aforesaid and the laws of his country and the City watch ought to inspire, they were awakened by strange and riotous noises proceedings from his said greenhouse. And seizing the lawful arms, which, as one of the Militia of the Commonwealth, your petitioner kept within his mansion for purposes of defense and not for any armed invasion of any nation with whom the United States have treaties of Amity and Peace, your petitioner assisted by this servants proceeded to confront the nocturnal invaders within the curettage of his mansion house for the purpose of expelling them as by law he may.
Your petitioner was grieved as well as astounded to discover by the aid of lanterns, lamps, and gas in combustion that the noise and riot proceeded from one of the feral natural alias squirrels alias Adjidaumos which had as aforesaid been invited and entertained in the public grounds at the expense of the City. Your petitioner not being swift of foot and being in his slippers was not able to catch the burglarious intruder, whereon he directed his servants so to do, but they not having lived twenty one years in the City, nor having by their corporal oaths renounced all allegiance to any foreign prince or potentate, and especially to Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and to Napoleon, 3d Emperor of France, unwilling to lay violent hands upon the …native American, alleging that the beast would bite.
Your petitioner although native and to the Manor born, knowing that the aforesaid squirrel occupied either an official position under the by laws of this Corporation, or else by the laws of hospitality, that of guest to the City Fathers, was unwilling to exercise his common law right of shooting the intruder who had either in the day or the night burglariously entered his domicile. Desirous of impressing the feral natural with a lively sense of the civilization and hospitality of the citizens as judging from the predatory incursion of the City Guest or official, although his language was unknown to your petitioner , he might be impressed with some sense of incivility in the matter of his diet and lodging proceeding from your honors the present City Government, your petitioner directed an abundant supply and variety of nuts both foreign and indigenous to be placed upon a plate and set in a convenient spot for the accommodation and consumption of the unlawful intruder and with his servants retired to their respective apartments in the believe that he had made a sufficient and acceptable atonement for any breach of courtesy on the part of your honors.
Your petitioner would further represent that in the morning on going to inquire after the health of the illustrious intruder and with the intention of inviting him to breakfast with himself and family and a few select friend, whilst he he should lay the matter before the authorities, your petitioner was alarmed to find that with forces and arms, teeth, and claws, maliciously and in nighttime , eh, the aforesaid squirrel had committed great devastation and waste upon the plants and trees, then and there being in the peace of this Commonwealth, viz. by gnawing the bark with his teeth, eating off tender shoots, and wickedly and wantonly destroying shrubs and plants of great value and to an extent much beyond any necessities of hunger, even had he the squirrel been disinclined to partake of the nuts specially and before him and which the family physician of your petitioner afterwards inspecting declared to be good, sound, oily, succulent, odorous, appetizing nuts, containing sufficient meaty kernels and the shells thereof not too hard to resist the teeth, all of which your petitioner avers to be true.
Your petitioner avers that he pays taxes annually in this City and that of right ought to be protected in the enjoyment of his property: he has no feeling of hatred nor uncharitableness as to the squirrels in the premises and he submits that his rest and his property ought equally to be free from the intrusion of these wild beasts which the policy of the City fathers has there let loose. Had the size of this one been in any wise equal to his appetite, he might have been somewhere between the magnitude of a Newfoundland dog and a Behomoth. Your petitioner would represent that the united efforts of the Watch and the Police have failed in giving him that protection which by law is his right, and that he is disinclined to commence an action for the damages he has received if the City will restore his former peace of mind touching the security of his conservatory from devastation.
Wherefore, he prays that if your honors see fit to permit these feral natural to prowl your streets, either they should be accompanied by a sufficient number of the police to prevent their doing mischief or else that they be safely muzzled with iron or steel and restrained by some just ordinance, made in accordance with the Charter of the City.
Your petitioner would respectfully ask of your honorable body that as no provision has been made for the support of these squirrels alias adjidaumos - and that as no charitable society has been formed having especial care over their condition and welfare and as they are not supposed to possess small bills of their own or coin that would pass current at either the market or nut shops of the city - that as they are natives of a campaign country - they may be fed either by George Young or Harvey D. Parker, Innkeepers, daily on the same terms that the city dignitaries and the petit juries are now furnished with dinner and suppers. But if this be found too expensive, then that your honors regard the precedent of your predecessors, who have sent women and children to England by Train and Co.’s line of packets to relieve our Citizens from their support and return them to their native wilds, their families and friends. IN their preference for tropical productions, the moral proclivities of these animals evince a strong affinity to the Filibusters who have sought to extend the law of liberty into Cuba and Central America. Your petitioner would suggest in case your honor and your honorable body should not see fit to return them to their original home, that they Steamers of the Nicaragua Company offer a sure … for their removal to a congenial climate, which, being informed by learned counsel, that they are not ‘persons’ nor ‘property’ within the designation of the Statutes of the United States; and as they are not ‘enlisted’ or ‘retained to be enlisted’ for the service of any foreign prince - their transportation would not be derogatory to neutrality of the United States, or their expedition from the Commonwealth be crushed and by her law offices. Your petitioner respectfully representing the aforesaid squirrel - alias adjidaumo - to be of a steel grey color, showing no evidence of African or Mulatto blood, being of a reasonable age and doubtful nativity, claims that he is entitled to be relieved from further annoyance in the premises, by such means as the wisdom of your honors shall seem fit and he will ever pray
L.W. Tapan, Joy Street