In colonial times, word took a while to travel from place to place. Important documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, first had to be printed, then copies made to be brought to cities all around the brand-new nation so that all could read or hear.
In the case of Boston, it took a full two weeks from the time of the signing of the Declaration to the time when it was read on July 14, 1776 from the east balcony of what is now known as the Old State House.
This joyous task fell to Col. Thomas Crafts, one of the most ardent and long-standing of the patriots of Boston. Crafts grew up in Boston’s North End, a block away from Paul Revere. Crafts, a decorative painter, was one of The Loyal Nine, the nucleus of artisans and “mekanics” who grew and evolved into the Sons of Liberty.
Other members of the Loyal Nine, or “Loyall Nine,” were John Avery, a distiller and club secretary; John Smith, a brazier; Thomas Crafts, a painter (and Liberty Paper Mill customer); Benjamin Edes, printer of the Boston Gazette (another customer); Stephen Cleverly, a brazier; Thomas Chase, a distiller (and customer), Joseph Field, a ship captain; George Trott, a jeweler; and Henry Bass, a cousin of Sam Adams. Avery, a Harvard graduate, gave the group a respectable patina. Edes, as a printer, gave the group the means to get its message out.
The Loyal Nine was formed in 1765 to provide vocal opposition to the Stamp Act. Their first public act was to hand in effigy at Boston’s Liberty Tree Andrew Oliver, who had been chosen to administer the Stamp Act.
In 1773, he was among those who tossed tens of thousands of pounds of Tea into Boston Harbor. At the onset of the war, he joined Paddock’s Artillery Company, which was to become The Massachusetts State Train of Artillery, a company that included his fellow North-ender Paul Revere.