Banishment of Myles Cooper

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Background

Alexander Hamilton's reputation as an activist for the American cause was well-known and well-documented during his tenure at King's College. He wrote two tracts advocating American independence under the pseudonym "A Friend of America". He also was known to cavort around the Liberty Pole in what is now Bowling Green Park, in possibly the earliest known meetings of Conversio Virium.

Myles Cooper, on the other hand, was a staunch Loyalist and eagerly skewered his opponents in the press, protected, as he was, by both the physical, fortress-like confines of King's College and his privileged position as both College President and one of the leading clergymen of the city.

In spite of this, Hamilton greatly respected Cooper as a devoted and dedicated teacher, whilst the latter, at least somewhat knowledgeable about Hamilton's revolutionary sympathies and activities, nevertheless tempered his criticism.

Events of May 10, 1775

On the evening of May 10, 1775, a "murderous band" of patriots, incensed by Cooper's latest, scathing denouncements in the press, marched with torches, pitchforks, and dogs to the King's College gates, with the express intent of tarring and feathering Myles Cooper.

A student, widely believed to be Alexander Hamilton, stood at the gates, facing the crowd. There, he began to harangue them on the inadvisability of resorting to violence before all alternatives could be explored. The crowd pressed up against Hamilton, but were briefly calmed. Meanwhile, a close friend snuck inside the College to warn Cooper.

Cooper happened to be sleeping, and upon being awakened, leaned his head out the window and saw the mob. Cooper was also somewhat deaf, so upon seeing Hamilton gesticulating wildly at the crowd, but not realising that he was exhorting the crowd to be calm and not resort to violence, shouted "He's crazy! Don't listen to him!" before being pulled back inside.

Cooper then made a quick dash out a back door and ran down to the docks in his nightgown. He sulked around the docks all night, trying to avoid detection. In the morning, he was picked up by the HMS Kingfisher, and taken back to Britain, never to return.

Aftermath

Commencement was cancelled that year "for want of our absent President", but 6 seniors were designated as graduates.

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