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Title: Copy of Letters sent to Great-Britain by His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, the Hon. Andrew Oliver, and Several other Persons
Author: Hutchinson, Thomas, Oliver, Andrew
Language: English
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            Sent to _Great-Britain_, by his Excellency
                _Thomas Hutchinson_, the Hon. _Andrew
                Oliver_, and several other Persons, BORN
                AND EDUCATED AMONG US.

            Which original Letters have been returned
                to _America_, and laid before the honorable
                House of Representatives of this

            In which (_notwithstanding his Excellency’s
                Declaration to the House, that the Tendency
                and Design of them was not to
                subvert the Constitution, but rather to
                preserve it entire_) the judicious Reader
                will discover the fatal Source of the
                Confusion and Bloodshed in which this
                Province especially has been involved,
                and which threatned total Destruction
                to the Liberties of all _America_.


               Printed by EDES and GILL, in Queen-Street


                             Letters, &c.

                                             _Boston, 18th June, 1768._


As you allow me the honour of your correspondence, I may not omit
acquainting you with so remarkable an event as the withdraw of the
commissioners of the customs and most of the other officers under them
from the town on board the Romney, with an intent to remove from thence
to the castle.

In the evening of the 10th a sloop belonging to Mr. Hancock, a
representative for Boston, and a wealthy merchant, of great influence
over the populace, was seized by the collector and comptroller for a
very notorious breach of the acts of trade, and, after seizure taken
into custody by the officer of the Romney man of war, and remov’d
under command of her guns. It is pretended that the removal and not
the seizure incensed the people. It seems not very material which it
was--A mob was immediately rais’d, the officers insulted, bruis’d
and much hurt, and the windows of some of their houses broke; a boat
belonging to the collector burnt in triumph, and many threats utter’d
against the commissioners and their officers: no notice being taken
of their extravagance in the time of it, nor any endeavours by any
authority except the governor, the next day to discover and punish the
offenders; and there being a rumour of a higher mob intended Monday
(the 13th) in the evening the commissioners, _four of them_, thought
themselves altogether unsafe, being destitute of protection, and
remov’d with their families to the Romney, and there remain and hold
their board, and next week intend to do the same, and also open the
custom-house at the castle. The governor press’d the council to assist
him with their advice, but they declin’d and evaded calling it a brush
or small disturbance by boys and negroes, not considering _how much
it must be resented in England_ that the officers of the crown should
think themselves obliged to quit the place of their residence and go
on board a King’s ship for safety, and all the internal authority
of the province take no notice of it--The town of Boston have had
repeated meetings, and by their votes declared the commissioners and
their officers a great grievance, and yesterday instructed their
representatives to endeavor that enquiry should be made by the assembly
whether any person by writing or in any other way had encouraged the
sending troops here, there being some alarming reports that troops
are expected, but have not taken any measures to discountenance the
promoters of the late proceedings; but on the contrary appointed one or
more of the actors or abettors on a committee appointed to wait on the
governor, and to desire him to order the man of war out of the harbour.

Ignorant as they be, yet the heads of a Boston town-meeting influence
all public measures.

It is not possible this anarchy should last always. Mr. Hallowell
who will be the bearer of this tells me he has the honour of being
personally known to you. I beg leave to refer you to him for a more
full account.

I am, with great esteem,

Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,

                                                       THO. HUTCHINSON.

                                                _Boston, August, 1768._


It is very necessary other information should be had in England of the
present state of the commissioners of the customs than what common fame
will bring to you or what you will receive from most of the letters
which go from hence, people in general being prejudiced by many false
reports and misrepresentations concerning them. Seven eighths of the
people of the country suppose the board itself to be unconstitutional
and cannot be undeceived and brought to believe that a board has
existed in England all this century, and that the board established
here has no new powers given to it. Our incendiaries know it but they
industriously and very wickedly publish the contrary. As much pains
has been taken to prejudice the country against the persons of the
commissioners and their characters have been misrepresented and cruelly
treated especially since their confinement at the castle where they
are not so likely to hear what is said of them and are not so able to
confute it.

It is now pretended they need not to have withdrawn, that Mr. Williams
had stood his ground without any injury although the mob beset his
house, &c. There never was that spirit raised against the under
officers as against the commissioners, _I mean four of them_. They had
a public affront offered them by the town of Boston who refused to give
the use of their hall for a public dinner unless it was stipulated that
the commissioners should not be invited. An affront of the same nature
at the motion of Mr. Hancock was offered by a company of cadets. Soon
after a vessel of Mr. Hancock’s being seized the officers were mobb’d
and the commissioners were informed they were threatned. I own I was
in pain for them. I do not believe if the mob had seized them, there
was any authority able and willing to have rescued them. After they had
withdrawn the town signified to the governor by a message that it was
expected or desired they should not return. It was then the general
voice that it would not be safe for them to return. After all this the
sons of liberty say they deserted or abdicated.

The other officers of the customs in general either did not leave
the town or soon returned to it. Some of them seem to be discontented
with the commissioners. Great pains have been taken to increase
the discontent. Their office by these means is rendered extremely
burdensome. Every thing they do is found fault with, and yet no
particular illegality or even irregularity mentioned. There is too much
hauteur some of their officers say in the treatment they receive. They
say they treat their officers as the commissioners treat their officers
in England and require no greater deference. After all it is not the
persons but the office of the commissioners which has raised this
spirit, and the distinction made between the commissioners is because
it has been given out that four of them were in favor of the new
establishment and the _fifth was not_. If Mr. Hallowell arrived safe he
can inform you many circumstances relative to this distinction which I
very willingly excuse myself from mentioning.

I know of no burden brought upon the fair trader by the new
establishment. The illicit trader finds the risque greater than it
used to be, especially in the port where the board is constantly held.
Another circumstance which increases the prejudice is this; the new
duties happened to take place just about the time the commissioners
arrived. People have absurdly connected the duties and board of
commissioners, and suppose we should have had no additional duties if
there had been no board to have the charge of collecting them. With
all the aid you can give to the officers of the crown they will have
enough to do to maintain the authority of government and to carry the
laws into execution. If they are discountenanced, neglected or fail of
support from you, they must submit to every thing the present opposers
of government think fit to require of them.

There is no office under greater discouragements than that of the
commissioners. Some of my friends recommended me to the ministry. I
think myself very happy that I am not one. Indeed it would have been
incompatible with my post as chief justice, and I must have declined
it, and I should do it although no greater salary had been affixed
to the chief justices place than the small pittance allowed by the

From my acquaintance with the commissioners I have conceived a personal
esteem for them, but my chief inducement to make this representation to
you is a regard to the public interest which I am sure will suffer if
the opposition carry their point against them.

I am with very great esteem,

Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

                                                       THO. HUTCHINSON.

August 10. Yesterday at a meeting of the merchants it was agreed by
all present to give no more orders for goods from England, nor receive
any on commission until the late acts are repealed. And it is said all
except sixteen in the town have subscribed an engagement of that tenor.
I hope the subscription will be printed that I may transmit it to you.

                                           _Boston, 4th October, 1768._


I was absent upon one of our circuits when Mr. Byles arrived. Since
my return I have received from him your obliging letter of 31st July.
I never dared to think what the resentment of the nation would be
upon Hallowell’s arrival. It is not strange that measures should be
immediately taken to reduce the colonies to their former state of
government and order, but that the national funds should be effected
by it is to me a little mysterious and surprizing. Principles of
government absurd enough, spread thro’ all the colonies; but I cannot
think that in any colony, people of any consideration have ever been
so mad as to think of a revolt. Many of the common people have been
in a frenzy, and talk’d of dying in defence of their liberties, and
have spoke and printed what is highly criminal, and too many of rank
above the vulgar, and some _in public posts_ have countenanced and
encouraged them until they increased so much in their numbers and in
their opinion of their importance as to submit to government no further
than they thought proper. The legislative powers have been influenced
by them, and the executive powers intirely lost their force. There has
been continual danger of mobs and insurrections, but they would have
spent all their force within ourselves, the officers of the Crown and
some of the few friends who dared to stand by them possibly might have
been knock’d in the head, and some such fatal event would probably
have brought the people to their senses. For four or five weeks past
the distemper has been growing, and I confess I have not been without
some apprehensions for myself, but my friends have had more for me,
and I have had repeated and frequent notices from them from different
quarters, _one of the last I will inclose to you_.[1] In this state
of things there was no security but quitting my posts, which nothing
but the last extremity would justify. As chief justice for two years
after our first disorders I kept the grand juries tolerably well
to their duty. The last spring there had been several riots, and a
most infamous libel had been published in one of the papers, which I
enlarged upon, and the grand jury had determined to make presentments,
but the attorney-general not attending them the first day, Otis and
his creatures who were alarmed and frightned exerted themselves the
next day and prevailed upon so many of the jury to change their voices,
that there was not a sufficient number left to find a bill. They have
been ever since more enraged against me than ever. At the desire of the
governor I committed to writing the charge while it lay in my memory,
and as I have no further use for it I will inclose it as it may give
you some idea of our judicatories.

Whilst we were in this state, news came of two regiments being ordered
from Halifax, and soon after two more from Ireland. The minds of people
were more and more agitated, broad hints were given that the troops
should never land, a barrel of tar was placed upon the beacon, in the
night to be fired to bring in the country when the troops appeared,
and all the authority of the government was not strong enough to
remove it. The town of Boston met and passed a number of weak but very
criminal votes; and as the governor declined calling an assembly they
sent circular letters to all the towns and districts to send a person
each that there might be a general consultation at so extraordinary
a crisis. They met and spent a week, made themselves ridiculous, and
then dissolv’d themselves, after a message or two to the governor which
he refused to receive; a petition to the King which I dare say _their
agent_ will never be allow’d to present, and a result which they have
published ill-natured and impotent.

In this confusion the troops from Halifax arrived. I never was much
afraid of the people’s taking arms, but I was apprehensive of violence
from the mob, it being their last chance before the troops could land.
As the prospect of revenge became more certain their courage abated
in proportion. Two regiments are landed, but a new grievance is now
rais’d. The troops are by act of parliament to be quartered no where
else but in the barracks until they are full. There are barracks enough
at the castle to hold both regiments. It is therefore against the act
to bring any of them into town. This was started by the council in
their answer to the governor, which to make themselves popular, they
in an unprecedented way published and have alarmed all the province;
for although none but the most contracted minds could put such a
construction upon the act, yet after this declaration of the council
nine tenths of the people suppose it just. I wish the act had been
better express’d, but it is absurd to suppose the parliament intended
to take from the King the direction of his forces by confining them to
a place where any of the colonies might think fit to build barracks.
It is besides ungrateful, for it is known to many that this provision
was brought into the bill after it had been framed without it, from
mere favor to the colonies. I hear the commander in chief has provided
barracks or quarters, but a doubt still remains with some of the
council, whether they are to furnish the articles required, unless the
men are in the province barracks, and they are to determine upon it to

The government has been so long in the hands of the populace that it
must come out of them by degrees, at least it will be a work of time to
bring the people back to just notions of the nature of government.

Mr. Pepperrell a young gentleman of good character, and grandson and
principal heir to the late Sir William Pepperrell being bound to
London, I shall deliver this letter to him, as it will be too bulky for
postage, and desire him to wait upon you with it.

I am with very great esteem,

Sir, your most humble and most obedient servant,

                                                       THO. HUTCHINSON.

[1] See the following Letter.


The great esteem I have for you in every point of light, perhaps
renders my fears and doubts for the safety of your person greater than
they ought to be; however if that is an error it certainly results from
true friendship, naturally jealous. Last night I was informed by a
gentleman of my acquaintance, who had his information from one intimate
with and knowing to the infernal purposes of the sons of liberty as
they falsely stile themselves, that he verily believ’d, from the
terrible threats and menaces by those catalines against you, that your
life is greatly in danger. This informant I know is under obligations
to you and is a man of veracity. He express’d himself with concern for
you, and the gentleman acquainting me with this horrid circumstance,
assured me he was very uneasy till you had notice. I should have done
myself the honor of waiting on you but am necessarily prevented.
The duty I owed to you as a friend and to the public as a member of
society, would not suffer me to rest till I had put your honor upon
your guard; for tho’ this may be a false alarm, nothing would have
given me greater pain, if any accident had happen’d, and I had been
silent. If possible I will see you to morrow, and let you know further
into this black affair.

And am with the sincerest friendship and respect, your honors most
obedient, and most humble servant,

                                                         ROB. AUCHMUTY.

To the hon’ble Thomas Hutchinson, Sept. 14, 1768.

                                         _Boston, 10th December, 1768._

Dear Sir,

I am just now informed that a number of the council, perhaps 8 or 10,
who live in and near this town, have met together and agreed upon a
long address or petition to parliament, and that it will be sent by
this ship to Mr. Bollan to be presented. Mr. Danforth who is president
of the council told the governor upon enquiry, that it was sent to him
to sign, and he supposed the rest of the council who had met together
would sign after him in order, but he had since found that they had
wrote over his name _by order of council_, which makes it appear to
be an act of council. This may be a low piece of cunning in him,
but be it as it may, it’s proper it should be known that the whole
is no more than the doings of a part of the council only, although
even that is not very material, since, if they had all been present
without the governor’s summons the meeting would have been irregular
and unconstitutional, and ought to be discountenanced and censured. I
suppose there is no instance of the privy council’s meeting and doing
business without the king’s presence or special direction, except
in committees upon such business as by his majesty’s order has been
referr’d to them by an act of council, and I have known no instance
here without the governor until within three or four months past.

I thought it very necessary the circumstances of this proceeding should
be known, tho’ if there be no necessity for it, I think it would be
best it should not be known that the intelligence comes from me.

I am with very great regard, Sir, your most humble and most obedient

                                                       THO. HUTCHINSON.

                                          _Boston, 20th January, 1769._


You have laid me under very great obligations by the very clear and
full account of proceedings in parliament, which I received from you
by Capt. Scott. You have also done much service to the people of the
province. For a day or two after the ship arrived, the enemies of
government gave out that their friends in parliament were increasing,
and all things would be soon on the old footing; in other words that
all acts imposing duties would be repealed, the commissioners board
dissolved, the customs put on the old footing, and _illicit_ trade be
carried on with little or no hazard. It was very fortunate that I had
it in my power to prevent such a false representation from spreading
through the province. I have been very cautious of using your name,
but I have been very free in publishing abroad the substance of
your letter, and declaring that I had my intelligence from the best
authority, and have in a great measure defeated the ill design in
raising and attempting to spread so groundless a report. What marks
of resentment the parliament will show, whether they will be upon the
province in general or particular persons, is extremely uncertain, but
that they will be placed somewhere is most certain, and I add, because
_I think it ought to be so_, that those who have been most steady in
preserving the constitution and opposing the licenciousness of such
as call themselves sons of liberty will certainly meet with favor and

This is most certainly a crisis. I really wish that there may not have
been the least degree of severity beyond what is absolutely necessary
to maintain, I think I may say to you the _dependance_ which a colony
ought to have upon the parent state; but if no measures shall have been
taken to secure this dependance, or nothing more than some declaratory
acts or resolves, _it is all over with us_. The friends of government
will be utterly disheartned and the friends of anarchy will be afraid
of nothing be it ever so extravagant.

The last vessel from London had a quick passage. We expect to be in
suspense for the three or four next weeks and then to hear our fate.
I never think of the measures necessary for the peace and good order
of the colonies without pain. There must be an abridgment of what are
called English liberties. I relieve myself by considering that in a
remove from the state of nature to the most perfect state of government
there must be a great restraint of natural liberty. I doubt whether it
is possible to project a system of government in which a colony 3000
miles distant from the parent state shall enjoy all the liberty of the
parent state. I am certain I have never yet seen the projection. I
wish the good of the colony when I wish to see some further restraint
of liberty rather than the connexion with the parent state should be
broken; for I am sure such a breach must prove the ruin of the colony.
Pardon me this excursion, it really proceeds from the state of mind
into which our perplexed affairs often throws me.

I have the honor to be with very great esteem, Sir, your most humble
and most obedient servant,

                                                       THO. HUTCHINSON.

                                          _Boston, 20th October, 1769._


I thank you for your last favor of July 18th. I fancy in my last to you
about two months ago I have answered the greatest part of it.

My opinion upon the combination of the merchants, I gave you very
fully. How long they will be able to continue them if parliament
should not interpose is uncertain. In most articles they may another
year, and you run the risque of their substituting when they are put
to their shifts something of their own in the place of what they used
to have from you, and which they will never return to you for. But
it is not possible that provision for dissolving these combinations
and subjecting all who do not renounce them to penalties adequate to
the offence should not be made the first week the parliament meets.
Certainly all parties will unite in so extraordinary case if they
never do in any other. So much has been said upon the repeal of the
duties laid by the last act, that it will render it very difficult to
keep people’s minds quiet if that should be refused them. They deserve
punishment you will say, but laying or continuing taxes upon all cannot
be thought equal, seeing many will be punished who are not offenders.
_Penalties of another kind seem better adapted._

I have been tolerably treated since the governor’s departure, no other
charge being made against me in our scandalous news-papers except my
bad principles in matters of government, and this charge has had little
effect, and a great many friends promise me support.

I must beg the favor of you to keep secret every thing I write, until
we are in a more settled state, for the party here either by their
_agent_ or by some of their emissaries in London, have sent them every
report or rumor of the contents of letters wrote from hence. I hope we
shall see better times both here and in England.

I am with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient servant,

                                                       THO. HUTCHINSON.

                                               _Boston, 7th May, 1767._


I am indebted to you for the obliging manner in which you receiv’d my
recommendation of my good friend Mr. Paxton, as well as for the account
you are pleased to send me of the situation of affairs in the mother

I am very sorry that the colonies give you so much employment, and
it is impossible to say how long it will be before things settle into
quiet among us. We have some here who have been so busy in fomenting
the late disturbances, that they may now think it needful for their
own security to keep up the spirit. They have plumed themselves much
upon the victory they have gained, and the support they have since met
with; nor could any thing better shew what they would still be at, than
the manner in which by their own account published in the news-papers
last August they celebrated the 14th of that month, as the first
anniversary commemoration of what they had done at the tree of liberty
on that day the year before. Here a number of respectable gentlemen as
they inform us now met, and among other toasts drank general Paoli,
and the spark of liberty kindled in Spain. I am now speaking of a
few individuals only, the body of the people are well disposed, yet
when you come to see the journal of the house of representatives the
last session, I fear you will think that the same spirit has seized
our public counsels. I can however fairly say thus much in behalf of
the government, that the last house was packed by means of a public
proscription just before the election, of the greatest part of those
who had appeared in the preceding session in the support of government:
their names were published in an inflammatory news-paper, and their
constituents made to believe they were about to sell them for slaves.
Writs are now out for a new assembly, but I cannot answer for the
choice: I hope however that the people in general are in a better
temper; yet the moderate men have been so browbeaten in the house,
and found themselves so insignificant there the last year, that some
of them will voluntary decline coming again. I think this looks too
much like a despair of the common-wealth, and cannot be justified on
patriotic principles.

The election of counsellors was carried the last year as might have
been expected from such an house. The officers of the crown and the
judges of the superior court were excluded. And I hear that it is the
design of some who expect to be returned members of the house this year
to make sure work at the ensuing election of counsellors, by excluding,
if they can, the gentlemen of the council (who by charter remain such
’till others are chosen in their room) from any share in the choice,
tho’ they have always had their voice in it hitherto from the first
arrival of the charter. If the house do this, they will have it in
their power to model the council as they please, and throw all the
powers of government into the hands of the people, unless the governor
should again exert his negative as he did the last year.

You have doubtless seen some of the curious messages from the late
house to the governor, and can’t but have observed with how little
decency they have attacked both the governor and the lieutenant
governor. They have also in effect forced the council to declare
themselves parties in the quarrel they had against the latter in a
matter of mere indifference. In their message to the governor of the
31st of January they have explicitly charged the lieutenant governor
(a gentleman to whom they are more indebted than to any one man in
the government) with “ambition and lust of power”, merely for paying
a compliment to the governor agreeable to ancient usage, by attending
him to court and being present in the council-chamber when he made
his speech at the opening of the session; at which time they go on
to say, “none but the general court and their servants are intended
to be present”, still holding out to the people the servants of the
crown as objects of insignificance, ranking the secretary with their
door-keeper, as servants of the assembly; for the secretary with his
clerks and the door-keeper are the only persons present with the
assembly on these occasions.

The officers of the crown being thus lessen’d in the eyes of the
people, takes off their weight and influence, and the balance will
of course turn in favor of the people, and what makes them still
more insignificant is their dependance on the people for a necessary
support: If something were left to the goodwill of the people, yet
nature should be sure of a support. The governor’s salary has for about
35 years past been pretty well understood to be a thousand pound a
year sterling. When this sum was first agreed to, it was very well;
but an increase of wealth since has brought along with it an increase
of luxury, so that what was sufficient to keep up a proper distinction
and support the dignity of a governor then, may well be supposed to
be insufficient for the purpose now. The lieutenant governor has no
appointments as such: the captaincy of Castle-William which may be
worth £.120 sterling a year is looked upon indeed as an appendage to
his commission, and the late lieutenant governor enjoyed no other
appointment: he lived a retired life upon his own estate in the
country, and was easy. The present lieutenant governor indeed has other
appointments, but the people are quarrelling with him for it, and will
not suffer him to be easy unless he will retire also.

The secretary may have something more than £.200 a year sterling, but
has for the two last years been allowed £.60 lawful money a year less
than had been usual for divers years preceding, tho’ he had convinced
the house by their committee that without this deduction he would have
had no more than £.250 sterling per annum in fees, perquisites and
salary altogether, which is not the one half of his annual expence.

The crown did by charter reserve to itself the appointment of a
governor, lieutenant governor and secretary: the design of this was
without doubt to maintain some kind of balance between the powers of
the crown and of the people; but if officers are not in some measure
independent of the people (for it is difficult to serve two masters)
they will sometimes have a hard struggle between duty to the crown and
a regard to self, which must be a very disagreeable situation to them,
as well as a weakening to the authority of government. The officers
of the crown are very few and are therefore the more easily provided
for without burdening the people: _and such provision I look upon as
necessary to the restoration and support of the King’s authority_.

But it may be said how can any new measures be taken without raising
new disturbances? The manufacturers in England will rise again and
defeat the measures of government. This game ’tis true has been played
once and succeeded, and it has been asserted here, that it is in the
power of the colonies at any time to raise a rebellion in England by
refusing to fend for their manufactures. For my own part I do not
believe this. The merchants in England, and I don’t know but those in
London and Bristol only, might always govern in this matter and quiet
the manufacturer. The merchant’s view is always to his own interest.
As the trade is now managed, the dealer here sends to the merchant
in England for his goods; upon these goods the English merchant puts
a profit of 10 or more probably of 15 per cent when he sends them to
his employer in America. The merchant is so jealous of foregoing this
profit, that an American trader cannot well purchase the goods he wants
of the manufacturer; for should the merchant know that the manufacturer
had supplied an American, he would take off no more of his wares. The
merchants therefore having this profit in view will by one means or
other secure it. They know the goods which the American market demands,
and may therefore safely take them off from the manufacturer, tho’
they should have no orders for shipping them this year or perhaps the
next; and I dare say, it would not be longer before the Americans would
clamour for a supply of goods from England, for it is vain to think
they can supply themselves. The merchant might then put an advanced
price upon his goods, and possibly be able to make his own terms; or
if it should be thought the goods would not bear an advanced price to
indemnify him, it might be worth while for the government to agree with
the merchants before hand to allow them a premium equivalent to the
advance of their stock, and _then the game would be over_.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have wrote with freedom in confidence of my name’s not being used on
the occasion. For though I have wrote nothing but what in my conscience
I think an American may upon just principles advance, and what a
servant of the crown ought upon all proper occasions to suggest, yet
the many prejudices I have to combat with may render it unfit it should
be made public.

I communicated to governor Bernard what you mentioned concerning him,
who desires me to present you his compliments, and let you know that he
is obliged to you for the expressions of your regard for his injured

I am with great respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble

                                                          ANDᵂ. OLIVER.

I ask your acceptance of a journal of the last session which is put up
in a box directed to the secretary of the board of trade.

                                                _Boston, 11 May, 1768._


I am this moment favored with your very obliging letter by Capt.
Jarvis of the 2d March, which I have but just time to acknowledge, as
this is the day given out for the ship to sail. I wrote you the 23d
of February in reply to your letter of the 28th December, that of the
12th February which you refer to in this of the 2d of March is not yet
come to hand. You lay me, sir, under the greatest obligations as well
for the interesting account of public affairs which you are from time
to time pleased to transmit me, as for your steady attention to my
private concerns. I shall always have the most grateful sense of Mr.
Grenville’s intentions of favor also, whether I ever reap any benefit
from them or not. Without a proper support afforded to the king’s
officers, the respect due to government will of course fail; yet I
cannot say whether under the present circumstances, and considering the
temper the people are now in, an additional provision for me would be
of real benefit to me personally or not. It has been given out that no
person who receives a stipend from the government at home, shall live
in the country. Government here wants some _effectual_ support: No
sooner was it known that the lieut. governor had a provision of £.200
a year made for him out of the revenue, than he was advised in the
Boston Gazette to resign all pretensions to a seat in council, either
with or without a voice. The temper of the people may be surely learnt
from that infamous paper; it is the very thing that forms their temper;
for if they are not in the temper of the writer at the time of the
publication, yet it is looked upon as the ORACLE, and they soon bring
their temper to it. Some of the latest of them are very expressive,
I will not trouble you with sending them, as I imagine they somehow
or other find their way to you: But I cannot but apprehend from these
papers and from hints that are thrown out, that if the petition of the
House to his Majesty and their letters to divers noble Lords should
fail of success, some people will be mad enough to go to extremities.
The commissioners of the customs have already been openly affronted,
the governor’s company of Cadets have come to a resolution not to wait
on him (as usual) on the day of General Election the 25th instant if
those gentlemen are of the company. And the Town of Boston have passed
a Vote that Faneuil-Hall (in which the governor and his company usually
dine on that day) shall not be opened to him if the commissioners are
invited to dine with him. A list of counsellors has within a few days
past been printed and dispersed by way of sneer on Lord Shelburne’s
letter, made up of king’s officers; which list, the writer says, if
adopted at the next general election may take away all grounds of
complaint, and may possibly prove a healing and very salutary measure.
The lieutenant governor is at the head of this list, they have done me
the honor to put me next, the commissioners of the customs are all in
the list except _Mr. Temple_, and to compleat the list, they have added
some of the waiters. I never thought ’till very lately that they acted
upon any _settled plan_, nor do I now think they have ’till of late; a
few, a very few, among us have planned the present measures, and the
government has been too weak to subdue their turbulent spirits. Our
situation is not rightly known; but it is a matter worthy of the most
serious attention.

I am with the greatest respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble

                                                          ANDᵂ. OLIVER.

I shall take proper care to forward your Letter to Mr. Ingersoll. He
had received your last.

                                         _Boston, 13th February, 1769._


I have your very obliging favor of the 4th of October. I find myself
constrained as well by this letter as by my son and daughter Spooner’s
letters since, to render you my most sincere thanks for the very
polite notice you have taken of them; and I pray my most respectful
compliments to the good lady your mother, whose friendly reception of
them at Nonsuch has, I find engaged the warmest esteem and respect--He
hath wrote us that he had a prospect of succeeding in the business
he went upon; but the last letter we had was from her of the 23d of
November, acquainting us that he had been very ill, but was getting
better. She writes as a person overcome with a sense of the kindness
they had met with, in a place where they were strangers, on this trying

You have heard of the arrival of the King’s troops, the quiet
reception they met with among us was not at all surprizing to me.--I
am sorry there was any occasion for sending them. From the address of
the gentlemen of the council to General Gage, it might be supposed
there was none. I have seen a letter from our friend Ingersoll with
this paraphrase upon it--“We hope that your Excellency observing with
your own eyes _now_ the troops are among us, our peaceable and quiet
behaviour, will be convinced that that wicked G----r B----d told a
fib in saying, We were not so before they came.”

I have given you the sense of a stranger on a single paragraph of this
address, because I suspected my own opinion of it, ’till I found it
thus confirm’d--If you have the news-papers containing the address,
your own good sense will lead you to make some other remarks upon
it, as well as to trace the influence under which it seems to have
been penned. The disturbers of our peace take great advantage of
such aids from people in office and power--The lieutenant governor
has communicated to me your letter containing an account of the
debates in parliament on the first day of the session: We soon expect
their decision on American affairs, some I doubt not with fear and
trembling--Yet I have very lately had occasion to know, that be the
determination of parliament what it will, it is the determination of
some to agree to no terms that shall remove us from our old foundation.
This confirms me in an opinion that I have taken up a long time since,
that if there be no way to take off the original incendiaries, they
will continue to instill their poison into the minds of the people
through the vehicle of the BOSTON GAZETTE.

In your letter to the lieutenant governor you observe upon two defects
in our constitution, the popular election of the Council, and the
return of Juries by the Towns. The first of these arises from the
Charter itself; the latter from our provincial Laws. The method of
appointing our Grand Juries lies open to management. Whoever pleases,
nominates them at our town-meetings; by this means one who was suppos’d
to be a principal in the Riots of the 10th of June last, was upon that
Jury whose business it was to inquire into them: But the provincial
legislature hath made sufficient provision for the return of Petit
Juries by their act of 23d Geo. 2d, which requires the several towns
to take lists of all persons liable by law to serve, and forming them
into two classes, put their names written on separate papers into two
different boxes, one for the superior court and the other for the
inferior: And when veniries are issued, the number therein required
are to be drawn out in open town-meeting, no person to serve oftner
than once in three years--The method of appointing Grand Juries appears
indeed defective; but if the other is not it may be imputed to the
times rather than to the defect of the laws--that neither the Grand
Juries nor the Petit Juries have of late answered the expectations of

As to the appointment of the council, I am of opinion that neither
the popular elections in this province, nor their appointment in what
are called the royal governments by the King’s mandamus, are free from
exceptions, especially if the council as a legislative body is intended
to answer the idea of the house of lords in the British legislature.
There they are suppos’d to be a free and independent body, and on
their being such the strength and firmness of the constitution does
very much depend: whereas the election or appointment of the councils
in the manner before mentioned renders them altogether dependent on
their constituents. The King is the fountain of honour, and as such
the peers of the realm derive their honours from him; but then they
hold them by a surer tenure than the provincial counsellors who are
appointed by mandamus. On the other hand, our popular elections very
often expose them to contempt; for nothing is more common, than for the
representatives, when they find the council a little untractable at the
close of the year, to remind them that May is at hand.

It may be accounted by the colonies as dangerous to admit of any
alterations in their charters, as it is by the governors in the church
to make any in the establishment; yet to make the resemblance as near
as may be to the British parliament, some alteration is necessary.

It is not requisite that I know of, that a counsellor shou’d be a
freeholder; his residence according to the charier is a sufficient
qualification; for that provides only, that he be an inhabitant of or
proprietor of lands within the district for which he is chosen: whereas
the peers of the realm fit in the house of lords, as I take it, in
virtue of their baronies. If there should be a reform of any of the
colony charters with a view to keep up the resemblance of the three
estates in England, the legislative council shou’d consist of men of
landed estates; but as our landed estates here are small at present,
the yearly value of £.100 sterling per annum might in some of them at
least be a sufficient qualification. As our estates are partable after
the decease of the proprietor, the honour could not be continued in
families as in England: It might however be continued in the appointee
_quam diu bene se gesserit_, and proof be required of some mal-practice
before a suspension or removal. Bankruptcy also might be another ground
for removal. A small legislative council might answer the purposes of
government; but it might tend to weaken that levelling principle, which
is cherish’d by the present popular constitution, to have an honorary
order establish’d, out of which the council shou’d be appointed. There
is no way now to put a man of fortune above the common level, and
exempt him from being chosen by the people into the lower offices, but
his being appointed a justice of the peace; this is frequently done
when there is no kind of expectation of his undertaking the trust, and
has its inconveniences. For remedy hereof it might be expedient to have
an order of Patricians or Esquires instituted, to be all men of fortune
or good landed estates, and appointed by the governor with the advice
of council, and enroll’d in the secretary’s office, who shou’d be
exempted from the lower offices in government as the justices now are;
and to have the legislative council (_which in the first instance might
be nominated by the Crown_) from time to time fill’d up, as vacancies
happen out of this order of men, who, if the order consisted only of
men of landed estates, might elect, as the Scottish peers do, only
reserving to the King’s governor a negative on such choice. The King
in this case wou’d be still acknowledged as the fountain of honour, as
having in the first instance the appointment of the persons enroll’d,
out of whom the council are to be chosen, and finally having a negative
on the choice. Or, the King might have the immediate appointment by
mandamus as at present in the royal governments. As the gentlemen
of the council would rank above the body from which they are taken,
they might bear a title one degree above that of esquire. Besides
this legislative council, a privy council might be establish’d, to
consist of some or all of those persons who constitute the legislative
council, and of other persons members of the house of representatives
or otherwise of note or distinction; which wou’d extend the honours of
government, and afford opportunity of distinguishing men of character
and reputation, the expectation of which wou’d make government more

I wou’d not trouble you with these reveries of mine, were I not assured
of your readiness to forgive the communication, although you could
apply it to no good purpose.

Mr. Spooner sent me a pamphlet under a blank cover, intituled, “_the
state of the nation_”. I run over it by myself before I had heard
any one mention it, and tho’t I cou’d evidently mark the sentiments
of some of my friends. By what I have since heard and seen, it looks
as if I was not mistaken. Your right honorable friend I trust will
not be offended if I call him mine--I am sure you will not when I
term you such--I have settled it for a long time in my own mind that
without a representation in the supreme legislature, there cannot be
that union between the head and the members as to produce a healthful
constitution of the whole body. I have doubted whether this union could
be perfected by the first experiment. The plan here exhibited seems to
be formed in generous and moderate principles, and bids the fairest
of any I have yet seen to be adopted. Such a great design may as in
painting require frequent touching before it becomes a piece highly
finish’d; and after all may require the miliorating hand of time to
make it please universally. Thus the British constitution consider’d
as without the colonies attain’d its glory. The book I had sent me is
in such request, that I have not been able to keep it long enough by
me, to consider it in all its parts. I wish to hear how it is receiv’d
in the house of commons. I find by the publications both of governor
Pownall and Mr. Bollan, that they each of them adopt the idea of an
union and representation, and I think it must more and more prevail.
The argument against it from local inconveniency, must as it appears to
me be more than balanc’d by greater inconveniencies on the other side
the question, the great difficulty will be in the terms of union.--I
add no more, as I fear I have already trespass’d much on your time and
patience, but that I am,

Sir, your obliged and most obedient humble Servant,

                                                          ANDᵂ. OLIVER.

                                         _New-York, 12th August, 1769._


I have been in this city for some time past executing (with others)
his Majesty’s commission for settling the boundary between this
province and that of New-Jersey. I left Boston the 11th July, since
which my advices from London have come to me very imperfect; but as my
friend Mr. Thompson writes me that he had drawn up my case and with
your approbation laid it before the D. of Grafton, I think it needful
once more to mention this business to you.

There was a time when I thought the authority of government might have
been easily restored; but while it’s friends and the officers of the
crown are left to an abject dependance on these very people who are
_undermining it’s authority_; and while these are suffered not only
to go unpunished, but on the contrary meet with all kind of support
and encouragement, it cannot be expected that you will ever again
recover that respect which the colonies had been wont to pay the parent
state. Government at home will deceive itself, if it imagines that the
taking off the duty on glass, paper and painter’s colors will work a
reconciliation, and nothing more than this, as I can learn, is proposed
in Ld. H’s late circular letter. It is the principle that is now
disputed; the combination against importation extends to tea, although
it comes cheaper than ever, as well as to the other forementioned
articles. In Virginia it is extended lately to wines; and I have heard
one of the first leaders in these measures in Boston say, that we
should never be upon a proper footing ’till all the revenue acts from
the 15th Charles 2d were repealed. Our assembly in the Massachusetts
may have been more illiberal than others in their public messages and
resolves; yet we have some people among us still who dare to speak in
favor of government: But here I do not find so much as one, unless it
be some of the King’s servants; and yet my business here leads me to
associate with the best. They universally approve of the combination
against importing of goods from Great-Britain, unless the revenue acts
are repealed, which appears to me little less than assuming a negative
on all acts of parliament which they do not like! They say expresly,
we are bound by none made since our emigration, but such as for our
own convenience we choose to submit to; such for instance as that for
establishing a post-office. The Bill of Rights and the Habeas Corpus
Acts, they say are only declaratory of the common law which we brought
with us.

       *       *       *       *       *

Under such circumstance as these, why should I wish to expose myself to
popular resentment? Were I to receive any thing out of the revenue, I
must expect to be abused for it. Nor do I find that our chief justice
has received the £.200 granted him for that service; and yet the
assembly have this year withheld his usual grant, most probably because
he has such a warrant from the crown.

       *       *       *       *       *

With regard to my negotiations with Mr. Rogers, I did in conformity to
your opinion make an apology to Mr. Secretary Pownall for mentioning
it, and there submitted it. I hear it has been since talk’d of; but
unless I could be assured in one shape or other of £.300 per annum,
with the other office, I would not chuse to quit what I have. I have
no ambition to be distinguished, if I am only to be held up as a mark
of popular envy or resentment. I was in hopes before now through the
intervention of your good offices to have received some mark of favor
from your good friend; but the time is not yet come to expect it
through that channel! I will however rely on your friendship, whenever
you can with propriety appear in forwarding my interest, or preventing
any thing that may prove injurious to it.

       *       *       *       *       *

If Mr. R. has interest enough to obtain the secretary’s place, I shall
upon receiving proper security think myself in honor bound to second
his views, though I have none at present from him but a conditional
note he formerly wrote me. If he is not like to succeed, and my son
Daniel could have my place, I would be content unless affairs take a
different turn to resign in his favor, whether administration should
think proper to make any further provision for me or not. And yet I
never thought of withdrawing myself from the service, while there
appeared to me any prospect of my being able to promote it.

       *       *       *       *       *

If I have wrote with freedom, I consider I am writing to a friend, and
that I am perfectly safe in opening myself to you.

I am, with great respect, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant.

                                                          ANDᵂ. OLIVER.


The commissioners of the customs have met with every insult since their
arrival at Boston, and at last have been obliged to seek protection on
board his Majesty’s ship Romney:--Mr. Hallowell, the comptroller of the
customs who will have the honor to deliver you this Letter, will inform
you of many particulars; he is sent by the Board with their letters to
Government. Unless we have immediately two or three regiments, ’tis the
opinion of all the friends to government, that Boston _will be in open

I have the honor to be with the greatest respect and warmest regard,

Dear Sir,

Your most faithful and oblig’d servant,

                                                          CHAˢ. PAXTON.

On board his Majesty’s Ship Romney, Boston Harbour, _20th June, 68_.

                                            _Boston, Decem. 12th 1768._


I wrote you a few days ago, and did not then think of troubling
you upon any private affair of mine, at least not so suddenly; but
within this day or two, I have had a conversation with Mr. Oliver,
secretary of the province, the design of which was my succeeding
to the post he holds from the crown, upon the idea, that provision
would be made for governor Bernard, and the lieutenant governor
would succeed to the chair, then the secretary is desirous of being
lieutenant governor, and if in any way, three hundred pounds a year
could be annexed to the appointment. You are sensible the appointment
is in one department, and the grant of money in another; now the
present lieutenant governor has an assignment of £.200 a year upon the
customs here; he has not received any thing from it as yet, and is
doubtful if he shall; he has no doubt of its lapse to the crown, if
he has the chair; if then by any interest that sum could be assigned
to Mr. Oliver as lieutenant governor, and if he should be allowed
(as has been usual for all lieutenant governors) to hold the command
of the castle, that would be another £.100. This would compleat the
secretary’s views; and he thinks his public services, the injuries he
has received in that service, and the favorable sentiments entertained
of him by government, may lead him to these views, and he hopes for
the interest of his friends. The place of secretary is worth £.300 a
year, but is a provincial grant at present, so that it will not allow
to be quartered on: And as I had view upon the place when I was in
England, and went so far as to converse with several men of interest
upon it, tho’ I never had an opportunity to mention it to you after
I recovered my illness--I hope you will allow me your influence, and
by extending it at the treasury, to facilitate the assignment of the
£.200 a year, it will be serving the secretary, and it will very much
oblige me.----The secretary is advanced in life, tho’ much more so
in health, which has been much impaired by the injuries he received,
and he wishes to quit the more active scenes; he considers this as a
kind of _otium cum dignitate_, and from merits one may think he has a
claim to it. I will mention to you the gentlemen, who are acquainted
with my views and whose favourable approbation I have had. Governor
Pownall, Mr. John Pownall, and Dr. Franklin.--My lord Hillsborough is
not unacquainted with it--I have since I have been here, wrote Mr.
Jackson upon the subject, and have by this vessel wrote Mr. Mauduit.
I think my character stands fair--I have not been without application
to public affairs, and have acquired some knowledge of our provincial
affairs, and notwithstanding our many free conversations in England, I
am considered here as on government side, for which I have been often
traduced both publickly and privately, and very lately have had two or
three slaps. The governor and lieutenant governor are fully acquainted
with the negociation and I meet their approbation; all is upon the idea
the governor is provided for, and there shall by any means be a vacancy
of the lieut. governor’s place. I have gone so far, as to say to some
of my friends, that rather than not succeed I would agree to pay the
secretary £.100 a year out of the office to make up £.300, provided
he could obtain only the assignment of £.200--but the other proposal
would to be sure be most eligible. I scarce know any apology to make
for troubling you upon the subject; the friendship you shewed me in
London, and the favourable expressions you made use of to the lieut.
governor in my behalf encourage me, besides a sort of egotism, which
inclines men to think what they wish to be real. I submit myself to the
enquiries of any of my countrymen in England, but I should wish the
matter may be secret ’till it is effected.

I am with very great respect and regard, my dear sir,

Your most obedient, and most humble servant,

                                                          NATH. ROGERS.

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