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Title: The Writings of Samuel Adams - Volume 2
Author: Adams, Samuel
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Writings of Samuel Adams - Volume 2" ***

Regina Azucena .












Article Signed "Vindex," January 8th . . .
Power of Governer over sessions of General Assembly.

Article Signed "Determinatus," January 8th . . .
Non-importation agreement.

To the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, March 19th . . .
Memorial of town of Boston--Apointment of special justices.

To John Hancock, May 11th . . .
Proposed resignation.

To Benjamin Franklin, July 13th . . .
Letter of town of Boston--Effect of massacre narrative--Influences
upon public opinion--"Case" of Captain Preston.

To the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, August 3d . . .
Answer of House of Representatives--Place of meeting of General
Assembly--Legal opinions--Precedents--Royal instructions--Nature of
Province Charter--Rights of House.

Article Signed "A Chatterer," August 13th . . .
Royal instructions.

Article Signed "A Chatterer," August 20th . . .
Character of office holders.

Article Signed "A Chatterer," August 27th . . .
Reply to "Probus"--Character of lieutenant-governor.

To Benjamin Franklin, November 6th . . .
Letter of House of Representatives--Appointment as agent--Attitude of
administration to Massachusetts--Royal instructions--Admiralty
jurisdiction--Salaries and appointments.

To Stephen Sayre, November 16th . . .
Letters of "Junius Americanus"--Non-importation agreement--Trial of
Preston--Royal instructions.

To the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachussetts, Novemer 20th . . .
Memorial of House of Representatives--Vacancies in militia.

Article Signed "A Tory," November 20th . . .
Effects of present administration.

To Peter Timothy, November 21st . . .
Reply to Charleston committee--Non-importation agreement.

To Stephen Sayre, November 23d . . .
Choice of agent--Royal instructions--Attitude of Huthchinson.

To Josiah Williams, November 23d . . .
Personal advice.

Article signed "A Chatterer," December 3d . . .
Royal instructions--Control of troops--Custody of Castle William.

Article signed "Vindex," December 10th . . .
Trials of Preston and soldiers--Discussion of testimony.

Article signed "Vindex," December 17th . . .
Trials of Preston and soldiers--Discussion of testimony.

Article signed "Vindex," December 24th . . .
Trials of Preston and soldiers--Discussion of testimony.

Article signed "Vindex," December 24th . . .
Reply to "Somebody"--Trial of soldiers.

To John Wilkes, December 28th . . .
Introduction of William Palfrey--Conditions in colonies.

Article signed "Vindex," December 31st . . .
Action of Boston on massacre--Attitude of troops--Events of March 5,
1770--Testimony upon trial--The dead.

Article signed "Vindex," December 31st . . .
Testimony upon trial of soldiers.


Article signed "Vindex," January 7th . . .
Trial of soldiers--Discussion of testimony.

To Stephen Sayre, January 12th . . .
Enclosing articles on trials.

Article signed "Vindex," January 14th . . .
Discussion of testimony--"Case" of Captain Preston.

Article signed "Vindex," January 21st . . .
Result of trial of soldiers--Discussion of testimony--Reply to

Article signed "Vindex," January 28th . . .
Discussion of testimony--"Case" of Captain Preston.

To Charles Lucas, March 12th . . .
Acknowledgments of Boston.

To Arthur Lee, April 19th . . .
Beginning of correspondence--General conditions--Designs of
Administration--Royal instructions.

To the Governor of Massachusetts, April 24th . . .
Answer of House of Representatives--Action of Spain at Port
Egmont--Attitude of Administration--Place of meeting of General
Assembly--Appointment of Governor.

To the Governor of Massachusetts, April 25th . . .
Salary bills.

Article signed "Candidus," June 10th . . .
Place of meeting of General Assembly--Royal instructions--Attitude of

Article signed "Candidus," June 17th . . .
Address of clergy.

To Benjamin Franklin, June 29th . . .
Letter of House of Representatives--Right of Parliament to
tax--Revenue and tribute--Independence of officers--Rights of
colonists--Position of colonial agent.

Article signed "Candidus," July 1st . . .
Convention of clergy.

To Arthur Lee, July 31st . . .
Conditions in London--Effects of faction and of arbitrary
power--Attitude of Hutchinson--Disturbances in North Carolina

Article signed "Candidus," August 5th . . .
Address of clergy--Character of convention.

Article signed "Candidus," August 19th . . .
Custom of "addressing"--Public opinion of Administration--Stamp
Act--Events in 1768--Character of addresses.

Article signed "Candidus," September 9th . . .
Assertion of rights by colonists--Factions--Revenue acts.

Article signed "Candidus," September 16th . . .
Circular letter of February, 1768--The mandate to rescind--Letter to
Hillsborough of June, 1768--Refusal to rescind.

Article signed "Candidus," September 23d . . .
Dissolution of General Assembly--Charter rights of General
Assembly--Royal instructions.

To Arthur Lee, September 27th . . .
Remonstrance of London--Despotism in Massachusetts--Cause of colonial
grievances--Possiblity of impeachment--Opposition to an American
episcopate--Introduction of William Story.

Article signed "Candidus," September 30th . . .
Letters of Bernard--Disorders in 1768--Letters of commissioners.

To Arthur Lee, October 2d . . .
Comments on William Story.

Article signed "Candidus," October 7th . . .
Salary of Governor--Attitude of Hutchinson.

Article signed "Candidus," October 14th . . .
Historic instances of slavery and tyranny--Comparison of America and
Rome--Liberties of America.

Article signed "Valerius Poplicola," October 28th . . .
Acts of trade--Subjection and allegiance--Legislative power in
Massachusetts--Jurisdiction of Parliament.

To Arthur Lee October 31st . . .
Action of Council on "Junius Americanus"--Relationship of office
holders--Attitude of House of Representatives--The "Hue and Cry."

To Joseph Allen, November 7th . . .
Personal advice.

Article signed "Candidus," November 11th . . .
Jeroboam as a Governor--Attitude of the clergy.

To Arthur Lee, November 13th . . .
Proclamation by the Governor--Its reception by the clergy.

Article signed "Cotton Mather," November 25th . . .
Salary of Governor--Provisions of the charter.

Article signed "Candidus," December 2d . . .
Attitude of the people--Reply to "Chronus"--Royal instructions.

Article signed "Candidus," December 9th . . .
Jealousy of liberty--Control of revenue--Powers of Governor.

Article signed "Candidus," December 16th . . .
Reply to "Chronus."

Memorandum, December 18th . . .
Alleged criticism of Hancock

Article signed "Candidus," December 23d . . .
Effect of petitioning--Control of funds--Infringement of liberties.


To Henry Marchant, January 7th . . .
Election in London--Activity of government agents--Policy of Crown

To Arthur Lee, January 14th . . .
Attitude of Government.

Article signed "Candidus," January 20th . . .
Acts of trade--Power of taxation--Colonial right of
legislation--Extent of "Dominion."

Article signed "Candidus," January 27th . . .
Acts of trade--Magna Charta.

To the Governor of Massachusetts, April 10th . . .
Answer of House of Representatives--Place of meeting of General
Assembly--Power of Governor over sessions.

Article signed "Vindex," April 20th . . .
Reply to "Philanthrop Jun."

To the Governor of Massachusetts, July 14th . . .
Answer of the House of Representatives--Repair of Province House.

Article signed "Valerius Poplicola," October 5th . . .
Tribute--Effect of petitions--Freemen or slaves?

To Andrew Elton Wells, October 21st
Family affairs--Royal power over colonial government.

To Elbridge Gerry, October 27th . . .
Independence of judges.

To Elbridge Gerry, October 29th . . .
Independence of judges--Action of Boston.

To Arthur Lee, November 3d . . .
Retirement of Hillsborough--Character of Dartmouth--Independence of
judges--Action of Boston.

To Elbridge Gerry, November 5th . . .
Concert of action--Action of Boston--Independence of judges.

To Elbridge Gerry, November 14th . . .
Activity in Marblehead--Rights as Christians--Attitude of Roxbury and

The Rights of the Colonists as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects,
November 20th . . .

A List of Violations of Rights, November 20th . . .

A Letter of Correspondence, November 20th . . .

Article Signed "Vindex," November 30th . . .
To Aaron Davis--Character of Doctor Young.

To Arthur Lee, November 31st . . .
Proceedings of Boston--Activity of public enemies--Action of Roxbury
and Plymouth.

To Elbridge Gerry, December 7th . . .

To William Checkly, December 14th . . .
Personal reflections.

Article Signed "Candidus," December 14th . . .
Criticism of Draper's Gazette--Proceedings of Boston . . .

To Elbridge Gerry, December 23d . . .
Proceedings of Marblehead.

To Darius Sessions, December 28th . . .
Response to request for advice--The Rhode Island commission--Effect on
judiciary system.

To the Committee of Correspondence of Cambridge, December 29th . . .
Acknowledgment of Boston committee for their endorsement.

To the Committee of Correspondence of Plymouth, December 29th . . .
Acknowledgment of Boston committee for their endorsement--Character of
early settlers.


To Darius Sessions, January 2d . . .
The issue in Rhode Island--Advice to the colony--Probabilities

To the Governor of Massachusetts, January 26th . . .
Answer of the House of Representatives--Jurisdiction of
Parliament--Colonial charters--Rights of colonists--Historical

To the Committee of Correspondence of Lynn, February 9th . . .
Acknowledgment of Boston committee--Diffusion of liberty.

To Darius Sessions, February . . .
Futher advice upon political situation.

To the Governor of Massachusetts, February 12th . . .
Message of the House of Representatives--Independence of
judges--Attitude of Governor.

To John Adams . . .
On reply to Governor.

To the Governor of Massachusetts, March 2d . . .
Answer of House of Representatives--Proceedings of Boston--Rights of
King in colonies--Jurisdiction of Parliament--Historical precedents




[Boston Gazette, January 8, 1770.]
--"And the Governor for the time being shall have full power and
authority from time to time as he shall judge necessary, to adjourn,
prorogue and dissolve all Great and General Courts or Assemblies met
and conven'd as aforesaid."--1

THE power delegated by this clause to the Governor was undoubtedly
intended in favor of the people--The necessity and importance of a
legislative in being, and of its having the opportunity of exerting
itself upon all proper occasions, must be obvious to a man of common
discernment. Its grand object is the REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES: And for
this purpose it is adjudg'd that parliaments ought to be held
frequently--The people may be aggriev'd for the want of having a good
law made, as well as repealing a bad one: So they may be, by the mal
conduct of the executive in its manner of administring justice
wrongfully under colour of law. In all these cases and many others,
the necessity of the frequent interposition of the legislative
evidently appears. And if either of them, much more, if all of them
should at any time be justly complain'd of by the people, the
adjourning, proroguing or dissolving the legislative, at such a
juncture, must be the greatest of all grievances--There may be other
reasons for the sitting of an American assembly besides the correcting
any disorders arising from among the people within its own
jurisdiction.--Some of the Acts of the British parliament are
generally thought to be grievous in their operation, and dangerous in
their consequences to the liberties of the American subjects: An
American legislative therefore, in which the whole body of the people
is represented, ought certainly to have the opportunity of explaining
and remonstrating their grievances to the British parliament, and the
full exercise of that invaluable and uncontroulable Right of the
subject to petition the King, as often as they judge necessary, 'till
they are removed. To postpone a meeting of this universal body of the
people till it is too late to make such application must be a
frustration of one grand design of its existance; and it naturally
tends to other arbitrary exertions.--I have often tho't that in former
administrations such delays to call the general assembly, were
intended for the purpose above-mentioned: And if others should have
the same apprehension at present I cannot help it, nor am I answerable
for it. It may not be amiss however for every man to make it a subject
of his contemplation. We all remember that no longer ago than the last
year, the extraordinary dissolution by Governor Bernard, in which he
declared he was merely ministerial, produced another assembly, which
tho' legal in all its proceedings, awaked an attention in the very soul
of the British empire.

It is not to be expected that in ordinary times, much less at such an
important period as this is, any man, tho' endowed with the wisdom of
Solomon, at the distance of three thousand miles, can be an adequate
judge of the expediency of proroguing, and in effect even putting an
end to an American legislative assembly; and more especially at a time
when the evil spirit of Misrepresentation is become so atrocious, that
even M. . .y itself is liable to be wrongly informed!--It is for this
reason that the delegation of this power to the governor for the time
being, appears to be intended in favor of the people: That there might
be always at the head of the province, and resident therein, as the
charter provides, a person of untainted integrity, candor,
impartiality and wisdom, to judge of and determine so essential a
point--A point, in which I should think, no person who justly deserves
this character, can be passive or merely ministerial, against his own
judgment and conscience. Whenever therefore a Governor for the time
being, adjourns, prorogues or dissolves the general assembly, having
the full power and authority delegated to him of judging from time to
time of the Necessity of it, we ought to presume that he exercises
that power with freedom: That he determines according to the light of
his own understanding, and not anothers: That he clearly sees that it
will answer those purposes which he himself judges to be best; having,
as a man of fidelity in his station ought, thoro'ly revolv'd the
matter in his own mind: And, that however flattering the concurrent
sentiments of any other man may be, he would have been impelled to do
it, from the dictates of his own judgment, resulting from his own
contemplation of the matter, if he had not received the "express
command of his superior." Such a man "will bravely act his mind, and


1B. P. Poore, The Federal and State Constitutions, 1878, vol. i., p.
949. vol. ii.--i.


[Boston Gazette, January 8, 1770.]

To the Printers.

The agreement of the Merchants of this distressed and insulted
continent, to with hold importations from Great Britain, it seems to
be allowed on all sides, has the strongest tendency towards the repeal
of the acts of parliament for raising a revenue in America without our
consent. It is no wonder then, that it was oppos'd with so much
vehemence at first, by the Cabal; who knew full well, that their
Places and their Pensions, and all teh delectable profits which they
expected to reap, and are now actually reaping, at the expence of the
people in town and country, would entirely cease, if these acts, by
the means of which their places, pensions and profits arise should be
repealed--When they could no longer with any face call it the last
efforts of a dying faction, (for the measure was so rational and
pacific, that it soon spread far and wide, and was chearfully adopted
by all disinterested friends of the country thro'-out the continent)
they put on the appearance of the Sons of Liberty; and now their cry
is, Where is that Liberty so much boasted of and contended for? We
hear them very gravely asking, Have we not a right to carry on our own
trade and sell our own goods if we please? who shall hinder us? This
is now the language of those who had before seen the ax laid at the
very root of all our Rights with apparent complacency,--And pray
gentlemen, Have you not a right if you please, to set fire to your own
houses, because they are your own, tho' in all probability it will
destroy a whole neighbourhood, perhaps a whole city! Where did you
learn that in a state or society you had a right to do as you please?
And that it was an infringement of that right to restrain you? This is
a refinement which I dare say, the true sons of liberty despise. Be
pleased to be informed that you are bound to conduct yourselves as the
Society with which you are joined, are pleased to have you conduct, or
if you please, you may leave it. It is true the will and pleasure of
the society is generally declared in its laws: But there may be
exceptions, and the present case is without doubt one.--Suppose there
was no law of society to restrain you from murdering your own father,
what think you? If either of you should please to take it into your
head to perpetrate such a villainous act, so abhorrent to the will of
the society, would you not be restrained? And is the Liberty of your
Country of less importance than the life of your father! But what is
most astonishing is, that some two or three persons of very little
consequence in themselves, have Dared openly to give out that They
Will vend the goods they have imported, tho' they have Solemnly
pledg'd Their Faith to the body of merchants, that they should remain
in store 'till a general importation should take place! Where then is
the honor! where is the shame of these persons, who can look into the
faces of those very men with whom they have contracted, & tell them
Without Blushing that they are resolved to Violate the contract! Is it
avarice? Is it obstinacy, perverseness, pride, or from what root of
bitterness does such an unaccountable defection from the laws of
honor, honesty, and even humanity spring? Is it the Authority Of An
Unnatural Parent--the advice of some false friend, or their own want
of common understanding, and the first principles of virtue, by which
these unhappy young persons have been induced, or left to resolve upon
perpetrating that, at the very tho't of which they should have
shudder'd! By this resolution they have already disgrac'd themselves;
if they have the Hardiness to put the resolution into practice, who
will ever hereafter confide in them? Can they promise themselves the
regards of the respectable body of merchants whom they have affronted?
or can they even wish for the esteem of their country which they have
basely deserted, or worse, which they have attempted to wound in the
very heart.--If they imagine they can still weary the patience of an
injured country with impunity.--If--I will not utter it--would not the
grateful remembrance of unmerited kindness and Generosity, if there
was the least spark of ingenuity left, have Influenced to a far
different resolution!--If this agreement of the merchants is of that
consequence to All America which our brethren in All the other
governments, and in Great-Britain Itself think it to be--If the fate
of Unborn Millions is suspended upon it, verily it behooves, not the
merchants Only, but every individual of Every class in City and
Country to aid and support them and Peremptorily To Insist upon its
being Strictly adhered to.



[MS., Office of the City Clerk of Boston.]

To his Honor the Lieutenant Governor in Council

The Memorial of the Town of Boston legally assembled in Faneuil Hall
Monday March 19 1770

Humbly shews

That with deep Concern they are made to understand that thro the
Providence of God diverse of his Majestys Justices of the Superior
Court are renderd unable to attend the Duties of their important Trust
by bodily Indisposition.

That there are a great Number of Prisoners now in his Majestys Gaol in
the County of Suffolk, of whom fifteen are confind for Tryal for
capital offences.

That the Sherriff of said County has been under Apprehension of the
Escape of said Prisoners as appears by his Letter to the Town hereto
annexd to be laid before your honor.

That there are a great Number of Witnesses in the Cases of the late
Trajical Murder in Boston many of whom are Seamen & detaind to their
very great Disadvantage & possibly some of them may be under
Temptation to absent themselves from the Tryal.

All which the Town beg leave humbly to represent to your honor as
cogent Reasons for the Tryal of the said Prisoners as early as
possible in the present Term.

Wherefore your Memorialists humbly pray your Honor to appoint special
Justices in the Room of those taken off as aforesaid,2 in order for
the Tryal of the said Prisoners, or otherwise that your Honor wd take
such Steps to prevent the Delay of Justice at this important Crisis as
in your Wisdom shall seem meet.

And as in Duty bound your Memsts shall ever pray.

Signd in Behalf of the Town at the Meeting aforesaid.

1Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and John Barret were on March 19, 1770,
appointed by the Boston town-meeting "a Committee to draw up a
Memorial to the Lieuvetenant Governor and Council praying that special
Justices may be appointed for the Superior Court now sitting in the
room of those who may be necessarily prevented by sickness from
attending their duty; that so the Tryals of the many Criminals now
committed may not be postponed. . . ." At the same session the
committee reported a draft, which was accepted.--Boston Record
Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., p. 15. [back]

2At this point the words "whom the Town reverence & esteem" were
stricken from the original draft.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text with slight
variations is in W. V. Wells Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., p. 343.]

BOSTON May 11 1770


Your Resolution yesterday to resign your seat gave me very great
Uneasiness. I could not think you had sufficient Ground to deprive the
Town of one whom I have a Right to say is a most valueable Member,
since you had within three of the unanimous Suffrages of your Fellow
Citizens, & one of the negative Votes was your own.1 You say you have
been spoken ill of. What then? Can you think that while you are a good
Man that all will speak well of you--If you knew the person who has
defamd you nothing is more likely than that you would justly value
your self upon that mans Censure as being the highest Applause. Those
who were fond of continuing Mr Otis on the Seat, were I dare say to a
Man among your warmest friends: Will you then add to their
Disappointment by a Resignation, merely because one contemptible
person, who perhaps was hired for the purpose, has blessd you with his
reviling--Need I add more than to intreat it as a favor that you would
alter your Design.

I am with strict truth
Your affectionate friend & Brother.

1At the Boston town-meeting on May 8, 1770, Hancock received, as a
candidate for representative, 511 out of 513 votes. On June 13, 1770,
William Palfrey, acting for Hancock, wrote to Haley and Hopkins: "The
removal of the General Court to Cambridge obliges Mr Hancock to be
often there." John Hancock. His Book, by A. E. Brown, p. 167.


[MS., Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society; an
incomplete draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; the
latter text only is in the handwriting of Adams.]

BOSTON July 13th: 1770


It affords very great Satisfaction to the Town of Boston to find that
the Narrative of the horrid massacre perpetrated here on the 5th of
March last which was transmitted to London,1 has had the desired
effect; by establishing truth in the minds of honest men, and in some
measure preventing the Odium being cast on the Inhabitants, as the
aggressors in it. We were very apprehensive that all attempts would be
made to gain this Advantage against us: and as there is no occasion to
think that the malice of our Enemies is in the least degree abated, it
has been thought necessary that our friends on your side the Water,
should have a true state of the Circumstances of the Town and of
everything which has materially occurred, since the removal of the
Troops to the Castle. For this purpose we are appointed a Committee:2
But the time will not admit of our writing so fully by this
Conveyance, as we intend by the next, in the mean time we intreat your
further friendship for the Town, in your Endeavours to get the
Judgment of the Public suspended, upon any representation that may
have been made by the Commissioners of the Customs and others, until
the Town can have the Opportunity of knowing what is alleged against
it, and of answering for itself. We must confess that we are
astonished to hear that the Parliament had come to a determination, to
admit Garbled extracts from such Letters as may be received from
America by Administration and to Conceal the Names of the Persons who
may be the Writers of them. This will certainly give great
Encouragement to Persons of wicked Intentions to abuse the Nations &
injure the Colonies in the grossest manner with Impunity, or even
without detection. For a Confirmation hereof we need to recur no
further back than a few months, when undoubtedly the Accounts and
Letters carried by Mr. Rob[in]son would have been attended with very
unhappy if not fatal effects, had not this Town been so attentive as
to have Contradicted those false accounts by the depositions of many
credible persons under Oath. But it cannot be supposed that a
Community will be so Attentive but upon the most Alarming Events: In
general Individuals are following their private concerns, while it is
to be feared the restless Adversaries are forming the most dangerous
Plans for the Ruin of the Reputation of the People, in order to build
their own Greatness on the Distruction of their liberties. This Game
they have been long playing; and tho' in some few instances they have
had a loosing hand, yet they have commonly managed with such Art, that
they have so far succeeded in their Malicious designs as to involve
the Nation and the Colonies in Confusion and distress. This it is
presumed they never could have accomplished had not these very letters
been kept from the view of the Public, with a design perhaps to
conceal the falsehood of them the discovery of which would have
prevented their having any mischievous effects. This is the Game which
we have reason to believe they are now playing; With so much Secrecy
as may render it impossible for us fully to detect them on this Side
of the Water; How deplorable then must be our Condition, if ample
Credit is to be given to their Testimonies against us, by the Government
at home, and if the Names of our Accusers are to be kept a profound
Secret, and the World is to see only such parts or parcells of their
Representations as Persons, who perhaps may be interested in their
favor, shall think proper to hold up--Such a Conduct, if allowed,
seems to put it into the Power of a Combination of a few designing
men to deceive a Nation to its Ruin. The measures which have been
taken in Consequence of Intelligence Managed with such secrecy,
have already to a very great degree lessened that Mutual Confidence
which had ever Subsisted between the Mother Country and the Colonies,
and must in the Natural Course of things totally alienate their
Affections towards each other and consequently weaken, and in the
End destroy the power of the Empire. It is in this extended View
of things that our minds are affected--It is from these Apprehensions
that we earnestly wish that all communication between the two Countries
of a public nature may be unvailed before the public: with the names
of the persons who are concerned therein, then and not till then will
American affairs be under the direction of honest men, who are never
afraid or ashamed of the light. And as we have abudent reason to be
jealous that the most mischievous and virulent accounts have been
very lately sent to Administration from Castle William where the
Commissioners have again retreated for no reason that we can conceive
but after their former manner to misrepresent and injure this Town and
Province,--we earnestly intreat that you would use your utmost influence
to have an Order passed that the whole of the packetts sent by the
Commissioners of the Customs and others under the care of one Mr Bacon
late an officer of the Customs in Virginia, who took his passage the
last week in the Brigantine Lydia Joseph Wood Commander may be laid
before his Majesty in Council--

If the Writers of those Letters shall appear to be innocent, no harm
can possibly arise from such a measure; if otherwise, it may be the
means of exploring the true Cause of the National and Collonial
Malady, and of affording an easy remedy, and therefore the measure
must be justified & applauded by all the World.

We have observed in the English Papers, the most notorious falsehoods
published with an apparent design to give the World a prejudice
against this Town, as the Aggressors in the unhappy Transaction of the
5th of March, but no account has been more repugnant to the truth,
than a paper printed in the public Advertiser3 of the 28th of April
which is called The case of Capt. Preston. As a Committee of this Town
we thought ourselves bound in faithfulness to wait on Capt Preston to
enquire of him whether he was the Author--he frankly told us that he
had drawn a state of his case, but that it had passed thro different
hands and was altered at different times, and finally the Publication
in the Advertiser was varied from that which he sent home as his own;
we then desired him to let us know whether several parts which we
might point to him and to which we took exception were his own, but he
declined Satisfying us herein, saying that the alterations were made
by Persons who he supposed might aim at serving him, though he feared
they might have a Contrary effect, and that his discriminating to us
the parts of it which were his own from those which had been altered
by others might displease his friends at a time when he might stand in
need of their essential Service; this was the Substance of the
Conversation between us, whereupon we retired and wrote to Capt
Preston a Letter the Copy of which is now inclosed.4

The next day not receiving an answer from Capt. Preston at the time we
proposed, we sent him a message desiring to be informed whether we
might expect his answer to which he replied by a Verbal Message as
ours was that he had nothing further to add to what he had said to us
the day before, as you'l please to observe by the inclosed

As therefore Capt Preston has utterly declined to make good the
charges against the Town in the Paper called his case or to let us
know to whom we may apply as the Author or Authors of those parts
which he might have disclaimed, and especially as the whole of his
case thus stated directly militates not only with his own Letter
published under his hand in the Boston Gazette, but with the
depositions of others annexed to our Narrative which were taken, not
behind the Curtain as some may have been, but openly and fairly, after
notifying the Parties interested, and before Magistrates to whose
credit the Governor of the Province has given his full attestation
under the Province Seal, we cannot think that the Paper called the
Case of Capt. Thomas Preston, or any other Paper of the like import
can be deemed in the opinion of the sensible and impartial part of
mankind as sufficient, in the least degree to prejudice the Character
of the Town. It is therefore altogether needless for us to point out
the many falsehoods contained in this Paper; nor indeed would there be
time for it at present for the reason above mentioned--We cannot
however omit taking notice of the artifice made use of by those who
drew up the statement, in insinuating that it was the design of the
People to plunder the King's Chest, and for the more easily effecting
that to murder the Centinel posted at the Custom House where the money
was lodged. This intelligence is said to have been brought to Capt
Preston by a Townsman, who assured him that he heard the mob declare
they would murder the Centinel.--The townsman probably was one
Greenwood a Servant to the Commissioners whose deposition Number 96.5
is inserted among others in the Narrative of the Town and of whom it
is observed in a Marginal Note, that: "Through the whole of his
examination he was so inconsistent, and so frequently contradicted
himself, that all present were convinced that no credit ought to be
given to his deposition, for which reason it would not have been
inserted had it not been known that a deposition was taken relating to
this affair, from this Greenwood by Justice Murray and carried home by
Mr. Robinson," and further "this deponent is the only person, out of a
great number of Witnesses examined, who heard anything mentioned of
the Custom House." Whether this part of the Case of Capt Preston was
inserted by himself or some other person we are not told. It is very
much to be questioned whether the information was given by any other
than Greenwood himself, and the sort of Character which he bears is so
well known to the Commissioners and their Connections some of whom
probably assisted Capt Preston in stating his Case, as to have made
them ashamed if they regarded the truth, to have given the least
credit to what he said.--Whoever may have helped them to this
intelligence, we will venture to say, that it never has been and never
can be supported by the Testimony of any Man of a tolerable
reputation. We shall only observe upon this occasion, how inveterate
our Enemies here are, who, rather than omit what they might think a
lucky opportunity of Slandering the Town, have wrought up a Narrative
not only unsupported by, but contrary to the clearest evidence of
facts and have even prevailed upon an unhappy Man under pretence of
friendship to him, to adopt it as his own: Though they must have known
with a common share of understanding, that it's being published to the
world as his own must have injured him, under his present
Circumstances, in the most tender point, and so shocked was Capt
Preston himself, at its appearing in the light on this side the Water,
that he was immediately apprehensive so glaring a falsehood would
raise the indignation of a people to such a pitch as to prompt them to
some attempts that would be dangerous to him, and he accordingly
applyed to Mr Sheriff Greenleaf for special protection on that
account: But the Sheriff assuring him that there was no such
disposition appearing among the People (which is an undoubted truth)
Capt Preston's fears at length subsided: and he still remains in safe
custody, to be tried by the Superior Court of Judicature, at the next
term in August; unless the Judges shall think proper further to
postpone the Trial, as they have done for one whole term, since he was
indicted by the Grand Jury.

Before we conclude it may not be improper to observe that the removal
of the troops was in the Slowest order, insomuch that eleven days were
spent in carrying the two Regiments to Castle Island, which had before
landed in the Town in less than forty eight hours; yet in all this
time, while the number of the Troops was daily lessening, not the
least disorder was made by the inhabitants, tho' filled with a just
indignation and horror at the blood of their fellow Citizens, so
inhumanely spilt! And since their removal the Common Soldiers, have
frequently and even daily come up to the Town for necessary
provisions, and some of the officers, as well as several of the
families of the soldiers have resided in the Town and done business
therein without the least Molestation; yet so hardy have our Enemies
been as to report in London that the enraged populace had hanged up
Capt Preston.

The strange and irreconcileable conduct of the Commissioners of the
Customs since the 5th of March--their applying for leave to retire to
the Castle as early as the tenth, and spending their time in making
excursions into the Country 'till the 20th of June following, together
with other material Circumstances, are the subject of our present
enquiry; the result of which you will be made acquainted with by the
next conveyance. In the mean time we remain with strict truth.--

Your much obliged
and most Obedient Servants


1Under the date of March 23, 1770, James Bowdoin, Samuel Pemberton and
Joseph Warren, as a committee of the town of Boston, wrote to Lord
Dartmouth, enclosing a narrative of the events of March 5 and a
certified copy of the vote of town, on March 22, directing them to
transmit the printed narrative. The original letter is No. 320 of Lord
Dartmouth's American MSS., at Patshull House. The text of the same
letter, which was addressed to the Duke of Richmond and others, is in
A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston, New York, 1849.
(This is reprinted, with notes by John Doggett, Jr., from a copy of
the original edition of 1770, in the library of the New York
Historical Society. Another reprint, with notes by Frederic Kidder,
was published at Albany, 1870.) The Additional Observations to a Short
Narrative, 1770, are reprinted by Doggett, pp. 109-117. Cf.,
Proceedings of Colonial Society of Massachusetts, April 1900, pp.
2The town of Boston, on July 10, 1770, appointed a committee of nine,
including Adams, Hancock, Dana, Cushing and Joseph Warren, to prepare
a "true state" of the town and of the acts of the commissioners since
March 5.
3Published in London. The "Case" was also printed in the Annual
Register, 1771. Cf., Boston Gazette, June 25, 1770.
4Under date of July II, 1770. A copy is in S. A. Wells, Samuel Adams
and the American Revolution, vol. i., pp. 230-232.
5The affidavit of Thomas Greenwood, sworn to March 24, 1770, is
printed in Doggett's edition of the Short Narrative, pp. e Short
Narrative, pp.101-103.


[MS., Boston Public Library; a text, with many modifications of
detail, is in Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 240-248; it was also
printed in the Boston Gazette, August 6, 1770.]

In the House of Representatives August the 3 1770

Orderd that Mr Hancock Cap Thayer Mr Pickerin Cap Fuller and Cap
Sumner carry up to the Honbl Board the following Answer of this House
to his Honors Speech to both Houses at the opening of this Session


1 May it please your Honor

The House of Representatives, having duly attended to your Speech2 to
both Houses at the Opening of this Session, and maturely considerd the
several parts of it, have unanimously, in a full House determind to
adhere to their former Resolution "that it is by no means expedient to
proceed to Business, while the General Assembly is thus constraind to
hold the Session out of the Town of Boston." Upon a Recollection of
the Reasons we have before given for this measure, we conceive it will
appear to all the World, that neither the good People of this
Province, nor the House of Representatives can be justly chargd with
any ill Consequences that may follow it. After the most repeated &
attentive Examination of your Speech, we find Nothing to induce us to
alter our Opinion, and very little that is new & material in the
Controversy: But as we perceive it is publishd, it may possibly be
read by some who have never seen the Reasons of the House; and as
there are specious things containd in it, which may have a Tendency to
make an unhappy Impression on some minds, we have thought proper to
make a few Observations upon it.

You are pleasd to say, "you meet us at Cambridge, because you have no
Reason to think there has been any Alteration in his Majestys
Pleasure, which you doubt not was determind by wise motives, & with a
gracious Purpose to promote the Good of the province." We presume not
to call in Question the Wisdom of our Sovereign or the Rectitude of
his Intentions: But there have been Times, when a corrupt and
profligate Administration have venturd upon such Measures, as have had
a direct Tendency, to ruin the Interest of the People as well as that
of their Royal Master.

This House have great Reason to doubt, whether it is, or ever was his
Majestys Pleasure that your Honor should meet the Assembly at
Cambridge, or that he has ever taken the matter under his Royal
Consideration: Because, the common and the best Evidence in such
Cases, is not communicated to us.

It is needless for us to add any thing to what has been heretofore
said, upon the Illegality of holding the Court any where except in the
Town of Boston: For admitting the Power to be in the Governor to hold
the Court in any other place when the publick Good requires it; yet,
it by no means follows that he has a Right to call it at any other
place, when it is to the manifest Injury & Detriment of the Publick

The Opinion of the Attourney and Solicitor General has very little
Weight with this House in any Case, any farther than the Reasons which
they expressly give are convincing. This Province has sufferd so much
by unjust, groundless & illegal Opinions of those officers of the
Crown, that our Veneration or Reverence for their Opinions is much
abated. We utterly deny that the Attuorny & Solicitor General have any
Authority or Jurisdiction over us; any Right to decide Questions in
Controversy, between the several Branches of the Legislature here: Nor
do we concede, that even his Majesty in Council has any Constitutional
Authority to decide such Questions, or any other Controversy whatever
that arises in this Province, excepting only such Matters as are
reservd in the Charter. It seems a great Absurdity, that when a
Dispute arises between the Governor and the House, the Governor should
appeal to his Majesty in Council to decide it. Would it not be as
reasonable for the House to appeal to the Body of their Constituents
to decide it? Whenever a Dispute has arisen within the Realm, between
the Crown & the two Houses of Parliament, or either of them, was it
ever imagind that the King in his privy Council had Authority to
decide it? However there is a Test, a Standard common to all, we mean
the publick Good. But your Honor must be very sensible that the
Illegality of holding the Court in any other place besides the Town of
Boston is far from being the only Dispute between your Honor & this
House: we contend, that the People & their Representatives have a
Right to withstand the abusive Exercise of a legal & constitutional
Prerogative of the Crown. We beg Leave to recite to your Honor what
the Great Mr Locke has advancd in his Treatise of civil Government,
upon the like Prerogative of the Crown. "The old Question, says he,
will be asked in this matter of Prerogative, who shall be Judge when
this Power is made a right Use of?" And he answers, "Between an
executive Power in being with such a Prerogative, and a Legislature
that depends upon his Will for their convening, there can be no Judge
on Earth, as there can be none between the Legislative & the People,
should either the Executive or Legislative when they have got the
Power in their Hands, design or go about to enslave or destroy them.
The People have no other Remedy in this, as in all other Cases, where
they have no Judge on Earth, but to appeal to Heaven. For the Rulers,
in such Attempts, exercising a Power the People never put into their
Hands (who can never be supposd to consent that any Body should rule
over them for their Harm) do that which they have not a Right to do.
And when the Body of the People or any single Man is deprivd of their
Right, or under the Exercise of a Power without Right, and have no
Appeal on Earth, then they have a Liberty to appeal to Heaven whenever
they judge the Cause of sufficient moment. And therefore, tho the
People cannot be judge, so as to have by the Constitution of that
Society any superior Power to determine and give effective Sentence in
the Case; yet they have by a Law antecedent & paramount to all
positive Laws of men, reservd that ultimate Determination to
themselves which belongs to all Mankind where there lies no Appeal on
Earth viz to judge whether they have just Cause to make their Appeal
to Heaven." We would however, by no means be understood to suggest
that this People have Occasion at present to proceed to such

Your Honor is pleasd to say, "that the House of Representatives in the
year 1728, did not think the Form of the Writ, sufficient to justify
them in refusing to do Business at Salem"; It is true they did not by
any Vote or Resolve determine not to do Business yet the House, as we
read in your Honors History, "met and adjournd from Day to Day without
doing Business";3 and we find by the Records, that from the 31 of
October 1728 to the 14th of December following the House did meet and
adjourn without doing Business; And then they voted to proceed to the
publick & necessary Affairs of the province "provided no Advantage be
had or made, for and by Reason of the aforesaid Removal (meaning the
Removal to Salem) or pleaded as a precedent for the future." Yet your
Honor has been pleasd to quote the Conduct of that very House, as a
precedent for our Imitation. We apprehend their proceeding to
Business, & the Consequences of it viz, the Encouragement it gave to
Governor Burnet to go on with his Design of harrassing them into
unconstitutional Compliances, and the Use your Honor now makes of it
as an Authority and a Precedent, ought to be a Warning to this House
to make a determind & effectual Stand. Their Example, tho respectable,
is not obligatory upon this House.--They lived in times, when the
Encroachments of Despotism were in their Infancy.--They were carried
to Salem, by the mere Caprice of Governor Burnet, who never pleaded an
Instruction for doing this--An Instruction from a Ministry who had
before treated them with unexampled Indignity--An Instruction which
they were not permitted to see. They had no Reason to apprehend a fixd
Design to alter the Seat of Government, to their great Inconvenience
and the manifest Injury of the Province.

We are not disposd to dispute the Understanding, Integrity, Familys &
Estates of the Council in 1728. We believe them to have been such,
that if they were now upon the Stage, they would see so many
additional & more weighty Reasons against proceeding to Business out
of Boston, that they would fully approve of the Resolution of this
House; as well as of what has been lately advancd by their Successors,
who are also Gentlemen of Understanding, Integrity, Fortune and
Family, in the following Words; "Governor Burnets Conduct in convening
the General Court out of Boston, cannot be deemd an acknowlegd or
constitutional Precedent, because, it was not founded on the only
Reason on which the Prerogative of the Crown can be justly founded,
The Good of the Community." We shall only add, that the Rights of the
province having been of late years most severely attackd, has inducd
Gentlemen to examine the Constitution more thorowly, & has increasd
their Zeal in its Defence.

You are pleasd to adduce an Instance in 1754 in Addition to that in
1747, which you say "makes it probable, that the House of
Representatives rather chose that the Court should sit elsewhere, when
a Comittee was chosen to consider of and report a proper place for a
Court House at a Distance from Boston". We beg Leave here to observe,
that both these are Instances of the House's interresting themselves
in this Affair, which your Honor now claims as a Prerogative: If the
House were in no Case to have a Voice, or be regarded, in chusing a
place to hold the Court, how could they think of building a House in a
place, to which they never had been, and probably, never would be

While the House have been from time to time, holding up to View, the
great Inconveniencys and manifest Injurys resulting from the Sitting
of the Assembly at Cambridge, and praying a Removal to Boston, it is
with Pain that they have heard your Honor, instead of pointing out any
one good Purpose which can be answerd by it, replying that your
Instructions will not permit you to remove the Court to Boston. By a
royal Grant in the Charter, in favor of the Commons of this province,
the Governor has the sole power of adjourning, proroguing and
dissolving the General Court: And the Wisdom of that Grant appears in
this, that a person residing in the province, must be a more competent
Judge, of the Fitness of the Time, and we may add, the place of
holding the Court, than any person residing in Great Britain. We do
not deny, that there may be Instances when the Comander in Chiefe,
ought to obey the Royal Instructions: And should we also admit, that
in ordinary Cases he ought to obey them, respecting the convening,
holding, proroguing, adjourning & dissolving the General Court,
notwithstanding that Grant; yet we clearly hold, that whenever
Instructions cannot by complyd with, without injuring the people, they
cease to be binding. Any other Supposition would involve this
Absurdity in it, that a Substitute by Means of Instructions from his
Principal, may have a greater Power than the Principal himself; or in
other Words, that a Representative of a King who can do no Wrong, by
means of Instructions may obtain a Right to do Wrong: for that the
Prerogative extends not to do any Injury, never has and never can be
denyd. Therefore this House are clearly of Opinion, that your Honor is
under no Obligation to hold the General Court at Cambridge, let your
Instructions be conceivd in Terms ever so peremptory, in as much as it
is inconvenient and injurious to the province.--As to your Commission,
it is certain, that no Clause containd in that, inconsistent with the
Charter can be binding: To suppose, that when a Grant is made by
Charter in favor of the people, Instructions shall supercede that
Grant, and oblige the Governor to act repugnant to it, vacating the
Charter at once, by the Breath of a Minister of State. Your Honor
thinks you may safely say, "there is not one of us, who if he was in
your Station, would venture to depart from the Instructions ." As you
had not the least Shadow of Evidence to warrant this, we are sure you
could not say it with Safety: And we leave it with your Honor to
determine, how far it is reconcileable with Delicacy to suggest it. In
what particulars the holding the General Court at Cambridge is
injurious to us and the Province, has already been declared by the
House, and must be too obvious to escape your Honors Observation. Yet
you are pleasd to tell us, that "the Inconveniences can easily be
removd, or are so inconsiderable that a very small publick Benefit
will outweigh them"--That they are not inconsiderable, every Days
Experience convinces us; nor are our Constituents insensible of them:
But how they can be easily removd, we cannot conceive, unless by
removing the Court to Boston. Can the publick Offices & Records, to
which we are under the Necessity of recurring, almost every Hour, with
any Safety or Convenience to the publick be removd to Cambridge? Will
our Constituents consent to be at the Expence of erecting a proper
House at Cambridge, for accommodating the General Court, especially
when they have no Assurance that the next Freak of a capricious
Minister will not remove the Court to some other place? Is it possible
to have that Communication with our Constituents, or to be benefited
by the Reasonings of the people without Doors here, as at Boston? We
cannot but flatter ourselves, that every judicious and impartial
Person will allow, that the holding the General Court at Cambridge, is
inconvenient and hurtful to the Province; Nor has your Honor ever yet
attempted to show a single Instance, in which the province can be
benefited by it: No good purpose which can be answerd by it, has ever
yet been suggested by any one to this House. And we have the utmost
Confidence, that our gracious Sovereign, has no Desire to hold the
General Court at any place inconvenient to its Members, or injurious
to the province; but rather, that he will frown upon those, who have
procurd its Removal to such a place, or persist in holding it there.

We are not indeed sure, that the Ministry caused the Assembly to be
removd to Cambridge, in order to worry them into a Compliance with any
arbitrary Mandate, to the Ruin of our own or our Constituents
Libertys: But we know, that the General Assembly has in Times past
been treated with such Indignity and Abuse, by the Servants of the
Crown, and a wicked Ministry may attempt it again.

Your Honor observes, that "the same Exception may be made to the Use
of every other part of the prerogative, for every part is capable of
Abuse." We shall never except to the proper Use of the prerogative: We
hold it sacred as the Liberty of the Subject. But every Abuse of it,
will always be excepted to, so long as the Love of Liberty, or any
publick Virtue remains. And whenever any other part of the prerogative
shall be abusd, the House will not fail to judge for themselves of the
Grievance, nor to exert every power with which the Constitution hath
entrusted them, to check the Abuse, and redress the Grievance.

The House had expressd to your Honor their Apprehension of a fixd
Design, either to change the Seat of Government, or to harrass us, in
order to bring us into Compliance with some arbitrary Mandate: Your
Honor says, you know of no fixd Design to harrass us &c.: Upon which
we cannot but observe, that if you did not know of a fixd Design to
change the Seat of Governmt you would not have omitted so fair an
Opportunity to satisfy the Minds of the House, in a Matter of such
Importance to the Province. As to your very condescending and liberal
Professions, of exercising patience, or using Dispatch, as would be
most agreable to us, we shall be very much obligd to your Honor, for
the Exercise of those Virtues, whenever you shall see Cause to remove
us to our ancient and established Seat: But these professions can be
no Temptations to us, to give up our Privileges.

Your Honor is pleasd to say, that "we consider the Charter as a
Compact between the Crown and the People of this province" and to ask
a Question "Shall one Party to the Compact be held, and not the
other"? It is true, we consider the Charter as such a Compact, and
agree that both Parties are held. The Crown covenants, that a Great &
General Court shall be held, every last Wednesday in May for ever; The
Crown therefore, doubtless is bound by this Covenant. But we utterly
deny, that the people have covenanted to grant Money, or to do
Business, at least any other Business than chusing Officers and
Councellors to compleat the General Court, on the last Wednesday of
May, or in any other Day or Year whatever: Therefore this House, by
refusing to do Business, do not deprive the Crown of the Exercise of
the prerogative, nor fail of performing their part of the Compact.
Your Honor wd doubtless have been culpable had you refusd to call a
General Court on the last Wednesday in May: And the House might have
been equally culpable, if they had refusd to chuse a Speaker and
Clerk, or to elect Councellors, whereby to compleat the General Court;
for in Case of Omission in either part, a Question might arise,
Whether the people would have a Legislature. When the General Assembly
is thus formd, they are impowerd by the Charter, to make, ordain and
establish all Manner of wholesome and reasonable Orders, Laws,
Statutes & Ordinances, Directions and Instructions, either with
penaltys or without. But the Charter no where obliges the Genl Court,
to make any Orders, Laws, Statutes or Ordinances, unless they, at that
time judge it conducive to the publick Good to make them: Much less
does it oblige them to make any Laws &c, in any particular Session,
year or number of years, whenever they themselves shall judge them not
to be for the publick Good. Such an Obligation would leave them the
least Color of Freedom, but reduce them to a mere machine; to the
State the Parliament would have been in, if the Opinion of the two
Chiefe Justices and the three puisne Judges had prevaild in the Reign
of Richard the second "that the King hath the Governance of
Parliament, and may appoint what shall be first handled, and so
gradually what next, in all matters to be treated of in parliament,
even to the End of the parliament; and if any person shall act
contrary to the Kings pleasure made known therein, they are to be
punishd as Traitors"--for which opinion those five Judges had Judgment
as in Case of high Treason.--Your Honor will allow us to ask, Whether
the Doctrine containd in your Question viz, "If you should refuse to
do Business now you are met, would you not deprive the Crown of the
Exercise of the prerogative, and fail of performing your part of the
Compact" which implys a strong affirmation, is not in a Degree, the
very Doctrine of Chiefe Justice Tresilian and the four other Judges
just now mentiond? By convening in Obedience to his Majesty's Writ,
tested by your Honor, and again, at the time to which we are prorogud,
we have submitted to the prerogative, and performd our part of the

This House has the same inherent Rights in this Province, as the House
of Commons has in Great Britain. It is our Duty to procure a Redress
of Grievances, and we may constitutionally refuse to grant our
Constituents money to the Crown, or to do any other Act of Government,
at any given time, that is not affixd by Charter to a certain Day,
until the Grievances of the people are redressd. We do not pretend,
that our Opinion is to prevail against his Majestys Opinion: We never
shall attempt to adjourn or prorogue or dissolve the General Court:
But we do hope, that our Opinion shall prevail, against any Opinion
whatever, of the proper time to make Laws and to do Business. And by
exerting this Power which the Constitution has given us, we hope to
convince your Honor and the Ministry of the Necessity of removing the
Court to Boston.--All judicious Men will allow that the proper time
for the House to do their part of the Business of the province, is for
the House to judge of and determine. The House think it is not, in the
present Circumstances of the province, a proper time to do this
Business, while the Court is constraind to hold their Session out of
Boston: Your Honor is of a different Opinion: We have conformd to this
Opinion as far as the Constitution requires us, And now our right of
judging commences. If your Honors or even his Majestys Opinion
concerning this Point is to prevail against the Opinion of the House,
why may not the Crown, according to the Tresilian Doctrine, as well
prescribe what Business we shall do, and in what Order.

The House is still ready to answer for all the ill Consequences which
can justly be attributed to them; nor are they sensible of any Danger
from exerting the power which the Charter has given them of doing
their part of the Business in their own time.--That the Province has
Enemies who are continually defaming it, and their Charter, is
certain; that there are Persons who are endeavoring to intimidate the
province from asserting and vindicating their just Rights and
Liberties, by Insinuations of Danger to the Constitution, is also
indisputable; But no Instance happend, even in the execrable Reign of
the worst of the Stuart Race, of a Forfeiture of a Charter, because
any one Branch of a Legislature, or even because the whole Government
under the Charter, refusd to do Business at a particular time, under
grievous Circumstances of Ignominy, Disgrace and Insult; and when
their Charter had explicitly given to that Government the sole power
of judging of the proper Season & Occasion of doing Business.

We are obligd at this time to struggle, with all the Powers with which
the Constitution hath furnishd us, in Defence of our Rights; to
prevent the most valueable of our Libertys, from being wrested from
us, by the subtle Machinations, and daring Encroachments of wicked
Ministers. We have seen of late, innumerable Encroachments on our
Charter: Courts of Admiralty extended from the high Seas, where by the
Compact in the Charter, they are confind, to numberless important
Causes upon Land: Multitudes of civil Officers, the Appointment of all
which is confind by Charter to the Governor and Council, sent here
from abroad by the Ministry: A Revenue, not granted by us, but torn
from us: Armys stationd here without our Consent; and the Streets of
our Metropolis, crimsond with the Blood of our fellow
Subjects.--These, and other Grievances and Cruelties, too many to be
here enumerated, and too melancholly to be much longer born by this
injurd People, we have seen brot upon us by the Devices of Ministers
of State. We have seen & had of late, Instructions to Governors which
threaten to destroy all the remaining Privileges of our Charter. In
June 1768, the House, by an Instruction were orderd to rescind an
excellent Resolution of a former House, on pain of Dissolution;4 they
refusd to comply with so impudent a Mandate, and were dissolvd. And
the Governor, tho' repeatedly requested, and tho' the Exigences of the
Province demanded a General Assembly, refusd to call a new one, till
the following May. In the last year, the General Court was forcd to
give Way to regular Troops, illegally quarterd in the Town of Boston,
in Consequence of Instructions to Crown Officers, and whose main Guard
was most daringly and insultingly placd at the Door of the State
house; and afterwards they were constraind to hold their Session at
Cambridge. The present year the Assembly is summond to meet, and is
still continued there in a kind of Duress, without any Reason that can
be given--any Motive whatever, that is not as great an Insult to them,
and Breach of their Privilege, as any of the foregoing.--Are these
things consistent with the Freedom of the House; or, could the General
Courts tamely submiting to such Usage, be thought to promote his
Majestys Service!

Should these Struggles of the House prove unfortunate and ineffectual,
this Province will submit, with pious Resignation to the Will of
Providence; but it would be a kind of Suicide, of which we have the
utmost Horror, thus to be made the Instruments of our Servitude.

We beg leave before we conclude, to make one Remark on what you say,
that "our Compliance can be of no Benefit to our Sovereign, any
farther than as he interests himself in the Happiness of his
Subjects." We are apprehensive that the World may take this for an
Insinuation, very much to our Dishonor: As if the Benefit of our
Sovereign were a Motive in our Minds, against a Compliance. But as
this Imputation would be extremely unjust, so we hope it was not
intended by your Honor. We are however obligd in Justice to our selves
and our Constituents to declare that if we had Reason to believe, that
a Compliance would by any, the least Benefit to our Sovereign, it
would be a very powerful Argument with us; But we are on the Contrary,
fully perswaded, that a Compliance at present, would be very injurious
and detrimental to his Majestys Service.

1From this point the manuscript is wholly in the handwriting of Adams.
2Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 237-240.
3Inaccurately quoted from T. Hutchinson, History of the Province of
Massachusetts Bay, vol. ii., p. 317.
4See Vol. I., p. 230.


[Boston Gazette, August 13, 1770.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

"What availed the good Qualites of Galba? He who should not have
employed bad Men, or at least should have restrained or punished them,
incurred the same Censure as if he himself had done it!--It is the
common Craft of corrupt Ministers to represent their Cause as the
Cause of their Prince."

His Honor the Lieutenant Governor, in his late Reply2 to the House of
Representatives, tells them, that "a Secretary of State has by Virtue
of his Office free Access" to the King; & "receives the Signification
of his Majesty's pleasure"; from whence he concludes that "he will
give no directions but what he knows to be agreable thereto", and
therefore "every order coming from a Minister of State, must be
suppos'd to come immediately from the Crown"--This is reasoning
plausibly enough; but before I can give my full Assent to the
Conclusion, I must have good Grounds to believe this same Secretary to
be a Man of Wisdom and Integrity; a Character, which however
requisite, does not always belong to a Minister of State. If he is
deficient in both or either of these, we can have no Assurance, that
every Order coming from him is declaratory of the Pleasure of the
Sovereign: His want of Wisdom may render him altogether incapable of
understanding the Mind of his royal Master; or, failing in point of
Integrity he may maliciously and traiterously pervert his benevolent
Intentions for the Good of his Subjects. Whenever Orders are given by
a Secretary of State, that are evidently calculated to injure the
Publick, we are by no Means to suppose them to come immediately from
the Crown, for the King can do no Wrong: Will his Honor have us
believe that the King can do a weak & foolish, or a malevolent and
wicked Act? If not, such Instructions are to be look'd upon as the
acts of the Minister and not of the King. Ministers of state were
formerly shields to the persons of Kings from such kind of
imputations; but it is much to be feared, if care is not taken to
prevent it, the idle whimsies of Ministers, their weakness and folly,
or their daring and impudent attempts to destroy the Liberties of the
People, will be attributed to a Cause which no one, to be sure at
present, will chuse to mention.--I hope his Honor's reasoning, and his
correspondent Conduct, does not lead to this--The House of
Representatives seem to be aware of the Danger of such Doctrine, when
they expressly say, "They presume not to call in question the Wisdom
of their Sovereign or the rectitude of his Intentions"; at the same
time that they speak with a manly Freedom, of certain Instructions
that have come from Ministers of State, and even treat them with
Indignity and Contempt. His Honor presumes "they would not have done
this, if they had known it to be an Order from his Majesty." I believe
they would not; they saw reason to think that the Mandate to rescind
in June 1768, was the mere act of a weak Minister; and as his Honor
does not give the least Intimation, that he either knows or believes
to the Contrary, I must beg leave to say, that in my poor Opinion, the
Epithet given to it by the House, is neither "coarse" nor "indecent."

We seem, Messrs. Printers, to be drawing very near the time, when some
people will be hardy enough to dispute, whether we are to be governed
according to the rule of the Constitution, the building of which has
been the Work of Ages, or to use the words of the House, by the
"breath of a Minister of State."--Instructions, form'd by a set of
Ministers, calculated for certain purposes and sent over to a
Governor, who to avoid their high Displeasure and the terrible Effects
of it, must implicitly believe, or say he believes them, to come
immediately from the King; and the House of Representatives must by no
means controvert them, lest, as Bernard once impudently told them,
they should be chargeable with "oppugnation against the King's

There is a sort of Impropriety, as I take it, in saying that every
Order from a Minister of State comes immediately from the Crown.
However, little Inaccuracies in diction are not to be regarded in a
performance fraught with reason and sound argument: It is rather to be
wondered at that we meet with so few Imperfections, since we are
assured by his Honor that he had taken "one Day only for his Reply" to
an Answer which he intimates cost a Committee of the House full Eight
Days hard Labor.4 Some men are said to have intuitive knowledge; and
such have nothing to do but write down pages of unanswerable reasons
as fast as the Ink can flow.

It was doubtless from this opinion that "every Order from a Secretary
of State comes immediately from the King," or as his Honor elsewhere
more properly expresses it, is a 'Signification of his Majesty's
pleasure,' that he concludes it to be his Majesty's pleasure that he
should not communicate them; for such a prohibitory order is said to
come from the Secretary. But the House seemed to think it impossible
that our gracious King, should hold his Subjects to a blind obedience
to Orders which they were not permitted to see; and therefore
concluded, and as I humbly conceive very justly, that this order in a
particular manner, was to be suppos'd to be an Act of the Minister and
not of the King--His Honor indeed speaks of it with great Veneration;
and tells them that "the restraint he is under appears to him to be
founded upon wise Reasons." But from this alone, he could not with
certainty conclude that the Order came immediately from the King; for
it is undoubtedly his Honor's opinion, that the present set of
Ministers are very wise men, tho' not so wise as his Majesty; and
therefore he might take it for granted, the Order was founded on wise
reasons if it had come from them only. But as in these times of Light
and Liberty, every man chuses to see and judge for himself, especially
in all matters which are prescribed to him as rules of faith and
practice; it is pity his Honor did not condescend to communicate those
wise reasons, that the House and the People without Doors, here and
there "a transient Person" who may have a common share of
understanding, might judge whether they appeared to them to be reasons
becoming the Wisdom of a King, or only as the House somewhere express
it, "the freaks of a capricious Minister of State."

If I have leisure I shall write you again. In the mean Time, I am,


1The succeeding articles of this series were attributed to Adams by
George Bancroft. This is confirmed by apparently contemporaneous
annotations in the file of the Gazette owned by Harbottle Dorr, at one
time a selectman of Boston. At the trial of Capt. Preston in November,
1770, he was drawn as a juror and "challenged for cause." An
advertisement of his business appears in the Boston Gazette, October
1, 1770.
2August 3, 1770, Massachusetts State Papers, pp.249-254.
3May 29, 1766 Massachusetts State Papers, p. 75.
4Massachusetts State Papers, p. 254.


[Boston Gazette, August 20, 1770.]

"One of the greatest indications of Wisdom that a Prince can show, is
to converse with and have about him virtuous and wise Men: But Princes
are liable to be deceived; Fraudum sedes aula, was the saying of a
Philosopher who understood Courts well.--A good Prince may suffer by
employing bad Ministers and Servants."


WE are told in a late reply, that "the offices of Attornies and
Sollicitors-General have been for more than fifty years past filled up
by persons of the highest reputation for learning and integrity."1 I
am apt to think, if we look back we shall find that some of these
officers of the crown have been as deficient in learning or integrity,
or both, as we know some ministers of state have been. The house of
Representatives say, "the province has suffer'd much by their unjust,
groundless and illegal opinions"--2 Among other instances of weakness
or wickedness in some persons who have filled these offices, I shall
only mention one which now occurs to my mind--There is an act of
Parliament which exempts seamen from an impress in America: This act
was upon several occasions urged by the Americans, and it has been the
opinion of attornies and sollicitors general, at different times, that
the act was limitted to a time of war, when in truth there was no part
or clause whatever in it to justify such opinion.--Well then may it be
called a groundless opinion; and if groundless, will any one insist
that there was no defect in these instances in point of integrity, if
not of learning--Perhaps these opinions may appear to his Honor to be
founded upon wise reasons; but others who cannot see the force of
these reasons, have a right to think differently; and such a freedom
is not likely to bring dishonor upon them--It is enough for those who
are dependent upon the great for commissions, pensions, and the like,
to preach up implicit faith in the great--Others whose minds are
unfettered will think for themselves--They will not blindly adopt the
opinions even of persons who are advanced to the first stations in the
courts of law and equity, any further than the reasons which they
expressly give are convincing.--They will judge freely of every point
of state doctrine, & reject with disdain a blind submission to the
authority of mere names, as being equally ridiculous, as well as
dangerous in government and religion.--It may have been, Messirs.
Printers, too much the practice of late, for some plantation
governors, like Verres either ancient or modern, to oppress and plague
the people they were bound to protect, and, perhaps in obedience to
"orders that have come from secretaries of state"--These orders truly
were to be treated with as profound veneration, without the least
enquiry into their nature and tendency, as ever a poor deluded
Catholic reverenc'd the decree of Holy Father at Rome.--While such a
disposition prevailed, O how orderly were the people, how submissive
to government! But when once a statute or the constitution was
pleaded, which it was as dangerous for the people to look into, as it
would be for an Italian, after the example of the noble Bereans, to
search the scriptures, the secretary of state was to be informed that
the people were become rebellious; as they said of St. Paul for
preaching doctrines opposite to the humour of the Jewish Masters, that
he "turned the world upside down"--The whole ministerial cabal was
summoned; opinions were called for and taken--and however ludicrous,
to say the best of them, those opinions were, if the people did not
swallow them down as law & reason, they were told, that the freedom
they used with the characters of great men forsooth "would bring
dishonor upon them" and standing armies were sent to convince them of
the reasonableness of these opinions--I confess that "too great a
respect cannot be paid to the honorable part of the profession of the
law," but when state-lawyers, attorneys and sollicitors general, &
persons advanced to the highest stations in the courts of law,
prostitute the honor of the profession, become tools of ministers, and
employ their talents for explaining away, if possible the Rights of a
kingdom, they are then the proper objects of the odium and indignation
of the public.--A very judicious author has observed that "our
maladies and dangers have originated chiefly in the errors and
misconduct of ministers; who from defect of ability or fidelity, or
both, were unequal to the wants of a kingdom: A great genius, infinite
knowledge and infinite care, says he, are requisite to form a prime
minister; but youth and dissipation, with the trainings of the turf
and the gaming table, will now suffice to make a man master of the
most difficult trade in the world, without learning it"--Such were the
men, under whose Influence Attorneys and Sollicitors General, within
these fifty Years past, have held their places, and have even been
advanced to the highest Stations in the Courts of Law, without any
other recommendation than a servile disposition to prostitute the Law
and the Constitution, whenever their Masters should require it of
them--Such have been the Men, from whom Orders have come to Governors
and Commanders in Chief, civil and military in America! And shall we
easily be persuaded to take it for granted that such men are incapable
of abusing the high trust reposed in them, and that Orders coming from
them are always to be considered as "Significations of the pleasure of
the Sovereign."--




[Boston Gazette, August 27, 1770.]


I Find in the last Monday's Evening Post,1 a Piece, signed Probus; the
Intention of which seems to be, at least in Part, to show that I must
be "effectually disappointed in my Attempt to convince the World that
I am a greater Scholar than the Lieutenant-Governor of this Province"!
Now upon the Word of a Chatterer, I declare to all my kind Readers, as
well as Hearers, that I never did make the least Pretension to
Scholarship; and besides, the World must long have been so fully
convinced of the "profound Erudition" of the Lieutenant-Governor of
this Province, that it would be the highest Degree of Vanity in any
Man to think of rivaling him as a Scholar. It was obvious to common
Readers that "what comes from the King thro' his Minister, does not
come immediately from the King"--And yet every Paper of the 6th of
August led us to think that an "Expression in itself repugnant and
absurd", had, perhaps thro' Inadvertency, drop't even from a learned
Pen--So far was I from "bravely attacking the Word immediately," or
"entering into a formal Criticism," or any Criticism at all, that I
but barely mentioned it as a "little inaccuracy"; at the same Time
making the best Apology I could for it, by saying that as his Honor
had assured us he "had taken one Day only for his Reply" it was rather
to be wonder'd at, that we met with so few Imperfections of that kind.
But Probus has rectify'd the Mistake, and Probus has vindicated the
Lt. Governor of this Province as a Scholar.--We Chatterers, Messrs.
Printers, have as much Pretension to the Character of the Gentleman,
as any such formal and grave kind of folks as Probus: But I did not
think myself under any obligation "as a Gentleman or an honest Man" to
hunt after the Original, and therefore I have no Acknowlegment to make
to any one for "a faulty Neglect in not seeing it before my
Publication." I suppos'd, as any one might, that the printed Copies
were agreable to the original; and, that our Enemies may not avail
themselves of the common Artifice, in representing the Advocates for
the People as endeavoring to deceive the public I do again declare,
that "in my Conscience I thought the printed Copy to be genuine"; and
I hereby bear my Testimony, as far as that will go, against any Abuse
being offered to Probus, which, poor Man, he either is, or affects to
be under Apprehensions of, for rectifying this Mistake: But as few
persons beside his Honor the Pope, lay Claim to Infallibility, upon
due Consideration it seemeth not, that I am guilty of such high Crime
and Misdeameanour, as by any Rule in Law to be subjected to Indictment
or ex officio Information. However, I think it incumbent on you to
suffer your Readers to be advertiz'd, that instead of immediately in
his Honor's Reply to the House of Representatives, as published in
your Paper of the 6th of August, they ought to read mediately; which
may prevent some other Chatterer from rudely attempting to convince
the World that he is "a greater Scholar than the Lt. Governor of this
Province;" Such an attempt perhaps may otherwise be made at a Distance
where Probus may not have it in his Power to set right this notable
Mistake--The Word being thus restored, the Passage will remain just as
liable to the Chatterer's Exception, notwithstanding all that Probus
has said, as if it stood as it did; for the whole that was intended,
was, to show, that we ought to take the Characters of Ministers of
State into Consideration, before we conclude, as his Honor would have
us, that every Order from them comes mediately from the Crown, or is a
Signification of his Majesty's Pleasure.

There is in the same Evening Post, as well as the Boston Post-Boy &
Advertiser,2 & also in the Gazette of Thursday last, an Advertisement
wherein the same Notice is taken of this Assault and Battery of mine
upon the Scholarship of the Lieutenant Governor of this Province--I am
sorry that my poor Publication, which seems after all to be of no more
Significancy in their Opinion than "a Man of Straw" has given so great
Uneasiness to some of his Honor's Friends--This Advertiser indirectly
chargeth me with Indecency in "undertaking to answer a Governor's
Message." Now I did not undertake to anwer a Governor's Message; and
to speak plain, I did not think it worth while to undertake it--I
believe I am not alone in the Opinion, that some messages might easily
be answered, & possibly each in "one Day only": But if I had
undertaken it, where in the Name of common sense would have been the
Indecency of it? I know very well that it has been handed as a
political Creed of late, that the Reasoning of the People without
Doors is not to be regarded--But every "transient Person" has a Right
publickly to animadvert upon whatever is publickly advanc'd by any
Man, and I am resolv'd to exercise that Right, when I please, without
asking any Man's Leave--And moreover, I am free to say, that if ever a
Governor's Message should happen to be below the Attention of a
Scholar, no Person can more aptly take Notice of it, that I know of,


1The Boston Evening Post, published by T. & J. Fleet.
2The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy Advertiser, published
by Mills and Hicks.


[Boston Gazette, July 22, 1771: a text is printed in Papers Relating
to Public Events in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, 1856, 169-177.]

NOV. 6, 1770.


The House of Representatives of this his Majesty's province, having
made choice of you to appear for them at the court of Great Britain,
as there may be occasion; it is necessary that you be well informed of
the state and circumstances of the province, and the grievances we
labor under, the redress of which will require your utmost attention
and application.

You are sensible that the British parliament have of late years
thought proper to raise a revenue in America without our consent, by
divers acts made expressly for that purpose; The reasons and grounds
of our complaints against those acts, are so well known and understood
by you, that it is needless for us to mention them at this time.

The measures that have been taken by the American assemblies, to
obtain the repeal of these acts, tho' altogether consistent with the
constitution, and clearly within the bounds of the Subjects Rights,
have been nevertheless disgustful to administration; to whom we have
been constantly represented by the servants of the crown and others on
this side the water, in the most disagreeable and odious light.

Whether this province has been considered as having a lead among the
other colonies, which they have never affected, or whether it is
because Governor Bernard, the Commissioners of the Customs and others,
who have discovered themselves peculiarly inimical to the Colonies,
have had their residences here, certain it is, that the resentment of
government at home has been particularly pointed against this
province: For it is notorious that we have been charged with taking
inflammatory measures, tending to create unwarrantable combinations,
to excite an unjustifiable opposition to parliament, and revive
unhappy divisions among the Colonies; and we have frequently been
censured as disobedient to government for parts of conduct which have
been in no wise dissimular to those which have been taken by other
colonies without the least censure or observation.

While administration appeared to have conceived undue prejudices
against us, our enemies have not failed to take every measure to
increase those prejudices; and particularly by representing to the
King's ministers, that a spirit of faction had so greatly and
universally prevailed among us, as that government could not be
supported, and it was unsafe for the officers of the crown to live in
the province and execute their trusts, without the protection of a
military force: Such a force they at length obtained; the consequence
of which was a scene of confusion & distress for the space of
seventeen months, which ended in the blood and slaughter of his
Majesty's good subjects.

It was particularly mortifying to us to see the whole system of civil
authority in the province, yielding to this most dangerous power; and
at the very time when the interposition of the civil magistrate was of
the most pressing necessity, to check the wanton and bloody career of
the military, the Lieutenant-Governor himself declared, as Governor
Bernard had before, that "he had no authority over the King's troops
in the province," and his Majesty's representative in Council became
an humble supplicant for their removal out of the town of Boston! What
would be the feelings of our fellow-subjects in Britain, if contrary
to their Bill of Rights, and indeed to every principle of civil
government, soldiers were posted even in their captial, without the
consent of their Parliament? And yet the subjects of the same Prince
in America who are entitled to the same freedom, are compelled to
submit to as great a military power as administration shall please to
order to be posted among them in a time of profound peace, without the
consent of their assemblies! And this military power is allowed to
trample upon the laws of the land, the common security, without
restraint! Such an instance of absolute uncontroul'd military tyranny
must needs be alarming, to those who have before in some measure
enjoy'd, and are still entitled to the blessings of a free government,
having never forfeited the character of loyal subjects.--After the
fatal tragedy of the fifth of March, the regiments under the command
of Lieut. Colonel Dalrymple were removed from the Town of Boston to
the Barracks on Castle Island, in consequence of a petition from the
town to the Lieutenant Governor and his Prayer to the Colonel; since
which, in pursuance of Instruction to the Lieut. Governor, the
garrison there in the pay of the province, is withdrawn, and a
garrison of his Majesty's regular troops placed in their stead. And
although this exchange is made ostensively by the immediate order of
the lieutenant-governor, yet it appears by the inclosed depositions,
that Col. Dalrymple in reality took the custody and government of the
fortress by order of general Gage; and therefore the lieutenant
governor has no longer that command, which he is vested with by the
royal charter.

We cannot help observing upon this occasion, that the instructions
which have of late been given to the governor, some of them at least,
directly militate, as in the present instance, with the charter of the
province; And these instructions are not always adapted to promote his
Majesty's service, or the good of the people within this province, but
often appear to be solely calculated to further and execute the
measures, and enforce the laws of a different state; by which means
his Majesty's colonies may be entirely subjected to the absolute will
of his other subjects in Great Britain, for which there can be no
pretence of right, but what is founded in mere force.--By virtue of
their positive instructions, the general assembly of the province has
been remov'd from its ancient establish'd and only convenient seat in
Boston, and is still obliged to hold its session at Harvard College in
Cambridge, to the great inconvenience of the members and injury of the
people, as well as detriment of that seminary of learning, without any
reason that can be assigned but will and pleasure: And thus the
prerogative of the King, which is a trust reposed in him to be
improved only for the welfare of his subjects, is perverted to their
manifest injury.

And what is still more grievous is, that the Governor of the province
is absolutely inhibited, as we are told, from laying before the
assembly any instruction, which he receives, even such as carry in
them the evident marks of his Majesty's displeasure: By which means
the House of Representatives cannot have it in their power to obtain
here, that precise knowledge of the grounds of our Sovereign's
displeasure, which we are in reason and justice entitled to, nor can
the ministry be made responsible for any measures they may advise to
in order to introduce and establish an illegal and arbitray government
over his Majesty's subjects in the colonies.--We have an instance of
this kind now before us; the Lt. Governor of the province having in
his speech at the opening of this session, given a dark intimation of
something intended against the province, and when the House of
Representatives earnestly desired him to explain it, that they might
have a clear understanding of what was inteded therein, he declared as
he had before done in other like cases, that he was not at liberty to
make public or to communicate by speech or message an order from his
Majesty in council which he had received, although in consequence
thereof the state of the province was to be laid before parliament. By
such conduct in the ministry it appears that we may be again accus'd
and censur'd by parliament as we have heretofore been, and perhaps
suffer the greatest injury without knowing our accusers or the matters
that may be alleg'd against us.

At the same time, by an order of parliament that the names of persons
giving intelligence to the ministry which may at any time be laid
before parliament, shall be made secret even to the members
themselves, the greatest encouragement is given to persons inimical to
the province, to send home false relations of speeches and proceedings
in public assemblies, and elsewhere, containing injurious charges upon
individuals as well as publick bodies: Some of which have been
transmitted home under the seal of the province, without the least
notice given to those individuals, or any but the few in the secret to
attend and cross-examine such witnesses. Thus even parliament itself
may be misled into measures highly injurious and destructive to the
province, by the calumny and detraction of those who are not and
cannot be known, and whose falsehoods cannot therefore be
detected.--So wretched is the state of this province, not only to be
subjected to absolute instructions, given to the governor to be the
rule of his administration, whereby some of the most essential clauses
of our charter, vesting in him powers to be exercis'd for the good of
the people are totally rescinded, which in reality is a state of
despotism; but also, to a standing army, which being uncontroul'd by
any authority within the province, must soon tear up the very,
foundations of civil government.

Moreover we have the highest reason to complain that since the late
parliamentary regulations of the colonies, the jurisdiction of the
court of admiralty has been extended to so enormous a length, as
itself to threaten the very being of the constitution: By the statute
4th Geo. 3 chap. 15, "All forfeitures and penalties inflicted by this
or any other act of parliament relating to the trade and plantations
in America which shall be incur'd there, may be prosecuted, sued for
and recovered in any court of admiralty in the said colonies." Thus a
single judge, independent of the people, and in a civil law court, is
to try these extraordinary forfeitures and penalties without a jury:
Whereas the same stature provides, that all penalties and forfeitures
which shall be incurred in Great Britain, shall be prosecuted, sued
for and recovered in any of his Majesty's courts of record, in
Westminster or in the court of exchequer in Scotland respectively.
Here is the most unreasonble and unjust distinction, made between the
subjects in Britain and America; as tho' it were designed to exclude
us from the least share in that clause of Magna-Charta, which has for
many centuries been the noblest bulwark of the English liberties, &
which cannot be too often repeated; "No freeman shall be taken or
imprison'd or disseiz'd of his freehold, or liberties, or free
customs, or be outlaw'd, or exil'd, or any otherwise destroyed, nor
will we pass upon him nor condemn him, but by the judgment of his
peers or the law of the land."

These are some of the insupportable grievances which this province has
long been laboring under, and which still remain altogether
unredressed: For although they have been set forth in the clearest
manner by humble petitions to the throne, yet such an ascendency over
us have the officers of the crown here in the minds of administration,
that our complaints are scarcely heard; our very petitions are deemed
factious, and instead of obtaining any relief, our oppressions have
been more aggravated, & we have reason to apprehend will be still

For by the best intelligence from England, we are under strong
apprehensions that by virtue of an act of parliament of the 7 Geo.3.2
which impowers his Majesty to appropriate a part of the revenue raised
in America, for the support of civil government, and the
administration of justice in such colonies where he shall judge it
necessary, administration is determined to bestow large salaries upon
the attorney-general, judges and governor of this province; whereby
they will be made not only altogether independent of the people, but
wholly dependent upon the ministry for their support. These
appointments will be justly obnoxious to the other colonies, and tend
to beget and keep up a perpetual discontent among them; for they will
deem it unjust as well as unnecessary to be oblig'd to bear a part of
the support of government in this province, and even in the courts of
law; especially if designs are also meditating to make other important
alterations in our Charter, by appointing the Council from home, &c.
whereby the executive will be rendered absolute, and the legislative
totally ineffectual to any valuable purpose. The assembly is in all
reason sufficiently dependent already upon the Crown: The one branch
annually for its being, as it is subject to the negative of the
Governor; and both the branches for every grant and appropriation of
their money, and also for their whole defence and security, as he is
Captain-General, and has by Charter the sole military command within
the province: All civil officers are either nominated and appointed by
him with the advice and consent of his Majesty's Council, or if
elected they are subject to his negative: And our laws, after being
consented to by his Majesty's Governor, are by the first opportunity
from the making thereof, to be transmitted to his Majesty for his
approbation or disallowance: Three years they are subject to the
revision of the crown lawyers in Britain, who my always be strangers
to our internal polity, & sometimes disaffected to us: And at any time
within the three years, His Majesty in his privy council may, if he
thinks proper, reject them, and then they become utterly void. Surely
the parliament of Great Britain cannot wish for greater checks, both
upon the legislative and executive of a colony, unless we are to be
considered as bastards and not Sons.--A step further will reduce us to
absolute subjection. If administration is resolved to continue such
measure of severity, the colonies will in time consider the
mother-state as utterly regardless of their welfare: Repeated acts of
unkindness on one side, may by degrees abate the warmth of affection
on the other, and a total alienation may succeed to that happy union,
harmony and confidence, which has subsisted, and we sincerely wish may
always subsist: If Great Britain, instead of treating us as their
fellow-subjects, shall aim at making us their vassals and slaves, the
consequence will be, that although our merchants have receded from
their non-importation agreement, yet the body of the people will
vigorously endeavor to become independent of the mother-country for
supplies, and sooner than she may be aware of it, will manufacture for
themselves. The colonists, like healthy young sons, have been
chearfully building up the parent state, and how far Great Britain
will be affected, if they should be rendered even barely useless to
her, is an object which we conceive is at this very juncture worth the
attention of a British Parliament.

Your own acquaintance with this province, and your well known
attachment to it, will lead you to exert all your powers in its
defence: And as the Council have made choice of William Bollan, Esq;
for their agent, you will no doubt confer with him, and concert such
measures as will promote our common interest: Your abilities we
greatly confide in; but if you shall think it for the advantage of the
province to consult with and employ council learned in the law, the
importance of your agency will be a motive sufficient for us to
acquiesce in such expence on that account, as your own judgment shall
dictate to you to be necessary.

Included are the proceedings of his Majesty's Council of this
province, upon an affidavit of Mr. Secretary Oliver, which this House
apprehend has a tendency to make a very undue impression on the minds
of his Majesty's ministers and others, respecting the temper and
disposition of the people, previous to the tragical transaction of the
fifth of March last: You are therefore desired to make such use of
them as shall prevent such unhappy consequences from taking effect.

1Attributed to Adams by Governor Hutchinson. Hutchinson to Pownall;
Public Record Office, Domestic Geo. III., 11:25. Franklin's reply,
addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives under date of
December 24, 1770, is in J. Bigelow, Complete Works of Benjamin
Franklin vol. iv., pp. 371-373.
2Chap. 46.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON NOVr 16 1770


I should before now have acknowledgd your favor of the 5 June,2 but my
being obligd to attend the Session of the General Court for 7 weeks3 &
other necessary Avocations prevented it. I return the Letters signd
Junius Americanus deliverd to me by Mr Cary,4 by your direction to be
a valueable present. The Author has servd the American Cause in a
manner in which I have long wishd some able pen would have undertaken
to do it by appealing to the good Sense of the Body of the Nation. I
believe the general Inclination there is to wish that we may preserve
our Liberties; and perhaps even the Ministry could for some Reasons
find it in their hearts to be willing that we shd be restord to the
State we were in before the passing of the Stamp Act, were it not that
a Set of detestable Men were continually writing from hence that we
shd carry our Claims still higher & there wd be no Bounds to our
Demands. I can venture to assure you that there is no Foundation for
such Assertions, nor do I think they are really believd by any. The
People here are indeed greatly tenacious of their just Rights & I hope
in God they will ever firmly maintain them. Every Attempt to enforce
the plan of Despotism will certainly irritate them; While they have a
Sense of freedom they will oppose the Efforts of Tyranny; and altho
the Mother Country may at present boast of her Superiority over them,
she may perhaps find the Want of that Superiority, when by repeated
provocations she shall have totally lost their Affections.--All Good
Men surely wish for a cordial Harmony between the two Countrys. Great
Britain can lose Nothing which she ought to retain by restoring the
Americans to their former State, & they I am satisfied will no further
contend; While the Struggle continues Manufactures will still increase
in America in spite of all Efforts to prevent it; & how far Britain
will be injurd by it, ought certainly to be well considerd on your
side the Atlantick.

Our Merchants have receded from their Nonimportation Agreement. They
held it much longer than I ever thought they would or could. It was a
grand Tryal which pressd hard upon their private Interest. But the
Landholders find it for their Interest to manufacture and it is their
happy Consideration that while they are most effectually serving their
Country they are adding to their private fortunes. The representatives
of the people have this day agreed to promote Manufactures in their
respective Towns, & the House have appointed a special Committee5 to
form a plan for the effectual Encouragement of Arts Agriculture
Manufactures & Commerce in this province; & even the Administration of
a Bernard could not tend more to sharpen the Edge of resentment which
will perpetually keep alive the Spirit of Manufactures than that which
we are now blessd with. Lt Governor Hutchinson, more plausible indeed
than Bernard, seems resolvd to push the same plan & the people plainly
see that a Change of Men is not likely to produce a Change of
Measures--so soon are the Words of the one verified when he said of
the other that he could rely upon him as he could on himself.

Our House of Representatives have been inducd to do Business this
Session, against their former remonstrances, principally from a
Necessity which they apprehended they were under of attending to what
mt be doing on your Side the Water. They accordingly chose an Agent. I
gave my Suffrage with about a third part of the House, for Dr Lee--but
Dr Franklin being personally known to many of the Members had the
preference--both the Gentlemen were highly spoken of in the House, &
afterwards Dr Lee was appointed to the Trust, by a very full vote in
Case of the Death or Absence of Dr Franklin.

Our State Tryals as we may call them have at length come on. Preston
is acquitted by a Jury!6 It is to be remarkd that the Baker of the
Regiment, who indeed wd have had himself excusd, and three others were
put on as Talesmen Preston having challengd Eighteen. One of the three
was a known Intimate of Prestons and another had declared before that
if he was to be of the Jury he wd sit till Doomsday before he wd
consent to a Verdict agt him. Evidence to prove that the Soldiers were
the Aggressors of which there was plenty was not admitted. The main
Question was whether he orderd the Men to fire--diverse persons swore
positively that he did, but they differing about the Circumstance of
his Dress, & others swearing, one that he was very near him & did not
hear him give the orders, & others that some other person unknown gave
them, operated in his favor. But no Weight that I can learn was given,
to full proof that he led the Soldiers armd with loaded Musquets &
Bayonets. This he had a Right, nay it was his Duty to do, because the
Centinel was in Danger & we must presume the People were the
Aggressors. This Principle I suppose will clear the Soldiers whose
Tryals begin on Tuesday next.7 Richardson who was convicted of the
Murder of young Snider so long ago as March, remains unhangd, the
Court not having yet determind upon his Motion for another Tryal. You
may easily observe that we have catchd the impartial Spirit of the
Kings friends, a synonimous term for friends of Govt here, from the
Mother Country. I had not the opportunity of attending Prestons Tryal,
but am in hopes of having a minute Accot of it from a sensible
Gentleman who was present--if I can obtain it I will write you more
precisely upon the Subject.

Before I conclude I must mention to you that the Minister has taken a
Method which in my Opinion has a direct tendency to set up a despotism
here, or rather is the thing it self--and that is by sending
Instructions to the Governor to be the rule of his Administration &
forbiding him as the Govr declares to make them known to us, the
Design of which may be to prevent his ever being made responsible for
any measures he may advise in order to introduce & establish arbitrary
power over the Colonies. Mr Hutchinson has pushd this point with all
the Vigour of Bernard, which has occasiond warm messages between him &
the Assembly as you may observe in the Boston Gazette for several
Weeks past. But of this I shall be more particular in my next.

I shall be proud of an epistolary Correspondence with you, and with Dr
Lee to whom tho personally unknown to him I beg you wd make my
Compliments. I am with strict truth.

1A resident of London, and at one time sheriff; his relations with the
colonists appear in the letters printed in this volume.
2A copy is in S. A. Wells, Samuel Adams and the American Revolution,
vol. i. pp. 293, 294.
3The session began September 26 and ended November 20.
4Probably Richard Cary, of Charlestown, Mass. Letters by him are in
Papers Relating to Public Events in Massachusetts, pp. 113, 122, 124.
5On November 16; Samuel Adams was a member of the committee.
6The stenographic report of Preston's trial was sent to England, but
never published in America. Works of John Adams, vol. ii., p. 236.
7The Trial of the British Soldiers of the 29th Regiment of Foot was
published at Boston in 1770, 1807 and 1824, and was reprinted in
History of the Boston Massacre, Albany, 1870, pp. 123-285.



The House of Representatives have heretofore view’d with Concern the
deplorable State of the Militia of this Province. But have heretofore
refrained from any public mention of it least some Misconstruction
should be put upon it.

But by the last Advices from GREAT BRITAIN, the NATIONS of Europe
appear to be upon the Eve of a general War; and perhaps America may
be the object in the Eye of some of those Naions.

And when some of the Regiments within this Province are destitute of
Field-Officers, and many Companies without Captains or Subalterns,
the Arms of the Militia we fear are deficient, and military Discipline
too much neglected.

Duty to his Majesty, and a Regard to our own Safety constrain us to
Address your Honor, praying that you would be pleased (as soon as may
be) to fill up the Vacancies in the several Regiments (wherever such
Vacancies are) with such Persons as to your Honor shall seem meet:
And that your Honor would be pleased to use your Endeavours that the
several Officers carefully Discharge the Trust reposed in them. And
should any Amendments in, or Addition to the Laws for regulating the
Militia of this Province be thought needful, at the next Session of
the General Court the House of Representatives will chearfully do all
in their Power towards putting the Militia on a respectable Footing.

1On November 19, 1770, Samuel Adams was appointed a member of a
committee to draft a message to the Lieutenant Governor with reference
to the vacancies in the militia. On the following day Adams reported
to the House a draft, which was accepted.


[Boston Gazette, November 26, 1770.]

I have thought of several things that have taken place since the
present a-----n1 began, which must needs have given sensible pleasure
to every friend of this province, and possibly were alluded to in a
late pr-----n.2 ---In the first place, the friends of government have
so far prevailed against the faction, as to get the non-importation
plan broke thro’, which had for so long time embarrassed the Ministry
in thier laudable efforts to ESTABLISH A REVENUE in the colonies. The
consequence of this, it is hoped, will be, that the worthy
Commissioners of the customs will be continued; and the troops which
have so eminently protected the lives, and reformed the morals of the
people, will be reinstated; so that the well-affected may enjoy their
places and PENSIONS without molestation from the vulgar. In the next
place, our Castle-William is taken out of the hands of the rude
natives, and put under the government of regular forces; this was an
admirable manoeuvre, which has occasioned the highest joy in the
friends of government, (thank his ----- for it) and in proportion
damp’d the spirits of the faction. And then, such a grand appearance
of tall ships of war in our capital harbour, which were certainly
designed to show us the marks of the greatest respect, (for what other
end could the wise ministry have had in view) and may serve to make
up for the loss of troops, if we should unfortunately not be favoured
with more! --There is also the advantage which his H----r the Lt.
G-----r must reap from some late instructions, which, no doubt, “are
founded in wise reasons,” whereby the great defects in our Charter,
which the friends of government have been long complaining of, may
be supply’d. --I might mention also, a late remarkable deliverance
from death and danger, (blessed a-m-----n!) for it would have been a
great discouragement to the efforts of government. --But no more--
these may be thought to be matters of great thankfulness, and may
suitably employ our minds at the approaching solemnity.



Cambridge, Nov. 20, 1770.



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

Boston Novr 21 1770


Ever since I recd your favr of Sept 222 I have been incessantly
employd in the Genl Assembly which met AGREABLE TO INSTRUCTIONS at
Har[vard] Coll[ege] in Cam[bridge]. This I hope will be some Apology
for my not acknowleging it before.

I had recd a Letter from Mr John Neufville Chairman of the Come of
Merchts in Charlestown, inclosing Letters for the Sons of Liberty in
Boston Connecticutt & N Hampshire. The two last of which I forwarded
as soon as possible to such Gentn in the repsective places as I judgd
worthy so excellent a Character. That which was directed for Boston
I unseald, professing my self a Son of Liberty but found it was
designd for the Trade, with whom I was not connected, but as an
Auxiliary in their Nonimportaton Agreement. I therefore deliverd it
to the Chairman of the Come here, and it was read with very great
Approbation, in a large Meeting of the Body of the people. I desire
you wd make my Compts and Apology to Mr Neufville. I verily believd
that the Come of Merchants had duly honord his Letter by returning
an Answer to it, as they had orderd it to be publishd in our papers;
and I candidly suppose they had the same Expectation from me which
may be the occasion that the Letter remaind unanswerd.

The Nonimportation Agreemt since the Defection of New York is entirely
at an end. From the Begining I have been apprehensive it wd fall
short of our Wishes. It was continued much beyond my Expectation:
There are here & I suppose every where, men interrested enough to
render such a plan abortive. Thro the Influence of the Come & Tories
here, Boston had been made to APPEAR in an odious Light; but I wd
not have you believe it to be the true Light. The Merchts in general
have punctually abode by their Agreemt, to their very great private
loss; Some few have found means to play a dishonorable Game without
Detection, tho the utmost pains have been taken. The Body of the
people remaind firm till the Merchts receded. I am very sorry that
the Agreemt was ever enterd into as it has turnd out ineffectual.
Let us then ever forget that there has been such a futile
Combination, & awaken our Attention to our first grand object. Let
the Colonies still convince their implacable Enemies, that they are
united in constitutional Principles, and are resolvd they WILL NOT be
Slaves; that their Dependance is not upon Merchts or any particular
Class of men, nor is their dernier resort, a resolution BARELY to
withhold Commerce, with a nation that wd subject them to despotic
Power. Our house of reps[sic] have appointed a Come to correspond
with our friends in the other Colonies,3 & AMERICAN MANUFACTURES shd
be the constant Theme.

Our young men seem of late very ambitious of making themselves
masters of the art MILITARY.

1Of Charleston, South Carolina.
2Asking why an earlier letter of the Charleston committee had not
been answered. A copy of Timothy’s letter is in S. A. Wells, Samuel
Adams and the American Revolution, vol., i., p. 292.
3Consisting of Samuel Adams, John Adams, Hancock, Hall and Cushing;
appointed November 7, 1770.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

Boston 23 Novr 1770


Capt Scott being detaind by a contrary Wind, and the General Assembly
being now prorogud,1 I have an Opportunity of writing in Addition to
my Letter of the 16 Instt & by the same Conveyance.

As soon as I heard of the Death of our worthy Friend Mr De Berdt, I
was determind, if the House should come to the Choice of an Agent, to
give my Vote for yourself; and I was confirmd in my Resolution when I
found by your Letter of the 5 June2 that such an Appointmt would be
agreable to you. But being afterwards told by a Friend of yours that
you were desirous yourself that Dr Lee might be chosen, which by no
means lessened my Opinion of your Merit, & having also a great
Opinion of Dr Lee, I thought myself happy in a Conclusion that your
Inclination perfectly coincided with my own Judgment. At the same
time, such was my Opinion of your honest Zeal for the Rights of
America and of your Ability to defend them that I could with equal
Satisfaction have voted for Mr Sayer. I am perfectly of your Opinion
that no man shd be the object of our Choice who holds any place at
the Will of the present Administration; how far the House have been
influencd by this Principle you are able to judge.

You will observe by the inclosd papers, to how great a degree
ministerial Instructions are enforcd here. They not only prescribe to
the Assembly which ought to be free the forms of Legislation in the
most essential Parts, but even annihilate the Powers of the Govr
vested in him by Charter.3 Could it possibly be imagind that a man
who is bone of our Bone, & flesh of our flesh--who boasts that his
Ancestors were of the first Rank & figure in the Country, who has had
all the Honors lavishly heapd upon him which his Fellow Citizens had
it in their power to bestow, who with all the Arts of personal
Address professes the strongest Attachmt to his native Country & the
most tender feeling for its Rights. Could it be imagind htat such a
Man shd be so lost to all sense of Gratitude & publick Love, as to aid
the Designs of despotick power for the sake of rising a single step

“Who would not weep if such a Man there be
Who would not weep if H-----n were he.”

Aut Caesar aut nullus, is inscribd on the Hearts of some Men who have
neither Caesars Learning nor Courage. Caesar three times refusd the
Crown; His Heart & his Tongue evidently gave each other the Lye. Our
modern GREAT MAN, would fain have it thought that he has refusd a
Government, which his Soul is every day panting after & without the
Possesion of which his Ambition & Lust of Power will perpetually
torment him.

The Intelligence in Your Letter of the 18 Sept which I have just now
with pleasure receivd, does not at all surprize me--”His former
Letters” “wrote before Bernard embarkd for England” “have been equally
oppugnant to the Form of your Govt”--And yet this very Man gives out,
that in six months, the Province will be convincd that his Letters are
written in defence of our Charter! So I remember Bernard himself, not
long before his own Letters returnd, declard to both Houses of
Assembly, that if he was at Liberty to make publick the Letters he had
written to the several Boards in favor of the Province, his Enemies
wd blush.--Why does not this Man make his Letters publick? Would not
a Roman Senator have seizd the opportunity of appeasing the Jealousys
of the angry Citizens? But the Body of the people are contemptible.4
This People who know not the Law are accursed, said a haughty Jewish
priest. It has been his Principle from a Boy, that Mankind are to be
governd by the discerning few--and it has ever since been his
Ambition to be the Hero5 of the few.

I have long since been of your Opinion that few great Men in Britain
are entitled to an American Confidence--They will all in their Turns
clamour for us while it is their Interest so to do.--It is the
Business of America to take Care of herself--her salvation as you
justly observe depends upon her own Virtue. Arts & Manufactures aided
by Commerce have raised Great Britain to its present Pitch of
Grandeur. America will avail herself by imitating her. We have already
seen her troops and AS WE HAVE A PROSPECT OF A WAR I hope I may safely
tell you that our YOUNG MEN begin to be ambitious of making themselves
perfect Masters of the Art MILITARY. Amidst the innumerable Evils
which we complain of from the bad policy of YOUR Ministry, this is
the happy Effect of Britains transplanting her Arms in America.

1The prorogation, on November 20, was until January 23, 1771; the next
session actually began April 3, 1771.
2Delivered by Richard Cary. A copy is in S.A. Wells, Samuel Adams and
the American Revolution, vol. i., pp. 293, 294.
3At this point the words “Good God!” are crossed out.
4Before alteration, this sentence read: “But the Body of the people
are too contemptible to be favord with a Sight of them.”
5Originally “Head.”


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations, is
in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., pp. 341, 342.]

Boston Novr 23 1770


When you embarkd for London I promisd you I would write by the next
Ship. I did not write--but it was owing to incessant Avocations at
Cambridge & not to an unmindfulness of my promise or a Want of
Inclination to fulfil it. I hope ere now you are safe arrivd. You are
then a Sojourner in one of the most opulent and most luxurious Cities
in the World. Musick is your dear Delight--there your taste will be
improvd. But I fear that Discord will too often discompose you, and
the rude Clamors against your Country will vex you. I rely upon it
that your own good Sense will dictate to you that which will
sufficiently vindicate your Country against foul Aspersion whenever
you may meet with it; and I cannot entertain the least Doubt but you
are possessd with all that patriotick Zeal which will for ever warm
the Breast of an ingenuous young Gentleman. Such a Zeal temperd with
a manly Prudence will render you respectable in political Circles of
Men of Sense. I am sure you will never condescend to be a Companion
of Fools. After telling you what I know will be agreable to you, that
your friends are well, you must allow me to plead haste & conclude at
present with my best Wishes for your Prosperity.


[Boston Gazette, December 3, 1770.]

We should all remember that British America was well affected to the
nation till MINISTERIAL INNOVATIONS occasion’d these Difficulties.

Instead of submitting to MINISTERIAL GUIDANCE, they seem so far led
away by common Sense, and their Regard for the common Welfare, that
they have no Reverence for the INSTRUCTIONS and REFINEMENTS of our
Ministers. Ibid.

Messieurs PRINTERS,

Some time ago I took the liberty of making a few remarks in my poor
manner, upon a SPEECH deliver’d at the close of a session of the
General Assembly: I then thought, and still think that I had good
right and lawful authority so to do, notwithstanding the rebuke which
the VENERABLE Mr. Probus1 then “thought fit” to give me. In imitation
of some of my BRETHREN, I solemnly warned my readers, by way of
applications, of the danger of certain INSTRUCTIONS, or as they were
term’d, “MINISTERIAL MANDATES” we had about that time been told of;
which appear’d to me to be equal to that of REVENUE ACTS, or STANDING
ARMIES to ENFORCE them: I little thought that these instructions, or
mandates, call them what you will, would in their effects have made
so rapid a progress, in so short a time, as I find they have since
THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION began: For I perceive that our house of
representatives have plainly told the Lt. Governor that “merely in
obedience to INSTRUCTIONS, he has made an ABSOLUTE SURRENDER of Castle
William to his Majesty’s forces, with a MOST EXPRESS RESIGNATION of
his POWER OF GARRISONING the same to Lt. Col. Dalrymple”: and to prove
it they recite his Honor’s orders UNDER HIS OWN HAND, to Capt.
Phillips, to deliver that Fort into the hands of the commanding
officer of his Majesty’s regular forces then upon the island, TO BE
GARRISON’D by such detachment as HE SHOULD ORDER! To this indeed his
honor says, “There is nothing in the orders which I gave to Capt.
Phillips, which does not perfectly consist with my retaining the
command of the Castle, and my right to exchange the present garrison
for the former or any other, as I shall think proper”: But I must
confess, it is mysterious to me, how his Honor can retain the Right
to dismiss Col. Dalrymple and his detachment, WHEN HE PLEASES, or
exchange the present garrison for any other AS HE SHALL THINK PROPER,
after having delivered the fort without any reservation, into the
hands of Col. Dalrymple, in consequence of EXPRESS ORDERS from
another, to be garrison’d by such detachment AS HE SHALL ORDER. I am
not so certain that his Honor, who pays a sacred regard to
instructions, will easily be perswaded to exchange the present
garrison for the former, or any other, however necessary such
exchange may be, without first having leave from the right Hon. the
Earl of Hillsborough, as full and EXPRESS as the orders he receiv’d
from his lordship to place the present garrison there--Others may
reconcile an absolute delegation of power without any reserve, by the
express orders of a superior, with a right retain’d in the person who
is THUS ORDER’D to delegate, to exercise the same power when he
pleases; I have not that INTUITIVE knowledge which some men are said
to be bless’d with, and therefore it will not be thought strange if I
do not see clearly through this mystery in POLITICS.--The house
further observe, that “as his Honor has heretofore repeatedly declared
that he has no authority over the King’s troops in the province,2 it
was absurd to suppose he COULD have the command of a fort, thus
unreservedly surrendered to, and in full possession of such troops”:
Which appears to be a just conclusion; for can any one believe that
Col. Dalrymple will hold himself oblig’d to march the King’s troops
under his command out of that fort, in obedience to the orders of one
who has no authority over them? Think not, Mess. Printers, that I am
now finding fault: For if his Honor has “in this instance divested
himself of a power of governing which is vested in him by the Charter
FOR THE SAFETY of the province”, as wiser heads than mine have
determin’d, who WILL DARE to find fault? It was done by virtue of
instructions; and we are told that instructions from a minister of
state come MEDIATELY from the K-----, and his Honor knows that
instructions, whatever “coarse epithet” may have been bestow’d upon
them, are “founded in very wise reasons”, and ought not to be treated
with contempt--HOLT, SOMERS and others, who near eighty years ago
laid their heads together to form our Charter, were certainly wise
and great men; and King William who gave it was as certainly a wise
and good King: But does not the wisdom of my Lord of H-----h far
exceed theirs? Pray, does not every measure which he has advis’d,
fully evince this to the conviction of all but a few factious fellows
here and there. The FRIENDS OF GOVERNMENT are willing to submit WHAT
JUDGEMENT THEY HAVE to such profound wisdom; and what if our OLD
FASHION Charter should be pared down by INSTRUCTIONS, and a power or
two of the G-----r, vested in him FOR THE SAFETY OF THE PEOPLE, should
even be annihilated by them, we are only to BELIEVE there are very
wise reasons for it, and we shall find that all is for the best.

But it is said that “Mr. Hall the late chaplain (whose deposition was
also taken) has not only not given the House the form of words in
which his Honor committed the CUSTODY of the Castle “according to the
Charter” to Col. Dalrymple, but has substituted words which carry a
very different meaning.” --It is strange that Mr. Hall, whom his
Honor directed to attend him--I suppose as a witness--should so
grosly mistake the meaning of the words. But whatever he may lack in
comprehension, memory or VERACITY, he shall, IF HE LIKES IT, be
touch’d up with the reputation of a very MODEST KIND OF GENTLEMAN;
“he has with GREAT MODESTY declared that he COULD NOT RECOLLECT THE
WORDS”--Mr. Hall’s expression is, “PERHAPS I MAY not recollect the
words EXACTLY”;--and “could ONLY recollect the impression they made
upon his mind”--Here again we find Mr. Hall’s expression to be, “This
as far as I can recollect is the impression they made upon my mind.”
He spoke upon memory, and if he delivered the SUBSTANCE of what he
heard, his not being certain that he recollected the words EXACTLY,
is not material--What then is the substance as deliver’d by Mr. Hall
UNDER OATH, who has the character both of an honest and a sensible
man, altho’ it is said that he substituted words which convey a very
different meaning? It is this; “By virtue of authority deriv’d from
his Majesty to govern this province, and in consequence of EXPRESS
ORDERS from the Right Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough to deliver this
fort into the hands of the commanding officer of the King’s troops
now upon the island to be garrison’d by such detachment or detachments
as HE SHALL THINK PROPER I deliver these keys to you as commanding
officer”. If his Honor has a copy of the EXACT FORM OF WORDS, and will
favor the publick with it, we shall be able to judge where the
difference is, and whether “in our opinion” it is MATERIAL. Perhaps
the words “according to the Charter” which I observe are comma’d in
his Honor’s reply as emphatical, are omitted by Mr. Hall: But if THEY
are a part of the FORM OF WORDS, the house seem to have fully taken
them up by affirming that his Honor has no authority either BY THE
CHARTER or his commission to delegate the power of garrisoning the
Castle to any other person: And “that the SHEW of the authority of
the Governor thus held up serv’d only to make the surrender the more
solemn and formal.” If then he had no such authority to do it either
by Charter or Commission, how could he do it by virtue of the
authority deriv’d from his Majesty to govern the province? unless
that authority is deriv’d to him to govern, SOLELY by the “EXPRESS
ORDERS from the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough”--If so, where
indeed “is the freedom of the Governor of this province”: I desire to
know, how his Honor in delivering the keys of the Castle and the
power of garrisoning it to Col. Dalrymple, can be suppos’d to have
exercis’d HIS OWN judgment and election, when he declares he did it
in consequence of EXPRESS ORDERS from another? And that other does not
appear to be his Majesty, but the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough
--The whole matter that could exercise his judgment, as it appears to
me, must have been whether he should deliver the fort to Col.
Dalrymple to be garrison’d by such detachment of the regular forces as
he should think proper, in obedience to the EXPRESS ORDERS of Lord
Hillsborough, or retain the Right of committing the custody and
government thereof to such person or persons as to him should seem
meet, by virtue of the authority deriv’d from his Majesty to govern
the province according to the EXPRESS TERMS of the Charter.

I may venture to say, there has not been an instance of this kind
since the date of our Charter; and in the opinion of judicious and
unprejudiced persons, it is a matter of very great moment. Our enemies
may now have the pleasure of seeing the principal fort & key of the
province in the hands of persons who have not the least dependance
upon it; the captial environ’d with ships of war; the General Assembly
removed from its ancient seat, into the country; and the College,
which has been liberally supported by the people for the education of
our youth, has been made a seat of government, under a pretence, as
it is said, of a prerogative in the Crown, to take up any public
buildings;--All by virtue of instructions, which we are implicitly to
believe are founded in wise reasons; while the people thro’out the
province, whether they are sensible of it or not, are every day
contributing to a revenue rais’d by the act of a legislature in which
they are not and cannot be represented, and against their most
earnest petitions and warmest remonstrances! Surely these are not the
blessings of adm-----n for which we are this week to return to
Almighty God our unfeigned thanks.

When the public observe that the House had ordered Mr. Hall’s
deposition to be published at large, and that his Honor was DULY
NOTIFIED TO BE PRESENT at the caption, perhaps it may be thought that
the mention that is made of the “care INDUSTRIOUSLY taken by the
House to omit the reserve” Mr. Hall had made, because it “did not
suit their purpose”, might have been spared. Its not suiting their
purpose, might be a sufficient reason for their ommitting it: But
possibly his Honor’s manner of introducing it, may be taken be some
“to convey a very different meaning.”

As to “the formality of delivering the keys of the fort,” I suppose
it to have been in much the same FORM OF WORDS, as is used, when a
governor who is recalled, delivers them to another who is to succeed
him in the government of the province by his Majesty’s appointment.
--Col. Dalrymple accepted them “in consequence of orders from General
Gage,” without recognizing any subordination to his Honor. Whether he
will ever deliver them to any person, but such as may claim more
authority over the King’s troops in the province than the Lieutenant
Governor has, I very much doubt.--You shall hear from me again.---

In the mean while, I am yours,


1See above, p. 43.
2The identical words used by that warm friend to this province, the
colonies, the nation and all men but himself, Sir F. B. of Nettleham,


[Boston Gazette, December 10, 1770.]

To the Printers,

The trial of Capt. Preston and the Soldiers who were indicted for the
murder of Messrs. Gray, Maverick, Caldwell, Carr and Attucks, on the
fatal fifth of March last, occasions much speculation in this Town:
And whatever may be the sentiments of men of the coolest minds abroad,
concerning the issue of this trial, we are not to doubt, but the
Court,1 the Jury, the Witnesses, and the Council on both sides, have
conscienciously acquitted themselves: To be sure, no one in his
senses will venture to affirm the contrary.

I am free to declare my opinion, that a cause of so great importance,
not only to this town, but to all his Majesty’s subjects, especially
to the inhabitants of cities and sea-port towns; who are expos’d to
have troops posted among them, whenever the present administration
shall take it into their heads in his Majesty’s name to send them;
such a cause, I say, ought to be fairly stated to the public; that we
may from thence learn how far we are bound to submit to every band of
soldiers we may meet in the streets, and in what instances we may
venture to interpose and prevent their murdering those whom we may
think to be innocent persons without being liable to be censured for
acting unlawfully, if we escape with our own heads, if we should fall
victims to their rage and cruelty.

It was a question put by the chief magistrate of this province to the
officer who commanded on that bloody evening. “Did you not know that
you should not have fired without the order of a civil magistrate”.
And it was sworn in court in the case of Capt. Preston, that he
answered, “I did it to save my Sentry”: But whatever his answer was,
or however “unsatisfactory” to his Honor, the question plainly implies
that it was the judgment of his Honor, that the soldiers could not
justify themselves in firing upon the people without the order of the
civil magistrate. Yet they did fire without such orders, and killed
five of his Majesty’s good subjects; most, if not all of whom were at
that time, for aught that has yet appear’d, in the peace of God and
the King! They not only fired without the orders of the civil
magistrate, but they never called for one, which they might easily
have done--They went down of their own accord, arm’d with musquets,
and bayonets fix’d, presuming that they were cloath’d with as much
authority by the law of the land, as the Posse Comitatus of the
country with the high sheriff at their head--How little regard is due
to the word fo a m--r, who would fain have flatter’d us into a belief
that the troops were sent here to aid the civil magistrate, and were
never to act without one? And let me observe, how fatal are the
effects, the danger of which I long ago mention’d, of posting a
standing army among a free people!

If his Honor was not mistaken in his judgment, and I presume he was
not, viz. that it was unlawful for them to fire without the order of
the civil magistrate, they were certainly from the beginning, at
least very imprudent and fool-hardy, in going down, arm’d as they
were, with weapons of death, without the direction of the civil
magistrate; especially, if they intended to fire, as I think it is
manifest they did.-- When Captain Preston was asked, Whether the
soldiers intended to fire, he answer’d they could not fire without
his orders: No one will pretend that they had not strength or skill
to pull their trickers; but by the rules of the army, their own rules,
they were restrained from firing till he first gave them orders: Yet
contrary to those very rules they all did fire; all but one, and he
did all he could to fire, for his gun flush’d in the pan--it is said
that when it was urg’d by the council for the crown, that by the
rules of law they ought to have retreated if they were in danger of
their lives; it was answered, that by the rules of the army they
were chain’d as it were to their post--that they dared not to retreat
without the orders of their captain--that in so doing they would have
‘expos’d themselves to a sentence of death in a court martial:’--Yet
we have it from great authority that they would have been distracted
if they had not fired, upon a supposition that they were in danger;
altho’ by the same rules of war they could not have fired any more
than they could have retreated, till the captain order’d them; and
they expos’d themselves to be shot by the sentence of a court martial
if they did fire, as much as they would have done if they had
retreated without his order--Certainly it will not be said, it was
more becoming the bravery of a British soldier, to stand his ground
against the subjects of his own King, and kill them upon the spot,
than to have retreated and deserted the glorious cause, and thus have
saved the lives of his Majesty’s subsjects.

The behavior of the party as they went from the main guard discover’d
an haughty air--they push’d their bayonets and damn’d the people as
they went along--and when they arriv’d at their post, one witness who
is a young gentleman of a liberal education and an unspotted
character, declared, that when they came down there were about ten
persons round the sentry--that one of the prisoners whom he
particularly named, loaded his gun, pushed him with his bayonet and
damn’d him--that about fifty or sixty persons came down with the
party, and that he did not observe the people press on. Another
declared, that when the soldiers were loading, about a dozen
surrounded them, and that several of them struck their guns--that he
saw ice or snow balls thrown, but did not apprehend himself or the
soldiers in danger by any thing he saw--This witness was very near
the soldiers; and will any one wonder, that when the soldiers were
to all appearance meditating the death of people by loading their
guns, while there was no apparent danger to them, some of the people
should strike their guns, to prevent the mischief which they seem’d
to be resolv’d upon.

Another declared, that one of the prisoners whom he also named, struck
him upon the arm with his bayonet as the party came down before they
formed; and that he had then told Capt. Preston that every body was
about dispersing--The characters of these witnesses will not be
contested. Such a conduct surely did not discover the most peaceable
disposition in this lawful assembly of soldiers--One would think that
they intended to assassinate those, who they had no reason to think
had the least inclination to injure them--If these are not instances
of assault, I know not what an assault is: And if they were not an
unlawful assembly before, it may well be suppos’d they were at this
time doing an unlawful act--an act that to be sure very ill became
gentlemen soldiers sent here to curb a rebellious spirit and keep the
peace: But there is a colouring at hand; and because this party did
not knock a witness down, or run him thro’, who had the audacity to
refuse at their sovereign order to move out of the way for them as
they pass’d the street from the main guard to the custom-house, tho’
he had then been push’d with a bayonet by one of them, it is
sufficient to convince all the world of their lamb-like meekness and
immaculate innocence.

I have in a former paper consider’d soldiers when quarter’d in free
cities, in the light of other inhabitants, under the same direction
of the civil magistrate and the same controul of the law of the land:
and that by this law, like all other men, they are to be protected,
govern’d, restrain’d, rewarded or punish’d. If then a soldier has the
right in common with other men, to arm himself for his defence when
he thinks there is a necessity for it, he has certainly no more right
then they, to use his weapons of death at random; or at all under a
pretence of suppressing riots, or any other pretence, without the
presence of the civil magistrate, unless his own life is in danger,
and he cannot retreat: Such a liberty would tend to increase the
disorder rather than suppress it, and would endanger life rather than
save it: In the instances I have mention’d, the lives of the soldiers
were not in danger from the men whom they assaulted: This was early
in the tragical scene, and it was an assault personally upon those
who had not attempted to do them the least injury: How far their lives
were in danger afterwards, and who were in fault, shall be the subject
of free Enquiry in a future paper.


1The published report, cited above, p. 60, contains the charge to the
jury as given only by Judge Trowbridge and Judge Oliver. All that is
extant of Judge Lynde’s charge to the jury is printed in The Diaries
of Benjamin Lynde and of Benjamin Lynde, Jr., pp. 228-230.


To the Printers.

That the trial of the soldiers concern’d in the carnage on the
memorable 5th of March, was the most solemn trial that ever was had
in this country, was pronounc’d from the bench. To see eight
prisoners bro’t to the bar together, charg’d with the murder of five
persons at one time, was certainly, as was then observ’d, affecting:
But whoever recollects the tragedy of that fatal evening, will I
believe readily own that the scene then was much more affecting--There
is something pleasing and solemn when one enters into a court of law
--Pleasing, as there we expect to see the scale held with an equal
hand--to find matters deliberately and calmly weigh’d and decided,
and justice administered without any respect to persons or parties,
and from no other motive but a sacred regard to truth--And it is
solemn as it brings to our minds the tribunal of GOD himself! before
whose judgment-seat the scriptures assure us all must appear: And I
have often tho’t that no one will receive a greater share of rewards
at that decisive day, than he who has approv’d himself a faithful
upright judge.

Witnesses who are bro’t into a court of justice, while their veracity
is not impeach’d, stand equal in the eye of the judge; unless he
happens to be acquainted with their different characters, which is
not presum’d--The jury who are taken from the vicinity, are suppos’d
to know the credibility of the witnesses: In the late trials the
witnesses were most if not all of them either inhabitants of this town
or transient persons residing in it, and the jurors were all from the
country: Therefore it is not likely that they were acquainted with the
characters of all the witnesses; and it is more than probable that in
so great a number of witnesses there were different characters, that
is, that some of them were more, others less creditable. If then the
judge, whose province it is to attend to the law, and who, not knowing
the characters of the witnesses, presumes that they are all good, &
gives an equal credit to them, it is the duty of the jurors who are
sovereign in regard to facts, to determine in their own minds the
credibility of those who are sworn to relate the facts: And this in a
trial for murder requires great care and attention. I would just
observe here, that in the last trial there were not less than eighty-
two witnesses for the jury to examine and compare, which was an
arduous task indeed! And I will venture further to observe, that some
of these witnesses who swore very positively were not so creditable
as others, and the testimony of one of them in particular, which was
very precisely related & very peremptory, might have been invalidated
in every part of it. I shall not at present suggest what I take to be
the reason why it was not done. These matters will no doubt have
their place in the history of the present times in some future day,
when the faithful recorder it is to be hoped will, to use the language
of our courts of justice, relate the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth.

It is enough for the jury to receive the law from the bench: They may
indeed determine this for themselves; but of facts they are ever the
uncontroulable judges. They ought therefore to receive the facts from
the mouths of the witnesses themselves, and implicitly from no other:
Unless the jury particularly attend to this, they may be in danger of
being misled by persons who would be far from doing it with design:
For instance, if one should swear that A being foreworn’d against it,
levell’d his gun and kill’d B: and afterwards it should be forgot,
that the witness also swore that A immediately advanc’d & push’d his
bayonet at C, which pass’d between his waistcoat and his skin; if this
I say should be forgot, and should be overlook’d by the jury when they
are together, perhaps instead of bringing it in murder according to
the rules of the law laid down by the bench, they would bring it in
manslaughter--I do not here affirm that this has ever been a fact: I
mention it as what may hereafter be a fact, and to show the necessity
of a jury’s relying upon facts as they receive them from the witnesses
themselves, and from them alone.

The furor brevis which we have heard much of, the fury of the blood
which the benignity of the law allows for upon sudden provocation, is
suppos’d to be of short duration--the shooting a man dead upon the
spot, must have stopp’d the current in the breast of him who shot him,
if he had not been bent upon killing--an attempt to stab a second
person immediately after, infers a total want of remorse at the
shedding of human blood; and such a temper of mind afterwards
discovers the rancorous malice before, especially if it be proved that
the same man had declated that he would never miss an opportunity so
to do:  If this does not imply malice at first, I do not see but he
might have gone on stabbing people in his furor brevis, till he had
kill’d an hundred; and after all, it might have been adjudg’d, in
indulgence to the human passions, excuseable homicide.

The law in its benignity makes allowance for human passions: But the
law is just; and make this allowance upon the principles of justice:
It gives no indulgence to malice and rancour against any individual;
much less against a community or the human species--He who threatens
or thirsts for the blood of the community is an enemy to the publick;
and hostis humani generis, the enemy of mankind consummates the
villain. I will not take upon myself to say that either of these
characters belong to any of the late prisoners--There are two
remaining yet in gaol, convicted of manslaughter, and waiting
judgment of the court. With regard to one of these, namely, Kilroi,
it was sworn that about a week or a fortnight before (the 5th of
March, which must be before the affray at the ropewalks, that
happening on the 2d) he said he would never miss an opportunity of
firing upon the inhabitants, and that he had wanted such--It is said
that these might be words spoken in jest, or without any intention,
when they were spoken, of acting according to their true import &
meaning: But the witness said, he repeated the words several times:
And that after he had told him he was a very great fool for saying so,
he again declared he would never miss an opportunity.--It appears that
the witness himself, as any one might, tho’t him to be in earnest,
and rebuked him for saying so; and in truth, none but a madman, or one
whose heart was desperately wicked, would repeatedly, especially after
such wholesome reproof, have persisted in such a threat; It
discovered, to borrow the expression of a very polite & humane
gentleman, upon another late occasion, a malignity beyond what might
have been expected from a Barbarian.

It was also sworn, that this same Kilroi was with a party of soldiers
in the affray at the Ropewalks a few evenings before the 5th of March,
--and that they had clubs & cutlasses--That Kilroi was of the party of
soldiers that fired in King-street--that as the party came round
before they form’d, Kilroi struck a witness upon his arm--and after
the firing began, Kilroi struck at the same witness, tho’ he had
hear’d nothing said, nor seen any thing done to provoke the soldiers.
--Another witness declared, that he saw Kilroi there, that he knew
him well before, and was positive it was he--that he heard the word
fire, twice, upon which he said to the soldiers, damn you, don’t fire,
and Kilroi fired at once, and killed Gray, who had no weapon, and his
arms were folded in his bosom. Gray fell at the feet of this witness,
and immediately Kilroi pushed his bayonet at the witness, which pass’d
thro’ all his clothes, and came out at his surtuit behind, and he was
oblig’d to turn round to quit himself of the weapon--the witness
suppos’d he designed to kill them both.--How long is this furor
brevis, this short hurricane of passion to last in the breast of a
soldier, when called, not by the civil magistrate, but by his military
officer, under a pretence of protecting a Centinel, and suppressing a
Riot? who had taken with him weapons, not properly of defence, but of
death, and was calm enough in this impetuosity of anger, to load his
gun, and perhaps with design, to level it, for it killed one of the
very men with whom he had had a quarrel but a few evenings before: He
had now a fair opportunity, which he had wished for, and resolved
never to miss, of firing upon the inhabitants. It was said upon the
words he uttered, that if all the unjustifiable words that had been
spoken by the inhabitants of this town, were to be bro’t in judgment
against them, they would have much to answer for.--Those who believe
the letters of governor Bernard, the Commissioners of the customs,
and some others whom I could name, and will name in proper time, may
think so. I dare say, if Bernard could have proved one overt-act of
rebellion or treason, after the many things he pretended had been
said, and he or his tools could have had any influence, the words if
prov’d, would have been adjudg’d to have been said in sober earnest,
and would have been considered as material to have shown the
malignancy of the heart.

This Kilroi’s bayonet was prov’d to be the next morning bloody five
inches from the point. It was said to be possible that this might be
occassion’d by the bayonet’s falling into the human blood, which ran
plentifully in the street, for one of their bayonets was seen to fall.
It is possible, I own; but much more likely that this very bayonet was
stab’d into the head of poor Gray after he was shot, and that this
may account for its being bloody five inches from the point--Such an
instance of Savage barbarity there undoubtedly was.--It was sworn
before the Magistrate who first examined into this cruel tragedy,
though the witness who then swore it, being out of this province,
could not be produced in Court upon the trial. It is not to be
wonder’d at that any material witness was out of the way, when it is
consider’d that the trial did not come on till the secord term, and
nine months after the facts were committed. I shall continue the
subject at my leisure.


Dec. 11th.


[Boston Gazette, December 24, 1770.]

To the Printers.

In the late trials of Preston and the Soldiers, it was observ’d that
the Court constantly from day to day adjourn’d at noon and at sun-set
--Our enemies, who are fruitful in their inventions, may possibly from
hence take occasion to represent that it was dangerous for the Court
to sit in the tumultuous town of Boston after dark. At the first view
it may perhaps bear this complexion in the eye of a prejudiced
stranger; for such adjournments in capital causes it may be were never
before known here: But the representation would be without the least
foundation in truth. It is possible that among other reasons this
might be one, that the judges are all of them, to use the words of a
good old Patriarch, well stricken in years, and one of them labours
under infirmities of Body. I have another observation to make on this
occasion, but I reserve it till a future opportunity.

I have already said that the Soldiers in coming down from the main-
guard to the custom-house behaved with an haughty air--that they
abused the people as they pass’d along--pushing them with their
bayonets--and damning them; and when they had got to their post, they
in like manner abused and struck innocent persons there who offer’d
them no injury--and all this was even before they form’d, in doing
which it does not appear to be danger to them or any one else. These
facts, I think were prov’d, if we may believe persons of good credit,
who declared them upon their oaths in Court:--And that they came down
under a pretence of suppressing a riot, without a civil magistrate or
peace officer, which ought always to be remembered, no one will

There was indeed a sort of evidence bro’t into Court, which, if it is
at all to be rely’d upon, may serve to invalidate in some measure what
has been said--namely the declaration of one of the deceas’d persons,
as it was related by a gentleman who dress’d his wounds, and to whom
he is said to have declared it. This man, as the doctor testified,
told him among many other things, that he saw some Soldiers passing
from the main-guard to the custom-house and the people pelted them as
they went along. But whether these Soldiers were Preston and his
party; or other Soldiers who are mention’d by another witness, as
going from the main-guards towards the Centry, having short coats and
arm’d with bayonets, swords or sticks, and one of them with a pair of
kitchen tongs, chasing the people as they went, must remain an
uncertainty--If he meant the former, it is somewhat strange that among
all the witnesses on both sides, no one saw the people pelting them as
they went along but he. This man confess’d to the doctor that he was
a fool to be there--was surprized at the forbearance of the soldiers;
believed that they fired in their own defence & freely forgave the man
that shot him. But it is to be observed, he did not declare this under
oath nor before a magistrate: It was however the dying speech,--very
affecting and all, true no doubt; altho’ no one knew the character of
this believing penitent either in point of veracity or judgment.--By
the testimony of his land-lady in Court, one would not form the best
opinion of him; but de mortuis nil nisi bonum.

There were others ready to be sworn, if the Council for the crown had
thought it worth while to have bro’t them forward, that they also
could relate what this man had told them, viz. that his doctors had
encouraged him that he would soon recover of his wounds, and he hoped
to live to be a swift witness against the soldiers--Great stress was
laid by some upon the simple declaration of this man, who in all
probability died in the faith of a roman catholick. This, however, I
am apt to think, will not disparage his declaration in the opinion
of some great men at home, even tho’ he did not make his confession to
a ghostly physician.

Before I proceed to enquire into the danger the Soldiers were in, if
they were in any at all, and who were in fault, I will take the
liberty to lead the reader back to a consideration of the temper the
Soldiers in general discovered, and their correspondent conduct, for
some considerable time before the fatal tragedy was acted--It is well
known indeed that from their first landing, their behavior was to a
great degree insolent; and such as look’d as if they had enter’d
deeply into the spirit of those who procur’d them,--and really
believed, that we were a country of rebels and they were sent here to
subdue us. But for some time before the fifth of March, they more
frequently insulted the inhabitants who were quietly passing the
streets; and gave out many threats, that on that very night the blood
would run down the streets of Boston, and that many who would dine on
Monday would not breakfast on Tuesday; and to show that they were in
earnest they forewarn’d their particular acquaintance to take care of
themselves--These things were attested before the magistrates by
credible persons under oath.--Accordingly when the Monday evening came
on, they were early in every part of the town arm’d with bludgeons,
bayonets and cutlasses, beating those whom they could, and assaulting
and threatning others--By the way, I will just observe for the
information of a certain honorable gentleman, that the name of
bludgeons was unheard of in this town till the Soldiers arrived--This
behavior put the inhabitants in mind of their threatenings; and was
the reason that those of them who had occasion to walk the streets,
came out arm’d with canes or clubs. Between eight and nine o’clock,
the Soldiers in Murray’s barracks in the centre of the town rush’d out
with their naked cutlasses insulting, beating and wounding the
inhabitants who were passing along: This, in so frequented a street,
naturally collected numbers of people who resented the injury done
and an affray ensued--About the same time a difference arose in King-
street, between a centry there and a barber’s boy, who said to his
fellow-apprentice in the hearing of the centry “there goes Capt.-----
who has not paid my master for dressing his hair:” The centry
foolishly resented it, and word took place; and the boy answering him
with pertness, & calling him a name, the centry struck him. Here was
the first assault in King-street.--But for what reason the evidence
of this matter was not bro’t into Court, at the last trial, as it had
been at the trial of Preston, the reader if he pleases may conjecture.
At the same time a gentleman not living far from the custom-house,
and hearing as he tho’t a distant cry of murder, came into the street,
which he had just before left perfectly still, and to use his words,
“never clearer”: He there saw a party of Soldiers issue from the
mainguard, and heard them say, damn them where are they, by Jesus let
them come; and presently after another party rush’d thro’ Quaker-lane
into the street, using much such expressions:--Their arms glitter’d in
the moon-light. These cried fire, and ran up the street and into
Cornhill which leads to Murray’s barracks; in their way they knocked
down a boy of twelve years old, a son of Mr. Appleton, abused and
insulted several gentlemen at their doors and others in the street:--
Their cry was, damn them, where are they, knock them down; and it is
suppos’d they join’d in the affray there, which still continued--They
also then cried fire, which one of the witnesses took to be their

By this time the barber’s boy had return’d to the centry with a
number of other boys to resent the blow he had received: The centry
loaded his gun and threatened to fire upon them, and they threatened
to knock him down--The bells were ringing as for fire: Occasion’d
either by the Soldiers crying fire as is before mention’d, for it is
usual in this town when fire is cried, for any one who is near a
church to set the bells a ringing; or it might be, to alarm the town,
from an apprehension of some of the inhabitants, that the Soldiers
were putting their former threats into execution, and that there
would be a general massacre: It is not to be wonder’d at, that some
persons were under such apprehensions; when even an officer at
Murray’s barracks, appeared to encourage the Soldiers and headed them,
as it was sworn before the magistrate.--This officer was indicted by
the grand jury, but he could not be found afterwards--Some other
officers, and particularly lieutenants Minchen and Dickson, discovered
a very different temper.

The ringing of the bells alarmed the town, it being suppos’d by the
people in general there was fire; and occasion’d a concourse in King-
street which is a populous part of it. As the people came into the
street, the barber’s boy told them that the centry had knock’d him
down--and a person who had come into the street thro’ Royal-exchange
lane, which leads from Murray’s barracks, (and possibly had observ’d
the behavior of the Soldiers there) and seeing the centry, cried
here’s a Soldier--Various were the dispositions and inclinations of
the people according to their various “feelings” no doubt; for
mankind, it is said, “act from their feelings more than their reason:”
The cooler sort advis’d to go home: The curious were willing to stay
and see the event, and those whose feelings were warmer, perhaps
partook of the boys resentment. So it had been before at Murray’s
barracks, and so it always will be among a multitude: At the barracks
some, to use the expression of one of the witnesses, called out home,
home; while some in their heat cried, huzza for the main-guard--there
is the nest--This was said by a person of distinction in court, to
savour of treason! Tho’ it was allow’d on both sides, that the main-
guard was not molested thro’ the whole evening.

I would here beg the reader’s further patience, while I am a little
more particular, in relation to the affray at Murray’s barracks; for
it may be of importance to enquire how it began there.--Mr. Jeremiah
Belknap, an householder of known good reputation, had been sworn
before the magistrate; and why he was not bro’t in as a witness at the
trial, is not my business to say, and I shall not at present even
conjecture--Mr. Belknap, who lived in Cornhill near Murray’s barracks,
testified, that on the first appearance of the affray there, hearing
a noise he ran to his door, and heard one say he had been struck by
a Soldier: he presently saw eight or nine Soldiers arm’d with clubs
and cutlasses, come out of Boylston’s alley, which is a very short
passage leading from Murray’s barracks into the street--he desired
them to retire to the barracks--one of them with a club in one hand
and a cutlass in the other, with the latter, made a stroke at him:
Finding no prospect of stopping them, he ran to the main-guard and
called for the officers of the guard--he was inform’d, there was no
officer there--he told the Soldiers, with drawn cutlasses, who he
suppos’d were of the party from Murray’s barracks--Another gentleman,
one of the prisoners witnesses, swore in Court, that a little after
eight o’clock he saw at his own door, which is very near the barracks,
several Soldiers passing and repassing, some with clubs, others with
bayonets: And then he related the noise & confusion he afterwards
heard, & the squabble he saw, but no blows--that he saw two Soldiers,
each at a different time, present his gun at the people, threatning
to make a lane through them; but the officers drove them in--The
tragedy was compleated very soon in King-street--The firing was
reserv’d for another party of Soldiers, not much if at all to their
discredit in the judgment of some, and under the command of an officer
who did not restrain them. The witness heard the report of the first
gun soon after the people cried home, home; and declared that he tho’t
they had fired upon the main guard, for he heard the drum at the main
guard beat to arms--Another, who was sworn in Court, a witness for the
Crown declared, that about nine o’clock, passing near Draper’s (or
Bolyston’s) alley, which leads into Murray’s barracks, and thro’ which
he intended to go, he heard some boys huzzaing--he judged there were
not more than six or seven, and they were small; they ran thro’
dock-square towards the Market--Presently after he saw two or three
persons in the alley with weapons--a number of Soldiers soon sallied
out, arm’d with large naked cutlasses, assaulting every body coming in
their way--that he himself narrowly escaped a cut from the foremost
of them who pursued him; and that he saw a man there, who said he was
wounded by them and he felt of the wound--The wounded man stopped, and
this occasioned the people who were passing to gather round him--
Thinking it dangerous fo him to proceed, the witness returned home--
A Captain of the 14th, one of the prisoners witnesses was also sworn
in Court: He testified that in Cornhill he saw a mob collected at the
pass (Boylston’s alley) leading to Murray’s barracks--the people were
pelting the Soldiers he tho’t had a fire-shovel--as soon as they
knew him, he prevailed on them to go to the bottom of the pass, and
with some difficulty he got down--This witness, it seems, must have
been later than the others; and Mr. Belknap, perhaps gives as early
an account of it, as any can, but the Soldiers themselves.

I would only ask how it came to pass that the Soldiers, on that
particular evening, should be seen abroad, in every part of the town,
contrary to the rules of the army, after eight o’clock--If the
officers, who should have restrain’d them, were careless of their
duty, whence was so general a carelessness among the officers at that
juncture? It was said, there was no officer at the main-guard, which
may in part account for it. Or, if the Soldiers were all at once
ungovernable by their officers, and could not be restrain’d by them,
a child may judge from the appearance they made, that there had been
a general combination, agreable to their former threats, on that
evening to put in execution some wicked and desperate design.


Dec. 18th.


[Boston Gazette, December 24, 1770.]

To the Printers.

SOMEBODY, in Mr. Draper’s paper of Thursday last, charges me with
PARTIALITY, in my two first performances on the subject of the late
also says, I freely charge PARTIALITY on others: I UTTERLY DENY THAT
publick would not be influenced by any remarks made by me on the late
INSINUATES that I have cast the most INJURIOUS reflections upon
Judges, Jury and Witnesses: AGAIN, I DENY IT.--It remains then that
he either retract his charges or proves them: Otherwise the publick
will judge him to be guilty of something worse than “THE FAULT” OF
PARTIALITY. He THREATENS to bring out some facts which were not
allowed to be given in evidence: THIS IS WHAT I EARNESTLY DESIRE, FOR
intends, to ASCERTAIN THE PERSON IN A RED CLOAK, mention’d on the
trial, IF VINDEX AND HIS Adherents DESIRE it. Vindex has no
Adherents but in the cause of truth: And Vindex, FOR THE SAKE OF
affirm, that neither of the witnesses declared that he was VERY BUSY
at the beginning, or any part, of the Tragedy. There were two only
that made mention of him, viz. Mr. WILLIAM HUNTER & Mr. JAMES SELKRIG:
The one declared that in dock-square “there was a tall gentleman in
a red Cloak; that he stood in the midst of them (the people); that
they were whist for some time, and presently huzza’d for the main
guard: The other said, there was a gentleman with a red Cloak & a
large white Wig; that he made a speech to them (the people) 4 or 5
minute--(this witness mention’d nothing of their HUZZAING for the main
guard, which one would have thought must have been OBSERVABLE by ALL,
but only adds) they went and knock’d with their sticks, and said they
would do for the soldiers--What THE TALL GENTLEMAN said, neither of
them could tell.--I cannot help observing here, that some of the late
LETTER-WRITERS from hence to London, have mark’d the RED CLOAK AND
WHITE WIG, as the garb of a Boston HYPOCRITE; but I have never yet
heard it hinted, that such a dress was the peculiarity of an ACTOR in
TRAGEDIES--Great pain have been taken to make the world believe that
men of “estates, of figure and religion” had formed a plan, BEFORE THE
5TH OF MARCH, to drive off the soldiers; witness a DEPOSITION LATELY
PUBLISH’D: And perhaps it may be the LOW CUNNING of this writer to
INSINUATE, that there was a mob at that time, AND FOR THAT PURPOSE,
on dock-square; and that their leader MUST be a man of figure in the
town, BECAUSE HE WORE A RED CLOAK--As it is not yet known what the
TALL GENTLEMAN WITH A RED CLOAK said to the people; whether he gave
them good or ill advice, or any advice at all, we may possibly form
some conjecture concerning it, when his PERSON is ascertained. THE


Dec. 22.


[MS., British Museum; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox
Library; a text is in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i.,
pp. 377, 378.]

BOSTON Decr 28 1770


Having been repeatedly sollicited by my friend, Mr William Palfrey,1
I embrace this opportunity of making my particular compliments to you,
in a Letter which he will deliver. My own Inclination had coincided
with his Request; for I should pride myself much, in a Correspondence
with a Gentleman, of whom I have long entertaind so great an Opinion.
--No Character appears with a stronger Luster in my Mind, than that
of a Man, who nobly perseveres in the Cause of publick Liberty,
and Virtue, through the Rage of Persecution: Of this, you have
had a large Portion; but I dare say, you are made the better by
it: At least I will venture to say, that the sharpest Persecution
for the sake of ones Country, can never prove a real Injury to an
honest Man.

In this little Part of the World - a Land, till of late happy in
its Obscurity - the Asylum, to which Patriots were formerly wont
to make their peaceful Retreat; even here the stern Tyrant has
lifted up his iron Rod, and makes his incessant Claim as Lord of
the Soil: But I have a firm Perswasion in my Mind, that in every
Struggle, this Country will approve her self, as glorious in
defending & maintaining her Freedom, as she has heretofore been
happy in enjoying it.

Were I a Native and an Inhabitant of Britain, & capable of
affording the least Advice, it should constantly be; to confirm
the Colonies in the fullest Exercise of their Rights, and even to
explore for them every possible Avenue of Trade, which should not
interfere with her own Manufactures. From the Colonies, when she
is worn with Age, she is to expect renewed Strength. But the Field
I am entering, is too large for the present: May Heaven forbid,
that it should yet be truly said of Great Britain, Quam Deus yult
perdere, -!

I am with strict Truth
Your most humbe Servt

1See above, page 9.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]


In my last I considerd the Temper which the Soldiers in general
had discoverd and the threats they had [utter'd] previous to the
fifth of March together with their correspondent Behavior on that
alarming Evening. I was the more brief, because there had been a
narrative of the horrid massacre, printed by the order of this
Town, which was drawn up by a Comt appointed for that purpose; and
reported by their Chairman, JAMES BOWDOIN Esqr. The affidavits
which are annexd to the narrative were each of them taken before
two Justices of the Peace Quorum Unus to perpetuate the remembrance of
the thing: Coll William Dalrymple, chiefe Commander of the Soldiers,
was duly notified by the Justices to attend the Captions: And His
Honor the Lt Governor certified, under his Hand with the province Seal
annexd, that full faith & Credit was & ought to be given to the
several Acts & Attestations of the Justices, both in Court & without.

The Candor of the Town indeed was such, that at their meeting in
March, 2 by a Vote they restraind their Committee from publishing
the narrative, lest it might unduly prejudice those whose lot it
should be to be jurors to try these Causes: This restraint they
continued by a Vote at their meeting in May,3 & untill the
Trials should be over . . . plaud; as it discovered a Sense of
Justice; as well as the greatest Humanity4 towards those men who
had wantonly lit the hearts Blood of citizens like Water upon
Ground. A Temper far from vindictive; calm and moderate, at a
time, when if ever they might have been expected to be off their
Guard: And yet, so barbarous & cruel, so infamously mean & base
were the Enemies of this Town, who are the common Enemies of all
America & of the Truth it self, that they falsly inserted in the
publick news papers in London the Inhabitants had seizd upon Capt
Preston hung & hung him like Porteus upon a Sign Post! -

I shall now in a few ......... endeavor to show the Temper which
some of the Soldiers, (by whom I do not now particularly mean the
late Prisoners), discoverd at & after the fatal Catastrophes.
Readers may have observd, that I am careful to distinguish between
the evidence given in Court from that which was given out of
Court, Witnesses to this point, it ought not to be supposd, were
admissible at the Trial, unless perhaps the one immediately
following: That a credible Person, who is mistress of a reputable
family in the Town. She testified before the Magistrates, & was
ready to swear it in Court, if she had been called, that on the
Evening of the 5 of March a number of Soldiers were assembled from
Greens Barracks & opposite to her Gate, which is near those
Barracks - that they stood very still until the Guns were fired in
Kingstreet; then they clapd their Hands & gave a Cheer, saying,
this is all we want; they then ran to their Barrack &
came out again in a few minutes, all with their arms, & ran
towards Kingstreet.5 These Barracks were about a quarter of a mile
from Kingstreet: Their standing very still, untill they heard the
firing, compared with their subsequent Conduct, looks as if they
expected it; it seems, as though they knew what the Signal should
[be], & the part they were to act in Consequence of it. This
perhaps may be thought by some to be too straining: I will not
urge it, but leave it to any one to judge, how far if at all, it
affords Grounds of Suspicion, that there was an understanding
between the Soldiers in Kingstreet at the time of the firing &
these; especially, if it be true as has been said, that they fired
without the Command of their officers - There was another Witness
similar to this; an housholder of good reputation, who testified,
that the Soldiers from Greens Barracks rushd by him with their
Arms towards Kingstreet, saying this is our time or chance; that
he never saw6 Dogs so greedy for their prey as they seemd to be,
and the Sergeants could hardly keep them in their ranks.7

Another swore, that after the firing, he saw the Soldiers drawn up
in the Street, and heard Officers [as] they walked backwards &
forwards say, Damn it, what a fine fire that was! How bravely it
dispersd the mob!8 A person belonging to Hallifax in Nova Scotia,
testified that when the Body of troops was drawn up before the
Guard house (which was presently after the Massacre) he heard an
officer say to another, that this was fine work, just what he
wanted.9 I shall add but one more to this List, and that is the
Testimony of a Witness, well known for an honest man in this Town,
who declared, that at about one o'Clock the next morning, as he
was going alone from his own house to the Town House, he met a
Sergeant of the 29th with Eight [or] nine Soldiers, all with very
large Clubs & Cutlasses when one of them speaking of the
Slaughter, swore by God it was a fine thing & said you shall see
more of it.10 These Testimonies it is confessd would not be
pertinent to the Issue of the late Tryal: But I think it necessary
to adduce them here to convince the World of the wretched
Condition this town was in, the Reasons they had to apprehend &
the necessity they were under constantly to be upon their Guard
while such were quarterd among them: Much was brot into Court to
show that the Town was in a State of disorder on the Evening of
the 5 of March previous to the Affray at Murrays Barracks;
Witnesses were admitted to testify that they were met by one &
another armd with Clubs.11 But Nothing appeard there to show the
Cause & even the Necessity of it.11

To these, I cannot help subjoining the Testimony of Mr John Cox, a
very reputable Inhabitant of this town; who swore in Court at one
of the late trials, that after the firing, he went to take up the
dead - that he told the Soldiers, it was a cowardly trick in them
to kill men within reach of their Bayonets, with nothing in their
hands, and that the officer said, damn them, fire again & let them
take the Consequence! - to which he replyd you have killed . . .
already to hang you all - But he was mistaken.

It is a Mistake to say the soldiers were in danger from the
Inhabitants. The reverse is true; the Inhabitants were in danger
from the Soldiers. With all the Indulgence which was & perhaps
ought to be shown to Prisoners upon Tryal for Life, not a single
Instance of any Injury offerd to Soldiers was provd, except at
Murrays Barracks, & not even there but in return for intollerable
Insults. Many Witness[es] were ready if called for to testify to
the Insults & Abuse offerd by the Soldiers to the Inhabitants in
various parts of the Town.

Thus one of the prisoners Witnesses testified in Court that at 7
o'Clock going to the South End he met forty or fifty in small
Parties, four or five in a party. It has been testified by a
credible Witness that before the fifth of March, the Soldiers were
not only seen making their Clubs, but from what the Witness could
collect from their Conversation, they were resolvd to be revengd
on Monday13 and divers others swore to the same purpose; They did
not indeed say, whether they knew them to be soldiers or
Inhabitants: It is as probable that they were Soldiers as
Inhabitants; for it was sworn before the magistrates by a person
of Credit, that on the Saturday before he saw the Soldiers
making Clubs; Another was ready to testify in Court that thirty of
these Clubs or Bludgeons were made, by the Soldiers, in his own
Shop. And in the part of the Town where the Witness was going, a
Gentleman was attackd by two Soldiers, one of them armd with a
Club & the other with a broad Sword; the latter struck him, &
threatned that he should soon hear more of it. It was notorious
that the Soldiers were seen frequently on that evening armd with
Clubs - but in the Judgment of some men, every party that was seen
with Clubs, or in the modern term, Bludgeons, to be sure must have
been Inhabitants. If the Soldiers were in such Danger why were
they not kept in their Barracks after Eight o'clock agreable to
their own orders? In stead of this we find the Testimony of a
person, who was not an Inhabitant of the Town, that being at the
South End on that Evening exactly at Eight o'Clock he saw there
Eleven Soldiers: An officer met them .....orderd them to appear at
their respective places at the time: and if they should see any of
the Inhabitants of the Town, or any other people not belonging to
them, with Arms, Clubs or any other warlike weapon more than two
being assembled together to order them to stop, & if they refusd,
to stop them with their firelocks, and all that should take their
part - the officer went Northward & the Soldiers Southward.

These were orders discretely given indeed! And well becoming a
Gentleman in any Command, over troops sent here, or as the
Minister pretended, to aid the civil Magistrate in keeping the
peace, & with directions never to act without . . . Will any one
think the Town could be safe, even from this band of Soldiers
only, especially while under such direction & influence - This is
a single Instance -No wonder that when the Bells soon after rang
as for fire, & the people in that same part of the town came into
the Streets with Bucketts, they should be told by some, as a
Gentleman who was a Witness in Court for the prisoners swore they
were, that they had better bring Clubs than Bucketts - Such
Appearances were enough to put the Town in Motion. It is a Mistake
to say the Soldiers were in danger from the Inhabitants; the
reverse is true: The Inhabitants were in danger from the Soldiers.
With all the Indulgence which was shown, and perhaps ought to be
shown to Prisoners at the bar, upon trial for Life, not a single
Instance was provd, of any Abuse offerd to any Soldier that
Evening, previous to the insolent Behavior of those of them who
rushd out of Murrays Barracks & fell upon all whom they met: on
the Contrary, there had been many Instances of their insulting &
assaulting the Inhabitants indiscriminately in every part of the

As it was said in Court that the unhappy persons who fell a
Sacrifice to the Cruel Revenge of the Soldiers, had brot their
Death upon their own heads, I shall finish this paper in saying
what ought to be said in behalf of those who cannot now speak for
themselves. - Mr Maverick a young Gentleman of a good family & a
blameless Life, was at Supper in the House of one of his friends,
and went Out when the bells rang as for fire. .Mr Caldwell, young
Seaman & of a good Character, had been at School to perfect
himself in the Art of Navigation, and had just returnd to the
house of a reputable Person in this town to whose daughter he made
his visits with the honorable Intention of Marriage: He also went
out when the bells rang. W Gray was of a good family, he was at
his own house the whole of the Evening, saving his going into a
Neighbours house to borrow the News paper of the day & returning:
He went out on the ringing of the Bells; and altho a Child swore
in Court that he saw him with a Stick after the bells rang, yet
another Witness saw him before he got into Kingstreet without a
Stick, Others saw him in Kingstreet & testified that he had no
Stick, and when he was shot, the Witness then testified, as is
mentiond in a former paper, that he had no Stick & his Arms were
folded in his bosom; so that it is probable the young Witness
mistook the person. Mr Attucks, it is said was at his Lodgings &
at Supper when the bells rang; Witnesses indeed swore that they
afterwards saw him with a Club, & great pains were taken to make
it appear that he attackd the Soldiers, but the proof faild; even
Andrew, a Negro Witness whom I shall hereafter mention, testifies
that he thot Attucks was the Man who struck one of the Soldiers,
but could not account how he could get at such a Distance, as he
was when he fell, the Soldier firing so soon. Others swear that he
was leaning on his Stick when he fell, which certainly was not a
threatning posture. It may be supposd that he had as good Right to
carry a Stick, even a Bludgeon, as the Soldier who shot him had,
to be armd with Musquet & ball; & if he at any time lifted up his
Weapon of Defence, it was surely not more than a Soldiers leveling
his Gun at the Multitude chargd with Death - If he had killed a
Soldier, he might have been hangd for it, & as a traitor too, for
to attack a Soldier upon his post, was declared Treason; But the
Soldier shot Attucks & killed him, & he was convicted of Man
Slaughter! As to Mr Car, the other deceasd person, it is doubtful
with what Intent he came out. He was at Mr Fields house when the
Bells rang; Mr Field & another Witness who was at the House,
testify that Car went upstairs and got his Sword.

1 This article in the form as published is printed at pages 110-
2 March 26. Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., p.
3 0n July 10, the town meeting defeated a motion that the printers
be allowed to sell the printed narrative. ibid., p. 34.
4 The words "& Impartiality" were stricken out at this point.
5 see Narrative first Edit. Apendix page 68.
6 At this point the words "Men or" were stricken out.
7 Idem.
8 page 69.
9 page 22.
10 Page 61.
11 The remainder of this paragraph is crossed out in the draft.
Cf., page 108.
12 Narrative Appendix page 4.
13 id, pa. 4 - this alludes to the affrays at the ropewalk: The
Soldiers at Greens Barracks had made three Attacks upon the ropemakers
when they were at their Work, in revenge for one of them being told by
one of the hands in the Walk, that "if he wanted work he might
empty his Vault." Enough to enkindle the flame of resentment in the
Breast of a common Soldier, who of all men has the most delicate
Sentiments of honor! Two of the prisoners were of the party in these
noble Exploits, as was testified in Court.


[Boston Gazette, December 31, 1770.]


IN my last, I consider'd the temper which the Soldiers in general,
had discover'd, and the threats they had utter'd, previous to the
5th of March, together with their correspondent behavior, on that
alarming evening. I was the more brief, because there had been a
"Narrative of the horrid Massacre," printed by the Order of this
Town; which was drawn up by a Committee appointed for that
purpose, and reported by their Chairman, James Bowdoin, Esq. The
Affidavits which are annexed to the Narrative, were each of them
taken before two Justices of the Peace, Quorum Unus, to perpetuate
the remembrance of the thing: Col. William Dalrymple, chief
Commander of the Soldiers, was duly notified by the Justices to
attend the Captions: And his Honor the lieutenant-governor,
certified under his hand with the Province Seal affixed, that full
faith and credit was, and ought to be given to the several Acts
and Attestations of the Justices, both in Court and out. - It will
be own'd by the impartial World, that nothing could be fairer: I
am not, however, at all surprized, to find, publish'd in a late
New-York Paper, a letter said to be written in this Town, in which
among other chit-chat, it is asserted, that from the borders of
Connecticut to Boston, there are people who "exclaim against the
Town for imposing on the Country by false Representations:" This
Narrative has been in a Manner adopted by the Province; for I am
assured, that in the last Session of the General Assembly, the
House of Representatives, generously granted to the Town a sum of
Money to defrey the Charge of a vessel, hired for no other Purpose
but to carry it to London; that his Majesty's Council concurr'd
with the House in the grant, and his Honor the lieutenant-governor
gave his Assent to it. - Arts have been used, and are still using,
to detach the rest of the Colonies from this Province; and the
same arts are every day practised, to divide the Towns in this
Province from the Capital. It is the Machiavellian Doctrine,
Divide et impera -Divide and Rule: But the people of this Province
and of this Continent are too wise, and they are lately become too
experienc'd, to be catch'd in such a snare. While their common
Rights are invaded, they will consider themselves, as embark'd in
the same bottom: And that Union which they have hitherto
maintain'd, against all the Efforts of their more powerful common
Enemies, will still cement, notwithstanding such trifling letter
writers as these.

The candor of this Town was indeed such, that at their annual
Meeting in March, by a vote, they restrain'd their Committee from
publishing the Narrative here, altho' it was printed, lest it
might unduly prejudice those, whose Lot it might be, to be Jurors
to try these Causes: This Restraint, they continued at their
Meeting in May, and untill the Trials should be over.-A Caution,
which all good Men will applaud: As it discover'd a sense of
Justice; as well as the greatest Humanity towards those Men, who
had spilt the blood of Citizens, like Water upon the Ground! -A
temper far from vindictive - Calm and sedate, when it might have
been expected, if ever, they would be off their guard. And yet so
barbarous and cruel, so infamously mean and base were the Enemies
of this Town, who are the common Enemies of all America and of the
Truth itself, that they had it falsely inserted in the public
News-Papers in London, that the Inhabitants had seiz'd upon Capt.
Preston and hung him, like Porteus upon a sign-post!

I shall now, in a few instances, endeavor to show, the temper
which many of the Soldiers discover'd after the fatal Catastrophe
was over. The Reader may have observed, that I am careful to
distinguish, between the Evidence given in Court, from that which
was given out of Court: Witnesses to this point, it is not to be
suppos'd, were admissible at the Trial; unless perhaps the one
immediately following: This is a creditable person who is Mistress
of a reputable family in the Town. She testified before the
Magistrates, and was ready to swear it in Court, if she had been
called, that on the Evening of the 5th of March, a number of
Soldiers were assembled at Green's Barracks, and opposite to her
Gate, which is near those Barracks; that they stood very still,
until the Guns were fired in King-Street; then they clapped their
hands and gave a Cheer, saying, this is all we want; they then ran
to their Barracks and came out again in a few minutes, all with
their arms, and ran towards King-Street.1 - These Barracks are
about a quarter of a Mile from King-Street: Their standing very
still untill they heard the firing, compared with their subsequent
Conduct, looks as if they expected  it: It seems as tho' they knew
what the signal should be, and the part they were to act in
consequence of it. This, perhaps, may be tho't by some to be too
straining: I will not urge it; but leave it to any one to judge,
how far, if at all, it affords grounds of Suspicion, that there
was an understanding, between the Soldiers in King-Street at the
time of the firing, and these; especially if it be true, as has
been said, that they fired without the command of their officer.-
There was also a Witness, an householder of good reputation, whose
testimony was similar to this: That the Soldiers from Green's
Barracks, on that Evening, rushed by him, with their arms, & ran
towards King-Street, saying, this is our time or chance; that he
never saw Dogs so greedy for their Prey, and the Serjeants could
hardly keep them in their Ranks 2 - Another swore, that after
the firing, he saw the Soldiers drawn up under Arms, and heard the
officers, as they walked backwards and forwards say to one another,
Damn it, what a fine fire that was! How bravely it dispers'd the Mob3
- A gentleman belonging to Halifax in Nova Scotia testified that when
the body of Troops was drawn up before the guardhouse (which was
presently after the Massacre) he heard an Officer say to another,
that this was fine work, just what he wanted!4 - I shall add but
one more to this list, and that is, the testimony of a Witness,
well known in this Town for an honest man; who declared that at
about one o'Clock the next morning, as he was going alone from his
own House to the Town-House, he met a Serjeant of the 29th with
eight or nine Soldiers, all with very large Clubs and Cutlasses,
when one of them, speaking of the Slaughter, swore by God, it was
a fine thing, and said, you shall see more of it.5 - To these I
cannot help subjoining, the testimony of Mr. John Cox, a very
reputable Inhabitant of this Town ; who swore in Court at one of
the late trials, that after the firing, he went to take up the
dead; that he told the Soldiers, it was a cowardly trick in them
to kill men within reach of their Bayonets, with nothing in their
hands; and that the officer said, damn them, fire again, and let
them take the consequence - to which he replied, you have killed
enough already to hang you all: But it has since appeared that he
was mistaken. - There are others, who saw, a very large party from
the Southguard, after the firing, take their post under Liberty-
Tree; by which one would think they intended to act the same part
which the Soldiers in New-York had before done, as indeed some of
them had threatened they would, and which would probably have bro't on
a new scene of confusion. But the commanding officer, very prudently
ordered the regiment to be under arms, which prevented it.

If these testimonies would not have been pertinent to the issue of
the late trial, I think it necessary to adduce them here, to
convince the world of the wretched state this Town had been in;
the reason they had to apprehend, while such blood-thirsty inmates
were quarter'd among them ; and the necessity they were tinder,
constantly to be on their guard, while there were even such
exultations at the barbarous "action" of the Evening.

Much was bro't into Court, to show that the Town was in a state of
disorder on that Evening, and previous to the Affray at Murray's
Barracks; Witnesses were admitted to testify, that they had been
met by one and another arm'd with Clubs; but nothing appeared
there, to show the Cause and even the necessity of it: Thus, one
of the prisoners witnesses testified in Court, that at seven
o'clock, going to the South-End of the Town, he met forty or fifty
in small parties, four or five in a party; and divers others swore
to the same purpose: They did not indeed say, whether they knew
them to be Inhabitants; it is as probable, that they were
Soldiers, as inhabitants, if not more so; for it was sworn before
the Magistrates, by a person of credit, that on the Saturday
before, he saw the Soldiers making Clubs.6 Another was ready to
testify in Court, that thirty of these Clubs or Bludgeons, were made
by the Soldiers, in his own Shop. And in the part of the Town where
the before-mentioned witness was going, a gentleman was early in the
Evening attacked by two Soldiers, one of them arm'd with a Club, and
the other with a broad Sword; the latter struck him, and threatned
that he should soon hear more of it.7 It was notorious, that the
Soldiers were frequently seen on that Evening, arm'd with Clubs, as
well as other Weapons; and the night before, very late, it can be
prov'd that forty or fifty of them were seen, thus arm'd, in several
parts of the Town in terror of his Majesty's subjects: But in the
judgment of some men, every party that was seen with Clubs, or in
the modern term, bludgeons, to be sure, must have been
inhabitants. It had been testified, that on the Saturday before
the fifth of March, the Soldiers, had not only been seen making
their Clubs, as is before mentioned, but from what the witness
could collect from their conversation, they were resolved to be
reveng'd on the Monday.8 If they were in such danger, as some will
pretend they were, pray, why were they not kept in their Barracks,
especially after eight o'clock, according to their own rules?
Instead of this, we find the testimony of a person, who was not an
inhabitant of the Town: that being at the South-End on that Evening,
exactly at Eight o'Clock, he saw there Eleven Soldiers; an officer
met them, and order'd them to appear at their respective places at
the time; and if they should see any of the inhabitants of the Town,
or any other people not belonging to them, with Arms, Clubs or any
other warlike Weapon, more than two being assembled together, to
order them to stop: and if they refused, to stop them with their
firelocks, and all that should take their part - The officer went
Northward and the Soldiers Southward9 - Here were orders discretely
given indeed! And well becoming a gentleman, in any command over
troops, sent here, as the Minister pretended, to aid the civil
Magistrate in keeping the peace; and with directions never to act
without one. Will any one suppose, that the Town could be safe, even
from this band of Soldiers only; especially while under such
direction and influence. This is a single instance -No wonder that
when the bells soon after rang as for fire, & the people in that
same part of the Town, came into the Street with their Buckets,
they were told by some, as a gentleman who was a witness in Court
for the prisoners said they were, that they had better bring their
Clubs than their Buckets - Such appearances were enough to put the
Town in Motion - It is a glaring mistake to say, the Soldiers were
in danger from the inhabitants: The reverse is true; the inhabitants
were in danger from the Soldiers. - With all the indulgence which
was shown, and perhaps ought to have been shown to prisoners at
the bar, upon trial for life, not a single instance was prov'd, of
abuse offer'd to Soldiers that Evening, previous to the insolent
behavior of those who rush'd out of Murray's Barracks, with
Cutlasses, Clubs and other Weapons, and fell upon all whom they
met: On the contrary, there had been many instances of their
insulting and even assaulting the Inhabitants in every part of
the Town; and that without Discrimination ; which did not look, as
if they design'd to seek revenge, for any former Quarrel, upon
particular persons.

As it was said, in Court that the unhappy Persons who fell a
sacrifice to the cruel revenge of the Soldiers, had brought their
death upon their own heads, I must not omit saying, what I think
ought to be said, in behalf of those who cannot now speak for
themselves - Mr. Maverick, a young gentleman of a good family and
a blameless life, was at supper in the house of one of his
friends, and went out when the Bells rang as for fire. Mr.
Caldwell, a young seaman and of a good character, had been at
School to perfect himself in the art of Navigation; and had just
return'd to the house of a reputable person in this town, to whose
daughter he made his visits, with the honorable intention of
Marriage: He also went out when the bells rang. Mr. Gray was of a
good family; he was at his own house the whole of the Evening,
saving his going to a neighbour's house to borrow the News-Paper
of the day and returning; He went out on the ringing of the bells;
and altho' a child swore in Court, that he saw him with a stick,
after the bells rang, yet another witness saw him before he got
into King-Street without a stick; others saw him in King-Street
and testified that he had no stick; and when he was shot, the
Witness at whose feet he fell, declared, as is mentioned in a
former Paper, that he had no stick, and his arms were folded in
his bosom; so that it is probable, the young Witness mistook the
person. Mr. Attucks, it is said, was at supper when the bells
rang; he went out as others did, to enquire where the fire was; in
passing thro' Dock-Square, he saw the affray at Murray's Barracks;
and hearing a man say that if any one would join, he would drive
the Soldiers into the Barracks, he join'd; & they two were
principally concerned in doing that piece of service. Great pains
were taken to make it appear that he attacked the Soldiers in
King-Street, but the proof fail'd: He was leaning upon his stick
when he fell, which certainly was not a threatning posture: It may
be supposed that he had as good right, by the law of the land, to
carry a stick for his own and his neighbor's defence, in a time of
such danger, as the Soldier who shot him had, to be arm'd with
musquet and ball, for the defence of himself and his friend the
Centinel: And if he at any time, lifted up his weapon of defence,
it was surely, not more than a Soldiers levelling his gun charg'd
with death at the multitude: If he had killed a Soldier, he might
have been hanged for it, and as a traitor too; for even to attack
a Soldier on his post, was pronounc'd treason: The Soldier shot
Attucks, who was at a distance from him, and killed him,. - and he
was convicted of Manslaughter. - As to Mr. Carr, the other
deceas'd person, it is doubtful with what intent he came out: He
was at the house of one Mr. Field, when the bells rang; Mrs.
Field, and another witness who was at the house, declared that
Carr went up Stairs, and got his Sword, which he put between his
Coat and his Surtout, and it was with difficulty that they
prevail'd upon him to lay by his Sword: They could not persuade
him to keep in: It does not appear that he took any part in the
contest of the Evening: He was soon shot: and tho' dead, he
afterwards spoke in Court, by the mouth of another, in favour of
the prisoners; declaring among other things already mentioned,
that he was a native of Ireland, and had often seen mobs and
Soldiers fire upon them there, but never saw them bear half so
much before they fired as these did.

The conduct of the Soldiers and of the people in King-Street,
shall be the Subject of a future Paper. In the mean time, I must
desire Philanthrop, who appear'd in the last Evening Post, if he
pleases, to read again what I observ'd upon the case of Killroi in
particular, in this Gazette of the 17th Inst;1 and to consider,
whether he did me justice in saying, that I had publish'd "the
only piece of Evidence produc'd against Killroi and argued upon
that alone:" I then publish'd several material pieces of Evidence
against him; and upon the whole concluded, that what was called
the furor brevis was, in my opinion, of rather too long - a
continuance, to come within the indulgence of the law. I then
tho't, and I believe I am far from being singular in thinking it;
that for a man repeatedly to say, that he had wanted an
opportunity of firing upon the inhabitants ever since he had been
in the Country and that he would never miss an opportunity of
doing it; and afterwards, when forewarn'd against it, to fire upon
the inhabitants, kill one man upon the spot, and then
unrelentingly attempt to stab another, who had not offer'd him any
injury, all which was sworn in open Court: If such a man is not,
hostis humanis generis, he discover'd at least, a total want of
remorse at the shedding of human blood, as well as rancorous
malice from the beginning. Philanthrop further says, that "there
was no evidence given in Court" of the wound in Mr. Gray's head;
and "that it is, in the highest degree unjust, to blame the Court
and jury for not regarding evidence which they never heard": If he
will candidly recur to the aforementioned Paper he will find, that
I expressly said, that the witness being out of the Province, the
evidence of so savage an act of barbarity could not be produc'd in
Court; nor did I take it upon me to "blame the Court and Jury for
not regarding it " - "I do not charge Philanthrop with a design"
to amuse his readers in this, or any other instance; but if he
intends to continue the subject, I would advise him to be more
cautious lest he misleads them for the future. Again he says "the
impossibility of the bayonets being bloody the next morning, is
demonstrable from this, that every gun and bayonet of the party
was scowered clean that very night"; but to borrow his own words
"it is certain no such evidence was given in Court": If this could
have been proved, I dare say it would have been done without fail.
Philanthrop may suppose it to be true, from its being, as he says,
"the constant practice of the army after firing"; but such a vague
supposition will not invalidate the oaths of creditable witnesses
in open Court, who swore that Killroi's bayonet was bloody, five
inches from the point.

To vilify and abuse "the most amiable and respectable characters,"
I detest from the bottom of my heart: At the same time, I leave it
to Philanthrop, or any one who pleases, to write Panegyricks, on
the living or the dead.

Dec. 25th.

1 Narrative Appendix p. 68
2 Idem p. 68
3 Idem 69.
4 Idem. 22.
5 Idem.61
6 Idem.4.
7 Idem. 12.
8 Idem. p. 4, This alludes to the affray at the Ropewalks: The
Soldiers at Green's Barracks had made three attacks upon the
Ropemakers, while they were at work, in revenge, for one of them
being told by a hand in the Walk that "if he wanted work he might
empty his Vault": Enough, to enkindle the flame of resentment, in
the breast of a common Soldier, who of all men has the most delicate
sentiments of Honor. Two of the Prisoners were of the party in these
noble Exploits, as was testified in Court.
9 Idem. P. 48.


[Boston Gazette, December 31, 1770.]

Messieurs PRINTERS.

I Desire you would correct the following mistake I made in your
last paper. I said "there were two only of the witnesses in the
late trial that made mention of the tall Gentleman in a red cloak
and white wig, viz. Mr. Hunter and Mr. Selkrig": In looking over
my minutes, I find there was another, viz. Mr. Archibald Bowman,
who also made mention of him. Mr. Bowman testified, that they (the
people in dock-square) "stood thick round him some time, and after
cried huzza for the main guard"; in which he agreed with Mr.
Hunter: But he declared, that he did not remember their striking
their sticks at Simpson's Store, & saying, they would do for the
Soldiers, tho' Mr. Selkrig, who was with him at the same time,
declared, that those words were spoken by numbers at Simpson's
Store. Mr. Selkrig mention'd nothing of their saying huzza, &c.
From all which we may conclude, that these cries were not general;
especially, as other witnesses declared that the people also cried,
home, home. Mr. David Mitchelson testified, that "they cried, they
would go to the main guard, and that the effect soon followed": But
they went not to the main guard, nor was the main guard attack'd thro'
the whole evening. He further said, the bells were ringing. - The
truth is, the generality of the people of the town thought there was
a fire; but not knowing where, they naturally, in passing thro' the
main streets, from the north and south parts of the town, stopped in
dock square, which is in the center: There, they found there was
not fire; but that the soldiers at Murray's barracks, had, if I
may use the expression, broke loose. Mr. Selkrig said, that the
[people] "made unsuccessful attacks upon the barracks"; but
immediately adds, "that he saw nothing" (of the attacks, I suppose;
for it was impossible he should see them, there being a stone
building between the house in which he was, and the barracks) but
that "they went up the alley and came back suddenly"; which
corresponds with what another of the prisoners witnesses said,
who was on the other side of the stone building, and therefore
could see; viz, that the soldiers several times presented their
guns at the people: Mr. Selkrig must be candidly suppos'd to intend,
that he judg'd the people to have made attacks upon the barracks,
and unsuccessfully, from seeing them retreat only: But his conclusion
might not be well grounded: It is as natural to conclude that these
sudden retreats were occasioned by the soldiers attacking the people,
as they had before done; and their levelling their guns and threatning
to make a lane thro' them, as was sworn in open court. Mr. Dickson,
who was with Mr. Selkrig, and the other Scotch gentleman at Mr.
Hunter's house, declared, that "a party came running down the alley,
as if they had met with opposition there"; which confirms what Mr.
Selkrig had said of their sudden retreats, and strengthens the
supposition I have now made.

But the writer in Mr. Draper's paper of the 20th Instant, has not
yet fulfilled his promise to "ascertain the person" in a red
cloak: I am sollicitous that the publick should know the very man;
and the rather, because it has been impudently insinuated, that he
was a gentleman in office in this town.

Dec. 27.


[Boston Gazette, January 7, 1771]


I Have taken occasion to mention the unhappy persons, who lost
their lives on the fatal fifth of March And I think it must appear
to every candid reader, that they were totally unconnected with
each other; and that it cannot be even suspected, that either, or
to be sure, more than one of them had any ill intention in coming
abroad on that evening; much less, that they were combin'd
together to do any sort of mischief: Nay, it is even to be
doubted, whether they ever had any knowledge of each other. I will
further observe, that there was not the shadow of evidence to
prove, that any other persons, excepting the Soldiers, had form'd a
design to commit disorders at that or any other time: Unless credit
is to be given in a court of law, to the hearsay of an hearsay; the
story which one man told another at sea, and months after the facts
were committed: Evidence which was in vain objected to by the council
for the crown; but to the honor of one of the prisoners council was
by him interrupted and stopped. This worthy gentleman declared in
open court that it was not legal, and that it ought not to have the
least weight in the minds of the jurors; upon which it was ruled,
that the witness should proceed no further, and he was dismiss'd.

I come now to consider the tragical scene, as it was acted in
King-street; in doing which, I shall confine myself chiefly, to
the evidence as it was given in court: If I vary from the truth,
let Philanthrop, or any one else correct me; it is far from my
design: And I am willing to appeal for facts, to the book which
Philanthrop has told us of; provided always, that the facts are
there stated with impartiality and truth: This I think it
necessary to premise, because I find it advertiz'd, that the book
is to be publish'd, not by the direction, but with the permission
of the court: A distinction, which appears to me to be of some

It may be necessary, first to enquire into the situation the
centinel was in, for whose relief the party was said to have
afterwards gone down. By the testimony given in court, by Col.
Marshall, who had spent the evening at a friend's house in dock-
square, it appears that at nine o'clock all was quiet there; and
passing thro' Royal - exchange lane into King street, where the
centry was, he found all as peaceable there; "the street never
clearer," was his expression. It is probable that very soon after
this, the difference arose between the centry and the barber's
boy; for Col. Marshall testified, that some time after, he heard a
distant cry of murder; and it is without doubt the centry struck
the boy, with his gun, - It was then that Colonel Marshall saw a
party turn out from the main-guard, and soon after another party
rush'd thro' Quaker-lane, all arm'd - It is probable, that these
were the Soldiers who, as they ran into Cornhill, abus'd the
people there, as I have before mention'd: Upon the appearance of
these parties, it is said, that the barber's boy, and his fellow-
apprentice, ran either into his Master's or a neighbor's shop. -
Mr. William Parker, one of the prisoner's witnesses declared, that
when he came into King street, which was after the affray began at
Murray's barracks, all was quiet and peaceable: But presently the
barber's boy, with two or three more, came to the centry - they
push'd one another against him (in resentment it is to be suppos'd
for) they said, he had knock'd the boy down - In the trial of
Capt. Preston, the boy himself swore in Court, that the centry had
struck him with his bayonet. Mr. Parker adds, that presently a
number, about fifteen, came thro' Silsby's lane, which leads from
Murray's barracks, with sticks like pieces of pine in their hands
- The most of them small boys, 1 or 2 of them large lubbers, as he
called them - they said, let us go to the main-guard; by which it
does not appear that they interested themselves in the dispute
with the centry, nor does it appear that they molested the main-
guard, if they went up to it - Soon after, five or six more came
up Royal exchange lane, which also leads from Murray's barracks,
with sticks like the others; but neither did the witness say, that
these interfered with the centry - Mr. Parker further said, that
he went up by Mr. Jackson's corner, and met twenty or thirty more
coming out of Cornhill, a good many men among them, some with
sticks and some with walking canes - These opened the matter to
him; and told him there had been a squabble at Murray's barracks,
but that the Soldiers were driven in, and all was over. -  These
different parties met in a cluster, at and near Quaker lane, and
not long after seem'd to disperse; and he soon went off himself,
not leaving above twelve or fifteen in the street: And, just as he
got home, which might not be more than ten minutes, he heard the
bells ring, and the guns discharg'd - No one I believe will
dispute the veracity, either of Col. Marshall or Mr. Parker
Mr Edward Payne, a merchant of note in this town, was also
summoned as a witness for the prisoners, and his testimony will
undoubtedly be rely'd upon, by all who know him or his character.
Mr. Payne came out after Mr. Parker left the street; for he
declared in Court, that at 20 minutes after nine, when the bells
rang, he went out into the street, and was told, as Mr. Parker had
been, that the soldiers had sallied out of their barracks, and had
cut & wounded a number, but were driven in again - He declared
that the centinel was walking by himself, and no body near him -
so that the barber's boy and his three or four comrades, were at
that time gone off - He heard a considerable noise in Cornhill,
and a noise of people coming up Silsby's alley - they were
inhabitants: Fourteen or fifteen, perhaps twenty, passed by him,
some with sticks, others without; as many of the latter as the
former - They cried where are they? It is necessary to connect the
circumstances, as the facts are related: Here therefore I will
remind the reader, that besides the Soldiers that came out of
Murray's barracks, and who now may be suppos'd to have been driven
in, there was also a party that had issued from the main guard,
and another party of Soldiers who came thro' Quaker-lane, all
arm'd with naked cutlasses, &c. who went into Cornhill not long
before, and there insulted every person they met: These were the
men whom the persons mentioned by Mr. Payne, in all probability
refer'd to, when they cried, where are they. -  Certainly no
persons could be tho't blame-worthy, for pursuing a banditti, who
had already put a number of peaceable people in great terror of
their lives, with a design to prevent their doing further mischief:
There is no foundation to suppose, that they had any other design:
Yet these are the persons, who, as some would have it, were the
faulty cause of the slaughter, that afterwards ensued: It was
indeed unfortunate that they happened to take that rout; for Mr.
Payne added, that a lad came up and said, that the centry had
knock'd down a boy, upon which the people turn'd about, and went
directly to the centry: By which, one would think, that they had
no design to attack the centry before: and that they would not
even have spoken to him, had they not been told that he had
injured the boy: Till then, the centry had not been the object of
their attention; and I must insist upon it, that they had then as
good right by the law, to resent the injury done to the boy, as
the party from the main-guard had afterwards, to resent the injury
done, if there was any, to the centry - The prudence in either
case I will not undertake to vindicate - Mr. Payne further said,
he was afraid of what might happen from the peoples surrounding
the centry, and wished they might be taken off - He returned to
his own door, which is nearly on the opposite side of the street,
and there heard the people cry to the centry, fire, damn you, why
don't you fire. - I have just observ'd, that Mr. Payne expressed
his concern at the peoples surrounding the centry: Mr. Henry Knox,
another witness for the prisoners, a young gentleman of a very
good reputation, was probably near the centry while Mr. Payne was
at his own door - He testified in court, that the people were
round the centry, and they said he was going to fire - That he was
waving his gun- That he (Mr. Knox) told him, if he fired he must
die - That in return he damn'd them, and said, that if they
molested him, he would fire - That the boys were damning him and
daring him     to fire - That he heard one say he would go and
knock him down for sweeping (his gun) - that he thought the centry
snapped - He added that he saw nothing thrown at the centry,
altho' he was near him till after the party came down and Mr.
Payne finished his testimony with saying, that he perceived
nothing but the talk that led him to think the Soldiers would fire.

Mr. Leigh, and Mr. Frost, both witnesses for the prisoners,
testified, that the barber's boy came up to the people, and
pointing at the centry, said, here 's the son of a b--ch that
knocked me down; upon which one of the witnesses said, the people
cried kill him - Both said, that the centry ran to the custom-
house steps, knocked at the door, but could not get in - neither
of them mention'd any thing thrown at him, nor any attack upon him
- he prim'd and loaded his gun and levelled it; told the people to
stand off, and called to the main-guard; upon which Capt. Preston
and his party came down - Mr. Bulkly, summoned also by the
prisoners, testified that he thought the centry was in danger, by
the number of people about him, and the noise; and mentioned no
other reason for his thinking so - he said that a person told
Capt. Preston, that they were killing the centry - This person was
probably one Thomas Greenwood, a servant in the custom-house; for
he himself declared before the magistrates, that he was in the
custom-house, and went from thence to the main-guard, and told one
of the Soldiers, if they did not go down to the centry, he was
afraid they would hurt him, tho' he had not seen any person insult
him - This man, at the same time depos'd, that he saw two or three
snow balls fall near the steps of the custom-house, but saw no
person throw any stones; tho' he had placed himself in the most
convenient room in the house for observation - Mr. Harrison Gray
mention'd the people round the centry, making use of opprobrious
language, and threatening; but said nothing of their attacking
him, or throwing anything at him - Mr. Hinckley declared, that the
people went to the centry, and at last some of them cried kill
him, but did not see any attempt to hurt him - Mr. Cornwall swore,
that he saw snow balls and 2 or 3 oyster shells thrown at the
centry, but did not think they hit him - he heard several young
gentlemen perswading the people to go off, and believed they all
would have gone off, if the Soldiers had not come down - Mr.
Helyer declared, that he came into King-street, and saw the centry
and twenty or thirty persons - some boys at their diversion - The
centry wav'd his gun in a way that had a tendency to exasperate
the people - Mr. Brewer saw the centry with his bayonet breast
high - a number of boys, twenty or more round him, talking but
doing nothing. Mr. Bailey was standing with the centry on the
custom-house steps - saw 20 or 30 boys of about 14 years old -
they were throwing pieces of ice at him, large and hard enough to
hurt him, but did not know whether they hit him. This must appear
very strange as he was so near him - his standing with him on the
steps, would lead one to think he was an acquaintance of the
centry; which is confirmed by another circumstance, for he said
that when the party came down, one of the Soldiers put his bayonet
to his breast, and the centry told him not to hurt him - Mr.
Simpson swore, that the centry knock'd at the customhouse door -
that a person came to the door and spoke to him, upon which he
turn'd and loaded his gun - There was one witness, and I think but
one, who mention'd pieces of sea-coal thrown at the centry; and
that was Andrew a Negro - A fellow of a lively imagination indeed!
- One, who I believe could tell as good a story even to my lord of
H. and give his lordship as circumstantial an account of "the
unhappy transaction", as some, who have already had the honor of
doing it, & who may think themselves to be Andrew's betters - he
is remarkable for telling romantick stories in the circles of his
acquaintance - And whether his fancy had beguil'd his own
judgment, or whether he had a mind to try his success at painting
upon so serious an occasion, or lastly, whether he was resolv'd to
do his utmost to save the prisoners, I pretend not to say; but he
certainly made some folks believe, that the ashes made of sea-coal
burnt with great savings in the adjacent offices, were like the
cinders thrown out of a blacksmith's shop -Andrew's evidence, if
not his judgment, was greatly rely'd upon; and the more, because
his master, who is in truth an honest man, came into court and
swore to his character; and further said, that Andrew had told
him, that He really believ'd the inhabitants were to blame - It
is, I am apt to think, in general true, that no man knows so
little of the real character of his servant, as the master himself
does: It is well known, that the Negroes of this town have been
familiar with the soldiers; and that some of them have been
tamper'd with to cut their master's throats: I hope Andrew is not
one of these. His character for integrity and even for learning,
for he can both read & write, has been upon this occasion wrought
to so high a pitch, that I am loth even to hint any thing that may
tend to depreciate it; otherwise, I should say, that there are
some, whose kitchens Andrew has frequented, who will not give him
quite so exalted a character, as others, who had not known him,
thought he deserved. - Several others, witnesses for the prisoners
testified to the same purpose; that the people encroach'd upon the
centry; that he loaded his gun and threatned to fire upon them;
and that they in return dared him to fire, and throw'd a few snow
balls. Mr. Hall said, that he presented his gun at the people, and
they threw snow balls and some oyster-shells at him; and they hit
his gun two or three times - Mr. Payne who saw the centry when he
was alone, and until the party came up and fired, "perceived
nothing but the talk, that he thought would have induced him or
any of the Soldiers to fire": Words are not an assault, and could
not warrant him to fire: Mr. Knox and others saw nothing thrown at
him nor any attack made on him: Mr.-----and some others said, they
saw snow balls and other things thrown at him; but it appears very
probable, from the course of the evidence, that if any thing was
thrown at him, it was not till he had loaded his gun, threatened
to fire, & waved it in such a manner as tended to exasperate
people; and as Mr. Knox tho't, had snapped his gun. The first
assault was made by the centry himself, when upon a foolish
provocation in words only, he struck the barber's boy: He renewed
the assault, when he loaded his gun and presented it upon the
people, threatning to fire upon them: In doing this, he put his
Majesty's subjects in terror of their lives, against the law of
the land; and they would have been justified in seizing him at
least - If he had thought himself in danger, instead of threatning
the lives of others, he must first, according to the law of the
land, have retreated if he could, and even from his post: Other
doctrine, I know, has been strongly inculcated of late, by those
who would set up, or tamely yield to, an uncontroulable military
power; but I trust in God, it will never be established here: It
never can, while the people entertain a just idea of the nature of
civil government, and are upon their guard against the daring
encroachments of arbitrary, despotic power. The people were
inclin'd to disperse, and did disperse, in the beginning of this
childish dispute; as appeared by the evidence of Mr. Parker: And
notwithstanding the mutual animosity, if the reader pleases, which
afterwards arose between the centry and them, they would have
finally dispers'd, in the opinion of another witness, if the party
had not come down from the main-guard.

Jan. i.

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
BOSTON Jany 12 1771


I wrote you p Capt Hall who saild about ten days ago, & then
inclosd, some papers publishd in the Boston Gazette upon the
Subject of the late Trial of the Soldiers. I now send you
duplicates, together with others on the same Subject since
publishd. I perceive that Mr Hutchinson is appointed Govr here,1 &
it is said he is to have an independent Salary! Is not this
perfect Despotism? What can the people of Britain mean, by
suffering their great men to enslave their fellow Subjects? Can
they think that the plan is confind to America? They will surely
find themselves mistaken. I am in haste.

1 "I find by the prints that the Commissions have been published
at Boston,14th Inst constituting Lt Gov. Hutch. Governor, and
Secrety Oliver Lt Gov. of Massachusetts." - Literary Diary of Ezra
Stiles [March 22, 1771], vol. 1., p. 97. "Govr Thomas Hutchinson and
Lieut. Govr Andrew Oliver, Esq's., commissions published ; Judges in
their robes, and all the Bar in their habbits, Walked in procession."
[March 14, 1771], The Diaries of Benjamin Lynde, and of Benjamin
Lynde, Jr., p. 201.


[Boston Gazette, January 14, 1771.]


I Have in my last, consider'd the situation and behavior of the
centry, and the people that were round him, immediately before the
coming down of the Soldiers from the main-guard. Some of the
witnesses, sworn in open court, who I believe, are allow'd to be
of equal credit with any of the rest, and were present thro' the
whole bloody scene, declared, that they perceived nothing thrown
at the centry - Nothing but the number of people and the noise
they made, that led them to apprehend he was in danger - Nothing
but the talk, that induc'd them to think he would fire: Others
indeed saw snow balls, and other things thrown at him, after he
presented his gun, and wav'd it in an exasperating manner,
and threatened to fire: - One in particular, declared, that he saw
balls of ice thrown, large & hard enough to hurt any man: It is
strange, if he thought the centry in danger, that he should stand
so near him, as by his own testimony it is evident he did, till
the Soldiers came down: I think, upon the whole, we may fairly
conclude, that but few of these things were thrown at him; and
that they were in consequence of his loading his gun, & presenting
it at the people: It was the opinion of one of the witnesses for the
prisoners, that the people would have dispersed, if the soldiers had
not come down: It was then unfortunate, that the soldiers were so
suddenly order'd down. Whether it was regular, for a captain to take a
corporal's command, or was ever done before in the army, I leave
others to say, who are better acquainted with the art military,
than I pretend to be: If not, it may be difficult to account for
Capt. Preston's great readiness to undertake so disagreable and
dangerous a task.

In the publick Advertiser, printed in London, the 28th of April
last, I have seen a paper called, the Case of Capt. Thomas
Preston: It was published in his name, tho' not wholly his own
draft; as he declared to a committee of this town, who waited upon
him for an explanation of some passages in it,1 which were
notoriously false, and grosly reflecting upon some of the
magistrates, as well as the people of the town and province. I may
hereafter particularly consider this paper, which has had its run
thro' Britain and America; and point out
the many "faults of partiality" which are contain'd in it: The
only reason why I have not already done it, was, because I agreed
in the general sentiment of the inhabitants of this town, that
nothing of this kind should be publish'd, at so critical a
juncture, lest it might be tho't to prejudice the minds of Jurors
on a trial for life.2- It may be perhaps more easy, and of full
as much importance to the publick, to ascertain the person, who
several times alter'd the state of the case; and, as Capt. Preston
himself declared, even after it finally came out of his hands, as
it would be, to ascertain the person in a red cloke; which the
writer in Draper's paper has been so often in vain called upon to
do, in fulfillment of his voluntary promise. - In this paper,
Capt. Preston, or his friend in his behalf, says, "he sent a non-
commission'd officer and twelve men, and very soon follow'd
himself:" The witnesses in court, on both sides declared, that
Capt. Preston himself came down with the party. Again he says, he
followed, "lest the officer and soldiers should be thrown off
their guard, and commit some rash act": But, did he restrain them
from commiting so rash an act, as firing upon the multitude? - He
surely must have observ'd the violent temper which the soldiers
discover'd, as "they rushed thro' the people" according to his own
account; "upon the trot, in a threatning manner, damning the
people and pushing them with their bayonets", as Mr. Knox and
others swore in court: He knew their guns were charg'd with ball;
he declar'd it at the time, and on the spot, as Mr. Palmes testified:
Should he not then, at the very instant, when he must if ever, have
been apprehensive, that they would commit some rash act, at least
have caution'd them, not to fire, till he himself should give the
orders? Instead of this, by his own, or his friend's account,
publish'd as his own, we find no such prudent directions to the men
under his command; who by the rules of the army, would have been
liable to suffer death, if they had disobey'd! What single step did
he take, to prevent their committing a rash act, for the sake of which
alone, he tells us, he followed down? Not one according to the state
of his case, till after they began to fire: "Upon my asking the men,
says he, why they fired without orders, they said, they heard the
word, fire, and suppos'd it come from me": It seems, it was the
apprehension of the Soldiers, that he order'd them to fire; and we
must suppose, that the Soldiers were particularly attentive to their
commanding officer: But he adds, "I assured them my words were,
don't fire"; from hence it is plain that he gave them some order.
I am no Soldier, and never desire to be one: But I appeal to those
who are, whether the words, "don't fire," are words of command in
the British army; and whether there is not some other word which
Soldiers are taught to understand, more proper to be given on such
an occasion, or, as I chuse to express it, in the heat of action,
which would have prevented such rashness, and even put it out of
their power to have fired, at least to have done any mischief.
These words, I well remember, it was said were made use of in
command, at another time, and by another officer of the same
regiment; when one of the soldiers, thro' mistake, fired upon the
march, in the street, and very nearly effected the death; not to
say, the murder of a worthy citizen: The soldier was soon jostled
from the reach of civil power; which was a mighty easy thing to be
done, as was found by experience, at a time when the first
magistrate of the province had publickly declared, that he had no
authority over the King's troops, which has since been repeated:
The good men of the county however, found a bill of indictment
against the officer who commanded the party: But when the matter
came upon trial before the superior court, altho' some positively
swore that he gave the word, fire, yet because the soldiers swore
that his words were don't fire, a doubt arose; and a doubt you
know, must turn in favor of the accused party; for the good old
maxim is, whether founded in the law of Moses, the common law, the
law of nature and reason, or the safety of human societies, better
ten villains escape than one honest, harmless man be hang'd-
Whether the officer would have so luckily escaped, upon a trial
before a court martial, for giving a word of command,
unintelligible in a military sense, I very much doubt.. - Capt.
Preston further said, that "his intention was not to act
offensively, nor even the contrary part, without compulsion": That
is, when he should think himself compelled, he was to act defensively;
and in what way could he or his soldiers act upon the defence, with
muskets charg'd with ball, but by discharging them upon the people,
which he must have concluded would have kill'd some of them? No
matter, the people were the agressors; and besides, "the King's money
was to be protected" as well as the centinel - Here I will acquit
Capt. Preston, as a man of too much honor to suggest a known falshood:
It has been the constant practice of a certain set of men, meanly to
insinuate, that the Americans in their exertions against lawless
power, have always had something dishonorable in view: At present, it
is the plundering the King's chest; altho' even Greenwood himself, an
hired servant in the custom-house, a dependent upon dependents, if
he is to be believed, depos'd before the magistrate, that amidst
the whole volley, as some would have it, of snow balls, oyster
shells, ice, and as Andrew said, sea coal, thrown at the centinel,
"not a single Pane of the custom-house windows were broken; nor
did he see any person attempt to get into the house, or break even
a square of glass " - The soldiers acted defensively, and it seems
as tho' Preston thought they were at length compelled to do it;
for if it was done against his orders, or barely without his
orders, with what propriety could he say to the person of the
first character in the province, "I did it to save my men," - A
precise answer indeed, to the question put to him; and therefore,
I should have thought, not "unsatisfactory," or "imperfect ", as
it was afterwards affirmed to have been.

Such were the effects of Capt. Preston's sending the non-
commission'd officer and the soldiers to protect the centinel and
the King's money; and of his following very soon after, to prevent
their committing a rash act: But if Capt. Preston had a right to
go to the protection of any man whom he thought in danger, had he or
his party a right to engage in an affray, and carry into an incensed
mob, as he calls it, weapons which could not be used without killing,
and there make use of them as he should judge necessary? Ought he not
to have called upon a civil officer, and put himself, and his men, if
required, under his direction, before he went upon so desperate a
design? Or, does the law of the land, invest every, or any military
officer, even of the highest rank, with the right, above all other
citizens, of making himself a party in a riot, under a pretence of
suppressing it; of carrying with him soldiers arm'd with weapons of
death, and making use of them at discretion, without even the presence
of a civil officer - This is a point of too much importance to be
yielded; for the lives of subjects are not to depend, upon the
judgment or discretion, much less upon the will and pleasure, or
wanton humour of his Majesty's military servants.

I am sensible, I have heretofore taken up too much room in your
useful paper: I shall avoid it at present; and the rather, to
afford you the opportunity of inserting an address "to the
PROTESTANTS of the three Kingdoms, and the COLONIES"; being the
preface to a late publication in London, containing a series of
important letters of the Earl of Hillsborough, the Marquiss of
Rockingham, and others, from a gentleman whose signature is Pliny,


1 See above, page 14
2 See above, page 102.


[Boston Gazette, January 21, 1771.]


As the lives of five of his Majesty's subjects were unfairly lost
on the evening of the 5th of March last, it follows that some
persons must have been in fault:

The unhappy sufferers, for ought that has ever appeared, were in
the peace of God and the King; let their memories then, so far at
least as respects this matter, remain unreproach'd. It appeared by
the evidence in court, that all the prisoners were present in king
street; that they all discharg'd their musquets but one, and his
flush'd in the pan; and that the deceas'd were all kill'd by
musquet balls. Six of the prisoners were acquitted by the jury,
and two were found guilty of manslaughter. In ordinary cases, the
publick ought to rest satisfied, with the verdict of a jury; a
method of trial, which an Englishman glories in as his greatest
security: It is a method peculiar to the English; and as a great
writer observes, has been a probable means of their having
supported their liberties thro' so many ages past: Among the most
substantial advantages arising from trials by juries, there is
this incidental one, in this province especially; that by our
laws, no man being oblig'd to serve as a juryman more than once in
three years, it falls upon the freemen as it were by rotation; by
this means, the people in general are in their turns called to
that important trust; by attending in courts of law and justice,
it is to be presum'd that their minds are there impress'd with a
sense of justice; and that they gain that general idea of right or
law, which it is necessary that all men in a free country should
have. "It is an admirable institution, by which every citizen may
be plac'd in a situation, that enables him to contribute to the
great end of society, the distributing justice; and it every where
diffuses a spirit of true patriotism, which is zealously employed
for the publick welfare." I am not about to arraign the late
jurors before the bar of the publick: They are accountable to God
and their own consciences, and in their day of trial, may God send
them good deliverance. But in times when politicks run high, we
find by the experience of past ages, it is difficult to ascertain
the truth even in a court of law: At such times, witnesses will
appear to contradict each other in the most essential points of
fact; and a cool conscientious spectator is apt to shudder for
fear of perjury: If the jurors are strangers to the characters of
the several witnesses, it may be too late for them to make the
enquiry, when they are upon their seats: The credibility of a
witness perhaps cannot be impeac'd in court, unless he has been
convicted of perjury: But an immoral man, for instance one who
will commonly prophane the name of his maker, certainly cannot be
esteemed of equal credit by a jury, with one who fears to take
that sacred name in vain: It is impossible he should in the mind
of any man: Therefore, when witnesses substantially differ in
their relation of the same facts, unless the jury are acquainted
with their different characters, they must be left to meer chance
to determine which to believe; the consequence of which, may be
fatal to the life of the prisoner, or to the justice of the cause,
or perhaps both. It was for this reason, that I was concern'd,
when the council for the crown objected the notoriety of the
immoral character of a witness, that he was stopped by one of the
council on the other side. In a court of justice, it is beneath
any character to aim at victory and triumph: Truth, and truth
alone is to be sought after.

While the soldiers were passing from the main guard to the custom-
house, it did not appear by any of the witnesses, that they were
molested by the people; if we except what was mention'd, as having
been said by Mr. Car, one of the deceased persons: His doctor
testified, that he told him, the "people pelted them as they went
along". - The declaration of a dying man commonly carries much
weight, and oftentimes, possibly more than it ought: This man's
declaration was not made upon oath, nor in the presence of a
magistrate: The doctor had a curiosity, as most had, to know how
matters were, and enquired of his patient who he thought could
inform him; it may be, not expecting to be called to relate it
before a court, nine months afterwards, when he might have nothing
but memory to recur to: No one disputes the doctor's understanding
or integrity: I have before said, that others were ready to
testify, that Car gave them a very different account from that
which he gave to his doctor: It ought to be remembered, that the
unhappy man was laboring under the pains and anxiety occasioned by
a mortal wound; and might not be able at all times to attend duly
to such questions as were asked him: What makes it highly probable
that he must have been mistaken, is, that among the many
witnesses, not one on either side, mention'd their seeing the
least ill usage offer'd to the soldiers as they pass'd from the
main guard; not even Mr. Gridley, whose declared intention was, at
the request of some gentlemen, with whom he had been in company,

It is agreed by the witnesses for the prisoners, who mention'd
their seeing the soldiers upon their first coming down, that they
loaded their guns, levelled them at the people & began to insult &
abuse them, (as indeed they did upon their march); before any just
provocation had been offer'd to them. - Mr. Hinckley saw the party
come down - they loaded - push'd their bayonets and pricked the
people - Mr. Wilkinson also saw the party come down; did not see
anything thrown at them, tho' he stood at two or three yards
distance - Mr. Murray said they came down and cried make way -
Andrew declared, that the party planted themselves at the custom-
house - the people gave three cheers - he heard one of the
soldiers say, damn you stand back - one of them had like to have
prick'd a man as he was passing by, and swore by God he would stab
him - several persons were talking with the captain, and a number
pressing on to hear what they said; one of the persons talking
with the officer said "he is going to fire"; the people shouted
and said, he dare not fire; and then they began to throw snow
balls. Even by Andrews account, the people were rather curious to
know what the soldiers design'd to do, than intent upon doing

them any hurt, untill they were assaulted by them; which I am apt to
think is true; because Newtown Prince, another Negro, of whom for my
own part I conceive a better opinion than of Andrew, declared, that
the Soldiers planted themselves in a circle - their guns breast high
-and, the people crowded on, to speak with Capt. Preston - and
further, several of the witnesses swore that they themselves talked
with the Captain, and one of them caution'd him against firing
- Capt. Preston himself also in his printed state of his case says,
that he reasoned with "some well behav'd persons": To show that "as
he was advanced before the muzzels of their pieces, he must fall a
sacrifice if they fired " -and that his ordering them to fire "upon
the half cock and charged bayonets would prove him no officer"; all
which might be true, and yet in my humble opinion not quite so
"satisfactory" as the answer which he afterwards gave to the
Lieutenant Governor; for he might, I suppose, in an instant shift his
station, and the soldiers, by a proper word of Command, might
discharge their musquets without his falling a sacrifice or forfeiting
the character of a soldier - Such a manner of reasoning upon their
question, whether he intended to order the men to fire, was evasive;
and may serve to show Captain Preston's opinion, that however well
behav'd these gentlemen were, they were no Soldiers.

I shall now take notice of what the witnesses for the crown testified
concerning the behavior of the Soldiers, upon their first arrival at
the custom-house. Mr. Austin saw the party come down; the captain was
with them; McCauley, one of the prisoners, loaded his gun, push'd at
him with his bayonet and damn'd him - He did not observe the people
press on - Mr. Bridgham declared, that about a dozen surrounded the
Soldiers and struck their guns with their sticks: But he also said the
Soldiers were loading at the same time - He further added, that he did
not apprehend himself or the Soldiers in any danger by any thing he
saw, from whence it may be suppos'd, that as the people struck their
guns only, when they might as easily have have knocked them down,
their intention was not to hurt them, but rather to prevent their
loading - Mr. Brewer saw the party come down - told Captain Preston
that every body was about dispersing; in which he agreed with another
witness, who was of the opinion that the people would have dispers'd
if the Soldiers had not come down; Mr. Brewer added, that Killroi, one
of the prisoners, struck him with his bayonet before they formed, and
that he saw no blows and nothing thrown before the firing - Mr. Bailey
testified, that when the party came down, Carrol one of the prisoners
put his bayonet to his breast. Mr. Wilkinson stood at about two yards
distance from the Soldiers all the while they were there - He saw no
ice nor snow balls thrown; in which he agreed with Mr. Austin - Mr.
Fosdick testified, that he was push'd as the party came down - that
afterwards they wounded him in the breast - two different bayonets
were thrust into his arm - all this while there had been no blows that
he saw, nor did he know the cause of their firing - Mr. Palmes saw
Capt. Preston at the head of the Soldiers who were drawn up with their
guns breast high and their bayonets fixed; and Preston told him they
were loaded with powder and ball - I think I have mentioned all the
witnesses, who testified in court to what they saw upon the first
arrival of the party at the customhouse: And by their testimonies the
reader will judge, whether the Soldiers had just provocation to fire
upon the people; or whether they were in danger of their lives or had
any reason to think they were: On the contrary, whether they did not
themselves first assault the people as they were coming from the main
guard; and afterwards, by levelling their guns loaded with ball in an
exasperating manner at the people; pushing their bayonets at some of
them, wounding others and threatning all, even before any injury had
been offer'd to them.

I shall conclude what I have to say upon this interesting subject in
my next. In the mean time let me assure Philanthrop, that I am fully
of his mind, that a true patriot "will not from private views, or by
any ways or means foment and cherish groundless fears and jealousies":
But perhaps we may not be so well agreed in our determination, when
the fears and jealousies of our fellow citizens are groundless - It is
I believe the general opinion of judicious men, that at present there
are good grounds to apprehend a settled design to enslave and ruin the
colonies; and that some men of figure and station in America, have
adopted the plan, and would gladly lull the people to sleep, the
easier to put it in execution: But I believe Philanthrop would be far
from acknowledging that he is of that opinion. The fears and
jealousies of the people are not always groundless: And when they
become general, it is not to be presum'd that they are; for the people
in general seldom complain, without some good reason. The inhabitants
of this continent are not to be dup'd "by an artful use of the words
liberty and slavery, in an application to their passions," as
Philanthrop would have us think they are; like the miserable Italians,
who are cheated with the names " Excommunication, Bulls, Crusades,"
&c. They can distinguish between "realities and sounds"; and by a
proper use "of that reason which Heaven has given them ", they can
judge, as well as their betters, when there is danger of slavery. They
have as high a regard for George the III. as others have, & yet can
suppose it possible they may be made slaves, without "enslaving
themselves by their own folly and madness"; They can believe, that men
who "are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, born and bred among
us," may, like Achan, for a wedge of gold, detach themselves from the
common interest, and embark in another bottom; in hopes that they,
"with their wives and children" will one day stand and see, and enjoy,
and triumph, in the ruins of their country: Such instances there have
been frequently in times past; and I dare not say, we have not at
present, reason enough for "exclaiming with the roman patriot, 0
tempora, 0 mores ". The true patriot therefore, will enquire
into the causes of the fears and jealousies of his countrymen; and if
he finds they are not groundless, he will be far from endeavoring to
allay or stifle them: On the contrary, constrain'd by the Amor Patrae,
and from public views, he will by all proper means in his power foment
and cherish them: He will, as far as he is able, keep the attention of
his fellow citizens awake to their grievances; and not suffer them to
be at rest, till the causes of their just complaints are removed. - At
such a time Philanthrop's Patriot may be "very cautious of charging
the want of ability or integrity to those with whom any of the powers
of government are entrusted": But the true patriot, will constantly be
jealous of those very men: Knowing that power, especially in times of
corruption, makes men wanton; that it intoxicates the mind; and unless
those with whom it is entrusted, are carefully watched, such is the
weakness or the perverseness of human nature, they will be apt to
domineer over the people, instead of governing them, according to the
known laws of the state, to which alone they have submitted. If he
finds, upon the best enquiry, the want of ability or integrity; that
is, an ignorance of, or a disposition to depart from, the
constitution, which is the measure and rule of government &
submission, he will point them out, and loudly proclaim them: He will
stir up the people, incessantly to complain of such men, till they are
either reform'd, or remov'd from that sacred trust, which it is
dangerous for them any longer to hold. -Philanthrop may tell us of the
hazard "of disturbing and inflaming the minds of the multitude whose
passions know no bounds": A traitor to the constitution alone can
dread this: The multitude I am speaking of, is the body of the people
- no contemptible multitude - for whose sake government is instituted;
or rather, who have themselves erected it, solely for their own good -
to whom even kings and all in subordination to them, are strictly
speaking, servants and not masters. "The constitution and its
laws are the basis of the public tranquility - the firmest support of
the public authority, and the pledge of the liberty of the citizens:
But the constitution is a vain Phantom, and the best laws are useless,
if they are not religiously observed. The nation ought then to watch,
and the true patriot will watch very attentively, in order to render
them equally respected, by those who govern, and the people destin'd
to obey " - To violate the laws of the state is a capital crime; and
if those guilty of it, are invested with authority, they add to this
crime, a perfidious abuse of the power with which they are entrusted:
"The nation therefore, the people, ought to suppress those abuses with
their utmost care & vigilance" - This is the language of a very
celebrated author, whom I dare say, Philanthrop is well acquainted
with, and will acknowledge to be an authority.

Philanthrop, I think, speaks somewhat unintelligibly, when he tells us
that the well being and happiness of the whole depends upon
subordination; as if mankind submitted to government, for the sake of
being subordinate: In the state of nature there was subordination: The
weaker was by force made to bow down to the more powerful. This is
still the unhappy lot of a great part of the world, under government:
So among the brutal herd, the strongest horns are the strongest laws.
Mankind have entered into political societies, rather for the sake of
restoring equality; the want of which, in the state of nature,
rendered existence uncomfortable and even dangerous. I am not of
levelling principles: But I am apt to think, that constitution of
civil government which admits equality in the most extensive degree,
consistent with the true design of government, is the best; and I am
of this opinion, because I agree with Philanthrop and many others,
that man is a social animal. Subordination is necessary to promote the
purposes of government; the grand design of which is, that men might
enjoy a greater share of the blessings resulting from that social
nature, and those rational powers, with which indulgent Heaven has
endow'd us, than they could in the state of nature: But there is a
degree of subordination, which will for ever be abhorrent to the
generous mind; when it is extended to the very borders, if not within
the bounds of slavery: A subordination, which is so far from conducing
"to the welfare and happiness of the whole", that it necessarily
involves the idea of that worst of all the evils of this life, a
tyranny: An abject servility, which instead of "being essential
to our existence as a people," disgraces the human nature, and sinks
it to that of the most despicable brute.

I cannot help thinking, that the reader must have observed in
Philanthrop's last performance, that a foundation is there laid for a
dangerous superstructure: and that from his principles, might easily
be delineated a plan of despotism, which however uncommon it may be,
for the laws and constitution of the state to be openly and boldly
oppos'd, our enemies have long threatened to establish by violence. If
Philanthrop upon retrospection shall think so, he will, like a prudent
physician, administer an antidote for the poison: If not, I hope the
attention of others will be awakened to that excellent maxim, "no less
essential in politicks than in morals", principiis obsta. It is
impolitick to make the first attempt to enslave mankind by force: This
strikes the imagination, and is alarming: "Important changes
insensibly happen: It is against silent & slow attacks that a nation
ought to be particularly on its guard."

Jan. 15th.

[Boston Gazette, January 28, 1771]


In my last, I recollected the testimonies of the witnesses on both
sides, who related in court the behavior of the soldiers and the
people, on the fatal evening of the fifth of March last. The reader,
if he pleases, will judge; whether the people struck the soldiers
guns, or threw snow balls or any other thing, or offer'd them the
least violence, from their first turning out till they had march'd to
the custom-house, abused, threatned, beat and wounded the people,
loaded their guns with powder and ball, levelled them, and waved
them in an exasperating manner, and gave out that they would fire; for, if
Andrew is to be believed, he testified, that when one of the persons
talking with the officer, turn'd and said, "they are going to fire ",
the people shouted, and said "they dare not fire ", and then they
began to throw snow balls. If all these things were done by the
soldiers, before the people offer'd them any injury, I would ask, who
made the first assault? If there was an unlawful assembly, who were
they? Were the people the unlawful assembly, who were collected
together, some from an apprehension of fire in the town, and with the
necessary preparations, engines and buckets, to have extinguish'd it,
if there had been one; others from the more alarming apprehension,
that the soldiers had issued from the barracks, as indeed they had
done, and that agreable to their threatnings many days before, and
their correspondent behavior on that very evening, they were
massacreing the inhabitants? Were they, who bore all that insolent and
irritating language from the soldiers, as they march'd from the main
guard, and before they form'd at the customhouse; who were push'd at,
struck with bayonets and wounded, to be charg'd with being the
aggressors, because they finally, when they saw them bent upon firing
against repeated warnings, took such methods as their understanding
dictated to them, in the midst of such a scene, to prevent their
"committing so rash an act"? An act, which it was the duty as well as
the profess'd design of their officer to have prevented; and which, in
the opinion of some, he might have prevented if he would: And yet we
find a person of high rank and figure in this province, testifying in
court in the case of Capt. Preston, that such was his opinion of the
prudence of this same officer, that he should have chosen him out to
have commanded upon a like occasion.

I believe, that in ordinary times, if a banditti of men of violence
had been seen, with guns loaded and bayonets fix'd, trembling with
rage, and ready to fire upon a multitude in the street, it would have
been counted meritorious, in any man or number of men, at all events
to have disarm'd them; and if death had ensued in the attempt, perhaps
it would not have been adjudg'd excuseable homicide or manslaughter. I
am sensible it is said by some, that it was the duty of the soldiers
to maintain their post: It was sworn by a military officer in court,
that "the centinel at the custom-house, was station'd and appointed by
the commanding officer, Lieut. Colonel Dalrymple; that they could not
stir from their post, and it was at their peril if they did"; and
Capt. Preston in his state of the case says, "He sent a party to
protect the centinel": But this is military language; to be used in
camps and garrison'd towns, not in free cities; in courts martial, and
not in courts of common law: It is dangerous to adopt military maxims,
however pleasing they may be to some men, and to bring them into use
in civil societies: If the centinel had been in danger, as was
pretended, the law of the land, to which the most distinguish'd
officer in the King's army is subjected, would have protected that
centinel: Or, if there had indeed been a dangerous mob,
the law would have suppress'd it; and no soldier should have dared to
have interfered, as a soldier, without the command of a civil

Capt. Preston in his state has said, "The mob still increas'd, and was
more outrageous": And what did he say the mob did after they became
more outrageous? Why, "they struck their clubs or bludgeons one
against another: and called out, come on you rascals, bloody backs,
lobster scoundrels, fire if you dare, we know you dare not fire, and
much more such language": But surely it will not be said, that all
this would justify or excuse their firing: This was after the soldiers
had insulted and wounded the people, and had loaded their guns and
threatned to fire, as appears by the current evidence; and yet
hitherto, by his own account, we find no violence nor even threat
offer'd to the soldiers; nothing but hard names and daring them to
fire. He adds, "while I was parleying and endeavoring all in my power
to perswade them to retire peaceably - they advanced to the points of
the bayonets, struck some of them, and even the muzzels of the
peices"; which corresponds with the testimonies of some of the
witnesses in court before mentioned, who said that while they were
loading, the people struck their guns; very probably, however
indiscrete it might be, to prevent their firing. He further says "they
seem'd to be endeavoring to close in with the soldiers" : This was not
mention'd by any witness in court, nor does it seem to be likely:
Indeed, I cannot see how Capt. Preston could imagine, that they seem'd
to be endeavoring to close in with the soldiers: He says, "he was
talking with some well behaved persons, who had asked him whether he
intended to order the men to fire": Some of the witnesses mention'd
the people's pressing in, and more naturally accounted for it, viz,
from a curiosity "to know what was said ". Capt. Preston adds,
"while I was thus speaking (with the well behaved persons, and in all
likelihood at the very instant, when Andrew testified it was said,
they were going to fire) one of the soldiers having received a severe
blow with a stick, stepped a little on one side and instantly fired."
Upon this, says Capt. Preston, "a general attack was made upon the
men": So that there was no general attack, according to his account,
till after the firing; which agrees with Mr. Bridgham and other
unexceptionable witnesses in court, who declared, that "there was no
danger to the soldiers from any thing they saw " -- " no molestation,
nor any thing which they thought could produce firing": Indeed, one of
the witnesses for the prisoners, Mr. Nath. Russell testified, that
"the soldiers were in a trembling situation, and seemed to apprehend
themselves in immediate danger of death"; but being interrogated,
whether their trembling might not be the effect of rage, he replied,
perhaps it might proceed both from fear and rage. If there had been
such a general attack as Capt. Preston mentions, after one of the
soldiers had actually fired, and the others appear'd to be just ready
to fire (for they all discharg'd their guns in a few minutes
afterwards) it would have been such an appearance as might naturally
have been expected; and therefore Capt. Preston, who, as he says,
"followed" the party for that very purpose, should have taken more
effectual care than he did to have "prevented so rash an act " - There
was time enough for him to have at least prevented the continuance of
the firing after the first gun was discharg'd, and consequently to
have saved the lives of some of his Majesty's subjects ; for Mr.
Bridgham testified, that there  was half a minute between the first
and the second gun.

It seems by the evidence, that Montgomery, one of the prisoners, was
the first who fired: It is probable that he was the man, whom Captain
Preston mentions, as having received a blow: The witnesses varied in
their testimonies concerning this fact: He was struck with a stick,
either flung from behind or otherwise: Some say he was knock'd down;
others, that he did not fall: Capt. Preston himself said, "he stepped
a little on one side": Mr. Palmes, who gave, I think, the clearest
account of this matter, declared, that he saw Montgomery struck; he
stepped or sallied back, he could not say which - he did not fall; he
was sure he was not knock'd down before he fired; he could not be, &
he not see it, for his hand was laid familiarly on Capt. Preston's
shoulder, and the soldier stood close to the Captain; he added, that
he himself knock'd Montgomery down, after they had all fired; and the
reason was, that because even then, he was going to prick him with his
bayonet. It seems, the rage of passion in the breast of this soldier,
like that in Killroi's, had not abated, after discharging his piece
upon the people: His thirst was not even then asswaged:' Upon his
attempt, after all the firing, and while numbers were dead on the spot
before him, to stab Mr. Palmes, he struck with his stick, and knock'd
his gun out of his hand; and then he struck the first man he could,
which happened to be Preston: A circumstance related by Preston
himself, with this difference; he says he received the blow, as he
turned to the man who fired, and asked him why he fired without
orders; Mr. Palmes said, it was after all the guns were fired: So that
if Mr. Palmes was not mistaken, Capt. Preston did not put that
necessary question, till after all the firing was over, tho' there was
half a minute's distance between the first and second gun! Mr. Palmes
spake upon oath in court; Capt. Preston did not: Which of them was the
more disinterested person, the reader will judge. Mr. Palmes mentioned
a further struggle between him and Montgomery; and the soldier, after
the third attempt to stab him, in missing him fell to the ground, and
he escaped with his life. - Mr. Danbrook saw Montgomery fire, and two
persons fall - Mr. Bass also saw the same soldier fire; was sure he
did not fall before he fired; he stood where he must have seen it; he
thought he fell afterwards, which co-operates with Mr. Palmes's
testimony. - Mr. Burdick went up to one of the soldiers, whom he took
to be the bald man (pointing at Montgomery); asked him whether he
intended to fire; he answered, yes by the eternal God! A soldier
push'd his bayonet at him, upon which he struck at him a violent blow
and hit the cock of his gun; he saw but one thing thrown, and that was
a short stick ; he heard a ratling, & took it to be the knocking of
the soldiers guns together; for the ground was slippery, and they were
continually pushing at the people; after the firing, while the people
were taking up the dead, the soldiers began to present and cock their
guns, and then the officer said don't fire any more. - Andrew
declared, that the soldiers were pushing with their bayonets
all the time he was there; and that the people (being advis'd so to do
before any gun was discharged) seemed to be turning away to leave the
soldiers : he gives a very minute account of three or four person's
coming round Jackson's corner, with a stout man at their head - his
throwing himself in and making a stroke at the officer - their paying
upon each others heads - and the soldiers paying upon the heads of the
people too; and concludes this part of his narrative, with the
soldiers firing: It seems however, to be the account of the contest
between Mr. Palmes and Montgomery, after all the firing was over, as
related by Mr. Palmes; and wro't up and embellished, in a manner in
which Andrew was said to be capable of doing, and sometimes to have
done upon occasions of mirth, and to divert company.

It appears from what has been said, that after the Soldiers had
repeatedly put the lives of individuals in danger, by pushing them
with their bayonets and stabbing them; and had loaded their guns and
threatned to fire upon the multitude indiscriminately, and the people
had reason to apprehend they were just about to put their threats into
execution, by a stick thrown as is most probable, Montgomery received
a blow: That this was tho't by him sufficient provocation to fire upon
the people, by which one of the witnesses said, two persons were
killed; that Capt. Preston, at so alarming a juncture took no method
to prevent the rest from firing, if what was testified, in court is to
be credited; or, if his own account must be rely'd upon, he exerted no
authority over his men, but used expostulations only: "I asked him
(who first fired and as soon as he had fired) why he fired without
order"; very faintly said indeed, by a gentleman in command, and who
had followed the party to "prevent their committing a rash act": What
ensued was enough to show, either that he had no command over the men,
or that they did not apprehend he was much adverse to their firing;
for they soon after fired, and as we are told, without orders - That
after they had all fired, Montgomery made three attempts to stab Mr.
Palmes, who defended himself, and with difficulty escaped with his
life - That the Soldiers had even at that time, again loaded their
guns and were then, ready to repeat the bloody "action", and fire upon
the people as they were taking care of the dead! Then, for the first
time, we hear of a positive order from Capt. Preston "don't fire
anymore": His order before should have been, "don't fire by any means
", or some other order equivalent to the last, and more regular
perhaps than either. - It further appeared by the evidence in court,
that when the first gun was fired, the people began to disperse: Mr.
Bridgham, whose testimony I presume, will not be disputed, said "they
retired after the first gun": Was it not then "such malignity as might
hardly have been expected from barbarians," to continue firing!
Astonishing as it may be to humanity, this they did: And being
resolved to do further execution, Mr. Williams, a person of known
credit, testified, that "they waved their guns at the people as
they ran": And what, if possible, is still more barbarous, the last
man that fired, as Mr. Bridgham testified, "level'd his gun at a boy,
and mov'd it along, with the motion of the lad"; which testimony, if
it needs it, is confirmed by that of Mr. Helyer: Both agreed that the
lad was not wounded.

"I shall make no further comments; there needs none": I will just say,
that however safely Philanthrop may speak, when he tells us, that "no
individual can have a right, openly to complain or murmur"; if the
times at present were even such, as not to allow one openly to declare
the utmost detestation of such slavish doctrine, I would still venture
to declare my opinion to all the world, that no individual is bound,
nor is it in the power of the tyrants of the earth to bind him, to
acquiesce in any decision, that upon the best enquiry, he cannot in
his conscience approve of. I pretend not to judge the hearts of men:
The "temptations that some men could be under, to act otherwise than
conformably to the sentiments of their own hearts" are obvious: But I
would ask Philanthrop, whether, if a man should openly say, that those
temptations have had their genuine effects, he would not expose
himself to have a bill of information filed against him, by the
attorney general, and to be dealt with in a summary way.

As it was published to the world by Mr. Draper, that the witnesses in
the trial of the custom-house officers, were not credited, I may
possibly hereafter, when I shall be more at leisure, make that the
subject of a free enquiry.



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; the text is in W. V. Wells,
Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., p. 383.]

BOSTON [March 12] 1771


Your Letter of the 1 Sept 1770 has been laid before the Town of Boston
at their annual Meeting & attended to with great Satisfaction, and we
are appointed a Committee to return a respectfull Answer. Accordingly
we take this Opportunity in Behalf of the Town to acknowledge the kind
Sentiments your Letter expresses towards us and to intreat you to
employ your Abilities for our Advantage whenever a favorable
Opportunity may present. We are very sensible that you have an arduous
Task in resisting the Torrent of Oppression & arbitrary Power in
Ireland: a kingdom where the brutal power of standing Armies, & the
more fatal Influence of pensions & places has left, it is to be feard,
hardly any thing more than the Name of a free Constitution. We wish
you Strength & fortitude to persevere in patriotick Exertions. Your
Labour will meet with its immediate & constant Reward, in the most
peaceful & happy Reflections of your own mind amidst the greatest
discouragements; and be assured that the Man who nobly vindicates the
Rights of his Country & Mankind shall stand foremost in the List of

1 Of Dublin. Cf. Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xxxiv., p.
231. The committee which reported this letter was appointed March 12,
and consisted of James Bowdoin, Joseph Warren, Samuel Pemberton,
Richard Dana and Adams. Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol.
xviii., p. 46.
Franklin wrote to Bowdoin, January 13, 1772: "In Ireland, among the
Patriots, I dined with Dr. Lucas." J. Bigelow, Complete Works of
Benjamin Franklin, vol. iv., p. 439.


[Ms., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON April 19 1771.


Your Letter of the 31 Decr which I receivd by Cap Scott a few days
past affords me great Satisfaction; especially as it promises a
Correspondence which I dare say will be carried on with an Openness &
Sincerity becoming those who are anxiously concernd for the publick
Liberty at so alarming a Crisis.1 Perhaps there never was a time when
the political Affairs of America were in a more dangerous State; Such
is the Indolence of Men in general, or their Inattention to the real
Importance of things, that a steady & animated perseverance in the
rugged path of Virtue at the hazard of trifles is hardly to be
expected. The Generality are necessarily engagd in Application to
private Business for the Support of their own families and when at a
lucky Season the publick are awakened to a Sense of Danger, & a manly
resentment is enkindled, it is difficult, for so many separate
Communities as there are in all the Colonies, to agree in one
consistent plan of Opposition while those who are the appointed
Instruments of Oppression, have all the Means put into their hands, of
applying to the passions of Men & availing themselves of the
Necessities of some, the Vanity of others & the timidity of all.

I have long thought that a Design has been on foot to render
ineffectual the Democratical part of this Government, even before the
province was cursd with the Appointment of Bernard, and so unguarded
have the people been in former times, so careless in the Choice of
their representatives as to send too many who either through Ignorance
or Wickedness have favord that Design. Of late the lower house of
Assembly have been more sensible of this Danger & supported in some
Measure their own Weight, which has alarmd the Conspirators and been
in my opinion the true Source of Bernards Complaint against them as
having set up a faction against the Kings Authority. The 4 Judges of
the Supreme Court, the Secretary & the Kings Attourny who had been
Councellors were left out at the annual Election in 1766; this gave
great offence to the Govr, and was followd with two Speeches to both
Houses perhaps as infamous & irritating as ever came from a Stuart to
the English parliamt.2 Happy indeed it was for the Province that such
a Man was at the Head of it, for it occasiond such a Jealousy &
Watchfulness in the people as prevented their immediate & total Ruin.

The plan however is still carried on tho in a Manner some what
different; and that is by making the Governor altogether independent
of the People for his Support; this is depriving the House of
Representatives of the only Check they have upon him & must
consequently render them the Objects of the Contempt of a Corrupt
Administration. Thus the peoples Money being first taken from them
without their Consent, is appropriated for the Maintenance of a
Governor at the Discretion of one in the Kingdom of Great Britain upon
whom he absolutely depends for his Support. If this be not a Tyranny I
am at a Loss to conceive what a Tyranny is. The House of
Representatives did a few days since, grant the Govr the usual Sum for
his Support and it is expected that this Matter will be made certain
upon his refusal of it. The Govr of New York was explicit at the late
Session of their Assembly, upon the like Occasion: But I confess I
should not be surprisd if our good Govr, should accept the Grant &
discount it out of what he is to receive out of the Kings Chest;
thinking it will be conceivd by the Minister as highly meritorious in
him, in thus artfully concealing his Independency (for the
Apprehension of it is alarming to the people) & saving 1000 Pounds
sterling of the revenue at the same time.

While the Representative Body of the people is thus renderd a mere
Name, it is . . . considerd that the other Branch of the Legislative
tho annually elective, is at the same time subject to the Governors
Negative: A Consideration which I doubt not has its full Weight in the
minds of some of them at least, whenever any Matter comes before them
which they can possibly think will affect the Measures of
Administration. You will easily conjecture how far this may tend to
annihilate that Branch or produce Effects more fatal.

It seems then that we are in effect to be under the absolute Governm'
of one Man - ostensively the Governor of the province but in Reality
some other person residing in Great Britain, whose Instructions the
Govr must punctually observe upon pain of forfeiting his place. So
that any little advantage that might now & then arise from his
happening to form Connections with wise Men in the province are
totally lost. As Matters are now circumstancd he must associate with
Pensioners, Commissioners of the Customs Officers of the Army & Navy,
Tools Sycophants &c who together with him are to make such
representations as to them shall seem meet, & joyntly if Occasion
shall require it, execute such Orders as they shall from time to time
receive. Such is to be the happy Government of free British Subjects
in America. I will however do Govr Hutchinson the Justice to say that
tho he may 3 . . yet he has a very natural Connection with some of the
principal Gentlemen Inhabitants of the province for his Excellencys
own Brother is a Justice of the Superior Court, & also a Judge of the
probate of Wills & he has also a Brother by marriage upon the same
superior Bench. Moreover the Lt Govr is his Brother by marriage who
has an own Brother & a Brother by marriage who are justices of the
Superior Court. As these Gentlemen are Natives of the province it is
hoped the Channells of Justice will remain unpolluted notwithstanding
his Excellencys other Connections.

1 On January 10, 1771, Lee wrote to Adams: Our friend Mr. Sayre has
done me the favour of communicating to me your very obliging
invitation to a correspondence."-R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol.
i., p. 249.
2 See Vol. I., pages 79, 83.
3 At this point the words "mar a State of Absolute Independency in
both Houses of Assembly" are erased in the draft.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with modifications,
is in Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 296, 297; a text is also in
Journal of the House of Representatives, 1770-1771, pp. 241, 242.]

In the House of Representatives April 24 1771

Orderd that Mr Hancock Mr Adams Mr Ingersol of Great Barrington Capt
Brown & Capt Darby be a Committee to wait on his Excellency the
Governor with the following Answer to his Speech to both Houses at the
Opening of this Session.

May it please your Excellency.

The House of Representatives have given all due Attention to your
Speech to both Houses at the Opening of this Session.

The violent proceedings of the Spanish Governor of Buenos Ayres in
dispossessing his Majestys Subjects of their Settlement at Port
Egmont, has raisd the Indignation of all, who have a just Concern for
the Honor of the British Crown. Such an Act of Hostility, we conceive
could not but be followd with the most spirited Resolution on the part
of the British Administration, to obtain a Satisfaction fully adequate
to the Insult offerd to his Majesty, & the Injuries his Subjects there
have sustaind. Your Excellency tells us that it is probable
Satisfaction may have been made; for this Hostile act of the
Spaniards: If it is so, the publick Tranquility of his Majestys
Dominions so far as it has been disturbd, by this unwarrantable
Proceeding, is again restored; and therefore it seems to us reasonable
to suppose, that the proposd Plan of Augmentation of Troops on the
British Establishment is already receded from ; which renders any
Consideration upon that Subject on our part unnecessary.

We owe our Gratitude to his Majesty for his repeated Assurances
expressd to your Excellency by his Secretary of State, that the
Security of his Dominions in America, will be a principal Object of
his most gracious Care & Attention. This Province has frequently in
times past expended much Blood & Treasure for the Enlargement as well
as the Support of those Dominions: And when our natural &
constitutional Rights & Liberties, without which no Blessing can be
secure to us, shall be fully restord & establishd upon a firm
Foundation, as we shall then have the same Reasons and Motives
therefor as heretofore, we shall not fail to continue those Exertions
with the utmost Chearfulness & to the Extent of our Ability.

As your Excellency has no particular interior Business of the Province
to lay before us, it would have given us no uneasiness, if an End had
been put to the present Assembly, rather than to have been again
called to this Place: And we are unwilling to admit the Beliefe, that
when the Season for calling a new Assembly agreable to the Charter
shall arrive, your Excellency will continue an Indignity, & a
Grievance so flagrant & so repeatedly remonstrated by both Houses as
the Deforcement of the General Assembly of its ancient & Rightful

Your Excellency is pleasd to acquaint us in Form, that you have
receivd his Majestys Commission appointing you Captain General &
Commander in Chiefe in and over the Province. Your having had your
Birth & Education in this Province, and sustaind the highest Honors
which your Fellow Subjects could bestow, cannot fail to be the
strongest Motives with your Excellency to employ those Powers which
you are now vested with, for his Majestys real Service & the best
Interest of this People. The Duties of the Governor & Governed are
reciprocal: And by our happy Constitution their Dependence is mutual:
Nothing can more effectually produce & establish that Order and
Tranquility in the Province so often disturbd under the late
unfortunate Administration: Nothing will tend more to conciliate the
Affections of this People, & ensure to your Excellency those Aids
which you will constantly stand in Need of from their Representatives,
than, as a wise and faithful Administrator to make Use of the publick
Power, with a View only to the publick Welfare: And while your Excy
shall religiously regard the Constitution of this Province; while you
shall maintain its fundamental Laws, so necessary to secure the
publick Tranquility, you may be assured, that his Majestys faithful
Commons of this Province, will never be wanting in their utmost
Exertions to support you in all such measures, as shall be calculated
for the publick Good, & to render your Administration prosperous &

1 On April 3 the House had appointed a committee, and on April 4 two
committees, in connection with the requests to the Governor to remove
the General Court to Boston. Adams was a member of each of these


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with modifications,
is in Massachusetts State Papers, p. 298; a text is also in Journal of
the House of Representatives, 1770-1771, p. 246.]

In the House of Representatives April 25 1771

Orderd that Mr Saml Adams Brig Ruggles Mr Hersy Coll Bowers & Mr
Godfrey be a Committee to wait on his Excellency with the following

May it please your Excellency.

The House of Representatives after Enquiry of the Secretary cannot be
made certain whether you have yet given your Assent to two Bills which
were laid before your Excellency early in this Session: The one for
granting the Sum of five hundred and Six pounds for your Services when
Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chiefe; and the other for
granting the usual Sum of Thirteen hundred Pounds to enable your
Excellency, as Governor, to carry on the Affairs of this Province.

And as your Excellency was not pleasd to give your Assent to another
Bill passd in the last Session of this Assembly, for granting the Sum
of three hundred & twenty five pounds for your Services, when in the
Chair, as Lieutenant Governor, the House are apprehensive that you are
under some Restraint; and they cannot account for it upon any other
Principle, but your having Provision for your Support, in some new and
unprecedented manner. If the Apprehensions of the House are not
groundless, they are sollicitous to be made certain of it, before an
End is put to the present Session;2 and think it their Duty to pray
your Excellency to inform them, whether any provision is made for your
Support, as Governor of this Province, independent of his Majestys
Commons in it.

1 On April 24, Adams moved that the House send a message to the
Governor asking whether provision had been made for his support
independently of the legislature. The motion was carried, and Adams
was named as the first member of the committee to prepare such a
message. On April 25, he was named as the first of a committee to
present the message to the Governor.
2 The General Court was dissolved on April 26.


[Boston Gazette, June 10, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

BENEVOLUS, in Mr. Draper's Gazette seems to have no doubts in his
mind, but that "a general air of satisfaction arising from the
accounts given in the last Monday's papers of the present state of our
publick affairs will shew itself universally thro' the province." I
have no inclination to disturb the sweet repose of this placid
gentleman; but I must confess I see no cause for such a general air of
satisfaction from those accounts, and I will venture to add, that
there is no appearance of it in this town - Does Benevolus think it
possible for the good people of this province to be satisfied, when
they are told by the Governor, as appears by the last Monday's papers,
that he is restrained from holding the court in its antient, usual and
most convenient place without his Majesty's express leave? Does not
the charter say that the Governor shall have the power of acting in
this matter "as he shall judge necessary"?

Is it not of great importance to the welfare of the province that the
Governor should be vested with such a power, and that he should
exercise it without restraint? While he is, or thinks himself
fetter'd, by an absolute instruction to hold the assembly out of the
town of Boston, to the inconvenience of the members. and the injury of
the people, as the present House of Representatives express it, can he
be said to have the free exercise of all the powers vested in him by
the charter, which is our social compact? Will it yield such a general
satisfaction to the people as Benevolus expects, to see their Governor
thus embarrass'd in his administration, and to hear him expressly
declaring, that he must ask leave, and be determin'd by the judgment
of another in the matter in which it is his indispensible duty to act
with freedom, and by the determination of his own judgment. - Is not
this power devolv'd upon him by the constitution  of the province for
the good of the people? Is it not a beneficiary grant, and therefore a
right of the people? And if instructions may controul him in the
exercise of one charter right, may they not controul in the exercise
of any or every one? And yet Benevolus would fain have it thought that
there is a general satisfaction in the town of Boston arising from
this account, and doubts not but it will run thro' the province. Does
not the present House of Representatives in their Remonstrance to the
Governor against the holding the assembly at Cambridge, instead of
"departing from the principles" as Benevolus would insinuate, adopt
the remonstrances of the two houses of the last year as founded upon
just principles? Do they not tell his Excellency that the holding the
assembly at Cambridge "was consider'd as a GRIEVANCE by the people in
general in the province; and that while it is continued it will have a
tendency to prevent a restoration of that harmony, between the several
branches of the general assembly, which is so earnestly to be desired
by all good men"? And is it so pleasant a story to be told to the
people of the province, that the Governor either cannot, or will not,
remove a Grievance of so fatal a tendency, though expressly vested by
the charter with the power of doing it if he pleases, without asking
leave to do it? How then can Benevolus possibly entertain the least
hopes that a general air of satisfaction will run thro' the province?
Is not this Instruction a novelty? Was ever a Governor before thus
restrain'd? And is it not a mortifying circumstance that a gentleman
from whom the clergy of the province, (I mean the goodly number of
SEVENTEEN out of near four hundred in the province, full seven eighths
of whom never heard that an address was intended) have express'd the
most sanguine expectations as being born and educated among us, and
who we are told accepted the government with great reluctance, should
submit to be shackled with an instruction so grievous to the people
while it is obey'd: And if HE is as resolv'd as any other Governor
would be, to make Instructions the rule of his governing, and give
them the force of laws in this province, as he certainly appears to
be, what "distinguishing mark of favor" is it, or what satisfaction
can it afford the people in general, that "a native of the province is
appointed to preside over it"? - Surely Benevolus must either be
totally inadvertent to the accounts of the state of our publick
affairs as given to us in the last Mondays papers, or he must have
altogether confided in the accounts of a confused writer in the
Evening-Post, who in the old stile of the hackney'd writers in
Bernard's administration, tells us that FACTION is now at an end; and
with an awkward air of gravity insinuates, that the people, after
having nobly struggled for their freedom, are, under the benign
influence of the present administration, "returning to their right
senses ". A firm and manly opposition to the attempts that have
been made, and are still making, to enslave and ruin this continent,
has always been branded by writers of this stamp, with the name of a
FACTION. Governor Bernard used to tell his Lordship, that it was an
"expiring faction"; with as little reason it is now said to have given
up the ghost: Gladly would some, even of the Clergy, persuade this
people to be at ease; and for the sake of peace under the
administration of "a son of the province", to acquiesce in
unconstitutional revenue acts, arbitrary ministerial mandates, and
absolute despotic independent governors, &c. &c. But the time is not
yet come; and I am satisfied that, notwithstanding the address of a
few who took the opportunity to carry it through, while only the small
number of twenty-four were present, there is in that venerable order a
great majority, who will not go up to the house of Rimmon, or bow the
knee to Baal.



[Boston Gazette, June 17, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

It is not very material whether the Address of the Convention of the
Clergy, as it is called by the Layman, in Mr. Draper's last Paper, was
the Act of seventeen or twenty three Gentlemen, or whether there were
only twenty-four or thirty present, when the Vote was procured. - Be
it as it may, it is a Question, why this Matter was bro't on and
finished so early, and when so small a Number as thirty, if so many,
were present. - It is said that after the Address was Voted, the
Number increased to Sixty; and upon a Proposal to reconsider the Vote,
"not above Ten of that Number voted for such Reconsideration."
Allowing this to be the Case, it appears, that not more than one in
seven of the Congregational Clergy of this Province were at the
Meeting, and in all Probability seven-eighths of that Denomination
never heard that an Address was intended; for I am told, that upon a
moderate Computation, their Number in the Province is at least upwards
of Four-Hundred. I should be glad therefore, if the Reverend Doctor
who presided at the Meeting, would inform us, with what Propriety the
World is told, that this was "the Address of the Congregational
Ministers of the Province."

For my own Part, I pay very little Regard to Addresses to Great Men:
Whenever they appear to be but the Breath of Flattery, they must be
offensive to the Ears of any Man who has the Feelings of Truth and
Sincerity in his own Breast. -There is no Question but the Clergy have
a Right to address whom they please; and it is not strange to find
some of them ready to make their Compliments to a Governor - It is in
Course: But of all Men, we are to expect from them, even upon such
Occasions, Examples of that Simplicity and godly Sincerity, which we
so often hear them inculcate from the Pulpit - I do not pretend to
charge them with a Failure in this Instance: But I cannot help
thinking, that rather more of those excellent Christian Graces would
have appeared in these Reverend Addressers, if they had ascertained
the Number present. This might have prevented a Mistake in many of the
distant Readers, who may possibly conceive that "so kind, so
affectionate an Address," contained the declared Sentiments of a
Majority at least of the "respectable and venerable" Body of the
Clergy of the Province; which cannot be true, if in Fact not more than
a seventh Part of them knew any Thing about it - I am with due
Veneration for "the Congregational Ministers of the Province."




[Boston Gazette, July 29, 1771; a text from the Bowdoin MS. is in
Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society, Ser. I., vol. viii.,
pp. 468-473.]


June 29, 1771.


Your letter of the 5th of February2 has been laid before the House:
The contents are important and claim our fixed attention.

We cannot think the doctrine of the right of Parliament to tax us is
given up, while an act remains in force for that purpose, and is daily
put in execution; and the longer it remains the more danger there is
of the people's becoming so accustomed to arbitrary and
unconstitutional taxes, as to pay them without discontent; and then,
as you justly observe, no Minister will ever think of taking them off,
but will rather be encouraged to add others. - If ever the provincial
assemblies should be voluntarily silent, on the Parliament's taking
upon themselves a power thus to violate our constitutional and Charter
Rights, it might be considered as an approbation of it, or at least a
tacit consent, that such a power should be exercised at any future
time. It is therefore our duty to declare our Rights and our
determined Resolution at all times to maintain them: The time we know
will come, when they must be acknowledged, established and secured to
us and our posterity.

We severely feel the effects, not of a revenue raised, but a tribute
extorted, without our free consent or controul. Pensioners and
Placemen are daily multiplying; and fleets and standing armies posted
in North America, for no other apparent or real purpose, than to
protect the exactors and collectors of the tribute; for which they are
to be maintained, & many of them in pomp & pride to triumph over and
insult an injured people, and suppress if possible, even their
murmurs. And there is reason to expect, that the continual increase of
their numbers will lead to a proportionable increase of a tribute to
support them. What would be the consequence? Either on the one hand,
an abject slavery in the people, which is ever to be deprecated; or, a
determined resolution, openly to assert and maintain their rights,
liberties and privileges. The effects of such a resolution may for
some time be retarded by flattering hopes and prospects; and while it
is the duty of all persons of influence here to inculcate the
sentiments of moderation, it will in our opinion, be equally the
wisdom of the British administration, to consider the danger of
forcing a free people by oppressive measures into a state of
desperation. We have reason to believe that the American Colonies,
however they may have disagreed among themselves in one mode of
opposition to arbitrary measures, are still united in the main
principles of constitutional & natural liberty; and that they will not
give up one single point in contest of any importance, tho' they may
take no violent measures to obtain them. - The taxing their property
without their consent, and thus appropriating it to the purposes of
their slavery and destruction, is justly considered, as contrary to
and subversive of their original social compact, and their intention
in uniting under it: They cannot therefore readily think themselves
obliged to renounce those forms of government, to which alone for the
advantages imply'd or resulting, they were willing to submit. We are
sensible, as you observe, that the design of our enemies in England,
as well as those who reside here, is to render us odious as well as
contemptible, and to prevent all concern for us in the friends of
liberty in England; and perhaps to detach our Sister Colonies from us,
and prevent their aid and influence in our behalf, when the projects
of oppressing us further and depriving us of our Rights by various
violent measures, should be carried into execution. In this however,
we flatter ourselves they have failed: But should all the other
Colonies become weary of their liberties, after the example of the
Hebrews, this Province we trust, will never submit to the authority of
an absolute government.

We are now led to take notice of another fatal consequence, which we
are under strong apprehensions will follow from these parliamentary
revenue laws; and that is, the making the governors of the colonies,
and other officers, independent of the people for their support. You
tell us there is no doubt of such intention, and that it will be
persisted in, if the American revenue is found sufficient. We are the
more inclin'd to believe it, not only because the governor of the
province of New-York has openly declared it with regard to himself, to
the assembly there; but because the present governor of this province
has repeatedly refused to accept of the usual grant for his support,
tho' he has not been so explicit as to assign a reason for it. The
charter of this province recognizes the natural Right of all men to
dispose of their property: And the governor here, like all other
governors, kings and potentates, is to be supported by the free grants
of the Representatives of the people. Every one sees the necessity of
this to preserve the balance of power and the freedom of any state: A
power without a check, is subversive of all freedom: If therefore the
governor, who is appointed by the crown, shall be totally independent
of the free grants of the people for his support, where is the check
upon his power? He becomes absolute and may act as he pleases: He may
make use of his power, not for the good of those who are under it, but
for his own private separate advantage, or any other purpose to which
he may be inclined, or instructed by him upon whom alone he depends.
Such an independency threatens the very being of a free constitution;
and if it takes effect, will produce and firmly establish a tyranny
upon its ruin. The act of parliament of the 7 Geo. 3.3 intitled, "An
act for granting certain duties in the Colonies, &c." declares That it
is expedient that a revenue should be raised in his Majesty's
dominions in America, for making more certain and adequate provision
for the defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and the
support of civil government in such colonies where it shall be found
necessary; and, towards further defreying the expences of defending,
protecting and securing the said dominions. - These are the very
purposes for which this government by the Charter is empowered to
grant taxes: So that by the act aforementioned, the Charter is in
effect made void. Agreeable to the design of that act, the governor it
seems is first to be made independent; and in pursuance of the plan of
despotism, the judges of the land, and all other important civil
officers, successively: Next follows an independent military power, to
compleat the ruin of our civil liberties. - Let us then consider the
power the Governor already has, and his Majesty's negative on all our
acts, and judge whether the purposes of tyranny will not be amply
answered! Can it be expected that any law will pass here, but such
as will promote the favourite design? And the laws already made, as
they will be executed by officers altogether dependent on the crown,
will undoubtedly be perverted to the worst purposes. The governor of
the province, and the principal fortress in it, are probably already
thus supported. These are the first fruits of the system: If the rest
should follow, it would be only in a greater degree, a violation of
our essential, natural rights. For what purpose then will it be to
preserve the old forms without the substance? In such a state, and
with such prospects, can Britain expect anything but a gloomy
discontent in the Colonies? Let our fellow-subjects there recollect,
what would have been their fate long ago, if their ancestors had
submitted to the unreasonable and uncharitable usurpations, exactions
and impositions of the See of Rome, in the reign of Henry the VIII.
Soon would they have sunk into a state of abject slavery to that
haughty power, which exalteth itself above all that is called God: But
they had the true spirit of liberty, and by exerting it, they saved
themselves and their posterity; The act of parliament passed in the
25th of that reign,4 is so much to our present purpose, that we cannot
omit transcribing a part of it, and refer you to the statute at large.
In the preamble it is declared, that "the realm of England hath been
and is free from subjection to any man's law but only to such as have
been devised, made and ordained within the realm for the wealth of the
same." And further, "it standeth therefore with natural equity and
good reason, that in every such law humane made within this realm by
the said sufferance, consents and customs, your Royal Majesty and your
Lords spiritual and temporal and Commons representing the whole state
of your realm in this your Majesty's high court of parliament, hath
full power and authority, not only to dispense, but also to authorize
some elect person or persons to be sent to dispense with those and all
other humane laws in this your realm, and with every one of them, as
the quality of the persons and matter may require. And also the said
laws and every one of them to abrogate, annul, amplify or diminish, as
it shall seem to your Majesty and the Nobles and Commons of your realm
present in parliament meet and convenient for the wealth of your
realm. And because that it is now in these days present seen, that the
state, dignity and superiority, reputation and authority of the said
imperial crown of this realm, by the long sufferance of the said
unreasonable and uncharitable usurpation and exaction is much and sore
decayed, and the people of this realm thereby much impoverished." It
is then enacted, that "no person or persons of the realm, or of any
other his Majesty's dominions, shall from henceforth pay any pensions,
censes, portions, peter pence, or any other impositions to the use of
the said Bishop of the See of Rome; but that all such pensions, &c.
which the said Bishop or Pope hath heretofore taken - shall clearly
surcease, and never more be levied or paid to any person or persons in
any manner or wise." - Nothing short of the slavery and ruin of the
nation would have been the consequence of their submitting to those
exactions: And the same will be the fate of America, if the present
revenue laws remain, and the natural effect of them, the making
governors independent, takes place.

It is therefore with entire approbation that we observe your purpose
freely to declare our Rights, and to remonstrate against the least
infringement of them. The capital complaint of all North-America, hath
been, is now and will be until relieved, a subjugation to as arbitrary
a tribute as ever the Romans laid upon the Jews, or their other
colonies: The repealing these duties in part is not considered by this
house as a renunciation of the measure: It has rather the appearance
of a design to sooth us into security in the midst of danger: Any
species of tribute unrepealed, will stand as a precedent, to be made
use of hereafter as circumstances and opportunity may admit: If the
Colonies acquiesce in a single instance, it will in effect be yielding
up the whole matter and controversy. We therefore desire it may be
universally understood, that altho' the tribute is paid, it is not
paid freely: It is extorted and torn from us against our will: We bear
the insult and the injury for the present, grievous as it is, with
great impatience; hoping that the wisdom and prudence of the nation
will at length dictate measures consistent with natural justice and
equity: For what shall happen in future, We are not answerable: Your
observation is just, that it was certainly as bad policy, when they
attempted to heal our differences, by repealing part of the duties
only, as it is bad Surgery to leave splinters in a wound which must
prevent its healing, or in time occasion it to open afresh.

The doctrine, that no agent ought to be received or attended to by
government, who is not appointed by an act of the general court, to
which the governor has given his assent, if established, must be
attended with very ill consequences; for, besides the just remarks you
made upon it, if whatever is to be transacted between the assemblies
of the Colonies and the government, is to be done by agents appointed
by and under the direction of the three branches, it will be utterly
impracticable for an assembly ever to lay before the Sovereign their
complaints of grievances occasioned by the corrupt and arbitrary
administration of a governor. This doctrine, we have reason to think,
was first advanced by governor Bernard, at a time when he became the
principal agent in involving the nation and the Colonies in
controversy and confusion: Very probably, it now becomes a subject of
instruction to governor Hutchinson5 who refuses to confirm the grants
of the Assembly to the Agents for the respective houses. In this he
carries the point beyond Governor Bernard who assented to grants made
in general terms for services performed, without holding up the name
of agent: But governor Hutchinson declines his assent even in that
form; so that we are reduced to a choice of difficulties, either to
have no agent at all, but such as shall be under the influence of the
minister; or to find some other way to support an agent than by grants
of the general assembly. - But we are fallen into times, when
governors of colonies seem to think themselves bound to conform to
instructions, without any regard to the civil constitution, or even
the public safety.

1 Page 46, note, applies also to the authorship of this letter.
2 J. Bigelow, Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin, vol. iv., p. 378.
3 Chap. 46.
4 Chap. 21. The quotation from the statute is inexact.
5 Since the writing of this letter an Instruction of this kind is
arrived, which has been communicated by the Governor to his Majesty's
Council; and is recorded in their Journal 1


[Boston Gazette, July 1, 1771.]


The Layman, who again appeared in Mr. Draper's last Thursday's
Gazette, is sollicitous to know why Candidus "pitched upon the
specific Number seventeen, as present at the late Convention of the
Clergy, and voting for an Address to his Excellency the Governor; and
further, he asks, Whether "it was not purposely done to throw an
undeserved Reproach on that reverend Body." - I will endeavour to
answer the Layman in a Manner not "militating," as he charges me with
having done before, "with my assumed denomination." - I mentioned that
"specific number," because I was told by several reverend Gentlemen
who were present at the Convention, that the Address was bro't on
early, when only twenty-four had got together; and that of this
number, seventeen only voted in favor of it. I own I thought it
unlucky, that the precise Number seventeen should appear to
countenance the Address, because I agree with the Layman that it has
of late become an "obnoxious Number." I have Reason to think I was
truly informed; if it was a misrepresentation, the Reverend Doctor who
presided at the Meeting, may set us right, if he thinks it worth his
While. I am still of Opinion, that is immaterial to my Purpose,
whether twenty-four or thirty Gentlemen were present, when the Address
was carried through; either of those numbers being very
inconsiderable, when compared with the whole Number of Congregational
Ministers in the Province, which is said to be at least four Hundred.
Allowing that the Number, after the Address had passed, was augmented
to Sixty, and that Fifty of them were against reconsidering the
Matter, it is not certainly to be inferred from thence, that all those
Fifty would have voted for an Address, if they had been present when
it was first proposed. But however that might be, the Propriety (to
say the least) of calling it, An Address of the Congregational
Ministers of the Province, when not more than about One in Seven of
them were present, or in any Likelihood ever had heard that any
Address was intended, yet remains a Question: And I again say, I
should be glad to see it reconciled with that Simplicity and Godly
Sincerity which we often hear inculcated from the Pulpit. - The Layman
supposes, that it is with the Convention as "with other Corporate
Bodies, convened at stated Time and Place " - Now other corporate
Bodies are notified of the Matters to be transacted at Time & Place;
but no Notice was given to "the Congregational Ministers of the
Province" that an Address to his Excellency the Governor was to
be proposed; and as this is said to be the first Instance of an

Address to a Governor ever made by the Convention, it is not
likely that seven-eighths of them, who were absent, ever had it in
contemplation. But after all, I would ask, "with Modesty, Decency,
and Charity," and with Humility too, all which I take to be
excellent Christian Graces, as well as Sincerity; by what
Authority is the Convention of the Clergy, as it is called,
constituted "a corporate Body"? I am nevertheless, with all due
Respect to the Ministers of the Congregational Churches,


P.S. Perhaps an Address of Thanks from the Convention of the
Reverend & very venerable Dr. Chauncy, for his excellent Defence
of their ecclesiastic Constitution, at a Time when they stood in
need of so able a Defender, may be judg'd by some to be rather
more in Character than a political Address to the Man in Power

Postscript the 2d. I am inform'd that it was first propos'd to
address his Excellency at Cambridge, after Dinner on the Day of
Election, and that the Reason assign'd for it was, because it had
been unjustly asserted that his had stood Sponsor at a Christening
- The Truth of which Assertion, however, it is also said, might
have been made evident by enquiring of a worthy Clergyman of the
Church of England in that Town,


[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 173-577.]

BOSTON, July 31st, 1771.


Since I received your favour of the 28th of March, I have observed
by the London papers that the lord-mayor and alderman are
liberated. From the wisdom and firmness which formerly
distinguished that opulent and independent city, we expected that
when they had so fair an occasion for exerting themselves, the
power which has too long oppressed and insulted the nation and the
colonies, would have been made to bend. But we have seen
complimentary letters and addresses to the imprisoned gentlemen,
and their answers; while by a stretch of arbitrary power they have
been kept in confinement, till by a prorogation instead of a
dissolution, they have been discharged of course. Is this my
friend a matter of such triumph? Does it not show that Britons are
unfeeling to their condition? Or has brutal force at length become
so formidable, that after having in vain petitioned those whose
duty it is to redress their grievances, they are afraid to imitate
the virtue of their ancestors in similar cases, and redress their
grievances themselves?

Mr. Hume, if I mistake not, somewhere says, that if James the
Second had had the benefit of the riot-act, and such a standing
army as has been granted since his time, it would have been
impracticable for the nation to have wrought its own delivery, and
establish the constitution of '88. If the people have put it in
the power of a wicked and corrupt ministry to make themselves
absolute lords and tyrants over them by means of a standing army,
we may at present pity them under the misfortune; but future
historians will record the story with astonishment and
indignation, and posterity, who will share in the fatal effects of
their folly and treachery, will accuse them. Has there not for a
long time past been reason to apprehend the designs of a restless
faction to oppress the nation; and the more easily to affect their
purposes, to render the king's government obnoxious, and if
possible put an end to a family which has heretofore supported the
rights of the nation, its happiness and grandeur?

In this colony we are every day experiencing the miserable effects
of arbitrary power. The people are paying the unrighteous tribute,
(I wish I could say they were groaning under it, for that would
seem as if they felt they are submitting to it,) in hopes that the
nation will at length revert to justice. But before that time
comes, it is to be feared they will be so accustomed to bondage,
as to forget they were ever free. Swarms of locusts and
caterpillars are maintained by this tribute in luxury and
splendour, and a standing army, (not in the city thank God, since
the 5th March 1770, but within call upon occasion). While our
independent governor is found to crouch to his superiors, and to
look down upon and sneer at those below him, he is from time to
time receiving instructions how to govern this people, to govern!
rather to harass and insult his country in distress. . .where his
adulating priestlings are reminding him he was born and educated,
forgetting perhaps if they ever knew, that the tyrants of Rome
were the natives of Rome. Among other edicts which have been
lately sent to this governor, there is one which prohibits his
assenting to any tax-bill, unless the commissioners and other
officers, whose salaries are not paid out of moneys granted by
this government, are exempted from a tax on the profits of their
commissions. Nothing that I can say will heighten the resentment
of a man of sense and virtue against such a mandate; and yet our
governor would have us think it is a mark of his paternal
goodness. Another instruction forbids the governor to give his
assent to grants to any agent, unless he is appointed by a law of
the province, or a resolve of the assembly, to which his
excellency consents. And a third requires him to refuse his assent
to a future election of such councillors as shall presume to meet
together as a council, without being summoned by him into his
presence. These instructions, so humiliating to the council, the
secretary by the governor's order has entered on their journals

It has been observed that the nearer any man approaches to an
absolute independence, the more he will be flattered; and flattery
is always great in proportion as the motives of flatterers are
bad. These observations are so disgraceful to human nature that I
wish I could say they were not founded in experience. Perhaps
there never was a man in this province more flattered, or who bore
it better, I mean who was better pleased with it, than Governor
Hutchinson. You have seen Miss in her teens, surrounded with dying
lovers, praising her gay ribbons, the dimples in her cheeks or the
tip of her ear! In imitation of the mother country, whom we are
too apt to imitate in fopperies, addresses have been procured and
presented to his excellency, chiefly from dependants and
expectants. Indeed some of the clergy have run into the stream of
civility, which is the more astonishing, when it is considered
that they altogether depend upon the ability and good disposition
of their parishes for their support. But it is certain that not a
fifth part, some say not an eighth part of the clergy, were
present. It cannot, therefore, be said to be the language of the
body of the clergy, and all ages have seen that some of that order
have ever been ready to sacrifice the rights as well as the
honoured religion of their country, to the smiles of the great. It
is a sore mortification that the independent house of
representatives, and the town of Boston have refused to make their
compliments to a man, whose administration since the departure of
the Nettleham Baronet, they can by no means approve of. From hence
you will judge whether these addresses speak the sentiments of the
people in general, or are any more than the foul breath of
sycophants and hirelings.

The province of North Carolina, by accounts from thence, appears
to have been involved in a civil war. It is the general opinion
here that the people in the back parts of that province have been
greatly oppressed, and that the governor, instead of hearkening to
their complaints and redressing their grievances, has raised an
army and spilt their blood. This it must be confessed, is treating
the people under his government much in the same manner as his
superiors have treated the nation and the colonies. But their
example may prove dangerous to be followed by a plantation
governor. At this distance from Carolina we have not yet received
a perfect account from thence. I hope your friends in the adjacent
colony of Virginia have wrote you particularly of this important
matter. Tryon has arrived at New York, where he is appointed
governor. He has already been addressed with all the expressions
of court sincerity, and perhaps he may hereafter receive the
reward of a baronet for his fidelity and courage. 'When vice
prevails and impious men bear sway, the post of honour is the
private station.'


[Boston Gazette, August 5, 1771.j

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

One who stiles himself, in Mr. Draper's paper, a Layman, having
repeatedly endeavoured in vain to make the Public believe, that
the paper presented to governor Hutchinson, by about a fifth part,
according to his own account, and as others say, not more than an
eighth part of the congregational ministers of this province,
ought still to be called "an address of the congregational
ministers of this province"; and that its being thus represented
in the newspapers, did not betray any want of that simplicity and
godly sincerity, which we have so often heard inculcated from the
pulpit; and what is still more extraordinary in a vindication of
reverend addressers, having sneer'd at me for expressing my regard
for these and other eminent christian graces, which however, I
have reason to hope are the peculiar ornaments of the generality
of the ministers of that denomination; I say, after all this, he
proceeds to tell us, that there never has been an instance of a
majority of the clergy present at any convention; and that the
individuals who compose that reverend corporate body, as he would
fain have us think it to be, have never before been notified of
such political or other matters as a few of them may have taken it
into their heads to transact at any future time or place - Are we
to infer from thence by any means, that it was fair to call this
the address of the body of the congregational ministers of the
province? For so it was manifestly intended to be understood, and
so it is plain his Excellency himself chose to understand it, as
appears by his calling it in his answer, "so kind, so affectionate
an address, from so respectable and venerable a body of men " -
Aye, but says the Layman, it has been customary for a minority of
the congregational ministers of the province, to meet in
convention, and address the new governors, without notifying the
majority of them, (who have always been absent) of the matter. If
this be true, it argues that such former addresses can no more
than the last, be fairly called addresses of the body of the
clergy, or be so represented or receive - This Layman, as he calls
himself, mentions the convention in one of his performances, as
acting like "other corporate bodies," at the meetings of which the
presence of a majority of the members may not be necessary to
warrant their proceedings; but he does not incline to answer my
question, viz. When and by whom they were incorporated? But if
they had been a corporate body, the members should have been duly
warned of the matters to be transacted, as well as the time and
place; otherwise, who does not know that their proceedings must be
invalid? To be sure if, without such notification, not a sixth
part of them should be present, which is the fact, no one in his
senses would plead that they could with fairness be called the
proceedings of that corporate body - However, thus it has been
represented by the Layman: The reverend addressers themselves,
call their address, "An address of the ministers of the
congregational churches in the province," and his Excellency
receives it very kindly, as coming from so "respectable and
venerable a body " - Whatever some of those reverend gentlemen, (I
care not how small a number is supposed, for I would be tender of
the character of the cloth,) I say, whether some of them might not
think, that if the address was supposed to be the declared
sentiment of the whole body of the clergy of the province, it
would be further supposed, to speak the sentiments of the whole
body of the people of the province, and whether they were not
under this temptation to give their address so pompous an
introduction, I will not presume to say; I shall only in my usual
way, and with my usual modesty, as the Layman witnesses, ask
whether there is not reason to think it. If this was actually the
case, I will just remark, that though the body of the people of
this province, treat the clergy, as I hope they always will, with
all due respect, yet they are not priest-ridden as in some other
parts of the world, and I hope in God they never will be - They
claim a right of private judgment; and they will always venture to
express their own sentiments of men or things, of politicks or
religion, against the sentiments of the clergy, whenever they
think the clergy in the wrong

This indefatigable Layman threatens to "chastise" me for falshood,
in saying I had heard, or "it is said" that this is the first
instance of an address ever made to a governor by the convention;
but strictly speaking it was truly said, according to his own
account; for if a majority of the members which compose the
convention, have never met, nor any of the members ever been
notified of time, place or matters to be transacted, how can any
act be said to have been the act of the convention? But this is
not what I intended - I was told, or to use my own words, it was
said in my hearing, that this was the first address to a governor
ever made by the convention: I understood it to be the first
address ever made to a governor by any number of ministers calling
themselves the ministers of the congregational churches of this
province met in convention: The Layman has convinced me that I was
misinformed: Does it follow that I am chargeable with falshood? a
gross violation of truth? Fie, fie, Layman! As your client's cause
requires the utmost candor, learn to exercise a little of it
towards others; it is a shame for you to rail in behalf of the
clergy - An instance is bro't of an address to Governor Pownal,
and another to Bernard! But in neither of these instances, as the
Layman tells us, were the members of the convention notified, or
the majority of them present. Perhaps only SEVENTEEN met, and an
hour before the usual time, as was said by one of the convention
to be the case, when the late address was first carried. The
Layman indeed insists upon twenty-four; it is immaterial as I said
before, since either of these numbers is inconsiderable, in
comparison with 300, some say 400 ministers of that denomination
in the province. If the Layman thinks it material, I am sorry the
Rev. Dr. who presided at the meeting, though repeatedly requested,
will not condescend to ascertain it for him - With regard to
addresses to governors upon their promotion, so far as it can be
presumed that they are well qualified and well dispos'd to employ
their shining talents, (for such they all have, if we are to
believe the late addresses here and elsewhere,) and to make
themselves "diffusive blessings in their exalted stations," those
of the clergy and others, who are so very fond of congratulating,
let them congratulate, if they please. I believe many of the
clergymen who congratulated the Nettleham baronet, and others
besides, have since been fully convinced that they have no reason
to pride themselves in it. The truth is, every man in power will
be adulated by some sort of men in every country, because he is a
man in power - TRYON arrives from the bloody scenes of Alamance,
and receives the high encomiums of New York, the clergy as well as
others, for having "saved a sister colony" by his noble exploit;
and another is flattered as being the "father of his country," and
"the delight of an obliged and grateful people," by those very men
who now detest the administration of BERNARD whom they had before
cannonized, altho' he has assured his noble patron, and many
believe it, that this Father of his country is just such an one as
himself; that he is pushing forward with the utmost vehemence,
tho' in different modes, the same measures, and that he may be
depended upon by his Lordship equally with himself. I am with
great respect to the congregational ministers,



[Boston Gazette, August 19, 1771.]

Messieurs Edes & Gill.

It has become of late so fashionable for some persons to make
their addresses to every one whom they call a great man, that one
can hardly look upon them as the genuine marks of respect to any
one who is really a good man. Their addresses seem to spring
altogether from political views; and without the least regard to
the character or merit of the persons whom they profess to
compliment in them. From the observations I have been able to
make, I have been led to think that one of their designs in
addressing, is to give occasion to my Lord of H- and other great
men to think, or at least to say it, whether they think so or not,
that the scales have at length fallen from the eyes of the people
of this town and province; and that in consequence thereof, they
have altered their sentiments, & are become perfectly reconciled
to the whole system of ministerial measures; for otherwise, they
might argue, could they possibly be so liberal in their addresses and
compliments to those persons who are employed, and no question, are
very active in carrying those measures into execution. But I should
think that if a question of this consequence, namely, Whether the
people have altered their sentiments in so interesting a point, is to
be decided by their apparent disposition to compliment this or that
particular gentleman, because he is employed in the service of
administration in America, it would be the fairest method to call a
meeting of the inhabitants of the Town, duly notifying them of the
occasion of the meeting, and let the matter be fully debated if needbe,
and determined by a vote. Every one would then see, if the vote
was carried in favour of addressing, or which upon my supposition
is the same thing, in favour of the measures of administration,
whether it obtain'd by a large or small majority of the whole; and
we might come to the knowledge of the very persons, which is much
to be desired, as well as the weight of understanding and property
on each side.

For my own part, I cannot but at present be of opinion, and "I
have reason to believe" that my opinion is well founded, that the
measures of the British administration of the colonies, are still
as disgustful and odious to the inhabitants of this respectable
metropolis in general, as they ever have been:
And I will venture further to add, that nothing, in my opinion,
can convey a more unjust idea of the spirit of a true American,
than to suppose he would even compliment, much less make an
adulating address to any person sent here to trample on the Rights
of his Country; or that he would ever condescend to kiss the hand
which is ready prepared to rivet his own fetters - There are among
us, it must be confess'd, needy expectants and dependents; and a
few others of sordid and base minds, form'd by nature to bend and
crouch even to little great men: - But whoever thinks, that by the
most refined art and assiduous application of the most ingenious
political oculist, the "public eye" can yet look upon the chains
which are forg'd for them, or upon those detestable men who are
employ'd to put them on, without abhorrence and indignation, are
very much mistaken - I only wish that my Countrymen may be upon
their guard against being led by the artifices of the tools of
Administration, into any indiscreet measures, from whence they may
take occasion to give such a coloring. "There have been, says the
celebrated American Farmer, in every age and in every country bad
men: Men who either hold or expect to hold certain advantages by
fitting examples of SERVILITY to their countrymen: Who train'd to
the employment, or self-taught by a natural versatility of genius,
serve as decoys for drawing the innocent and unwary into snares.
It is not to be doubted but that such men will diligently bestir
themselves on this and every like occasion, to spread the
infection of their meanness as far as they can. On the plans they
have adopted this is their course. This is the method to recommend
themselves to their patrons. They act consistently in a bad cause.
They run well in a mean race. From them we shall learn, how
pleasant and profitable a thing it is, to be, for our submissive
behavior, well spoken of at St. James's or St. Stephen's, at
Guildhall or the Royal Exchange."

We cannot surely have forgot the accursed designs of a most
detestable set of men, to destroy the Liberties of America as with
one blow, by the Stamp-Act; nor the noble and successful efforts
we then made to divert the impending stroke of ruin aimed at
ourselves and our posterity. The Sons of Liberty on the 14th of
August 1765, a Day which ought to be for ever remembered in
America, animated with a zeal for their country then upon the
brink of destruction, and resolved, at once to save her, or like
Samson, to perish in the ruins, exerted themselves with such
distinguished vigor, as made the house of Dogon to shake from its
very foundation; and the hopes of the lords of the Philistines
even while their hearts were merry, and when they were
anticipating the joy of plundering this continent, were at that
very time buried in the pit they had digged. The People shouted;
and their shout was heard to the distant end of this Continent. In
each Colony they deliberated and resolved, and every Stampman
trembled; and swore by his Maker, that he would never execute a
commission which he had so infamously received

We cannot have forgot, that at the very Time when the stamp-act
was repealed, another was made in which the Parliament of Great-
Britain declared, that they had right and authority to make any
laws whatever binding on his Majesty's subjects in America - How
far this declaration can be consistent with the freedom of his
Majesty's subjects in America, let any one judge who pleases - In
consequence of such right and authority claim'd, the commons of
Great Britain very soon fram'd a bill and sent it up to the Lords,
wherein they pray'd his Majesty to accept of their grant of such a
part as they were then pleas'd, by virtue of the right and
authority inherent in them to make, of the property of his
Majesty's subjects in America by a duty upon paper, glass,
painter's colours and tea. And altho' these duties are in part
repeal'd, there remains enough to answer the purpose of
administration, which was to fix the precedent. We remember the
policy of Mr. Grenville, who would have been content for the
present with a pepper corn establish'd as a revenue in America: If
therefore we are voluntarily silent while the single duty on tea
is continued, or do any act, however innocent, simply considered,
which may be construed by the tools of administration, (some of
whom appear to be fruitful in invention) as an acquiescence in the
measure, we are in extreme hazard; if ever we are so distracted as
to consent to it, we are undone.

Nor can we ever forget the indignity and abuse with which America
in general, and this province and town in particular, have been
treated, by the servants & officers of the crown, for making a
manly resistance to the arbitrary measures of administration, in
the representations that have been made to the men in power at
home, who have always been dispos'd to believe every word as
infallible truth. For opposing a threatned Tyranny, we have been
not only called, but in effect adjudged Rebels & Traitors to the
best of Kings, who has sworn to maintain and defend the Rights and
Liberties of his Subjects - We have been represented as inimical to
our fellow subjects in Britain, because we have boldly asserted those
Rights and Liberties, wherewith they, as Subjects, are made free.
-When we complain'd of this injurious treatment; when we
petition'd,and remonstrated our grievances: What was the Consequence?
Still further indignity; and finally a formal invasion of this town by
a fleet and army in the memorable year 1768.

Our masters, military and civil, have since that period been
frequently chang'd; and possibly some of them, from principles
merely political, may of late have look'd down upon us with less
sternness in their countenances than a BERNARD or a . . .: But
while there has been no essential alteration of measures, no real
redress of grievances, we have no reason to think, nay we deceive
ourselves if we indulge a thought that their hearts are changed.
We cannot entertain such an imagination, while the revenue, or as
it is more justly stiled, the TRIBUTE is extorted from us: while
our principal fortress, within the environs of the town, remains
garrison'd by regular troops, and the harbour is invested by ships
of war. The most zealous advocates for the measures of
administration, will not pretend to say, that these troops and
these ships are sent here to protect America, or to carry into
execution any one plan, form'd for the honor or advantage of
Great-Britain. It would be some alleviation, if we could be
convinced that they were sent here with any other design than to
insult us.

How absurd then must the addresses which have been presented to
some particular gentlemen, who have made us such friendly visits,
appear in the eyes of men of sense abroad! Or, if any of them have
been so far impos'd upon, as to be induc'd to believe that such
addresses speak the language of the generality of the people, how
ridiculous must the generality of the people appear! On the last
supposition, would not a sensible reader of those addresses, upon
comparing them with the noble resolutions which this town, this
province and this continent have made against SLAVERY, and the
just and warm resentment they have constantly shown against EVERY
man whatever, who had a mind sordid and base enough, for the sake
of lucre, or the preservation of a commission, or from any other
consideration, to submit to be made even a remote instrument in
bringing and entailing it upon a free and a brave people; upon
such a comparison, would he not be ready to conclude, "that we had
forgot the reasons which urged us, with unexampled unanimity a few
years ago - that our zeal for the public good had worn out, before
the homespun cloaths which it had caused us to have made - and,
that by our present conduct we condemned our own late successful
example! -Although this is altogether supposition, without any
foundation in truth, yet, so our enemies wish it may be in
reality, and so they intend it shall be - To prevent it, let us
ADHERE TO FIRST PRINCIPLES.                          CANDIDUS.


[Boston Gazette, September 9, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

PERHAPS there never was a people who discovered themselves more
strongly attached to their natural and constitutional rights and
liberties, than the British Colonists on this American Continent -
Their united and successful struggles against that slavery with
which they were threatened by the stamp-act, will undoubtedly be
recorded by future historians to their immortal honor - The
assembly of Virginia, which indeed is the most ancient colony,
claimed their preeminence at that important crisis, by first
asserting their rights which were invaded by the act, and by their
spirited resolution to ward off the impending stroke: And they
were seconded by all the other colonies, with such unanimity and
invincible fortitude, that those who, to their eternal disgrace
and infamy, had accepted of commissions to oppress them, were made
to shudder at the thought of rendering themselves still more
odious to all posterity, by executing their commissions, and
publickly to abjure their detestable design of raising their
fortunes upon the ruin of their country. Under the influence of
the wisest administration which has ever appeared since the
present reign began: The hateful act was at length repeal'd; to
the joy of every friend to the rights of mankind in Britain, and
of all America, except the few who either from the prospect of
gain by it, or from an inveterate envy which they had before and
have ever since discovered, of the general happiness of the people
of America, were the promoters if not the original framers of it.
This restless faction could not bear to see the Americans restored
to the possession of their rights and liberties, and sitting once
more in security under their own vines and their own fig trees:
Unwearied in their endeavours to introduce an absolute tyranny
into this country, to which they were instigated, some from the
principles of ambition or a lust of power, and others from an
inordinate love of money which is the root of all evil, and which
had before possessed the hearts of those who had undertaken to
distribute the stamped papers, they met together in cabal and laid
a new plan to render the people of this continent tributary to the
mother country - Having finished their part of the plan, their
indefatigable Randolph was dispatched to Great-Britain to
communicate it to the fraternity there, in order that it might be
ripen'd and bro't to perfection: But even before his embarkation,
he could not help discovering his own weakness, by giving a broad
hint of the design - This parricide pretended that his intention
in making a voyage to England at that time, was to settle a
private affair of his own; that he had nothing else in view; and
that having settled that private affair, he should immediately
return, and as he express'd it, lay his bones in his native
country. Full of the appearance of love for his country, he
express'd the greatest solicitude to do the best service he could
for it, while in England; but unluckily drop'd a question, strange
and inconsistent as it may appear to the reader, "What do you
think, sir, of a small Duty upon divers articles of importation
from Great-Britain?" No sooner had he arriv'd in London, than the
news was dispatch'd from the friends of America there, of a design
to lay a duty upon paper, glass, painter's colours, and tea
imported into America, with the sole purpose of raising a revenue
- The lucrative commission which he obtain'd while in England, in
consequence of the passing of the act of parliament, whereby he
was appointed one of the principal managers of this very revenue,
affords but little room to doubt what his intention was in his
voyage to London, notwithstanding his warm professions of concern
for his native country - It is not always a security against a
man's sacrificing a country, that he was born and educated in it.
The Tyrants of Rome were Natives of Rome. Such men indeed incur a
guilt of a much deeper dye, than Strangers, who commit no such
violation of duty and of feeling. - There was another of the cabal
who embark'd about the same time, but he was call'd out of this
life before he reach'd London, and de mortuis nil dico - Of the
living I shall speak, as occasion shall call for it, with a
becoming freedom.

The whole continent was justly alarmed at the parliament's
resuming the measure of raising a revenue in America without their
consent, which had so nearly operated the ruin of the whole
British empire but a few months before; & that this odious measure
should be taken, so soon after the happy coalition between Britain
and the colonies which the repeal of the stamp-act had occasion'd
for if one may judge by the most likely appearances, the
affections of her colonists, were upon this great event, more
strongly attached to the mother country if possible, than ever
they had been. But the great men there had been made to believe
otherwise - Nay the governor of this province had gone such a
length as to assure them, that the design of the Americans in
their opposition to the stamp-act, was to bring the authority of
parliament into contempt - Many of his adherents privately wrote
to the same purpose - All which had a tendency to break that
harmony, which after the only interruption that had ever taken
place and that of short continuance, had been renewed, and
doubtless would have been confirmed to mutual advantage for ages,
had it not been for that pestilent few, who first to aggrandize
themselves and their families, interrupted the harmony, and then
to preserve their own importance, took every step their malice
could invent, with the advantage they had gain'd of a confidence
with the ministry, to prevent it's ever being restored.

Upon the fatal news (fatal, I call it, for I very much fear it will
prove so in its consequences, how remote I will not take upon me to
predict) upon the news of the passing of another revenue act, the
colonies immediately took such measures as were dictated to them, not
by passion and rude clamour, but by the voice of reason and a just
regard to the safety of themselves and their posterity. The assembly
of this province, being the first I suppose who had the opportunity of
meeting, prepared and forwarded a humble, dutiful & loyal petition to
the King1 and wrote letters to such of the British nobility2 and
gentry as had before discovered themselves friends to the rights of
America & of mankind, beseeching their interposition and influence on
their behalf. At the same time they wrote a circular letter to each of
the other colonies3, letting them know the steps they had taken and
desiring their advice & joint Assistance - This letter had its
different effects; on the one hand, in the deep resentment of my Lord
of Hillsborough, who was pleased to call it "a measure of an
inflamatory nature - Evidently tending to create unwarrantable
combinations, to excite an unjustifiable opposition to the
constitutional authority of parliament and to revive unhappy divisions
and distractions," &c. While on the other hand, the colonies, as
appears by their respective polite answers, receiv'd it with the
highest marks of approbation, as a token of sincere affection to them,
& a regard to the common safety; and they severally proceeded to take
concurrent measures. No one step I believe, united the colonies
more than this letter; excepting his lordship's endeavors by his
own circular letter to the colonies, to give it a different turn -
But however decent and loyal -However warrantable by or rather
conformable to the spirit and the written rules of the British
constitution, the petitions of right and other applications of the
distressed Americans were, they shared the same fate which those
of London, Westminster, Middlesex, & other great cities & counties
have since met with! No redress of grievances ensued: Not even the
least disposition in administration to listen to our petitions;
which is not so much to be wondered at, when we consider the
temper of the ministry, which was incessantly acted upon by
Governor Bernard in such kind of language as this "The authority
of the King, the supremacy of parliament, the superiority of
government are the real objects of the attack"; while nothing is
more certain, than that the house of representatives of this
province in their petition to the king, and in all their letters,
that in particular which was address'd to the other colonies, the
sentiment of which was recogniz'd by them, expressly declare,
"that his Majesty's high court of parliament is the supreme
legislative power over the whole empire, in all cases which can
consist with the fundamental rights of the constitution," and that
"it was never questioned in this province, nor as they conceive in
any other." They indeed in all their letters insist upon the right
of granting their own money, as a right founded in nature, the
exercise of which no man ever relinquished to another & remain'd
free - A right therefore which no power on earth, not even the
acknowledged supreme legislative power over the whole empire hath
any authority to divest them of - "The supreme power says Mr.
Locke, is not, nor can possibly be absolutely arbitrary, over the
lives and fortunes of the people - The supreme power cannot take
from any man any part of his property without his own consent. For
the preservation of property being the end of government, and that
for which men enter into society; it necessarily supposes and
requires that the people should have property, without which they
must be supposed to lose that by entering into society, which was
the end for which they entered into it. Men therefore in society
having property, they have such a right to the goods which by the
law of the community are theirs, that no body hath a right to take
their substance or any part of it from them without their consent.
Without this, they have no property at all: For I have truly no
property in that, which another can by right take from me when he
pleases, against my consent" - These are the principles upon which
alone, the Americans founded their opposition to the late acts of
parliament. How then could governor Bernard with any colour of
truth declare to a minister of state in general terms, that "the
authority of the King, the supremacy of parliament, the
superiority of government, were the objects of the attack?" Upon
the principles of reason and nature, their opposition is
justifiable: For by those acts the property of the Colonists is
taken from them without their consent. It is by no means
sufficient to console us, that the duty is reduced to the single
article of Tea, which by the way is not a fact; but if it should
be admitted, it is because the parliament for the present are
pleased to demand no more of us: Should we acquiesce in their
taking three pence only because they please, we at least tacitly
consent that they should have the sovereign controul of our
purses; and when they please they will claim an equal right, and
perhaps plead a precedent for it, to take a shilling or a pound -
At present we have the remedy in our own hands; we can easily
avoid paying the TRIBUTE, by abstaining from the use of those
articles by which it is extorted from us: - and further, we can
look upon our haughty imperious taskmasters, and all those who are
sent here to aid and abet them, together with those sons of
servility, who from very false notions of politeness, can seek and
court opportunities of cringing and fawning at their feet, of
whom, thro' favor, there are but few among us: we may look down
upon all these, with that sovereign contempt and indignation, with
which those who feel their own dignity and freedom, will for ever
view the men, who would attempt to reduce them to the disgraceful
state of SLAVERY.

I shall continue to send you an account of facts, as my leisure
will admit. In the mean time,

I am yours,

1 Vol. I., page 162.
2 Vol. I., pages 152, i66, 169, 173, 180.
3 Vol. I., page 184.


[Boston Gazette, September 16, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

1 have already mentioned the circular letter written by the house
of representatives of this province to the other colonies, dated
the 11th of February, 1768; and the very different treatment it
met with from the Earl of Hillsborough and the respectable bodies
to whom it was addressed. And also the circular letter which his
lordship himself was pleased to send to those colonies, wherein he
recommended to them "to treat it with the contempt it deserved " -
But as the sentiments contained in the letter of the house were so
exactly similar to those of the other colonies, and the subject of
it was of equal importance to them all, it was not in the power of
his lordship to efface the impressions it made, or to disturb that
harmony which was the happy effect of it - Vis unita fortior -
That union of the colonies in their common danger, by which they
became powerful, was the occasion of the greatest perplexity to
their enemies on both sides the atlantick; and it has been ever
since their constant endeavor by all manner of arts to destroy it.
In this, it must be confess'd, they have discovered an unanimity, zeal
perseverance, worthy to be imitated by those who are embark'd in
the cause of American freedom. - It is by united councils, a
steady zeal, and a manly fortitude, that this continent must
expect to recover its violated rights and liberties.

Such was the resentment which the circular letter enkindled in the
breasts of administration, that it was immediately followed by a
Mandate from lord  Hillsborough to governor Bernard, to require the
succeeding house to rescind the resolution which had given birth to
it, upon pain of a dissolution of the assembly in case of a refusal. -
Governor Bernard added to the severity of this mandate by assuring the
house in a message to them, that "if he should be obliged to dissolve
the general court, he should not think himself at liberty to call
another, till he should receive his Majesty's command for that
purpose."   - It appeared that administration had been greatly
misinformed with regard to the circumstances of this resolution of the
house, particularly in a representation that it was brought on when
the members present were few, and at the end of the session; and that
it was therefore a very unfair proceeding procured by surprize and
contrary to the real sense of the house - But the house made it
evident in their letter to his lordship afterwards, from their own
minutes and journals, that it was the declared sense of a large
majority when the house was full - It was the constant practice of
governor Bernard and his adherents, to represent the opposition of the
house to the pernicious designs of the enemies of the colonies,
which generally consisted of full three quarters of the members
and sometimes more, as the feeble efforts of an expiring faction.

This direct and peremptory requisition, of a new and strange
constructure, and so strenuously urg'd by the governor, was taken
into consideration by the house, on the next day after it was laid
before them; and as is usual in all matters of importance, was
then referred to a large committee further to consider it, and
report their opinion of what was expedient to be done: As the
governor had assured the house in his message, that "their
resolution thereon would have the most important consequences to
the province," the committee were the more deliberate in their
consultations; very reasonably expecting, that after such an
assurance given to the house, the governor would indulge them with
sufficient time thoroughly to digest it.However sanguine the
expectation of lord Hills-borough might be, through the artful
insinuation of governor Bernard that, the "attempts of a desperate
faction (as his lordship expressed it) would be      discountenanced,
and that the execution of the measure recommended would not meet with
difficulty;" the governor himself, who was fully acquainted with
the sentiments of the house, as well as of the generality of the
people without doors, had no "grounds to hope" that the requisition
would be comply'd with; and therefore as a dissolution was to be the
immediate consequence of a refusal, and as his lordship had directed
the governor to "transmit to him an account of their proceedings to be
laid before his Majesty, to the end that his Majesty might, if he
tho't proper, lay the whole matter before his parliament," it might
have been well supposed that a longer time was necessary for them to
state the reasons of their own conduct, and to set the transactions of
the former house, which had been grossly misrepresented, in a true
point of light, in order to vindicate themselves, when their whole
proceedings should be laid before his Majesty and the parliament.

But before the committee were ready to make their report, the
governor sent down a message to the house, signifying that it was
full a week since he had laid his Majesty's requisition before
them, and that he could not admit of a much longer delay, without
considering it as an answer in the negative - Upon which the
house, being desirous that the sense of the people concerning this
important matter might be known as explicitly as possible, which
would also have determined beyond all doubt, their sense of the
revenue acts, and the opposition made to them by the American
assemblies, requested a recess of the general court, that they
might have the opportunity of taking the instructions of their
constituents. But though his lordship in his letter to the
governor, express'd a satisfaction in "that spirit of decency and
love of order which has discovered itself in the conduct of the
most considerable of the inhabitants of the province;" and the
governor himself in his speech at the close of the preceeding
assembly, insinuated that matters had been conducted by a party in
the house; and declared that "the evils which threatened this
injured country, arose from the machinations of a few, very few
discontented men" - "false patriots who were sacrificing their
country to the gratification of their own passions," and that it
was "by no means to be charged upon the generality of the people,"
yet he did not think it proper to comply with the request of the
house for a recess, that the sentiment of the generality of" this
good people," as he calls them in this same speech, might be
taken. Had he not the fairest opportunity upon this motion of the
house, if there had been any grounds for his representations that
the opposition to the revenue acts was confined to a few, very few
discontented men, to have made it evident beyond all contradiction?
But he dared not rest the matter upon this issue: He knew very well
that it would put an end to his darling topic; and that the
determination of the generality of the people, would put it out of his
power any longer to hold up an expiring faction to administration with
success - A low piece of cunning, of which he was a perfect master,
and which he had constantly practiced to induce them to a perseverance
in their measures.

On the 30th June 1768, the committee, having maturely considered
the requisition made to the house in its nature and consequences
reported a letter to the Earl of Hillsborough1 his Majesty's
secretary of state for the American department, and laid it on the
table; wherein they observe to his lordship, that a requisition of
such a nature, to a British house of commons had been very unusual
and perhaps altogether unprecedented since the revolution: That
some very aggravated representations must have been made to his
Majesty of the resolution of the former house, to induce him to
require this house to rescind it, upon pain of forfeiting their
existence - That the people in this province had attended with anxiety
to the acts of the British parliament for raising a revenue in America
- That this concern was not limited within the circle of a few
inconsiderate persons; the most respectable for fortune, rank and
station, as well as probity and understanding in the province,
with very few exceptions, being alarm'd with apprehensions of the
fatal consequences, of a power exercised in any part of the
British empire, to command and apply the property of their fellow
subjects at discretion: That as all his Majesty's North American
subjects were alike affected by those revenue acts, the former
house very justly supposed that each of the assemblies on the
continent would take such methods of obtaining redress as should
be thought by them respectively to be regular and proper; and
being desirous that the several applications should harmonize with
each other, they resolved on their circular letter; wherein they
only acquainted their sister colonies with the measures they had
taken, without calling upon them to adopt those measures or any
other - That this was perfectly consistent with the constitution, and
that, so far from being criminal, or a measure "of an inflammatory
nature,' it had a natural tendency to compose his majesty's subjects
in the colonies, till they should obtain relief; at a time when it
seem'd to be the evident design of a party, they might have said a
faction, to prevent calm, deliberate, rational and constitutional
measures being pursued, or to stop the distresses of the people
from reaching his Majesty's ear, and consequently to precipitate
them into a state of desperation. They therefore leave it to his
lordship's impartial judgment, whether the representations that
had been made of this resolution, were not injurious to the house,
and an affront to his Majesty himself. And after proceeding to
give his lordship a full detail of all the circumstances relating
to the resolution which gave birth to the circular letter, and
which they were required to rescind, they add, that they rely upon
it that to petition his Majesty will not be deemed by him to be
inconsistent with the British constitution; that to acquaint their
fellow subjects, involved in the same distress, even if they had
invited the union of all America in one joint supplication, would not
be discountenanced by his Majesty as a "measure of an inflammatory
nature;" and that "when his lordship shall injustice lay a true state
of those matters before his Majesty, he will no longer consider them
as tending to create unwarrantable combinations, or to excitte an
unjustifiable opposition to the constitutional authority of
parliament." This is the substance of the letter; which being
twice read in the house, was accepted by a large majority of
ninety-two out of one hundred and five members, and ordered to be
transmitted by the speaker to his lordship as soon as might be.
After which it was immediately mov'd, that the question be put,
Whether the house would rescind the resolution of the last house
which gave birth to the circular letter; and the question being
accordingly put, it pass'd in the negative, there appearing on a
division upon the question to be seventeen yeas and ninety-two nays.
Thus the house determined upon as extraordinary a mandate as
perhaps was ever laid before a free assembly. - It is to us, said
the house in their message to the governor, altogether
incomprehensible, that we should be required on the peril of a
dissolution of the great and general court or assembly of this
province, to rescind a resolution of a former house of
representatives, when it is evident that such resolution has no
existence, but as a mere historical fact. Your excellency must
know, that the resolution referred to, is, to speak in the language of
the common law, not now "executory," but to all intents and purposes
"executed." The circular letter has been sent and answered by many of
the colonies: These answers are now in the public papers; the public
will judge of the proposals, purposes and answers. We could as well
rescind those letters as the resolves; and both would be equally
fruitless, if by rescinding, as the word properly imports, is meant a
repeal and nullifying of the resolution referred to. But if, as is
most probable, by the word, rescinding, is intended the passing a vote
of this house, in direct and express disapprobation of the measure
above mentioned, as "illegal, inflammatory and tending to promote
unjustifiable combinations" against his Majesty's peace, crown and
dignity, we take the liberty to testify and publickly to declare, that
it is the native, inherent and indefeasible right of the subject,
jointly or severally, to petition the King for the redress of
grievances. - And we are clearly and very firmly of Opinion that the
petition of the late dutiful and loyal house, and the other very
orderly applications for the redress of grievances, have had the most
desirable tendencies and effects - In another part they say, "we
cannot but express our deep concern, that a measure of the late house
in all respects so innocent, in most so virtuous and laudable, and as
we conceive, so truly patriotic, should be represented to
administration in the odious light of a party and factious
measure," and finally they say, that in refusing to comply with
the requisition, "they have been actuated by a conscientious and a
clear and determined sense of duty to God, their King, their
country, and their latest posterity." This determination of the
house gave general satisfaction, not only to the people of this
province, but of the other colonies also; as well as the friends
of liberty in Britain. It was spoken of by all except the
disappointed few, with great applause. Indeed the essential rights
of all were involved in the question: A different determination
would therefore have been to the last degree infamous and attended
with fatal consequences. Not only the right of the subjects
jointly to petition for the redress of grievances which all alike
suffer, but also that of communicating their sentiments freely to
each other upon the subject of grievances, and the means of
redress, which was the sole purport of the circular letter, would
in effect have been given up. I have often thought that in this
time of common distress, it would be the wisdom of the colonists,
more frequently to correspond with, and to be more attentive to
the particular circumstances of each other. It seems of late to
have been the policy of the enemies of America to point their
artillery against one province only; and artfully to draw off the
attention of the other colonies, and if possible to render that
single province odious to them, while it is suffering ministerial
vengeance for the sake of the common cause. But it is hoped that
the colonies will be aware of this artifice. At this juncture an
attempt to subdue one province to despotic power, is justly to be
considered as an attempt to enslave the whole. The colonies "form
one political body, of which each is a member." -The liberties of
the whole are invaded - It is therefore the interest of the whole
to support each individual with all their weight and influence.
When the legislative of the colony of New-York was suspended, the
house of representatives of this province consider'd it "as
alarming to all the colonies;" and bore their testimony against
it, in a letter to their agent, the sentiments of which they
directed him to make known to his Majesty's ministers. - That
suspension, says the patriotic Pennsylvania Farmer, is a
parliamentary assertion of the supreme authority of the British
legislature over these colonies in point of taxation; and is
intended to COMPEL New-York into a submission to that authority.
It seems therefore to me as much a violation of the liberty of the
people of that province, and consequently of all these Colonies,
as if the Parliament had sent a number of regiments (which has
since been the fate of this province) to be quartered upon them
till they should comply. - Whoever, says he, seriously considers
the matter, must perceive, that a dreadful stroke is aimed at the
liberty of these Colonies: For the cause of one is the cause of
all. If the parliament may lawfully deprive New-York of any of its
Rights, it may deprive any or all the other Colonies of their
Rights; and nothing can so much encourage such attempts, as a
mutual inattention to the interests of each other. To divide and
thus to destroy, is the first political maxim in attacking those
who are powerful by their union. - When Mr. Hampden's ship money
cause for three shillings and four pence was tried, all the people
of England, with anxious expectation, interested themselves in the
important decision: And when the slightest point touching the
freedom of a single Colony is agitated, I earnestly wish, that all
the rest may with equal ardour support their sister. - These are
the generous sentiments of that celebrated writer, whom several
have made feeble attempts to answer, but no one has yet done it.
May the British American Colonies be upon their guard; and take
care lest by a mutual inattention to the interest of each other,
they at length become supine and careless of the grand cause of
American Liberty, and finally fall a prey to the MERCILESS HAND OF

I am,

1Vol. I., page 219.


[Boston Gazette, September 23, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

The consequence of the determination of the house of
Representatives not to rescind the resolution of the former house,
of which I gave you a particular account in my last, was an
immediate prorogation of the general assembly, and the next day a
dissolution, agreeable to the orders of a minister of state! -
Governor Bernard in a subsequent letter to lord Hillsborough,
pressed his lordship for further orders respecting the calling a
new assembly; and acquainted him that "when the usual time should
come, it would be quite necessary that the governor should be able
to vouch positive orders for his not calling the assembly, if he
was not to do it," and he adds that, "with regard to calling the
new assembly in May, it would require much consideration." By the
Charter of this province, which is a Compact between the Crown and
the People, it is ordained that a General Assembly shall be called
on every last Wednesday in May yearly: Did gov. Bernard then think
that his lordship, to whom in one instance at least, he had
surrendered the power of the governor of the province, could by
another order rescind that effectual Right of the Charter? It
would in truth require much consideration with one, even of his
lordship's peculiar turn of mind, before he would assume an
authority to put an end to the constitution of the province: He
had gone far enough already. - The Charter further ordains, that
the assembly shall be held "at all such other times as the
governor shall think fit." Not as lord Hillsborough shall think
fit, for he is not the governor. Could the governor think that the
people were so stupid as to be satisfied with his vouching -
orders for neglecting that which it was his indispensable duty to
do as governor of the province; and by neglecting which, either
with or without his lordship's orders, there would be an end to
the supreme legislative power; the establishing of which, as Mr.
Locke says, is the first and fundamental positive law of the
commonwealth. The general assembly is constituted by the charter,
the legislative of the province; having full power and authority
to make all such orders, laws, statutes, &c. not repugnant to the
laws of England, as they shall judge to be for the good and
welfare of the province. - "The first framers of the government,
not being able by any foresight to prefix so just periods of
return and duration to the assemblies of the legislative, in all
times to come, that might exactly answer all the emergencies of
the commonwealth, the best method that could be found, was to
trust this to the prudence of one, who was always to be present,
and whose business it should be to watch over the commonwealth."
Hence the charter provides, that the governor who is to reside in
the province, and who, being always present, must be acquainted
with the state and exigences of the public affairs, shall have
full power and authority to adjourn or dissolve the assembly, and
call a new one from time to time as he shall judge necessary: But
our governors have of late given up this power of judging - to a
minister of state; residing at a thousand leagues distance, and
therefore utterly unable to determine, if it was lawful for him to
do it, at what time the necessities of the state might require the
immediate exertion of legislative power. This ministerial
manoeuvre, to speak in modern language, which threatens the
destruction of the constitution, will, it is hoped, be the subject
of national enquiry, when the present confusion in Britain and
America shall, as it must soon, be brought to a happy issue. "The
legislative is sacred and unalterable in the hands where the
community has fixed it." In this province it is fixed by the
community, in the hands of the Governor, Council and House of
Representatives: In their hands therefore, it ought to rest sacred
and unalterable; to be sure as long as the express conditions of
the compact are fulfilled. - Lord Stafford, and many lords and
great men before him, suffered death for attempting to overthrow
the constitution of the state. - Their crime was called, and I
supposed justly called, Treason: It surely could not have been
treason therefore, to have disturbed and resisted them in their
mad attempts, even though they might have produced the orders of a
king - What punishment awaits those who have manifestly attempted
to overthrow the constitution of the American colonies, the time
which we hope for, and is hastening on, will determine. If the
very being of the legislative of this province is for the future
to depend upon the mere will and pleasure of an arbitrary minister
- if he may take it upon him to dictate such measures as he pleases,
and to dissolve them, or which is the same thing, order an obsequious
governor to do it, upon their non-compliance with his will and
pleasure, surely we have little to boast of in such an assembly. The
charter may be taken away in tarts as well as in the whole: And it
seems by some later ministerial mandates and measures, as if there was
a design to deprive us of our Charter-Rights by degrees. An attempt
upon the whole by one stroke would perhaps be thought too bold an
undertaking. His lordship could not indeed have chosen a more
effectual step to deprive us of the whole benefit of a free
constitution, than by attempting to controul the debates and
determinations of the House of Representatives, which ought forever to
be free, and suspending the legislative power of the province, for
their refusing to obey any mandate, especially when it is not only
contrary to their judgments and consciences, but, as it appeared to
them, absurd. It is a pitiful constitution indeed, which so far from
being fixed and permanent as it should be - sacred and unalterable in
the hands of those where the community has placed it, depends entirely
upon the breath of a minister, or of any man: But it is to be feared
from this as well as other more recent instances, that there is a
design to rase the foundations of the constitutions of these colonies,
and place them upon this precarious and sandy foundation. - I have
seen a letter from the agent of this province to the government here,
dated so long ago as March the 7th, 1750; wherein he says, "I am
afraid there is at bottom in the minds of some, a fixed design of
getting a parliamentary sanction of some kind or other, if possible,
to the King's instructions on this occasion;" which was the redressing
the inconveniencies proceeding from the paper bills. And in another
letter of the 12th of April following, he writes, "Since my last, I
have found too great reason to confirm my apprehensions, that some
persons of consequence here, are determined, if possible, to put the
future use of the credit of the several governments of New England,
wholly under the power of an instruction; and what tendency that
may have to introduce the King's instructions into the government
of the other colonies, in other instances, I need not observe
This design seems to be conducted with great art." The fears of
that watchful agent, there is reason to apprehend, from the
perfect good understanding that now exists between the ruling men
in the American department, on both sides the atlantic, may very
soon be far from appearing groundless. Instructions have of late
been so frequent, and in every instance so punctiliously obeyed,
that there is reason to fear, unless greater attention is had to
them, they soon will be established as rules of administration, not
only to governors as servants of the crown, but to legislatures. The
enforcing them seems to be conducted with equal art on this side of
the water at present, to that with which the original design of
introducing them was conducted on the other side, when that agent
wrote. They may soon therefore be regarded as fixed laws in the
colonies, even without the sanction or intervention of parliament
Principiis obsta, is a maxim worth regarding in politics as well as
morals, and it is more especially to be observed, when those who are
the most assiduous in their endeavours to alter the civil
Constitution, are not less so in persuading us to go to sleep and
dream that we are in a state of perfect security. - What benefit
is it to us to have a governor residing in the province, invested
with certain powers of judging -, and acting according to his own
judgment, for the good of the people, if he submit to be made a
man of wire, & for the sake of preserving the emolument of a
governor, with the name only, is turned this way or that, as the
minister directs, without any judgment of his own? And of what use
can a legislative be to us, without the free exercise of the
powers of legislation? Liable to be thrown out of existence for
not acting in conformity to the will of another? Can there be any
material difference between such a legislative and none at all?
The original constitution of this province, the charter, required
the convening of a new general assembly in May: The public
exigencies might have required it sooner: But governor Bernard was
determined in neither of these cases to convene an assembly, if he
could but vouch the positive orders of the minister, who had no
right or legal authority at all to interpose in the matter. "The
using of force upon the people without authority, and contrary to
the trust reposed in him that does so, is a state of war with the
people;" This is the judgment of one of the greatest men that ever
wrote. "If the executive power, being possessed of the power of
the commonwealth, shall make use of that force to hinder the
meeting and acting of the legislative, when the original
constitution or the public exigencies shall require it, the people
have a right to reinstate their legislative in the exercise of
their power: For having erected a legislative, with an intent they
should exercise the power of making laws, either at certain set
times or when there is need of it, if they are hindered by any
force from what is so necessary to the society, and wherein the
safety and preservation of the people consists, they have a right
to remove it by force." From this instance of the dissolution of
the assembly of this province, as well as that of the suspension
of the legislative of New York, for refusing to execute an act of
parliament, requiring them to give and grant away their own and
their constituents money for the support of a standing army,
posterity will form a judgment of the temper of the British
administration at that time: Whether a different disposition has
since prevailed, will appear from the measures they have taken in
general; and particularly from the answers to the addresses,
petitions and remonstrances which we have lately seen. One would
have thought that the American legislative assemblies had become
too harmless bodies to have been the object of ministerial rage,
since the passing of acts of parliament for the sole purpose of
raising revenues at the expence of the colonists, without their
consent, and for appropriating those revenues as they should think
proper. The most essential Rights of American legislation, are
those of raising and applying their own monies for the support of
their own government, and for their own defence: By the late
revenue acts, these rights are in effect superseded; the
parliament having already granted, such sums as they please, out
of the purses of the colonists, for the same purposes. Thus the
shadow of legislation only remains to them: Their importance is at
an end. They may indeed, as the Pennsylvania farmer observes,
whose works I wish every American would read over again, "They may
perhaps be allowed to make laws for yoking of hogs or pounding of
stray cattle: Their influence will hardly be permitted to extend
so high as the keeping roads in repair; as that business may more
properly be executed by those who receive the public cash." Their
substantial rights and powers, lord Hillsborough himself should know,
are as really annihilated by these acts, as they would be, if they
were deprived of all existence. "Upon what occasion, says that elegant
writer, will the crown ever call our assemblies together, when, the
charges of the administration of justice, the support of civil
government, and the expences of protecting, defending and securing us,
are provided for" by the parliament? "Some few of them may meet of
their own accord, by virtue of their several charters: But what will
they have to do when they are met? To what shadows will they be
reduced? The men, whose deliberations heretofore, had an influence on
every matter relating to the liberty and happiness of themselves and
their constituents, and whose authority in domestic affairs at least,
might well be compared to that of Roman senators, will find their
determinations to be of no more consequence than that of constables."
- And this will not be the utmost extent of our misery and infamy



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations, is
in R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 177-183.]

BOSTON Sept 27 1771


I am greatly indebted to you for your several Letters of [the 10th
and 14th of June].

To let you know that I am far from being inattentive to the favors
you have done me I inclose you a Letter I wrote you some time past,
but was prevented putting it in the Bag by an Accident. I have since
been confind to my house by Sickness & by a late Excursion into the
Country I have fully recoverd my Health.

I take particular Notice of the Reasons you assign for a whole
Session of parliamt being spent without one offensive Measure to
America. You account for our being flatterd that all Designs against
the Charter of the Colony are laid aside, in a manner perfectly
corresponding with the Sentiments I had preconceivd of it. The
opinion you have formd of the ruling men on both sides the Atlantick,
is exactly mine and as I have the most unfavorable Idea of the Heads
or the Hearts of the present Administration, I cannot hope for much
Good from the Services of any man who can submit to be dependent on

I was pleasd with the petition & remonstrance of the City of London -
but are not the Ministry lost to all Sensibility to the peoples
Complaints, & like the Egyptian Tyrant, do they not harden their
Hearts against their repeated Demands for a redress of Grievances.
Does it not fully appear not only that they neither fear God nor
regard Man, but that they are not even to be wearied, as one of their
ancient predecessors was, by frequent Applications. What do you
conceive to be the Step next to be taken by an abused people? For
another must be taken either by the ministry or the people or in my
opinion the nation will fall into that ruin of which they seem to me
to be now at the very precipice. May God afford them that Prudence,
Strength & fortitude by which they may be animated to maintain their
own Liberties at all Events. By your last letter you appear to resolve
well; if ever the Spirit of impeaching should rise in Britain. But how
is it possible such a Spirit should rise. In all former Struggles the
House of Commons has naturally taken Sides with the people against
oppressing Ministers & Favorites. But whether that is the Case at
present or not, is no secret to the World. We have indeed heard little
of the Business of impeaching since the Revolution. A corrupt
ministerial Influence has been gradually & too insensibly increasing
from that OEra, & is at length become so powerful (for which I think
the Nation is particularly beholden to Sir R. Walpole) as to render it
impracticable to have even one capital Object of the peoples just
Vengeance impeachd. The proposals you were so kind as [to] favor me
with, I cannot but highly approve of. I communicated them to two or
three intimate & judicious friends who equally approvd of them. But
they cannot be carried into Execution till the present parliamt is at
an End. And if it is not to be dissolvd before the End of its
septennial Duration, is it not to be feard that before its Expiration
there will be an End of Liberty. If I mistake not there is an Act of
parliamt whereby the Seats of placemen and pensioners in the House of
Commons (who were not such at the time of their Election) shall be
vacated, & their Electors have a right to the Choice of another if
they see proper. Perhaps there never was a time when the Advantages of
this Law were more apparent. Would it not then be doing the most
important Service to the Cause of Liberty if the Gentlemen of the Bill
of Rights, who I pray God may be united in their Councils, would exert
their utmost Influence to prevail upon the Constituents of such rotten
Members to claim that privilege & make a good Use of it? If there is
any Virtue among the people, I should think this might easily be done.
If it be impracticable, I fear another general Election wd only serve
to convince all of what many are apprehensive, that there is a total
Depravation of principles & manners in the Nation, or in other Words
that it is already irrecoverably undone.

We are in a State of perfect Despotism. Our Governmt is essentially
alterd. Instead of having a Gov exercising Authority within the Rules
& Circumscription of the Charter which is the Compact between the King
& the People, & dependent upon the people for his Support, we have a
Man with the Name of a Governor only. He is indeed commissiond by the
King, but under the Controul of the Minister, to whose Instrucctions
he yields an unlimitted Obedience, while he is subsisted with the
Money of that very people who are thus governd, by virtue of an
Assumd Authority of the British Parliament to oblige them to grant
him such an annual Stipend as the King shall order. Can you tell me
who is Governor of this province? Surely not Hutchinson, for I cannot
conceive that he exercises the power of judging vested in him by the
Constitution, in one Act of Govt which appears to him to be
important. The Govt is shifted into the Hands of the Earl of
Hillsborough whose sole Councellor is the Nettleham Baronet. Upon
this Governor aided by the Advice of this Councellor depends the time
& place of the Sitting of the legislative Assembly or whether it
shall sit at all. If they are allowd to sit, they are to be dictated
by this duumvirate, thro the Instrumentality of a third, & may be
thrown out of Existence for failing in one point to conform to their
sovereign pleasure, a Legislative to be sure worthy to be boasted of
by a free people. If our nominal Governor by all the Arts of
perswasion, can prevail upon us to be easy under such a Mode of
Government, he will do a singular piece of Service to his Lordship,
as it will save him the trouble of geting our Charter vacated by the
formal Decision of parliamt & the tedious process of Law.

The Grievances of Britain & the Colonies as you observe spring from
the same root of Bitterness & are of the same pernicious Growth. The
Union of Britain & the Colonies is therefore by all means to be
cultivated. If in every Colony Societies should be formd out of the
most respectable Inhabitants, similar to that of the Bill of Rights,
who should once in the year meet by their Deputies, and correspond
with such a Society in London, would it not effectually promote such
an Union? And if conducted with a proper spirit, would it not afford
reason for the Enemies of our common Liberty, however great, to
tremble. This is a sudden Thought & drops undigested from my pen. It
would be an arduous Task for any man to attempt to awaken a
sufficient Number in the Colonies to so grand an Undertaking. Nothing
however should be despaird of.

If it should ever become a practicable thing to impeach a corrupt
Administration I hope the Minister who advisd to the introducing
arbitrary power into America will not be overlookd. Such a Victim I
imagine will make a figure equal to Lord Strafford in the Reign of
Charles, or de le Pole & others in former times. "The Conduct of the
Judges touching 'Juries" appears to be alarming on both sides of the,
Water & ought to be strictly enquired into. And are they not
establishing the civil Law which Mr Blackstone says is only permitted
in England to the prejudice of the Common Law, the Consequence of
which will prove fatal to the happy Constitution. I observe that one
of your proposals is that a Law may be made "subjecting each Candidate
to an Oath against having used Bribery" to obtain his Election. Would
there not be a danger that a Law by which a Candidate may purge
himself by his Oath would exclude some other more certain Evidence
than the Oath of one who has already prostituted his Conscience for a
Seat than his own Declaration of his Innocence even upon Oath? I am of
opinion that He who can be so sordid as to gain an Election by Bribery
or any other illegal means, must be lost to all such feelings as those
of Honor or Conscience or the Obligation of an Oath. With Regard the
Grievances of the Americans it must be owned that the Violation of
the essential Right of taxing themselves is a Capital one. This Right
is founded in Nature. It is unalienable & therefore it belongs to us
exclusively. The least Infringement on it is Sacrilege. But there
are other Methods taken by Lord Hillsbro & punctually put into
Execution by Govr Hutchinson, which in my Opinion would give a mortal
Stab to Our essential Rights, if the Parliament had not by their
declaratory Act claimd Authority to make use of our money to
establish a standing army over us & an host of pensioners and
placemen civil & ecclesiastical, which are as terrible as an Army of
Soldiers. And if the Commons of this province cannot impeach, we have
nothing to rely upon but the Interposition of our friends in Britain,
or the ultima Ratio.

Inclosd you have a Copy of the protests of divers patriotick
Clergymen in Virginia against an Episcopate in America. It is part of
the plan the design of which is to secure a ministerial Influence in
America, which in all Reason is full strong enough without the Aid of
the Clergy. The Junction of the Cannon & the feudal Law you know has
been fatal to the Liberties of Mankind. The Design of the first
Settlers of New England in particular was to settle a plan of govt
upon the true principles of Liberty in which the Clergy should have
no Authority. It is no Wonder then that we should be alarmd at the
Designs of establishing such a power. It is a singular pleasure to us
that the Colony of Virginia tho episcopalian should appear against it
as you will see by the Vote of thanks of the House of Burgesses to
the protesting Gentlemen; they declare their protest to be "a wise &
well timed opposition." I wish it could be publishd in London. I had
the pleasure of knowing Mr Hewet who was in this Town about two years
ago in Company with Mr Eyre of Northhampton County, in Virginia, who
is a member of the House of Burgesses. I did not then know that Mr
Hewet was a Clergyman.

I fear I have tired your patience & conclude by assuring you that I
am in strict Truth
Sir Your friend & hume servt

P.S.-The Bearer hereof is William Story Esqr formerly of this Town,
but now of Ipswich a Town about 30 Miles East. He was Deputy Register
in the Court of Vice Admiraltry before & at the time of the Stamp Act
& would then have given up the Place as he declared but his Friends
advisd him against it - he sufferd the Resentment of the people on the
26 of August 1765, together with Lt Govr Hutchinson & others for which
he was recompencd by the Genl Assembly, as he declares in part only.
He tells me that his Design in going home is to settle an Affair of
his own relating to the Admiraltry Court, in which the Commissioners
of the Customs as he says declare it is out of their power to do him
Justice. One would think it was never in their Power or Inclination to
do any man Justice. Mr Story has always professd himself a Friend to
Liberty for many years past. I tell him that I make no doubt but you
will befriend him as far as shall be in your power in obtaining
Justice, in which you will very much oblige,


[Boston Gazette, September 30, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

A General Assembly, when actuated with a becoming spirit of public
liberty against the attacks of arbitrary and despotic ministers,
appeared to be as disgustful to Gov. Bernard, as parliaments were to
James the first; with whom it was even an aphorism that the lords and
commons were two bad co-partners with a monarch: Having got rid of
such a troublesome assembly at least for one year, he was more at
leisure, in conjunction with the commissioners of the customs and his
other confederates, to attend to the plan which their hearts had been
long set upon, of introducing into the province a military power for
their aid. -Accordingly every little occurrence, which a man of sense
who had no political designs in view would not have thought worth his
notice such as frequently happen in the most orderly cities, was
gathered up with uncommon industry and made the subject of
representation to the ministry - He even descended so low as to give
lord Hillsborough a detail of the diversion of a few boys in the
street with a drum, which at no time is unusual in populous places,
and pictured it to his lordship, who, it seems gave it its full
weight, as a prelude to a designed insurrection, in which "persons of
all kinds, sexes and ages," were to bear their part - The common
amusements of children were construed rebellion, and his lordship had
minute accounts of them sent to him by this busy journalist, as
grounds upon which he might form measures of administration. But his
letters, together with those of general Gage and commodore Hood, and
the memorials, &c. of the commissioners of the customs, have already
been sufficiently animadverted upon-" No one, says the town of
Boston, in a pamphlet, entitled, An appeal to the World,2 can read
them without being astonished at seeing a person in so important a
department as governor Bernard sustained, descending in his letters
to a minister of state to such trifling circumstances and such
slanderous chit-chat: Boasting as he does in one of them of his
over-reaching those with whom he was transacting publick business;
and in order to prejudice the most respectable bodies, meanly
filching from individuals belonging to those bodies, what had been
drop'd in the course of business or debate: Journalizing every idle
report bro't to him, and in short acting the part of a pimp rather
than a governor." Sufficient however were they finally to prevail
upon administration, which had before been full ready eno' to employ
the military force in England, to order four regiments and part of a
fifth, for the preservation of the peace in the town of Boston. The
only disorders in the town that could give any colouring to measures
so severe, and not more severe than unjustifiable by the constitution,
happened on the 18th of March and 10th of June, 1768 - The first was
nothing more than the parading of the lower sort of people thro' the
streets at the close of an anniversary festivity; when no injury was
offered to any person whatever, no harm was done, nor did even Governor
Bernard himself pretend that any was intended. General Gage, in a
letter to Lord Hillsborough, mentioned this disorder as "trifling."
The other was occasioned by the unprecedented and unlawful manner of
seizing a vessel by the collector and comptroller - His Majesty's
Council after full enquiry into this disorder and the cause of it,
declared, that it "was occasioned by the making a seizure (in a
manner unprecedented) in the town of Boston on the 10th of June,1 a
little before sun-set, when a vessel was seized by the officers of
the customs; and immediately after, upon a signal given by one of
said officers, in consequence of a preconcerted plan, several armed
boats from the Romney man-of-war took possession of her." - The
officers who made the seizure were insulted, some of the windows of
their dwelling houses were broke, and other disorders were committed
- But the council further declared, that it was "highly probable that
no such disorders would have been committed if the vessel had not
been with an armed force and with many circumstances of insults &
threats carried away from the wharf." They also say, that the
disorder "seemed to spring wholly from the persons who complained of
it," and that it "was probable that an uproar was hoped for, and
intended to be occasioned by the manner of proceeding in making the
seizure." This representation of the matter was made by those very
gentlemen, of whom governor Bernard not above 3 or 4 months before,
had given this ample testimony to Lord Hillsborough; that "they had
shown great attention to the support of government," and "upon many
occasions a resolution and steadiness in promoting his Majesty's
service, which would have done honor to his Majesty's appointment, if
they had held their places under it:" And to whom he about the same
time very warmly returned his thanks, "for their steady, uniform and
patriotic conduct, which had shown them impressed with a full
sense of their duty both to their king & their country." A
representation of matters of fact, made by gentlemen whom governor
Bernard had so highly applauded for their attention to the support of
government, and resolution and steadiness in promoting his majesty's
service, must surely meet with full credit with the friends of
government; and induce a conclusion, even in their minds, that if
there was a necessity of troops in the town of Boston to keep the
peace, it arose not from the "madness of the people," (a decent
expression of General Gage) but altogether from the extravagance
of the servants of the crown; who after a preconcerted plan, according
to the account given by the council, hoped for, and intended that an
uproar should be occasion'd, by the manner of their proceeding with
an armed force, and many circumstances of insult and threats in making
a seizure. -This disturbance, after a few hours, wholly subsided, thro'
the interposition of the inhabitants of the town, & no great mischief
was done; yet the most aggravated accounts were given of it by the Cabal,
to answer their own purposes. The Romney ship of war, had before been
ordered by commodore Hood to this place, in consequence of
information sent to him of a factious and turbulent spirit among the
people. The captain thought it his duty to acquaint the commodore of
this fresh disturbance; and the Beaver sloop, being then in the
harbour, and preparing for her station at Philadelphia, was remanded
back to Halifax for that purpose, and with such speed as to be
obliged to leave part of her provisions behind - Large packets were
sent by this vessel to the commodore, and others for England, where
it was proposed by the cabal she should be immediately dispatched
from Halifax. The comptroller of the customs embark'd on board the
same sloop very privately, by whom letters in abundance were sent to
London. In these letters a number of gentlemen, who were called the
leaders of the faction, were proscribed. Some of the cabal could not
conceal their designs; for it was even then given out by them, that
troops would probably soon arrive from Halifax, and that two
regiments of Irish troops were to be sent to this town; all which
accordingly took place in about four months afterwards, being the
time in which they might have been expected by orders of the ministry
in consequence of these letters. Indeed we have since been made
certain by a publication of their own letters, that they had
earnestly sollicited the sending of troops about this time. The
commissioners of the customs in a letter to the lords of the
treasury, acquainted that board "that there had been a long concerted
and extensive plan of resistance to the authority of Great Britain,
and that the seizure had hastened the people to the commission of
actual violence sooner than was intended" and further, "that nothing
but the exertion of military power would prevent an open revolt in
this town, which would probably spread throughout the provinces." The
collector and comptroller in their letters upon this occasion to the
commissioners, which was laid before administration tell their
honors, "that it appeared evident to them that a plan of insurrection
of a very dangerous and extensive nature had long been in
agitation, & now brought nearly to a crisis." But it is needless to
repeat the many exaggerated accounts given by the governor and his
confederates, of this occurrence, which on the part of the people was
altogether unexpected; and as the Council observed, "seem'd to have
sprang wholly from the persons who complained of it." - To crown all,
the Commissioners pretended that "they had reason to expect further
violences," and fled, Bernard says in a letter to lord Hillsborough,
"were driven" to Castle William; where they represented to the lords
of the treasury that the "protection afforded them by Commodore Hood,
viz, the Romney and one or two sloops of war, was the most
seasonable, as without it they should not have considered themselves
(even there) in safety, nor his Majesty's Castle secured from falling
into the hands of the people," and "that it was impossible for them
to set foot in Boston, until there were two or three regiments in the
town, to restore and support government." - However true it may be,
that the Commissioners had rendered themselves the objects of the
publick resentment, which their letters and memorials have had no
tendency to abate, they never had been, to use an expression of Gov.
Bernard, the objects of popular fury; not the least injury had ever
been offer'd to their persons or property. They had landed without
opposition, and had lived in the town many months, if despis'd and
hated, yet unmolested: For this we have the testimony of his
Majesty's Council; "They were not, say they, oblig'd to quit the town
- it was a voluntary act of their own - there never had been any
insult offer'd Them - and when they were at the Castle there was
no occasion for men of war to protect them." And even after their
voluntary flight, they often made excursions upon the main, for the
purpose of amusement and recreation, for which, having quitted the
severe exercises of their employment in the town, they now had
sufficient leisure: There, they might easily have been insulted if
there had been any such disposition in the people. It has long been
evident that all this pretended apprehension of danger, and their
flight first to the Romney ship of war, and then to the castle for
protection, was intended to cooperate with & confirm the letters and
memorials sent home, and to facilitate the prosecution of their design.
Such were the methods us'd by a restless set of men, to hold up this
town and province, to the nation and to the world, in a false and
odious light. It was therefore peculiarly incumbent upon all, and those
persons especially, who were entrusted by the publick, to be vigilant
for it, at a time when they who were seeking its ruin, were
remarkably attentive to and active in prosecuting their plans. And
can any one say there is reason to think that a minister of the
temper of Lord H---h, perpetually acted upon by the implacable hatred
of Bernard, has yet abandon'd, or is likely to abandon, his favorite
system, while there is ONE left on this side the water who is ready
to put it in execution? - No - The disputes with the court of Spain
and the city of London during the late session of parliament, may
have prov'd so embarrassing to A---n as to have caus'd a suspension
of the execution of it for a while; but to trust that it is therefore
wholly laid aside, is a degree of credulity and infatuation, which I
hope will never be impos'd by any man on this country. Great pains we
know are taken to perswade and assure us, that as long as we continue
quiet, nothing will be done to our prejudice: But let us beware of
these soothing arts. - Has anything been done for our relief? - Has
any one grievance which we have complained of been redressed? On the
contrary, are not our just causes of complaint and remonstrance daily
increasing, at a time when we were flattered that a change of men
would produce a change of measures? Have our petitions for the
redress of grievances ever been answered or even listened to? If not,
what can be intended by all the fair promises made to us by tools and
sycophants, but to lull us into that quietude and sleep by which
slavery is always preceeded. - While treachery and imposition is the
fort of any man, let us remember, there is always most danger when
his professions are warmest.


1See Vol. I., page 396.
2 See Vol. I., page 245.


[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., p. 183.]

BOSTON, Oct. 2d, 1771.


I have already written to you by this conveyance, and there mentioned
to you Mr. Story, a gentleman to whose care I committed that letter.
I have since heard that he has a letter to Lord Hillsborough from
Gov. Hutchinson, which may possibly recommend him for some place by
way of compensation for his joint sufferings with the governor. I do
not think it possible for any man to receive his lordship's favour,
without purchasing it by having done or promising to do some kind of
jobs. If Mr. Story should form connexions with administration upon
any principles inconsistent with those of a friend to liberty, he
will then appear to be a different character from that which I
recommended to your friendship. I mention this for your caution, and
in confidence; and am with great regard sir, your humble servant,


[Boston Gazette, October 7, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,
Instead of voted Aid,

"Th' illegal imposition followed harsh
With Execration given, or ruthless squeez'd
From an insulted People."

I Think it necessary the publick should be inform'd, that his
Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq; Governor of this Province, has
lately receiv'd, a warrant from the Lords of the Treasury in England,
for the Sum of Twenty-two Hundred and fifty Pounds Sterling for his
Services for one year and a half, being at the rate of Fifteen
Hundred Sterling or Two Thousand L. M. per Ann. - The payment is to
be made out of the Commissioners Chest; wherein are reposited the
Treasures that are daily collected, tho' perhaps insensibly, from the
Earnings and Industry of the honest Yeomen, Merchants and Tradesmen,
of this continent, against their Consent; and if his friends speak the
truth, against his own private judgment. - This treasure is to be
appropriated according to the act of parliament so justly and loudly
complain'd of by Americans, for the support of civil government, the
payment of the charges of the administration of justice, and the
defence of the colonies: And it may hereafter be made use of, for the
support of standing armies and ships of war; episcopates & their
numerous ecclesiastical retinue; pensioners, placemen and other
jobbers, for an abandon'd and shameless ministry; hirelings, pimps,
parasites, panders, prostitutes and whores - His Excellency had
repeatedly refused to accept the usual Salary out of the treasury of
this province; which leads us to think that his eminent patron the
Earl of Hillsborough, or his most respected friend Sir Francis
Bernard, who is ever at his Lordship's elbow, had given him certain
information that this honorable stipend would be allow'd to him -
Whether he tho't the generous grant of a thousand sterling, annually
made to his predecessors, and offer'd to him, by the assembly, not
adequate to his important services to the province in supporting and
vindicating its charter and constitutional rights and liberties; or
whether he was forbid by instruction from his Lordship to receive it,
which is probable from his own words, "I could not consistent with my
duty to the King"; or lastly, and which is still more probable,
Whether he was ambitious of being, beyond any of his predecessors, a
Governor independent of the free grants of the assembly, which is no
doubt reconcileable with his Excellency's idea of a constitutional
governor of a free people, are matters problematical. - Adulating
Priestlings and others, who have sounded his high praises in the
news-papers, and in the church of God, as well as in other solemn
assemblies, may perhaps echo the fallacious reasoning from one of his
publick speeches, "The people will not blame (him) for being willing
to avoid burdening them with his support, by the increase of the tax
upon their polls and estates," since it is now "provided for another
way." In all ages the supercilious part of the clergy have adored the
Great Man, and shown a thorough contempt of the understanding of the
people. But the people, and a great part, I hope, of the clergy of
this enlightened country, have understanding enough to know, that a
Governor independent of the people for his support, as well as his
political Being, is in fact, a MASTER; and may be, and probably, such
is the nature of uncontroulable power, soon will be a TYRANT. It will
be recorded by the faithful historian, for the information of
posterity, that the first American Pensioner - the first independent
Governor of this province, was, not a stranger, but one "born and
educated" in it - Not an ANDROSS or a RANDOLPH; but that cordial
friend to our civil constitution -that main Pillar of the Religion
and the Learning of this country; the Man, upon whom she has, (I will
not say wantonly) heaped all the Honors she had to bestow -
HUTCHINSON!! - We are told that the Justices of the Superior Court
are also to receive fixed salaries out of this American revenue! -
"Is it possible to form an idea of slavery, more compleat, more
miserable, more disgraceful, than that of a people, where justice is
administer'd, government exercis'd, and a standing army maintain'd, at
the expence of the people, and yet without the least dependence upon
them? If we can find no relief from this infamous situation" - I
repeat it, "If we can find no relief from this infamous situation ",
let the ministry who have stripped us of our property and liberty,
deprive us of our understanding too; that unconscious of what we have
been or are, and ungoaded by tormenting reflections, we may tamely bow
down our necks, with all the stupid serenity of servitude, to any
drudgery which our lords & masters may please to command" - I appeal
to the common sense of mankind. To what a state of misery and infamy
must a people be reduced! To have a governor by the sole
appointment of the crown, under the absolute controul of a weak and
arbitrary minister, to whose dictates he is to yield an unlimited
obedience, or forfeit his political existence while he is to be
supported at the expence of the people, by virtue of an authority
claimed by strangers, to oblige them to contribute for him such an
annual stipend, however unbounded, as the crown shall be advised to
order! If this be not a state of despotism, what is? Could such a
governor, by all the arts of persuasion, prevail upon a people to be
quiet and contented under such a mode of government, his noble patron
might spare himself the trouble of getting their Charter vacated by a
formal decision of parliament, or in the tedious process of law -
Whenever the relentless enemies of America shall have compleated their
system, which they are still, though more silently pursuing, by subtle
arts, deep dissimulation, and manners calculated to deceive, our
condition will then be more humiliating and miserable, and perhaps
more inextricable too, than that of the people of England in the
infamous reigns of the Stuarts, which blacken the pages of history;

"Oppression stalk'd at large and pour'd abroad
Her unrelenting Train; Informers - Spies -
Hateful Projectors of aggrieving Schemes
To sell the starving many to the few,
And drain a thousand Ways th' exhausted Land...
And on the venal Bench
Instead of Justice, Party held the Scale,
And Violence the Sword."



[Boston Gazette, October 14, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

"Ambition saw that stooping Rome could bear
A MASTER, nor had Virtue to be free."

I Believe that no people ever yet groaned under the heavy yoke of
slavery, but when they deserv'd it. This may be called a severe
censure upon by far the greatest part of the nations in the world who
are involv'd in the misery of servitude: But however they may be
thought by some to deserve commiseration, the censure is just.
Zuinglius, one of the first reformers, in his friendly admonition to
the republic of the Switzers, discourses much of his countrymens
throwing off the yoke: He says, that they who lie under oppression
deserve what they suffer, and a great more; and he bids them perish
with their oppressors. The truth is, All might be free if they valued
freedom, and defended it as they ought. Is it possible that millions
could be enslaved by a few, which is a notorious fact, if all
possessed the independent spirit of Brutus, who to his immortal
honor, expelled the proud Tyrant of Rome, and his "royal and
rebellious race?" If therefore a people will not be free; if they
have not virtue enough to maintain their liberty against a
presumptuous invader, they deserve no pity, and are to be treated
with contempt and ignominy. Had not Caesar seen that Rome was ready
to stoop, he would not have dared to make himself the master of that
once brave people. He was indeed, as a great writer observes, a
smooth and subtle tyrant, who led them gently into slavery; "and on
his brow, 'ore daring vice deluding virtue smil'd". By pretending to
be the peoples greatest friend, he gain'd the ascendency over them:
By beguiling arts, hypocrisy and flattery, which are even more fatal
than the sword, he obtain'd that supreme power which his ambitious
soul had long thirsted for: The people were finally prevail'd upon to
consent to their own ruin: By the force of perswasion, or rather by
cajoling arts and tricks always made use of by men who have ambitious
views, they enacted their Lex Regia: whereby Quod placuit principi
legis habuit vigorem; that is, the Will and pleasure of the Prince
had the force of law. His minions had taken infinite pains to paint
to their imaginations the god-like virtues of Caesar: They first
persuaded them to believe that he was a deity, and then to sacrifice
to him those Rights and Liberties which their ancestors had so long
maintained, with unexampled bravery, and with blood & treasure. By
this act they fixed a precedent fatal to all posterity: The Roman
people afterwards, influenced no doubt by this pernicious example,
renew'd it to his successors, not at the end of every ten years, but
for life. They transfer'd all their right and power to Charles the
Great: In eum transtulit omne suum jus et poteslatem. Thus, they
voluntarily and ignominiously surrendered their own liberty, and
exchanged a free constitution for a TYRANNY!

It is not my design at present to form the comparison between the
state of this country now, and that of the Roman Empire in those
dregs of time; or between the disposition of Caesar, and that of ---;
The comparison, I confess, would not in all parts hold good: The
Tyrant of Rome, to do him justice, had learning, courage, and great
abilities. It behoves us however to awake and advert to the danger we
are in. The Tragedy of American Freedom, it is to be feared is nearly
compleated: A Tyranny seems to be at the very door. It is to little
purpose then to go about cooly to rehearse the gradual steps that
have been taken, the means that have been used, and the instruments
employed, to encompass the ruin of the public liberty: We know them
and we detest them. But what will this avail, if we have not courage
and resolution to prevent the completion of their system?

Our enemies would fain have us lie down on the bed of sloth and
security, and persuade ourselves that there is no danger They are
daily administering the opiate with multiplied arts and delusions,
and I am sorry to observe, that the gilded pill is so alluring to
some who call themselves the friends of Liberty. But is there no
danger when the very foundations of our civil constitution tremble? -
When an attempt was first made to disturb the corner-stone of the
fabrick, we were universally and justly alarmed: And can we be cool
spectators, when we see it already removed from its place? With what
resentment and indignation did we first receive the intelligence of a
design to make us tributary, not to natural enemies, but infinitely
more humiliating, to fellow subjects? And yet with unparallelled
insolence we are told to be quiet, when we see that very money which
is torn from us by lawless force, made use of still further to
oppress us - to feed and pamper a set of infamous wretches, who swarm
like the locusts of Egypt; and some of them expect to revel in wealth
and riot on the spoils of our country. - Is it a time for us to sleep
when our free government is essentially changed, and a new one is
forming upon a quite different system? A government without the least
dependance upon the people: A government under the absolute controul
of a minister of state; upon whose sovereign dictates is to depend
not only the time when, and the place where, the legislative assembly
shall sit, but whether it shall sit at all: And if it is allowed to
meet, it shall be liable immediately to be thrown out of existence,
if in any one point it fails in obedience to his arbitrary mandates.
Have we not already seen specimens of what we are to expect under
such a government, in the instructions which Mr. HUTCHINSON has
received, and which he has publickly avow'd, and declared he is bound
to obey? - By one, he is to refuse his assent to a tax-bill, unless
the Commissioners of the Customs and other favorites are exempted:
And if these may be freed from taxes by the order of a minister, may
not all his tools and drudges, or any others who are subservient to
his designs, expect the same indulgence? By another he is to forbid
to pass a grant of the assembly to any agent, but one to whose
election he has given his consent; which is in effect to put it out
of our power to take the necessary and legal steps for the redress of
those grievances which we suffer by the arts and machinations of
ministers, and their minions here. What difference is there between
the present state of this province, which in course will be the
deplorable state of all America, and that of Rome, under the law
before mention'd? The difference is only this, that they gave their
formal consent to the change, which we have not yet done. But let us
be upon our guard against even a negative submission; for agreeable
to the sentiments of a celebrated writer, who thoroughly understood
his subject, if we are voluntarily silent, as the conspirators would
have us to be, it will be consider'd as an approbation of the change.
"By the fundamental laws of England, the two houses of parliament in
concert with the King, exercise the legislative power: But if the two
houses should be so infatuated, as to resolve to suppress their
powers, and invest the King with the full and absolute government,
certainly the nation would not suffer it." And if a minister shall
usurp the supreme and absolute government of America, and set up his
instructions as laws in the colonies, and their Governors shall be so
weak or so wicked, as for the sake of keeping their places, to be
made the instruments in putting them in execution, who will presume
to say that the people have not a right, or that it is not their
indispensible duty to God and their Country, by all rational means in
their power to RESIST THEM.

"Be firm, my friends, nor let UNMANLY SLOTH
Twine round your hearts indissoluble chains.
Ne'er yet by force was freedom overcome.
Unless CORRUPTION first dejects the pride,
And guardian vigour of the free-born soul,
All crude attempts of violence are vain.
Determined, hold
Your INDEPENDENCE; for, that once destroy'd,
Unfounded Freedom is a morning dream."

The liberties of our Country, the freedom of our civil constitution
are worth defending at all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them
against all attacks. We have receiv'd them as a fair Inheritance from
our worthy Ancestors: They purchas'd them for us with toil and danger
and expence of treasure and blood; and transmitted them to us with
care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on
the present generation, enlightned as it is, if we should suffer them
to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle; or be cheated
out of them by the artifices of false and designing men. Of the
latter we are in most danger at present: Let us therefore be aware of
it. Let us contemplate our forefathers and posterity; and resolve to
maintain the rights bequeath'd to us from the former, for the sake of
the latter. - Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we
have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the necessity of
the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection,
deliberation, fortitude and perseverance. Let us remember, that "if
we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it,
and involve others in our doom." It is a very serious consideration,
which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may
be the miserable sharers in the event.



[Boston Gazette, October 28, 1771; the text is also in W. V. Wells,
Life of Samuel Adams, vol. 1., pp. 427-432.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

THE writer of the history of Massachusetts Bay tells us, that "our
ancestors apprehended the acts of trade to be an invasion of the
rights, liberties and properties of the subjects of his Majesty in
the colony, they not being represented in parliament; and according
to the usual sayings of the learned in the law, the laws of England
were bounded within the four seas, and did not reach America.
However, they made provision by an act of the colony, that they, i.e.
the acts of trade should be strictly attended from time to time" -

The passing of this law of the colony, and thus making it an act of
their own legislature, he says, "plainly shows the wrong sense they
had of the relation they stood in to England " - And he further adds,
that "tho' their posterity have as high notions of English Liberties
as they had, yet they are sensible that they are Colonists, and
therefore subject to the controul of the parent state." As I am not
disposed to yield an implicit assent to any authority whatever, I
should have been glad if this historian, since he thought proper to
pronounce upon so important a matter, had shown us what was the
political relation our ancestors stood in to England, and how far, if
at all, their posterity are subject to the controul of the parent
state. - If he had vouchsafed to have done this, when he published his
history, he would have rendered the greatest service both to
Great-Britain and America, and eased the minds of multitudes who have
been unsatisfied in points of such interesting importance.

Mr. Locke, in his treatise on government discovers the weakness of
this position, That every man is born a subject to his Prince, and
therefore is under the perpetual tie of subjection and allegiance;
and he shows that express consent alone, makes any one a member of
any commonwealth. He holds that submission to the laws of any country,
& living quietly & enjoying privileges & protection under them, does
not make a man a member of that society, or a perpetual subject of
that commonwealth, any more than it would make a man subject to
another, in whose family he found it convenient to abide for some
time, tho' while he continued under it, he were obliged to comply with
the laws, and submit to the government he found there. Every man was
born naturally free; nothing can make a man a subject of any
commonwealth, but his actually entering into it by positive
engagement, and express promise & compact.

If the sentiments of this great man are well grounded, our historian
before he asserted so peremptorily that the ancestors of this country
as colonists were subject to the controul of the parent state, should
have first made it appear that by positive engagement, or express
promise or contract, they had thus bound themselves.

Every man being born free, says another distinguished writer, the son
of a citizen, arrived at the years of discretion, may examine whether
it be convenient for him to join in the society for which he was
destined by birth. If he finds that it will be no advantage for him
to remain in it, he is at liberty to leave it, preserving as much as
his new engagements will allow him, the love and gratitude he owes
it.2 He further says, "There are cases in which a citizen has an
absolute right to renounce his country, and abandon it for ever";
which is widely different from the sentiment of the historian, that
"allegiance is not local, but perpetual and unalienable": And among
other cases in which a citizen has this absolute right, he mentions
that, when the sovereign, or the greater part of the nation will
permit the exercise of only one religion in the state; which was the
case when our ancestors forsook their native country.

They were denied the rights of conscience. They left, it however with
the consent of the nation: It is allowed by this historian that they
departed the kingdom with the leave of their prince. They removed at
their own expence and not the nation's, into a country claimed and
possessed by independent princes, whose right to the lordship and
dominion thereof has been acknowledged by English kings; and they
fairly purchased the lands of the rightful owners, and settled them
at their own and not the nation's expence. It is incumbent then upon
this historian to show, by what rule of equity or right, unless they
expressly consented to it, they became subject to the controul of the
parent state. - The obligation they had been under to submit to the
government of the nation, by virtue of their enjoyment of lands which
were under its jurisdiction, according to Mr. Locke, began and ended
with the enjoyment. That was but a tacit consent to the government;
and when by donation, sale or otherwise, they quitted the possession
of those lands, they were at liberty, unless it can be made to appear
they were otherwise bound by positive engagement or express contract,
to incorporate into any other commonwealth, or begin a new one in
vacuis locis, in any part of the world they could find free and
unpossessed. - They entered into a compact, it is true, with the king
of England, and upon certain conditions become his voluntary
subjects, not his slaves. But did they enter into an express promise
to be subject to the controul of the parent state? What is there to
show that they were any way bound to obey the acts of the British
parliament, but those very acts themselves? Is there any thing but
the mere ipse dixit of an historian, who for ought any one can tell,
design'd to make a sacrifice to the ruling powers of Great-Britain,
to show that the parent state might exercise the least controul over
them as Colonists, any more than the English parliament could
exercise controul over the dominions which the Kings formerly held in
France, or than it can now over the inhabitants of the moon, if there
be any?

By the charter of this province, the legislative power is in the
Governor, who is appointed by the King, the Council and House of
Representatives. The legislative of any commonwealth must be the
supreme power. But if any edict or instruction of any body else, in
what form soever conceiv'd, or by what power soever backed, can have
the force and obligation of a law in the province which has not its
sanction from that legislative, it cannot be the supreme power. Its
laws however salutary, are liable at any time to be abrogated at the
pleasure of a superior power. No body can have a power to make laws
over a free people, but by their own consent, and by authority
receiv'd from them: It follows then, either that the people of this
province have consented & given authority to the parent state to make
laws over them, or that she has no such authority. No one I believe
will pretend that the parent state receives any authority from the
people of this province to make laws for them, or that they have ever
consented she should. If the people of this province are a part of
the body politick of Great Britain, they have as such a right to be
consulted in the making of all acts of the British parliament of what
nature soever. If they are a separate body politick, and are free,
they have a right equal to that of the people of Great Britain to
make laws for themselves, and are no more than they, subject to the
controul of any legislature but their own. "The lawful power of
making laws to command whole politick societies of men, belongs so
properly unto the same intire societies, that for any prince or
potentate of what kind soever upon earth to exercise the same of
himself, and not by express commission immediately and personally
receiv'd from God, or else from authority deriv'd at the first from
their consent, upon whose persons they impose laws, is no better than
mere tyranny. Laws therefore they are not which publick approbation
hath not made so.3 This was the reason given by our ancestors why
they should not be bound by the acts of parliament, because not being
represented in parliament, the publick approbation of the province
had not made them laws. And this is the reason why their posterity do
not hold themselves rightly oblig'd to submit to the revenue acts now
in being, because they never consented to them. The former, under
their circumstances, thought it prudent to adopt the acts of trade,
by passing a law of their own, and thus formally consenting that they
should be observ'd. But the latter I presume will never think it
expedient to copy after their example.

The historian tells his readers that "They (the people of this
province) humbly hope for all that tenderness and indulgence from a
British parliament, which the Roman senate, while Rome remain'd free,
shewed to Roman colonies" - Why the conduct of Rome towards her
colonies should be recommended as an example to our parent state,
rather than that of Greece, is difficult to conjecture, unless it was
because as has been observed, the latter was more generous and a
better mother to her colonies than the former. Be that as it may, the
colonists have a right to expect from the parent state all possible
tenderness; not only as they sprang from her, and are subjects of the
same King, but as they have greatly contributed to her wealth &
grandeur: And we are willing to render to her respect and certain
expressions of honor and reverence as the Grecian colonies did to the
city from whence they deriv'd their origin, as Grotius says, so long
as the colonies were well treated. By our compact with our King,
wherein is contain'd the rule of his government and the measure of our
submission, we have all the liberties and immunities of Englishmen,
to all intents, purposes and constructions whatever; and no King of
Great-Britain, were he inclin'd, could have a right either with or
without his parliament, to deprive us of those liberties - They are
originally from God and nature, recognized in the Charter, and
entail'd to us and our posterity: It is our duty therefore to
contend for them whenever attempts are made to violate them.

He also says that "the people of Ireland were under the same
mistake" with our ancestors; that is, in thinking themselves exempt
from the controul of English acts of parliament. But nothing drops
from his pen to shew that this was a mistake, excepting that
"particular persons in Ireland did pennance for advancing and
adhering to those principles." The same mighty force of reasoning is
used to prove that this colony was mistaken, viz. "They suffer'd the
loss of the charter." Such arguments may serve to evince the power
of the parent state, but neither its wisdom nor justice appears from
them. The sense of the nation however was very different after the
revolution. The House of Commons voted the judgment against the
Charter a Grievance; and a bill was brought in and passed that house
for restoring the Charters, among which that of this province was
expresly mentioned; notwithstanding the mistake abovemention'd was
one great article of charge against it. But the parliament was
proroug'd sooner than was expected, by reason of the King's going to

Our historian tells his readers by way of consolation, that "it may
serve as some excuse for our ancestors, but they were not alone in
their mistaken apprehensions of the nature of their subjection"; and
he appears to be mighty glad that "so sensible a gentleman as Mr.
Molineux, the friend of Mr. Locke, engag'd in the cause". But we
want no excuse for any supposed mistakes of our ancestors. Let us
first see it prov'd that they were mistakes. 'Till then we must hold
ourselves obliged to them for sentiments transmitted to us so worthy
of their character, and so important to our security: And we shall
esteem the arguments of so sensible, and it might justly be added,
so learned a gentleman as Mr. Molineux, especially as they had the
approbation of his friend Mr. Locke to be valid, while we see
nothing to oppose them, but the unsupported opinion of Mr.


1 Attributed to Adams by Wells and by Bancroft, and also by the
annotations of the Dorr file of the Gazette.
2 Mr. Vattel, law of nature and nations.
3 Hooker's Eccl. Poi.


[Ms., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library a text with variations is
in R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 184-187.]
BOSTON Octob 31 1771.


I Inclose a printed Copy of a Resolve of the Council of this
province, whereby Junius Americanus is censurd for asserting that
the late Secretary Oliver stood recorded in the Councils Books as a
perjurd traitor. You may easily suppose that the Friends of America
for whom that Writer has been & is a firm & able Advocate, resent
this Conduct of the Council whose Ingratitude to say nothing of the
Injustice of this proceeding is the more extraordinary as Junius
Americanus has taken so much pains to vindicate that very Body
against the malignant Aspersions of Bernard & others. There was
however only Eight of twenty six Councellors present when they were
prevaild upon by an artful man to pass this Resolve. You will see by
the inclosd some remarks upon the former proceedings of the Council,
or rather a recital of parts of them, by which I think it appears
that the Assertion could not be groundless nor malicious; nor can it
be false if their own publication is true. I can conceive that the
Design of the first mover of this Resolve was to injure the Credit
of all the Writings of Junius Americanus, which I believe he very
sensibly feels, & also to make it appear to the World that the
Council, as they had before said of the House, had departed from &
disavowd the Sentiments of former Assemblys; and that this Change
has been effected by the Influence of Mr. Hutchinson. With Regard to
the Council, it is hardly possible for any one at a distance to
ascertain their political Sentiments from what they see of their
determinations publishd here in general, for it has been the
practice of the Governor to summon a general Council at the Time
when the Assembly is sitting & of Course the whole Number of
Councillors is present - but in their Capacity of Advisers to the
Governor they are adjournd from week to week during the Session of
the Assembly & till it is over when the Country Gentlemen Members of
Council return home. Thus the general Council being kept alive by
Adjournments, the principal & most important part of the Business of
their executive department is done by seven or eight who live in &
about the Town, & if the Governor can manage a Majority of so small
a Number, Matters will be conducted according to his mind. I believe
I may safely affirm that by far the greater Number of civil officers
have been appointed at these adjournments; so that it is much the
same as if they were appointed solely by our ostensible Governor or
rather by his Master, the Minister for the time being. You will not
then be surprisd if I tell you that among the five Judges of our
Superior Court of Justice, there are the following near Connections
with the first & second in Station in the province. Mr Lynde is
Chiefe Justice; his Daughter is married to the Son of Mr Oliver, the
Lt Govr; Mr Oliver another of the Judges is his Brother; his Son
married Gov Hutchinsons Daughter; & Judge Hutchinson lately
appointed, who is also Judge of the probate of Wills for the first
County, an important department, is the Govrs brother. Besides which
the young Mr Oliver is a Justice of the Common pleas for the County
of Essex. Mr Cotton a Brother in Law of the Govr is deputy Secretary
of the province & Register in the probate office under Mr
Hutchinson; a cousin german of the Govr was sent for out of another
province to fill up the place of Clerk to the Common pleas in this
County; & the eldest Son of the Govr will probably soon be appointed
a Justice of the same Court in the room of his Uncle advancd to the
superior bench. I should have first mentiond that the Gov & the Lt
Gov' are Brothers by Marriage.

The House of Representatives, notwithstanding the Advantages which a
new Governor always has in his hands I have reason to think will be
so firm as at least not to give up any Right. The Body of the people
are uneasy at the large Strides that are made & making towards an
absolute Tyranny - many are alarmd but are of different Sentiments
with regard to the next step to be taken - some indeed think that
every Step has been taken but one & the ultima Ratio would require
prudence unanimity and fortitude. The Conspirators against our
Liberties are employing all their Influence to divide the people,
partly by intimidating them for which purpose a fleet of Ships lies
within gun Shot of the Town & the Capital Fort within three miles of
it is garrisond by the Kings Troops, and partly by Arts & Intrigue;
by flattering those who are pleasd with Flattery; forming
Connections with them, introducing Levity Luxury & Indolence &
assuring them that if they are quiet the Ministry will alter their
Measures. I fear some of the Southern Colonies are taken with this
Bait, for we see hardly anything in their publick papers but
Advertisements of the Baubles of Britain for sale. This is the
general Appearance of things here while the people are anxiously
waiting for some happy Event from your side the Water - for my own
part I confess I have no great Expectations from thence, & have long
been of Opinion that America herself under God must finally work out
her own Salvation.

I have been told by a friend that a Manuscript has been sent from
hence upon the Subject of the Tryals of Preston & the Soldiers, for
your perusal entitled a Hue & Cry &c. Had I seen & thought it
answerable to what I have heard of it, I should have endeavord to
have had it publishd here. I wish it had been or still might be
publishd in London if you have seen it & think it worth while,
subject entirely to your Correction and Amendment. But after all
what will the best & most animating publications signify, if the
many are willing to submit & be enslavd by the few.

I wrote you about a fortnight past by Capt. Hood1 & can add nothing
more at present but that I am sincerely
your friend & hbl servt

1 See above, page 230.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text is in W. V. Wells,
Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., pp. 342, 343.]

Nov 7 1771


As you are just now setting out on the Journey of Life, give me
leave to express to you my ardent Wish that you may meet with all
that prosperity which shall be consistent with your real happiness.
I cannot but think you have a good prospect; yet your path will in
all probability be uneven: Sometimes you must expect like all other
Travellers, to meet with Difficulties on the Road; let me therefore
recommend to you the Advice of one of the Ancients, a Man of
sterling Sense, tho a Heathen. "OEquam memento Rebus in arduis,
servare mentem." In the busy Scenes of Life, you may now and then be
disposd to drive on hard, & make rather too much haste to be rich;
you will then be upon your Guard against Temptations which if
yielded to, will poison the Streams of all future Comfort: You will
then in a more particular manner, impress upon your mind the advice
of an inspired writer, to "maintain a Conscience void of offence." I
do not flatter you when I say, you have hitherto supported a good
reputation: You will still preserve it unsullied; remembering that a
good name is your Life.


[Boston Gazette, November 11, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

WE read that "Jeroboam the Son of Nebat made Israel to sin": For
this he "stands recorded" and repeatedly stigmatiz'd, in the sacred
volumn, as a "perjur'd Traitor," and a Rebel against GOD and his
Country. However mysterious fawning priests and flatterers may
affect to think it, Kings and Governors may be guilty of treason and
rebellion: And they have in general in all ages and countries been
more frequently guilty of it, than their subjects. Nay, what has
been commonly called rebellion in the people, has often been nothing
else but a manly & glorious struggle in opposition to the lawless
power of rebellious Kings and Princes; who being elevated above the
rest of mankind, and paid by them only to be their protectors, have
been taught by enthusiasts to believe they were authoriz'd by GOD to
enslave and butcher them! It is not uncommon for men, by their own
inattention and folly, to suffer those things which an all-gracious
providence design'd for their good, to become the greatest evils. If
we look into the present state of the world, I believe this will
hold good with regard to civil government in general: And the
history of past ages will inform us, that even those civil
institutions which have been best calculated for the safety and
happiness of the people, have sooner or later degenerated into
settled tyranny; which can no more be called civil government, and
is in fact upon some accounts a state much more to be deprecated
than anarchy itself. It may be said of each, that it is a state of
war: And it is beyond measure astonishing that free people can see
the miseries of such a state approaching to them with large and
hasty strides, and suffer themselves to be deluded by the artful
insinuations of a man in tower, and his indefatigable sychophants,
into a full perswasion that their liberties are in no danger. May we
not be allow'd to adopt the language of scripture, and apply it upon
so important a consideration; that seeing, men will see and not
perceive, and hearing, they will hear and not understand?

Jeroboam must needs have been a very wicked Governor: And he
discover'd so much of the malignancy of treason against his people,
in making them to sin against the supreme Being upon whose power and
protection the welfare of nations as well as individuals so
manifestly depends, and by whose goodness that people in particular
were so greatly oblig'd, that one would have thought, they would
upon a retrospect of their folly, in being thus seduc'd, have
testified to future generations their just resentment and
indignation, by at least dethroning so impious a traitor. Perhaps
they relented when they consider'd that their Governor was "born and
educated among them": But this heightened his wickedness; as it
might have convinc'd them, that he was as destitute of the common
feelings of love for one's native country, as he was of religion and
piety. This, and many other instances of later date may serve to
show, that the people have no solid reason to depend upon every man
that he will be a good Governor, merely because of his having had
his birth and education among them; as well as the folly and
wickedness of priests and minions, who would from such a
circumstance endeavor to dupe the people into a perswasion of their
security under any man's administration. - The sin which the people
of Israel were prevail'd upon by Jeroboam the son of Nebat to
commit, respected their religious worship on a Thanksgiving day: He
had ordained a solemn festival to be kept at Bethel; in which, it
seems, he had a particular view to serve a political purpose: And
the people knew it, although he had artfully endeavored to colour it
with a plausible appearance. At this festival, through his
influence, they sacrificed unto Calves! This was the dire effect of
their foolish adulation of their Governor, while they professed to
observe a day set apart in honor to the King of kings. - Their
thanksgiving began with prophaness & ended in idolatry; or rather it
began & ended with both. There is no question but the priests were
the vicegerents of the Governor, or his heralds to publish his
impious proclamations to the people. But is it not strange that the
people were so king-ridden and priest-ridden, especially in matters
which concern'd their Religion, as to look upon the joint authority
of their Governor and Clergy, sufficient to justify them in sinning
against the authority of God himself: and in acting in open violation
of his law, revealed to them from Heaven with signs and miracles at
Mount Sinai, and register'd in their book of the law, as well as
engrav'd on the tables of their hearts! - It is no unusual thing for
people to complement their Governors with the sacrifice of their
consciences, after they have surrender'd to them their civil liberty,
which had been the folly of that people long before; for they grew
weary of their liberty in the days of Samuel the prophet, and
exchanged that civil government which the wisdom of heaven had
prescribed to them, for an absolute despotic monarchy; that they might
in that regard be like the nations round about them. - Even in these
enlightened times, the people in some parts of the world are so
bewitched by the enchantments of priest-craft and king- craft, as to
believe that tho' they sin against their own consciences, in
compliance with the instruction of the one, or in obedience to the
command of the other, they shall never suffer, but shall be rewarded
in the world to come, for being so implicitly subject to the higher
powers: And the experience of the world tells us that there are, and
always have been various ways of rewarding them for it in this world.
On the contrary, if they hesitate to declare a blind belief in the
most palpable absurdities in government and religion, they are sure to
fall into the immediate hands of spiritual inquisitors, to be whipped
and tortured into an acknowledgment of the error, or threatened with
the further pains of eternal damnation if they persist in their
contumacy. Thanks be to GOD, there is not yet so formidable a junction
of the secular and ecclesiastical powers in this country; and there is
reason to hope there are but few of the clergy who would desire it.
Yet such is the deplorable condition we are in, and so notorious is it
to all, that should any man, be he who he may, tell me that our civil
liberties were continued, or that our religious privileges were not in
danger, I should detest him, if in his senses, as a perfidious man.
And if any clergyman should in compliance with the humours or designs
of a man in power, echo such a false declaration in the church of GOD,
he would in my opinion do well seriously to consider, whether an
excessive complaisance may not have betrayed him into the sin of
Ananias and Saphira, in lying against the Holy Ghost! This is a most
weighty consideration: But the times require plain dealing. We hope
and believe, nay we know that there are more than seven thousand who
will never bow the knee to Baal, or servilely submit to Tyranny,
temporal or spiritual: But are we not fallen into an age when some
even of the Clergy think it no shame to flatter the Idol; and
thereby to lay the people, as in the days of Jeroboam, the son of
Nebat, under a temptation to commit great wickedness, and sin
against God? Let us beware of the poison of flattery - If the people
are tainted with this folly, they will never have VIRTUE enough to
demand a restoration of their liberties in the very face of a
TYRANT, if the necessity of the times should call for so noble an
exertion. And how soon there may be such NECESSITY, GOD only knows.
May HE grant them FORTITUDE as well as SOUND PRUDENCE in the day of
TRIAL! He who can flatter a despot, or be flattered by him, without
feeling the remonstrances of his own mind against it, may be
remarkable for the guise and appearance of sanctity, but he has very
little if any true religion - If he habitually allows himself in it,
without any remorse, he is a hardened impenitent sinner against GOD
and his COUNTRY. Whatever his profession may be, he is not fit to be
trusted; and when once discover'd, he will never be trusted by any
but fools and children. To complement a great man to the injury of
truth and liberty, may be in the opinion of a very degenerate age,
the part of a polite and well-bred gentleman - Wise men however will
denominate him a Traitor or a Fool. But how much more aggravated
must be the folly and madness of those, who instead of worshipping
GOD in the solemn assembly, "in spirit and in truth," can utter a
lie TO HIM!! -in order to render themselves acceptable to a man who
is a worm or to the son of a man who is a worm.



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text with variations is
in R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 187-189.]

BOSTON Novr 13 1771.

MY DEAR SIR, - Several Vessells have lately arrivd from London, but
I have not had the pleasure of a Line from you by either of them.
Since the Resolve of Council, by which Junius Americanus was so
severely censurd, there has been a proclamation issued by the
Governor with their Advice, for a general Thanksgiving which has
been the practice of the Country at this time of the year from its
first Settlement. The pious proclamation has given the greatest
offence to the people in general, as it appears evidently to be
calculated to serve the purpose of the British Administration,
rather than that of Religion. We were the last year called upon to
thank the Almighty for the Blessings of the Administration of
Government, in this Province, which many lookd upon as an impious
Farce. Now we are demurely exhorted to render our hearty & humble
Thanks to the same omniscient Being for the Continuance of our civil
& religious Privileges & the Enlargement of our Trade. This I imagine
was contrivd to try the feelings of the people; and if the Governor
could dupe the Clergy as he had the Council, & they the people, so
that the proclamation should be read as usual in our Churches, he
would have nothing to do but acquaint Lord Hillsborough that most
certainly the people in General acquiescd in the measures of
Government, since they had appealed even to God himself that
notwithstanding the faction & turbulence of a party, their Liberties
were continued & their Trade enlargd. I am at a loss to say whether
this measure was more insolent to the people or affrontive to the
Majesty of Heaven, neither of whom however a modern Politician
regards, if at all, so much as the Smiles of his noble Patron. But
the people saw thro it in general, & openly declared that they would
not hear the proclamation read. The Consequence was, that it was
read in but two of all our Churches in this Town consisting of
twelve besides three Episcopalian Churches; there indeed it has not
been customary ever to read them. Of those two Clergymen who read
it, one of them being a Stranger in the province, & having been
settled but about Six Weeks, performd the servile task a week before
the usual Time when the people were not aware of it, they were
however much disgusted at it. The Minister of the other is a known
Flatterer of the Governor & is the very person who formd the fulsome
Address of which I wrote you some time ago - he was deserted by a
great number of his Auditory in the midst of his reading. Thus every
Art is practisd & every Tool employd to make it appear as if this
people were easy in their Chains, & that this great revolution is
brought about by the inimitable Address of Mr Hutchinson. There is
one part of the proclamation which I think deserves Notice on your
side the Water, & that relates to the Accommodation with the
Spaniards in the Affair of Faulkland Island. This must have been
referrd to under the Terms of the preservation of the peace of
Europe. From what I wrote you last you cannot wonder if the Governor
carrys any thing he pleases in his Divan here. His last Manoevre has
exposd him more than any thing. Ne lude cum sacris is a proverb.
Should he once lose the Reputation which his friends have with the
utmost pains been building for him among the Clergy for these thirty
years past, as a consummate Saint, he must fall like Samson when his
Locks were cut off. The people are determind to keep their Day of
Festivity but not for all the purposes of the infamous proclamation.
I beg you would omit no Opportunity of writing to me & be assured
that I am in a Stile too much out of fashion

Your Friend


[Boston Gazette, November 25, 1771.]


Mucius SCAEVOLA, a writer whom I very much admire, tells us, "A
Massachusetts Governor the King by Compact may nominate and appoint,
but not pay: For his support he must stipulate with the people, &
until he does, he is no legal Governor; without this, if he undertakes
to rule he is a USURPER." - These sentiments have given great disgust
to the Governor & Council, and the publisher, it is said, is to be
prosecuted: But if he has spoken the words of truth and soberness,
why should he be punished? Is there any man in the community that
can procure harm in a process of law, to him who speaks necessary
and important truths? If there be such a man, mark him for a Tyrant.
Is there any man whose publick conduct will not bear the scrutiny of
truth? he is a Traitor, and it is high time he was pointed out.

I have upon this occasion looked into the Charter of the province in
which the COMPACT between the King and the people is contain'd, and
I find not a single word about the King's paying his Governor. If
therefore the Charter is altogether silent about it, Mucius is
certainly to be justified in saying that by the compact the King may
not pay him; that is, there is nothing in the Charter to warrant it.
But it is asked, whether the King may not pay his Governor
notwithstanding? And ought it not to be looked upon as a mark of
royal bounty and goodness, thus to save the people from being
"burdened by a tax upon their polls and estates for a Governor's
support?" This is the Court language; and great pains have been
taken by some gentlemen, whose particular business it is to ride
through the several counties, to spread it in every part of the
province. But it has a tendency to mislead and ensnare. It no doubt
sounds very agreeably in the ears of an unwary man, that by this
ministerial manoeuvre, the province have a saving of a thousand
pounds sterling every year, for the support of a Governor. Let us
consider the matter a little. Did not our ancestors, when they
accepted this Charter, understand that they had contracted for a
free government? And did not the King on his part intend that it
should be so? Was it not understood, that by this contract every
power of government was to be under a check adequate to the
importance of it, without which, according to the best reasoners on
government, and the experience of mankind in all ages of the world,
that power must be a tyranny? Undoubtedly it was the sense of both
parties in the contract, that the government to be erected by the
Charter, should be a free government, and that every power of it
should be properly controuled in order to constitute it so. I would
then ask, what weight remains in the scale of the democratick part
of the constitution to check the monarchick in the hands of the
governor, if the king has not only an uncontroulable power to
nominate and appoint a governor, but may pay him too? If any one
will point out to me a sufficient weight to balance the scale, I
will differ from Mucius: But until that is done, I must be of his
mind, that the king has no right to pay his governor: "For that, he
must stipulate with the people;" otherwise our civil constitution is
rendered materially different from what the contracting parties
intended it should be, viz, a free constitution. It places the
governor in such a state of independency as must make any man
formidable. - It puts it in his power in many instances to act the
tyrant, even under the appearance of all the forms of the
constitution. The man who is possessed of a power to act the tyrant
when he thinks proper, let him become possessed of it as he may, is
at least an USURPER of power that cannot belong to him in any free
state - Power is intoxicating: There have been few men, if any, who
when possessed of an unrestrained power, have not made a very bad
use of it - They have generally exercised such a power to the terror
both of the good and the evil, and of the good more than the evil -
While a governor is possessed of a power without any other check
than that which the constitution has provided, upon a supposition
that the king by charter may pay him as well as appoint him, for
aught I can see, under such an administration as the present, I mean
in England, he may make the people slaves as soon as he pleases and
keep them so as long as he pleases. I have heard it asked, What! may
not the king make a present to his governor of fifteen hundred
sterling every year, if he sees fit? Is not his MAJESTY allowed to
be upon a footing with even a private subject? This reasoning is
very plausible, but I think not just. In some respects the king is
more restrained than the lowest of his subjects. He may not for
instance, turn a Roman Catholic, or marry one of that religion and
hold his crown: He forfeits it by law if he does. And why? Because
it has been found that the Roman Catholic principles are
inconsistent with the principles of the British constitution, which
is the rule of his government. And there is the same reason why the
governor who is appointed by the crown, should stipulate with the
people for his support, if that mutual check among the several
powers of government, which is essential to every free constitution,
is otherwise destroyed. - If the king's paying or making yearly
presents to his governor, renders him a different being in the state
from that which the Charter intends he shall be, and that to the
prejudice of the people, the king by the compact may not pay him,
for in such a case, it would be inconsistent with the principles of
our constitution - No king can have a right to put it in the power
of his governor to become a tyrant, or govern arbitrarily; for he
cannot be a tyrant or govern arbitrarily himself.

I beg leave to make a supposition; If his Holiness the Pope, for the
sake of once more having a Catholic King seated on the British
throne, should make him a present yearly of eight hundred thousand
pounds sterling, for the support of himself and his household, it
would be a great saving indeed to the nation; but would the people,
think you, consent to it because of that saving? Should we not hear
the faithful Commons objecting to it as an innovation big with
danger to the rights and liberties of the nation? I believe it would
be in vain to flatter them that their constituents would be eas'd of
a burden of a tax upon their polls and estates, by means which would
render their king thus independent of them, and place him in a state
of absolute dependance, for his support, upon another, who had
especially for a long course of years, tried every art and
machination to overthrow their constitution in church and state -
Would not the people justly think there would be danger that such a
king thus dependent on the pope, and oblig'd by him, would be as
subservient to the admonitions of his Holiness, or his Legate in his
name, as a certain provincial governor, we know, has been to the
instructions of a minister of state, upon the bare prospect of his
being made independent of the people for his support.


1 Attributed to Adams in the Dorr file of the Gazette.


[Boston Gazette, December 2, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

No methods are yet left untried by the writers on the side of the
ministry, to perswade this People that the best way to get rid of
our Grievances is to submit to them. This was the artifice of
Governor Bernard, and it is urg'd with as much zeal as ever, under
the administration of Governor Hutchinson. They would fain have us
endure the loss of as many of our Rights and Liberties as an
abandon'd ministry shall see fit to wrest from us, without the least
murmur: But when they find, that they cannot silence our complaints,
& sooth us into security they then tell us, that "much may be done
for the publick interest by way of humble & dutiful representation,
pointing out the hardships of certain measures" - This is the
language of Chronus in the last Massachusetts Gazette. But have we
not already petition'd the King for the Redress of our Grievances
and the Restoration of our Liberties? - have not the House of
Representatives done it in the most dutiful terms imaginable? - Was
it not many months before that Petition was suffer'd to reach the
royal hand? - And after it was laid before his Majesty, was he not
advis'd by his ministers to measures still more grevious and severe?
Have any lenient measures been the consequence of our humble
representations of "the hardship of certain measures," which were
set forth by the house of assembly in the most decent and respectful
letters to persons of high rank in the administration of government
at home? Did not the deputies of most of the towns and districts in
this province met in Convention in the year 1768, when Bernard had
in a very extraordinary manner dissolv'd the General Assembly? - Did
they not, I say, in the most humble terms, petition the Throne for
the Redress of the intolerable grievances we then labor'd under? -
Has not the Town of Boston most submissively represented "the
hardship of certain measures" to their most gracious Sovereign, and
petition'd for Right and Relief? - Was not petitioning and humbly
supplicating, the method constantly propos'd by those very persons
whom Chronus after the manner of his brethren, stiles "pretended
patriots ", and constantly adopted till it was apparent that our
petitions and representations were treated with neglect and
contempt? - Till we found that even our petitioning was looked upon
as factious, and the effects of it were the heaping Grievance upon
Grievance? - Have not the people of this province, after all their
humble supplications, been falsly charg'd with being "in a state of
disobedience to all law and government?" And in consequence of
petitioning, has not the capital been filled with soldiers to quiet
their murmurs with the bayonet; & to murder, assassinate & plunder
with impunity? -Have we not borne for these seven years past such
indignity as no free people ever suffer'd before, and with no other
tokens of resentment on our part, than pointing out our hardships,
and appealing to the common sense of mankind, after we had in vain
petition'd our most gracious Sovereign? - And now we are even
insulted by those who have bro't on us all these difficulties, for
uttering our just complaints in a publick Newspaper! Pointing out
the hardships of our sufferings, and calling upon the impartial
world to judge between us and our oppressors, and protesting before
God and man against innovations big with ruin to the public Liberty,
is call'd by this writer, "a stubborn opposition to public authority,"
and "a high hand opposition and repugnancy to government" For God's
sake, what are we to expect from petitioning? Have we any prospect in
the way of humble and dutiful representation? Let us advert to the
nation of which this writer says we are a part. Are not they suffering
the same grievances, under the same administration? Have not they
repeatedly petitioned and remonstrated to the throne, and "pointed out
the hardships of certain measures," to the King himself? And has not
his Majesty been advised by his ministers, to treat them as imaginary
grievances only? And yet after all, against repeated facts, and common
experience to the contrary, we are told, that "much might be done
for the public interest, by way of hunible and dutiful
representation!" If there were even now, any hopes that the King
would hear us, while his present counsellors are near him, I should
be by all means for petitioning again; but every man of common
observation will judge for himself of the prospect.

I am not of this writers opinion that the claims of our sister
colonies, New-Hampshire and Rhode-Island, were so very reasonable,
when disputes arose about the dividing lines; nor do I believe any
of his disinterested readers will think his bare ipse dixit, however
peremptory, a sufficient evidence of it. - It seems in the
estimation of Chronus and his few confederates, all are "intemperate
patriots ", who will not yield the public rights to every demand,
however unjust it may appear. - Thus a whole General Assembly is
branded by this writer, with the character of "wrong-headed
politicians ", for not surrendering a part of the territory of this
province to New-Hampshire and Rhode-Island, because they demanded
it. It is no uncommon thing for those who are resolved to carry a
favorite point, when they cannot reason with their opponents, to
rail at them. -I shall not take upon me at present to say, whether
the claims of those governments were right or wrong; but if the
governor of the province, & a majority of the two houses, whom
Chronus does not scruple to call "pretended patriots ", then judged
them to be wrong, their conduct in contending for the interest of
the province, affords sufficient evidence, that they were real
patriots. These instances are bro't by Chronus to show the wisdom
"of scorning the influence, and rejecting the rash and injudicious
clamour of pretended patriots, and wrong-headed politicians," in the
present assembly; who by their "indecent treatment of his Majesty's
governor, are pressing him to comply with measures contrary to his
instructions": But if his Majesty's governor's instructions are
repugnant to the Rights and Liberties of his Majesty's subjects
of this province, and those who are elected by the people to be the
guardians of their rights and liberties, are really of that mind;
especially if they also think that such instructions are design'd to
have the force of laws; is it reasonable or decent for Chronus, tho'
he may think differently, to call them mere pretended patriots, which
conveys the idea of false-hearted men, for protesting against such
instructions, as dangerous innovations, threatning the "very being of
government", as constituted by the Charter? Chronus and his brethren
would do well to consider, that "a high handed opposition and
repugnance, ('tis a wonder he did not in the style of his friend
Bernard, call it 'oppugnation') to government ", is as dangerous when
level'd at the representative body of the people, as at "his Majesty's
Governor": An attack upon the constitution especially in that silent
manner in which it has of late been attacked, is more dangerous than
either. - He says that those "wretched politicians ", "have made the
Governor's subsistence to depend upon his compliance with measures
contrary to his instructions." If this had been true, it would have
been treating the Governor in a manner in which the British
parliaments, when free, have treated their sovereign: No supplies
till grievances are redressed, has been the language of those "wrong
headed politicians ", the British house of commons in former, and
better times, than these - If the commons of this province have at
any time withheld their grant for the support of a governor, till he
should comply with measures contrary to his instructions, they
looking upon those instructions, as they have been, in fact,
repugnant to the very spirit of the charter, and subversive of the
liberty of their constituents, who can blame them? They are in my
opinion highly to be commended, for making use of a power vested in
them, or rather reserv'd by the constitution, & originally intended
to check the wanton career of imperious governors - A power, in the
due exercise of which, even KINGS, their masters, have sometimes
been brought to their senses, when they had any. But Chronus cannot
show an instance of this conduct in the house of representatives for
many years past, I dare say. It must therefore be a mistake in him
to suppose that this conduct of "our intemperate patriots", has
"occasion'd his Majesty to render him more independent, by taking
the payment of his governor upon himself." I make no doubt but some
other motive occasion'd the minister to advise an independent
governor in this province, which will in all probability take place
in every colony throughout America. - The motive is too obvious to
need mentioning - If Chronus will make it appear that a governor's
being made independent of the people, is not repugnant to the
principles of the charter of this province, or any free government,
he will do more than I at present think he or any other can - Till
this is done, it is in vain to flatter a sensible people with the
prospect of enjoying "peace, happiness or any other blessing they
have reason to desire," and right to expect from good government,
while the measure is persisted in.



[Boston Gazette, December 9, 1771.]


"Whene'er from putrid Courts foul Vapours rose,
with vigorous wholesome Gales
The Winds of OPPOSITION fiercely blew,
Which purg'd and clear'd the agitated State"

If the liberties of America are ever compleatly ruined, of which in
my opinion there is now the utmost danger, it will in all
probability be the consequence of a mistaken notion of prudence,
which leads men to acquiesce in measures of the most destructive
tendency for the sake of present ease. When designs are form'd to
rase the very foundation of a free government, those few who are to
erect their grandeur and fortunes upon the general ruin, will employ
every art to sooth the devoted people into a state of indolence,
inattention and security, which is forever the fore-runner of
slavery - They are alarmed at nothing so much, as attempts to awaken
the people to jealousy and watchfulness; and it has been an old game
played over and over again, to hold up the men who would rouse their
fellow citizens and countrymen to a sense of their real danger, and
spirit them to the most zealous activity in the use of all proper
means for the preservation of the public liberty, as "pretended
patriots," "intemperate politicians," rash, hot-headed men,
Incendiaries, wretched desperadoes, who, as was said of the best of
men, would turn the world upside down, or have done it already. -
But he must have a small share of fortitude indeed, who is put out
of countenance by hard speeches without sense and meaning, or
affrighted from the path of duty by the rude language of
Billingsgate - For my own part, I smile contemptuously at such
unmanly efforts: I would be glad to hear the reasoning of Chronus,
if he has a capacity for it; but I disregard his railing as I would
the barking of a "Cur dog".

The dispassionate and rational Pennsylvania Farmer has told us, that
"a perpetual jealousy respecting liberty, is absolutely requisite in
all free states." The unhappy experience of the world has frequently
manifested the truth of his observation. For want of this jealousy,
the liberties of Stain were destroyed by what is called a vote of
credit; that is, a confidence placed in the King to raise money upon
extraordinary emergencies, in the intervals of parliament. France
afterwards fell into the same snare; and England itself was in great
danger of it, in the reign of Charles the second; when a bill was
brought into the house of commons to enable the King to raise what
money he pleased upon extraordinary occasions, as the dutch war was
pretended to be - And the scheme would doubtless have succeeded to
the ruin of the national liberty, had it not been for the
watchfulness of the "intemperate patriots ", and "wrong-headed
politicians" even of that day.

How much better is the state of the American colonies soon likely to
be, than that of France and Spain or than Britain would have been
in, if the Bill before mention'd had pass'd into an act? Does it
make any real difference whether one man has the sovereign disposal
of the peoples purses, or five hundred? Is it not as certain that
the British parliament have assumed to themselves the power of
raising what money they please in the colonies upon all occasions,
as it is, that the Kings of France and Spain exercise the same power
over their subjects upon emergencies? Those Kings by the way, being
the sole judges when emergencies happen, they generally create them
as often as they want money. And what security have the colonies
that the British parliament will not do the same? It is dangerous to
be silent, as the ministerial writers would have us to be, while such
a claim is held up; but much more to submit to it. Your very silence,
my countrymen, may be construed a submission, and those who would
perswade you to be quiet, intend to give it that turn. Will it be
likely then that your enemies, who have exerted every nerve to
establish a revenue, rais'd by virtue of a suppos'd inherent right in
the British parliament without your consent, will recede from the
favorite plan, when they imagine it to be compleated by your
submission? Or if they should repeal the obnoxious act, upon the terms
of your submitting to the right, is it not to be apprehended that your
own submission will be brought forth as a precedent in a future time,
when your watchful adversary shall have succeeded, and laid the most
of you fast asleep in the bed of security and insensibility. Believe
me, should the British parliament, which claims a right to tax you at
discretion, ever be guided by a wicked and corrupt administration,
and how near they are approaching to it, I will leave you to judge,
you will then find one revenue act succeeding another, till the
fatal influence shall extend to your own parliaments. Bribes and
tensions will be as frequent here, as they are in the unhappy
kingdom of Ireland, and you and your posterity will be made, by
means of your own money, as subservient to the will of a British
ministry, or an obsequious Governor, as the vassals of France are to
that of their grand monarch. What will prevent this misery and
infamy, but your being finally oblig'd to have recourse to the
ultima ratio! But is it probable that you will ever make any manly
efforts to recover your liberty, after you have been inur'd, without
any remorse, to contemplate yourselves as slaves? Custom, says the
Farmer, gradually reconciles us to objects even of dread and
detestation. It reigns in nothing more arbitrarily than in publick
Affairs. When an act injurious to freedom has once been done, and
the people bear it, the repetition of it is more likely to meet with
submission. For as the mischief of the one was found to be
tolerable, they will hope that the second will prove so too; and
they will not regard the infamy of the last, because they are
stain'd with that of the first.

The beloved Patriot further observes, "In mixed governments, the
very texture of their constitution demands a perpetual jealousy; for
the cautions with which power is distributed among the several
orders, imply, that each has that share which is proper for the
general welfare, and therefore that any further imposition must be
pernicious". The government of this province, like that of Great
Britain, of which it is said to be an epitome, is a mixed
government. It's constitution is delicately framed; and I believe
all must acknowledge, that the power vested in the crown is full as
great as is consistent with the general welfare. The King, by the
charter, has the nomination and appointment of the governor: But no
mention being therein made of his right to take the payment of his
governor upon himself, it is fairly concluded that the people have
reserv'd that right to themselves, and the governor must stipulate
with them for his support. That this was the sense of the
contracting parties, appears from practice contemporary with the
date of the charter itself, which is the best exposition of it; and
the same practice has been continued uninterruptedly to the present
time - But the King now orders his support out of the American
revenue: Chronus himself, acknowledges that he is thereby "render'd
more independent of the people." - Consequently the balance of power
if it was before even is by this means disadjusted. Here then is
another great occasion of jealousy in the people. No reasonable man
will deny that an undue proportion of power added to the monarchical
part of the constitution, is as dangerous, as the same undue
proportion would be, if added to the democratical. Should the people
refuse to allow the governor the due exercise of the powers that are
vested in him by the Charter, I dare say they would soon be told,
and very justly, of "the mischief that would be the consequence of
it." And is there not the same reason why the people may and ought
to speak freely & LOUDLY of the mischief which would be the
consequence of his being rendered more independent of them; or which
is in reality the same thing, his becoming possessed of more power
than the charter vests him with? For the annihilating a
constitutional check, in the people, which is necessary to prevent
the Governor's exercise of exorbitant power, is in effect to enable
him to exercise that exorbitant power, when he pleases, without
controul. A Governor legally appointed may usurp powers which do not
belong to him: And it is ten to one but he will, if the people are
not jealous and vigilant. Charles the first was legally appointed
king: The doctrines advanced by the clergy in his father's infamous
reign, led them both to believe that they were the LORD'S anointed
and were not accountable for their conduct to the people. - It is
strange that kings seated on the English throne, should imbibe such
opinions: But it is possible they were totally unacquainted with the
history of their English predecessors. - Charles, by hearkening to
the council of his evil ministers, which coincided with the
principles of his education, and his natural temper, and confiding
in his corrupt judges, became an usurper of powers which he had no
right to; and exercising those powers, he became a Tyrant: But the
end proved fatal to him, and afforded a solemn lesson for all
succeeding usurpers and tyrants: His subjects who made him king,
called him to account, dismiss'd and PUNISH'D him in a most
exemplary manner! Charles was obstinate in his temper, and thought
of nothing so little as concessions of any kind: If he had been well
advis'd, he would have renounced his usurped powers: Every wise
governor will relinquish a power which is not clearly
constitutional, however inconsiderable those about him may perswade
him to think it; especially, if the people regard it as a PART
And the more tenacious he is of it, the stronger is the reason why
"the SPIRIT OF APPREHENSION" should be kept up among them in its



[Boston Gazette, December 16, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

I Profess to be more generous than to make severe remarks upon the
apparent absurdities that run through the whole of Chronus's
performance in the last Massachusetts-Gazette. He tells us that "he
seldom examines political struggles that make their weekly
appearance in the papers ". If by this mode of expression he means
to inform us, that he seldom reads the papers with impartiality and
attention, as every one ought, who designs to make his own
observations on them, I can easily believe him; for it is evident in
the piece now before me, that thro' a want of such impartiality or
due attention, to the political struggles which he examines, he
mistakes one writer for another, and finds fault with Candidus for
not vindicating what had been advanc'd by Mutius Scaevola. I am no
party man, unless a firm attachment to the cause of Liberty and
Truth will denominate one such: And if this be the judgment of those
who have taken upon themselves the character of Friends to the
Government, I am content to be in their sense of the word a party
man, and will glory in it as long as I shall retain that small
portion of understanding which GOD has been pleas'd to bless me
with. If at any time I venture to lay my own opinions before the
public, which is the undoubted right of every one, I expect they
will be treated, if worth any notice, with freedom and candor: But I
do not think myself liable to be called to account by Chronus, or
any one else, for not answering the objections they are pleased to
make to what is offered by another man, and not by me. Whatever may
be the opinion of Mr. Hutchinson, as a Usurper or a Tyrant or not,
or as Governor or no Governor, if Chronus had fairly "examined the
political struggles" which have appeared in the papers, he must have
known that I had not published my sentiments about the matter; I
shall do it however, as soon as I think proper. - I would not
willingly suppose that Chronus artfully intended to amuse his
readers, and "mislead them to believe ", that his address to the
publick of the 28th of November, was particularly applicable to me,
as having advanced the doctrine which has given so much disgust to
some gentlemen, and from whence he draws such a long string of
terrible consequences. Whether the denying the governor's authority
be right or wrong, or whether upon Mutius's hypothesis it be
vindicable or not, it is a "maxim," (to use his own word) upon which
it no more concerned me to pass my judgment than it did any other
man in the community. Had Chronus then a right to press me into this
"political struggle," or to demand my opinion of what he had so
sagely observed upon a subject which I had never engag'd in? Yes, by
all means; says he, "I pointed out some of the mischiefs that would
inevitably follow upon denying the Governor's authority, if that
maxim should be generally received"; and adds, "what now has
Candidus reply'd to all this? Why truly nothing, but - altum
silentium" in English, a profound silence; that is in the words of
an honest Teague on another occasion "he answered and said nothing"
- But notwithstanding the deep silence that I preserv'd when I made
my answer, it seems that "I assured him that the way of peaceable,
dutiful and legal representations of our grievances had already been
tried to no purpose": With the most profound Taciturnity I "was
pleas'd most largely to expatiate upon this point", & with all my
"altum silentium" my "interrogations follow'd one another with such
amazing rapidity, that he (poor man) was almost out of breath in
repeating them." - Here, gentle reader, is presented to you a group
of ideas in the chaste, the elegant style of CURONUS, which required
much more skill in the English language than I am a master of, to
reduce to the level of common sense. Thus I have given you a short
specimen of the taste of Chronus, who is said to be the top hand on
the side of the ministry: For want of leisure I must omit taking
notice of his "method of reasoning" till another time.



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

Decbr 18 I771.

This day I waited on Mr Harrison Gray junr to acquaint him that I
had been informd that he had told John Hancock Esqr that he heard me
say in a threatning manner that Mr Hancock might think as he pleasd,
Mr Otis had friends & his (Mr Hancocks) treatment of Mr Otis would
prejudice his (Mr Hancocks) Election. Mr Gray declard to me that he
did not hear me mention a Word of Mr Hancocks Election - that a
conversation happend between Mr John Cotton & my self (Mr Gray being
present) relative to Mr Otis - that Mr Cotton said Mr Otis' Conduct
must be the Effect of Distraction or Drunkeness - that I said I did
not think so - but that it rather proceeded from Irritation - that
he (Mr Gray) said if Mr Otis is distracted why should Mr Hancock
pursue him - & that I answerd that Mr Hancock might be stirred up by
others to do it, but I thought he had better not or it was a pity he
should. This Mr Gray declared was all that I said relative to Mr
Hancock, in answer to his Question as is before mentiond & that it
did not appear to him that I discoverd the least Unfriendliness
towards Mr Hancock. He further said he was willing to give his oath
to the truth of this his declaration. Upon which I told Mr Gray that
it was far from my Intention to make Mr Hancock displeasd with him,
that I was satisfied that Mr Hancock understood him differently & I
should let Mr Hancock know what he now said, & asked him to repeat
it which he did precisely as before - & told me he was freely
willing that I should repeat it to Mr Hancock that if Mr Hancock &
myself desired it he would thus explain it in presense of us both.


[Boston Gazette, December 23, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

The writer in the Massachusetts Gazette, who signs Chronus, in his
address to the publick, recommended petitioning and humbly
representing the hardship of certain measures; and yet before he
finished his first paper, he pointed out to us the unhappy effects
in former times of the very method he had prescribed. Those
"intemperate patriots" it seems, the majority of both houses of the
general assembly, not hearkning to the cool advice of the few wise
men within and without doors, must needs make their humble
representations to the King and Council upon the claims of New-
Hampshire and Rhode-Island: And what was the consequence? Why, he
says the province lost ten times the value of the land in dispute.
Did Chronus mean by this and such like instances, to enforce the
measure which he had recommended? They certainly afford a poor
encouragement for us to persevere in the way of petitioning and
humble representation. But perhaps he will say, the General Assembly
had at that time no reason to complain of the incroachment of these
sister colonies their claims were just; and the discerning few who
were in that mind were in the right. Just so he says is the case
now. For he tells us that "no one has attempted to infringe the
peoples rights." Upon what principle then would he have us petition?
It is possible, for I would fain understand him, that what Candidus
and others call an invasion of our rights, he may choose to
denominate a Grievance; for if we suffer no Grievance, he can
certainly have no reason to advise us to represent the hardship of
certain measures. And I am the rather inclin'd to think, that this
is his particular humour, because I find that the stamp-act, which
almost every one looked upon as a most violent infraction of our
natural and constitutional rights, is called by this writer a
Grievance. And he is so singular as to enquire, "What Liberties we
are now deprived of," aitho' an act of parliament is still in being,
and daily executed, very similar to the stamp-act, and form'd for
the very same purpose, viz, the raising and establishing a revenue
in the colonies by virtue of a suppos'd inherent right in the
British parliament, where the colonies cannot be represented, and
therefore without their consent. The exercise of such a power
Chronus would have us consider as a Grievance indeed, but not by any
means a deprivation of our rights and liberties, or even so much as
the least infringement of them. Mr. Locke has often been quoted in
the present dispute between Britain and her colonies, and very much
to our purpose. His reasoning is so forcible, that no one has even
attempted to confute it. He holds that "the preservation of property
is the end of government, and that for which men enter into society.
It therefore necessarily supposes and requires that the people
should have property, without which they must be suppos'd to lose
that by entering into society, which was the end for which they
enter'd into it; too gross an absurdity for any man to own. Men
therefore in society having property, they have such a right to the
goods, which by the law of the community are theirs, that no body
hath the right to take any part of their subsistence from them
without their consent: Without this, they could have no property at
all. For I truly can have no property in that which another can by
right take from me when he pleases, against my consent. Hence, says
he, it is a mistake to think that the supreme power of any
commonwealth can dispose of the estates of the subjects arbitrarily,
or take any part of them at pleasure. The prince or senate can never
have a power to take to themselves the whole or any part of the
subjects property without their own consent; for this would be in
effect to have no property at all." - This is the reasoning of that
great and good man. And is not our own case exactly described by
him? Hath not the British parliament made an act to take a part of
our property against our consent? Against our repeated submissive
petitions and humble representations of the hardship of it? Is not
the act daily executed in every colony? If therefore the
preservation of property is the very end of government, we are
depriv'd of that for which government itself is instituted. - Tis
true, says Mr. Locke, "Government cannot be supported without great
charge; and tis fit that every one who enjoys a share in the
protection should pay his proportion for the maintenance of it. But
still it must be with their own consent, given by themselves or
their representatives." Chronus will not say that the monies that
are every day paid at the custom-houses in America for the express
purpose of maintaining all or any of the Governors therein, were
rais'd with the consent of those who pay them, given by themselves
or their representatives - "If any one, adds Mr. Locke, shall claim
a power to lay and levy taxes on the people by his own authority &
without such consent of the people, he thereby subverts the end of
government." - Will Chronus tell us that the British parliament doth
not claim authority to lay and levy such taxes, and doth not
actually lay and levy them on the colonies without their consent?
This is the case particularly in this province. If therefore it is a
subversion of the end of government, it must be a subversion of our
civil liberty, which is supported by civil government only. And this
I think a sufficient answer to a strange question which Chronus
thinks it "not improper for our zealous Patriots to answer, viz.
What those liberties and rights are of which we have been deprived.
- If Chronus is really as ignorant as he pretends to be, of the
present state of the colonies, their universal and just complaints
of the most violent infractions of their liberties, and their
repeated petitions to the throne upon that account, I hope I shall
be excused in taking up any room in your valuable paper, with a view
of answering a question, which to him must be of the utmost
importance. - But if he is not, I think his question not only
impertinent, but a gross affront to the understanding of the public.
We have lost the constitutional right which the Commons of America
in their several Assemblies have ever before possessed, of giving
and granting their own money, as much of it as they please, and no
more; and appropriating it for the support of their own government,
for their own defence, and such other purposes as they please. The
great Mr. Pitt, in his speech in parliament in favor of the repeal
of the stamp-act, declared that "we should have been slaves if we
had not enjoy'd this right." This is the sentiment of that patriotic
member, and it is obvious to the comnmon sense of every man. -If the
parliament have a right to take as much of our money as they please,
they may take all. And what liberty can that man have, the produce
of whose daily labour another has the right to take from him if he
pleases, and which is similar to our case, takes a part of it to
convince him that he has the power as well as the pretence of right?
- That sage of the law Lord Camden declar'd, in his speech upon the
declaratory bill, that "his searches had more and more convinced him
that the British parliament have no right to tax the Americans. Nor,
said he, "is the doctrine new: It is as old as the constitution:
Indeed, it is its support." The taking away this right must then be
in the opinion of that great lawyer, the removal of the very support
of the constitution, upon which all our civil liberties depend. He
speaks in still stronger terms-" Taxation and representation are
inseparably united: This position is founded on the laws of nature:
It is more: It is itself an eternal law of nature - Whatever is a
man's own is absolutely his own; and no man has a right to take it
from him without his consent, either express'd by himself or his
representative - Whoever attempts to do it, attempts an injury:
Whoever does it, commits a ROBBERY: He throws down the distinction
between liberty and slavery" - Can Chronus say, that the Americans
ever consented either by themselves or their representatives, that
the British parliament should tax them? That they have taxed us we
all know: We all feel it: I wish we felt it more sensibly: They have
therefore, according to the sentiments of the last mention'd
Nobleman, which are built on nature and common reason, thrown down
the very distinction between liberty and slavery in America - And
yet this writer. like one just awoke from a long dream, or, as I
cannot help thinking there are good grounds to suspect, with a
design to "mislead his unwary readers (and unwary they must needs
be, if they are thus misled,) to believe that all our liberties are
perfectly secure, he calls upon us to show "which of our liberties
we are deprived of;" and in the face of a whole continent, as well
as of the best men in Europe, he has the effrontery to assert,
without the least shadow of argument, that "no one has attempted to
infringe them." One cannot after all this, be at a loss to conceive,
what judgment to form of his modesty, his understanding or

It might be easy to show that there are other instances in which we
are deprived of our liberties. - I should think, a people would
hardly be perswaded to believe that they were in the full enjoyment of
their liberties, while their capital fortress is garrison'd by troops
over which they have no controul, and under the direction of an
administration in whom, to say the least, they have no reason to place
the smallest confidence that they shall be employ'd for their
protection, and not as they have been for their destruction - While
they have a governor absolutely independent of them for his support,
which support as well as his political being - depends upon that same
administration, tho' at the expence of their own money taken from them
against their consent - While their governor acts not according to the
dictates of his own judgment, assisted by the constitutional advice of
his council, if he thinks it necessary to call for it, but according
to the edicts of such an administration - Will it mend the matter that
this governor, thus dependent upon the crown, is to be the judge of
the legality of instructions and their consistency with the Charter,
which is the constitution? Or if their present governor should be
possess'd of as many angelic properties as we have heard of in the
late addresses, can they enjoy that tranquility of mind arising from
their sense of safety, which Montesquieu defines to be civil
liberty, when they consider how precarious a person a provincial
governor is, especially a good one? And how likely a thing it is, if
he is a good one, that another may soon be placed in his stead,
possessed of the principles of the Devil, who for the sake of
holding his commission which is even now pleaded as a weighty motive,
will execute to the full the orders of an abandon'd minister, to the
ruin of those liberties which we are told are now so secure - Will a
people be perswaded that their liberties are safe, while their
representatives in general assembly, if they are ever to meet
again, will be deprived of the most essential privilege of giving
and granting what part of their own money they are yet allowed to
give and grant, unless, in conformity to a ministerial instruction
to the governor, solemnly read to them for their direction, they
exempt the commissioners of the customs, or any other favorites or
tools of the ministry, from their equitable share in the tax? All
these and many others that might be mention'd, are the natural
effects of that capital cause of complaint of all North-America,
which, to use the language of those "intemperate patriots ", the
majority of the present assembly, is " a subjugation to as
arbitrary a TRIBUTE as ever the Romans laid upon the Jews, or
their other colonies" - What now is the advice of Chronus? Why,
"much may be done, says he, by humble petitions and
representations of the hardships of certain measures" - Ask him
whether the colonies have not already done it? Whether the
assembly of this province, the convention, the town of Boston,
have not petitioned and humbly represented the hardship of certain
measures, and all to no purpose, and he tells you either that he
is "a stranger to those  petitions", or "that they were not duly
timed, or properly urged," or "that the true reason why ALL our
petitions and representations met with no better success was,
because they were accompanied with a conduct quite the reverse of
that submission and duty which they seem'd to express" - that "to
present a petition with one hand, while the other is held up in a
threatning posture to enforce it, is not the way to succeed" -
Search for his meaning, and enquire when the threatning hand was
held up, and you'll find him encountering the Resolves of the Town
of Boston to maintain their Rights, (in which they copied after
the patriotic Assemblies of the several Colonies) and their
Instructions to their Representatives. Here is the sad source of
all our difficulties. - Chronus would have us petition, and humbly
represent the hardships of certain measures, but we must by no
means assert our Liberties. We must acknowledge, at least tacitly,
that the Parliament of Great Britain has a constitutional
authority, "to throw down the distinction between Liberty and
slavery" in America. We may indeed, humbly represent it as a
hardship, but if they are resolved to execute the purpose, we must
submit to it, without the least intimation to posterity, that we
look'd upon it as unconstitutional or unjust. Such advice was
sagely given to the Colonists a few years ago, at second hand, by
one who had taken a trip to the great city, and grew wonderfully
acquainted, as he said, with Lord Hillsborough; but his foibles
are now "buried under the mantle of charity." Very different was
his advice from that of another of infinitely greater abilities,
as well as experience in the public affairs of the nation, and the
colonies: I mean Doctor Benjamin Franklin, the present agent of
the House of Representatives. His last letter to his constituents,
as I am well informed, strongly recommends the holding up our
constitutional Rights, by frequent Resolves, &c. This we know will
be obnoxious to those who are in the plan to enslave us: But
remember my countrymen, it will be better to have your liberties
wrested from you by force, than to have it said that you even
implicitly surrendered them.

I have something more to say to Chronus when leisure will admit of



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Jan 7 1772


I wrote you soon after your departure from hence but am lately
informd by Mr F. Dana that you have not receivd my Letter; he has
put me in the way of a more sure direction under an Inclosure to
Mess Trecothick & Apthorp.

By our last Vessells from London we have an Account of the Choice
of Mr Nash for the Lord Mayor, & that he was brot in by
ministerial Influence. It gives great Concern to the Friends of
Liberty here that any Administration much more such as the present
appears to be, should have an Ascendency in the important
Elections of that City, which has heretofore by her Independency &
Incorruption been the great Security of the Freedom of the nation.
It is questionable however

1 Attorney-General of Rhode Island. The letter was addressed to
Marchant at London, where he was acting as the agent of Rhode
Island. He left Rhode Island in July, 1771, and returned in the
autumn of 1772. Cf., Records of the Colony of Rhode Island, vol. vii.,
pp. 27-31, 197.

whether the Ministry would have gaind their point, if they had not
according to the Machiavellian plan accomplishd a Division among
those who profess to be Patriots. The same Art is now practicd by
their Tools & Dependents on this side the Water. They have been
endeavoring to excite a Jealousy among the Colonies, each one of
the others, & in a great measure brought it about by the
unfortunate failure of the Nonimportation Agreement. Perhaps every
Colony was faulty in that matter in some degree but neither chose
to take any of the Blame of it to its self, & to shift it off each
cast the whole upon the others. The Truth is there were so many of
the Merchants under the Court Influence in all of them as that
they were able to defeat the plan, & for that Reason I was
doubtful from the beginning of the Success of it. The Agents of
the Ministry have since been trying to perswade the people to
believe that they are sick of their measures & would be glad to
recede, but cannot consistent with their own honor while the
Colonies are clamoring against them - they would therefore have us
to be quite silent as tho we enjoyd our Rights & Liberties to the
full, & trust that those who have discoverd the greatest
perseverance in every Measure to enslave us, will of their own
Accord & without the least Necessity give up their Design. This
soothing & dangerous Doctrine I fear has had an effect in some of
the Colonies, but I am in hopes that those who have been ready to
trust to the false promises of Courtiers begin to see through the
Delusion. It was impossible that many persons could be catchd in
such a Snare in this province, where absolute Despotism appears to
be continually making large Strides with barefaced Impudence. It
will not be easy to convince this people that the Ministry have in
their hearts any favor towards them, while they are taking their
money out of their pockets, & appropriating it for the maintenance
of a Governor who because of his absolute Dependence upon them
will always yield obedience to their Instructions, and a standing
Army in their Capital fortress, over which that Governor I presume
to say dares not exercise any Authority, tho invested with it by
the Charter, without express Leave from his Masters.
Administration must be strangely blind indeed, or they must think
us the most foolish and ductile people under Heaven (in which they
are greatly mistaken) to imagine that in such a Condition we are
to be flatterd with hopes of any kind Disposition of theirs
towards us. The Governor & other Friends to the Ministry or rather
friends to themselves would fain have it thought in England, that
the People in general are easy & contented or to use the Words of
his Speech at the opening of the last Session, that they are
returnd to Good order & Government1 this may tend to establish him
in his Seat as one who can carry the most favorite points but
Nothing can afford greater Evidence to the Contrary than the
general Contempt and Indignation with which his proclamation for
an annual Thanksgiving was treated, because we were therein
exhorted to return Thanks to Almighty God that "our religious &
civil privileges were continued to us" & that "our Trade was
enlargd" - It is said & I believe it to be a fact, that full two
thirds of the congregational Clergy refusd to read the proclamation, &
perhaps not more of them than appeard the last Spring in favor [of]
the pompous congratulatory Address, that is not a Sixth part of them
took any notice of those Clauses in the religious Services of the
day. It is for the Interest of the Crown Officers here who are
dependent upon the Ministers to make them believe that they have
by their Art & policy reconciled the people to their Measures, &
if the Nation is so far misled as to believe so, the Ministry may
avail themselves of it, but if the Contrary should happen to be
true, as it appears to me to be, such Events may sooner than we
are aware of it take place, as may afford the Nation Grounds to
repent of her Credulity. It may be thought arrogant for an
American thus to express himself, but let Britain consider that
her own & her Colonies dependence is at present mutual which may
not & probably will not be the Case in some hereafter. Why should
either side hasten on the alarming Crisis. I am a friend to both,
but I confess my friendship to the latter is the most ardent -
they have in time past and if by the severe treatment which the
Colonies have receivd, Confidence in the Mother Country is not in
too great a Degree lost, they may still for some time to come
administer to each others Happiness & Grandeur. This in my humble
Opinion greatly depends upon a Change of Ministers & Measures
which it is not in my power & I presume not in yours however
earnestly we both may desire it, to accomplish.

I wait in daily Expectation of a Letter from you.

1 May 30, 1771. Massachusetts State Papers, p. 300.


[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp., 189-192; a draft is
in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library]

BOSTON, January 14th, 1772.

SIR, -

Your latest letter to me is of the 10th June,1 since which I have
several times written to you and have been impatiently waiting for
your farther favours. I suppose by this time the parliament is
sitting for the despatch of business, and we shall soon discover
whether administration have had it in their hearts, as we have
been flattered, to recede from their oppressive measures, and
repeal the obnoxious revenue acts. Is it not a strange mode of
expression of late years made use of, that administration intends
that this law shall be enacted, or that repealed? It is language
adapted to the infamy of the present times, by a nation which
boasts of the freedom and independency of her parliaments. I
believe almost any of the American assemblies would highly resent
such an imperious tone, even in the honourable board of
commissioners of the customs, who I dare say think themselves
equal in dignity, at least in proportion to the different
countries, to his majesty's ministers of state. A Bostonian, I
assure you, would blush with indignation to hear it said that his
majesty's commissioners of the customs (though perhaps they are of
his excellency's privy council) had held a consultation at
Butcher's Hall, upon the affairs of the province, and that they
had come to a conclusion that the house of representatives should
rescind their late protest against any doctrines which tend to give
royal instructions to the governor, the force of laws. This protest it
is said, his majesty's wise ministers were so hugely affronted at,
as to alter their determination upon a question, in which the fate
of the British nation was involved, namely, whether our general
assembly should sit at Cambridge or in Boston. I confess this was
a question of such astonishing importance to the millions of
Britons and their descendants, and decided no doubt with such
refined discrimination of judgment, that is not so much to be
wondered at, if all national wisdom is to be ascribed to such a
bed of counsellors, who seem to have possessed themselves of all
national power. But as the circumstances of things may alter, and
his majesty may be obliged through necessity to have recourse to
men of common understanding, when these are gone to receive their
just rewards in another life, would it not be most proper that the
parliament should be at least the ostensive legislature, for there
is danger in precedents, and in time to come the supreme power of
the nation may be the dupes of a ministry, who may have no more
understanding than themselves. It has been said that the king's
ministers have for years past received momentary hints respecting
the fabrication of American revenue laws and other regulations,
from some very wise heads on this side of the water, and
particularly of this place; and perhaps Great Britain may be more
indebted to some Bostonians or residents in Boston than she may
imagine, however reproachfully she may have spoken of them.
Bernard publicly declared that he did not obtrude his advice on
his majesty's ministers unasked; and therefore we may naturally
conclude that my lord of Hillsborough, (sublime as his
understanding is) the minister in the department, stood in need of
and asked his advice, when the baronet journalized the necessary
measures of administration for the colonies, which he retailed in
weekly and sometimes daily letters to his lordship. On his
departure he recommended Mr Hutchinson, though a Bostonian, "born
and educated" as one upon whom his lordship might depend as much
as upon himself; and in this one thing I believe Bernard wrote the
truth, for if they have not equal merit for their faithful
services to administration, Mr. Hutchinson, I verily believe, has
the greatest share. It is whispered here that the honourable board
of commissioners have represented to administration that the
present revenue is not sufficient to answer all demands, which are
daily increasing, and therefore it will be necessary for their
lordships to establish an additional fund. This is an important
hint, which may relieve their lordships, unless a new manoeuvre
should succeed, of which we have an account in the Boston Gazette
enclosed. By a vessel just arrived from London, the friends of
government, as they call themselves, pretend that they have
certain assurances from administration, that in three months we
shall not be troubled with commissioners or standing armies. This,
if we could depend upon court promises, would afford an agreeable
prospect. But the root of all our grievances is the parliament's
taxing us, which they cannot do, but upon principles repugnant to
and subversive of our constitution. If their lordships, the
ministry, would be pleased to repeal the revenue acts, they would
strike a blow at the root.

The grand design of our adversaries is to lull us into security,
and make us easy while the acts remain in force, which would prove
fatal to us.

I have written in great haste, and am sincerely your friend and
humble servant,

1 R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. i., pp. 215-219.


[Boston Gazette, January 20, 1772.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

IN the Massachusetts-Gazette of the 9th instant, Chronus attempts
to prove that "the Parliament's laying duties upon trade, for the
express purpose of raising a revenue, is not repugnant to and
subversive of our constitution." In defence of this proposition,
he proceeds to consider the nation as commercial, and from thence
to show the necessity of laws for the regulation of trade. - In
the nation he includes Great-Britain and all the Colonies, and
infers that these acts for the regulation of trade, "should extend
to all the British dominions, to prevent one part of the national
body from injuring another." And, says he, "If laws for the
regulation of trade are necessary, who so proper to enact them,
&c. as the British parliament, or to dispose of the fines &
forfeitures arising from the breach of such acts?" And then he tells
us, that as a number of preventive officers will hereupon become
necessary, the parliament have thought proper to assign to his
Majesty's revenue "the profits arising on the duties of importation
for the payment of those officers ". This is Chronus's "method of
reasoning ", to prove that because it is necessary that the parliament
should enact laws for the regulation of trade, about which there has
as yet been no dispute that I know of, and because it is proper that
such preventive officers as shall be found needful to carry those
laws into execution, should be paid out of the fines and
forfeitures arising from the breach of them, Therefore, the
parliament hath a right to make laws imposing duties or taxes, for
the express purpose of raising a revenue in the colonies without
their consent; and that this is not (as is alledg'd by our
Patriots ") "repugnant to or subversive of our constitution ".
Every one may easily see how Chronus evades the matter in dispute,
and aims at amusing his readers according to his usual manner, by
endeavouring, and that without a shadow of argument, to prove one
point, instead of another which is quite distinct from it, and
which he ought to prove, but cannot. He is indeed sensible that
his artifice is seen through; that it will be urged that "he has
evaded the chief difficulties," and that "the objection doth not
lie against the regulation of trade, but against the imposing
duties for the express purpose of raising a revenue." And he is
full ready to remove this objection. But how? Why, by asking a
question, which he often substitutes in the room of argument. Are
we not, says he, "fellow-subjects with our brethren at home, and
consequently bound to bear a part according to our ability, in
supporting the honor & dignity of the crown?" It is allow'd that
we are the subjects of the same prince with our brethren at home,
and are in duty bound, as far as we are able, to support the honor
and dignity of our Sovereign, while he affords us his protection.
But does Chronus from thence infer an obligation on us to yield
obedience to the acts of the British parliament imposing taxes
upon us with the express intention of raising a revenue, to be
appropriated for such purposes as that legislative thinks proper,
without our consent? 0, says he, "there is good reason for this."
What is the good reason? Why "if we will not consent to do
anything ourselves ", "our money will be taken from us without our
consent." This is conclusive argument indeed. And then he, as it
were, imperceptibly glides into that which has ever appeared to be
his favorite topick, however impertinent to the present point,
viz, an independent support for the governor. He boldly affirms,
what is a notorious untruth, that "we are unwilling to pay his
Majesty's substitute in such a manner as should leave him that
freedom and independency which is necessary to his station, and
with which he is vested by the constitution:" And therefore the
parliament hath a right to enable his Majesty to pay his
substitute, out of a revenue extorted from us against our consent.
If his premises were well grounded, his conclusion would not
follow: And the question would still remain, to which Chronus has
not attempted to give any rational answer, namely, By what
authority doth the parliament these things, and who gave them this
authority? Thus we still continue to dispute the authority of the
parliament to lay duties and taxes upon us, with the express
purpose of raising a revenue, as "repugnant to, and subversive of
our constitution;" and for a reason which I dare say Chronus will
never get over, namely, because as he himself allows," we are not
represented in it." -

The English constitution, says Baron Montesquieu, has Liberty for
its direct object: And the constitution of this province, as our
own historian,1 informs us, is an epitome of the British
constitution; and it undoubtedly has the same end for its object:
Whatever laws therefore are made for our government, either in a
manner, or for purposes subversive of Liberty, must be subversive
of the end of the constitution, and consequently of the
constitution itself. -  No free people, as the Pennsylvania Farmer
has observed, ever existed, or ever can exist without, to use a
common but strong expression, keeping the purse-strings in their
hands: But the parliament's laying taxes on the Colonies for the
express purpose of raising a revenue, takes the purse strings out
of their hands, and consequently it is "repugnant to, and
subversive of (the end of) our constitution "-Liberty. Mr. Locke
says, that the security of property is the end for which men enter
into society; and I believe Chronus will not deny it: Whatever
laws therefore are made in any society, tending to render property
insecure, must be subversive of the end for which men prefer
society to the state of nature; and consequently must be
subversive of society itself:

But the parliament in which the Colonies have no voice, taking as
much of their money as it pleases, and appropriating it to such
purposes as it pleases, even against their consent, and as they
think repugnant to their safety, renders all their property
precarious, and therefore it is subversive of the end for which
men enter into society and repugnant to every free constitution. -
Mr. Hooker in his ecclesiastical polity, as quoted by Mr. Locke,
affirms that "Laws they are not, which the public approbation hath
not made so." This seems to be the language of nature and common
sense; for if the public are bound to yield obedience to the laws,
to which they cannot give their approbation, they are slaves to
those who make such laws and enforce them: But the acts of
parliament imposing duties, with the express purpose of raising a
revenue in the colonies, have received every mark of the public
disapprobation in every colony; and yet they are enforced in all,
and in some with the utmost rigour. The British constitution
having liberty for its object, is so framed, as that every man who
is to be bound by any law about to be made, may be present by his
representative in parliament, who may employ the whole force of
his objections against it, if he cannot approve of it: If after
fair debate, it is approv'd of by the majority of the whole
representative body of the nation, the minority, by a rule
essential in society, and without which it could not subsist, is
bound to submit to it: But the colonies had no voice in parliament
when the revenue acts were made; nay, though they had no
representatives there, their petitions were rejected, because they
were against duties to be laid on; and they have been called factious,
for the objections they made, not only against their being taxed
without their consent, which was a sufficient objection, but against
the appropriation of the money when rais'd to purposes which as the
Farmer has made to appear, will supersede the authority in our
respective assemblies, which is most essential to liberty.
Representation and Legislation, as well as taxation, are inseparable,
according to the spirit of our constitution; and of all others that
are free. Human foresight is incapable of providing against every
accident. A small part of the nation may be "at sea, as Chronus tells
us, when writs are issued out for the election of members of
parliament"; and to admit that they, after their return "should be
exempt from any acts of parliament, the members of which were chosen
in their absence ", would be attended with greater evil to the
community, the safety and welfare of which is the end of all
legislation, than the misfortune of their voluntary absence, if it
should prove one, could be to them. I say, if it should prove a
misfortune to them; for those acts being made by the consent of
representatives chosen by all the rest of the nation, it is presum'd
they are calculated for the good of the whole, of which they, as a
part, must necessarily partake: But the supposed case of these persons
is far different from that of the colonists; who are, not by a
voluntary choice of their own, but through necessity, not by mere
accident, but by means of the local distance of their constant
residence, excluded from being present by representation in the
British legislature. Chronus allows that by means of their distance,
"they are become incapable of exercising their original right of
choosing representatives for the British parliament." If so, they
cannot without subversion of the end of the British constitution, be
bound to obedience, against their own consent, to such laws as are
there made; especially such laws as tend to render precarious their
property, the security of which is the end of men's entering into
society. If they are thus bound, they are slaves and not free men: But
slavery must certainly be "repugnant to the constitution" which has
liberty for its direct object. If the supreme legislative of Great
Britain, cannot consistently with the British constitution or the
essential liberty of the colonies, make laws binding upon them, and
Chronus for ought I can see, has not attempted to make it rationally
appear that it can, it is dangerous for the colonies to admit any
of its laws. For however upright some may think the present
parliament to be, in intention, they may ruin us through mistake
arising from an incurable ignorance of our circumstances; and
though Chronus may be so singular as to judge the present revenue
acts of parliament binding upon the colonies, to be salutary, the
time may perhaps come, when even he may be convinced, that future
ones may be oppressive and tyrannical, not only in their
execution, but in the very intention of those that may make them.

Chronus says, that "he has all along taken it for granted, that
the kingdom and the colonies are one dominion." If so he must
allow the colonies to take it for granted that they have an equal
share with the inhabitants of Britain in the rights belonging to
this one dominion, and particularly in the cardinal right of being
represented in the supreme legislature. But that right, he says,
they are "incapable of exercising," by reason of their distance.
We all agree in this, and it is not their fault? Why then should
they not have the right of legislating for themselves, as well as
that other part of this one dominion? Why truly, we have "a right
of choosing an assembly, which with the concurrence of his
Majesty's Governor, hath a power of enacting local statutes,
establishing taxes, &c. - Yet still in subordination to the
general laws of the empire, reserving the full right of supremacy
& dominion, which are in themselves unalienable." If I understand
his meaning in this dark expression, it is this, we have a right
of choosing an assembly, but this assembly is controulable in all
its acts, by another assembly which we have no right to choose,
and which has this right of controul in itself unalienable. But
the question still recurs, How came this right to be in the
British parliament? Chronus says that "admitting that we are all
one dominion, there is, and must be, a supreme, irresistible,
absolute, uncontrouled authority, in which must reside the power
of making and establishing laws," "and all others must conform to
it, and be govern'd by it". But if we are all one dominion; or if
I understand him, the members of one state, tho' so remotely
situated, the kingdom from the Colonies, as that we cannot all
partake of the rights of the supreme Legislature, why may not this
"irresistible, absolute, uncontrouled," and controuling
"authority, in which the jura summi imperii, or the rights of the
government reside", be established in America, or in Ireland, as well
as in Britain. Is there any thing in nature, or has Ireland or America
consented that the part of this one dominion called Britain shall
be thus distinguished? Or are we to infer her authority from her
power? But it must be, and Chronus gives us no other reason for it
than his bare affirmation, that "the King, Lords and Commons of
Great-Britain form the supreme Legislature of the British
dominions". And he adds, "to say that each of the Colonies had
within itself a supreme independent Legislature, and that
nevertheless the kingdom and the Colonies are all one dominion, is
a solecism:" Let him then view the Kingdom and the Colonies in
another light, and see whether there will be a solecism in
considering them as more dominions than one, or separate states.
It is certainly more concordant with the great law of nature and
reason, which the most powerful nation may not violate and cannot
alter, to suppose that the Colonies are separate independent and
free, than to suppose that they must be one with Great-Britain and
slaves. And slaves they must be, notwithstanding all which Chronus
has said to the contrary, if Great Britain may make all laws
whatsoever binding upon them, especially laws to take from them
what portions of their property she pleases, without and against
their consent.

I shall make further remarks upon Chronus, when I shall be at


1 Mr. Hutchinson.


[Boston Gazette, January 27, 1772; a complete draft of this article
is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

I have observed from Baron Montesquieu, that the British
constitution has liberty for its direct object and that the
constitution of this province, according to Mr. Hutchinson, is an
epitome of the British constitution: That the right of
representation in the body that legislates, is essential to the
British constitution, without which there cannot be liberty; and
Chronus himself acknowledges, that the Americans are "incapable of
exercising this right": Let him draw what conclusion he pleases.
All I insist upon is, that the conclusion cannot be just, that
"the parliament's laying duties upon trade with the express
purpose of raising a revenue, is not repugnant to or subversive of
our constitution." This doctrine, tho' long exploded by the best
writers on both sides of the atlantic, he now urges; and he is
reduced to this necessity, in order to justify or give coloring to
his frequent bold assertions, that "no one has attempted even to
infringe our liberties," and to his ungenerous reflections upon
those who declare themselves of a different mind, as "pretended
patriots," "overzealous," "intemperate politicians," "men of no
property," who "expect to find their account" in perpetually
keeping up the ball of contention. But after all that Chronus and
his associates have said, or can say, the people of America have
just "grounds still to complain" that their rights are violated.
There seems to be a system of "tyranny and oppression" already
begun. It is therefore the duty of every honest man, to alarm his
fellow-citizens and countrymen, and awaken in them the utmost
vigilance and circumspection. Jealousy, especially at such a time,
is a political virtue: Nay, I will say, it is a moral virtue; for
we are under all obligations to do what in us lies to save our
country." Tyrants alone, says the great Vatel, will treat as
seditious, those brave and resolute citizens, who exhort the
people to preserve themselves from oppression, in vindication of
their rights and privileges: A good prince, says he, will commend
such virtuous patriots" and will "mistrust the selfish suggestions
of a minister, who represents to him as rebels, all those citizens
who do not hold out their hands to chains, who refuse lamely to
suffer the strokes of arbitrary power."

I cannot help observing how artfully Chronus expresses his
position, that the  "parliament's laying duties upon trade with
the express purpose of raising a revenue, is not repugnant to our
constitution." It has not been made a question, that I know of,
whether the parliament hath a right to make laws for the
regulation of the trade of the colonies. Power she undoubtedly has
to enforce her acts of trade: And the strongest maritime power
caeteris paribus, will always make the most advantageous treaties,
and give laws of trade to other nations, for whom there can be no
pretence to the right of legislation. The matter however should be
considered equitably, if it should ever be considered at all: If
the trade of the Colonies is protected by the British navy, there
may possibly be from thence inferr'd a just right in the
parliament of Great Britain to restrain them from carrying on
their trade to the injury of the trade of Great Britain. But this
being granted, it is very different from the right to make laws in
all cases whatever binding upon the Colonies, and especially for
laying duties upon trade for the express purpose of raising a
revenue. In the one case it may be the wisdom of the Colonies,
under present circumstances to acquiesce in reasonable
restrictions, rather than lose their whole trade by means of the
depredations of a foreign power: In the other, it is a duty they
owe themselves and their posterity, by no means to acquiesce;
because it involves them in a state of perfect slavery. I say
perfect slavery: For, as political liberty in its perfection
consists in the people's consenting by themselves or their
representatives, to all laws which they are bound to obey, so
perfect political slavery consists in their being bound to obey
any laws for taxing them, to which they cannot consent. If a
people can be deprived of their property by another person or
nation, it is evident that such a people cannot be free. Whether
it be by a nation or a monarch, is not material: The masters
indeed are different, but the government is equally despotic; and
tho' the despotism may be mild, from principles of policy, it is
not the less a despotism.

Chronus talks of Magna Charta as though it were of no greater
consequence than an act of parliament for the establishment of a
corporation of buttonmakers. Whatever low ideas he may entertain
of that Great Charter, and such ideas he must entertain of it to
support the cause he hath espous'd, it is affirm'd by Lord Coke,
to be declaratory of the principal grounds of the fundamental laws
and liberties of England. "It is called Charta Libertatum Regni,
the Charter of the Liberties of the kingdom, upon great reason,
says that sage of the law, because liberos facit, it makes and
preserves the people free." Those therefore who would make the
people slaves, would fain have them look upon this charter, in a
light of indifference, which so often affirms sua jura, suas
libertates, their own rights, their own liberties: But if it be
declaratory of the principal grounds of the fundamental laws and
liberties of England, it cannot be altered in any of its essential
parts, without altering the constitution. Whatever Chronus may
have adopted from Mr. Hume, Vatel tells us plainly and without
hesitation, that "the supreme legislative cannot change the
constitution," "that their authority does not extend so far," &
"that they ought to consider the fundamental laws as sacred, if
the nation has not, in very express terms, given them power to
change them." And he gives a reason for it solid and weighty; for,
says he, "the constitution of the state ought to be fixed." Mr.
Hume, as quoted by Chronus, says, the only rule of government is
the established practice of the age, upon maxims universally
assented to. If then any deviation is made from the maxims upon
which the established practice of the age is founded, it must be
by universal assent. "The fundamental laws," says Vatel, "are
excepted from their (legislators) commission," "nothing leads us
to think that the nation was willing to submit the constitution
itself to their pleasure." "They derive their authority from the
constitution, how then can they change it without destroying the
foundation of their own authority?" If then according to Lord
Coke, Magna Charta is declaratory of the principal grounds of the
fundamental laws and liberties of the people, and Vatel is right
in his opinion, that the supreme legislative cannot change the
constitution, I think it follows, whether Lord Coke has expressly
asserted it or not, that an act of parliament made against Magna
Charta in violation of its essential parts, is void. - "By the
fundamental laws of England, says Vatel, the two houses of
parliament in concert with the King, exercise the legislative
power: But if the two houses should resolve to suppress
themselves, and to invest the King with the full and absolute
government, certainly the nation would not suffer it, "although it
was done by a solemn act of parliament. But such doctrine is
directly the reverse of that which Chronus holds; which amounts to
this, that if the two houses should give up to the King, any, the
most essential rights of the people declared in Magna Charta, the
nation has not a power either de jura or de facto to prevent it. I
may hereafter quote for his serious perusal, the reasoning of the
immortal Locke upon this important subject, and am, in the mean time,


APRIL 10, 1772.

[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 315, 316; a draft, is in the
Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

May it please your Excellency.

The House of Representatives have duly considered your speech1 to
both Houses, at the opening of this session. Your Excellency is
pleased to acquaint us, that, "if we had desired you to carry the
Court to Boston, because it is the most convenient place; and the
prerogative of the Crown to instruct the Governor to convene the
Court at such place as his Majesty may think proper, had not been
denied; you should have obtained leave to meet us in Boston, at
this time; but that you shall not be at liberty to do so, whilst
this denial is persisted in."

We have maturely considered this point; and are still firmly in
opinion, that such instruction is repugnant to the royal charter,
wherein the Governor is vested with the full power of adjournment,
proroguing and dissolving the General Assembly, as he shall judge
necessary. Nothing in the charter, appears to us to afford the
least grounds to conclude, that a right is reserved to his Majesty
of controling the Governor, in thus exercising this full power.
Nor indeed does it seem reasonable that there should for, it being
impossible that any one, at the distance of three thousand miles,
should be able to foresee the most convenient time or place of holding
the Assembly, it is necessary that such discretionary power should be
lodged with the Governor, who is, by Charter, constantly to reside
within the Province.

We are still earnestly desirous of the removal of this Assembly to
the Court House, in Boston; and we are sorry that your
Excellency's determination thereon, depends upon our disavowing
these principles; because we cannot do it consistently with the
duty we owe our constituents. We are constrained to be explicit at
this time; for if we should be silent, after your Excellency has
recommended it to us, as a necessary preliminary, to desist from
saying any thing upon this head, while we request your Excellency
for a removal of the Assembly, for reasons of convenience only, it
might be construed as tacitly conceding to a doctrine injurious to
the constitution, and in effect, as rescinding our own record, of
which we still deliberately approve.

The power of adjourning and proroguing the General Assembly, is a
power in trust, to be exercised for the good of the province; this
House have a right to judge for themselves, whether it was thus
exercised. We cannot avoid taking this occasion, freely to declare
to your Excellency, that the holding of the Assembly in this
place, without any good reason which we can conceive of, under the
many and great inconveniences which this, and former Houses, have
so fully set forth to your Excellency, is, in our opinion, an
undue exercise of power; and a very great grievance, which we
still hope will soon be fully redressed.

Your Excellency may be assured, that this House will, with all
convenient despatch, take into our most serious consideration,
that part of your speech which concerns the establishment of a
partition line between this province and the province of New York;
and that we will, with great candor, contribute every thing in our
power, to accomplish the same equitable terms.

The other parts of your Excellency's speech, have had the proper
attention of the House; and we are determined, during the
remainder of the session, which must be short, to consult his
Majesty's real service - the true interest of the province.

1 The original message of Governor Hutchinson of April 8, 1772, is
among the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library, and on it is
endorsed, in the handwriting of Adams, the fourth paragraph of the
following reply.
2 Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 313-315.


[Boston Gazette, April 20, 1772.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

Philanthrop Jun. in Draper's paper of the 9th current tells us,
that "For four or five years together nobody could appear in print
unless he was a favourer of what is call'd Liberty," and therefore
concludes, "Falshood has been imposed on the credulous readers of
News-papers, and has spread through the country for truth, because
no one would contradict it." What fortitude must a man be
possess'd of that can offer two such sentences to the eye of the
public in a paper which for that space has contained nothing else
in the political way? Again, why have we a mark of distinction in
the signature? Was Philanthrop senior a liberty writer? Was the
True Patriot a liberty writer? Were all the scribblers in Mein's
Chronicle friends or favourers of what is called liberty? Blush!
reformer blush at imposition of so gross a kind!

But what are the falshoods these credulous people have been led to
believe? Why it seems that men from Lancaster and elsewhere, have
been insinuating that we laboured under grievances in commerce,
legislation, and execution of the wholesome laws of the land, when
no such thing has been seen, felt, heard or understood among us;
and one Lancaster man in particular, has been furnished with all
his prejudices from the letters of Junius Americanus, a despicable
creature (as we say) who has certainly blackened some men and
measures in both Englands, in such manner as defies time itself to
bleach their characters. And till the officious Philanthrop
engaged, every one judged the friends, at least, of those
respectable men, would avoid the provocation of fresh caustics to
such rankled ulcers; but luxuriant flesh forever interrupts the
efficacy of the most healing plaisters, and must be removed as
fast as it puts forth. Indeed gentlemen, I myself who live in
Boston, the centre of American politicks, have suspected we had
some grievances to complain of before either Junius Anglicanus or
Americanus ever published a letter on the subject to my knowledge:
I thought the stamp-act a grievance, I think the extension of the
vice-admiralty courts a grievance, I think the captious and
unprecedented treatment of our legislature a grievance; and above
all, I think the alteration of our free and mutually dependent
constitution, into a dependent ministerial despotism a grievance
so great, so ignominious and intolerable, that in case I did not
hope things would in some measure regain their ancient situation,
without more blood shed and murder than has already been
committed, I could freely wish at the risk of my all to have a
fair chance of offering to the manes of my slaughtered countrymen
a libation of the blood of the ruthless traitors who conspired
their destruction. It is here I confess my fingers would fall with
weight, let those of Dr. Y -g, Mr. -x, or even Mr. A -s, fall how
or where they pleased.


JULY 14, 1772.1

[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 330, 331 ; extracts are printed
in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., p. 482, with the
statement that such extracts were copied from an original draft in the
autograph of Adams.2]

May it please your Excellency,

In answer to your message of yesterday, this House beg leave to
observe, that they are not unapprized that the Province House is
out of repair, and that expense might be saved, by making such
repairs as are necessary, as soon as may be. But, that building
was procured for the residence of a Governor, whose sole support
was to be provided for by the grants and acts of the General
Assembly, according to the tenor of the charter: and, it is the
opinion of this House, that it never was expected by any Assembly of
this province, that it would be appropriated for the residence of any
Governor, for whose support, adequate provision should be made in
another way. Upon this consideration, we cannot think it our duty to
make any repairs, at this time.

Your Excellency may be assured, that this House is far from being
influenced by any personal disrespect. Should the time come, which
we hope for, when your Excellency shall think yourself at liberty
to accept of your whole support from this province, according to
ancient and invariable usage, we doubt not, but you will then find
the Representatives of this people ready to provide for your
Excellency a house, not barely tenantable, but elegant. In the
mean time, as your Excellency receives from his Majesty a certain
and adequate support, we cannot have the least apprehensions that
you will be so far guided by your own inclination, as that you
will make any town in the province the place of your residence,
but where it shall be most conducive to his Majesty's service, and
the good and welfare of the people.

1 On this date the Governor prorogued the General Court to meet
again September 30. The next session actually commenced January 6,
2 Wells also attributes to Adams the message of the house of May
29, 1772; Life of Samuel Adams, vol. I., p. 477; Massachusetts
State Papers, p. 321.


[Boston Gazette, October 5, 1772.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

"Is there a Prince on Earth, who has power to lay a single Penny
upon his subjects, without the Grant and Consent of those who are
to pay it, otherwise than by Tyranny and Violence? No Prince can levy
it unless through Tyranny and under Penalty of Excommunication. But
there are those who are Bruitish enough not to know what they can do
or omit in this Affair.

Such is the language of a great and good Historian and Statesman,
a Subject of France. Had the English Politicians and Ministers
been either half as honest or half as wise as he, they would never
have driven the American Revenue without the Grant or Consent of
those who pay it, to such a length, as to cause an Alienation of
affection which perhaps may not easily if ever be recovered. By
this kind of politics, says the worthy Frenchman, Charles the
seventh brought a heavy Sin upon his own Soul and upon that of his
Successors, and gave his Kingdom a Wound which would continue long
to bleed. The British Ministers, possibly, may entertain different
Ideas of Morals from those of the French Historian, if indeed they
have any such kind of ideas at all. However, the Nation, I fear,
will have Occasion to rue the day, when they suffer'd their
Politics so far to prevail, as to gain such an Influence in their
Parliament as they certainly did in the last, to say nothing of
the present. The Impositions upon the French, says Mr. Gordon,2
grew monstrous almost as soon as they grew arbitrary. Charles the
seventh, who began them, never rais'd annually more than one
hundred and eighty thousand Pounds. His Son Lewis the eleventh
almost trebled the Revenue; and since then, all that the Kingdom and
People had, even to their Skins, has hardly been thought
sufficient for their Kings." An awakening Caution to Americans!
Lest by tamely submitting to be plundered, they encourage their
Plunderers to grasp at all they have.

The Merchants of this Continent have passively submitted to the
Indignity of a Tribute; and the Landholders, tho' Sharers in the
Indignity, have been perhaps too unconcern'd Spectators of the
humiliating Scene. Posterity, who will no doubt revenge their
Fathers Wrongs, may also be ashamed, when in the Page of History
they are informed of their tame Subjection. Had the Body of this
People shown a proper Resentment, at the time when the proud
Taskmasters first made their appearance, we should never have seen
Pensioners multiplying like the Locusts in Egypt, which devoured
every green Thing. I speak with Assurance; because it seldom has
happened if ever, that even a small People has been kept long in
Bondage, when they have unitedly and perseveringly resolv'd to be

At that critical Period, we hearkened to what we then took to be,
the Dictates of sound policy and Prudence. We were led to place a
Confidence in those, whose Protection we had a right to claim, and
we hoped for Deliverance in dry Remonstrances and humble
Supplication. We have petition'd, repeatedly petition'd, and our
Petitions have been heard, barely heard! The Grievances of this
Continent have no doubt "reached the Royal Ear"; I wish I could
see reason to say they had touch'd the Royal Heart. No - They yet
remain altogether unredress'd. Such has been the baneful Influence
of corrupt and infamous Ministers and Servants of the Crown; that
the Complaints of three Millions of loyal Subjects have not yet
penetrated the Royal Breast, to move it even to pity.

Have not our humble Petitions, breathing a true Spirit of rational
Loyalty, and expressive of a just Sense of those Liberties the
Restoration of which we implored, been followed with Grievance
upon Grievance, as fast as the cruel Heart and Hand of a most
execrable Paricide could invent and fabricate them? I will not at
present enumerate Grievances; they are known, sufficiently known,
felt and understood. Is it not enough, to have a Governor, an
avowed Advocate for ministerial Measures, and a most assiduous
Instrument in carrying them on - moddel'd, shaped, controul'd, and
directed-totally independant of the people over whom he is
commissioned to govern, and yet absolutely dependent upon the
Crown - pensioned by those on whom his existence depends, and paid
out of a Revenue establish'd by those who have no Authority to
establish it, and extorted from the People in a Manner most
Odious, insulting and oppressive. Is not this, Indignity enough to
be felt by those who have any feeling? Are we still threatned with
more? Is Life, Property and every Thing dear and sacred, to be now
submitted to the Decisions of PENSION'D JUDGES, holding their
places during the pleasure of such a Governor, and a Council
perhaps overawed! To what a State of Infamy, Wretchedness and
Misery shall we be reduc'd if our Judges shall be prevail'd upon
to be thus degraded to Hirelings, and the Body of the People shall
suffer their free Constitution to be overturn'd and ruin'd.
Merciful GOD! Inspire Thy People with Wisdom and Fortitude, and
direct them to gracious Ends. In this extreme Distress, when the
Plan of Slavery seems nearly compleated, 0 save our Country from
impending Ruin - Let not the iron Hand of Tyranny ravish our Laws
and seize the Badge of Freedom, nor avow'd Corruption and the
murderous Rage of lawless Power be ever seen on the sacred Seat of

Is it not High Time for the People of this Country explicitly to
declare, whether they will be Freemen or Slaves? It is an
important Question which ought to be decided. It concerns us more
than any Thing in this Life. The Salvation of our Souls is
interested in the Event: For wherever Tyranny is establish'd,
Immorality of every Kind comes in like a Torrent. It is in the
Interest of Tyrants to reduce the People to Ignorance and Vice.
For they cannot live in any Country where Virtue and Knowledge
prevail. The Religion and public Liberty of a People are
intimately connected; their Interests are interwoven, they cannot
subsist separately; and therefore they rise and fall together. For
this Reason, it is always observable, that those who are combin'd
to destroy the People's Liberties, practice every Art to poison
their Morals. How greatly then does it concern us, at all Events,
to put a Stop to the Progress of Tyranny. It is advanced already
by far too many Strides. We are at this moment upon a precipice.
The next step may be fatal to us. Let us then act like wise Men;
calmly took around us and consider what is best to be done. Let us
converse together upon this most interesting Subject and open our
minds freely to each other. Let it be the topic of conversation in
every social Club. Let every Town assemble. Let Associations &
Combinations be everywhere set up to consult and recover our just

" The Country claims our active Aid.
That let us roam; & where we find a Spark
Of public Virtue, blow it into Flame."


1 Attributed to Adams by W. V. Wells. See above, page 256.
2 Rev. William Gordon, of Roxbury, author of The History of the
Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the
United States of America.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Octob 21 1772


I have receivd several Letters from you; and my not having returnd
any Answer to them before, is owing by no means to an Inattention
to them, but to my misfortune in not hearing of the few Vessells
that pass from hence to Georgia being about to sail, till I lost
the Opportunity. I therefore upon the first Notice, make use of
this Conveyance to assure you of my tender Regards & Affection for
you as a Brother; sincerely hoping this will meet yourself &
Family in health & happiness. Indeed common Experience convinces
me that there is very little Dependence upon either in this Life;
We too often mistake our true Happiness, and when we arrive to the
Enjoyment of that which seemd to promise it to us, we find that it is
all an imaginary Dream, at the best fleeting & transitory. We have an
affecting Instance of this within our own Connections; Your amiable
Sister Kitty was agreably married, and when in the daily Expectation
of seeing the happy Pledge of conjugal Affection, cutt off without a
moments Warning of the fatal Stroke of Death! Still more happy
however in another Life as we [have] abundant Reason to be
assured; for the Christian Temper & Behavior she constantly
exhibited, when she least expected it, afford us more solid hopes
of her present Happiness, than any Expressions she might have made
use of, had she been permitted, at the time of her Departure. One
would from this & other like Instances conclude, that to be
possessd of the Christian Principles, & to accommodate our whole
Deportment to such Principles, is to be happy in this Life; it is
this that sweetens every thing we enjoy; indeed of it self it
yields us full Satisfaction, & thus puts it out of the power of
the World to disappoint us by any of its frowns.

Your last Letter mentioned your Expectation of the sudden
Dissolution of your General Assembly, which I perceive afterwards
took place. It appears still to be the determination of the
ministry to enslave the Colonies, and the Governors are to be the
Instruments. It therefore behoves every Colony to be vigilant; &
agreably to the Advice of the Pennsylvania Farmer, Each should
support the others. This Province seems to be devoted to
ministerial Vengeance. We have been long struggling against the
Incroachments of Tyranny, which now threatens its Completion by
the Independency of the Governor & the Judges of the superior
Court. If the Tribute which is by Acts of Parliament extorted from
the Americans, is appropriated for making the executive Power
totally independent of the People for their Support, while it is
absolutely dependent upon the Crown for its being as well as
Subsistence, there will be an End of freedom. In such Courts &
under such an Administration, you will easily conceive what
Constructions of Law & what Decisions the people are to expect. I
send you two or three of our latest papers; there may be some
Speculations upon the Subject in them, which you may think proper
to get republishd in your papers.

You mentiond in one of your Letters your Intention to send your
Daughter here, than which nothing would be more agreable to us.

Your Sister, my dear Betsy,2 joyns with me in Expressions of Love
to Mrs Wells, & begs me to assure you that she is, as I am in
strict truth
Yours affectionately,

1 Brother-in-law of Adams.
2 Mrs. Adams.


[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., Pp. 9, 10.]

BOSTON, October 27, 1772.

I have just now received your favour, dated this day. I am
perfectly of your opinion with regard to the independency of the
judges.  It is a matter beyond doubt in my mind. I was told yesterday,
by one of his majesty's council, that Mr. Hutchinson has a letter by
the packet, from Bernard, which advises him of it as a fact. This town
is to meet to-morrow, to consider what is proper for them to do. We
have looked upon it as of so interesting a nature to us, that even the
report should alarm us. It is proposed by many among us to apply
to the judges for their explicit declaration, whether they will
accept of so odious a support, and to apply also to the governour
for a general assembly forthwith. I will write you on Thursday,
and let you know the event. Our enemies would intimidate us, by
saying our brethren in the other towns are indifferent about this
matter, for which reason I am particularly glad to receive your
letter at this time. Roxbury, I am told, is thoroughly awake. I wish
we could arouse the continent.

I write in the utmost haste,


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text with slight
variations is in J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp.

BOSTON Oct 29 1772


I wrote you in great Haste on Tuesday last. Since which the
Freeholders & other Inhabitts of this Town have had a Meeting,1 to
enquire into the Grounds of the Report that the Salaries of the
Judges are fixd & paid by order of the Crown, and to determine upon
such measures as should be proper for them to take upon so alarming
an Occasion.

The inclosd paper contains a short but true Account of their
proceedings. It is proposd by some to petition the Governr to
order a session of the Genl Assembly, and that the Town should
expressly declare their natural & Charter Rights to their
Representatives, and the Instances in which they have been
violated peremptorily requiring them to take every Step which the
Constitution prescribes to redress our Grievances, or if every
such Step has been already taken, to inform their Constituents,
that they may devise such Measures as they may see their way clear
to take, or patiently bear the Yoke. I will acquaint you with the
proceedings of the Town as they pass. In the mean time I wish your
Town would think it proper to have a Meeting, which may be most
seasonable at this time. For as the Superr Court is to be held at
Salem next Week, you will have the Oppy of making a decent
Application to them, & enquiring of the Certainty of this Report,
& other matters mentd in your Letter to me. Which Enquiry will be
more naturally made to them in Case the Govr should decline
answering the message of this Town, or do it, if I may be allowd
the Expression, equivocally.

This Country must shake off their intollerable burdens at all
Events. Every day strengthens our oppressors & weakens us. If each
Town would declare its Sense of these Matters I am perswaded our
Enemies would not have it in their power to divide us, in whh they
have all along shown their dexterity. Pray use your Influence with
Salem & other Towns - But I am now going with our Comt to his
Excellency.2 Shall be glad of a Letter from you. Your last I read
to the Town to their great Satisfaction though I concealed the
name of its worthy Author.

1 October 28, Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., p.
2 Adams, Otis and Joseph Warren were members of a committee of
seven appointed by the Town of Boston on October 28 to present to
the Governor the address adopted by the Town on that date. Ibid.,
p. 90. The address was prepared by a committee consisting of
Adams, Joseph Warren and Benjamin Church. The text is in ibid., p.
89. Cf. Works of John Adams, vol. ii., p. 299 (October 27, 1772).


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations,
is in R.
H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., Pp. 193-195.]
BOSTON Novr 3 1772


Since my last we have Advice that Lord Hillsborough is removd from
the American Department, & tho he makes his Exit with the smiles &
honors of the Court, he has the Curses of the disinterrested &
better part of the Colonists. Not that it is thought his Lordship
is by any means to be reckoned the most inveterate & active of all
the Conspirators against our Rights: There are others on this Side
of the Atlantick who have been more assiduous in plotting the Ruin
of our Liberties than even he, and they are the more infamous,
because the Country they would enslave, is that very Country in which
(to use the Words of their Adulators & Expectants) they were "born &

The Character of Lord Dartmouth has been unexceptionable in
America in point of moral Virtue; I wish it could be ascertaind of
all his Majestys Ministers and Servants. It is the opinion I have
of them that makes me tremble for his Lordship, lest in the Circle
he should make Shipwreck of his Virtue. I am well informd that he
has wrote a very polite Letter to Hutchinson, in which he
expresses a Satisfaction in his Conduct, & tells him he has always
been of Opinion that the King has a Right to pay his Governors &
other officers but surely he should have made himself thoroughly
acquainted with the several political Institutions and Charters of
the Colonies as well as the nature of free Governments in general
before he explicitly & officially declares such an Opinion. I wish
a Consideration that he has to correspond with the most artful
plausible and insinuating Geniusses, & some of them the most
malicious Enemies of the common Rights of Mankind, might induce
his Lordship to be upon his Guard against too suddenly giving full
Credit to their Representations, which perhaps was the capital
mistake of his predecessor in office - our Conspirators were
alarmd at his Appointment & I believe are determined if they can
to impose upon his Credulity, if he has any such Weakness about

We are now alarmd with the Advice that the Judges of our Superior
Court, have Salaries appointed by order of the Crown, independent
of the people. This has occasiond a meeting of this metropolis,
the proceedings of which you have in the inclosed papers. At the
first meeting on the Wednesday2 & at the last Adjournment on the
Monday3 following, there was a respectable Appearance of the
Inhabitants, tho not so full as has sometimes been on Occasions of
much less Importance; owing partly to its being the Season of the
year when the Town is filled with our Country folks & every one is
laying up provisions necessary for the approaching long Winter,
partly from the Industry of the Enemies to prevent a full meeting
as they before had been to prevent any meeting at all (for they
dread nothing more) & partly from the Opinion of some that there
was no method left to be taken but the last, which is also the
Opinion of many in the Country. However as I said before, there
was a respectable meeting; and I think the Town has taken a
necessary Step to ascertain the true Sense of the Country with
regard to our Grievances, which being known, it will be the easier
to determine upon & prosecute to Effect the Methods which ought to
be taken for the Redress of our intollerable Grievances. The
Tories give out, tho in Whispers, that they expect what they call
a Breese before long, which they say they gather from the slow,
but regular Approaches that are made. They will form what Judgment
they please. Perhaps they begin to be apprehensive that the body
of a long insulted people will bear the Insults & Oppression no
longer than untill they feel in themselves Strength to shake off the
Yoke. If this is their Determination, it is justifiable as far as the
Declaration of Mr. H. himself has Weight; for I am told by a Gentleman
whom I can credit, that in Conversation he said there was nothing in
Morality that forbid Resistance.

In your last you expressd your hopes of the removal of
Hillsborough. I could not joyn with you; for if I am to have a
master, let me have a severe one that I may always have the
mortifying Sense of it. I shall then always be disposed to take
the first fair Opportunity of ridding my self of Slavery. There is
danger of the peoples being flatterd with such partial Reliefe as
Lord Dartmouth may be able, (if disposed) to obtain for them &
building upon vain Hopes till their Chains are rivetted. Are they
not still heaping Grievance upon Grievance, & while they remain,
to what purpose would it be if his Lordship should get a few
boyish Instructions to the Govr relaxed? Would this be a reason
for a final Submission to a Tribute & Egyptian Taskmasters in
Support of despotick Power! The Tribute, the Tribute is the
Indignity which I hope in God will never be patiently borne by a
People who of all the people on the Earth deserve most to be free.

I am astonishd that [Dr. Franklin] has written no Letter to the

I shall write you by the next Ship.

1 Arthur Lee to Samuel Adams, January 25, 1773: "I have just now
received your favour of Nov. 3, 1772, together with a pamphlet and
some papers, for which I am extremely obliged to you. . . . I
shall take the liberty of putting the first part of your letter in
the newspapers here, as I think it extremely proper my Lord
Dartmouth should read the excellent admonition it contains." R. H.
Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. i., p. 226.
2 Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., p. 88.
3 Ibid., p. 92.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations,
is in J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 15-l8.]

BOSTON 5 Novr 1772


I recd with pleasure your Letter of the 2d Inst. I was sure you cd
not but be of Opinion, that Unanimity in the Measures taken by the
friends of the Country is of the utmost Importance. I must with
great Deferrence to your Judgment, think that even in our wretched
State, the mode of petitioning the Govr will have a good Effect. I
was aware that his Answers would be in the same high tone, in
which we find them expressd; yet our requests have been so
reasonable that in refusing to comply with them he must have put
himself in the wrong -, in the opinion of every honest & sensible
man; the Consequence of which will be, that such measures as the
people may determine upon to save themselves, if rational & manly,
will be the more reconcileable even to cautious minds, & thus we
may expect that Unanimity which we wish for.

I have the satisfaction of inclosing the last proceedings of our
Town meeting, in which I think you will perceive a Coincidence
with your own Judgment, in a plan concerted for the whole to act
upon. Our timid sort of people are disconcerted, when they are
positively told that the Sentiments of the Country are different
from those of the City. Therefore a free Communication with each
Town will serve to ascertain this matter; and when once it appears
beyond Contradiction, that we are united in Sentiments there will
be a Confidence in each other, & a plan of Opposition will be
easily formed, & executed with Spirit. In such a Case (to return
your own Language with entire Approbation) those "who have Virtue
enough to oppose the wicked designs of the Great, will have this
for their boast that they have struggled for & with an honest

I was at first of your Opinion "that it wd be most proper for a
Come from Boston, united with Comtes from two or three other Towns
to wait on the Judges" &c. and I mentiond it to several Gentlemen
of the Neighboring Towns who approved of it, but so much Caution
prevails, that they suspected whether their respective towns wd
stir till Boston had given the Lead, (a needless Compliment to the
Capital); This turnd our Thoughts to the Measures taken by the
Town, & led me to conceive hopes, that as the Superr Court wd be
soon sitting at Salem, Mbl Head & other towns in that County would
come into such a proposal.

I take Notice of what you observe "that our whole dependence as
people seems to be upon our own Wisdom & Valor," in which I fully
agree with you. It puts me in mind of a Letter I recd not along
ago from a friend of mine of some note in London, wherein he says,
"your whole dependence under God is upon your own Virtue, (Valor).
I know of no Noblemen in this Kingdom who care any thing about
you, excepting Lords Chatham & Shelburne, & you would do well to
be watchful even of them."

I earnestly wish that the Inhabitants of Marblehead & other Towns
would severally meet, & if they see Cause, among other Measures,
second this town & appoint a Come to be ready to communicate with
ours1 when ready. This would at once discover an Union of Sentiments
thus far & have its Influence on other Towns. It wd at least show that
Boston is not wholly deserted, & might prevent "its falling a
Sacrifice to the Rage or ridicule of our (common) Enemies."
I shall be pleasd with your further Sentiments & am in strict truth,

1 The Boston Committee of Correspondence was appointed on November
2. "It was then moved by Mr Samuel Adams, That a Committee of
Correspondence be appointed to consist of twenty one Persons - to
state the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in
particular, as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects; to communicate
and publish the same to the several Towns in this Province and to
the World as the sense of this Town, with the Infringements and
Violations thereof that have been, or from time to time may be
made - Also requesting of each Town a free communication of their
Sentiments on this Subject - And the Question being accordingly
put - Passed in the Affermative. Nem Cont. Boston Record Commissioner
Report, vol. xviii., p.93. Cf., William Gordon, History of the Rise,
Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the United States
of America, vol. i., pp. 312-314.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations,
is in J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 19-21.]

BOSTON Novr 14 1772


Your Letter of the 10 Inst.1 did not come to my hand till this
Evening. It is a great Satisfaction to me to be assured from you
that the Friends to Liberty in Marblehead are active & that there
is like to be a Town meeting there. Our Committee are industrious,
and I think I may promise you, they will be ready to report to the
Town in two or three days; so that if your Town should think
proper to make an Adjournment for ten days or a Fortnight, they
will doubtless by that time if not before have an Opportunity of
acting upon our Resolutions. I am sorry when any of our Proceedings
are not exactly according to your Mind. The Word you object to2 in our
resolves was designd to introduce into our State of Grievances
"the Chh Innovations and the Establishment of those Tyrants in
Religion, Bishops" which as you observe will probably take place.
I cannot but hope, when you consider how indifferent too many of
the Clergy are to our just & righteous Cause, that some of them
are the Adulators of our Oppressors, and even some of the best of
them are extremely cautious of recommending (at least in their
publick performances), the Rights of their Country to the
protection of Heaven, lest they should give offence to the little
Gods on Earth, you will judge it quite necessary that we should
assert [and] vindicate our Rights as Christians as well as Men &

The Town of Roxbury are to meet on Monday next; and a great Number
in Cambridge have subscribed a Petition to their Selectmen for a
Meeting there. I have recd a Letter from a Gentleman of Influence
in Plymouth who is pleasd to say, he thinks the general plan
adopted here will produce great Consequences if supported with
Spirit in the Country; & that he believes there will be no
Difficulty in getting a Meeting there & carrying the point in
seconding this town. He tells me, the Pulse of his fellow Townsmen
beat high and their resentment he supposes is equal to that of any
other Town.  May God grant, that the Love of Liberty & a Zeal to
support it may enkindle in every town. If the Enemies should see
the flame bursting in different parts of the Country & distant
from each other, it might discourage their attempts to damp &
quench it. I am well assured they are alarmd at the Measure now
taking, being greatly apprehensive of the same Consequences from
it which our good friend at Plymouth hopes and expects. This
should animate us in carrying it into Execution. I beg you would
exert your utmost Influence in your neighboring towns and
elsewhere. I hear Nothing of old Salem. I fear they have had an
opiate administerd to them. I am told there has been a
Consultation there, a Cabal in which his E -- y presided. Pray let
me still be favord with your Letters & be assured I am sincerely


1 T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 18, 19; the
original is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.
2 "Christians."


Adopted by the Town of Boston, November 20, I772.2

[Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., pp. 94-108.]

The Committee appointed by the Town the second Instant "to State
the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular, as
Men, as Christians, and as Subjects; to communicate and publish the
same to the several Towns in this Province and to the World as the
sense of this Town with the Infringements and Violations thereof that
have been, or from Time to Time may be made. Also requesting of each
Town a free Communication of their Sentiments Reported First, a State
of the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular --
Secondly, A List of the Infringements, and Violations of those Rights.
-- Thirdly, A Letter of Correspondence with the other Towns. -- 1st.
Natural Rights of the Colonists as Men. -- Among the Natural Rights of
the Colonists are these First. a Right to Life; Secondly to Liberty;
thirdly to Property; together with the Right to support and defend
them in the best manner they can - Those are evident Branches of,
rather than deductions from the Duty of Self Preservation, commonly
called the first Law of Nature -

All Men have a Right to remain in a State of Nature as long as
they please: And in case of intollerable Oppression, Civil or
Religious, to leave the Society they belong to, and enter into
another. -- When Men enter into Society, it is by voluntary
consent; and they have a right to demand and insist upon the
performance of such conditions, And previous limitations as form
an equitable original compact. ---

Every natural Right not expressly given up or from the nature of a
Social Compact necessarily ceded remains.

All positive and civil laws, should conform as far as possible, to
the Law of natural reason and equity. -

As neither reason requires, nor religeon permits the contrary,
every Man living in or out of a state of civil society, has a
right peaceably and quietly to worship God according to the
dictates of his conscience. -

"Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty" in matters
spiritual and temporal, is a thing that all Men are clearly
entitled to, by the eternal and immutable laws Of God and nature,
as well as by the law of Nations, & all well grounded municipal
laws, which must have their foundation in the former. -

In regard to Religeon, mutual tolleration in the different professions
thereof, is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever
practiced; and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind:
And it is now generally agreed among christians that this spirit
of toleration in the fullest extent consistent with the being of
civil society "is the chief characteristical mark of the true
church " 3 & In so much that Mr Lock has asserted, and proved
beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that
such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are
not subversive of society. The only Sects which he thinks ought to
be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are
those who teach Doctrines subversive of the Civil Government under
which they live. The Roman Catholicks or Papists are excluded by
reason of such Doctrines as these "that Princes excommunicated may be
deposed, and those they call hereticks may be destroyed without
mercy; besides their recognizing the Pope in so absolute a manner,
in subversion of Government, by introducing as far as possible
into the states, under whose protection they enjoy life, liberty
and property, that solecism in politicks, Imperium in imperio 4
leading directly to the worst anarchy and confusion, civil
discord, war and blood shed -

The natural liberty of Men by entring into society is abridg'd or
restrained so far only as is necessary for the Great end of
Society the best good of the whole-

In the state of nature, every man is under God, Judge and sole
Judge, of his own rights and the injuries done him: By entering
into society, he agrees to an Arbiter or indifferent Judge between
him and his neighbours; but he no more renounces his original
right, than by taking a cause out of the ordinary course of law,
and leaving the decision to Referees or indifferent Arbitrations.
In the last case he must pay the Referees for time and trouble; he
should be also willing to pay his Just quota for the support of
government, the law and constitution; the end of which is to
furnish indifferent and impartial Judges in all cases that may
happen, whether civil ecclesiastical, marine or military. -

"The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power
on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of
man ; but only to have the law of nature for his rule."-

In the state of nature men may as the Patriarchs did, employ hired
servants for the defence of their lives, liberty and property: and
they should pay them reasonable wages. Government was instituted
for the purposes of common defence; and those who hold the reins
of government have an equitable natural right to an honourable
support from the same principle "that the labourer is worthy of
his hire" but then the same community which they serve, ought to
be assessors of their pay: Governors have no right to seek what
they please; by this, instead of being content with the station
assigned them, that of honourable servants of the society, they
would soon become Absolute masters, Despots, and Tyrants. Hence as
a private man has a right to say, what wages he will give in his
private affairs, so has a Community to determine what they will
give and grant of their Substance, for the Administration of
publick affairs. And in both cases more are ready generally to
offer their Service at the proposed and stipulated price, than are
able and willing to perform their duty. -

In short it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power
of one or any number of men at the entering into society, to
renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of
preserving those rights when the great end of civil government
from the very nature of its institution is for the support,
protection and defence of those very rights: the principal of
which as is before observed, are life liberty and property. If men
through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give
up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the
great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation;
the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in
the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a
slave --

2d The Rights of the Colonists as Christians - These may be best
understood by reading - and carefully studying the institutes of
the great Lawgiver and head of the Christian Church: which are to
be found closely5 written and promulgated in the New Testament -

By the Act of the British Parliament commonly called the
Toleration Act, every subject in England Except Papists &c was
restored to, and re-established in, his natural right to worship
God according to the dictates of his own conscience. And by the
Charter of this Province it is granted ordained and established
(that it is declared as an original right) that there shall be
liberty of conscience allowed in the worship of God, to all
christians except Papists, inhabiting or which shall inhabit or be
resident within said Province or Territory.6 Magna Charta itself
is in substance but a constrained Declaration, or proclamation,
and promulgation in the name of King, Lord, and Commons of the
sense the latter had of their original inherent, indefeazible
natural Rights,7 as also those of free Citizens equally perdurable
with the other. That great author that great jurist, and even that
Court writer W Justice Blackstone holds that this recognition was
justly obtained of King John sword in hand: and peradventure it must
be one day sword in hand again rescued and preserved from total
destruction and oblivion.

3d. The Rights of the Colonists as Subjects

A Common Wealth or state is a body politick or civil society of
men, united together to promote their mutual safety and prosperity,
by means of their union.8

The absolute Rights of Englishmen, and all freemen in or out of
Civil society, are principally, personal security personal liberty
and private property.

All Persons born in the British American Colonies are by the laws
of God and nature, and by the Common law of England, exclusive of
all charters from the Crown, well Entitled, and by the Acts of the
British Parliament are declared to be entitled to all the natural
essential, inherent & inseperable Rights Liberties and Privileges
of Subjects born in Great Britain, or within the Realm. Among
those Rights are the following; which no men or body of men,
consistently with their own rights as men and citizens or members
of society, can for themselves give up, or take away from others

First, "The first fundamental positive law of all Commonwealths or
States, is the establishing the legislative power; as the first
fundamental natural law also, which is to govern even the legislative
power itself, is the preservation of the Society."9

Secondly, The Legislative has no right to absolute arbitrary power
over the lives and fortunes of the people: Nor can mortals assume
a prerogative, not only too high for men, but for Angels; and
therefore reserved for the exercise of the Deity alone. -

"The Legislative cannot Justly assume to itself a power to rule by
extempore arbitrary decrees; but it is bound to see that Justice
is dispensed, and that the rights of the subjects be decided, by
promulgated, standing and known laws, and authorized independent
Judges;" that is independent as far as possible of Prince or
People. "There shall be one rule of Justice for rich and poor; for
the favorite in Court, and the Countryman at the Plough."10

Thirdly, The supreme power cannot Justly take from any man, any
part of his property without his consent, in person or by his
Representative. -

These are some of the first principles of natural law & Justice,
and the great Barriers of all free states, and of the British
Constitution in particular. It is utterly irreconcileable to these
principles, and to many other fundamental maxims of the common
law, common sense and reason, that a British house of commons,
should have a right, at pleasure, to give and grant the property
of the Colonists. That these Colonists are well entitled to all
the essential rights, liberties and privileges of men and freemen,
born in Britain, is manifest, not only from the Colony charter, in
general, but acts of the British Parliament.

The statute of the 13th of George 2. c. 7. naturalizes even
foreigners after seven years residence. The words of the
Massachusetts Charter are these, "And further our will and
pleasure is, and we do hereby for us, our heirs and successors,
grant establish and ordain, that all and every of the subjects of
us, our heirs and successors, which shall go to and inhabit within
our said province or territory and every of their children which
shall happen to be born there, or on the seas in going thither, or
returning from thence shall have and enjoy, all liberties and
immunities of free and natural subjects within any of the
dominions of us, our heirs and successors, to all intents
constructions & purposes whatsoever as if they and every of them
were born within this our Realm of England." Now what liberty can
there be, where property is taken away without consent? Can it be
said with any colour of truth and Justice, that this Continent of
three thousand miles in length, and of a breadth as yet
unexplored, in which however, its supposed, there are five
millions of people, has the least voice, vote or influence in the
decisions of the British Parliament? Have they, all together, any
more right or power to return a single number11 to that house of
commons, who have not inadvertently, but deliberately assumed a'
power to dispose of their lives,12 Liberties and properties, then13
to choose an Emperor of China! Had the Colonists a right to
return members to the british parliament, it would only be
hurtfull; as from their local situation and circumstances it is
impossible they should be ever truly and properly represented
there. The inhabitants of this country in all probability in a few
years will be more numerous, than those of Great Britain and
Ireland together; yet it is absurdly expected by the promoters of
the present measures, that these, with their posterity to all
generations, should be easy while their property, shall be
disposed of by a house of commons at three thousand miles distant
from them; and who cannot be supposed to have the least care or
concern for their real interest: Who have not only no natural care
for their interest, but must be in effect bribed against it; as
every burden they lay on the colonists is so much saved or gained
to themselves. Hitherto many of the Colonists have been free from
Quit Rents; but if the breath of a british house of commons can
originate an act for taking away all our money, our lands will go
next or be subject to rack rents from haughty and relentless
landlords who will ride at ease, while we are trodden in the dirt.
The Colonists have been branded with the odious names of traitors
and rebels, only for complaining of their grievances; How long
such treatment will, or ought to be born is submitted.

A List of Infringements & Violations of Rights

We cannot help thinking, that an enumeration of some of the most
open infringments of our rights, will by every candid Person be
Judged sufficient to Justify whatever measures have been already
taken, or may be thought proper to be taken, in order to obtain a
redress of the Grievances under which we labour.

Among many others we Humbly conceive, that the following will not
fail to excite the attention of all who consider themselves
interested in the happiness and freedom of mankind in general, and
of this continent and province in particular.

1st - The British Parliament have assumed the power of legislation
for the Colonists in all cases whatsoever, without obtaining the
consent of the Inhabitants, which is ever essentially necessary to
the right establishment of such a legislative -

2d - They have exerted that assumed power, in raising a Revenue in
the Colonies without their consent; thereby depriving them of that
right which every man has to keep his own earnings in his own
hands until he shall in person, or by his Representative, think
fit to part with the whole or any portion of it. This infringement
is the most extraordinary, when we consider the laudable care
which the British House of Commons have taken to reserve intirely
and absolutely to themselves the powers of giving and granting
moneys. They not only insist on originating every money bill in
their own house, but will not even allow the House of Lords to
make an amendment in these bills. So tenacious are they of this
privilege, so jealous of any infringement of the sole & absolute
right the people have to dispose of their own money. And what
renders this infringement the more grievous is, that what of our
earnings still remains in our own hands is in a great measure
deprived of its value, so long as the British Parliament continue
to claim and exercise this power of taxing us; for we cannot
Justly call that our property which others may, when they please
take away from us against our will. -

In this respect we are treated with less decency and regard than
the Romans shewed even to the Provinces which They had conquered.
They only determined upon the sum which each should furnish, and
left every Province to raise it in the manner most easy and
convenient to themselves -

3d - A number of new Officers, unknown in the Charter of this
Province, have been appointed to superintend this Revenue, whereas
by our Charter the Great & General Court or Assembly of this
Province has the sole right of appointing all civil officers,
excepting only such officers, the election and constitution of
whom is in said charter expressly excepted; among whom these
Officers are not included. -

4th - These Officers are by their Commission invested with powers
altogether unconstitutional, and entirely destructive to that
security which we have a right to enjoy; and to the last degree
dangerous, not only to our property; but to our lives: For the
Commissioners of his Majestys customs in America, or any three of
them, are by their Commission impowered," by writing under their
hands and seales to constitute and appoint inferior Officers in
all and singular the Port within the limits of their commissions"
Each of these. petty officers so made is intrusted with power more
absolute and arbitrary than ought to be lodged in the hands of any
man or body of men whatsoever; for in the commission
aforementioned, his Majesty gives & grants unto his said
Commissioners, or any three of them, and to all and every the
Collectors Deputy Collectors, Ministers, Servants, and all other
Officers serving and attending in all and every the Ports and
other places within the limits of their Commission, full power and
authority from time to time, at their and any of their wills and
pleasures, as well By Night as by day to enter and go on board any
Ship, Boat, or other Vessel, riding lying or being within, or
coming into any Port, Harbour, Creek or Haven, within the limits
of their commission; and also in the day time to go into any
house, shop, cellar, or any other place where any goods wares or
merchandizes lie concealed, or are suspected to lie concealed,
whereof the customs & other duties, have not been, or shall not
be, duly paid and truly satisfied, answered or paid unto the
Collectors, Deputy Collectors, Ministers, Servants, and other
Officers respectively, or otherwise agreed for; and the said
house, shop, warehouse, cellar, and other place to search and
survey, and all and every the boxes, trunks, chests and packs then
and there found to break open." -

Thus our houses and even our bed chambers, are exposed to be
ransacked, our boxes chests & trunks broke open ravaged and
plundered by wretches, whom no prudent man would venture to employ
even as menial servants; whenever they are pleased to say they
suspect there are in the house wares &c for which the dutys have
not been paid. Flagrant instances of the wanton exercise of this
power, have frequently happened in this and other sea port Towns.
By this we are cut off from that domestick security which renders
the lives of the most unhappy in some measure agreable. Those
Officers may under colour of law and the cloak of a general
warrant, break thro' the sacred rights of the Domicil, ransack
mens houses, destroy their securities, carry off their property,
and with little danger to themselves commit the most horred
murders. -

And we complain of it as a further grievance, that notwithstanding
by the Charter of this Province, the Governor and the Great and
General Court or Assembly of this Province or Territory, for the
time being shall have full power and authority, from time to time,
to make, ordain and establish all manner of wholesome and
reasonable laws, orders, statutes, and ordinances, directions and
instructions, and that if the same shall not within the term of
three years after presenting the same to his Majesty in privy
council be disallowed, they shall be and continue in full force
and effect, untill the same shall be repealed by the Great and
General Assembly of this Province: Yet the Parliament of Great
Britain have rendered or attempted to render, null and void a law
of this Province made and passed in the Reign of his late Majesty
George the first, intitled "An Act stating the Fees of the Custom-
house Officers within this Province" and by meer dint of power, in
violation of the Charter aforesaid, established other and
exorbitant fees, for the same Officers; any law of the Province to
the contrary notwithstanding -

5th - Fleets and Armies have been introduced to support these
unconstitutional Officers in collecting and managing this
unconstitutional Revenue; and troops have been quarter'd in this
Metropolis for that purpose. Introducing and quartering standing
Armies in a free Country in times of peace without the consent of
the people either by themselves or by their Representatives, is,
and always has been deemed a violation of their rights as freemen;
and of the Charter or Compact made between the King of Great
Britain, and the People of this Province, whereby all the rights
of British Subjects are confirmed to us. -

6th - The Revenue arising from this tax unconstitutionally laid,
and committed to the management of persons arbitrarily appointed
and supported by an armed force quartered in a free City, has been
in part applyed to the most destructive purposes.  It is
absolutely necessary in a mixt government like that of this
Province, that a due proportion or balance of power should be
established among the several branches of legislative. Our
Ancestors received from King William & Queen Mary a Charter by
which it was understood by both parties in the contract, that such
a proportion or balance was fixed; and therefore every thing which
renders any one branch of the Legislative more independent of the
other two than it was originally designed, is an alteration of the
constitution as settled by the Charter; and as it has been untill
the establishment of this Revenue, the constant practise of the
General Assembly to provide for the support of Government, so it
is an essential part of our constitution, as it is a necessary
means of preserving an equilibrium, without which we cannot
continue a free state. -

In particular it has always been held, that the dependence of the
Governor of this Province upon the General Assembly for his
support, was necessary for the preservation of this equilibrium;
nevertheless his Majesty has been pleased to apply fifteen hundred
pounds sterling annually out of the American revenue, for the
support of the Governor of this Province independent of the
Assembly, whereby the ancient connection between him and this
people is weakened, the confidence in the Governor lessened and
the equilibrium destroyed, and the constitution essentially
altered. -

And we look upon it highly probable from the best intelligence we
have been able to obtain, that not only our Governor and
Lieuvetenant Governor, but the Judges of the Superior Court of
Judicature, as also the Kings Attorney and Solicitor General are
to receive their support from this Grievous tribute. This will if
accomplished compleat our slavery. For if taxes are raised from us
by the Parliament of Great Britain without our consent, and the
men on whose opinions and decisions our properties liberties and
lives, in a great measure depend, receive their support from the
Revenues arising from these taxes, we cannot, when we think on the
depravity of mankind, avoid looking with horror on the danger to
which we are exposed? The British Parliament have shewn their
wisdom in making the Judges there as independent as possible both
on the Prince and People, both for place and support: But our
Judges hold their Commissions only during pleasure; the granting
them salaries out of this Revenue is rendering them independent on
the Crown for their support. The King upon his first accession to
the Throne, for giving the last hand to the independency of the
Judges in England, not only upon himself but his Successors by
recommending and consenting to an act of Parliament, by which the
Judges are continued in office, notwithstanding the demise of a
King, which vacates all other Commissions, was applauded by the
whole Nation. How alarming must it then be to the Inhabitants of
this Province, to find so wide a difference made between the
Subjects in Britain and America, as the rendering the Judges here
altogether dependent on the Crown for their support. -

7th - We find ourselves greatly oppressed by Instructions sent to
our Governor from the Court of Great Britain, whereby the first
branch of our legislature is made merely a ministerial engine. And
the Province has already felt such effects from these
Instructions, as We think Justly intitle us to say that they
threaten an entire destruction of our liberties, and must soon, if
not checked, render every branch of our Government a useless
burthen upon the people. We shall point out some of the alarming
effects of these Instructions which have already taken place. -

In consequence of Instructions, the Governor has called and
adjourned our General Assemblies to a place highly inconvenient to
the Members and grately disadvantageous to the interest of the
Province, even against his own declared intention -

In consequence of Instructions, the Assembly has been prorogued
from time to time, when the important concerns of the Province
required their Meeting -

In obedience to Instructions, the General Assembly was Anno 1768
dissolved by Governor Bernard, because they would not consent to
rescind the resolution of a former house, and thereby sacrifise
the rights of their constituents. -

By an Instruction, the honourable his Majesty Council are forbid
to meet and transact matters of publick concern as a Council of
advice to the Governor, unless called by the Governor; and if they
should from a zealous regard to the interest of the Province so
meet at any time, the Governor is ordered to negative them at the
next Election of Councellors. And although by the Charter of this
Province the Great & General Court have full power and authority
to impose taxes upon the estates and persons of all and every the
proprietors and inhabitants of this Province, yet the Governor has
been forbidden to give his consent to act imposing a tax for the
necessary support of government, unless such persons as were
pointed out In the said instruction, were exempted from paying
their Just proportion of said tax -

His Excellency has also pleaded Instructions for giving up the
provincial fortress, Castle William into the hands of troops, over
whom he had declared he had no controul (and that at a time when
they were menaceing the Slaughter of the Inhabitants of the Town,
and our Streets were stained with the blood which they had
barbariously shed) Thus our Governor, appointed and paid from
Great Britain with money forced from us, is made an instrument of
totally preventing or at least of rendering [futile], every
attempt of the other two branches of the Legislative in favor of a
distressed and wronged people: And least the complaints naturally
occasioned by such oppression should excite compassion in the
Royal breast, and induce his Majesty seriously to set about
relieving us from the cruel bondage and insult which we his loyal
Subjects have so long suffered, the Governor is forbidden to
consent to the payment of an Agent to represent our grievances at
the Court of Great Britain, unless he the Governor consent to his
election, and we very well know what the man must be to whose
appointment a Governor in such circumstances will consent -

While we are mentioning the infringement of the rights of
this Colony in particular by means of Instructions, we cannot help
calling to remembrance the late unexampled suspension of the
legislative of a Sister Colony, New York by force of an
Instruction, untill they should comply with an Arbitrary Act of
the British Parliament for quartering troops, designed by military
execution, to enforce the raising of a tribute. -

8th - The extending the power of the Courts of Vice Admirality to
so enormous a degree as deprives the people in the Colonies in a
great measure of their inestimable right to tryals by Juries.,
which has ever been Justly considered as the grand Bulwark and
security of English property.

This alone is sufficient to rouse our jealousy:And we are again
obliged to take notice of the remarkable contrast, which the
British Parliament has been pleased to exhibit between the
Subjects in Great Britain & the Colonies. In the same Statute, by
which they give up to the decision of one dependent interested
Judge of Admirality the estates and properties of the Colonists,
they expressly guard the estates & properties of the people of
Great Britain; for all forfeitures & penalties inflicted by the
Statute of George the Third, or any other Act of Parliament
relative to the trade of the Colonies, may be sued for in any
Court of Admiralty in the Colonies; but all penalties and
forfeitures which shall be incurred in Great Britain, may be sued
for in any of his Majestys Courts of Record in Westminster or in
the Court of Exchequer in Scotland, respectively. Thus our Birth
Rights are taken from us; and that too with every mark of
indignity, insult and contempt. We may be harrassed and dragged
from one part of the Continent to the other (which some of our
Brethren here and in the Country Towns already have been) and
finally be deprived of our whole property, by the arbitrary
determination of one biassed, capricious Judge of the Admirality.

9th - The restraining us from erecting Stilling Mills for
manufacturing our Iron the natural produce of this Country, Is an
infringement of that right with which God and nature have invested
us, to make use of our skill and industry in procuring the
necessaries and conveniences of life. And we look upon the
restraint laid upon the manufacture and transportation of Hatts to
be altogether unreasonable and grievous. Although by the Charter
all Havens Rivers, Ports, Waters, &c. are expressly granted the
Inhabitants of the Province and their Successors, to their only
proper use and behoof forever, yet the British Parliament passed
an Act, whereby they restrain us from carrying our Wool, the
produce of our own farms, even over a ferry; whereby the
Inhabitants have often been put to the expence of carrying a Bag
of Wool near an hundred miles by land, when passing over a River
or Water of one quarter of a mile, of which the Province are the
absolute Proprietors, would have prevented all that trouble. -

10th - The Act passed in the last Session of the British
Parliament, intitled, An Act for the better preserving his
Majestys Dock Yards, Magizines, Ships, Ammunition and Stores, is,
as we apprehend a violent infringement of our Rights. By this Act
any one of us may be taken from his Family, and carried to any
part of Great Britain, there to be tried whenever it shall be
pretended that he has been concerned in burning or otherwise
destroying any Boat or Vessel, or any Materials for building &c.
any Naval or Victualling Store &c. belonging to his Majesty. For
by this Act all Persons in the Realm, or in any of the places
thereto belonging (under which denomination we know the Colonies
are meant to be included) may be indicted and tryed either in any
County or Shire within this Realm, in like manner and form as if
the offence had been committed in said County, as his Majesty and
his Successors may deem Most expedient. Thus we are not only
deprived of our grand right to tryal by our Peers in the Vicinity,
but any Person suspected, or pretended to be suspected, may be
hurried to Great Britain, to take his tryal in any County the King
or his Successors shall please to direct; where, innocent or
guilty he is in great danger of being condemned; and whether
condemned or acquitted he will probably be ruined by the expense
attending the tryal, and his long absence from his Family and
business; and we have the strongest reason to apprehend that we
shall soon experience the fatal effects of this Act, as about the
year 1769 the British Parliament passed Resolves for taking up a
number of Persons in the Colonies and carrying them to Great
Britain for tryal, pretending that they were authorised so to do,
by a Statute passed in the Reign of Henry the Eighth, in which
they say the Colonies were included, although the Act was passed
long before any Colonies were settled, or even in contemplation. -

11th - As our Ancestors came over to this Country that they might
not only enjoy their civil but their religeous rights, and
particularly desired to be free from the Prelates, who in those
times cruilly persecuted all who differed in sentiment from the
established Church; we cannot see without concern the various
attempts, which have been made and are now making, to establish an
American Episcopate. Our Episcopal Brethren of the Colonies do
enjoy, and rightfully ought ever to enjoy, the free exercise of
their religeon, we cannot help fearing that they who are are so
warmly contending for such an establishment, have views altogether
inconsistent with the universal and peaceful enjoyment of our
christian privileges: And doing or attempting to do any thing
which has even the remotest tendency to endanger this enjoyment,
is Justly looked upon a great grievance, and also an infringement
of our Rights, which is not barely to exercise, but peaceably &
securely to enjoy, that liberty wherewith CHRIST has made us free.

And we are further of Opinion, that no power on Earth can justly
give either temporal or spiritual Jurisdiction within this
Province, except the Great & General Court. We think therefore
that every design for establishing the Jurisdiction of a Bishop in
this Province, is a design both against our Civil and Religeous
rights: And we are well informed, that the more candid and
Judicious of our Brethren of the Church of England in this and the
other Colonies, both Clergy and Laity, conceive of the
establishing an American Episcopate both unnecessary and
unreasonable. -

12th - Another Grievance under which we labour is the frequent
alteration of the bounds of the Colonies by decisions before the
King and Council, explanatory of former grants and Charters. This
not only subjects Men to live under a constitution to which they
have not consented, which in itself is a great Grievance; but
moreover under color, that the right of Soil is affected by such
declarations, some Governors, or Ministers, or both in
conjunction, have pretended to Grant in consequence of a Mandamus
many thousands of Acres of Lands appropriated near a Century past;
and rendered valuable by the labors of the present Cultivators and
their Ancestors. There are very notable instances of Setlers, who
having first purchased the Soil of the Natives, have at
considerable expence obtained confermation of title from this
Province; and on being transferred to the Jurisdiction of the
Province of New Hampshire have been put to the trouble and cost of
a new Grant or confermation from thence and after all this there
has been a third declaration of Royal Will, that they should
thence forth be considered as pertaining To the Province of New
York. The troubles, expences and dangers which hundreds have been
put to on such occasions, cannot here be recited; but so much may
be said, that they have been most cruelly harrassed, and even
threatned with a military force, to dragoon them into a
compliance, with the most unreasonable demands.

A Letter of Correspondence to the Other Towns.
Boston November 20: 1772

Gentlemen We the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of Boston in
Town Meeting duly Assembled, according to Law, apprehending there
is abundant to be alarmed at14 the plan of Despotism, which the
enemies of our invaluable rights have concerted, is rapidly
hastening to a completion, can no longer conceal our impatience
under a constant, unremitted, uniform aim to enslave us, or confide in
an Administration which threatens us with certain and inevitable
destruction. But, when in addition to the repeated inroads made upon
the Rights and Liberties of the Colonists, and of those in this
Province in particular, we reflect on the late extraordinary measure
in affixing stipends or Salaries from the Crown to the Offices of the
Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature, making them not only
intirely independent of the people, whose lives and properties are so
much in their power, but absolutely dependent on the Crown (which may
hereafter, be worn by a Tyrant) both for their appointment and
support, we cannot but be extremely alarmed at the mischievous
tendency of this innovation; which in our opinion is directly contrary
to the spirit of the British Constitution, pregnant with innumerable
evils, and hath a direct tendency To deprive us of every thing
valuable as Men, as Christians and as Subjects, entitled, by the Royal
Charter, to all the Rights, liberties and privileges of native
Britons. Such being the critical state of this Province, we think it
our duty on this truly distressing occasion, to ask you, What can
withstand the Attacks of mere power? What can preserve the liberties
of the Subject, when the Barriers of the Constitution are taken away?
The Town of Boston consulting on the matter above mentioned, thought
proper to make application to the Governor by a Committee; requesting
his Excellency to communicate such intelligence as he might have
received relative to the report of the Judges having their support
independent of the grants of this Province a Copy of which you have
herewith in Paper N. 1.15 To which we received as answer, the Paper N.
2.16 The Town on further deliberation, thought it advisable to refer
the matter to the Great and General Assembly; and accordingly in a
second address as N. 3.17 they requested his Excellency that the
General Court might Convene at the time to which they then stood
prorogued; to which the Town received the reply as in N. 4.18 in which
we are acquainted with his intentions further to prorogue the General
Assembly, which has since taken place. Thus Gentlemen it is evident
his Excellency declines giving the least satisfaction as to the matter
in request. The affair being of publick concernment, the Town of
Boston thought it necessary to consult with their Brethren throughout
the Province; and for this purpose appointed a Committee, to
communicate with our fellow Sufferers, respecting this recent instance
of oppression, as well as the many other violations of our Rights
under which we have groaned for several Years past - This Committee
have briefly Recapitulated the sense we have of our invaluable Rights
as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects; and wherein we conceive those
Rights to have been violated, which we are desirous may be laid before
your Town, that the subject may be weighed as its importance requires,
and the collected wisdom of the whole People, as far as possible, be
obtained, on a deliberation of such great and lasting moment as to
involve in it the fate of all our Posterity - Great pains has been
taken to perswade the British Administration to think that the good
People of this Province in general are quiet and undisturbed at the
late measures; and that any uneasiness that appears, arises from a few
factious designing and disaffected men. This renders it the more
necessary, that the sense of the People should be explicitly declared.
- A free communication of your sentiments to this Town, of our common
danger, is earnestly solicited and will be gratefully received. If you
concur with us in opinion, that our Rights are properly stated, and
that the several Acts of Parliament, and Measures of Administration,
pointed out by us are subversive of these Rights, you will doubtless
think it of the utmost importance that we stand firm as one man, to
recover and support them; and to take such measures by directing our
Representatives, or otherwise, as your wisdom and fortitude shall
dictate, to rescue from impending ruin our happy and glorious
constitution. But if it should be the general voice of this Province,
that the Rights as we have stated them, do not belong to us; or that
the several measures of Administration in the British Court, are no
violations of these Rights, or that if they are thus violated or
infringed, they are not worth contending for, or resolutely
maintaining; - should this be the general voice of the Province, we
must be resigned to our wretched fate; but shall forever lament the
extinction of that generous ardor for Civil and Religeous liberty,
which in the face of every danger, and even death itself, induced our
fathers to forsake the bosom of their Native Country, and begin a
settlement on bare Creation - But we trust this cannot be the case: We
are sure your wisdom, your regard to yourselves and the rising
Generation, cannot suffer you to dose, or set supinely indifferent on
the brink of destruction, while the Iron hand of oppression is dayly
tearing the choicest Fruit from the fair Tree of Liberty, planted by
our worthy Predecessors, at the expence of their treasure, &
abundantly water'd with their blood - It is an observation of an
eminent Patriot, that a People long inured to hardships, loose by
degrees the very notions of liberty; they look upon themselves as
Creatures at mercy, and that all impositions laid on by superior
hands, are legal and obligatory. - But thank Heaven this is not
yet verified in America! We have yet some share of publick virtue
remaining: we are not afraid of poverty, but disdain slavery. -
The fate of Nations is so Precarious and revolutions in States so
often take place at an unexpected moment, when the hand of power
by fraud or flattery, has secured every Avenue of retreat, and the
minds of the Subject debased to its purpose, that it becomes every
well wisher to his Country, while it has any remains of freedom,
to keep an Eagle Eye upon every inovation and stretch of power, in
those that have the rule over us. A recent instance of this we
have in the late Revolutions in Sweden, by which the Prince once
subject to the laws of the State, has been able of a sudden to
declare himself an absolute Monarch The Sweeds were once a free,
martial and valient people: Their minds are now so debaced, that
they rejoice at being subject to the caprice and arbitrary power
of a Tyrant & kiss their Chains. It makes us shudder to think, the
late measures of Administration may be productive of the like
Catastrophe; which Heaven forbid! - Let us consider Brethren, we
are struggling for our best Birth Rights & Inheritance; which
being infringed, renders all our blessings precarious in their
enjoyments, and consequently trifling in their value. Let us
disappoint the Men who are raising themselves on the ruin of this
Country. Let us convince every Invader of our freedom, that we will be
as free as the Constitution our Fathers recognized, will Justify. - 19

1 A complete draft of the "Rights of the Colonists," in the
handwriting of Adams, is in the Committee of Correspondence
Papers, Lenox Library; in the same collection is a copy of the
"List of Violations," said to be in the handwriting of William
Eustis, a medical student under Joseph Warren; also in the same
collection is a draft of the " Letter of Correspondence," with
corrections in the autograph of Adams. The preface to the English
edition of the "Rights of the Colonists" is printed in J. Bigelow,
Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin, vol. iv., pp. 542-548, and in
the Boston Gazette, May 3, 1773.
2 In the Committee of Correspondence Papers, Lenox Library, is the
original warrant for this town meeting, with the original return
thereon signed by the twelve constables of the town.  The
collection also contains the rough draft minutes of the meeting,
made by the town clerk, William Cooper.
3 See Locks Letters on Toleration.
4 A Government within a Government-
5 So printed. The draft and pamphlet edition read "clearly."
6 See x. Wm. and Mary. St. 2. C. 18 - and Massachusetts Charter.
7 Lord Cokes Im.2 Blackstone, Commentaries - Vol. 1st, Page 122.
2 So printed. The draft and pamphlet edition read "Inst."
8 See Lock and Vatel -
9 Locke on Government. Salus Populi Suprema Lex esto -
10 Locke -
11 So printed. The draft and pamphlet edition read "member."
12 See the Act of the last Session, relating to the Kings Dock
Yards -
13 So printed. The draft and pamphlet edition read "than."
14 So printed. Corrected by Adams in the draft to read “that.”
15 Prepared by a committee consisting of Adams, Joseph Warren and
Benjamin Church. The text is in Boston Record Commissioners'
Report, vol. xviii.,
p. 89.
16 The text is in ibid., p. 90.
17 Prepared by a committee consisting of Adams, James Otis and
Thomas Cushing. The text is in ibid., p. 91.
18 The text is in ibid., p. 92.
19 The four papers mentioned in the “Letter of Correspondence" are
included in the pamphlet edition of the three principal documents
printed by order of the town for distribution among the other
towns of the province. (Cf. Boston Record Commissioners' Report,
vol. xviii., p. 94.) The title page of the pamphlet edition was as
follows: The Votes and Proceedings of the Freeholders and other
Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, In Town Meeting Assembled,
According to Law. [Published by Order of the Town.] To which is
prefixed, as Introductory, An attested Copy of a Vote of the Town at
a preceeding Meeting. Boston: Printed by Edes and Gill, in Queen
Street, and T. and J. Fleet, in Cornhill.
For a claim that the "Letter of Correspondence" was written by
Benjamin Church, see R. Frothingham, Life of Joseph Warren, p. 206.
As to the "Rights of the Colonists," see also W. V. Wells, Life of
Samuel Adams, vol. i., p. 501. In addition to the complete draft, a
preliminary draft, or outline of topics, of the " Rights" is in
the Samuel Adams Papers.


[Boston Gazette, November 30, I772.1]

MR. A--N D-----s.


The weakness of an adversary with a man of understanding will
frequently disarm him of his resentment: Who would chuse to enter the
lists, when even victory is attended with disgrace? A--n D--s as a
Hockster of small Wares, within the Bar-room; or laudably vending Milk
and Water, might have grubbed on unnoticed, and not superlatively
contemptible; but when he so far mistakes his proper department, as to
blunder into the field of politicks, and assume a dictatorial and
offensive part, we are compelled with reluctance to scourge the
insect, tho' convinced 'tis but an insect still. We are informed by
your fellow townsman, whom we presume must know you well, that you are
destitute of feeling; your unexampled effrontery in the publick
transaction which has unhappily brought you into notice, added to the
consummate assurance evidenced in the stupid composition to which you
have tacked your name, are strong circumstances in favour of this
position But is your modesty truly impregnable? cannot the weapon of
stern rebuke arouse your sensibility? must honest indignation mourn a
defeat? I intend to try the doubtful experiment, tho' you should
analize a satyr to be a proof of your general consequence, and extract
incense to your vanity from the blackest records of your shame.

In your courageous zeal for the cause of christianity, and the
Virgin Mary, permit me to question your sincerity: It is evident
from your notable performance, that you have been acquainted with
the religious principles and immoral practices of the gentleman so
very exceptionable to you; for some years past: That he was then
as thorough-paced an infidel as virulent an opposer of our holy
religion, as he is now: That he was doing discredit to the Bible
then, or to adopt your own phrase, was undeceiving mankind as
actively as at any time since: That you was acquainted with the
open profanity of his conversation, and if we may take your word
for it, was an earwitness of his oaths and execrations: Why did
you not commence a champion in the cause of christianity some
months earlier? it would have had a better appearance, if in your
ebullient zeal you had endeavoured to prevent his disseminating
such mischievous principles, and seasonably entered your caveat
against the pernicious effects of his example. But the cause of
christianity abstracted from political concerns, was not
sufficient to awaken your resentment: Will not this my dear sir!
occasion suspicions, that all your flaming professions of
patriotism will neither discredit nor remove?

Doctor Young (I dare you to contradict me) has ever been an
unwearied assertor of the rights of his countrymen: has taken the
post of hazard, and acted vigorously in the cause of American
freedom: Such endeavours and exertions, have justly entitled him
to the notice, to the confidence of the people; they, from a
thorough conviction of his political integrity have united him
with several gentlemen, against whom we presume you can have no
just exception, to explain their rights and state their
grievances; was not your conscience so delicately offensible, I
would ask such an immaculate christian, whether your ideas of
reprobation extended not only to the whole committee, but to every
transaction in which they could possibly be employed? If not, are
you not ashamed of your capricious folly, in rejecting a cause
which you profess to have at heart, for the sake of an individual,
against whom, your spotless purity has matter of objection.

Shall I be arraigned for want of charity, if I here express my
doubt of your veracity in this matter? The cloak of christianity
is the threadbare garb of hypocrisy; and novel cover for political
apostates: I suspect 't is the cause that renders the man obnoxious;
the infidel might have perverted the world, and your zeal been
smothered in its native bosom of sanctity: in short, had not the
cause of liberty found a busy advocate in the man you brand with
irreligion, your abhorrence would probably never have found a tongue.

You do not chuse to have any thing to do with measures wherein you
must follow the lead of such men as Dr. Young: I apprehend you
confine yourself here to political matters; if so, what must those
rejected measures be? if just, right and reasonable, the man must
be an incorrigible blockhead to reject them, let them originate
where they will: if on the contrary, they are improper and
exceptionable; you might have discountenanced the measure, without
villifying the man.

Inconsiderable and weak as I esteem you, you have still an
interest in the constitutional claims of an English subject, equal
to a nobleman, equal to an intelligent being: these you have no
right to sacrifice even to your own predominant folly. You assert
that you are, and ever have been as steady a friend to the rights
and privileges of your country, as any man whatsoever, &c. what
then is that exact point of difference, that chaste line of
decorum, to which your love of your country will carry you, and no
further? all those concerned in consulting and labouring for the
redemption of their country, must be very exemplary christians, or
your patriotism hangs so loosely about you, that your country may
perish rather than you will unite for its salvation, with a man
not compleatly orthodox: For no political measures can possibly be
reasonable or just, which are not dictated by men of piety and
real christianity: The truth of this observation will appear with
peculiar lustre, when we consider what a paultry figure, those
antient heathenish states of Greece and Rome made in the primitive
ages. You elsewhere shrewdly remark, that it has always been
astonishing to the world, how any important trusts came to be
committed to Doctor Young; the best account that can be given for
it, YOU BELIEVE is, that he has appeared ready to lead in such
bold and exceptional measures, as rather savoured of faction, than
boded any good to the public: which is in plain English, that because
the measures he proposed, were dangerous and exceptionable, Therefore
the town approved and confided in him. To wave the illiberal slander
upon the town; I question, most christian sir! whether any article of
Doctor Young's CREED will shock decency and common sense more than

The present crisis is truly an alarming one to your country; the
few friends of the people have abundant necessity to have their
hands strengthened: the man who deserts now, is the worst enemy of
his country: You sir! have done this, with the aggravated guilt of
endeavouring to load with obloquy the cause you abandon - I scorn
to keep terms with a man I esteem so base - You have provided
yourself a Retreat, being assured of the smiles of power; nay
more, you are entitled to their favour, for the rank injury you
meant to the oppressed people; and we shall probably see such
baseness distinguished in the commissioned scroll of SCOUNDRELLS


1 The following note by the publishers is printed with this article:
“Dr. Young's Letter to Mr. Aaron Davis, Jun. should have had a
Place in this Day's Paper had we not been pre engaged with the


[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 196, 197.]

BOSTON, Nov. 31st, 1772.

MY DEAR SIR, - My last letter to you was of the 3d inst. I now
enclose the proceedings of this town at a meeting appointed to
receive the report of the committee, which is attested by the
town-clerk, and published by order of the town.

Our enemies are taking all imaginable pains to disparage the
proceedings, and prevent their having any effect in the country.
They are particularly endeavouring to have it believed, that the
vote was carried at a very thin meeting; and in the Court Gazette
of last week have had the assurance to say, that there were not
more than twenty persons present, and that not ten voted for it;
whereas it was much such a meeting, or rather fuller than the
last. The town of Roxbury, adjacent to this, have met, and against
the efforts of the whole cabal have raised a committee of nine
persons to take our proceedings into consideration, and report at
an adjournment; having before voted the independency of the
judges, "a most dangerous innovation." Plymouth, another large
town, forty miles distant, has also met, but we have not yet heard
what has been done there;1 from the spirit of the petitions to
their selectmen for a meeting, among the enclosed papers, I hope
to send you an agreeable account. Other towns are in motion of
their accord, for our pamphlet is not yet sent into the country towns,
Roxbury excepted. The conspirators are very sensible that if our
design succeeds, there will be an apparent union of sentiments among
the people of this province, which may spread through the continent.
You cannot then wonder that their utmost skill is employed to oppose

I intended to have sent my last by Capt. Scott, but having failed
in that design, I herewith enclose it. I am disappointed if I do
not receive a letter from you by every vessel that arrives here.
Be assured that I am with great esteem sir, your humble servant,

1 See below, page 394.


[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. 1., pp. 22, 23.]

BOSTON, Dec. 7, 1772.


I have just received your's of the 26th November,1 and take the
earliest opportunity to acknowledge it. I shall lay it before our
committee as soon as may be. Hope you have had a happy meeting
this day, and rest with esteem,

Sir, your friend,
Monday, 10 o'clock evening.

1 J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 21, 22.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Decr 14 1772


I am at a Loss to determine in my own Mind whether a Letter from
me will be agreable to you, as I have not receivd a Line from you
since I wrote my last several Months ago. If any Consideration has
brot you to a Resolution no longer to keep up an Epistolary
Conversation with me, I must on my part cease; but while I remember
former Connections, I shall never forget the only surviving Branch of
a Family I loved, and shall make my self as happy as possible, in
silently wishing the best Welfare of him whose Regards I think I have
not forfeited.

It is not an easy thing at this time of my Life, to put me out of the
possession of my self. I have been used to the alternate Frowns &
Smiles of many who call themselves, & some of them in truth are my
Friends. I bear it all with OEquanimity, infinitely better pleasd with
the Approbation of my own mind, than I should be with the flatteries
of the Great, & in the Sunshine of power. Those who love this Country,
I have the Vanity to think are in Reality, my friends; for they must
be convincd that the small Share of Ability which Gracious Heaven has
been pleasd to bestow on me, has ever been employd for its Happiness.
If I have mistaken its true Happiness (which by the Way I think I have
not) it belongs to the Candid to overlook it; the Opinion of others I
very little regard, & have a thorough Contempt for all men, be their
Names Characters & Stations what they may, who appear to be the
irreclaimable Enemies of Religion & Liberty. Had I not thought it
would have been rather an Inconvenience to you, I should have sent
you the last Week the Votes & proceedings of your native town; If I
can be informd by you that it will not be disagreable, I will send you
a printed Copy by the next post.

Altho I have already transgressd the Bounds of a Letter to so great a
Stranger, yet having a warm friendship for Mrs Checkley, I cannot help
desiring you to make mention of my own & my family regards to her.
Having said this I must beg you to believe, whatever others may have
whisperd to the Contrary, that I am Yours affectionately,

1 Addressed, "in the Customs, Providence." Cf. Literary Diary of
Ezra Stiles, vol. i., p. 58.


[Boston Gazette, December 14, 1772.]


NOTWITHSTANDING the ministerial Tools have so often puff'd upon
the Impartiality of the Court Gazette, we have had a second
Instance of the Necessity the Selectmen of this Town have thought
themselves under to vindicate the Cause of Liberty & Truth, from
the gross Misrepresentation of well known Facts that have been
made in that immaculate Paper. If Mr. Draper had had the least
Inclination to have ascertained the Falsehood of the Paragraph
inserted in his Paper of the 26th of November, it was so
notorious, that without giving the Selectmen the Trouble of it, he
might have done it himself, by enquiring of perhaps the first
honest Man he had met in the Street: But it was calculated to
mislead the Reader into a Belief, that "not ten Persons voted for
sending the Letter of Correspondence" into the Country, and
therefore it must, to answer so good a Purpose, be inserted in that
"circulating" Gazette, whether true or false; and the Publisher, very
demurely, by Way of Atonement, after the Falsehood is detected,
promises the injur'd Publick " to enquire into the Foundation
of it."-!!!

In his last Gazette he informs his Readers that he had accordingly
apply'd to his Author; who, he says, "does not deny the Number
present" at the Meeting "as declared by the Selectmen when the
first Vote pass'd." Now the Selectmen declare, "that a respectable
Number of the Inhabitants attended the Meeting through the Day,
and when the Letter, after being twice read and amended in the
Meeting was voted, and accepted to be sent, it appeared to them,
and they are well satisfied, that there was not less than three
Hundred Inhabitants present, and in the Opinion of others the
Number was much larger"; which is undoubtedly the Fact. But Mr.
Draper's Author of the Note (if he had any) had said that "when
the Votes pass'd for sending the letter, there was not twenty Men
present besides the Gentlemen Selectmen & some of the Committee".
The Contradiction appear'd so glaring even in Mr. Draper's eyes,
as well as others, that after he had publish'd it to the World, he
thought his own Reputation concern'd, as indeed it was, to enquire
into the Foundation of the Report, which he ought to have done
before. The Man of Verity his Author, makes a shift to tell him,
that truly "it was a Vote that pass'd half an Hour after Nine
o'Clock that he meant in his Note, when most of the Inhabitants
had withdrawn"; but he does not now say what Vote he meant in his
Note, though when he reported it "with some Confidence" he plumply
said it was the Vote for sending the Letter. The Man who is
resolv'd to serve a Party at the expence of Truth, should have the
best of Memories; the want of which has render'd the Court Writers
oftentimes inconsistent with themselves and with each other. But
what else are we to expect from Champions of a Cause which has
only the feeble Props of Misrepresentation and low Artifice to
support it! As this Author reported according to Draper with some
Confidence, he ought to have inform'd himself of a known Fact,
that the question debated at half an Hour after Nine o'Clock, as
he now says, or at about Ten as he had asserted in his Note, was
not whether the Letter should be sent to the Selectmen of the
Towns in the Country; - That had been determin'd by a full Vote
Nem. Con. before "most of the Inhabitants had withdrawn ". It was
after this Vote had pass'd, and when it is allow'd the Meeting was
thin, a Question of much less Importance than the other was
debated, viz. In what Manner the Letter should be sent; upon which
it was agreed that the Town-Clerk should sign and forward it by
the Direction of the Committee.1 Accordingly, I am well assured,
it has been forwarded to four fifths of the Gentlemen Selectmen in
the Country, the representatives of the several Towns, the Members
of his Majesty's Council and others of Note, by the Direction of
the Committee, in Pursuance of the Vote of the Town, with less
Expence for Carriage than two Dollars.  I have a better Opinion of
the good Sense of the People of this Country, than to believe they
will be diverted from an Attention to Matters which essentially
concern their own and their Childrens best Birthrights, and which
every Day become more serious and alarming, by the Trifles that
are every Week thrown out perhaps with that very Design in the
Court Gazette more especially. The Ax is laid at the Root of our
happy civil Constitution: Our religious Rights are threatned:
These important Matters are the Subjects of the Letter of this
Town to our Friends and Fellow Sufferers in the Country. Whether
there were present at the Meeting three Hundred or three Thousand,
it was a legal Meeting: As legal as a Meeting of the General
Assembly convened by the King's Writ or a Meeting of his Majesty's
Council summoned by his Excellency the Governor: This I say with
due respect to those great Assemblies. The Selectmen, among whom
is the honorable Gentleman who was Moderator2 of the Meeting, have
condescended to publish it under their Hands, that "a very
respectable Number attended the Meeting through the Day":-If it
had been as thin a Meeting as Mr. Draper's Writers would fain have
the Country think it was, still, being a legal Meeting, their
proceedings according to the Warrant for calling it, would have
been as legal as those of his Majesty's Council when seven
Gentlemen only (which Number by the Charter constitutes a Quorum)
out of their whole Number, Twenty-Eight, happen to be present. If
the Generality of my Countrymen shall think those Proceedings to
be of any Importance to them, and shall act upon them with their
own good Sense and Understanding, I care not who concern themselves
in adjusting the private, moral or religious Characters of Dr. Young
and the Lieutenant Governor. The part which each of these Gentlemen
has acted upon the political Stage is well known.

I would just observe to Mr. Draper, that the Name of the Gentleman
who furnish'd him with the Note before refer'd to, is perhaps not
so deep a Secret as he may imagine it to be. It may be, he had then no
thought that a Story inadvertently told, would have been immediately
work'd up by the Press: This however has been done, and the Publick
has been thereby abused: It should make one cautious not too suddenly
to communicate any Piece of Intelligence, especially of Importance,
and still more especially of political Importance, to one whose
Business it is to publish what he hears. Mr. Draper may flatter
himself that "the Credit of his Paper has not yet suffered": It is
sometimes not an easy thing, to perswade a Man to believe that to be
true, which he wishes may not be true: It must needs be difficult to
establish in the minds of impartial Men, the Reputation of a Paper,
the Publisher of which (to use the mild, very mild Expressions of the
Selectmen) "has suffered ", it may be said repeatedly, "what was so
different from the fact to be inserted," before he "had Opportunity to
be very particular in his Inquiries about it; especially as it was a
Matter, by his own Concession, so interesting to the People in the
Country, as that "they ought to be satisfied whether the Report be
true or false". This, we hope, by the Interposition of the Selectmen
is now done; and it was the more necessary, because the same Gentleman
who furnished Mr. Draper with the Note, as he calls it, had related
the story which is now detected, to a Person going, and since gone
into a distant Country in this Province.

Whether Mr. Draper in the Conclusion of what he inserted in his
last, sign'd the Printer, had an Intention obliquely to reflect on
the Honor of the Selectmen, those Gentlemen, if they please will


1 Record commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., p. 94.
2 John Hancock, Esq;


[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 23-25.]

BOSTON, Dec. 23, 1772.


The further proceedings of the truly patriotic town of Marblehead,
together with your own esteemed favours of the 16th and 21st
instant, came to my hand in due season, The proceedings I
immediately communicated to our chairman; and from your hint that
it was thought proper to suspend the publication, together with
assurances of letters from some other towns speedily, we agreed
also to suspend the calling a meeting of our committee, which
however will be done soon. Agreeably to the intimations in your
last I find in the Essex Gazette1 a, - what shall I call it? a
disapprobation, to use their own term, signed by a few men, of the
proceedings of a whole town. If "in fact there was but about twenty
persons who voted at the meeting" and all the rest were against the
measure, I wonder much that they did not follow the example of so
eminent a person as the single dissentient and outvote you when
they had it in their power. Or why could not the twenty-nine
disapprobators have attended the meeting the second time and prevented
your taking such measures from which they "are apprehensive the town
will incur a great deal of public censure"? This would indeed have
been meritorious. I am a stranger to most of the gentlemen who have
thus signalized themselves; Mr. Mansfield I once thought a zealous
whig, perhaps I was mistaken. After all, the whole seems to be but a
weak effort; their third reason appears to me so excessively puerile,
that I am surprised that gentlemen of character could deliberately set
their hands to it.

Your last proceedings sent to us in manuscript are attested by the
town clerk. I am sorry to observe that the printed copy in the Essex
Gazelle is without his attestation, because an advantage may be made
of it in our Court Gazette to lessen its credit and authority; to
prevent which I intend the next Monday's papers shall have it from the
manuscript unless (which I cannot much expect) I shall be otherwise
advised by you.

I was thinking that you might turn the tables upon your disapprobating
friends, by getting a much larger subscription from persons who were
not at the meeting and approve of the proceedings. Whether it be
prudent or worth while to try this method you must certainly be a
better judge than I am.

The tools of power, little and great, are taking unwearied pains to
prevent the meeting of the towns, but they do not succeed altogether
to their wishes. I cannot help entertaining some sanguine hopes that
the measures we have pursued will have a happy event.

1 Published at Salem, by S. and E. Hall.


[Ms., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Decr 28 1772


This day I had the Honor of receiving a Letter signd by yourself and
other Gentlemen of Note in Providence. The Subject is weighty, &
requires more of my Attention than a few Hours, to give you my
digested Sentiments of it; neither have I yet had an Opportunity of
advising with the few among my Acquaintances, whom I would chuse to
consult upon a Matter, which in my Opinion may involve the Fate of
America. This, I intend soon to do; and shall then, I hope, be able
to communicate to you (before the Time you have set shall expire) such
Thoughts, as in your Judgment, may perhaps be wise and salutary on so
pressing an Occasion. Thus much however seems to me to be obvious at
first View; that the whole Act of Parliament so far as it relates to
the Colonies, & consequently the Commission which is founded upon it,
is against the first Principles of Government and the English
Constitution, Magna Charta & many other Acts of Parliament,
declaratory of the Rights of the Subject; & therefore the Guardians
of the Rights of the Subject will consider whether it be not their
Duty, so far from giving the least Countenance to the Execution of it,
to declare it, ipso Facto null & Void. This Commission seems to be
substituted in the Room of a Grand Jury, which is one of the greatest
Bulwarks of the Liberty of the Subject; instituted for the very
Purpose of preventing Mischeife being done by false Accusers. By the
Act of Parliament of the 25th of Ed. 3d (in the true Sense of the
Words the best of Kings) it is establishd, that none shall be taken by
Suggestion made to the King or his Council (which seems to me to be
the present Point) unless it be by Indictment or Presentment of good &
lawful People of the same Neighbourhood, where such Deeds be done -
And, "if any thing be done against the same it shall be redressd &
holden for none." But certain Persons proscribd in the Colony of Rhode
Island, are to be taken without such Indictment or Presentment, &
carried away from the Neighborhood where Deeds unlawful are suggested
to the King to have been committed, & there put to answer contrary to
that Law, which even so long ago was held to be the old Law of the
Land. - One Reason given in the Act for taking away that accursed
Court called the Star Chamber was, because all Matters examinable &
determinable before that Court might have their due Punishment and
Correction by the Common Law of the Land and in the ordinary Course of
Justice elsewhere. But here seems to be a stopping of the ordinary
Course of Justice; & by setting up a Court of Enquiry founded upon
a Suggestion of evil Deeds made to the King & of certain Persons
supposd to be concernd therein, Jurisdiction is given to others than
the constituted ordinary Courts of Justice, & in a Way other than the
ordinary Course of the Law, that is, an arbitrary Way to examine &
draw into Question Matters & things which, by the Act for regulating
the privy Council it is declared, that neither his Majesty nor his
privy Council have or ought to have any Jurisdiction Power or
Authority to do. In short, this Measure appears to me to be repugnant
to the first Principles of natural Justice. The interrested Servants
of the Crown, and some of them pensiond, perhaps byassd & corrupted
being the constituted Judges, whether this or that Subject shall be
put to answer for a supposd Offence against the Crown, & that in a
distant Country, to their great Detriment & Danger of Life & Fortune,
even if their Innocence shd be made to appear. What Man is safe from
the malicious Prosecution of such Persons, unless it be the cringing
Sycophant, and even he holds his Life and Property at their Mercy. It
should awaken the American Colonies, which have been too long dozing
upon the Brink of Ruin. It should again unite them in one Band. Had
that Union which once happily subsisted been preservd, the
Conspirators against our Common Rights would never have venturd such
bold Attempts. It has ever been my Opinion, that an Attack upon the
Liberties of one Colony is an Attack upon the Liberties of
all; and therefore in this Instance all should be ready to yield
Assistance to Rhode Island. But an Answer to the most material Part of
your Letter must be referd, for the Reasons I have given, to another
Opportunity. In the mean time I am with due Regards to the Gentlemen
who have honord me with their Letter

Your assured Friend & very hbl Servt

1 Of Providence, R. I. Under date of December 25, 1772, Deputy
Governor Sessions, Chief Justice Stephen Hopkins, John Cole, and Moses
Brown had written to Adams with reference to the Gaspee affair and to
Lord Dartmouth's letter to the Governor of Rhode Island of September
4, 1772. A copy is in S. A. Wells, Samuel Adams and the American
Revolution, vol. i., pp. 363-365. A copy of a letter, under date of
February 15, 1773, from Sessions, Hopkins, Cole, and Brown to Adams,
acknowledging the receipt of three letters from Adams in response to
their letter of December 25, 1772, is in ibid., pp. 370, 371. In this
letter to Adams his correspondents comment as follows: "At or about
the time we wrote you, we transmitted copies of the same to several
gentlemen in North America, from the most of whom we have received
answers, agreeing nearly in sentiments, with those you were pleased to
communicate to us though no one has entered into a disquisition of the
subject so fully and satisfactorily as you have." The original letter
is also in the Lenox Library.


[MS., Committee of Correspondence Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Decr 29 1772


Your cordial Approbation2 of our sincere Endeavors for the Common
Safety, affords us great Encouragement to persevere with Alacrity in
the Execution of our Trust. Our hands have been abundantly strengthend
by the generous and manly Resolves of our worthy Brethren in the
several Towns who have hitherto acted.

Should such Sentiments, which we are convincd generally prevail
through the province, be as generally expressd, it must refute the
insidious misrepresentation so industriously propagated on both sides
of the Atlantick, that the people have not Virtue enough to resist the
Efforts made to enslave them! It affords us the greatest Satisfaction
to find the Opportunity offerd to our Fellow Countrymen to wipe off so
ignominious a Reproach so readily embraced. We trust in God, & in the
Smiles of Heaven on the Justice of our Cause, that a Day is hastening,
when the Efforts of the Colonists will be crownd with Success; and the
present Generation furnish an Example of publick Virtue, worthy the
Imitation of all Posterity. In this we are greatly encouraged, from
the thorough Understanding of our civil & Religious Rights Liberties &
Privileges, throughout this province: The Importance of which is so
obvious, that we are satisfied, nothing we can offer, would strengthen
your Sense of it.

It gives us Pleasure to be assured from you, that the meetings of the
Town of Cambridge on the Occasion have been so respectable; as, in our
Opinion, it is an Evidence of their virtuous Attachment to the Cause
of Liberty.

It shall be our constant Endeavor to collect and communicate to our
esteemed fellow Countrymen every Interresting Information we can
procure; in pursuance thereof we take the Liberty to inclose, a
material Extract of a Letter from the Right Honorable the Earl of
Dartmouth to his Honor the Governor of Rhode Island, Dated White Hall,
Sept. 7 1772; which we have good reason to assure you is genuine.3

1 Addressed to "Capt Ebenezer Stedman & others, a Committee of
Correspondence in
2 Boston Gazette, December 28, 1772.
3 The form of signature is "Signd by order of the Committee for
Correspondence in Boston William Cooper, Clerk."


[MS., Committee of Correspondence Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Decr 29 1772


We the Committee of Correspondence for the Town of Boston, have
receivd your kind Letters inclosing the noble & patriotick Resolves of
the Metropolis of the ancient Colony of Plymouth.

It must give singular Pleasure to the friends of this Country to find
in all times of Difficulty & Danger, the worthy Inhabitants of
Plymouth, [are] ready to assert the natural religious & civil Rights
of the Colonists in general & of this by a new Charter united province
in particular.

Your thorough knowledge of those Rights the Sense you have of the many
late Infractions thereof, the manly & becoming Spirit with which you
have always expressd your selves on such Occasions, must best appear
without any Comment, from your Resolves for a number of years past;
more especially your last which are before the publick Eye.

We heartily congratulate you on the return of that great Anniversary,
the landing of the first Settlers at Plymouth, & on the religious &
respectful Manner, in which it has been celebrated.

You may say without Vanity, and surely we may affirm without any such
Imputation, that a handful of persecuted brave people, then made way
for the extensive Settlement of New England: That had it not been for
their Efforts, Virginia would have soon been abandoned: That the
French who were then settled at Quebec; & the Dutch interloping in
Hudsons River with the Assistance they might have derived from the
Natives, and the Aid at all times ready to be afforded, by the Crown
of Spain, then in possession of South America, against the Crown of
England, would have availd themselves of all the Continent of North
America. And that at this very period Great Britain might have thought
herself well off, with such trifling Islands as are now in the
possession of the Dane. In pursuance of our Instruction from this Town
to communicate any new Infractions of our Rights & Liberties we
inclose an Extract of a Letter from Lord Dartmouth to the Governor of
Rhode Island & shall take the earliest Opportunity to advise you of
every thing Important that may occur to us.

1 Addressed to "Joseph Warren Esq & others a Committee of Correspondence for the
Town of Plymouth."


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Jan 2 1773.


I wrote you on Monday last acknowledging the Receipt of a Letter
directed to me from your self & other worthy Gentlemen in Providence.
The Question proposed was in what manner your Colony had best behave
in this critical Situation & how the Shock that is coming upon it may
be best evaded or sustaind. It appears to me probable that the
Administration has a design to get your Charter vacated. The
Execution of so extraordinary a Commission, unknown in your Charter &
abhorrent to the principles of every free Government, wherein Persons
are appointed to enquire into Offences committed against a Law of
another Legislature, with the Power of transporting the persons they
shall suspect beyond the Seas to be tryed, would essentially change
your Constitution; and a Silence under such a Change would be
construed a Submission to it. At the same time it must be considerd
that an open declaration of the Assembly against the Appointment &
order of the King, in which he is supported by an Act of the British
Parliament, would be construed by the Law Servants of the Crown &
other ministers such a Defiance of the Royal Authority, as they would
advise proper to be recommended to the Consideration & Decision of
Parliament. Should your Governor refuse to call the Commissioners
together, or when called together, the civil magistrates
refuse to take measures for arresting & committing to Custody such
persons as upon Information made shall be chargd with being concernd
in burning the Gaspee, or if they should issue their precepts for that
purpose the Officers should refuse to execute them, the Event would be
perhaps the same as in the Case of an open Declaration before
mentiond, for in all these Cases it would be represented to the King &
the parliament that it was to be attributed to what they will call
the overbearing popularity of your Government, & the same pretence
would be urgd for the Necessity of an Alteration in order to support
the Kings Authority in the Colony. As the chiefe Object in the View of
Administration seems to be the vacating your Charter, I cannot think
the Commissioners in case they should meet together, would upon any of
the aforementiond Occasions, chuse to call upon General Gage for the
Aid of the Troops or make any more than the Shew of a Readiness to
execute their Commission; for they might think the grand purpose
would be sufficiently answerd without their Discussing such danger to
their Reputation, if not their persons. If the foregoing Hypotheses
are well grounded, I think it may be justly concluded that since the
Constitution is already destined to suffer unavoidable Dissolution, an
open & manly Determination of the Assembly not to consent to its ruin
would show to the World & posterity that the people were virtuous
though unfortunate, & sustaind the Shock with Dignity.

You will allow me to observe, that this is a Matter in which the whole
American Continent is deeply concernd and a Submission of the Colony
of Rhode Island to this enormous Claim of power would be made a
Precedent for all the rest; they ought indeed to consider deeply their
Interest in the Struggle of a single Colony & their Duty to afford her
all practicable Aid. This last is a Consideration which I shall not
fail to mention to my particular friends when our Assembly shall sit
the next Week.

Should it be the determination of a weak Administration to push this
Measure to the utmost at all Events, and the Commissioners call in the
Aid of troops for that purpose it would be impossible for me to say
what might be the Consequence, Perhaps a most violent political
Earthquake through the whole British Empire if not its total

I have long feard that this unhappy Contest between Britain & America
will end in Rivers of Blood; Should that be the Case, America I think
may wash her hands in Innocence; yet it is the highest prudence to
prevent if possible so dreadful a Calamity. Some such provocation as
is now offerd to Rhode Island will in all probability be the immediate
Occasion of it. Let us therefore consider whether in the present Case
the Shock that is coming upon you may not be evaded which is
a distinct part of the Question proposed. For this purpose, if your
Governor should omit to call the Commissioners together, in
Consequence of a representation made to him by the Assembly, that the
Innovation appears to them of a most dangerous Tendency; and
altogether needless, inasmuch as the same Enquiry might be made as
effectually (and doubtless would be) by a Grand Jury, as is proposed
to be made by the Commissioners; which would be agreable to the
Constitution & in the ordinary Course of Justice. A representation of
this kind made by the Assembly to the Governor, would afford him a
reasonable plea for suspending the Matter till he could fully state
the Matter to Lord Dartmouth & the odious light in which the
Commission is viewd by that & the other Colonies as a measure
incompatible with the English Constitution & the Rights of the
Colonists together with the fatal Consequences of which it might
probably be productive. This perhaps could not be done till the rising
of Parliament, & before the next Session a war or some other important
Event might take place which would bury this Affair in Oblivion. Or if
it should ever come before Parliament in this Manner, the Delay on the
part of the Governor would appear to be made upon motives of sound
prudence & the best Advice which would tend to soften their Spirits.
And besides, its appearing to be founded not directly on the
principles of Opposition to the Authority of Parliament, the sacred
Importance of Charters upon which many of the Members hold their
Seats, might be considerd without prejudice, & the Matter might
subside even in Parliament. Should that be the Case it would
disappoint the designs & naturally abate the Rigour of Administration
& so the Shock might be evaded.

If, without being called together by Governor Wanton who is first
named, the rest of the Commissioners should meet upon the Business of
their Commission, which I cannot suppose they will do, especially if
the Governor should acquaint them with the Reason of his not calling
them, it would show a forward Zeal to execute an order new arbitrary &
universally odious, & how far that might justly insence the people
against them personally, & lessen them in the Esteem of all
judicious Men, they would do well calmly to consider; and how far also
they would be answerable for the fatal Effects that might follow such
a forwardnesss all the world and Posterity will judge: For such an
Event as this will assuredly go down to future Ages in the page of
History, & the Colony & all concernd in it will be characterizd by the
part they shall act in the Tragedy. Upon the whole it is my humble
Opinion, that the grand Purpose of Administration is either to
intimidate the Colony into a Compliance with a Measure destructive of
the freedom of their Constitution, or to provoke them to such a Step
as shall give a pretext for the Vacation of their Charter which I
should think must sound like Thunder in the Ears of Connecticutt
especially. Whatever Measures the Wisdom of your Assembly may fix upon
to evade the impending Stroke, I hope nothing will be done which may
by the Invention of our Adversarys, be construed as even the
Appearance of an Acquiescence in so grasping an Act of Tyranny.

Thus I have freely given my Sentiments upon the Question proposed;
which I should not have venturd to do had it not been requested. I
have done it with the greatest Diffidence because I think I am fully
sensible of my Inability to enter into a Question of so delicate a
Nature & great Importance especially as I have not had that
opportunity to consult my friends which I promisd my self. I hope
the Assembly of Rhode Island will in their Conduct exhibit an Example
of true Wisdom Fortitude & Perseverance. And with the greatest Respect
to the Gentlemen to whose superior Understanding this and my former
Letter to you is submitted, I

Your assured friend
& humble servant

P.S. I beg just to propose for Consideration whether a circular Letr
from your Assembly on this Occasion, to those of the other Colonies
might not tend to the Advantage of the General Cause & of R Island in
particular; I should think it would induce each of them, at least to
injoyn their Agents in Great Britain to represent the Severity of your
Case in the strongest terms.

To the Hon Darius Sessions Esqr
to be communicated


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 351-364; also printed in the Boston
Gazette, February 1, 1773, and in The Speeches of His Excellency
Governor Hutchinson (Boston, 1773), pp. 33-58.]

May it please your Excellency,

Your Excellency's speech to the General Assembly, at the opening of
this session,2 has been read with great attention in this House.

We fully agree with your Excellency, that our own happiness, as well
as his Majesty's service, very much depends upon peace and order; and
we shall at all times take such measures as are consistent with our
constitution, and the rights of the people, to promote and maintain
them.  That the government at present is in a very disturbed state, is
apparent. But we cannot ascribe it to the people's having adopted
unconstitutional principles, which seems to be the cause assigned for
it by your Excellency. It appears to us, to have been occasioned
rather by the British House of Commons assuming and exercising a power
inconsistent with the freedom of the constitution, to give and grant
the property of the colonists, and appropriate the same without their

It is needless for us to inquire what were the principles that induced
the councils of the nation to so new and unprecedented a measure. But,
when the Parliament, by an act of their own, expressly declared, that
the King, Lords, and Commons, of the nation "have, and of right ought
to have full power and authority to make laws and statutes of
sufficient force and validity, to bind the colonies and people of
America, subjects of the Crown of Great Britain, in all cases
whatever," and in consequence hereof, another revenue act was made,
the minds of the people were filled with anxiety, and they were justly
alarmed with apprehensions of the total extinction of their liberties.

The result of the free inquiries of many persons, into the right of
the Parliament, to exercise such a power over the colonies, seems, in
your Excellency's opinion, to be the cause, of what you are pleased to
call the present "disturbed state of the government;" upon which, you
"may not any longer, consistent with your duty to the King, and your
regard to the interest of the province, delay communicating your
sentiments." But that the principles adopted in consequence hereof,
are unconstitutional, is a subject of inquiry. We know of no such
disorders arising therefrom, as are mentioned by your Excellency. If
Grand Jurors have not, on their oaths, found such offences, as
your Excellency, with the advice of his Majesty's Council, have
ordered to be prosecuted, it is to be presumed, they have followed the
dictates of good conscience. They are the constitutional judges of
these matters, and it is not to be supposed, that moved from corrupt
principles, they have suffered offenders to escape a prosecution, and
thus supported and encouraged them to go on offending. If any part of
authority shall, in an unconstitutional manner, interpose in any
matter, it will be no wonder if it be brought into contempt; to
the lessening or confounding of that subordination, which is necessary
to a well regulated state. Your Excellency's representation that the
bands of government are weakened, we humbly conceive to be without
good grounds; though we must own, the heavy burdens unconstitutionally
brought upon the people, have been, and still are universally, and
very justly complained of, as a grievance.

You are pleased to say, that, "when our predecessors first took
possession of this plantation, or colony, under a grant and charter
from the Crown of England, it was their sense, and it was the sense of
the kingdom, that they were to remain subject to the supreme authority
of Parliament;" whereby we understand your Excellency to mean, in the
sense of the declaratory act of Parliament afore mentioned, in all
cases whatever. And, indeed, it is difficult, if possible, to draw a
line of distinction between the universal authority of Parliament over
the colonies, and no authority at all. It is, therefore, necessary for
us to inquire how it appears, for your Excellency has not shown it to
us, that when, or at the time that our predecessors took possession of
this plantation, or colony, under a grant and charter from the Crown
of England, it was their sense, and the sense of the kingdom, that
they were to remain subject to the authority of Parliament. In making
this inquiry, we shall, according to your Excellency's recommendation,
treat the subject with calmness and candor, and also with a due regard
to truth.

Previous to a direct consideration of the charter granted to the
province or colony, and the better to elucidate the true sense and
meaning of it, we would take a view of the state of the English North
American continent at the time, when, and after possession was first
taken of any part of it, by the Europeans. It was then possessed by
heathen and barbarous people, who had, nevertheless, all that right to
the soil, and sovereignty in and over the lands they possessed, which
God had originally given to man. Whether their being heathen, inferred
any right or authority to christian princes, a right which had long
been assumed by the Pope, to dispose of their lands to others, we will
leave your Excellency, or any one of understanding and impartial
judgment, to consider. It is certain, they had in no other sense,
forfeited them to any power in Europe. Should the doctrine be
admitted, that the discovery of lands owned and possessed by pagan
people, gives to any christian prince a right and title to the
dominion and property, still it is vested in the Crown alone. It was
an acquisition of foreign territory, not annexed to the realm of
England, and, therefore, at the absolute disposal of the Crown. For we
take it to be a settled point, that the King has a constitutional
prerogative, to dispose of and alienate, any part of his territories
not annexed to the realm. In exercise of this prerogative, Queen
Elizabeth granted the first American charter; and, claiming a right by
virtue of discovery, then supposed to be valid, to the lands which are
now possessed by the colony of Virginia, she conveyed to Sir Walter
Rawleigh, the property, dominion, and sovereignty thereof, to be held
of the Crown, by homage, and a certain render, without any reservation
to herself, of any share in the Legislative and Executive authority.
After the attainder of Sir Walter, King James the I. created two
Virginian companies, to be governed each by laws, transmitted to them
by his Majesty, and not by the Parliament, with power to establish,
and cause to be made, a coin to pass current among them; and vested
with all liberties, franchises and immunities, within any of his other
dominions, to all intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding
and born within the realm. A declaration similar to this, is contained
in the first charter of this colony, and in those of other American
colonies, which shows that the colonies were not intended, or
considered to be within the realm of England, though within the
allegiance of the English Crown. After this, another charter was
granted by the same King James, to the Treasurer and Company of
Virginia, vesting them with full power and authority, to make, ordain,
and establish, all manner of orders, laws, directions, instructions,
forms and ceremonies of governments, and magistracy, fit and
necessary, and the same to abrogate, &c. without any reservation for
securing their subjection to Parliament, and future laws of England. A
third charter was afterwards granted by the same King, to the
Treasurer and Company of Virginia, vesting them with full power and
authority to make laws, with an addition of this clause, "so,
always, that the same be not contrary to the laws and statutes of this
our realm of England." The same clause was afterwards copied into the
charter of this and other colonies, with certain variations, such as,
that these laws should be "consonant to reason," "not repugnant to the
laws of England," "as nearly as conveniently may be to the laws,
statutes and rights of England," &c. These modes of expression, convey
the same meaning, and serve to show an intention, that the laws of the
colonies should be as much as possible, conformable in the spirit of
them, to the principles and fundamental laws of the English
constitution, its rights and statutes then in being, and by no means
to bind the colonies to a subjection to the supreme authority of the
English Parliament. And that this is the true intention, we think it
further evident from this consideration, that no acts of any colony
Legislative, are ever brought into Parliament for inspection there,
though the laws made in some of them, like the acts of the British
Parliament, are laid before the King for his dissent or allowance.

We have brought the first American charters into view, and the state
of the country when they were granted, to show, that the right of
disposing of the lands was, in the opinion of those times, vested
solely in the Crown; that the several charters conveyed to the
grantees, who should settle upon the territories therein granted, all
the powers necessary to constitute them free and distinct states; and
that the fundamental laws of the English constitution should be the
certain and established rule of legislation, to which, the laws to
be made in the several colonies, were to be, as nearly as conveniently
might be, conformable, or similar, which was the true intent and
import of the words, "not repugnant to the laws of England,"
"consonant to reason," and other variant expressions in the different
charters. And we would add, that the King, in some of the charters,
reserves the right to judge of the consonance and similarity of their
laws with the English constitution, to himself, and not to the
Parliament; and, in consequence thereof, to affirm, or within a
limited time, disallow them.

These charters, as well as that afterwards granted to Lord Baltimore,
and other charters, are repugnant to the idea of Parliamentary
authority; and, to suppose a Parliamentary authority over the
colonies, under such charters, would necessarily induce that solecism
in politics, imperium in imperio. And the King's repeatedly exercising
the prerogative of disposing of the American territory by such
charters, together with the silence of the nation thereupon, is an
evidence that it was an acknowledged prerogative.

But, further to show the sense of the English Crown and nation, that
the American colonists, and our predecessors in particular, when they
first took possession of this country, by a grant and charter from the
Crown, did not remain subject to the supreme authority of Parliament,
we beg leave to observe, that when a bill was offered by the two
Houses of Parliament to King Charles the I. granting to the subjects
of England, the free liberty of fishing on the coast of America, he
refused his royal assent, declaring as a reason, that "the colonies
were without the realm and jurisdiction of Parliament."

In like manner, his predecessor, James the I. had before declared,
upon a similar occasion, that "America was not annexed to the realm,
and it was not fitting that Parliament should make laws for those
countries." This reason was, not secretly, but openly declared in
Parliament. If, then, the colonies were not annexed to the realm, at
the time when their charters were granted, they never could
afterwards, without their own special consent, which has never since
been had, or even asked. If they are not now annexed to the realm,
they are not a part of the kingdom, and consequently not subject to
the Legislative authority of the kingdom. For no country, by the
common law, was subject to the laws or to the Parliament, but the
realm of England.

We would, if your Excellency pleases, subjoin an instance of conduct
in King Charles the II. singular indeed, but important to our purpose,
who, in 1769, framed an act for a permanent revenue for the support of
Virginia, and sent it there by Lord Culpepper, the Governor of that
colony, which was afterwards passed into a law, and "enacted by the
King's most excellent Majesty, by, and with the consent of the General
Assembly of Virginia." If the King had judged the colony to be a part
of the realm, he would not, nor could he, consistently with Magna
Charta, have placed himself at the head of, and joined with any
Legislative body in making a law to tax the people there, other than
the Lords and Commons of England.

Having taken a view of the several charters of the first colony in
America, if we look into the old charter of this colony, we shall find
it to be grounded on the same principle; that the right of disposing
the territory granted therein, was vested in the Crown, as being that
Christian Sovereign who first discovered it, when in the possession of
heathens; and that it was considered as being not within the realm,
but being only within the Fee and Seignory of the King. As, therefore,
it was without the realm of England, must not the King, if he had
designed that the Parliament should have any authority over it, have
made special reservation for that purpose, which was not done?

Your Excellency says, "it appears from the charter itself, to have
been the sense of our predecessors, who first took possession of this
plantation, or colony, that they were to remain subject to the
authority of Parliament." You have not been pleased to point out to
us, how this appears from the charter, unless it be in the observation
you make on the above mentioned clause, viz.: "that a favorable
construction has been put upon this clause, when it has been allowed
to intend such laws of England only, as are expressly made to respect
us," which you say, "is by charter, a reserve of power and authority
to Parliament, to bind us by such laws, at least, as are made
expressly to refer to us, and consequently is a limitation of the
power given to the General Court." But, we would still recur to the
charter itself, and ask your Excellency, how this appears, from
thence, to have been the sense of our predecessors? Is any reservation
of power and authority to Parliament thus to bind us, expressed or
implied in the charter? It is evident, that King Charles the I. the
very Prince who granted it, as well as his predecessor, had no such
idea of the supreme authority of Parliament over the colony, from
their declarations before recited. Your Excellency will then allow us,
further to ask, by what authority, in reason or equity, the Parliament
can enforce a construction so unfavorable to us. Quod ab initio
injustum est, nullum potest habere juris efectum, said Grotius. Which,
with submission to your Excellency, may be rendered thus: whatever is
originally in its nature wrong, can never be sanctified, or made right
by repetition and use.

In solemn agreements, subsequent restrictions ought never to be
allowed. The celebrated author, whom your Excellency has quoted, tells
us, that, "neither the one or the other of the interested, or
contracting powers, hath a right to interpret at pleasure." This we
mention, to show, even upon a supposition, that the Parliament had
been a party to the contract, the invalidity of any of its subsequent
acts, to explain any clause in the charter; more especially to
restrict or make void any clause granted therein to the General Court.
An agreement ought to be interpreted "in such a manner as that it may
have its effect." But, if your Excellency's interpretation of this
clause is just, "that it is a reserve of power and authority to
Parliament to bind us by such laws as are made expressly to refer to
us," it is not only "a limitation of the power given to the General
Court" to legislate, but it may, whenever the Parliament shall think
fit, render it of no effect; for it puts it in the power of
Parliament, to bind us by as many laws as they please, and even to
restrain us from making any laws at all. If your Excellency's
assertions in this, and the next succeeding part of your speech, were
well grounded, the conclusion would be undeniable, that the charter,
even in this clause, "does not confer or reserve any liberties," worth
enjoying, "but what would have been enjoyed without it;" saving that,
within any of his Majesty's dominions, we are to be considered
barely as not aliens. You are pleased to say, it cannot "be contended,
that by the liberties of free and natural subjects," (which are
expressly granted in the charter, to all intents, purposes and
constructions, whatever,) "is to be understood, an exemption from acts
of Parliament, because not represented there; seeing it is provided by
the same charter, that such acts shall be in force." If, says an
eminent lawyer, "the King grants to the town of D. the same liberties
which London has, this shall be intended the like liberties." A grant
of the liberties of free and natural subjects, is equivalent to a
grant of the same liberties. And the King, in the first charter to
this colony, expressly grants, that it "shall be construed, reputed
and adjudged in all cases, most favorably on the behalf and for the
benefit and behoof of the said Governor and Company, and their
successors - any matter, cause or thing, whatsover, to the contrary
notwithstanding." It is one of the liberties of free and natural
subjects, born and abiding within the realm, to be governed, as your
Excellency observes, "by laws made by persons, in whose elections
they, from time to time, have a voice." This is an essential right.
For nothing is more evident, than, that any people, who are subject to
the unlimited power of another, must be in a state of abject slavery.
It was easily and plainly foreseen, that the right of representation
in the English Parliament, could not be exercised by the people of
this colony. It would be impracticable, if consistent with the English
constitution. And for this reason, that this colony might have and
enjoy all the liberties and immunities of free and natural subjects
within the realm, as stipulated in the charter, it was necessary, and
a Legislative was accordingly constituted within the colony one branch
of which, consists of Representatives chosen by the people, to make
all laws, statutes, ordinances, &c. for the well ordering and
governing the same, not repugnant to the laws of England, or, as
nearly as conveniently might be, agreeable to the fundamental laws of
the English constitution. We are, therefore, still at a loss to
conceive, where your Excellency finds it " provided in the same
charter, that such acts," viz, acts of Parliament, made expressly to
refer to us, " shall be in force " in this province. There is nothing
to this purpose, expressed in the charter, or in our opinion, even
implied in it. And surely it would be very absurd, that a charter,
which is evidently formed upon a supposition and intention, that a
colony is and should be considered as not within the realm; and
declared by the very Prince who granted it, to be not within the
jurisdiction of Parliament, should yet provide, that the laws which
the same Parliament should make, expressly to refer to that colony,
should be in force therein. Your Excellency is pleased to ask, "does
it follow, that the government, by their (our ancestors) removal from
one part of the dominion to another, loses its authority over that
part to which they removed; and that they are freed from the
subjection they were under before?" We answer, if that part of the
King's dominions, to which they removed, was not then a part of the
realm, and was never annexed to it, the Parliament lost no authority
over it, having never had such authority; and the emigrations were
consequently freed from the subjection they were under before their
removal. The power and authority of Parliament, being constitutionally
confined within the limits of the realm, and the nation collectively,
of which alone it is the representing and Legislative Assembly. Your
Excellency further asks, "will it not rather be said, that by this,
their voluntary removal, they have relinquished, for a time, at least,
one of the rights of an English subject, which they might, if they
pleased, have continued to enjoy, and may again enjoy, whenever they
return to the place where it can be exercised?" To which we answer;
they never did relinquish the right to be governed by laws, made by
persons in whose election they had a voice. The King stipulated with
them, that they should have and enjoy all the liberties of free and
natural subjects, born within the realm, to all intents, purposes and
constructions, whatsoever; that is, that they should be as free as
those, who were to abide within the realm: consequently, he stipulated
with them, that they should enjoy and exercise this most essential
right, which discriminates freemen from vassals, uninterruptedly,
in its full sense and meaning; and they did, and ought still to
exercise it, without the necessity of returning, for the sake of
exercising it, to the nation or state of England.

We cannot help observing, that your Excellency's manner of reasoning
on this point, seems to us, to render the most valuable clauses in our
charter unintelligible: as if persons going from the realm of England,
to inhabit in America, should hold and exercise there a certain right
of English subjects; but, in order to exercise it in such manner as to
be of any benefit to them, they must not inhabit there, but return to
the place where alone it can be exercised. By such construction, the
words of the charter can have no sense or meaning. We forbear
remarking upon the absurdity of a grant to persons born without the
realm, of the same liberties which would have belonged to them, if
they had been born within the realm.

Your Excellency is disposed to compare this government to the variety
of corporations, formed within the kingdom, with power to make and
execute bylaws, &c.; and, because they remain subject to the supreme
authority of Parliament, to infer, that this colony is also subject to
the same authority: this reasoning appears to us not just. The members
of those corporations are resident within the kingdom; and residence
subjects them to the authority of Parliament, in which they are also
represented; whereas the people of this colony are not resident within
the realm. The charter was granted, with the express purpose to
induce them to reside without the realm; consequently, they are not
represented in Parliament there. But, we would ask your Excellency,
are any of the corporations, formed within the kingdom, vested with
the power of erecting other subordinate corporations? of enacting and
determining what crimes shall be capital? and constituting courts of
common law, with all their officers, for the hearing, trying and
punishing capital offenders with death? These and many other powers
vested in this government, plainly show, that it is to be considered
as a corporation, in no other light, than as every state is a
corporation. Besides, appeals from the courts of law here, are not
brought before the House of Lords; which shows, that the peers of the
realm, are not the peers of America: but all such appeals are brought
before the King in council, which is a further evidence, that we are
not within the realm.

We conceive enough has been said, to convince your Excellency, that,
"when our predecessors first took possession of this plantation, or
colony, by a grant and charter from the Crown of England, it was not,
and never had been the sense of the kingdom, that they were to remain
subject to the supreme authority of Parliament. We will now, with your
Excellency's leave, inquire what was the sense of our ancestors, of
this very important matter.

And, as your Excellency has been pleased to tell us, you have not
discovered, that the supreme authority of Parliament has been called
in question, even by private and particular persons, until within
seven or eight years past; except about the time of the anarchy and
confusion in England, which preceded the restoration of King Charles
the II. we beg leave to remind your Excellency of some parts of your
own history of Massachusetts Bay. Therein we are informed of
the sentiments of "persons of influence," after the restoration; from
which, the historian tells us, some parts of their conduct, that is,
of the General Assembly, "may be pretty well accounted for." By the
history, it appears to have been the opinion of those persons of
influence, "that the subjects of any prince or state, had a natural
right to remove to any other state, or to another quarter of the
world, unless the state was weakened or exposed by such remove;
and, even in that case, if they were deprived of the right of all
mankind, liberty of conscience, it would justify a separation, and
upon their removal, their subjection determined and ceased." That "the
country to which they had removed, was claimed and possessed by
independent princes, whose right to the lordship and sovereignty
thereof had been acknowledged by the Kings of England," an instance of
which is quoted in the margin. "That they themselves had actually
purchased, for valuable consideration, not only the soil, but the
dominion, the lordship and sovereignty of those princes;" without
which purchase, "in the sight of God and men, they had no right or
title to what they possessed." They had received a charter of
incorporation from the King, from whence arose a new kind of
subjection, namely, "a voluntary, civil subjection;" and by this
compact, "they were to be governed by laws made by themselves." Thus
it appears to have been the sentiments of private persons, though
persons by whose sentiments the public conduct was influenced, that
their removal was a justifiable separation from the mother state, upon
which, their subjection to that state, determined and ceased. The
supreme authority of Parliament, if it had then ever been asserted,
must surely have been called in question, by men who had advanced such
principles as these.

The first act of Parliament, made expressly to refer to the colonies,
was after the restoration. In the reign of King Charles the II.
several such acts passed. And the same history informs us, there was a
difficulty in conforming to them; and the reason of this difficulty is
explained in a letter of the General Assembly to their Agent, quoted
in the following words; "they apprehended them to be an invasion of
the rights, liberties and properties of the subjects of his Majesty,
in the colony, they not being represented in Parliament, and according
to the usual sayings of the learned in the law, the laws of England
were bounded within the four seas, and did not reach America: However,
as his Majesty had signified his pleasure, that those acts should be
observed in the Massachusetts, they had made provision, by a law of
the colony, that they should be strictly attended."3 Which provision,
by a law of their own, would have been superfluous, if they had
admitted the supreme authority of Parliament. In short, by the same
history it appears, that those acts of Parliament, as such, were
disregarded; and the following reason is given for it: "It seems to
have been a general opinion, that acts of Parliament have no other
force, than what they derived from acts made by the General Court, to
establish and confirm them."

But, still further to show the sense of our ancestors, respecting this
matter, we beg leave to recite some parts of a narrative, presented to
the Lords of Privy Council, by Edward Randolph, in the year 1676,
which we find in your Excellency's collection of papers lately
published.4 Therein5 it is declared to be the sense of the colony,
"that no law is in force or esteem there, but such as are made by the
General Court; and, therefore, it is accounted a breach of their
privilegès, and a betraying of the liberties of their commonwealth, to
urge the observation of the laws of England." And, further, "that no
oath shall be urged, or required to be taken by any person, but such
oath as the General Court hath considered, allowed and required." And,
further, "there is no notice taken of the act of navigation,
plantation or any other laws, made in England for the regulation of
trade." "That the government would make the world believe, They are a
free state, and do act in all matters accordingly." Again, "these
magistrates ever reserve to themselves, a power to alter, evade and
disannul any law or command, not agreeing with their humor, or the
absolute authority of their government, acknowledging no superior."
And, further, "he (the Governor) freely declared to me, that the laws
made by your Majesty and your Parliament, obligeth them in nothing,
but what consists with the interests of that colony; that the
Legislative power and authority is, and abides in them solely." And in
the same Mr. Randolph's letter to the Bishop of London, July 14.,
1682, he says, "this independency in government is claimed and daily
practised."6 And your Excellency being then sensible, that this was
the sense of our ancestors, in a marginal note, in the same collection
of papers, observes, that, "this, viz, the provision made for
observing the acts of trade, is very extraordinary, for this provision
was an act of the colony, declaring the acts of trade shall be in
force there." Although Mr. Randolph was very unfriendly to the colony,
yet, as his declarations are concurrent with those recited from your
Excellency's history, we think they may be admitted, for the purpose
for which they are now brought.

Thus we see, from your Excellency's history and publications, the
sense our ancestors had of the jurisdiction of Parliament, under the
first charter. Very different from that, which your Excellency in your
speech, apprehends it to have been.

It appears by Mr. Neal's History of New England, that the agents, who
had been employed by the colony to transact its affairs in England, at
the time when the present charter was granted, among other reasons,
gave the following for their acceptance of it, viz. "The General Court
has, with the King's approbation, as much power in New England, as the
King and Parliament have in England; they have all English privileges,
and can be touched by no law, and by no tax but of their own making."7
This is the earliest testimony that can be given of the sense our
predecessors had of the supreme authority of Parliament, under the
present charter. And it plainly shows, that they, who having been
freely conversant with those who framed the charter, must have well
understood the design and meaning of it, supposed that the terms in
our charter, "full power and authority," intended and were considered
as a sole and exclusive power, and that there was no "reserve in the
charter, to the authority of Parliament, to bind the colony" by any
acts whatever.

Soon after the arrival of the charter, viz, in 1692, your Excellency's
history informs us,8 "the first act" of this Legislative, was a sort
of Magna Charta, asserting and setting forth their general privileges,
and this clause was among the rest; "no aid, tax, tallage, assessment,
custom, loan, benevolence, or imposition whatever, shall be laid,
assessed, imposed, or levied on any of their Majesty's subjects, or
their estates, on any pretence whatever, but by the act and consent of
the Governor, Council, and Representatives of the people assembled in
General Court." And though this act was disallowed, it serves to show
the sense which the General Assembly, contemporary with the granting
the charter, had of their sole and exclusive right to legislate for
the colony. The history says, "the other parts of the act were copied
from Magna Charta;" by which, we may conclude that the Assembly then
construed the words, "not repugnant to the laws," to mean, conformable
to the fundamental principles of the English constitution. And it is
observable, that the Lords of Privy Council, so lately as in the reign
of Queen Anne, when several laws enacted by the General Assembly were
laid before her Majesty for her allowance, interpreted the words in
this charter, "not repugnant to the laws of England," by the words,
"as nearly as conveniently may be agreeable to the laws and statutes
of England." And her Majesty was pleased to disallow those acts, not
because they were repugnant to any law or statute of England, made
expressly to refer to the colony, but because divers persons, by
virtue thereof, were punished, without being tried by their peers in
the ordinary "courts of law," and "by the ordinary rules and known
methods of justice," contrary to the express terms of Magna Charta,
which was a statute in force at the time of granting the charter, and
declaratory of the rights and liberties of the subjects within the

You are pleased to say, that "our provincial or local laws have, in
numerous instances, had relation to acts of Parliament, made to
respect the plantations, and this colony in particular." The authority
of the Legislature, says the same author who is quoted by your
Excellency, "does not extend so far as the fundamentals of the
constitution. They ought to consider the fundamental laws as sacred,
if the nation has not in very express terms, given them the power to
change them. For the constitution of the state ought to be fixed;
and since that was first established by the nation, which afterwards
trusted certain persons with the Legislative power, the fundamental
laws are excepted from their commission." Now the fundamentals of the
constitution of this province, are stipulated in the charter; the
reasoning, therefore, in this case, holds equally good. Much less,
then, ought any acts or doings of the General Assembly, however
numerous, to neither of which your Excellency has pointed us,
which barely relate to acts of Parliament made to respect the
plantations in general, or this colony in particular, to be taken
as an acknowledgment of this people, or even of the Assembly,
which inadvertently passed those acts, that we are subject to the
supreme authority of Parliament; and with still less reason are
the decisions in the executive courts to determine this point. If
they have adopted that "as part of the rule of law," which, in
fact, is not, it must be imputed to inattention or error in
judgment, and cannot justly be urged as an alteration or
restriction of the Legislative authority of the province.

Before we leave this part of your Excellency's speech, we would
observe, that the great design of our ancestors in leaving the
kingdom of England, was to be freed from a subjection to its
spiritual laws and courts, and to worship God according to the
dictates of their consciences. Your Excellency, in your history
observes, that their design was "to obtain for themselves and
their posterity, the liberty of worshipping God in such manner as
appeared to them most agreeable to the sacred scriptures." And the
General Court themselves declared in 1651, that "seeing just cause
to fear the persecution of the then Bishop, and high commission
for not conforming to the ceremonies of those under their power,
they thought it their safest course, to get to this outside of the
world, out of their view and beyond their reach." But, if it had
been their sense, that they were still to be subject to the
supreme authority of Parliament, they must have known that their
design might, and probably would be frustrated; that the
Parliament, especially considering the temper of those times,
might make what ecclesiastical laws they pleased, expressly to
refer to them, and place them in the same circumstances with
respect to religious matters, to be relieved from which, was the
design of their removal; and we would add, that if your
Excellency's construction of the clause in our present charter is
just, another clause therein, which provides for liberty of
conscience for all christians, except papists, may be rendered
void by an act of Parliament made to refer to us, requiring a
conformity to the rights and mode of worship in the church of
England, or any other.

Thus we have endeavored to show the sense of the people of this
colony under both charters; and, if there have been in any late
instances a submission to acts of Parliament, it has been, in our
opinion, rather from inconsideration, or a reluctance at the idea
of contending with the parent state, than from a conviction or
acknowledgment of the Supreme Legislative authority of Parliament.

Your Excellency tells us, "you know of no line that can be drawn
between the supreme authority of Parliament and the total
independence of the colonies." If there be no such line, the
consequence is, either that the colonies are the vassals of the
Parliament, or that they are totally independent. As it cannot be
supposed to have been the intention of the parties in the compact,
that we should be reduced to a state of vassalage, the conclusion
is, that it was their sense that we were thus independent. "It is
impossible," your Excellency says, "that there should be two
independent Legislatures in one and the same state." May we not
then further conclude, that it was their sense, that the colonies
were, by their charters, made distinct states from the mother
country? Your Excellency adds, "for although there may be but one
head, the King, yet the two Legislative bodies will make two
governments as distinct as the kingdoms of England and Scotland,
before the union." Very true, may it please your Excellency; and
if they interfere not with each other, what hinders, but that
being united in one head and common Sovereign, they may live
happily in that connection, and mutually support and protect each
other? Notwithstanding all the terrors which your Excellency has
pictured to us as the effects of a total independence, there is
more reason to dread the consequences of absolute uncontroled
power, whether of a nation or a monarch, than those of a total
independence. It would be a misfortune "to know by experience, the
difference between the liberties of an English colonist and those
of the Spanish, French, and Dutch": and since the British
Parliament has passed an act, which is executed even with rigor,
though not voluntarily submitted to, for raising a revenue, and
appropriating the same, without the consent of the people who pay
it, and have claimed a power of making such laws as they please,
to order and govern us, your Excellency will excuse us in asking,
whether you do not think we already experience too much of such a
difference, and have not reason to fear we shall soon be reduced
to a worse situation than that of the colonies of France, Spain,
or Holland?

If your Excellency expects to have the line of distinction between
the supreme authority of Parliament, and the total independence of
the colonies drawn by us, we would say it would be an arduous
undertaking, and of very great importance to all the other
colonies; and therefore, could we conceive of such a line, we
should be unwilling to propose it, without their consent in

To conclude, these are great and profound questions. It is the
grief of this House, that, by the ill policy of a late injudicious
administration, America has been driven into the contemplation of
them. And we cannot but express our concern, that your Excellency,
by your speech, has reduced us to the unhappy alternative, either
of appearing by our silence to acquiesce in your Excellency's
sentiments, or of thus freely discussing this point.

After all that we have said, we would be far from being understood
to have in the least abated that just sense of allegiance which we
owe to the King of Great Britain, our rightful Sovereign; and should
the people of this province be left to the free and full exercise of
all the liberties and immunities granted to them by charter, there
would be no danger of an independence on the Crown. Our charters
reserve great power to the Crown in its Representative, fully
sufficient to balance, analogous to the English constitution, all the
liberties and privileges granted to the people. All this your
Excellency knows full well; and whoever considers the power and
influence, in all their branches, reserved by our charter, to the
Crown, will be far from thinking that the Commons of this province are
too independent.

1 Adams was a member of the committee appointed by the House on
January 8 to prepare this answer, and also a member of the committee
appointed January 26 to present the answer to the Governor.
Concerning the authorship of the answer, see W. V. Wells, Life of
Samuel Adams. vol. ii., p. 31, and R. Frothingham, Life of Joseph
Warren, p. 223. For a claim adverse to the authorship of Samuel Adams,
see W. Tudor, Life of James Otis, p. 411, See also below, pages 430,
2 Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 336-342.
3 T. Hutchinson, History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol. i.
p. 322.
4 A Collection of Original Papers Relative to the History of the
Colony of Massachusetts Bay. Boston, 1769. Reprinted by the Prince
Society, 2 vols., Albany, 1865, under the title The Hutchinson Papers.
5 The Hutchinson Papers, vol, ii., pp. 210 et seq.
7 Daniel Neal, History of New England. London, 1720, vol. ii., p. 479.
8 T. Hutchinson, History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol
ii., p. 64.


[MS., Committee of Correspondence Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON Febry 9 1773


The Committee of Correspondence have now before them the Letter of
the Town of Lynn, & will, agreable to their desire, lay it before
this Town. We heartily joyn with you in wishing the glorious
spirit of Liberty which now animates the Inhabitants of this
Province shall be diffused through the Colonies, & happily Effect
the restoration of their Rights, which are cruelly ravishd from

1 Addressed to Ebenezer Burrill, town clerk.
[1773] SAMUEL ADAMS. 427


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

[February --, 1773.]


As I am informd the Commissioners are all now in Newport, and your
Assembly is to meet this day I am anxious to know precisely the
Steps that are or shall be taken by each. I hope your Governor
will not think it proper for him to act in the Commission if the
others should determine so to do. Will it not be construed as
conceding on his part to the Legality of it? Every Movement on the
Side of the Commissioners & the Assembly must be important. I trust no
Concessions will be made on your part which shall have the remotest
tendency to fix a precedent; for if it is once establishd, a thousand
Commissions of the like arbitrary kind may be introducd to the utter
ruin of your free Constitution. The promoters of ministerial measures
in this Town are pleasd to hear from one of the Commissioners that
they are treated with great respect: Even common Civility will be thus
colourd to serve the great purpose. Will it not be necessary at all
Events for the Assembly to enter a protest on their Journal against so
unconstitutional a proceeding. This is the Sentiment of a Gentleman
here whose Judgment I very much regard. Such has been the constant
practice of the Assembly of this province in like Cases, for some
years past. You will see by our Governors Speech what Use is made of
Mistakes of this Sort; they are even Improved as Arguments of our
having voluntarily consented to be the Vassals of the British
Parliament. Indeed the Doctrine he has advancd strikes at the root of
every civil Constitution in America. If it be admissible, you have no
just Cause to complain of the present Measure for it is founded upon
the Authority of that parliament, to the Jurisdiction of which
notwithstanding your Charter, you remain subject.

I shall receive a Letter from you by the return of the post if
your Attention to the publick Affairs will admit of it, as a great
favor. In the mean time I beg you to excuse this hasty Scrawl &
believe me to be &c

1 See above, page 389. note.


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 366, 367; printed also in the
Gentleman's Magazine, vol. xliii., Pp. 198, 199.]

May it please your Excellency,

Your message of the 4th instant,2 informs this House, that his
Majesty has been pleased to order that salaries shall be allowed
to the Justices of the Superior Court of this province.

We conceive that no Judge, who has a due regard to justice, or
even to his own character, would choose to be placed under such an
undue bias as they must be under, in the opinion of this House, by
accepting of, and becoming dependent for their salaries upon the

Had not his Majesty been misinformed, with respect to the
constitution and appointment of our Judges, by those who advised
to this measure, we are persuaded, he would never have passed such
an order; as he was pleased to declare, upon his accession to the
throne, that "he looked upon the independence and uprightness of
the Judges, as essential to the impartial administration of
justice, as one of the best securities of the rights and liberties
of his subjects, and as most conducive to the honor of the Crown."

Your Excellency's precaution to prevent all claim from the
province for any services, for which the Justices may also be
entitled to a salary from the King, is comparatively, of very
small consideration with us.

When we consider the many attempts that have been made,
effectually to render null and void those clauses in our charter,
upon which the freedom of our constitution depends, we should be
lost to all public feeling, should we not manifest a just
resentment. We are more and more convinced, that it has been the
design of administration, totally to subvert the constitution, and
introduce an arbitrary government into this province; and we
cannot wonder that the apprehensions of this people are thoroughly

We wait with impatience to know, and hope your Excellency will
very soon be able to assure us, that the Justices will utterly
refuse ever to accept of support, in a manner so justly obnoxious
to the disinterested and judicious part of the good people of this
province, being repugnant to the charter, and utterly inconsistent
with the safety of the rights, liberties and properties of the

1 Stated to have been written by Adams, in W. V. Wells, Life of
Samuel Adams, vol. ii., p. 47, but with no authority given.
2 Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 365, 366.


[MS., Adams Papers, Quincy, Mass.; a facsimile is in Works of John
Adams, vol. ii., p. 310.]


If you have had Leisure to commit your Thoughts to writing
agreable to my request I shall be obligd if you will send them by
the Bearer. The Govr says the House have incautiously applied a rule
of the Common Law2 (see the 4th Coll. of his Speech). The Assertion is
mine, upon your Authority as I thought. If it be vindicable, pray give
me your Aid in that as briefly as you please. I am sorry to trouble
you at a time when I know you must be much engagd but to tell you a
Secret, if there be a Lawyer in the house in Major Hawleys Absence,
there is no one whom I incline to confide in.

Monday Evg

1 Presumably written on February 22 or March I, 1773. Cf. W. V.
Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. ii., p. 41.
2 Speech of February 16, 1773. Massachusetts State Papers, p. 374.
See ibid., p. 387.


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 384-396; printed also in the
Boston Gazette, March 8, 1773, and in The Speeches of His
Excellency Governor Hutchinson, pp. 90-113.]

May it please your Excellency,

In your speech, at the Opening of the present session2, your
Excellency expressed your displeasure, at some late proceedings of
the town of Boston, and other principal towns in the province. And,
in another speech3 to both Houses, we have your repeated exceptions
at the same proceedings, as being "unwarrantable," and of a dangerous
nature and tendency; "against which, you thought yourself bound to
call upon us to join with you in bearing a proper testimony." This
House have not discovered any principles advanced by the town of
Boston, that are unwarrantable by the constitution; nor does it appear
to us, that they have "invited every other town and district in the
province, to adopt their principles." We are fully convinced, that it
is our duty to bear our testimony against "innovations, of a dangerous
nature and tendency;" but, it is clearly our opinion, that it is the
indisputable right of all, or any of his Majesty's subjects, in
this province, regularly and orderly to meet together, to state
the grievances they labor under; and, to propose, and unite in
such constitutional measures, as they shall judge necessary or proper,
to obtain redress. This right has been frequently exercised by his
Majesty's subjects within the realm; and, we do not recollect an
instance, since the happy revolution, when the two Houses of
Parliament have been called upon to discountenance, or bear their
testimony against it, in a speech from the throne.

Your Excellency is pleased to take notice of some things, which we
"allege," in our answer to your first speech; and, the observation
you make, we must confess, is as natural, and undeniably true, as
any one that could have been made; that, "if our foundation shall
fail us in every part of it, the fabric we have raised upon it,
must certainly fall." You think this foundation will fail us; but,
we wish your Excellency had condescended to a consideration of
what we have "adduced in support of our principles." We might
then, perhaps, have had some things offered for our conviction,
more than bare affirmations; which, we must beg to be excused, if
we say, are far from being sufficient, though they came with your
Excellency's authority, for which, however, we have a due regard.

Your Excellency says, that, "as English subjects, and agreeable to
the doctrine of the feudal tenure, all our lands are held mediately,
or immediately, of the Crown." We trust, your Excellency does not mean
to introduce the feudal system in its perfection; which, to use the
words of one of our greatest historians, was "a state of perpetual
war, anarchy, and confusion, calculated solely for defence against the
assaults of any foreign power; but, in its provision for the interior
order and tranquillity of society, extremely defective. A
constitution, so contradictory to all the principles that govern
mankind, could never be brought about, but by foreign conquest or
native usurpation." And, a very celebrated writer calls it, "that most
iniquitous and absurd form of government, by which human nature
was so shamefully degraded." This system of iniquity, by a strange
kind of fatality, "though originally formed for an encampment, and
for military purposes only, spread over a great part of Europe;"
and, to serve the purposes of oppression and tyranny, "was adopted
by princes, and wrought into their civil constitutions;" and,
aided by the canon law, calculated by the Roman Pontiff, to exalt
himself above all that is called God, it prevailed to the almost
utter extinction of knowledge, virtue, religion, and liberty from
that part of the earth. But, from the time of the reformation, in
proportion as knowledge, which then darted its rays upon the
benighted world, increased, and spread among the people, they grew
impatient under this heavy yoke; and the most virtuous and
sensible among them, to whose steadfastness, we, in this distant
age and climate, are greatly indebted, were determined to get rid
of it; and, though they have in a great measure subdued its power
and influence in England, they have never yet totally eradicated
its principles.

Upon these principles, the King claimed an absolute right to, and
a perfect estate in, all the lands within his dominions; but, how
he came by this absolute right and perfect estate, is a mystery which
we have never seen unravelled, nor is it our business or design, at
present, to inquire. He granted parts or parcels of it to his
friends, the great men, and they granted lesser parcels to their
tenants. All, therefore, derived their right and held their lands,
upon these principles, mediately or immediately of the King; which
Mr. Blackstone, however, calls, "in reality, a mere fiction of our
English tenures."

By what right, in nature and reason, the christian princes in
Europe, claimed the lands of heathen people, upon a discovery made
by any of their subjects, is equally mysterious. Such, however,
was the doctrine universally prevailing, when the lands in America
were discovered; but, as the people of England, upon those
principles, held all the lands they possessed, by grants from the
King, and the King had never granted the lands in America to them,
it is certain they could have no sort of claim to them. Upon the
principles advanced, the lordship and dominion, like that of the
lands in England, was in the King solely; and a right from thence
accrued to him, of disposing such territories, under such tenure,
and for such services to be performed, as the King or Lord thought
proper. But how the grantees became subjects of England, that is,
the supreme authority of the Parliament, your Excellency has not
explained to us. We conceive that upon the feudal principles, all
power is in the King; they afford us no idea of Parliament. "The
Lord was in early times, the Legislator and Judge over all his
feudatories," says Judge Blackstone. By the struggle for liberty
in England, from the days of King John, to the last happy
revolution, the constitution has been gradually changing for the
better; and upon the more rational principles, that all men, by
nature, are in a state of equality in respect of jurisdiction and
dominion, power in England has been more equally divided. And
thus, also in America, though we hold our lands agreeably to the
feudal principles of the King; yet our predecessors wisely took
care to enter into compact with the King, that power here should
also be equally divided, agreeable to the original fundamental
principles of the English constitution, declared in Magna Charta,
and other laws and statutes of England, made to confirm them.

Your Excellency says, "you can by no means concede to us that it
is now, or was, when the plantations were first granted, the
prerogative of the Kings of England, to constitute a number of new
governments, altogether independent of the sovereign authority of
the English empire." By the feudal principles, upon which you say
"all the grants which have been made of America, are founded, the
constitutions of the Emperor, have the force of law." If our
government be considered as merely feudatory, we are subject to
the King's absolute will, and there is no authority of Parliament,
as the sovereign authority of the British empire. Upon these
principles, what could hinder the King's constituting a number of
independent governments in America? That King Charles the I. did
actually set up a government in this colony, conceding to it
powers of making and executing laws, without any reservation to
the English Parliament, of authority to make future laws binding
therein, is a fact which your Excellency has not disproved, if you
have denied it. Nor have you shewn that the Parliament or nation
objected to it; from whence we have inferred that it was an
acknowledged right. And we cannot conceive, why the King has not the
same right to alienate and dispose of countries acquired by the
discovery of his subjects, as he has to "restore, upon a treaty of
peace, countries which have been acquired in war," carried on at the
charge of the nation; or to "sell and deliver up any part of his
dominions to a foreign Prince or state, against the general sense of
the nation;" which is "an act of power," or prerogative, which your
Excellency allows. You tell us, that, "when any new countries are
discovered by English subjects, according to the general law and usage
of nations, they become part of the state. The law of nations is, or
ought to be, founded on the law of reason. It was the saying of
Sir Edwin Sandis, in the great case of the union of the realm of
Scotland with England, which is applicable to our present purpose,
that "there being no precedent for this case in the law, the law
is deficient; and the law being deficient, recourse is to be had
to custom; and custom being insufficient, we must recur to natural
reason;" the greatest of all authorities, which, he adds, "is the
law of nations." The opinions, therefore, and determinations of
the greatest Sages and Judges of the law in the Exchequer Chamber,
ought not to be considered as decisive or binding, in our present
controversy with your Excellency, any further, than they are
consonant to natural reason. If, however, we were to recur to such
opinions and determinations, we should find very great authorities
in our favor, to show, that the statutes of England are not binding on
those who are not represented in Parliament there. The opinion of Lord
Coke, that Ireland was bound by statutes of England, wherein they were
named, if compared with his other writings, appears manifestly to be
grounded upon a supposition, that Ireland had, by an act of their own,
in the reign of King John, consented to be thus bound; and, upon any
other supposition, this opinion would be against reason; for consent
only gives human laws their force. We beg leave, upon what your
Excellency has observed of the colony becoming a part of the state, to
subjoin the opinions of several learned civilians, as quoted by a very
able lawyer in this country. "Colonies," says Puffendorf, "are
settled in different methods; for, either the colony continues a
part of the Commonwealth it was set out from, or else is obliged
to pay a dutiful regard to the mother Commonwealth, and to be in
readiness to defend and vindicate its honor, and so is united by a
sort of unequal confederacy; or, lastly, is erected into a
separate Commonwealth and assumes the same rights, with the state
it descended from." And, King Tullius, as quoted by the same
learned author, from Grotius, says, "we look upon it to be neither
truth nor justice, that mother cities, ought, of necessity, and by
the law of nature, to rule over the colonies."

Your Excellency has misinterpreted what we have said, "that no
country, by the common law, was subject to the laws or the
Parliament, but the realm of England;" and, are pleased to tell
us, "that we have expressed ourselves incautiously."4 We beg leave
to recite the words of the Judges of England, in the before
mentioned case, to our purpose. "If a King go out of England with
a company of his servants, allegiance remaineth among his subjects
and servants, although he be out of his realm, whereto his laws
are confined." We did not mean to say, as your Excellency would
suppose, that "the common law prescribes limits to the extent of
the Legislative power," though, we shall always affirm it to be
true, of the law of reason and natural equity. Your Excellency
thinks, you have made it appear, that the "colony of Massachusetts
Bay is holden as feudatory of the imperial Crown of England;" and,
therefore, you say, "to use the words of a very great authority in
a case, in some respects analogous to it," being feudatory, it
necessarily follows, that "it is under the government of the
King's laws." Your Excellency has not named this authority; but,
we conceive his meaning must be, that being feudatory, it is under
the government of the King's laws absolutely; for, as we have
before said, the feudal system admits of no idea of the authority
of Parliament; and this would have been the case of the colony,
but for the compact with the King in the charter.

Your Excellency says, that "persons thus holding under the Crown
of England, remain, or become subjects of England," by which, we
suppose your Excellency to mean, subject to the supreme authority
of Parliament, "to all intents and purposes, as fully, as if any of
the royal manors, &c. within the realm, had been granted to them upon
the like tenure." We apprehend, with submission, your Excellency is
mistaken in supposing that our allegiance is due to the Crown of
England. Every man swears allegiance for himself, to his own King, in
his natural person. Every subject is presumed by law to be sworn to
the King, which is to his natural person," says Lord Coke. Rep. on
Calvin's case.5 "The allegiance is due to his natural body;" and,
he says, "in the reign of Edward II. the Spencers, the father and
the son, to cover the treason hatched in their hearts, invented
this damnable and damned opinion, that homage and oath of allegiance
was more by reason of the King's Crown, that is, of his politic
capacity, than by reason of the person of the King; upon which
opinion, they inferred execrable and detestable consequents." The
Judges of England, all but one, in the case of the union between
Scotland and England, declared, that "allegiance followeth the natural
person, not the politic;" and, "to prove the allegiance to be tied to
the body natural of the King, and not to the body politic, the Lord
Coke cited the phrases of divers statutes, mentioning our natural
liege Sovereign." If, then, the homage and allegiance is not to the
body politic of the King, then it is not to him as the head, or any
part of that Legislative authority, which your Excellency says, "is
equally extensive with the authority of the Crown throughout every
part of the dominion;" and your Excellency's observations thereupon,
must fail. The same Judges mention the allegiance of a subject to the
Kings of England, who is out of the reach and extent of the laws of
England, which is perfectly reconcileable with the principles of
our ancestors, quoted before from your Excellency's history, but,
upon your Excellency's principles, appears to us to be an
absurdity. The Judges, speaking of a subject, say, "although his
birth was out of the bounds of the kingdom of England, and out of
the reach and extent of the laws of England, yet, if it were
within the allegiance of the King of England, &c. Normandy,
Aquitain, Gascoign, and other places, within the limits of France,
and, consequently, out of the realm or bounds of the kingdom of
England, were in subjection to the Kings of England." And the
Judges say, "Rex et Regnum, be not so relatives, as a King can be
King but of one kingdom, which clearly holdeth not, but that his
kingly power extending to divers nations and kingdoms, all owe him
equal subjection, and are equally born to the benefit of his
protection; and, although he is to govern them by their distinct
laws, yet any one of the people coming into the other, is to have
the benefit of the laws, wheresoever he cometh." So they are not
to be deemed aliens, as your Excellency in your speech supposes,
in any of the dominions, all which accords with the principles our
ancestors held. "And he is to bear the burden of taxes of the
place where he cometh, but living in one, or for his livelihood in
one, he is not to be taxed in the other, because laws ordain taxes,
impositions, and charges, as a discipline of subjection,
particularized to every particular nation." Nothing, we think, can
be more clear to our purpose than this decision of Judges, perhaps
as learned, as ever adorned the English nation, or in favor of
America, in her present controversy with the mother state.

Your Excellency says, that, by "our not distinguishing between the
Crown of England, and the Kings and Queens of England, in their
personal or natural capacities, we have been led into a
fundamental error." Upon this very distinction we have availed
ourselves. We have said, that our ancestors considered the land,
which they took possession of in America, as out of the bounds of
the kingdom of England, and out of the reach and extent of the
laws of England; and, that the King also, even in the act of
granting the charter, considered the territory as not within the
realm; that the King had an absolute right in himself to dispose
of the lands, and that this was not disputed by the nation; nor
could the lands, on any solid grounds, be claimed by the nation;
and, therefore, our ancestors received the lands, by grant, from
the King; and, at the same time, compacted with him, and promised
him homage and allegiance, not in his public or politic, but
natural capacity only. If it be difficult for us to show how the
King acquired a title to this country in his natural capacity, or
separate from his relation to his subjects, which we confess, yet
we conceive, it will be equally difficult for your Excellency to
show how the body politic and nation of England acquired it. Our
ancestors supposed it was acquired by neither; and, therefore,
they declared, as we have before quoted from your history, that
saving their actual purchase from the natives, of the soil, the
dominion, the lordship, and sovereignty, they had in the sight of
God and man, no right and title to what they possessed. How much
clearer then, in natural reason and equity, must our title be, who
hold estates dearly purchased at the expense of our own, as well
as our ancestors labor, and defended by them with treasure and

Your Excellency has been pleased to confirm, rather than deny or
confute, a piece of history, which, you say, we took from an
anonymous pamphlet, and by which you "fear we have been too easily
misled." It may be gathered from your own declaration, and other
authorities, besides the anonymous pamphlet, that the House of
Commons took exception, not at the King's having made an absolute
grant of the territory, but at the claim of an exclusive right to
the fishery on the banks and sea coast, by virtue of the patent.
At this you say, "the House of Commons was alarmed, and a bill was
brought in for allowing a free fishery." And, upon this occasion,
your Excellency allows, that "one of the Secretaries of State
declared, that the plantations were not annexed to the Crown, and
so were not within the jurisdiction of Parliament." If we should
concede to what your Excellency supposes might possibly or
"perhaps," be the case, that the Secretary made this declaration,
"as his own opinion," the event showed that it was the opinion of
the King too; for it is not to be accounted for upon any other
principle, that he would have denied his royal assent to a bill,
formed for no other purpose, but to grant his subjects in England,
the privilege of fishing on the sea coasts in America. The account
published by Sir Ferdinando Gorges himself, of the proceedings of
Parliament on this occasion, your Excellency thinks, will remove
all doubt, of the sense of the nation, and of the patentees of
this patent or charter, in 1620. "This narrative," you say, "has
all the appearance of truth and sincerity," which we do not deny;
and, to us, it carries this conviction with it, that "what was
objected" in Parliament, was the exclusive claim of fishing only.
His imagining that he had satisfied the House, after divers
attendances, that the planting a colony was of much more
consequence than a simple disorderly course of fishing, is
sufficient for our conviction. We know that the nation was at that
time alarmed with apprehensions of monopolies; and, if the patent
of New England was presented by the two Houses as a grievance, it
did not show, as your Excellency supposes, "the sense they then
had of their authority over this new acquired territory," but only
their sense of the grievance of a monopoly of the sea.

We are happy to hear your Excellency say, that "our remarks upon,
and construction of the words, not repugnant to the laws of
England, are much the same with those of the Council." It serves
to confirm us in our opinion, in what we take to be the most
important matter of difference between your Excellency and the two
Houses. After saying, that the statute of 7th and 8th of William
and Mary favors the construction of the words, as intending such
laws of England as are made more immediately to respect us, you
tell us, that "the province Agent, Mr. Dummer, in his much
applauded defence, says, that, then a law of the plantations may
be said to be repugnant to a law made in Great Britain, when it
flatly contradicts it, so far as the law made there, mentions and
relates to the plantations."6 This is plain and obvious to common
sense, and, therefore, cannot be denied. But, if your Excellency
would read a page or two further in that excellent defence,7 you
will see that he mentions this as the sense of the phrase, as
taken from an act of Parliament, rather than as the sense he would
choose himself to put upon it; and, he expressly designs to show,
in vindication of the charter, that, in that sense of the words,
there never was a law made in the plantations repugnant to the
laws of Great Britain. He gives another construction, much more
likely to be the true intent of the words, namely, "that the
patentees shall not presume, under color of their particular
charters, to make any laws inconsistent with the great charter,
and other laws of England, by which the lives, liberties, and
properties of Englishmen are secured."8 This is the sense in which
our ancestors understood the words; and, therefore, they are
unwilling to conform to the acts of trade, and disregarded them
till they made provision to give them force in the colony, by a
law of their own; saying, that "the laws of England did not reach
America; and those acts were an invasion of their rights, liberties,
and properties," because they were not "represented in Parliament."
The right of being governed by laws, which were made by persons, in
whose election they had a voice, they looked upon as the foundation
of English liberties. By the compact with the King, in the charter,
they were to be as free in America, as they would have been if they
had remained within the realm; and, therefore, they freely asserted,
that they "were to be governed by laws made by themselves, and by
officers chosen by themselves." Mr. Dummer says, "it seems reasonable
enough to think that the Crown," and, he might have added, our
ancestors, "intended by this injunction to provide for all its
subjects, that they might not be oppressed by arbitrary power; but
being still subjects, they should be protected by the same mild laws,
and enjoy the same happy government, as if they continued within the
realm."9 And, considering the words of the charter in this light,
he looks upon them as designed to be a fence against oppression
and despotic power. But the construction which your Excellency
puts upon the words, reduces us to a state of vassalage, and
exposes us to oppression and despotic power, whenever a Parliament
shall see fit to make laws for that purpose, and put them in

We flatter ourselves, that, from the large extracts we have made
from your Excellency's history of the colony, it appears
evidently, that under both charters, it hath been the sense of the
people and of the government, that they were not under the
jurisdiction of Parliament. We pray you again to turn to those
quotations, and our observations upon them; and we wish to have your
Excellency's judicious remarks. When we adduced that history, to prove
that the sentiments of private persons of influence, four or five
years after the restoration, were very different from what your
Excellency apprehended them to be, when you delivered your speech, you
seem to concede to it, by telling us, "it was, as you take it, from
the principles imbibed in those times of anarchy, (preceding the
restoration,) that they disputed the authority of Parliament;"
but, you add, "the government would not venture to dispute it." We
find in the same history,10 a quotation from a letter of Mr.
Stoughton, dated seventeen years after the restoration, mentioning
"the country's not taking notice of the acts of navigation, to
observe them." And it was, as we take it, after that time, that
the government declared, in a letter to their Agents, that they
had not submitted to them; and they ventured to "dispute" the
jurisdiction, asserting, that they apprehended the acts to be an
invasion of the rights, liberties, and properties of the subjects
of his Majesty in the colony, they not being represented in
Parliament, and that "the laws of England did not reach America."
It very little avails in proof, that they conceded to the supreme
authority of Parliament, their telling the Commissioners, "that
the act of navigation had for some years before, been observed
here; that they knew not of its being greatly violated; and that,
such laws as appeared to be against it, were repealed." It may as
truly be said now, that the revenue acts are observed by some of the
people of this province; but it cannot be said that the government and
people of this province have conceded, that the Parliament had
authority to make such acts to be observed here. Neither does their
declaration to the Commissioners, that such laws as appeared to be
against the act of navigation, were repealed, prove their concession
of the authority of Parliament, by any means, so much as their making
provision for giving force to an act of Parliament within this
province, by a deliberate and solemn act or law of their own, proves
the contrary.

You tell us, that "the government, four or five years before the
charter was vacated, in more explicitly," that is, than by a
conversation with the Commissioners, "acknowledged the authority
of Parliament, and voted, that their Governor should take the oath
required of him, faithfully to do and perform all matters and
things enjoined him by the acts of trade." But does this, may it
please your Excellency, show their explicit acknowledgment of the
authority of Parliament? Does it not rather show directly the
contrary? For, what could there he for their vote, or authority,
to require him to take the oath already required of him, by the
act of Parliament, unless both he, and they, judge that an act of
Parliament was not of force sufficient to bind him to take such
oath? We do not deny, but, on the contrary, are fully persuaded,
that your Excellency's principles in governments are still of the
same with what they appear to be in the history; for, you there
say, that "the passing this law, plainly shows the wrong sense
they had of the relation they stood in to England." But we are
from hence convinced, that your Excellency, when you wrote the
history, was of our mind in this respect, that our ancestors, in
passing the law, discovered their opinion, that they were without
the jurisdiction of Parliament; for it was upon this principle
alone, they shewed the wrong sense they had in your Excellency's
opinion, of the relation they stood in to England.

Your Excellency, in your second speech, condescends to point out
to us the acts and doings of the General Assembly, which relates
to acts of Parliament, which, you think, "demonstrates that they
have been acknowledged by the Assembly, or submitted to by the
people;" neither of which, in our opinion, shows that it was the
sense of the nation, and our predecessors, when they first took
possession of this plantation, or colony, by a grant and charter
from the Crown, that they were to remain subject to the supreme
authority of the English Parliament.

Your Excellency seems chiefly to rely upon our ancestors, after
the revolution, "proclaiming King William and Queen Mary, in the
room of King James," and taking the oaths to them, "the alteration
of the form of oaths, from time to time," and finally, "the
establishment of the form, which every one of us has complied
with, as the charter, in express terms requires, and makes our
duty." We do not know that it has ever been a point in dispute,
whether the Kings of England were ipso facto Kings in, and over,
this colony, or province. The compact was made between King
Charles the I. his heirs and successors, and the Governor and
company, their heirs and successors. It is easy, upon this
principle, to account for the acknowledgment of, and submission to
King William and Queen Mary, as successors of Charles the I. in
the room of King James; besides, it is to be considered, that the
people in the colony, as well as in England, had suffered under
the tyrant James, by which, he had alike forfeited his right to
reign over both. There had been a revolution here, as well as in
England. The eyes of the people here, were upon William and Mary;
and the news of their being proclaimed in England, was, as your
Excellency's history tells us, "the most joyful news ever received
in New England."11 And, if they were not proclaimed here, "by
virtue of an act of the colony," it was, as we think may be
concluded from the tenor of your history, with the general or
universal consent of the people, as apparently, as if "such act
had passed." It is consent alone, that makes any human laws
binding; and as a learned author observes, a purely voluntary
submission to an act, because it is highly in our favor and for
our benefit, is in all equity and justice, to be deemed as not at
all proceeding from the right we include in the Legislators, that
they, thereby obtain an authority over us, and that ever
hereafter, we must obey them of duty. We would observe, that one
of the first acts of the General Assembly of this province, since
the present charter, was an act, requiring the taking the oaths
mentioned in an act of Parliament, to which you refer us. For what
purpose was this act of the Assembly passed, if it was the sense of
the Legislators that the act of Parliament was in force in the
province? And, at the same time, another act was made for the
establishment of other oaths necessary to be taken; both which acts
have the royal sanction, and are now in force. Your Excellency says,
that when the colony applied to King William for a second charter,
they knew the oath the King had taken, which was to govern them
according to the statutes in Parliament, and (which your Excellency
here omits,) the laws and customs of the same. By the laws and customs
of Parliament, the people of England freely debate and consent to
such statutes as are made by themselves, or their chosen
Representatives. This is a law, or custom, which all mankind may
justly challenge as their inherent right. According to this law,
the King has an undoubted right to govern us. Your Excellency,
upon recollection, surely will not infer from hence, that it was
the sense of our predecessors that there was to remain a supremacy
in the English Parliament, or a full power and authority to make
laws binding upon us, in all cases whatever, in that Parliament
where we cannot debate and deliberate upon the necessity or
expediency of any law, and, consequently, without our consent;
and, as it may probably happen, destructive of the first law of
society, the good of the whole. You tell us, that "after the
assumption of all the powers of government, by virtue of the new
charter, an act passed for the reviving, for a limited time, all
the local laws of the Massachusetts Bay and New Plymouth
respectively, not repugnant to the laws of England. And, at the
same session, an act passed establishing naval officers, that all
undue trading, contrary to an act of Parliament, may be
prevented." Among the acts that were then revived, we may
reasonably suppose, was that, whereby provision was made to give
force to this act of Parliament, in the province. The
establishment, therefore, of the naval officers, was to aid the
execution of an act of Parliament, for the observance of which,
within the colony, the Assembly had before made provision, after
free debates, with their own consent, and by their own act.

The act of Parliament, passed in 1741,12 for putting an end to
several unwarrantable schemes, mentioned by your Excellency, was
designed for the general good; and, if the validity of it was not
disputed, it cannot be urged as a concession of the supreme
authority, to make laws binding on us in all cases whatever. But,
if the design of it was for the general benefit of the province,
it was, in one respect, at least greatly complained of, by the
persons more immediately affected by it; and to remedy the
inconvenience, the Legislative of this province, passed an act,
directly militating with it; which is the strongest evidence, that
although they may have submitted, sub silentio, to some acts of
Parliament, that they conceived might operate for their benefit,
they did not conceive themselves bound by any of its acts, which,
they judged, would operate to the injury even of individuals.

Your Excellency has not thought proper, to attempt to confute the
reasoning of a learned writer on the laws of nature and nations,
quoted by us, on this occasion, to shew that the authority of the
Legislature does not extend so far as the fundamentals of the
constitution. We are unhappy in not having your remarks upon the
reasoning of that great man; and, until it is confuted, we shall
remain of the opinion, that the fundamentals of the constitution
being excepted from the commission of the Legislators, none of the
acts or doings of the General Assembly, however deliberate and
solemn, could avail to change them, if the people have not, in
very express terms, given them the power to do it; and, that much
less ought their acts and doings, however numerous, which barely
refer to acts of Parliament made expressly to relate to us, to be
taken as an acknowledgment, that we are subject to the supreme
authority of Parliament.

We shall sum up our own sentiments in the words of that learned
writer, Mr. Hooker, in his Ecclesiastical Policy, as quoted by Mr.
Locke. "The lawful power of making laws to command whole political
societies of men, belonging so properly to the same entire
societies, that for any prince or potentate of what kind soever,
to exercise the same of himself, and not from express commission,
immediately and personally received from God, is no better than
mere tyranny. Laws, therefore, they are not, which public
approbation hath not made so; for human laws, of what kind soever,
are available by consent." "Since men, naturally, have no full and
perfect power to command whole politic multitudes of men,
therefore, utterly without our consent, we could in such sort, be
at no man's commandment living. And to be commanded, we do not
consent, when that society. whereof we be a party, hath at any
time before consented." We think your Excellency has not proved,
either that the colony is a part of the politic society of
England, or that it has ever consented that the Parliament of
England or Great Britain, should make laws binding upon us, in all
cases, whether made expressly to refer to us or not.

We cannot help, before we conclude, expressing our great concern,
that your Excellency has thus repeatedly, in a manner, insisted
upon our free sentiments on matters of so delicate a nature and
weighty importance. The question appears to us, to be no other,
than, whether we are the subjects of absolute unlimited power, or
of a free government, formed on the principles of the English
constitution. If your Excellency's doctrine be true, the people of
this province hold their lands of the Crown and people of England;
and their lives, liberties, and properties, are at their disposal,
and that, even by compact and their own consent. They were subject
to the King as the head alterius populi of another people, in
whose Legislative they have no voice or interest. They are,
indeed, said to have a constitution and a Legislative of their
own; but your Excellency has explained it into a mere phantom;
limited, controled, superseded, and nullified, at the will of
another. Is this the constitution which so charmed our ancestors,
that, as your Excellency has informed us, they kept a day of
solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God when they received it? And
were they men of so little discernment, such children in
understanding, as to please themselves with the imagination, that
they were blessed with the same rights and liberties which natural
born subjects in England enjoyed, when, at the same time, they had
fully consented to be ruled and ordered by a Legislative, a
thousand leagues distant from them, which cannot be supposed to be
sufficiently acquainted with their circumstances, if concerned for
their interest, and in which, they cannot be in any sense

1 Hutchinson is the principal authority for the statement that
this document, as well as that of January 26, 1773, was prepared
by Adams. Cf., R. Frothingham, Life of Joseph Warren, p. 223. W.
V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. ii., p. 45. An instance of
the later recognition of this claim is in Publications, Colonial
Society of Massachusetts, vol. vi., p. 170. And see also above,
pages 401, 430.
2 Massachusetts State Papers, p. 338.
3Ibid., pp. 368-381. February 16.
4 See above, page 430.
5 Rep. x. (16o8). Referred to as the leading case" on the subject
as recently as 1897. United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 United
States Reports, 649.
6 Jer. Dummer, A Defence of the New England Charters. London,
1721, p. 57
7 Ibid., pp. 58, 59.
8 Ibid., p. 59.
9 Jer. Dummer, A Defence of the New England Charters. London,
1721, pp. 59, 60. The quotation is abridged.
10 T. Hutchinson, History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay,
vol. i., p. 319.
11 T. Hutchinson, History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay,
vol. i., p. 387.
12 14 Geo. II., chap. 37.

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