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The Writings of Samuel Adams, volume II (1770 - 1773) by Samuel Adams

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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


[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

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