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

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


[Boston Gazette, December 2, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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



[Boston Gazette, December 9, 1771.]


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

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

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

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

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



[Boston Gazette, December 16, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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



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

Decbr 18 I771.

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


[Boston Gazette, December 23, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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

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



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

BOSTON Jan 7 1772


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

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

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

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

I wait in daily Expectation of a Letter from you.

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


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

BOSTON, January 14th, 1772.

SIR, -

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

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

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

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


[Boston Gazette, January 20, 1772.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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

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

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

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


1 Mr. Hutchinson.


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

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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

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


APRIL 10, 1772.

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

May it please your Excellency.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Boston Gazette, April 20, 1772.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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


JULY 14, 1772.1

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

May it please your Excellency,

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

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

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


[Boston Gazette, October 5, 1772.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

BOSTON Octob 21 1772


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

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

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

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

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


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

BOSTON, October 27, 1772.

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

I write in the utmost haste,


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

BOSTON Oct 29 1772


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

I shall write you by the next Ship.

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


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

BOSTON 5 Novr 1772


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

BOSTON Novr 14 1772


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

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


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


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

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

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

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