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

Part 6 out of 7

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called the first Law of Nature -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3d. The Rights of the Colonists as Subjects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A List of Infringements & Violations of Rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Boston Gazette, November 30, I772.1]

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

BOSTON, Nov. 31st, 1772.

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

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

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

1 See below, page 394.


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

BOSTON, Dec. 7, 1772.


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

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

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


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

BOSTON Decr 14 1772


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

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

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

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


[Boston Gazette, December 14, 1772.]


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

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

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

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


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


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

BOSTON, Dec. 23, 1772.


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

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

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

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

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


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

BOSTON Decr 28 1772


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

Your assured Friend & very hbl Servt

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


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

BOSTON Decr 29 1772


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

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

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

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

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


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

BOSTON Decr 29 1772


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

BOSTON Jan 2 1773.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Your assured friend
& humble servant

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

To the Hon Darius Sessions Esqr
to be communicated


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

May it please your Excellency,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first act of Parliament, made expressly to refer to the colonies,
was after the restoration. In the reign of King Charles the II.
several such acts passed. And the same history informs us, there was a
difficulty in conforming to them; and the reason of this difficulty is
explained in a letter of the General Assembly to their Agent, quoted
in the following words; "they apprehended them to be an invasion of
the rights, liberties and properties of the subjects of his Majesty,
in the colony, they not being represented in Parliament, and according
to the usual sayings of the learned in the law, the laws of England
were bounded within the four seas, and did not reach America: However,
as his Majesty had signified his pleasure, that those acts should be
observed in the Massachusetts, they had made provision, by a law of
the colony, that they should be strictly attended."3 Which provision,
by a law of their own, would have been superfluous, if they had
admitted the supreme authority of Parliament. In short, by the same
history it appears, that those acts of Parliament, as such, were

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