The Writings of Samuel Adams, volume II (1770 - 1773) - collected and edited by Harry Alonso Cushing
by Samuel Adams
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

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


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

BOSTON NOVr 16 1770


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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


[Boston Gazette, November 26, 1770.]

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



Cambridge, Nov. 20, 1770.

1Administration. 2Proclamation.


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

Boston Novr 21 1770


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

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

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

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

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


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

Boston 23 Novr 1770


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Boston Novr 23 1770


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


[Boston Gazette, December 3, 1770.]

We should all remember that British America was well affected to the nation till MINISTERIAL INNOVATIONS occasiond these Difficulties. Anon.

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

Messieurs PRINTERS,

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

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

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

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

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

In the mean while, I am yours,


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


[Boston Gazette, December 10, 1770.]

To the Printers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


To the Printers.

That the trial of the soldiers concernd in the carnage on the memorable 5th of March, was the most solemn trial that ever was had in this country, was pronouncd from the bench. To see eight prisoners brot to the bar together, chargd with the murder of five persons at one time, was certainly, as was then observd, affecting: But whoever recollects the tragedy of that fatal evening, will I believe readily own that the scene then was much more affecting—There is something pleasing and solemn when one enters into a court of law —Pleasing, as there we expect to see the scale held with an equal hand—to find matters deliberately and calmly weighd and decided, and justice administered without any respect to persons or parties, and from no other motive but a sacred regard to truth—And it is solemn as it brings to our minds the tribunal of GOD himself! before whose judgment-seat the scriptures assure us all must appear: And I have often thot that no one will receive a greater share of rewards at that decisive day, than he who has approvd himself a faithful upright judge.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dec. 11th.


[Boston Gazette, December 24, 1770.]

To the Printers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dec. 18th.


[Boston Gazette, December 24, 1770.]

To the Printers.

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


Dec. 22.


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

BOSTON Decr 28 1770


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

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

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

I am with strict Truth Sir Your most humbe Servt

1See above, page 9.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 This article in the form as published is printed at pages 110- 122. 2 March 26. Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., p. 20. 3 0n July 10, the town meeting defeated a motion that the printers be allowed to sell the printed narrative. ibid., p. 34. 4 The words "& Impartiality" were stricken out at this point. 5 see Narrative first Edit. Apendix page 68. 6 At this point the words "Men or" were stricken out. 7 Idem. 8 page 69. 9 page 22. 10 Page 61. 11 The remainder of this paragraph is crossed out in the draft. Cf., page 108. 12 Narrative Appendix page 4. 13 id, pa. 4 - this alludes to the affrays at the ropewalk: The Soldiers at Greens Barracks had made three Attacks upon the ropemakers when they were at their Work, in revenge for one of them being told by one of the hands in the Walk, that "if he wanted work he might empty his Vault." Enough to enkindle the flame of resentment in the Breast of a common Soldier, who of all men has the most delicate Sentiments of honor! Two of the prisoners were of the party in these noble Exploits, as was testified in Court.


[Boston Gazette, December 31, 1770.]


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

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

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

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse