The Writings of Samuel Adams, volume II (1770 - 1773) - collected and edited by Harry Alonso Cushing
by Samuel Adams
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We are in a State of perfect Despotism. Our Governmt is essentially alterd. Instead of having a Gov exercising Authority within the Rules & Circumscription of the Charter which is the Compact between the King & the People, & dependent upon the people for his Support, we have a Man with the Name of a Governor only. He is indeed commissiond by the King, but under the Controul of the Minister, to whose Instrucctions he yields an unlimitted Obedience, while he is subsisted with the Money of that very people who are thus governd, by virtue of an Assumd Authority of the British Parliament to oblige them to grant him such an annual Stipend as the King shall order. Can you tell me who is Governor of this province? Surely not Hutchinson, for I cannot conceive that he exercises the power of judging vested in him by the Constitution, in one Act of Govt which appears to him to be important. The Govt is shifted into the Hands of the Earl of Hillsborough whose sole Councellor is the Nettleham Baronet. Upon this Governor aided by the Advice of this Councellor depends the time & place of the Sitting of the legislative Assembly or whether it shall sit at all. If they are allowd to sit, they are to be dictated by this duumvirate, thro the Instrumentality of a third, & may be thrown out of Existence for failing in one point to conform to their sovereign pleasure, a Legislative to be sure worthy to be boasted of by a free people. If our nominal Governor by all the Arts of perswasion, can prevail upon us to be easy under such a Mode of Government, he will do a singular piece of Service to his Lordship, as it will save him the trouble of geting our Charter vacated by the formal Decision of parliamt & the tedious process of Law.

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

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

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

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

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


[Boston Gazette, September 30, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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


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


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

BOSTON, Oct. 2d, 1771.


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


[Boston Gazette, October 7, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL, Instead of voted Aid,

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

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

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



[Boston Gazette, October 14, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

1 See above, page 230.


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

Nov 7 1771


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


[Boston Gazette, November 11, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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



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

BOSTON Novr 13 1771.

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

Your Friend


[Boston Gazette, November 25, 1771.]


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

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

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


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


[Boston Gazette, December 2, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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



[Boston Gazette, December 9, 1771.]


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

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

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

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

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

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