ARTICLE SIGNED "CANDIDUS."
[Boston Gazette, December 16, 1771.]
Messieurs EDES & GILL,
I Profess to be more generous than to make severe remarks upon the apparent absurdities that run through the whole of Chronus's performance in the last Massachusetts-Gazette. He tells us that "he seldom examines political struggles that make their weekly appearance in the papers ". If by this mode of expression he means to inform us, that he seldom reads the papers with impartiality and attention, as every one ought, who designs to make his own observations on them, I can easily believe him; for it is evident in the piece now before me, that thro' a want of such impartiality or due attention, to the political struggles which he examines, he mistakes one writer for another, and finds fault with Candidus for not vindicating what had been advanc'd by Mutius Scaevola. I am no party man, unless a firm attachment to the cause of Liberty and Truth will denominate one such: And if this be the judgment of those who have taken upon themselves the character of Friends to the Government, I am content to be in their sense of the word a party man, and will glory in it as long as I shall retain that small portion of understanding which GOD has been pleas'd to bless me with. If at any time I venture to lay my own opinions before the public, which is the undoubted right of every one, I expect they will be treated, if worth any notice, with freedom and candor: But I do not think myself liable to be called to account by Chronus, or any one else, for not answering the objections they are pleased to make to what is offered by another man, and not by me. Whatever may be the opinion of Mr. Hutchinson, as a Usurper or a Tyrant or not, or as Governor or no Governor, if Chronus had fairly "examined the political struggles" which have appeared in the papers, he must have known that I had not published my sentiments about the matter; I shall do it however, as soon as I think proper. - I would not willingly suppose that Chronus artfully intended to amuse his readers, and "mislead them to believe ", that his address to the publick of the 28th of November, was particularly applicable to me, as having advanced the doctrine which has given so much disgust to some gentlemen, and from whence he draws such a long string of terrible consequences. Whether the denying the governor's authority be right or wrong, or whether upon Mutius's hypothesis it be vindicable or not, it is a "maxim," (to use his own word) upon which it no more concerned me to pass my judgment than it did any other man in the community. Had Chronus then a right to press me into this "political struggle," or to demand my opinion of what he had so sagely observed upon a subject which I had never engag'd in? Yes, by all means; says he, "I pointed out some of the mischiefs that would inevitably follow upon denying the Governor's authority, if that maxim should be generally received"; and adds, "what now has Candidus reply'd to all this? Why truly nothing, but - altum silentium" in English, a profound silence; that is in the words of an honest Teague on another occasion "he answered and said nothing" - But notwithstanding the deep silence that I preserv'd when I made my answer, it seems that "I assured him that the way of peaceable, dutiful and legal representations of our grievances had already been tried to no purpose": With the most profound Taciturnity I "was pleas'd most largely to expatiate upon this point", & with all my "altum silentium" my "interrogations follow'd one another with such amazing rapidity, that he (poor man) was almost out of breath in repeating them." - Here, gentle reader, is presented to you a group of ideas in the chaste, the elegant style of CURONUS, which required much more skill in the English language than I am a master of, to reduce to the level of common sense. Thus I have given you a short specimen of the taste of Chronus, who is said to be the top hand on the side of the ministry: For want of leisure I must omit taking notice of his "method of reasoning" till another time.
[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
Decbr 18 I771.
This day I waited on Mr Harrison Gray junr to acquaint him that I had been informd that he had told John Hancock Esqr that he heard me say in a threatning manner that Mr Hancock might think as he pleasd, Mr Otis had friends & his (Mr Hancocks) treatment of Mr Otis would prejudice his (Mr Hancocks) Election. Mr Gray declard to me that he did not hear me mention a Word of Mr Hancocks Election - that a conversation happend between Mr John Cotton & my self (Mr Gray being present) relative to Mr Otis - that Mr Cotton said Mr Otis' Conduct must be the Effect of Distraction or Drunkeness - that I said I did not think so - but that it rather proceeded from Irritation - that he (Mr Gray) said if Mr Otis is distracted why should Mr Hancock pursue him - & that I answerd that Mr Hancock might be stirred up by others to do it, but I thought he had better not or it was a pity he should. This Mr Gray declared was all that I said relative to Mr Hancock, in answer to his Question as is before mentiond & that it did not appear to him that I discoverd the least Unfriendliness towards Mr Hancock. He further said he was willing to give his oath to the truth of this his declaration. Upon which I told Mr Gray that it was far from my Intention to make Mr Hancock displeasd with him, that I was satisfied that Mr Hancock understood him differently & I should let Mr Hancock know what he now said, & asked him to repeat it which he did precisely as before - & told me he was freely willing that I should repeat it to Mr Hancock that if Mr Hancock & myself desired it he would thus explain it in presense of us both.
ARTICLE SIGNED "CANDIDUS."
[Boston Gazette, December 23, 1771.]
Messieurs EDES & GILL,
The writer in the Massachusetts Gazette, who signs Chronus, in his address to the publick, recommended petitioning and humbly representing the hardship of certain measures; and yet before he finished his first paper, he pointed out to us the unhappy effects in former times of the very method he had prescribed. Those "intemperate patriots" it seems, the majority of both houses of the general assembly, not hearkning to the cool advice of the few wise men within and without doors, must needs make their humble representations to the King and Council upon the claims of New- Hampshire and Rhode-Island: And what was the consequence? Why, he says the province lost ten times the value of the land in dispute. Did Chronus mean by this and such like instances, to enforce the measure which he had recommended? They certainly afford a poor encouragement for us to persevere in the way of petitioning and humble representation. But perhaps he will say, the General Assembly had at that time no reason to complain of the incroachment of these sister colonies their claims were just; and the discerning few who were in that mind were in the right. Just so he says is the case now. For he tells us that "no one has attempted to infringe the peoples rights." Upon what principle then would he have us petition? It is possible, for I would fain understand him, that what Candidus and others call an invasion of our rights, he may choose to denominate a Grievance; for if we suffer no Grievance, he can certainly have no reason to advise us to represent the hardship of certain measures. And I am the rather inclin'd to think, that this is his particular humour, because I find that the stamp-act, which almost every one looked upon as a most violent infraction of our natural and constitutional rights, is called by this writer a Grievance. And he is so singular as to enquire, "What Liberties we are now deprived of," aitho' an act of parliament is still in being, and daily executed, very similar to the stamp-act, and form'd for the very same purpose, viz, the raising and establishing a revenue in the colonies by virtue of a suppos'd inherent right in the British parliament, where the colonies cannot be represented, and therefore without their consent. The exercise of such a power Chronus would have us consider as a Grievance indeed, but not by any means a deprivation of our rights and liberties, or even so much as the least infringement of them. Mr. Locke has often been quoted in the present dispute between Britain and her colonies, and very much to our purpose. His reasoning is so forcible, that no one has even attempted to confute it. He holds that "the preservation of property is the end of government, and that for which men enter into society. It therefore necessarily supposes and requires that the people should have property, without which they must be suppos'd to lose that by entering into society, which was the end for which they enter'd into it; too gross an absurdity for any man to own. Men therefore in society having property, they have such a right to the goods, which by the law of the community are theirs, that no body hath the right to take any part of their subsistence from them without their consent: Without this, they could have no property at all. For I truly can have no property in that which another can by right take from me when he pleases, against my consent. Hence, says he, it is a mistake to think that the supreme power of any commonwealth can dispose of the estates of the subjects arbitrarily, or take any part of them at pleasure. The prince or senate can never have a power to take to themselves the whole or any part of the subjects property without their own consent; for this would be in effect to have no property at all." - This is the reasoning of that great and good man. And is not our own case exactly described by him? Hath not the British parliament made an act to take a part of our property against our consent? Against our repeated submissive petitions and humble representations of the hardship of it? Is not the act daily executed in every colony? If therefore the preservation of property is the very end of government, we are depriv'd of that for which government itself is instituted. - Tis true, says Mr. Locke, "Government cannot be supported without great charge; and tis fit that every one who enjoys a share in the protection should pay his proportion for the maintenance of it. But still it must be with their own consent, given by themselves or their representatives." Chronus will not say that the monies that are every day paid at the custom-houses in America for the express purpose of maintaining all or any of the Governors therein, were rais'd with the consent of those who pay them, given by themselves or their representatives - "If any one, adds Mr. Locke, shall claim a power to lay and levy taxes on the people by his own authority & without such consent of the people, he thereby subverts the end of government." - Will Chronus tell us that the British parliament doth not claim authority to lay and levy such taxes, and doth not actually lay and levy them on the colonies without their consent? This is the case particularly in this province. If therefore it is a subversion of the end of government, it must be a subversion of our civil liberty, which is supported by civil government only. And this I think a sufficient answer to a strange question which Chronus thinks it "not improper for our zealous Patriots to answer, viz. What those liberties and rights are of which we have been deprived. - If Chronus is really as ignorant as he pretends to be, of the present state of the colonies, their universal and just complaints of the most violent infractions of their liberties, and their repeated petitions to the throne upon that account, I hope I shall be excused in taking up any room in your valuable paper, with a view of answering a question, which to him must be of the utmost importance. - But if he is not, I think his question not only impertinent, but a gross affront to the understanding of the public. We have lost the constitutional right which the Commons of America in their several Assemblies have ever before possessed, of giving and granting their own money, as much of it as they please, and no more; and appropriating it for the support of their own government, for their own defence, and such other purposes as they please. The great Mr. Pitt, in his speech in parliament in favor of the repeal of the stamp-act, declared that "we should have been slaves if we had not enjoy'd this right." This is the sentiment of that patriotic member, and it is obvious to the comnmon sense of every man. -If the parliament have a right to take as much of our money as they please, they may take all. And what liberty can that man have, the produce of whose daily labour another has the right to take from him if he pleases, and which is similar to our case, takes a part of it to convince him that he has the power as well as the pretence of right? - That sage of the law Lord Camden declar'd, in his speech upon the declaratory bill, that "his searches had more and more convinced him that the British parliament have no right to tax the Americans. Nor, said he, "is the doctrine new: It is as old as the constitution: Indeed, it is its support." The taking away this right must then be in the opinion of that great lawyer, the removal of the very support of the constitution, upon which all our civil liberties depend. He speaks in still stronger terms-" Taxation and representation are inseparably united: This position is founded on the laws of nature: It is more: It is itself an eternal law of nature - Whatever is a man's own is absolutely his own; and no man has a right to take it from him without his consent, either express'd by himself or his representative - Whoever attempts to do it, attempts an injury: Whoever does it, commits a ROBBERY: He throws down the distinction between liberty and slavery" - Can Chronus say, that the Americans ever consented either by themselves or their representatives, that the British parliament should tax them? That they have taxed us we all know: We all feel it: I wish we felt it more sensibly: They have therefore, according to the sentiments of the last mention'd Nobleman, which are built on nature and common reason, thrown down the very distinction between liberty and slavery in America - And yet this writer. like one just awoke from a long dream, or, as I cannot help thinking there are good grounds to suspect, with a design to "mislead his unwary readers (and unwary they must needs be, if they are thus misled,) to believe that all our liberties are perfectly secure, he calls upon us to show "which of our liberties we are deprived of;" and in the face of a whole continent, as well as of the best men in Europe, he has the effrontery to assert, without the least shadow of argument, that "no one has attempted to infringe them." One cannot after all this, be at a loss to conceive, what judgment to form of his modesty, his understanding or sincerity.
It might be easy to show that there are other instances in which we are deprived of our liberties. - I should think, a people would hardly be perswaded to believe that they were in the full enjoyment of their liberties, while their capital fortress is garrison'd by troops over which they have no controul, and under the direction of an administration in whom, to say the least, they have no reason to place the smallest confidence that they shall be employ'd for their protection, and not as they have been for their destruction - While they have a governor absolutely independent of them for his support, which support as well as his political being - depends upon that same administration, tho' at the expence of their own money taken from them against their consent - While their governor acts not according to the dictates of his own judgment, assisted by the constitutional advice of his council, if he thinks it necessary to call for it, but according to the edicts of such an administration - Will it mend the matter that this governor, thus dependent upon the crown, is to be the judge of the legality of instructions and their consistency with the Charter, which is the constitution? Or if their present governor should be possess'd of as many angelic properties as we have heard of in the late addresses, can they enjoy that tranquility of mind arising from their sense of safety, which Montesquieu defines to be civil liberty, when they consider how precarious a person a provincial governor is, especially a good one? And how likely a thing it is, if he is a good one, that another may soon be placed in his stead, possessed of the principles of the Devil, who for the sake of holding his commission which is even now pleaded as a weighty motive, will execute to the full the orders of an abandon'd minister, to the ruin of those liberties which we are told are now so secure - Will a people be perswaded that their liberties are safe, while their representatives in general assembly, if they are ever to meet again, will be deprived of the most essential privilege of giving and granting what part of their own money they are yet allowed to give and grant, unless, in conformity to a ministerial instruction to the governor, solemnly read to them for their direction, they exempt the commissioners of the customs, or any other favorites or tools of the ministry, from their equitable share in the tax? All these and many others that might be mention'd, are the natural effects of that capital cause of complaint of all North-America, which, to use the language of those "intemperate patriots ", the majority of the present assembly, is " a subjugation to as arbitrary a TRIBUTE as ever the Romans laid upon the Jews, or their other colonies" - What now is the advice of Chronus? Why, "much may be done, says he, by humble petitions and representations of the hardships of certain measures" - Ask him whether the colonies have not already done it? Whether the assembly of this province, the convention, the town of Boston, have not petitioned and humbly represented the hardship of certain measures, and all to no purpose, and he tells you either that he is "a stranger to those petitions", or "that they were not duly timed, or properly urged," or "that the true reason why ALL our petitions and representations met with no better success was, because they were accompanied with a conduct quite the reverse of that submission and duty which they seem'd to express" - that "to present a petition with one hand, while the other is held up in a threatning posture to enforce it, is not the way to succeed" - Search for his meaning, and enquire when the threatning hand was held up, and you'll find him encountering the Resolves of the Town of Boston to maintain their Rights, (in which they copied after the patriotic Assemblies of the several Colonies) and their Instructions to their Representatives. Here is the sad source of all our difficulties. - Chronus would have us petition, and humbly represent the hardships of certain measures, but we must by no means assert our Liberties. We must acknowledge, at least tacitly, that the Parliament of Great Britain has a constitutional authority, "to throw down the distinction between Liberty and slavery" in America. We may indeed, humbly represent it as a hardship, but if they are resolved to execute the purpose, we must submit to it, without the least intimation to posterity, that we look'd upon it as unconstitutional or unjust. Such advice was sagely given to the Colonists a few years ago, at second hand, by one who had taken a trip to the great city, and grew wonderfully acquainted, as he said, with Lord Hillsborough; but his foibles are now "buried under the mantle of charity." Very different was his advice from that of another of infinitely greater abilities, as well as experience in the public affairs of the nation, and the colonies: I mean Doctor Benjamin Franklin, the present agent of the House of Representatives. His last letter to his constituents, as I am well informed, strongly recommends the holding up our constitutional Rights, by frequent Resolves, &c. This we know will be obnoxious to those who are in the plan to enslave us: But remember my countrymen, it will be better to have your liberties wrested from you by force, than to have it said that you even implicitly surrendered them.
I have something more to say to Chronus when leisure will admit of it.
TO HENRY MARCHANT.1
[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
BOSTON Jan 7 1772
I wrote you soon after your departure from hence but am lately informd by Mr F. Dana that you have not receivd my Letter; he has put me in the way of a more sure direction under an Inclosure to Mess Trecothick & Apthorp.
By our last Vessells from London we have an Account of the Choice of Mr Nash for the Lord Mayor, & that he was brot in by ministerial Influence. It gives great Concern to the Friends of Liberty here that any Administration much more such as the present appears to be, should have an Ascendency in the important Elections of that City, which has heretofore by her Independency & Incorruption been the great Security of the Freedom of the nation. It is questionable however
1 Attorney-General of Rhode Island. The letter was addressed to Marchant at London, where he was acting as the agent of Rhode Island. He left Rhode Island in July, 1771, and returned in the autumn of 1772. Cf., Records of the Colony of Rhode Island, vol. vii., pp. 27-31, 197.
whether the Ministry would have gaind their point, if they had not according to the Machiavellian plan accomplishd a Division among those who profess to be Patriots. The same Art is now practicd by their Tools & Dependents on this side the Water. They have been endeavoring to excite a Jealousy among the Colonies, each one of the others, & in a great measure brought it about by the unfortunate failure of the Nonimportation Agreement. Perhaps every Colony was faulty in that matter in some degree but neither chose to take any of the Blame of it to its self, & to shift it off each cast the whole upon the others. The Truth is there were so many of the Merchants under the Court Influence in all of them as that they were able to defeat the plan, & for that Reason I was doubtful from the beginning of the Success of it. The Agents of the Ministry have since been trying to perswade the people to believe that they are sick of their measures & would be glad to recede, but cannot consistent with their own honor while the Colonies are clamoring against them - they would therefore have us to be quite silent as tho we enjoyd our Rights & Liberties to the full, & trust that those who have discoverd the greatest perseverance in every Measure to enslave us, will of their own Accord & without the least Necessity give up their Design. This soothing & dangerous Doctrine I fear has had an effect in some of the Colonies, but I am in hopes that those who have been ready to trust to the false promises of Courtiers begin to see through the Delusion. It was impossible that many persons could be catchd in such a Snare in this province, where absolute Despotism appears to be continually making large Strides with barefaced Impudence. It will not be easy to convince this people that the Ministry have in their hearts any favor towards them, while they are taking their money out of their pockets, & appropriating it for the maintenance of a Governor who because of his absolute Dependence upon them will always yield obedience to their Instructions, and a standing Army in their Capital fortress, over which that Governor I presume to say dares not exercise any Authority, tho invested with it by the Charter, without express Leave from his Masters. Administration must be strangely blind indeed, or they must think us the most foolish and ductile people under Heaven (in which they are greatly mistaken) to imagine that in such a Condition we are to be flatterd with hopes of any kind Disposition of theirs towards us. The Governor & other Friends to the Ministry or rather friends to themselves would fain have it thought in England, that the People in general are easy & contented or to use the Words of his Speech at the opening of the last Session, that they are returnd to Good order & Government1 this may tend to establish him in his Seat as one who can carry the most favorite points but Nothing can afford greater Evidence to the Contrary than the general Contempt and Indignation with which his proclamation for an annual Thanksgiving was treated, because we were therein exhorted to return Thanks to Almighty God that "our religious & civil privileges were continued to us" & that "our Trade was enlargd" - It is said & I believe it to be a fact, that full two thirds of the congregational Clergy refusd to read the proclamation, & perhaps not more of them than appeard the last Spring in favor [of] the pompous congratulatory Address, that is not a Sixth part of them took any notice of those Clauses in the religious Services of the day. It is for the Interest of the Crown Officers here who are dependent upon the Ministers to make them believe that they have by their Art & policy reconciled the people to their Measures, & if the Nation is so far misled as to believe so, the Ministry may avail themselves of it, but if the Contrary should happen to be true, as it appears to me to be, such Events may sooner than we are aware of it take place, as may afford the Nation Grounds to repent of her Credulity. It may be thought arrogant for an American thus to express himself, but let Britain consider that her own & her Colonies dependence is at present mutual which may not & probably will not be the Case in some hereafter. Why should either side hasten on the alarming Crisis. I am a friend to both, but I confess my friendship to the latter is the most ardent - they have in time past and if by the severe treatment which the Colonies have receivd, Confidence in the Mother Country is not in too great a Degree lost, they may still for some time to come administer to each others Happiness & Grandeur. This in my humble Opinion greatly depends upon a Change of Ministers & Measures which it is not in my power & I presume not in yours however earnestly we both may desire it, to accomplish.
I wait in daily Expectation of a Letter from you.
1 May 30, 1771. Massachusetts State Papers, p. 300.
TO ARTHUR LEE.
[R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp., 189-192; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library]
BOSTON, January 14th, 1772.
Your latest letter to me is of the 10th June,1 since which I have several times written to you and have been impatiently waiting for your farther favours. I suppose by this time the parliament is sitting for the despatch of business, and we shall soon discover whether administration have had it in their hearts, as we have been flattered, to recede from their oppressive measures, and repeal the obnoxious revenue acts. Is it not a strange mode of expression of late years made use of, that administration intends that this law shall be enacted, or that repealed? It is language adapted to the infamy of the present times, by a nation which boasts of the freedom and independency of her parliaments. I believe almost any of the American assemblies would highly resent such an imperious tone, even in the honourable board of commissioners of the customs, who I dare say think themselves equal in dignity, at least in proportion to the different countries, to his majesty's ministers of state. A Bostonian, I assure you, would blush with indignation to hear it said that his majesty's commissioners of the customs (though perhaps they are of his excellency's privy council) had held a consultation at Butcher's Hall, upon the affairs of the province, and that they had come to a conclusion that the house of representatives should rescind their late protest against any doctrines which tend to give royal instructions to the governor, the force of laws. This protest it is said, his majesty's wise ministers were so hugely affronted at, as to alter their determination upon a question, in which the fate of the British nation was involved, namely, whether our general assembly should sit at Cambridge or in Boston. I confess this was a question of such astonishing importance to the millions of Britons and their descendants, and decided no doubt with such refined discrimination of judgment, that is not so much to be wondered at, if all national wisdom is to be ascribed to such a bed of counsellors, who seem to have possessed themselves of all national power. But as the circumstances of things may alter, and his majesty may be obliged through necessity to have recourse to men of common understanding, when these are gone to receive their just rewards in another life, would it not be most proper that the parliament should be at least the ostensive legislature, for there is danger in precedents, and in time to come the supreme power of the nation may be the dupes of a ministry, who may have no more understanding than themselves. It has been said that the king's ministers have for years past received momentary hints respecting the fabrication of American revenue laws and other regulations, from some very wise heads on this side of the water, and particularly of this place; and perhaps Great Britain may be more indebted to some Bostonians or residents in Boston than she may imagine, however reproachfully she may have spoken of them. Bernard publicly declared that he did not obtrude his advice on his majesty's ministers unasked; and therefore we may naturally conclude that my lord of Hillsborough, (sublime as his understanding is) the minister in the department, stood in need of and asked his advice, when the baronet journalized the necessary measures of administration for the colonies, which he retailed in weekly and sometimes daily letters to his lordship. On his departure he recommended Mr Hutchinson, though a Bostonian, "born and educated" as one upon whom his lordship might depend as much as upon himself; and in this one thing I believe Bernard wrote the truth, for if they have not equal merit for their faithful services to administration, Mr. Hutchinson, I verily believe, has the greatest share. It is whispered here that the honourable board of commissioners have represented to administration that the present revenue is not sufficient to answer all demands, which are daily increasing, and therefore it will be necessary for their lordships to establish an additional fund. This is an important hint, which may relieve their lordships, unless a new manoeuvre should succeed, of which we have an account in the Boston Gazette enclosed. By a vessel just arrived from London, the friends of government, as they call themselves, pretend that they have certain assurances from administration, that in three months we shall not be troubled with commissioners or standing armies. This, if we could depend upon court promises, would afford an agreeable prospect. But the root of all our grievances is the parliament's taxing us, which they cannot do, but upon principles repugnant to and subversive of our constitution. If their lordships, the ministry, would be pleased to repeal the revenue acts, they would strike a blow at the root.
The grand design of our adversaries is to lull us into security, and make us easy while the acts remain in force, which would prove fatal to us.
I have written in great haste, and am sincerely your friend and humble servant,
1 R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. i., pp. 215-219.
ARTICLE SIGNED "CANDIDUS."
[Boston Gazette, January 20, 1772.]
Messieurs EDES & GILL,
IN the Massachusetts-Gazette of the 9th instant, Chronus attempts to prove that "the Parliament's laying duties upon trade, for the express purpose of raising a revenue, is not repugnant to and subversive of our constitution." In defence of this proposition, he proceeds to consider the nation as commercial, and from thence to show the necessity of laws for the regulation of trade. - In the nation he includes Great-Britain and all the Colonies, and infers that these acts for the regulation of trade, "should extend to all the British dominions, to prevent one part of the national body from injuring another." And, says he, "If laws for the regulation of trade are necessary, who so proper to enact them, &c. as the British parliament, or to dispose of the fines & forfeitures arising from the breach of such acts?" And then he tells us, that as a number of preventive officers will hereupon become necessary, the parliament have thought proper to assign to his Majesty's revenue "the profits arising on the duties of importation for the payment of those officers ". This is Chronus's "method of reasoning ", to prove that because it is necessary that the parliament should enact laws for the regulation of trade, about which there has as yet been no dispute that I know of, and because it is proper that such preventive officers as shall be found needful to carry those laws into execution, should be paid out of the fines and forfeitures arising from the breach of them, Therefore, the parliament hath a right to make laws imposing duties or taxes, for the express purpose of raising a revenue in the colonies without their consent; and that this is not (as is alledg'd by our Patriots ") "repugnant to or subversive of our constitution ". Every one may easily see how Chronus evades the matter in dispute, and aims at amusing his readers according to his usual manner, by endeavouring, and that without a shadow of argument, to prove one point, instead of another which is quite distinct from it, and which he ought to prove, but cannot. He is indeed sensible that his artifice is seen through; that it will be urged that "he has evaded the chief difficulties," and that "the objection doth not lie against the regulation of trade, but against the imposing duties for the express purpose of raising a revenue." And he is full ready to remove this objection. But how? Why, by asking a question, which he often substitutes in the room of argument. Are we not, says he, "fellow-subjects with our brethren at home, and consequently bound to bear a part according to our ability, in supporting the honor & dignity of the crown?" It is allow'd that we are the subjects of the same prince with our brethren at home, and are in duty bound, as far as we are able, to support the honor and dignity of our Sovereign, while he affords us his protection. But does Chronus from thence infer an obligation on us to yield obedience to the acts of the British parliament imposing taxes upon us with the express intention of raising a revenue, to be appropriated for such purposes as that legislative thinks proper, without our consent? 0, says he, "there is good reason for this." What is the good reason? Why "if we will not consent to do anything ourselves ", "our money will be taken from us without our consent." This is conclusive argument indeed. And then he, as it were, imperceptibly glides into that which has ever appeared to be his favorite topick, however impertinent to the present point, viz, an independent support for the governor. He boldly affirms, what is a notorious untruth, that "we are unwilling to pay his Majesty's substitute in such a manner as should leave him that freedom and independency which is necessary to his station, and with which he is vested by the constitution:" And therefore the parliament hath a right to enable his Majesty to pay his substitute, out of a revenue extorted from us against our consent. If his premises were well grounded, his conclusion would not follow: And the question would still remain, to which Chronus has not attempted to give any rational answer, namely, By what authority doth the parliament these things, and who gave them this authority? Thus we still continue to dispute the authority of the parliament to lay duties and taxes upon us, with the express purpose of raising a revenue, as "repugnant to, and subversive of our constitution;" and for a reason which I dare say Chronus will never get over, namely, because as he himself allows," we are not represented in it." -
The English constitution, says Baron Montesquieu, has Liberty for its direct object: And the constitution of this province, as our own historian,1 informs us, is an epitome of the British constitution; and it undoubtedly has the same end for its object: Whatever laws therefore are made for our government, either in a manner, or for purposes subversive of Liberty, must be subversive of the end of the constitution, and consequently of the constitution itself. - No free people, as the Pennsylvania Farmer has observed, ever existed, or ever can exist without, to use a common but strong expression, keeping the purse-strings in their hands: But the parliament's laying taxes on the Colonies for the express purpose of raising a revenue, takes the purse strings out of their hands, and consequently it is "repugnant to, and subversive of (the end of) our constitution "-Liberty. Mr. Locke says, that the security of property is the end for which men enter into society; and I believe Chronus will not deny it: Whatever laws therefore are made in any society, tending to render property insecure, must be subversive of the end for which men prefer society to the state of nature; and consequently must be subversive of society itself:
But the parliament in which the Colonies have no voice, taking as much of their money as it pleases, and appropriating it to such purposes as it pleases, even against their consent, and as they think repugnant to their safety, renders all their property precarious, and therefore it is subversive of the end for which men enter into society and repugnant to every free constitution. - Mr. Hooker in his ecclesiastical polity, as quoted by Mr. Locke, affirms that "Laws they are not, which the public approbation hath not made so." This seems to be the language of nature and common sense; for if the public are bound to yield obedience to the laws, to which they cannot give their approbation, they are slaves to those who make such laws and enforce them: But the acts of parliament imposing duties, with the express purpose of raising a revenue in the colonies, have received every mark of the public disapprobation in every colony; and yet they are enforced in all, and in some with the utmost rigour. The British constitution having liberty for its object, is so framed, as that every man who is to be bound by any law about to be made, may be present by his representative in parliament, who may employ the whole force of his objections against it, if he cannot approve of it: If after fair debate, it is approv'd of by the majority of the whole representative body of the nation, the minority, by a rule essential in society, and without which it could not subsist, is bound to submit to it: But the colonies had no voice in parliament when the revenue acts were made; nay, though they had no representatives there, their petitions were rejected, because they were against duties to be laid on; and they have been called factious, for the objections they made, not only against their being taxed without their consent, which was a sufficient objection, but against the appropriation of the money when rais'd to purposes which as the Farmer has made to appear, will supersede the authority in our respective assemblies, which is most essential to liberty. Representation and Legislation, as well as taxation, are inseparable, according to the spirit of our constitution; and of all others that are free. Human foresight is incapable of providing against every accident. A small part of the nation may be "at sea, as Chronus tells us, when writs are issued out for the election of members of parliament"; and to admit that they, after their return "should be exempt from any acts of parliament, the members of which were chosen in their absence ", would be attended with greater evil to the community, the safety and welfare of which is the end of all legislation, than the misfortune of their voluntary absence, if it should prove one, could be to them. I say, if it should prove a misfortune to them; for those acts being made by the consent of representatives chosen by all the rest of the nation, it is presum'd they are calculated for the good of the whole, of which they, as a part, must necessarily partake: But the supposed case of these persons is far different from that of the colonists; who are, not by a voluntary choice of their own, but through necessity, not by mere accident, but by means of the local distance of their constant residence, excluded from being present by representation in the British legislature. Chronus allows that by means of their distance, "they are become incapable of exercising their original right of choosing representatives for the British parliament." If so, they cannot without subversion of the end of the British constitution, be bound to obedience, against their own consent, to such laws as are there made; especially such laws as tend to render precarious their property, the security of which is the end of men's entering into society. If they are thus bound, they are slaves and not free men: But slavery must certainly be "repugnant to the constitution" which has liberty for its direct object. If the supreme legislative of Great Britain, cannot consistently with the British constitution or the essential liberty of the colonies, make laws binding upon them, and Chronus for ought I can see, has not attempted to make it rationally appear that it can, it is dangerous for the colonies to admit any of its laws. For however upright some may think the present parliament to be, in intention, they may ruin us through mistake arising from an incurable ignorance of our circumstances; and though Chronus may be so singular as to judge the present revenue acts of parliament binding upon the colonies, to be salutary, the time may perhaps come, when even he may be convinced, that future ones may be oppressive and tyrannical, not only in their execution, but in the very intention of those that may make them.
Chronus says, that "he has all along taken it for granted, that the kingdom and the colonies are one dominion." If so he must allow the colonies to take it for granted that they have an equal share with the inhabitants of Britain in the rights belonging to this one dominion, and particularly in the cardinal right of being represented in the supreme legislature. But that right, he says, they are "incapable of exercising," by reason of their distance. We all agree in this, and it is not their fault? Why then should they not have the right of legislating for themselves, as well as that other part of this one dominion? Why truly, we have "a right of choosing an assembly, which with the concurrence of his Majesty's Governor, hath a power of enacting local statutes, establishing taxes, &c. - Yet still in subordination to the general laws of the empire, reserving the full right of supremacy & dominion, which are in themselves unalienable." If I understand his meaning in this dark expression, it is this, we have a right of choosing an assembly, but this assembly is controulable in all its acts, by another assembly which we have no right to choose, and which has this right of controul in itself unalienable. But the question still recurs, How came this right to be in the British parliament? Chronus says that "admitting that we are all one dominion, there is, and must be, a supreme, irresistible, absolute, uncontrouled authority, in which must reside the power of making and establishing laws," "and all others must conform to it, and be govern'd by it". But if we are all one dominion; or if I understand him, the members of one state, tho' so remotely situated, the kingdom from the Colonies, as that we cannot all partake of the rights of the supreme Legislature, why may not this "irresistible, absolute, uncontrouled," and controuling "authority, in which the jura summi imperii, or the rights of the government reside", be established in America, or in Ireland, as well as in Britain. Is there any thing in nature, or has Ireland or America consented that the part of this one dominion called Britain shall be thus distinguished? Or are we to infer her authority from her power? But it must be, and Chronus gives us no other reason for it than his bare affirmation, that "the King, Lords and Commons of Great-Britain form the supreme Legislature of the British dominions". And he adds, "to say that each of the Colonies had within itself a supreme independent Legislature, and that nevertheless the kingdom and the Colonies are all one dominion, is a solecism:" Let him then view the Kingdom and the Colonies in another light, and see whether there will be a solecism in considering them as more dominions than one, or separate states. It is certainly more concordant with the great law of nature and reason, which the most powerful nation may not violate and cannot alter, to suppose that the Colonies are separate independent and free, than to suppose that they must be one with Great-Britain and slaves. And slaves they must be, notwithstanding all which Chronus has said to the contrary, if Great Britain may make all laws whatsoever binding upon them, especially laws to take from them what portions of their property she pleases, without and against their consent.
I shall make further remarks upon Chronus, when I shall be at leisure.
1 Mr. Hutchinson.
ARTICLE SIGNED "CANDIDUS."
[Boston Gazette, January 27, 1772; a complete draft of this article is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
Messieurs EDES & GILL,
I have observed from Baron Montesquieu, that the British constitution has liberty for its direct object and that the constitution of this province, according to Mr. Hutchinson, is an epitome of the British constitution: That the right of representation in the body that legislates, is essential to the British constitution, without which there cannot be liberty; and Chronus himself acknowledges, that the Americans are "incapable of exercising this right": Let him draw what conclusion he pleases. All I insist upon is, that the conclusion cannot be just, that "the parliament's laying duties upon trade with the express purpose of raising a revenue, is not repugnant to or subversive of our constitution." This doctrine, tho' long exploded by the best writers on both sides of the atlantic, he now urges; and he is reduced to this necessity, in order to justify or give coloring to his frequent bold assertions, that "no one has attempted even to infringe our liberties," and to his ungenerous reflections upon those who declare themselves of a different mind, as "pretended patriots," "overzealous," "intemperate politicians," "men of no property," who "expect to find their account" in perpetually keeping up the ball of contention. But after all that Chronus and his associates have said, or can say, the people of America have just "grounds still to complain" that their rights are violated. There seems to be a system of "tyranny and oppression" already begun. It is therefore the duty of every honest man, to alarm his fellow-citizens and countrymen, and awaken in them the utmost vigilance and circumspection. Jealousy, especially at such a time, is a political virtue: Nay, I will say, it is a moral virtue; for we are under all obligations to do what in us lies to save our country." Tyrants alone, says the great Vatel, will treat as seditious, those brave and resolute citizens, who exhort the people to preserve themselves from oppression, in vindication of their rights and privileges: A good prince, says he, will commend such virtuous patriots" and will "mistrust the selfish suggestions of a minister, who represents to him as rebels, all those citizens who do not hold out their hands to chains, who refuse lamely to suffer the strokes of arbitrary power."
I cannot help observing how artfully Chronus expresses his position, that the "parliament's laying duties upon trade with the express purpose of raising a revenue, is not repugnant to our constitution." It has not been made a question, that I know of, whether the parliament hath a right to make laws for the regulation of the trade of the colonies. Power she undoubtedly has to enforce her acts of trade: And the strongest maritime power caeteris paribus, will always make the most advantageous treaties, and give laws of trade to other nations, for whom there can be no pretence to the right of legislation. The matter however should be considered equitably, if it should ever be considered at all: If the trade of the Colonies is protected by the British navy, there may possibly be from thence inferr'd a just right in the parliament of Great Britain to restrain them from carrying on their trade to the injury of the trade of Great Britain. But this being granted, it is very different from the right to make laws in all cases whatever binding upon the Colonies, and especially for laying duties upon trade for the express purpose of raising a revenue. In the one case it may be the wisdom of the Colonies, under present circumstances to acquiesce in reasonable restrictions, rather than lose their whole trade by means of the depredations of a foreign power: In the other, it is a duty they owe themselves and their posterity, by no means to acquiesce; because it involves them in a state of perfect slavery. I say perfect slavery: For, as political liberty in its perfection consists in the people's consenting by themselves or their representatives, to all laws which they are bound to obey, so perfect political slavery consists in their being bound to obey any laws for taxing them, to which they cannot consent. If a people can be deprived of their property by another person or nation, it is evident that such a people cannot be free. Whether it be by a nation or a monarch, is not material: The masters indeed are different, but the government is equally despotic; and tho' the despotism may be mild, from principles of policy, it is not the less a despotism.
Chronus talks of Magna Charta as though it were of no greater consequence than an act of parliament for the establishment of a corporation of buttonmakers. Whatever low ideas he may entertain of that Great Charter, and such ideas he must entertain of it to support the cause he hath espous'd, it is affirm'd by Lord Coke, to be declaratory of the principal grounds of the fundamental laws and liberties of England. "It is called Charta Libertatum Regni, the Charter of the Liberties of the kingdom, upon great reason, says that sage of the law, because liberos facit, it makes and preserves the people free." Those therefore who would make the people slaves, would fain have them look upon this charter, in a light of indifference, which so often affirms sua jura, suas libertates, their own rights, their own liberties: But if it be declaratory of the principal grounds of the fundamental laws and liberties of England, it cannot be altered in any of its essential parts, without altering the constitution. Whatever Chronus may have adopted from Mr. Hume, Vatel tells us plainly and without hesitation, that "the supreme legislative cannot change the constitution," "that their authority does not extend so far," & "that they ought to consider the fundamental laws as sacred, if the nation has not, in very express terms, given them power to change them." And he gives a reason for it solid and weighty; for, says he, "the constitution of the state ought to be fixed." Mr. Hume, as quoted by Chronus, says, the only rule of government is the established practice of the age, upon maxims universally assented to. If then any deviation is made from the maxims upon which the established practice of the age is founded, it must be by universal assent. "The fundamental laws," says Vatel, "are excepted from their (legislators) commission," "nothing leads us to think that the nation was willing to submit the constitution itself to their pleasure." "They derive their authority from the constitution, how then can they change it without destroying the foundation of their own authority?" If then according to Lord Coke, Magna Charta is declaratory of the principal grounds of the fundamental laws and liberties of the people, and Vatel is right in his opinion, that the supreme legislative cannot change the constitution, I think it follows, whether Lord Coke has expressly asserted it or not, that an act of parliament made against Magna Charta in violation of its essential parts, is void. - "By the fundamental laws of England, says Vatel, the two houses of parliament in concert with the King, exercise the legislative power: But if the two houses should resolve to suppress themselves, and to invest the King with the full and absolute government, certainly the nation would not suffer it, "although it was done by a solemn act of parliament. But such doctrine is directly the reverse of that which Chronus holds; which amounts to this, that if the two houses should give up to the King, any, the most essential rights of the people declared in Magna Charta, the nation has not a power either de jura or de facto to prevent it. I may hereafter quote for his serious perusal, the reasoning of the immortal Locke upon this important subject, and am, in the mean time,
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS TO THE GOVERNOR, APRIL 10, 1772.
[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 315, 316; a draft, is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
May it please your Excellency.
The House of Representatives have duly considered your speech1 to both Houses, at the opening of this session. Your Excellency is pleased to acquaint us, that, "if we had desired you to carry the Court to Boston, because it is the most convenient place; and the prerogative of the Crown to instruct the Governor to convene the Court at such place as his Majesty may think proper, had not been denied; you should have obtained leave to meet us in Boston, at this time; but that you shall not be at liberty to do so, whilst this denial is persisted in."
We have maturely considered this point; and are still firmly in opinion, that such instruction is repugnant to the royal charter, wherein the Governor is vested with the full power of adjournment, proroguing and dissolving the General Assembly, as he shall judge necessary. Nothing in the charter, appears to us to afford the least grounds to conclude, that a right is reserved to his Majesty of controling the Governor, in thus exercising this full power. Nor indeed does it seem reasonable that there should for, it being impossible that any one, at the distance of three thousand miles, should be able to foresee the most convenient time or place of holding the Assembly, it is necessary that such discretionary power should be lodged with the Governor, who is, by Charter, constantly to reside within the Province.
We are still earnestly desirous of the removal of this Assembly to the Court House, in Boston; and we are sorry that your Excellency's determination thereon, depends upon our disavowing these principles; because we cannot do it consistently with the duty we owe our constituents. We are constrained to be explicit at this time; for if we should be silent, after your Excellency has recommended it to us, as a necessary preliminary, to desist from saying any thing upon this head, while we request your Excellency for a removal of the Assembly, for reasons of convenience only, it might be construed as tacitly conceding to a doctrine injurious to the constitution, and in effect, as rescinding our own record, of which we still deliberately approve.
The power of adjourning and proroguing the General Assembly, is a power in trust, to be exercised for the good of the province; this House have a right to judge for themselves, whether it was thus exercised. We cannot avoid taking this occasion, freely to declare to your Excellency, that the holding of the Assembly in this place, without any good reason which we can conceive of, under the many and great inconveniences which this, and former Houses, have so fully set forth to your Excellency, is, in our opinion, an undue exercise of power; and a very great grievance, which we still hope will soon be fully redressed.
Your Excellency may be assured, that this House will, with all convenient despatch, take into our most serious consideration, that part of your speech which concerns the establishment of a partition line between this province and the province of New York; and that we will, with great candor, contribute every thing in our power, to accomplish the same equitable terms.
The other parts of your Excellency's speech, have had the proper attention of the House; and we are determined, during the remainder of the session, which must be short, to consult his Majesty's real service - the true interest of the province.
1 The original message of Governor Hutchinson of April 8, 1772, is among the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library, and on it is endorsed, in the handwriting of Adams, the fourth paragraph of the following reply. 2 Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 313-315.
ARTICLE SIGNED "VINDEX."
[Boston Gazette, April 20, 1772.]
Messieurs EDES & GILL,
Philanthrop Jun. in Draper's paper of the 9th current tells us, that "For four or five years together nobody could appear in print unless he was a favourer of what is call'd Liberty," and therefore concludes, "Falshood has been imposed on the credulous readers of News-papers, and has spread through the country for truth, because no one would contradict it." What fortitude must a man be possess'd of that can offer two such sentences to the eye of the public in a paper which for that space has contained nothing else in the political way? Again, why have we a mark of distinction in the signature? Was Philanthrop senior a liberty writer? Was the True Patriot a liberty writer? Were all the scribblers in Mein's Chronicle friends or favourers of what is called liberty? Blush! reformer blush at imposition of so gross a kind!
But what are the falshoods these credulous people have been led to believe? Why it seems that men from Lancaster and elsewhere, have been insinuating that we laboured under grievances in commerce, legislation, and execution of the wholesome laws of the land, when no such thing has been seen, felt, heard or understood among us; and one Lancaster man in particular, has been furnished with all his prejudices from the letters of Junius Americanus, a despicable creature (as we say) who has certainly blackened some men and measures in both Englands, in such manner as defies time itself to bleach their characters. And till the officious Philanthrop engaged, every one judged the friends, at least, of those respectable men, would avoid the provocation of fresh caustics to such rankled ulcers; but luxuriant flesh forever interrupts the efficacy of the most healing plaisters, and must be removed as fast as it puts forth. Indeed gentlemen, I myself who live in Boston, the centre of American politicks, have suspected we had some grievances to complain of before either Junius Anglicanus or Americanus ever published a letter on the subject to my knowledge: I thought the stamp-act a grievance, I think the extension of the vice-admiralty courts a grievance, I think the captious and unprecedented treatment of our legislature a grievance; and above all, I think the alteration of our free and mutually dependent constitution, into a dependent ministerial despotism a grievance so great, so ignominious and intolerable, that in case I did not hope things would in some measure regain their ancient situation, without more blood shed and murder than has already been committed, I could freely wish at the risk of my all to have a fair chance of offering to the manes of my slaughtered countrymen a libation of the blood of the ruthless traitors who conspired their destruction. It is here I confess my fingers would fall with weight, let those of Dr. Y -g, Mr. -x, or even Mr. A -s, fall how or where they pleased.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS TO THE GOVERNOR. JULY 14, 1772.1
[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 330, 331 ; extracts are printed in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., p. 482, with the statement that such extracts were copied from an original draft in the autograph of Adams.2]
May it please your Excellency,
In answer to your message of yesterday, this House beg leave to observe, that they are not unapprized that the Province House is out of repair, and that expense might be saved, by making such repairs as are necessary, as soon as may be. But, that building was procured for the residence of a Governor, whose sole support was to be provided for by the grants and acts of the General Assembly, according to the tenor of the charter: and, it is the opinion of this House, that it never was expected by any Assembly of this province, that it would be appropriated for the residence of any Governor, for whose support, adequate provision should be made in another way. Upon this consideration, we cannot think it our duty to make any repairs, at this time.
Your Excellency may be assured, that this House is far from being influenced by any personal disrespect. Should the time come, which we hope for, when your Excellency shall think yourself at liberty to accept of your whole support from this province, according to ancient and invariable usage, we doubt not, but you will then find the Representatives of this people ready to provide for your Excellency a house, not barely tenantable, but elegant. In the mean time, as your Excellency receives from his Majesty a certain and adequate support, we cannot have the least apprehensions that you will be so far guided by your own inclination, as that you will make any town in the province the place of your residence, but where it shall be most conducive to his Majesty's service, and the good and welfare of the people.
1 On this date the Governor prorogued the General Court to meet again September 30. The next session actually commenced January 6, 1773. 2 Wells also attributes to Adams the message of the house of May 29, 1772; Life of Samuel Adams, vol. I., p. 477; Massachusetts State Papers, p. 321.
ARTICLE SIGNED "VALERIUS POPLICOLA."1
[Boston Gazette, October 5, 1772.]
Messieurs EDES & GILL,
"Is there a Prince on Earth, who has power to lay a single Penny upon his subjects, without the Grant and Consent of those who are to pay it, otherwise than by Tyranny and Violence? No Prince can levy it unless through Tyranny and under Penalty of Excommunication. But there are those who are Bruitish enough not to know what they can do or omit in this Affair.
Such is the language of a great and good Historian and Statesman, a Subject of France. Had the English Politicians and Ministers been either half as honest or half as wise as he, they would never have driven the American Revenue without the Grant or Consent of those who pay it, to such a length, as to cause an Alienation of affection which perhaps may not easily if ever be recovered. By this kind of politics, says the worthy Frenchman, Charles the seventh brought a heavy Sin upon his own Soul and upon that of his Successors, and gave his Kingdom a Wound which would continue long to bleed. The British Ministers, possibly, may entertain different Ideas of Morals from those of the French Historian, if indeed they have any such kind of ideas at all. However, the Nation, I fear, will have Occasion to rue the day, when they suffer'd their Politics so far to prevail, as to gain such an Influence in their Parliament as they certainly did in the last, to say nothing of the present. The Impositions upon the French, says Mr. Gordon,2 grew monstrous almost as soon as they grew arbitrary. Charles the seventh, who began them, never rais'd annually more than one hundred and eighty thousand Pounds. His Son Lewis the eleventh almost trebled the Revenue; and since then, all that the Kingdom and People had, even to their Skins, has hardly been thought sufficient for their Kings." An awakening Caution to Americans! Lest by tamely submitting to be plundered, they encourage their Plunderers to grasp at all they have.
The Merchants of this Continent have passively submitted to the Indignity of a Tribute; and the Landholders, tho' Sharers in the Indignity, have been perhaps too unconcern'd Spectators of the humiliating Scene. Posterity, who will no doubt revenge their Fathers Wrongs, may also be ashamed, when in the Page of History they are informed of their tame Subjection. Had the Body of this People shown a proper Resentment, at the time when the proud Taskmasters first made their appearance, we should never have seen Pensioners multiplying like the Locusts in Egypt, which devoured every green Thing. I speak with Assurance; because it seldom has happened if ever, that even a small People has been kept long in Bondage, when they have unitedly and perseveringly resolv'd to be Free.
At that critical Period, we hearkened to what we then took to be, the Dictates of sound policy and Prudence. We were led to place a Confidence in those, whose Protection we had a right to claim, and we hoped for Deliverance in dry Remonstrances and humble Supplication. We have petition'd, repeatedly petition'd, and our Petitions have been heard, barely heard! The Grievances of this Continent have no doubt "reached the Royal Ear"; I wish I could see reason to say they had touch'd the Royal Heart. No - They yet remain altogether unredress'd. Such has been the baneful Influence of corrupt and infamous Ministers and Servants of the Crown; that the Complaints of three Millions of loyal Subjects have not yet penetrated the Royal Breast, to move it even to pity.
Have not our humble Petitions, breathing a true Spirit of rational Loyalty, and expressive of a just Sense of those Liberties the Restoration of which we implored, been followed with Grievance upon Grievance, as fast as the cruel Heart and Hand of a most execrable Paricide could invent and fabricate them? I will not at present enumerate Grievances; they are known, sufficiently known, felt and understood. Is it not enough, to have a Governor, an avowed Advocate for ministerial Measures, and a most assiduous Instrument in carrying them on - moddel'd, shaped, controul'd, and directed-totally independant of the people over whom he is commissioned to govern, and yet absolutely dependent upon the Crown - pensioned by those on whom his existence depends, and paid out of a Revenue establish'd by those who have no Authority to establish it, and extorted from the People in a Manner most Odious, insulting and oppressive. Is not this, Indignity enough to be felt by those who have any feeling? Are we still threatned with more? Is Life, Property and every Thing dear and sacred, to be now submitted to the Decisions of PENSION'D JUDGES, holding their places during the pleasure of such a Governor, and a Council perhaps overawed! To what a State of Infamy, Wretchedness and Misery shall we be reduc'd if our Judges shall be prevail'd upon to be thus degraded to Hirelings, and the Body of the People shall suffer their free Constitution to be overturn'd and ruin'd. Merciful GOD! Inspire Thy People with Wisdom and Fortitude, and direct them to gracious Ends. In this extreme Distress, when the Plan of Slavery seems nearly compleated, 0 save our Country from impending Ruin - Let not the iron Hand of Tyranny ravish our Laws and seize the Badge of Freedom, nor avow'd Corruption and the murderous Rage of lawless Power be ever seen on the sacred Seat of Justice!
Is it not High Time for the People of this Country explicitly to declare, whether they will be Freemen or Slaves? It is an important Question which ought to be decided. It concerns us more than any Thing in this Life. The Salvation of our Souls is interested in the Event: For wherever Tyranny is establish'd, Immorality of every Kind comes in like a Torrent. It is in the Interest of Tyrants to reduce the People to Ignorance and Vice. For they cannot live in any Country where Virtue and Knowledge prevail. The Religion and public Liberty of a People are intimately connected; their Interests are interwoven, they cannot subsist separately; and therefore they rise and fall together. For this Reason, it is always observable, that those who are combin'd to destroy the People's Liberties, practice every Art to poison their Morals. How greatly then does it concern us, at all Events, to put a Stop to the Progress of Tyranny. It is advanced already by far too many Strides. We are at this moment upon a precipice. The next step may be fatal to us. Let us then act like wise Men; calmly took around us and consider what is best to be done. Let us converse together upon this most interesting Subject and open our minds freely to each other. Let it be the topic of conversation in every social Club. Let every Town assemble. Let Associations & Combinations be everywhere set up to consult and recover our just Rights.
" The Country claims our active Aid. That let us roam; & where we find a Spark Of public Virtue, blow it into Flame."
1 Attributed to Adams by W. V. Wells. See above, page 256. 2 Rev. William Gordon, of Roxbury, author of The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the United States of America.
TO ANDREW ELTON WELLS.1
[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
BOSTON Octob 21 1772
My DEAR SIR
I have receivd several Letters from you; and my not having returnd any Answer to them before, is owing by no means to an Inattention to them, but to my misfortune in not hearing of the few Vessells that pass from hence to Georgia being about to sail, till I lost the Opportunity. I therefore upon the first Notice, make use of this Conveyance to assure you of my tender Regards & Affection for you as a Brother; sincerely hoping this will meet yourself & Family in health & happiness. Indeed common Experience convinces me that there is very little Dependence upon either in this Life; We too often mistake our true Happiness, and when we arrive to the Enjoyment of that which seemd to promise it to us, we find that it is all an imaginary Dream, at the best fleeting & transitory. We have an affecting Instance of this within our own Connections; Your amiable Sister Kitty was agreably married, and when in the daily Expectation of seeing the happy Pledge of conjugal Affection, cutt off without a moments Warning of the fatal Stroke of Death! Still more happy however in another Life as we [have] abundant Reason to be assured; for the Christian Temper & Behavior she constantly exhibited, when she least expected it, afford us more solid hopes of her present Happiness, than any Expressions she might have made use of, had she been permitted, at the time of her Departure. One would from this & other like Instances conclude, that to be possessd of the Christian Principles, & to accommodate our whole Deportment to such Principles, is to be happy in this Life; it is this that sweetens every thing we enjoy; indeed of it self it yields us full Satisfaction, & thus puts it out of the power of the World to disappoint us by any of its frowns.
Your last Letter mentioned your Expectation of the sudden Dissolution of your General Assembly, which I perceive afterwards took place. It appears still to be the determination of the ministry to enslave the Colonies, and the Governors are to be the Instruments. It therefore behoves every Colony to be vigilant; & agreably to the Advice of the Pennsylvania Farmer, Each should support the others. This Province seems to be devoted to ministerial Vengeance. We have been long struggling against the Incroachments of Tyranny, which now threatens its Completion by the Independency of the Governor & the Judges of the superior Court. If the Tribute which is by Acts of Parliament extorted from the Americans, is appropriated for making the executive Power totally independent of the People for their Support, while it is absolutely dependent upon the Crown for its being as well as Subsistence, there will be an End of freedom. In such Courts & under such an Administration, you will easily conceive what Constructions of Law & what Decisions the people are to expect. I send you two or three of our latest papers; there may be some Speculations upon the Subject in them, which you may think proper to get republishd in your papers.
You mentiond in one of your Letters your Intention to send your Daughter here, than which nothing would be more agreable to us.
Your Sister, my dear Betsy,2 joyns with me in Expressions of Love to Mrs Wells, & begs me to assure you that she is, as I am in strict truth Yours affectionately,
1 Brother-in-law of Adams. 2 Mrs. Adams.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
[J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., Pp. 9, 10.]
BOSTON, October 27, 1772.
I have just now received your favour, dated this day. I am perfectly of your opinion with regard to the independency of the judges. It is a matter beyond doubt in my mind. I was told yesterday, by one of his majesty's council, that Mr. Hutchinson has a letter by the packet, from Bernard, which advises him of it as a fact. This town is to meet to-morrow, to consider what is proper for them to do. We have looked upon it as of so interesting a nature to us, that even the report should alarm us. It is proposed by many among us to apply to the judges for their explicit declaration, whether they will accept of so odious a support, and to apply also to the governour for a general assembly forthwith. I will write you on Thursday, and let you know the event. Our enemies would intimidate us, by saying our brethren in the other towns are indifferent about this matter, for which reason I am particularly glad to receive your letter at this time. Roxbury, I am told, is thoroughly awake. I wish we could arouse the continent.
I write in the utmost haste,
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text with slight variations is in J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 10-12.]
BOSTON Oct 29 1772
MY DEAR SIR
I wrote you in great Haste on Tuesday last. Since which the Freeholders & other Inhabitts of this Town have had a Meeting,1 to enquire into the Grounds of the Report that the Salaries of the Judges are fixd & paid by order of the Crown, and to determine upon such measures as should be proper for them to take upon so alarming an Occasion.
The inclosd paper contains a short but true Account of their proceedings. It is proposd by some to petition the Governr to order a session of the Genl Assembly, and that the Town should expressly declare their natural & Charter Rights to their Representatives, and the Instances in which they have been violated peremptorily requiring them to take every Step which the Constitution prescribes to redress our Grievances, or if every such Step has been already taken, to inform their Constituents, that they may devise such Measures as they may see their way clear to take, or patiently bear the Yoke. I will acquaint you with the proceedings of the Town as they pass. In the mean time I wish your Town would think it proper to have a Meeting, which may be most seasonable at this time. For as the Superr Court is to be held at Salem next Week, you will have the Oppy of making a decent Application to them, & enquiring of the Certainty of this Report, & other matters mentd in your Letter to me. Which Enquiry will be more naturally made to them in Case the Govr should decline answering the message of this Town, or do it, if I may be allowd the Expression, equivocally.
This Country must shake off their intollerable burdens at all Events. Every day strengthens our oppressors & weakens us. If each Town would declare its Sense of these Matters I am perswaded our Enemies would not have it in their power to divide us, in whh they have all along shown their dexterity. Pray use your Influence with Salem & other Towns - But I am now going with our Comt to his Excellency.2 Shall be glad of a Letter from you. Your last I read to the Town to their great Satisfaction though I concealed the name of its worthy Author.
1 October 28, Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., p. 88. 2 Adams, Otis and Joseph Warren were members of a committee of seven appointed by the Town of Boston on October 28 to present to the Governor the address adopted by the Town on that date. Ibid., p. 90. The address was prepared by a committee consisting of Adams, Joseph Warren and Benjamin Church. The text is in ibid., p. 89. Cf. Works of John Adams, vol. ii., p. 299 (October 27, 1772).
TO ARTHUR LEE.1
[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations, is in R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., Pp. 193-195.] BOSTON Novr 3 1772
MY DEAR SIR/
Since my last we have Advice that Lord Hillsborough is removd from the American Department, & tho he makes his Exit with the smiles & honors of the Court, he has the Curses of the disinterrested & better part of the Colonists. Not that it is thought his Lordship is by any means to be reckoned the most inveterate & active of all the Conspirators against our Rights: There are others on this Side of the Atlantick who have been more assiduous in plotting the Ruin of our Liberties than even he, and they are the more infamous, because the Country they would enslave, is that very Country in which (to use the Words of their Adulators & Expectants) they were "born & educated."
The Character of Lord Dartmouth has been unexceptionable in America in point of moral Virtue; I wish it could be ascertaind of all his Majestys Ministers and Servants. It is the opinion I have of them that makes me tremble for his Lordship, lest in the Circle he should make Shipwreck of his Virtue. I am well informd that he has wrote a very polite Letter to Hutchinson, in which he expresses a Satisfaction in his Conduct, & tells him he has always been of Opinion that the King has a Right to pay his Governors & other officers but surely he should have made himself thoroughly acquainted with the several political Institutions and Charters of the Colonies as well as the nature of free Governments in general before he explicitly & officially declares such an Opinion. I wish a Consideration that he has to correspond with the most artful plausible and insinuating Geniusses, & some of them the most malicious Enemies of the common Rights of Mankind, might induce his Lordship to be upon his Guard against too suddenly giving full Credit to their Representations, which perhaps was the capital mistake of his predecessor in office - our Conspirators were alarmd at his Appointment & I believe are determined if they can to impose upon his Credulity, if he has any such Weakness about him.
We are now alarmd with the Advice that the Judges of our Superior Court, have Salaries appointed by order of the Crown, independent of the people. This has occasiond a meeting of this metropolis, the proceedings of which you have in the inclosed papers. At the first meeting on the Wednesday2 & at the last Adjournment on the Monday3 following, there was a respectable Appearance of the Inhabitants, tho not so full as has sometimes been on Occasions of much less Importance; owing partly to its being the Season of the year when the Town is filled with our Country folks & every one is laying up provisions necessary for the approaching long Winter, partly from the Industry of the Enemies to prevent a full meeting as they before had been to prevent any meeting at all (for they dread nothing more) & partly from the Opinion of some that there was no method left to be taken but the last, which is also the Opinion of many in the Country. However as I said before, there was a respectable meeting; and I think the Town has taken a necessary Step to ascertain the true Sense of the Country with regard to our Grievances, which being known, it will be the easier to determine upon & prosecute to Effect the Methods which ought to be taken for the Redress of our intollerable Grievances. The Tories give out, tho in Whispers, that they expect what they call a Breese before long, which they say they gather from the slow, but regular Approaches that are made. They will form what Judgment they please. Perhaps they begin to be apprehensive that the body of a long insulted people will bear the Insults & Oppression no longer than untill they feel in themselves Strength to shake off the Yoke. If this is their Determination, it is justifiable as far as the Declaration of Mr. H. himself has Weight; for I am told by a Gentleman whom I can credit, that in Conversation he said there was nothing in Morality that forbid Resistance.
In your last you expressd your hopes of the removal of Hillsborough. I could not joyn with you; for if I am to have a master, let me have a severe one that I may always have the mortifying Sense of it. I shall then always be disposed to take the first fair Opportunity of ridding my self of Slavery. There is danger of the peoples being flatterd with such partial Reliefe as Lord Dartmouth may be able, (if disposed) to obtain for them & building upon vain Hopes till their Chains are rivetted. Are they not still heaping Grievance upon Grievance, & while they remain, to what purpose would it be if his Lordship should get a few boyish Instructions to the Govr relaxed? Would this be a reason for a final Submission to a Tribute & Egyptian Taskmasters in Support of despotick Power! The Tribute, the Tribute is the Indignity which I hope in God will never be patiently borne by a People who of all the people on the Earth deserve most to be free.
I am astonishd that [Dr. Franklin] has written no Letter to the Speaker.
I shall write you by the next Ship.
1 Arthur Lee to Samuel Adams, January 25, 1773: "I have just now received your favour of Nov. 3, 1772, together with a pamphlet and some papers, for which I am extremely obliged to you. . . . I shall take the liberty of putting the first part of your letter in the newspapers here, as I think it extremely proper my Lord Dartmouth should read the excellent admonition it contains." R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. i., p. 226. 2 Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., p. 88. 3 Ibid., p. 92.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations, is in J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 15-l8.]
BOSTON 5 Novr 1772
MY DEAR SIR
I recd with pleasure your Letter of the 2d Inst. I was sure you cd not but be of Opinion, that Unanimity in the Measures taken by the friends of the Country is of the utmost Importance. I must with great Deferrence to your Judgment, think that even in our wretched State, the mode of petitioning the Govr will have a good Effect. I was aware that his Answers would be in the same high tone, in which we find them expressd; yet our requests have been so reasonable that in refusing to comply with them he must have put himself in the wrong -, in the opinion of every honest & sensible man; the Consequence of which will be, that such measures as the people may determine upon to save themselves, if rational & manly, will be the more reconcileable even to cautious minds, & thus we may expect that Unanimity which we wish for.
I have the satisfaction of inclosing the last proceedings of our Town meeting, in which I think you will perceive a Coincidence with your own Judgment, in a plan concerted for the whole to act upon. Our timid sort of people are disconcerted, when they are positively told that the Sentiments of the Country are different from those of the City. Therefore a free Communication with each Town will serve to ascertain this matter; and when once it appears beyond Contradiction, that we are united in Sentiments there will be a Confidence in each other, & a plan of Opposition will be easily formed, & executed with Spirit. In such a Case (to return your own Language with entire Approbation) those "who have Virtue enough to oppose the wicked designs of the Great, will have this for their boast that they have struggled for & with an honest people."
I was at first of your Opinion "that it wd be most proper for a Come from Boston, united with Comtes from two or three other Towns to wait on the Judges" &c. and I mentiond it to several Gentlemen of the Neighboring Towns who approved of it, but so much Caution prevails, that they suspected whether their respective towns wd stir till Boston had given the Lead, (a needless Compliment to the Capital); This turnd our Thoughts to the Measures taken by the Town, & led me to conceive hopes, that as the Superr Court wd be soon sitting at Salem, Mbl Head & other towns in that County would come into such a proposal.
I take Notice of what you observe "that our whole dependence as people seems to be upon our own Wisdom & Valor," in which I fully agree with you. It puts me in mind of a Letter I recd not along ago from a friend of mine of some note in London, wherein he says, "your whole dependence under God is upon your own Virtue, (Valor). I know of no Noblemen in this Kingdom who care any thing about you, excepting Lords Chatham & Shelburne, & you would do well to be watchful even of them."
I earnestly wish that the Inhabitants of Marblehead & other Towns would severally meet, & if they see Cause, among other Measures, second this town & appoint a Come to be ready to communicate with ours1 when ready. This would at once discover an Union of Sentiments thus far & have its Influence on other Towns. It wd at least show that Boston is not wholly deserted, & might prevent "its falling a Sacrifice to the Rage or ridicule of our (common) Enemies." I shall be pleasd with your further Sentiments & am in strict truth,
1 The Boston Committee of Correspondence was appointed on November 2. "It was then moved by Mr Samuel Adams, That a Committee of Correspondence be appointed to consist of twenty one Persons - to state the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular, as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects; to communicate and publish the same to the several Towns in this Province and to the World as the sense of this Town, with the Infringements and Violations thereof that have been, or from time to time may be made - Also requesting of each Town a free communication of their Sentiments on this Subject - And the Question being accordingly put - Passed in the Affermative. Nem Cont. Boston Record Commissioner Report, vol. xviii., p.93. Cf., William Gordon, History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the United States of America, vol. i., pp. 312-314.
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations, is in J. T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 19-21.]
BOSTON Novr 14 1772
MY DEAR SIR
Your Letter of the 10 Inst.1 did not come to my hand till this Evening. It is a great Satisfaction to me to be assured from you that the Friends to Liberty in Marblehead are active & that there is like to be a Town meeting there. Our Committee are industrious, and I think I may promise you, they will be ready to report to the Town in two or three days; so that if your Town should think proper to make an Adjournment for ten days or a Fortnight, they will doubtless by that time if not before have an Opportunity of acting upon our Resolutions. I am sorry when any of our Proceedings are not exactly according to your Mind. The Word you object to2 in our resolves was designd to introduce into our State of Grievances "the Chh Innovations and the Establishment of those Tyrants in Religion, Bishops" which as you observe will probably take place. I cannot but hope, when you consider how indifferent too many of the Clergy are to our just & righteous Cause, that some of them are the Adulators of our Oppressors, and even some of the best of them are extremely cautious of recommending (at least in their publick performances), the Rights of their Country to the protection of Heaven, lest they should give offence to the little Gods on Earth, you will judge it quite necessary that we should assert [and] vindicate our Rights as Christians as well as Men & Subjects.
The Town of Roxbury are to meet on Monday next; and a great Number in Cambridge have subscribed a Petition to their Selectmen for a Meeting there. I have recd a Letter from a Gentleman of Influence in Plymouth who is pleasd to say, he thinks the general plan adopted here will produce great Consequences if supported with Spirit in the Country; & that he believes there will be no Difficulty in getting a Meeting there & carrying the point in seconding this town. He tells me, the Pulse of his fellow Townsmen beat high and their resentment he supposes is equal to that of any other Town. May God grant, that the Love of Liberty & a Zeal to support it may enkindle in every town. If the Enemies should see the flame bursting in different parts of the Country & distant from each other, it might discourage their attempts to damp & quench it. I am well assured they are alarmd at the Measure now taking, being greatly apprehensive of the same Consequences from it which our good friend at Plymouth hopes and expects. This should animate us in carrying it into Execution. I beg you would exert your utmost Influence in your neighboring towns and elsewhere. I hear Nothing of old Salem. I fear they have had an opiate administerd to them. I am told there has been a Consultation there, a Cabal in which his E — y presided. Pray let me still be favord with your Letters & be assured I am sincerely
1 T. Austin, Life of Elbridge Gerry, vol. i., pp. 18, 19; the original is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library. 2 "Christians."
THE RIGHTS OF THE COLONISTS, A LIST OF VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS AND A LETTER OF CORRESPONDENCE.1
Adopted by the Town of Boston, November 20, I772.2
[Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., pp. 94-108.]
The Committee appointed by the Town the second Instant "to State the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular, as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects; to communicate and publish the same to the several Towns in this Province and to the World as the sense of this Town with the Infringements and Violations thereof that have been, or from Time to Time may be made. Also requesting of each Town a free Communication of their Sentiments Reported First, a State of the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular — Secondly, A List of the Infringements, and Violations of those Rights. — Thirdly, A Letter of Correspondence with the other Towns. — 1st. Natural Rights of the Colonists as Men. — Among the Natural Rights of the Colonists are these First. a Right to Life; Secondly to Liberty; thirdly to Property; together with the Right to support and defend them in the best manner they can - Those are evident Branches of, rather than deductions from the Duty of Self Preservation, commonly called the first Law of Nature -
All Men have a Right to remain in a State of Nature as long as they please: And in case of intollerable Oppression, Civil or Religious, to leave the Society they belong to, and enter into another. — When Men enter into Society, it is by voluntary consent; and they have a right to demand and insist upon the performance of such conditions, And previous limitations as form an equitable original compact. —-