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IN THE YEARS 1774 AND 1775, 



















District ClerWs Office. 

BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the thirtieth daj of March, A. D- 
1819, and of the Forty-fourth Year of the Independence of the United States 
of America, HEWS & GOSS, of the said District, have deposited in this 
Office, the title of a Book, the Right whereof they claim as Proprietors, in the 
words following, to wit : " Novanglus and Massachusettensis ; or Political 
Essays, published in the years 1774 and 1775, on the principal points of con 
troversy, between Great Britain and her colonies. The former by John 
Adams, late President of the United States ; the latter by Jonathan Sewall, 
then king^s Attorney General of the Province of Massachusetts Bav. To 
which are added a number of letters, lately written by Prsident Adams, to 
the Hon. William Tudor ; some of which were never before published." 

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled " An 
Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, 
Charts and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies, during the 
times therein mentioned ;" and also to an Act, entitled " An Act, supple 
mentary to an Act, entitled, An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by 
securing the Copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the Authors and Proprie 
tors of such Copies, during the times therein mentioned ; and extending the 
benefits thereof to the Arts of Designing, Engraving and Etching Historical, 
d other Prints." 

JOHN W. DAVIS, Clerk of the District of Massachusetts 


FOR the last twenty years, our political opinions have par 
taken so much of feeling, in the contest between the two great 
European rivals, that the happiness, the interests, and even the 
character of America seem to have been almost forgotten. But 
the spirit of party has now most happily so tar subsided, that a 
disposition to look into, and examine the history of our own dear 
country, and its concerns, very generally prevails. Perhaps there 
is no part of that history, that is more interesting, than the con 
troversy between Great Britain and her colonies, which produced 
the war of the revolution, and their final separation. 

It is important, that the rising generation should be well ac 
quainted with the principles and justice of that cause, which even 
tuated in our Independence, and to which we are indebted for our 
present envied state of prosperity and happiness. 

The principles of that controversy were ably discussed by 
various writers, both in England and America ; but it has been 
supposed, that the sentiments and conduct of each party were 
more elaborately displayed, in certain essays published in Boston, 
a short time previous to the commencement of hostilities, over 
the signatures of Novanglus and Massachusettensis, than in any 
other productions whatever. 

The former were written by JOHN ADAMS, then a distinguished 
citizen of Boston, one of the noblest assertors of the rights and 
privileges of the colonies, and who has since been elected to the 
most important and honourable offices in the gift of the nation. 

The latter were written by JONATHAN SEWALL, then king s 
Attorney General of the province of Massachusetts; a gentleman 
of educati M and talents the champion and possessing the conti- 
deuce of what were then called the government party. 

By an attentive perusal of these essays, a correct judgment may 
be former! of all the principal and leading points of the contro 
versy, between the colonies and the mother country. 

Confiding in the correctness of these sentiments, and the patron 
age of an enlightened public, we have re-published the above 
inenti9ned essays ; to which are added, all those interesting let- 

rs, written by President ADAMS, and addressed to the Hon. 

iLtiAM TUDOR, lately printed in the Boston Daily Advertiser, * 
bej th others never before published. 

Tbt venerable and patriotic author of Novanglus, now lives to 
behold an^) enjoy the blessed fruits of his labours, and that of his 
compatriots, and possesses, in the highest degree, the intellect of 
his most intellectual days. 



In offering this volume to the public, we please ourselves with 
the hope, that it will be a valuable acquisition to all classes of cit 
izens, who wish to become acquainted with those principles of civil 
liberty, for which our ancestors so nobly, and so successfully con 
tended. To the gentlemen of the bar, to legislators, and to 
politicians generally, we conceive it will be an inestimable 

We are forcibly impressed with the wonderful effect the essays 
of Novanglus must have produced, in the times in which they 
were published, by convincing the great body of the people, that 
the parliament of Great Britain had no right to tax the colonies in 
America. But in reflecting on the CONSEQUENCES of that glorious 
revolution which these essays greatly tended to produce, the mind 
is imperatively drawn to a contemplation of the present political 
condition of Europe. Representative governments are gradually 
introducing themselves into every part of that country ; and we 
hope the day is not far distant, when the whole world shall be 
emancipated from tyranny. As AMERICANS we feel a conscious 
pride, that the resistance which our ancestors made to the arbitrary 
machinations of an Hutchinson, a Bute, a Mansfield and a Northj 
will terminate in the civil and political freedom of ALL MANKIND, 

BOSTON, JULY 1, 1819. 



24 2> froia the top, for procreations, read procuration*. 

32 14 from the top, for terms read terrors* 

18 from the bottom, read more after much, 

44 9 from the top, for their read these. 

55 20 from the top, for shewing read knowing. 

9 1 from the bottom, for articles read artifices. 

ICO 12 from the top, for knew read know, 

and for know read knew. 

100 2 from the bottom, for amity read anxiety. 

120 7 from the bottom, dele-suo. 

120 6 from the bottom, for compact read conquest, 

$40 8 from the bottom, for expected read respecttd* 


JONATHAN SEW ALL was descended from Mitchiiis ami 
and Hulls and Se walls, and I believe Higginsons, i. e. from sever 
al of the ancient and venerable of New England families. But, 
as I am no genealogist, I must refer to my aged classmate and 
highly esteemed friend Judge Sewall of York, whose researches 
will, one day, explain the whole. 

Mr. SEWALL S father was unfortunate ; died young, leaving his 
son destitute ; but as the child had discovered a pregnant genius, 
he was educated by the charitable contribution of his friends, of 
whom Dr. Samuel Cooper was one of the most active and suc 
cessful, among his opulent parishoners. Mr. SEWALL graduated 
at college in 1748 ; kept a Latin school in Salem, till 1756, when 
Chambers Russell, of Lincoln, a Judge of the Supreme Court and 
a Judge of Admiralty, from a principle of disinterested benevo 
lence, received him into his family ; instructed him. in law ; fur 
nished him with books and introduced him to the practise at the 
bar. In 1757 and 1758, he attended the Supreme Court in Wor 
cester, and spent his evenings with me in the office of Colonel 
James Putnam, a gentleman of great acuteness of mind, and very 
extensive and successful in practise, and an able lawyer ; in whose 
family I boarded and under whose auspices I studied law. Here 
commenced between Mr. SEWALL and me, a personal friendship, 
which continued, with none but political interruptions, till his 
death. He commenced practice in Charlestown, in the County 
of Middlesex, I, in that parish of the ancient town of Braintree, 
now called Quincy, then in the County of Suffolk, now of Nor 
folk. We attended the Courts in Boston, Cambridge, Charlestown, 
and Concord ; lived together, frequently slept in the same cham 
ber, and not seldom, in the same bed. Mr. SEWALL was then a 
patriot ; his sentiments were purely American. To James Otis, 
who took a kind notice of us both, we constantly applied for ad 
vice in any difficulty, and he would attend to us, advise us, 
and look into books for us, and point out authorities to us, as kindly 
as if we had been his pupils or his sons. 

After the surrender of Montreal in 1759, rumours were every 
where spread that the English would now new model the Colo- 


nies, demolish the charters and reduce all to royal governments. 

These rumours 1 had heard as often as he had. One morning I 
met him, accidentally, on the floor of the old Town House. " John" 
said he, u I want to speak with you ;" he always called me John, 
and I him Jonathan, and often said to him, I wish my name were 
David. He took me to a window seat and said ; " these English 
men are going to play the devil with us. They will overturn 
every thing. We must resist them and that by force. 1 wish 
you would write in the Newspapers, and urge a general atten 
tion t the Militia, to their exercises and discipline, for we must 
resist in arms." I answered, " All this I fear is true ; hut why 
do you not write yourself? You are older than I am ; have 
more experience than I have, are more intimate with the gran 
dees than I am, and you can write ten times better than I can." 
There had been a correspondence between us, by which I knew 
his refined style as well as he knew my coarse one. " Why," 
said Mr. SEWALL, u I would write, but Goffe will find me out and I 
shall grieve his righteous soul, and you know what influence he 
has* in Middlesex." This Goflfe had been Attorney General for 
twenty years, and commanded the practise in Middlesex and Wor 
cester and several other Counties. He had power to crush, by 
his frown or his nod any young Lawyer in his County. He was 
afterwards Judge Trowbridge, but at that time as ardent as any of 
Hutchinson s disciples, though he afterwards became alienated 
from his pursuits and principles. 

In December 1760, or January 1761, Stephen Sewall, Chief 
Justice died, deeply lamented, though insolvent. My friend JONA 
THAN, his nephew, the son of his brother, who tenderly loved and 
deeply revered his uncle, could not bear the thought, that the 
memory of the Chief Justice should lie under the imputation of 
bankruptc} . At that time bankruptcy was infamous ; now it is 
scarcely disgraceful. JONATHAN undertook the administration of 
his uncle s estate. Finding insolvency inevitable, he drew a peti 
tion to the General Court to grant a sum of money, sufficient, to 
pay the Chief Justice s debts. If my friend had known the char 
acter of his countrymen, or the nature of that Assembly, he never 
would have conceived such a project ; but he did conceive it and 
applied to James Otis, and his father, Colonel Otis, to patronize 
and support it. The Otis s knew their countrymen better than he 
did. They received and preseutedthe petition, but without much 


hope of success. The petition was rejected, and my friend SEWALL 
conceived a suspicion, that it was not promoted with so much 
zeal, by the Otis s, as he thought they might have exerted. He 
imputed the failure to their coldness ; was much mortified and 
conceived a violent resentment, which he expressed with too 
much freedom and feeling in all companies. 

Goffe, Hutchinson and all the courtiers soon heard of it and 
instantly fastened their eyes upon SEWALL ; courted his society ; 
sounded his fame ; promoted his practise, and soon after made him 
Solicitor General by creating a new office, expressly for him. Mr. 
SEWALL, had a soft, smooth, insinuating eloquence, which gliding 
imperceptibly into the minds of a Jury, gave him as much power 
over that tribunal as any lawyer ought ever to possess. He was 
also capable of discussing before the court, any intricate question 
of law, which gave him, at least, as much influence there as was 
consistent with an impartial administration of justice. He was a 
gentleman and a scholar ; had a fund of wit, humour and satire, 
which he used with great discretion at the bar, but poured out 
with unbounded profusion in the newspapers. Witness his volu 
minous productions in the newspapars, signed long J. and Philan 
thropes. These accomplishments richly qualified him to serve 
the purposes of the gentlemen, who courted him into their service. 

Mr. SEWALL soon fell in love with Miss Esther Quincy, the 
fourth daughter of Edmund Quincy, Esq. an eminent merchant 
and magistrate, and a grand daughter of that Edmund Quincy, 
who was eighteen years a Judge of the Superior Court, who died 
of the small pox in the agency of the province at the Court of 
St. James s, and whose monument was erected, at the expense of 
the Province, in Bun-hill-fields, London. This young lady, who 
was celebrated for her beauty, her vivacity and spirit, lived with 
her father in this parish, now called Quincy. Mr. SEWALL S 
courtship was extended for several years, and he came up very 
constantly on Saturdays and remained here until Mondays ; and 
I was sure to be invited to meet him on every Sunday evening. 
During all these years, there was a constant correspondence be 
tween u, and he concealed nothing from me, so that I knew him 
by his style whenever he appeared in print. 

In 1766, he married the object of his affections, and an excel 
lent wife he found 4ier. He was soon appointed Attorney Gen 
eral. In 17G8, he was employed by Governor Barnard to offer 


ine the office of Advocate General, in the Court of Admiralty, 
which I decidedly and peremptorily though respectfully refused. 

We continued our friendship and confidential intercourse, 
though professedly in boxes of politics, as opposite as East and 
West, until the year 1774, when we both attended the Superior 
Court in Falmouth, Casco-bay, now Portland. I had then been 
chosen a delegate to Congress. Mr. SEWALL invited me to take 
a walk with him, very early in the morning, on the great hill. 
In the course of our rambles he very soon begun to remonstrate 
against my going to Congress. He said " that Great Britain was 
determined on her system ; her power was irresistible and would 
certainly be destructive to me, and to all those who should per 
severe in opposition to her designs." I answered, " that I knew 
Great Britain was determined on her system, and that very de 
termination, determined me on mine ; that he knew I had been 
constant and uniform in opposition to all her measures ; that the 
die was now cast ; 1 had passed the Rubicon ; swim or sink, live 
or die, survive or perish with my country, was my unalterable 
determination. The conversation was protracted into length, but 
this was the substance of the whole. It terminated in my saying 
to him, " I see we must part, and with a bleeding heart I say, I 
fear forever ; but you may depend upon it, this adieu is the 
sharpest thorn on which I ever sat my foot." I never conversed 
with him again till the year 1788. Mr. SEWALL retired in 1775 
to England, where he remained and resided in Bristol. 

On my return from Congress in the month of November 1774, 
I found the Massachusetts Gazette teeming with political specu 
lations, and Massachusettensis shining like the moon among the 
lesser stars. I instantly knew him to be my friend SEWALL, and 
was told he excited great exultation among the tories and many 
gloomy apprehensions among the whigs. I instantly resolved to 
enter the lists with him, and this is the history of the following 

In 1788, Mr. SEWALL came to London to embark for Halifax. 
I enquired for his lodgings and instantly drove to them, laying 
aside all etiquette, to make him a visit. I ordered my servant to 
announce John Adams, was instantly admitted, and both of us 
forgetting that we had ever been enemies, embraced each other 
as cordially as ever. I had two hours conversation with him in 
n most delightful freedom upon a multitude of subjects. He told 


ine he had lived for the sake of his two children ; he had spared 
no pains nor expense in their education, and he was going to 
Halifax in hope of making some provision for them. They are 
now two of the most respectable gentlemen in Canada. One of 
them a Chief Justice ; the other an Attorney General. Their 
father lived but a short time after his return to America ; evi 
dently broken down by his anxieties and probably dying of a bro 
ken heart. He always lamented the conduct of Great Britain 
towards America. No man more constantly congratulated me, 
while we lived together in America, upon any news, true or 
false, favorable to a repeal of the obnoxious Statutes and a retires? 
of our grievances ; but the society in which he lived had convin 
ced him that all resistance was not only useless but ruinous. 

More conscious than ever of the faults in the style and arrange 
ment, if not in the matter of my part of the following papers, I 
shall see them in print with more anxiety than when they were 
first published. The principles however are those on which I 
then conscientiously acted, and which I now most cordially 

To the candour of an indulgent nation, whom I congratulate on 
their present prosperity and pleasing prospects, and for whose 
happiness I shall offer up my dying supplications to Heaven, fc 
commit the volume with all its imperfections. 


Quincy, January I 


To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 

January 23, 1775. 


A WRITER, under the signature of Massachusettensis, has 
addressed you, in a series of papers, on the great national subject 
of the present quarrel between the British administration and the 
Colonies. As 1 have not in my possession, more than one of his 
Essays, and that is in the Gazette of December 26, I will take 
the liberty, in the spirit of candor, and decency, to bespeak your 
attention, upon the same subject. 

There may be occasion, to say very severe things, before ; 
shall have finished what I propose, in opposition to this writer 
but there ought to be no reviling. Rem ipsam die, mitte male 
loqui, which may be justly translated, speak out the whole truth 
boldly, but use no bad language. 

It is not very material to enquire, as others have done, who is 
the author of the speculations in ^question. If he is a disinterested 
writer, and has nothing to gain or to lose, to hope or to fear, for 
himself more than other individuals of your community ; but en 
gages in this controversy from the purest principles, the noblest 
motives of benevolence to men, and of love to his country, he 
ought to have no influence with you, further than truth and jus 
tice will support his argument. On the other hand, if he hopes 
to acquire or preserve a lucrative employment, to screen him 
self from the just detestation of his countrymen, or whatever 
other sinister inducement he may have, as far as the truth of 
facts and the weight of argument, are in his favor, he ought to be 
duly regarded. 

He tells you " that the temporal salvation of this province de 
pends upon an entire and speedy change of measures, which must 
depend upon a change of sentiments respecting our own conduct 
and the justice of the British nation." 

The task, of effecting these great changes, this courageous 
writer, has undertaken in a course of publications in a newspaper. 
Nil despcrandum is a good motto, and Nil admirari, is another. 
He is welcome to the first, and I hope will be willing that I 
should assume the last. The public, if they are not mistaken in 
their conjecture, have been so long acquainted with this gentle 
man, and have seen him so often disappointed, that if they were 


not habituated to strange things, they would wonder at his hopes, 
at this time to accomplish, the most unpromising project of his 
whole life. In the character of Philanthrop, he attempted to 
reconcile you to Mr. Bernard. But the only fruit of his labor 
was, to expose his client to- more general examination, and con 
sequently to more general resentment and aversion. In the 
character of Philalethes, he essayed to prove Mr. Hutchinson a 
patriot, and his letters not only innocent, but meritorious. But. 
the more you read and considered, the more you were convinced 
of the ambition and avarice, the simulation and dissimulation, the 
hypocricy and perfidy of that destroying angel. 

This illfated and unsuccessful, though persevering writer, still 
hopes to change your sentiments and conduct by which it is 
supposed that he means to convince you that the system of Colo 
ny administration, which has been pursued for these ten or twelve 
years past, is a wise, righteous and humane plan ; that sir Francis 
Bernard and Mr. Hutchinson, with their connections, who have 
been the principal instruments of it, are your best friends ; and 
that those gentle in this province, and in all the other Colonies, 
who have been in opposition to it, are from ignorance, error, or 
from worse and baser causes, your worst enemies. 

This is certainly an inquiry that is worthy of you ; and I pro 
mise to accompany this writer, in his ingenious labours to assist 
you in it. And I earnestly intreat you, as the result of all shall 
be, to change your sentiments or persevere in them, as the evi 
dence shall appear to you, upon the most dispassionate and im 
partial consideration, without regard to his opinion or mine. 

He promises to avoid personaf reflections, but to penetrate the 
arcana, and expose the wretched policy of the whigs. The 
cause of the whigs is not conducted by intrigues at a distant court, 
b it by constant appeals to a sensible and virtuous people ; it de 
pends intirely on their good will, and cannot be pursued a single 
step without their concurrence, to obtain which of all designs, 
measures, and means, are constantly published to the collective 
body. The whigs therefore can have no arcana ; but if they 
had, 1 dare say they were never so left, as to communicate them 
to this writer ; you will therefore be disappointed if you expect 
frcm him any thing which is tr, ue, but what has been as public 
as records and newspapers could make it. 

1, on my part, may perhaps in a course of papers, penetrate 
arcana too. Shew the wicked policy of the tories trace their 
plan from its first rude sketches to its present complete draught. 
Shew that it has been much longer in contemplation, than is gen 
erally known, who were the first in it their views, motives 
and secret springs of action and the means they have employed. 
This will necessarily bring before your eyes many characters, liv 
ing and dead. From such a research and detail of facts, it will 
clearly appear, who were the aggressors and who have acted 
on the d eieiisive from first to last who are still struggling, at 


the expense of their ease, health, peace, wealth and preferment, 
against the encroachments of the tories on their country and 
who are determined to continue struggling , at much greater haz 
ards still, and like the Prince of Orange, resolve never to see it* 
entire subjection to arbitrary power, but rather to die fighting 
against it, in the last ditch. 

It is true, as this writer observes, " that the bulk of the people 
are generally, but little versed in the affairs of State ; that they 
left the affairs of government where accident has placed them." 
If this had not been true, the designs of the tories had been man} 
years ago, entirely defeated. It was clearly seen, by a few, 
more than ten years since, that they were planning and pursuing 
the very measures, we now see executing. The people were 
informed of it, and warned of their danger : But they had been 
accustomed to confide in certain persons, and could never be per 
suaded to believe, until prophecy, became history. Now they 
see and feel, that the horrible calamities are come upon them, 
which were foretold so many years ago. and they now sufficiently 
execrate the men who have brought these things upon them. 
Now alas ! when perhaps it is too late. If they had withdrawn 
their confidence from them in season, they would have wholly 
disarmed them. 

The same game, with the same success, has been played in all 
ages and countries as Massachusettensis observes. When a fa 
vourable conjuncture has presented, some of the most intrigueing 
and powerful citizens have conceived the design of enslaving their 
country, and building their own greatness on its ruins. Philip 
and Alexander, are examples of this in Greece Caesar in Rome 
Charles the fifth in Spain Lewis the eleventh in France and 
ten thousand others. 

t; There is a latent spark in the breasts of the people capable 
of being kindled into a flame, and to do this has always been the 
employment of the disaffected." What is this latent spark ? 
The love of Liberty ? a Deo hominis est indita naturce. Human 
nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty. There is also 
in human nature, a resentment of injury, and indignation against 
wrong. A love of truth and a veneration for virtue. 

These amiable passions, are the " latent spark" to which those 
whom this writer calls the u disaffected" apply. If the people 
are capable of understanding, seeing and feeling the difference 
between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, to what % 
better principle can the friends of mankind apply, than to the 
sense of this difference. 

Is it better to apply as this writer and his friends do, to the 
basest passions in the human breast to their fear, their vanity, 
their avarice, ambition, and every kind of corruption ? I appeal 
to all experience, and to universal history, if it has ever been in 
the po^er of popular leaders, uninvested with other authority 
than what is conferred by the popular suffrage, to persuade o 



large people, for any length of time together, to think themselves 
wronged, injured, and oppressed, unless they really were, and saw 
and felt it to be so. 

" They, 1 the popular leaders, " begin by reminding the peo 
ple of the elevated rank they hold in the universe as men ; that 
all men by nature are equal ; that kings are but the ministers of 
the people ; that their authority is delegated to them by the peo 
ple, for their good, and they have a right to resume it, and place 
it in other hands, or keep it themselves, whenever it is made use 
of to oppress them. Doubtless there have been instances, when 
these principles have been inculcated to obtain a redress of real 
grievances, but they have been much oftener perverted to the 
worst of purposes." 

These are what are called revolution principles. They are 
the principles of Aristotle and Plato, of Livy and Cicero, and Syd 
ney, Harrington and Locke. The principles of nature and eter 
nal reason. The principles on which the whole government 
over us, now stands. It is therefore astonishing, if any 
thing can can be so, that writers, who call themselves friends 
of government, should in this age and country, be so inconsistent 
with themselves, so indiscreet, so immodest, as to insinuate a 
doubt concerning them. 

Yet we find that these principles stand in the way of Massachu- 
settensis, and all the writers of his class. The veteran, in his 
letter to the officers of the arm} 7 , allows them to be noble, and 
true, but says the application of them to particular cases is wild 
and Utopian. How they can be in general true, and not applica 
ble to particular cases, I cannot comprehend. I thought their 
being true in general, was because they were applicable in most 
particular cases. 

Gravity is a principle in nature. Why ? because all particular 
bodies are found to gravitate. How would it sound to say, that 
bodies in general are heavy ; yet to apply this to particular 
bodies and say, that a guinea, or a ball is heavy, is wild, &c. 
" Adopted in private life," says the honest amiable veteran, " they 
would introduce perpetual discord." This I deny, and 1 think it 
plain, that there never was an happy private family where they 
were not adopted, " In the State perpetual discord." This I 
deny, an affirm that order, concord and stability in this State, nev 
er was or can be preserved without them. " The least failure in 
the reciprocal duties of worship and obedience in the matrimonial 
contract would justify a divorce." This is no consequence from 
those principles, a total departure from the ends and designs of 
the contract it is true, ag elopement and adultery, would by these 
principles justify a divorce, but not the least failure, or many 
smaller failures in the reciprocal duties, &c. " In the political 
compact, the smallest defect in the Prince a revolution" By 
no means. But a manifest design in the Prince, to annul the con 
tract on his part, will annul it on the part of the people. A set- 


tied plan to deprive the people of all the benefits, blessing s and 
ends of the contract, to subvert the fundamentals of the constitu- 
tion t to deprive them of all share in making and executing laws, 
will justify a revolution. 

The author of a " Friendly Address to all reasonable Ameri 
cans," discovers his rancour against these principles, in a more 
explicit manner, and makes no scruples to advance the principles 
of Hobbs and Filmer, boldly, and to pronounce damnation, ore ro- 
tundo, on all who do not practice implicit passive obedience, to an 
established government, of whatever character it may be. It is 
not reviling, it is not bad language, it is strictly decent to say, 
that this angry bigot, this ignorant dogmatist, this foul mouthed 
scold, deserves no other answer than silent contempt. Massa- 
chusettensis and the veteran, I admire, the first for his art, the 
last for his honesty. 

Massachusettensis, is more discreet than either of the others ; 
sensible that these principles would be very troublesome to him, 
yet conscious of their truth, he has neither admitted nor denied 
them. But we have a right to his opinion of them, before we 
dispute with him. He finds fault with the application of them. 
They have been invariably applied in support of the revolution 
and the present establishment against the Stuart s, the Charles 
and the James , in support of the reformation and the Protestant 
religion, against the worst tyranny, that the genius of toryism, has 
ever yet invented, I mean the Roman superstition. Does this 
writer rank the revolution and present establishment, the reforma 
tion and Protestant religion among his worst of purposes ? What 
u worse purpose" is there than established tyranny ? Were 
these principles ever inculcated in favor of such tyranny ? Have 
they not always been used against such tyrannies, when the peo 
ple have had knowledge enough to be apprized of them, and 
courage to assert them ? Do not those who aim at depriving the 
people of their liberties, always inculcate opposite principles, or 
discredit these. 

u A small mistake in point of policy," says he, " often furnishes 
a pretence to libel government and persuade the people that their 
rulers are tyrants, and the whole government, a system of oppres 
sion." This is not only untrue, but inconsistent with what he said 
before. The people are in their nature so gentle, that there nev 
er was a government yet, in which thousands of mistakes were 
not overlooked. The most sensible and jealous people are so lit 
tle attentive to government, that there are no instances of resist- 
ance, until repeated, multiplied oppressions have placed it beyond 
a doubt, that their rulers had formed settled plans to deprive them 
of their liberties ; not to oppress an individual or a few, but to 
break down the fences of a free constitution, and deprive the peo 
ple at large of all share in the government and all the checks by 
which it is limited. Even Machiavel himself allows, that not in 
gratitude to their rulers, but much love is the constant fault of the 


This writer js equally mistaken, when he says, the people are 
grfre to be looscrs in the end. They can hardly be loosers, if un 
successful ; because if they live, they can but be slaves, after an 
unfortunate effort, and slaves they would have been, if they had 
not resisted. So that nothing- is lost. If they die, they cannot be 
said to lose, for death is better than slavery. If they succeed, 
their gains are immense. They preserve their liberties. The 
instances in antiquity, which this writer alludes to, are not men 
tioned, and therefore cannot be answered, but that in the country 
from whence we are derived, is the most unfortunate for his pur 
pose, that could have been chosen. The resistance to Charles 
the First and the case of Cromwell, no doubt he means. But the 
people of England, and the cause of liberty, truth, virtue and hu 
manity, gained infinite advantages by that resistance. In all hu 
man probability, liberty civil and religious, not only in England 
but in all Europe, would have been lost. Charles would undoubt 
edly have established the Romish religion and a despotism as wild 
as any in the world. And as England has been a principal bul 
wark from that period to this, of civil liberty and the Protestant 
religion in all Europe, if Charles schemes had succeeded, there 
is great reason to apprehend that the right of science would have 
been extinguished, and mankind, drawn back to a state of dark 
ness and misery, like that which prevailed from the fourth to the 
fourteenth century. It istrue and to be lamented that Cromwell 
did not establish a government as free, as he might and ought ; 
but his government was infinat^ly more glorious and happy to the 
people than Charles . Did not the people gain by the resistance 
to James the second ? Did not the Romans gain by the resistance 
to Tarquin ? Throughout that resistance and the liberty that 
was restored by it, would the great Roman orators, poets and his 
torians, the great teachers of humanity and politeness, the pride 
of human nature, and the delight and glory of mankind, for sev 
enteen hundred years, ever have existed ? Did not the Romans 
gain by resistance to the Decemvirs ? Did not the English gain 
by resistance to John, when Magna Charta was obtained? Did 
not the seven united provinces gain by resistance to Philip, Alva, 
and Granvell ? Did not the Swiss Cantons, the Genevans and 
Grissons, gain by resistance to Albert and Grisler ? 



To the Inhabitants of the Colony of MassachtisMs Baij. 

January 30, 1775. 


I HAVE heretofore intimated my intention, of pursuing the 
tories, through all their dark intrigues, and wicked machinations ; 
and to shew the rise, and progress of their schemes for enslaving 
this country. The honor of inventing and contriving these meas 
ures, is not their due. They have been but servile copiers of 
the designs of Andross, Randolph, Dudley, and other champions 
of their cause towards the close of the last century. These lat 
ter worthies accomplished but little ; and their plans had been 
buried with them, for a long course of years, until in the admin 
istration of the late Governor Shirley, they were revived, by the. 
persons who are now principally concerned in carrying them into 
execution. Shirley, was a crafty, busy, ambitious, intrigueing, en 
terprising man ; and having mounted, no matter by what means, 
to the chair of this province, he saw, in a young growing country, 
vast prospects of ambition opening before his eyes, and he con 
ceived great designs of aggrandizing himself, his family and his 
friends. Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Oliver, the two famous letter 
writers, were his principal ministers of State. Russell, Paxton, 
Ruggles, and a few others, were subordinate instruments. Amung 
ether schemes of this Junto, one was to have a Revenue in Amer 
ica by authority of Parliament. 

In order to effect their purpose it was necessary to concert 
measures with the other Colonies. Dr. Franklin, who was known 
to be an active, and very able man, and to have great influence^ 
in the province of Pennsylvania, was in Boston, in the year 1754, 
and Mr. Shirley communicated to him the profound secret, the 
great design of taxing the Colonies by act of Parliament. This sa 
gacious gentleman, this eminent philosopher,and distinguished pat 
riot, to his lasting honor, sent the Governor an answer in writing 
with the following remarks upon his scheme. Remarks which 
would have discouraged any honest man from the pursuit. The 
remarks are these : 

" That the people always bear the burden best, when they 
have, or think they have, some share in the direction. 

" That when public measures are generally distasteful to the 
people, the wheels of government must move more heavily. 


"That excluding the people of America from all share in the 
choice of a grand council for their own defence, and taxing them in 
Parliament, where they have no representative, would probably 
give extreme dissatisfaction. 

" That there was no reason to doubt the willingness of the 
Colonists to contribute for their own defence. That the people 
themselves, whose all was at stake, could better judge of the force 
necessary for their defence, and of the means for raising money 
tor the purpose, than a British Parliament at so great distance. 

" That natives of America, would be as likely to consult wisely 
and faithfully for the safety of their native country, as the Gover 
nors sent from Britain, whose object is generally to make fortunes, 
and then return home, and who might therefore be expected to 
carry on the war agninst France, rather in a way, by which them 
selves were likely to be gainers, than for the greatest advantage 
of the cause. 

" That compelling the Colonies to pay money for their own 
defence, without their consent, would shew a suspicion of their 
loyalty, or of their regard for their country, or of their common 
sense, and would be treating them as conquered enemies, and not 
as free Bri tains, who hold it for their undoubted right not to be 
taxed by their own consent, given through their representatives. 

a That parliamentary taxes, once laid on, are often continued, 
after the necessity for laying them on, ceases ; but that if the 
Colonists were trusted to tax themselves, they would remove the 
burden from the people, as soon as it should become unnecessary 
for them to bear it any longer. 

" That if Parliament is to tax the Colonies, their assemblies oi" 
representatives may be dismissed as useless. 

u That taxing the Colonies in Parliament for their own defence 
against the French, is not more just, than it would be to oblige the 
cinque ports, and other parts of Britain, to maintain a force against 
France, and to tax them for this purpose, without allowing them 
vepresentatives in Parliament. 

" That the Colonists have always been indirectly taxed by the 
mother country (besides paying the taxes necessarily laid on by 
their own assemblies) inasmuch as they are obliged to purchase 
the manufactures of Britain, charged with innumerable heavy 
taxes ; some of which manufactures they could make, and others 
could purchase cheaper at other markets. 

4t That the Colonists are besides taxed by the mother country, 
by being obliged to carry great part of their produce to Britain, 
and accept a lower price, than they might have at other markets. 
The difference is a tax paid to Britain. 

" That the whole wealth of the Colonists centres at last in the 
mother country, which enables her to pay her taxes. 

"That the Colonies have, at the hazard of their lives and for 
tunes, extended the dominions, and increased the commerce and 
riches of the mother countrv. that therefore, the Colonists do not 


deserve to be deprived of the native right of Britons, the right of 
being- taxed only by representatives chosen by themselves. 

u That an adequate representation in parliament would proba 
bly be acceptable to the Colonists, and would best raise the views 
and interests of the whole empire." 

The last of these propositions seems not to have been well con 
sidered, because an adequate representation in parliament, is to 
tally impracticable ; but the others have exhausted the subject. 
If any one should ask what authority or evidence I have of this 
anecdote, I refer to the second volume of the Political Disquisitions, 
page 276, 7, 8, 9. A book which ought to be in the hands of ev 
ery American who has learned to read. 

Whether the ministry at home or the junto here, were discour 
aged by these masterly remarks, or by any other cause, the pro 
ject of taxing the Colonies was laid aside. Mr. Shirley was re 
moved from this government, and Mr. Pownal was placed in his 

Mr. Pownal seems to have been a friend to liberty and to our 
Constitution, arid to have had an aversion to all plots against ei 
ther, and consequently to have given his confidence to other per 
sons than Hutchinson and Oliver, who, stung with envy against 
Mr. Pratt and others, who had the lead in affairs, set 
themselves, by propagating slanders against the Governor, 
among the people, and especially among the clergy, to raise dis 
contents, and make him uneasy in his seat. Pownal averse to 
wrangling, and fond of the delights of England, solicited to be re 
called, and after some time Mr. Bernard was removed from New 
Jersey to the chair of this Province. 

Bernard was the man for the purpose of the junto ; educated in 
the highest principles of monarchy, naturally daring and coura 
ge ous,skilled enough in law and policy to do mischief,and avaricious 
to a most infamous degree ; needy at the same time, and having a 
numerous family to provide for, he was an instrument, suitable 
in every respect, excepting one, for this junto, to employ. The 
exception 1 mean, was blunt frankness, very opposite to that cau 
tious cunning, that deep dissimulation, to which they had by long 
practice disciplined themselves. However, they did not despair of 
teaching him this necessary artful quality by degrees, and the event 
shewed they were not wholly unsuccessful, in their endeavors to 
do it. 

While the war lasted, these simple Provinces were of too much 
importance in the conduct of it, to be disgusted, by any open at 
tempt against their liberties. The junto therefore, contented 
themselves with preparing their ground by extending their con 
nection and correspondencies in England, and by conciliating the 
friendship of the crown officers occasionally here, and insinua 
ting their designs as necessary to be undertaken in some future 
favorable opportunity, for the good of the empire, as well as of 
the Colonies. 


The designs of Providence are inscrutable. It affords to bad men 
conjunctures favourable for their designs, as well as to good. The 
conclusion of, the peace, was the most critical opportunity for our 
junto, that could have presented. A peace founded on the des 
truction of that system of policy, the most glorious for the na 
tion, that ever was formed, and which was never equalled in the 
conduct of the English government, "except in the enterregaum, 
and perhaps in the reign of Elizabeth ; which system however, 
by its being abrubtly broken off and its chief conductor discarded 
before it was completed, proved unfortunate to the nation by leav 
ing it sinking in a bottomless gulf of debt, oppressed and borne 
down wHh taxes. 

At this lucky time, when the British financier, was driven out 
of his wits for ways and means, to supply the demands upon him, 
Bernard is employed by the junto, to suggest to him the project 
of taxing the Colonies by act of Parliament. 

1 do riot advance this without evidence. I appeal to a publica 
tion made by Sir Francis Bernard himself, the last year of his own 
select letters on the trade and government of America, and the 
principles of law and polity applied to the American Colonies. I 
shall make much use of this pamphlet before I have done. 

In the year 1764, Mr. Bernard transmitted home to different 
noblemen, and gentlemen, four copies of his principles of law and 
polity, with a preface, which proves incontestibly, that the pro 
ject of new regulating the American Colonies were not first sug 
gested to him by the ministry, but by him to them. The words 
of this preface are these : u The present expectation, that a new 
regulation of the American governments will soon take place, 
probably arises more from the opinion the public has of the abil 
ities of the present ministry, than from any thing that has trans 
pired from the cabinet ; it cannot be supposed that their penetra 
tion can overlook the necessity of such a regulation, nor their 
public spirit fail to carry it into execution. But it may be a ques 
tion, whether the present is a proper time for this work ; more 
urgent business may stand before it, some preparatory steps may 
be required to precede it ; but these will only serve to postpone. 
As we may expect that this reformation, like all others, will be 
opposed by powerful prejudices, it may not be amiss to reason 
with them at leisure, and endeavor to take off their force before 
they become opposed to government." 

These are the words of that arch enemy of North America, 
written in 1704. and then transmitted to four persons, with a desire 
that they might be communicated to others. 

Upon these words, it is impossible not to observe, first, That 
the ministry had never signified to him, any intention of new reg 
ulating the Colonies ; and therefore, that it was he who most of 
ficiously and impertinently put them upon the pursuit of this will 
with a whisp, which has led him and them into so much mire. 2. 
The artful flattery with which he insinuates these projects into 


the minds of the ministry, as matters of absolute necessity, which 
their great penetration could not fail to discover, nor their great 
regard to the public, omit. 3. The importunity with which he 
urges a speedy accomplishment of his pretended reformation of 
the governments, and 4. His consciousness that these schemes 
would be opposed, although he affects to expect from powerful 
prejudices only, that opposition, which all Americans say, has 
been dictated by sound reason, true policy, and eternal justice. 
The last thing I shall take notice of is, the artful, yet most false 
and wicked insinuation, that such new regulations were then gen 
erally expected. This is so absolutely false, that excepting Ber 
nard himself, and his junto, scarcely any body on this side the 
water had any suspicion of it, insomuch that if Bernard had 
made public, at that time, his preface and principles, as he sent 
them to the ministry, it is much to be doubted whether he could 
have lived in this country certain it is, he would have had no 
friends in this province out of the junto. 

The intention of the junto, was, to procure a revenue to be 
raised in America by act of parliament. Nothing was further 
from their designs and wishes, than the drawing or sending this 
revenue into the exchequer in England to be spent there in dis 
charging the national debt, and lessening the burdens of the poor 
people there. They were more selfish. They chose to have 
the fingering of the money themselves. Their design was, that 
the money should be applied, first in a large salary to the govern 
or. This would gratify Bernard s avarice, and then it would 
render him and all other governors, not only independent of jthe 
people, but still more absolutely a slave to the will of the minis 
ter. They intended likewise a salary for the lieutenant governor. 
This would appease in some degree the gnawings of Hutchinson s 
avidity, in which he was not a whit behind Bernard himself. la 
the next place, they intended a salary to the judges of the com 
mon law, as well as admiralty. And thus the whole government, 
executive and judicial, was to be rendered wholly independent of 
the people, (and their representatives rendered useless, insignifi 
cant and even burthensome) and absolutely dependant upon, and 
under the direction of the will of the minister of State. They 
intended further to new model the whole continent of North 
America, make an entire new division of it, into distinct, though 
more extensive and less numerous Colonies, to sweep away all 
the charters upon the continent, with the destroying besom of an 
act of parliament, and reduce all the governments to the plan of 
the royal governments, with a nobility in each Colony, not hered 
itary indeed, at first, but for life. They did indeed flatter the 
ministry and people in England, with distant hopes of a revenue 
from America, at some future period, to be appropriated to na 
tional uses there. But this was not to happen in their minds for 
some time. The governments must be new modelled, new reg 
ulated, reformed first and then the governments here would be 


able and willing to carry into execution any acts of Parliament or 
measures of the ministry, for fleecing the people here, to pay 
debts, or support pensioners, on the American establishment, or 
bribe electors, or members of parliament, or any other purpose 
that a virtuous ministry could desire. 

But as ill luck would have it, the British financier, was as sel 
fish as themselves, and instead of raising money for them, chose 
to raise it for himself. He put the cart before the horse. He 
chose to get the revenue into the exchequer, because he had 
hungry cormorants enough about him in England whose cooings 
were more troublesome to his ears, than the croaking of the ra 
vens in America. And he thought if America could afford any 
revenue at all, and he could get it by authority of parliament, 
he might have it himself, to give to his friends, as well as raise it 
for the junto here, to spend themselves, or give to theirs. This 
unfortunate preposterous improvement of Mr. Grenville, upon 
the plan of the junto, had well nigh ruined the whole. 

I will proceed no further without producing my evidence. In 
deed to a man who was acquainted with this junto, and had any 
opportunity to watch their motions, observe their language, and 
remark their countenances, for these last twelve years, no other 
evidence is necessary ; it was plain to such persons, what this jun 
to was about. But we have evidence enough now under their 
own hands of the whole of what was said of them by their oppo- 
sers, through this whole period. 

Governor Bernard, in his letter July 11, 1764, says, " that a 
general reformation of the American governments would become 
not only a desirable but a necessary measure. What his idea war,, 
of a general reformation of the American governments, is to be 
learnt from his principles of law and polity, which he sent to the 
ministry in 1764. I shall select a few of them in his own words ; 
but I wish the whole of them could be printed in the newspapers, 
that America might know more generally the principles and de 
signs and exertions of our junto. 

His 29th proposition is, " The rule that a British subject shall 
not be bound by laws, or liable to taxes, but what he has consent 
ed to, by his representatives, must be confined to the inhabitants 
of Great Britain only ; and is not strictly true even there. 30. 
The parliament of Great Britain, as well from its rights of sove 
reignty, as from occasional exigences, has a right to make laws 
for and impose taxes upon its subjects in its external dominions, 
although they arfi not represented in such parliament. But 31. 
Taxes imposed upon the external dominions, ought to be applied 
to the use of the people, from whom they are raised. 32. The 
parliament of Great Britain has a right and duty to take care to 
provide for the defence of the American Colonies ; especially as 
such Colonies are unable to defend themselves. 33. The par 
liament of Great Britain has a right and a duty to take care that 
provision be made for a sufficient support of the American gov- 


ernments. Because 34. The support of the government is one 
of the principal conditions upon which a Colony is allowed the 
power of legislation. Also because 35. Some of the American 
Colonies have shewn themselves deficient in the support of their 
several governments, both as to sufficiency and independency." 

His 75th proposition is, "Every American government is capa 
ble of having its constitution altered for the better. 76. The 
grants of the powers of governments to the American Colonies by 
charters cannot be understood to be intended for other than their 
infant or growing States. 77. They cannot be intended for their 
mature state, that is for perpetuity ; because they are in many 
things unconstitutional and contrary to the very nature of a British 
government; therefore 78. They must be considered as designed 
only as temporary means, for settling and bringing forward the 
peopling the Colonies ; which being effected, the cause of the 
peculiarity of their constitution ceases. 79. If the charters can be 
pleaded against the authority of Parliament they amount to an alien 
ation of the dominions of Great Britain, and are in effect acts of 
dismembering the British empire, and will operate as such, if 
care is not taken to prevent it. 83. The notion which has 
heretofore prevailed, that the dividing America into many gov 
ernments, and different modes of goverment will be the means 
to prevent their uniting to revolt, is ill founded ; since, if 
the governments were ever so much consolidated, it will be 
necessary to have so many distinct States, as to make a 
union to revolt, impracticable. Whereas 84. The splitting 
America into many small governments, weakens the govern 
ing power, and strengthens that of the people ; and thereby 
makes revolting more probable and more praticable. 85. 
To prevent revolts in future times (for there is no room to fear 
them in the present) the most effectual means would be, to make 
the governments large and respectable, and balance the powers 
of them. 86. There is no government in America at present, 
whose powers are properly balanced ; there not being in any of 
them, a real and distinct third legislative power mediating between 
the king and the people, which is the peculiar excellence of the 
British constitution. 87. The want of such a third legislative 
power, adds weight to the popular, and lightens the royal 
scale ; so as to destroy the balance between the royal and popu 
lar powers. 88. Although America is not now (and probably 
will not be for many years to come) ripe enough for an hereditary 
nobility ; yet it is now capable of a nobilility for life. 89. A no 
bility appointed by the king for life, and made independent, 
would probably give strength and stability to the American gov 
ernments, as effectually as an hereditary nobility does to that of 
Great Britain. 90. The reformation of American governments 
should not be controuled by the present boundaries of the Colo 
nies ; as they were mostly settled upon partial, occasional, and 
accidental considerations, without any regard to a whole. 91 . To 
settle the American governments to the greatest possible advan- 


tage, it will be necessary to reduce the number or them ; in some 
places to unite and consolidate, in others to separate and transfer; 
and in general to divide by natural boundaries, instead of imaginary 
lines. 92. If there should be but one form of government establish 
ed for all the North American provinces, if would greatly facilitate 
the reformation of them ; since, if the mode of government was 
every where the same, people would be more indifferent under 
what division they were ranged. 93. No objections ought to 
arise to the alteration of the boundaries of provinces from pro 
prietors, on account of their property only ; since there is no 
occasion that it should in the least affect the boundaries 
of properties. 94. The present distinction of one govern 
ment being more free or more popular than another, tend to em 
barrass and to weaken the whole ; and should not be allowed to 
subsist among people, subject to one king and one law, and all 
equally fit for one form of government. 95. The American Colo 
nies, in general, are, at this time, arrived at that state, which 
qualifies them to receive the most perfect form of government, 
which their situation and relation to Great Britain, make them ca 
pable of. 96. The people of North America, at this time, expect 
a revisal and reformation of the American governments, and are 
better disposed to submit to it, than ever they were, or perhaps 
ever will be again. 97. This is therefore the proper, and criti 
cal time to reform the American governments, upon a general, 
constitutional, firm, and durable plan ; and if it is not done now. it 
will probably every day grow more difficult, till at last it becomes 

My friends, these are the words, the plans, principles, and en 
deavours of governor Bernard in the year 1764. That Hutchin- 
son and Oliver, notwithstanding all their disguises which you well 
remember, were in unison with him in the whole of his measures, 
can bt doubted by no man. It appeared sufficiently in the part 
they all along acted, notwithstanding their professions. And it 
appears incontestibly from their detected letters, of which more 

Now let me ask you, if the parliament of Great Britain, had 
all the natural foundations of authority, wisdom, goodness, justice, 
power, in as great perfection as they ever existed in any body of 
men since Adam s fall ; and if the English nation was the most 
virtuous, pure and free, that ever was ; would not such an unlim 
ited subjection of three millions of people to that parliament, at 
three thousand miles distance be real slavery ? There are but 
two sorts of men in the world, freemen and slaves. The very 
definition of a freeman, is one who is bound by no law to which 
he has not consented. Americans would have no way of giving or 
withholding their consent to the acts of this parliament, therefore 
they would not be freemen. But, when luxury, effeminacy and 
vitality are arrived at such a shocking pitch in England, when 
I;oth electors and elected, are become one mass of corruption^ 


when the nation is oppressed to death with debts and taxes, owing 
to their own extravagance, and want of wisdom, what would be 
your condition under such an absolute subjection to p arliament ? 
You would not only be slaves. But the most abject sort of slaves 
to the worst sort of masters ! at least this is my opinion. Judgf 
jou for yourselves between Massachusettensis and 



To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts 

February 6, 1775. 


THE history of the tories, began in my last, will be inter 
rupted for some time ; but it shall be reassumed, and minutely 
related, in some future papers. Massachusettensis, who shall 
now be pursued, in his own serpentine path ; in his first paper, 
complains, that the press is not free, that a party has gained the 
ascendency so far as to become the licencers ol it; by playing off the 
resentment of the populace, against printers and authors : Thai 
the press is become an engine of oppression and licentiousness, 
much devoted to the partisans of liberty, who have been indulged 
in publishing what they pleased, fas vel nefas, while little ha? 
been published on the part of government. 

The art of this writer which appears in all his productions, is 
very conspicuous in this It is intended to excite a resentment 
against the friends of liberty, for tyrannically depriving their an 
tagonists, of so important a branch of freedom, and a compassion 
towards the tories, in the breasts of the people in the other Col 
onies and in Great Britain, by insinuating, that they have not had 
equal terms. But nothing can be more injurious, nothing farther 
from the truth. Let us take a retrospective view of the period, 
since the last peace, and see, whether they have not uniformly 
had the press at their service, without the least molestation to 
authors or printers Indeed, I believe that the Massachusetts 
Spy, if not the Boston Gazette haue been open to them as well 
as to others. The Evening Post, Massachusetts Gazette and 
Boston Chronicle, have certainly been always as free for their 
use as the air. Let us dismiss prejudice and passion, and exam 
ine impartially, whether the tories have not been chargeable 
with at least as many libels, as much licentiousness of the press, 
as the whigs 1 Dr. Mayhew was a whig of the first magnitude, 
a clergyman equalled by very few of any denomination in piety, 


virtue, genius or learning*, whose works will maintain his charac 
ter, as long as New England shall be free, integrity esteemed, or 
wit, spirit, humour, or reason and knowledge admired. How 
was he treated from the press ? Did not the reverend tories 
who were pleased to write against him, the missionaries of defa 
mation as well as bigotry and passive obedience, in their pam 
phlets, and news papers/ bespatter him all over with their filth ? 
With equal falsehood and malice charge him with every thing 
evil ? Mr. Otis, was in civil life ; and a senator, whose parts, lite 
rature, eloquence and integrity, proved him a character in the 
world, equal to any of the time in which he flourished, of any 
party in the province. Now be pleased to recollect the Evening 
Post. For a long course of years, that gentleman, his friends and 
connexions, of whom the world has, and grateful posterity will 
have a better opinion than Massachusettensis will acknowledge, 
were pelted with the most infernally malicious, false, and atrocious 
libels, that ever issued from any press in Boston. I will mention 
no other names, lest I give too much oifence to the modesty of 
some, and the envy and rancour of others. 

There never was before, in any part of the world, a whole town 
insulted to their faces, as Boston was, by the Boston Chronicle. 
Yet the printer was not molested for printing, it was his mad at 
tack upon other printers with his clubs, and upon other gentle 
men with his pistols, that was the cause of his flight, or rather 
ihe pretence. The truth was, he became too polite to attend his 
business, his shop was neglected, procreations were coining for 
more than 2000 sterling, which he had no inclination to pay. 

Printers may have been less eager after the productions of the 
tories than of the whigs, and the reason has been because the latter 
have been more consonant to the general taste and sense, and con 
sequently more in demand. Notwithstanding this, the former 
have ever found one press at least devoted to their service, and 
have used it as licentiously as they could wish. Whether the rev 
enue chest has kept it alive and made it profitable against the 
general sense, or not, I wot not. Thus much is certain that 200, 
3, 4, 5, 600,. 800, 1500 sterling a year, has been the constant re 
ward of every scribbler, who has taken up the pen on the side of 
the ministry, with any reputation, and commissions have been 
given here for the most wretched productions of dulness itself. 
Whereas the writers on the side of liberty, have been rewarded 
only with the consciousness of endeavouring to do good, with the 
approbation of the virtuous and the malice of men in power. 

But this is not the first time, that writers have taken advantage 
of the times. Massachusettensis knows the critical situation of 
this Province. The danger it is in, without government or law : 
The army in Boston. The people irritated and exasperated, in. 
such a manner as was never before borne by any people under 
Heaven. Much depends upon their patience at this critical time, 
and such an example of patience and order, this people have ex- 


hibited in a state of nature, under such cruel insults, distresses 
and provocations, as the history of mankind cannot parallel. 
In this state of things, protected by aii army, the whole junto 
are now pouring forth the whole torrents of their Billingsgate, 
propagating thousands of the most palpable falsehoods, when they 
know that the writers on the other side have been restrained by 
their prudence and caution from engaging in a controversy that 
must excite heats, lest it should have unhappy and tragical conse 

There is nothing in this world so excellent that it may not be 
abused. The abuses of the press are notorious. It is much to 
be desired that writers on all sides would be more careful of truth 
and decency : but upon the most impartial estimate, the tones 
will be found to have been the least so, of any party among us. 

The honest Veteran, who ought not to be forgotten, in this 
place, says, u if an inhabitant of Bern or Amsterdam, could read 
the newspapers, &c. he would be at a loss how to reconcile op 
pression with such unbounded licence of the press ; and would 
laugh at the charge, as something much more than a paradox, as 
a palpable contradiction." But with all his taste, and manly 
spirit, the Veteran is little of a statesman. His ideas of liberty 
are quite inadequate ; his notions of government very super 
ficial. License of the press is no proof of liberty. When a peo 
ple is corrupted, the press may be made an engine to complete 
their ruin : and it is now notorious, that the ministry, are daily 
employing it to encrease and establish corruption, and to pluck up. 
virtue by the roots. Liberty can no more exist without virtue 
and independence, than the body can live and move without a soul. 
When these are gone, and the popular branch of the constitution 
is become dependant on the minister, as it is in England, or cut off 
as it in America, all other forms of the constitution may remain ; 
but if you look for liberty, you will grope in vain, and the free 
dom of the press, instead of promoting the cause of liberty, will 
but hasten its destruction, as the best cordials taken by patients, in. 
some distempers, become the most rancid and corrosive poisons. 

The language of the Veteran, however, is like the style of the 
minister and his scribblers in England, boasting of the unbounded 
freedom of the press, and assuring the people that all is safe, 
while that continues ; and thus the people are to be cheated with 
libels in exchange for their liberties. 

A stronger proof cannot be wished, of the scandalous license of 
the tory presses, than the swarms of pamphlets and speculations, 
in New York and Boston, since last October, " Madness, folly, de 
lusion, delirium, infatuation, phrensy, high treason and rebellion," 
are charged in every page, upon three millions of as good and 
loyal, as sensible and virtuous people, as any in the empire : nay 
upon that congress, which was as full and free a representative, 
as ever was constituted by any people, chosen universally with- 
Ant solicitation, or the least tinclure of corruption : that congress 


which consisted of governors, counsellors, some of them by man 
damus too, judges of supreme courts, speakers of assemblies, 
planters and merchants of the first fortune and character, and law 
yers of the highest class, many of them educated at the temple, 
called to the bar in England, and of abilities and integrity equal to 
any there. 

Massachusettensis, conscious that the people of this continent 
have the utmost abhorrence of treason and rebellion, labours to 
avail himself of the magic in these words. But his artifice is 
vain. The people are not to be intimidated by hard words, from. 
a necessary defence of their liberties : Their attachment to their 
constitution so dearly purchased by their own and their ancestors 
blood and treasure, their aversion to the late innovations, their 
horror of arbitrary power and the Romish religion, are much 
deeper rooted than their dread of rude sounds and unmannerly 
language. They do not want the advice of an honest lawyer, 
if such an one could be found, nor will they be deceived by a 
dishonest one. They know what offence it is, to assemble, armed 
and forcibly obstruct the course of justice. They have been 
many years considering and inquiring, they have been instructed 
by Massachusettensis and his friends, in the nature of treason, and 
the consequences of their own principles and actions. They 
know upon what hinge the whole dispute turns. That the /wn- 
damentals of the government over them, are disputed, that the 
minister pretends and had the influence to obtain the voice of the 
last parliament in his favour, that parliament is the only supreme, 
sovereign, absolute and uncontroulable legislative over all the 
Colonies, that therefore the minister and all his advocates will 
call resistance, to acts of parliament, by the names of treason and 
rebellion. But at the same time they know, that in their own 
"opinions, and in the opinions of all the Colonies, parliament has 
no authority over them, excepting to regulate their trade, and 
this not by any principle of common law, but merely by the con- 
r sent of the Colonies, founded on the obvious necessity of a case, 
/ which was never in contemplation of that law, nor provided for 
by it ; that therefore they have as good a right to charge that 
minister, Massachusettensis and the whole army to which he has 
fled for protection, with treason and rebellion. For if the par 
liament has not a legal authority to overturn their constitution, 
and subject them to such acts as are lately passed, every man, 
who accepts of any commission and takes any steps to carry those 
acts into execution, is guilty of overt acts of treason and rebel 
lion against his majesty, his royal crown and dignity, as much as 
if he should take arms against his troops, or attempt his sacred 
life. They know that the resistance against the stampt act, 
which was made. through all America, was in the opinion of Mas- 
sachusettensi?, and George Grenville, high treason, and that Bri 
gadier Kuggles, and good Mr. Ogden, pretended at the congress 
at JSew York, to be of the same mind, and have been held in 


utter contempt and derision by the whole continent, for the same 
reason, ever since ; because in their own opinion, that resistance 
was a noble stand against tyranny, and the only opposition to it, 
which could have been effectual. That if the American resist 
ance to the act for destroying your charter, and to the resolves 
for arresting persons here and sending them to England for trial 
is treason, the lords and commons, and the whole nation, were 
traitors at the revolution. 

They know that all America is united in sentiment, and in the 
plan of opposition to the claims of administration and parliament. 
The junto in Boston, with their little flocks of adherents in the 
country, are not worth taking into the- account ; and the army 
and navy, though these are divided among themselves, are no 
part of America ; in order to judge of this union, they begin at 
the commencement of the dispute, and run through the whole 
course of it. At the time of the Stamp Act, every Colony expres 
sed its sentiments by resolves of their assemblies, and every one 
agreed that parliament had no right to tax the Colonies. The 
house of representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, then consisted 
of many persons, who have since figured as friends to government ; 
yet every member of that house concurred most cheerfully in 
the resolves then passed. The congress which met that year 
at New York, expressed the same opinion in their resolves, after 
the paint, paper and tea act was passed. The several assemblies 
expressed the same sentiments, and when your Colony wrote the 
famous circular letter, notwithstanding all the mandates and 
threats, and cajoling of the minister and the several governors, 
and all the crown officers through the continent, the assemblies 
with one voice echoed their entire approbation of that letter, 
and their applause to your Colony for sending it. In the year 
17^68, when a non importation was suggested and planned by a 
few gentlemen at a private club, in one of our large towns, as 
soon as it was proposed to the public, did it not spread through 
the whole continent ? Was it not regarded, like the laws of the 
Medes and Persians, in almost all the Colonies ? When the paint 
and paper act was repealed, the southern Colonies agreed to de 
part from the association in all things but the dutied articles, but 
they have kept strictly to their agreement against importing them, 
so that no tea worth the mentioning, has been imported into any 
of them from Great Britain to this day. In the year 1 770, when 
a number of persons were slaughtered in King Street, such was 
the brotherly sympathy of all the Colonies, such their resentment 
against an hostile administration ; that the innocent blood then 
spilt, has never been forgotten, nor the murderous minister and 
governors, who brought the troops here, forgiven, by any part 
of the continent, and never will be. When a certain masterly 
statesman, invented a committee of correspondence in Boston, 
which has provoked so much of the spleen of Massachusettensis, 
of which much more hereafter ; did not every Colony, nay every 


county, city, hundred and town upon the wfcole continent, 
adopt the measure ? I had almost said, as if it had been a reve 
lation from above, as the happiest means of cementing the union 
and acting in concert ? What proofs of union have been given 
since the last March? Look over the resolves of the several Col 
onies, and you will see that one understanding governs, one heart 
animates the whole body. Assemblies, conventions, congresses, 
towns, cities, and private clubs and circles, have been actuated by 
one great, wise, active and noble spirit, one masterly soul, ani 
mating one vigorous body. 

The congress at Philadelphia, have expressed the same senti 
ments with the people of New England, approved of the opposi 
tion to the late innovations, unanimously advised us to persevere 
in it, and assured us that if force is attempted to carry these mea 
sures against us, all America ought to support us. Maryland 
and the lower counties on Delaware, have already, to shew to 
all the world their approbation of the measures of New England, 
and their determination to join in them, with a generosity, a wis 
dom and magnanimity, which ought to make the tories consider, 
taken the power of the militia into the hands of the people, with 
out the governor, or minister, and established it, by their own 
authority, for the defence of the Massachusetts, as well as of 
themselves. Other Colonies are only waiting to see if the neces 
sity of it will become more obvious. Virginia, and the Carolinas, 
are preparing for military defence, and have been for some time. 
When we consider the variety of climates, soils, religious, civil 
governments, commercial interests, &,c. which were represented 
at the congress, and the various occupations, educations, and char 
acters of the gentlemen who composed it, the harmony and una 
nimity which prevailed in it, can scarcely be paralleled in any 
assembly that ever met. When we consider, that, at the revolu 
tion, ?uch mighty questions, as whether the throne was vacant or 
not, and whether the Prince of Orange should be king or not, 
were determined in the convention of parliament by small major 
ities of two or three, and four or five only ; the great majorities, 
the almost unanimity with which all great questions have been 
decided in your house of representatives, and other assemblies, 
and especially in the continental congress, cannot be considered 
in any other light than as the happiest omens indeed, as provi 
dential dispensations in our favour, as well as the clearest demon 
strations of the cordial, firm, radical and indissoluble union of the 

The grand aphorism of the policy of the whigs has been to 
unite the people of America, and divide those of Great Britain : 
The reverse of this has been the maxim of the tories, viz : To 
unite the people of Great Britain, and divide those of America : 
All the movements, marches and countermarches of both parties, 
on both sides of the Atlantic, may be reduced to one or the other 
of these rules. I have shewn, in opposition to Massachu- 


.settensis, that the people of America are united more perfect!^ 
than the most sanguine whig could ever have hoped, or than the 
most timid tory could have feared. Let us now examine whether 
the people of Great Britain are equally united against us. For if 
the contending countries were equally united, the prospect of suc 
cess in the quarrel would depend upon the comparative wisdom, 
firmness, strength and other advantages of each. And if such a 
comparison was made, it would not appear to a demonstration that 
Great Britain could so easily subdue and conquer. It is not so 
easy a thing for the most powerful State to conquer a country a 
thousand leagues off. How many years time, how many millions 
of money, did it take, with five and thirty thousand men, to con 
quer the poor province of Canada? And after all the battles and 
victories, it never would have submitted without a capitulation, 
which secured to them their religion and properties. 

But we know that the people of Great Britain are not united 
against us. We distinguish between the ministry, the house of 
commons, the officers of the army, navy, excise, customs, &c. 
who are dependent on the ministry and tempted, if not obliged, 
to echo their voices ; and the body of the people. We are assured 
by thousands of letters from persons of good intelligence, by the 
general strain of publications in public papers, pamphlets, and 
magazines, and by some larger works written for posterity, that 
the body of the people are friends to America, and wish us suc 
cess in our struggles against the claims of parliament and admin 
istration. We know that millions in England and Scotland, will 
think it unrighteous, impolitic and ruinous, to make war upon us, 
and a minister, though he may have a marble heart, will proceed 
with a diffident, desponding spirit. We know that London and 
Bristol the two greatest commercial cities in the empire, have de 
clared themselves in the most decisive manner, in favor of our 
cause. So explicitly that the former has bound her members 
under their hands to assist us, and the latter has chosen two known 
friends of America, one attached to us by principle, birth, and the 
most ardent affection, the other an able advocate for us on sever 
al great occasions. We know that many of the most virtuous and 
independent of the nobility and gentry, are for us, and among 
them the best bishop that adorns the bench, as great a judge as 
the nation can boast, and the greatest statesman it ever saw. We 
know that the nation is loaded with debts and taxes by the folly 
and iniquity of its ministers, and that without the trade of Ameri 
ca, it can neither long support its ileet and army, nor pay the in* 
terest of its debt. 

But we are told that the nation is now united against us, that 
they hold they have a right to tax us and legislate for us as firmly 
as we deny it. That we are a part of the British empire, that 
every State must have an uncontroulable power co-extensive with 
the empire, that there is little probability of serving ourselves by 
ingenious distinctions between external and internal taxes. If we 


are not a part of the state, and subject to the supreme authority 
of parliament, Great Britain will make us so ; that if this oppor 
tunity of reclaiming the Colonies is lost, they will be dismember 
ed from the empire ; and although they may continue their alle 
giance to the king they will own none to the imperial crown. 

To all this 1 answer, that the nation is not so united ; that they 
do not so universally hold they have such a right, and my reasons 
I have given before. That the terms " British Empire" are not 
the language of the common law, but the language of newspapers 
and political pamphlets. That the dominions of the king of Great 
Britain has no uncontroulable power co- extensive with them. I 
would ask by what law the Parliament has authority over Amer 
ica ? By the law of GOD in the Old and New Testament, it has 
none : By the law of nature and nations, it has none. By the 
common law of England is has none. For the common law, and 
the authority of parliament founded on it, never extended be 
yond the four seas. By statute law it has none, for no statute 
was made before the settlement of the Colonies for this purpose ; 
and the declaratory act made in 1706, was made without our con 
sent, by a parliament which had no authority beyond the four seas. 
What religious, moral or political obligations then are we under, 
to submit to parliament as a supreme legislative ? None at all. 
When it is said, that if we are not subject to the supreme author 
ity of parliament, Great Britain will make us so, all other laws and 
obligations are given up, and recourse is had to the ratio ultima of 
Louis the 14th, and the supremo, lex of the king of Sardinia, to the 
law of brickbats and cannon balls, which can be answered only by 
brickbats and balls. 

This language " the imperial crown of Great Britain," is not the 
style of the common law but of court sycophants It was intro 
duced in allusion to the Roman empire, and intended to insinuate 
that the prerogative of the imperial crown of England, was like 
that of the Roman emperor, after the maxim was established, 
quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem, and so far from including 
the two houses of parliament in the idea of this imperial crown, it 
was intended to insinuate that the crown was absolute, arid had no 
need of lords or commons to make or dispense with laws. Yet 
even these court sycophants when driven to an explanation, never 
dared to put any other sense upon the words imperial crown than 
this, that the crown of England was independent of France, Spain, 
and ail other kings and states in the world. 

When he says that the king s dominions must have an uncon- 
trouiable power, co-extensive with them. I ask whether they 
have such a power or riot ? And utterly deny that they have by 
any law but that of Louis the 14th, and the king of Sardinia. If 
they have not, and it is necessary that they should have, it then 
follows that there is a defect in what he calls the British empire ; 
and how shall this defect be supplied ? It cannot be supplied con 
sistently with reason, justice, policy, morality, or humanity, with- 


out the consent of the Colonies and some new plan of connec 
tion. But if Great Britain will set all these at defiance, and resort 
to the ratio ultima^ all Europe will pronounce her a tyrant, and 
America never will submit to her, be the danger of disobedience 
as great as it will 

But there is no need of any other power than that of regula 
ting trade, and this the Colonies ever have been and will be ready 
and willing to concede to her. But she will never obtain from 
America any further concession while she exists. We are then 
asked, " for what she protected and defended the Colonies against 
the maritime power of Europe from their first settlement to 
this day ?" I answer for hrer own interest, because all the profits 
of our trade centered in her lap. But it ought to be remember 
ed, that her name, not her purse, nor her fleets and armies, 
ever protected us, until the last war, and then the minister who 
conducted that war, informs us, that the annual millions from 
America enabled her to do it. 

We are then asked for what she purchased New York of 
the Dutch? I answer she never did. The Dutch never owned 
it, were never more than trespassers and intruders there, and 
were finally expelled by conquest. It was ceded it is true by 
the treaty of Breda, and it is said in some authors, that some other 
territory in India was ceded to the Dutch in lieu of it. But this 
was the transaction of the king, not of parliament, and there 
fore makes nothing to the argument. But admitting for argument 
sake, (since the cautious Massachusettensis will urge us into 
the discussion of such questions) what is not a supposable case, 
that the nation should be so sunk in sloth, luxury, and corruption, 
as to suffer their minister to persevere in his mad blunders 
and send fire and sword against, us, how shall we defend our 
selves ? The Colonies south of Pennsylvania have no men to 
spare we are told. But we know better we know that all 
those Colonies have a back country which is inhabited by an 
hardy, robust people, many of whom are emigrants from New 
England, and habituated like multitudes of New England men. 
to ca their fuzees or rifles upon oae shoulder to defend them 
selves against the Indians, while they carried their axes, scythe* 
and hoes upon the other to till the ground. Did not those 
Colonies furnish men the last war excepting Maryland ? Did 
not Virginia furnish men, one regiment particularly equal to 
any regular regiment in the service ? Does the soft Massachuset- 
tensis imagine that in the unnatural horrid war, he is now suppo 
sing their exertions would be less? If he does he is very ill in 
formed of their principles, their present sentiments and temper. 
But u have you arms and ammunition ?" I answer we have ; but 
if we had not, we could make a sufficient quantity for both. 
What should hinder? We have many manufacturers of fire arms 
now, whose arms are as good as any in the world. Powder has 
baea made here, and may be again, and so may salt-^u-e. What 


should hinder? We have all the materials in great abundance, 
and the process is very simple. But if we neither had them 
nor could make them, we could import them. But " the British 
navy 1 aye there s the rub. But let us consider, since the pru 
dent Massachusettensis will have these questions debated. How 
many ships are taken to blockade Boston harbour ? How many 
ships can Britain spare to carry on this humane and political war, 
the object of which is a pepper corn ! let her send all the ships 
she has round her island. What if her ill natured neighbours, 
France and Spain should strike a blow in their absence ? In order 
to judge what they could all do when they arrived here we 
should consider what they are all able to do round the island 
of Great Britain. We know that, the utmost vigilance and exer 
tions of them added to all the terms of sanguinary laws, are 
not sufficient to prevent continual smuggling, into their own island. 
Are there not fifty bays, harbours, creeks and inlets upon the 
whole coast of North America, where there is one round the 
island of Great Britain. Is it to be supposed then, that the whole 
British navy could prevent the importation of arms and ammu 
nition into America, if she should have occasion for them to de 
fend herself against the hellish warfare that is here supposed. 

But what will you do for discipline and subordination ? I an 
swer we will have them in as great perfection as the regular 
troops. If the provincials were not brought in the last war lo a 
proper discipline, what was the reason ? Because regular gener 
als would not let them fight, which they ardently wished, but 
employed them m cutting roads. If they had been allowed to 
light they would have brought the war to a conclusion too 
soon. The provincials did submit to martial law, and to the mu 
tiny and desertion act the last war, and such an act may be 
made here by a legislature which they will obey with much 
alacrity than an act of parliament. 

The new fangled militia as the specious Massachusettensis calls 
it, is such a militia as he never saw. They are commanded 
through the province, not by men who procured their commis 
sions from a governor as a reward for making themselves pimps 
to his tools, and by discovering a hatred of the people but by 
gentlemen whose estates, abilities and benevolence have render 
ed them the delight of the soldiers, and there is an esteem and 
respect for them visible through the province, which has not 
been used in the militia. Nor is there that unsteadiness that 
is charged upon them. In some places, where companies have 
been split into two or three, it has only served by exciting an 
emulation between the companies to increase the martial spirit 
and skill. 

The plausible Massachusettensis may write as he will, but in 
a land war, this continent might defend itself against all the world. 
We have men enough, and those men have as good natural un 
derstandings, and as much natural courage as any other men. If 


they were wholly ignorant now, they might learn the art of war. 
But at sea we are defenceless. A navy might burn our seaport 
towns. What then ? If the insinuating Massachusettensis has 
ever read any speculations, concerning an Agrarian law, and I 
knew he has, he will be satisfied that 350,000 landholders 
will not give up their rights and the constitution, by which they 
hold them, to save fifty thousand inhabitants of maritime towns. 
Will the minister be nearer his mark, after he has burnt a beauti 
ful town and murdered 30,000 innocent people ? So far from it, 
that one such event, would occasion the loss of all the Colonies 
to Great Britain forever. It is not so clear that our trade, fishery 
and navigation, could be taken from us. Some persons, who un 
derstand this subject better than Massachusettensis, with all his 
sprightly imaginations, are of a different opinion. They think 
that our trade would be increased. But I will not enlarge upon 
this subject, because I wish the trade of this continent may be 
confined to Great Britain, at least as much of it, as it can do her 
ajiy good to restrain. 

The Canadians and Savages are brought in to thicken the hor 
rors of a picture, with which the lively fancy of this writer has 
terrified him. But although we are sensible that the Quebec act 
has laid a foundation for a fabric, which if not seasonably de 
molished, may be formidable, if not ruinous to the Colonies, in fu 
ture times, yet we know that these times are yet at a distance ; at 
present we hold the power of the Canadians as nothing. But we 
know their dispositions are not unfriendly to us. 

The Savages will be more likely to be our friends thin en 
emies ; but if they should not, we know well enough how to de 
fend ourselves against them. 

I ought to apologize for the immoderate length of this paper. 
But general assertions are only to be confuted by an examination 
of particulars, which necessarily fills up much space. I will tres 
pass on the reader s patience only while I make one observation 
more upon the art, I had almost said chicanery of fhis writer. 

He affirms that we are not united in this province, and that asso- 
ciations are forming in several parts of the province. The asso 
ciation he means has been laid before the public, and a very curi 
ous piece of legerdemain it is. Is there any article acknowledging 
the authority of parliament, the unlimitted authority of parlia 
ment ? Brigadier Ruggles himself, Massachusettensis himself, 
could not have signed it if there had, consistent with their known 
declared opinions. They associate to stand by the king s laws, 
and this every whig will subscribe. But after all," what a wretch 
ed fortune has this association made in the world ! the numbers 
who have signed it, would appear so inconsiderable, that I dare 
say the Brigadier will never publish to the world their numbers 
or names. But " has not Great Britain been a nursing mother to 
us ?" Yes, and we have behaved as nurse children commonly do, 


been rery fond of her, and rewarded her all along ten fold for all 
her care and expense in our nurture. 

But u is not our distraction owing to parliament s taking off a 
shilling duty on tea and imposing three pence, and is not this 
a more unaccountable phrensy, more disgraceful to the annals of 
America, than the witchcraft ?" 

Is the three pence upon tea our only grievance? Are we 
not in this province deprived of the priviledge of paying our 
governors, judges, &c? Are not trials by jufry- taken from us ? Are 
we not sent to England for trial ? Is not a military government 
put over us? Is not our constitution demolished to the founda 
tion ? Have not the ministry shewn by the Quebec bill, that 
we have no security against them for our religion any more 
than our property, if we once submit to the unlimited claims of 
parliament ? This is so gross an attempt to impose on the most 
ignorant of the people, that it is a shame to answer it. 

Obsta principiis Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the 
bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties 
of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, 
betrayers and destroyers press upon them so fast that there is 
no resisting afterwards. The nature of the encroachment u*pon 
America^ constitution is such, as to grow every day more and 
more encroaching. Like a cancer, it eats faster and faster every 
hour. The revenue creates pensioners and the pensioners urge 
for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited and 
virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and 
every day increases the circles of their dependants and expect 
ants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity and frugality, 
become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, 
foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow 
up the whole society. 



To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 

February 13, 1775. 


MASSACHUSETTENSIS, whose pen can wheedle with 
the tonge of king Richard the third, in his first paper, threatens 
you with the vengeance of Great Britain, and assures you that 
if she had no authority over you, yet she would support her 
claims by her fleets and armies, Canadians and Indians. In his 
next he alters his tone, and soothes you with the generosity, jus 
tice and humanity of the nation. 


I shall leave him to show how a nation can claim an authority 
which they have not by right, and support it by fire and sword, 
and yet be generous and just. The nation I believe is not vin 
dictive, but the minister has discovered himself to be so, in a de 
gree that would disgrace a warrior of a savage tribe. 

The wily Massachusettensis thinks our present calamity is to 
be attributed to the bad policy of a popular party, whose mea 
sures, whatever their intentions were, have been opposite to 
their profession, the public good. The present calamity seems 
to be nothing more nor less, than reviving the plans of Mr. Ber 
nard and the junto, and Mr.Grenville and his friends in 1764. Surely 
this party, are and have been rather unpopular. The popular 
party did not write Bernard s letters, who so long ago pressed for 
the demolition of all the charters upon the continent, and a par 
liamentary taxation to support government, and the administra 
tion of justice in America. 

The popular party did not write Oliver s letters, who enforces 
Bernard s plans, nor Hutchinson s, who pleads with all his elo 
quence and pathos for parliamentary penalties, ministerial ven 
geance and an abridgement of English liberties. 

There is not in human nature a more wonderful phenomenon ; 
nor in the whole theory of it, a more intricate speculation ; than 
the shif lings, turnings, windings and evasions of a guilty conscience. 
Such is our unalterable moral constitution, that an internal incli 
nation to do wrong, is criminal ; and a wicked thought, stains the 
mind with guilt, and makes it tingle with pain. Hence it comes 
to pass that the guilty mind, can never bear to think that its guilt 
is known to God or man, no, nor to itself. 

-Cur tamen hos tu 

Evasisse putes, quos diri conscia facti 
Mens habet attonitos, et surdo verbere csedit 
Occultum quatiente aninao tortore flagellum ? 
Paena autem vehemens ac multo szevior illis, 
Quos et caeditius gravis invenit aut Rhadamanthus, 
Nocte dieque suum gestare in pectore testem. 

Jcv, SAT 13. 192. 

Massachusettensis and his friends the tories. are startled at the 
calamities they have brought upon their country, and their con 
scious guilt, thr^ smarting, wounded mind, will not suffer them 
to confess, even to themselves, what they have done. Their silly 
denials of their own share in it before a people, who they know 
have abundant evidence against them, never fail to remind me 
of an ancient fugitive, whose conscience could not bear the re 
collection of what he had done. " I know not, am I my brother s 
keeper ?" He replies, with all the apparent simplicity of truth 
and innocence, to one from whom he was very sensible his guilt 
could not be hid. The still more absurd and ridiculous attempts 
of the tories, to throw off the blame of these calamities from 
themselves to the whigs, remind me of another story, which I 


have read in the Old Testament. When Joseph s brethren had 
sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, in order 
to conceal their own avarice, malice and envy, they dip the coat 
of many colours in the blood of a kid, and say that an evil beast 
had rent him in pieces and devoured him. 

However, what the sons of Israel intended for ruin to Joseph, 
proved the salvation of the family ; and I hope and believe that 
the whigs, will have the magnanimity, like him, to suppress their 
resentment, and the felicity of saving their ungrateful brothers. 

This writer has a faculty of insinuating errors into the mind, 
almost imperceptibly, he dresses them so in the guise of truth. 
He says u that the revenue to the crown, from America amount 
ed to but little more than the charges of collecting it," at the 
close of the last war. 1 believe it did not to so much. The 
truth is, there was never any pretence of raising a revenue in 
America before that time, and when the claim was first set up, it 
gave an alarm, like a warlike expedition against us. True it is 
that some duties had been laid before by parliament, under pre 
tence of regulating our trade, and by a collusion and combination 
between the West India planters, and the North American gover 
nors, some years before, duties had been laid upon molasses, &c. 
under the same pretence, but in reality merely to advance the 
value of the estates of the planters in the West India Islands, and 
to put some plunder, under the name of thirds of seisures into 
the pockets of the governors. But these duties, though more 
had been collected in this province, than in any other in propor 
tion, were never regularly collected in any of the Colonies. So 
that the idea of an American revenue for one purpose or another 
had never, at this time, been formed in American minds. 

Our writer goes on, "She, (Great Britain,) thought it as reason 
able that the Colonies should bear a part of the national burdens, 
as that they should share in the national benefit." 

Upon this subject Americans have a great deal to say. The na 
tional debt before the last war, was near an hundred millions. 
Surely America had no share in running into that debt. What 
is the reason then that she should pay it ? But a small part of 
of the sixty millions spent in the last war, was for her benefit. 
Did she not bear her full share of the burden of the last war 
in America ? Did not the province pay twelve shillings in the 
pound in taxes for the support of it ; and send a sixth or seventh 
part of her sons into actual service ? And at the conclusion of 
the war, was she not left half a million sterling in debt ? Did 
not all the rest of New England exert itself in proportion? What 
is the reason that the Massachusetts has paid its debt, and the 
British minister in thirteen years of peace has paid none of his ? 
Much of it might have been paid in this time, had not such ex 
travagance and speculation prevailed, as ought to be an eternal 
warning to America, never to trust such a minister with her 
money. What is the reason that the great and necessary virtues 


of simplicity, frugality and economy cannot lire in England, 
Scotland and Ireland, as well as America ? 

We have much more to say still. Great Britain has confined 
all our trade to herself. We are willing she should, as far as it 
can be for the good of the empire. But we say that we ought to 
be allowed as credit, in the account of public burdens and ex 
penses, so much paid in taxes, as we are obliged to sell our com 
modities to her cheaper than we could get for them at foreign 
markets. The difference is really a tax upon us, for the good 
of the empire. We are obliged to take from Great Brit 
ain commodities, that we could purchase cheaper else 
where. This difference is a tax upon us for the good of 
the empire. We submit to this cheerfully, but insist that we 
ought to have credit for it, in the account of the expenses of the 
empire, because it is really a tax upon us. Another thing. I will 
venture a bold assertion. Let Massachusettensis, or any other 
friend of the minister, confute me. The three million Americans, 
by the tax aforesaid, upon what they are obliged to export to 
Great Britain only, what they are obliged to import from Great 
Britain only, and the quantities of British manufactures which 
in these climates they are obliged to consume, more than the 
like number of people in any part of the three kingdoms, ulti 
mately pay more of the taxes and duties that are apparently paid 
in Great Britain, than any three million subjects in the three 
kingdoms. All this may be computed and reduced to stubborn 
figures, by the minister, if he pleases. We cannot do it. We 
have not the accounts, records, &c. Now let this account be 
fairly stated, and I will engage for America, upon any penalty, 
that she will pay the overplus, if any, in her own constitutional 
way, provided it is to be applied for national purposes, as paying 
off the national debt, maintaining the fleet, &c. not to the sup 
port of a standing army in time of peace, placemen, pensioners,&x. 

Besides, every farthing of expense which has been incurred 
on pretence of protecting, defending and securing America, since 
the last war, has been worse than thrown away ; it has been ap 
plied to do mischief. Keeping an army in America has been 
nothing but a public nuisance. 

Furthermore, we see that all the public money that is raised 
here, and have reason to believe all that will or can be raised, 
will be applied not for public purposes, national or provincial, 
but merely to corrupt the sons of America, and create a faction 
to destroy its interest and happiness. 

There are scarcely three sentences together, in all the volumi 
nous productions of this plausible writer, which do not convey 
some error in fact or principle, tinged with a colouring to make 
it pass for truth. He says, ".the idea, that the stamps were a 
tax, not only exceeding our proportion, but beyond our utmost 
ability to pay, united the Colonies generally in opposing it." 
That we thought it beyond our proportion and ability is true, but 


it was not this thought which united the Colonies in opposing it. 
When he says that at first, we did not dream of denying the au 
thority of parliament to tax us, much less to legislate for us, 
he discovers plainly either a total inattention to the sentiments of 
America at that time, or a disregard of what he affirms. 

The truth is, the authority of parliament was never generally 
acknowledged in America. More than a Century since, Mas 
sachusetts and Virginia, both protested against even the act of 
navigation and refused obedience, for this very reason, because 
they were not represented in parliament and were therefore not 
bound ; and afterwards confirmed it by their own provincial au 
thority. And from that time to this, the general sense of the 
Colonies has been, that the authority of parliament was confined 
to the regulation of trade, and did not extend to taxation or in 
ternal legislation. 

In the year 1764, your house of representatives sent home 
a petition to the king, against the plan of taxing them. Mr. 
Hutchinson, Oliver and their relations and connections were then 
in the legislature, and had great influence there. It was by 
their influence that the two houses were induced to wave the 
word rights, and an express denial of the right of parliament 
to tax us, to the great grief and distress of the friends of liber 
ty in both houses. Mr. Otis and Mr. Thatcher laboured in the 
committee to obtain an express denial. Mr. Hutchinson ex 
pressly said he agreed with them in opinion, that parlia 
ment had no right, but thought it ill policy to express this 
opinion in the petition. In truth, I will be bold to say, there 
was not any member of either house, who thought that par 
liament had such a right at that time. The house of represen 
tatives, at that tune, gave their approbation to Mr. Otis s rights 
of the Colonies, in which it was shewn to be inconsistent with 
the right of British subjects to be taxed, but by their own repre 

In 1765, our house expressly resolved against the right of par 
liament to tax us. The congress at New York resolved 3. 
t; That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, 
and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no tax be im 
posed on them, but with their own consent given personally, or 
by their representatives. 4. That the people of the Colonies are 
not, and from their local circumstances cannot be represented in 
the house of commons of Great Britain. 5. That the only re 
presentatives of the people of the Colonies, are the persons 
chosen therein by themselves ; and that no taxes ever have been 
or can be constitutionally imposed on them, but by their respec 
tive legislatures." Is it not a striking disregard to truth in the 
artful Massachusettensis to say, that at first we did not dream of 
denying the right of parliament to tax us ? It was the principle 
that united the Colonies to oppose it, not the quantum of the tax. 
Did not Dr. Franklin deny the right in 1754, in his remarks 


pon governor Shirley s scheme, and supposed that all America 
would deny it ? We had considered ourselves as connected with 
Great Britain, but we never thought parliament the supreme 
legislature over us. We never generally supposed it to have 
any authority over us, but from necessity, and that necessity we 
thought confined to the regulation of trade, and to such matters 
as concerned all the colonies together. We never allowed them 
any authority in our internal concerns. 

This writer says , acts of parliament for regulating our inter 
nal polity were familiar. This I deny. So far otherwise, 
that the hatter s act was never regarded ; the act to des 
troy the Land Bank Scheme raised a greater ferment in thi*- 
province, than the stamp-act did, which was appeased only by 
passing province laws directly in opposition to it. The act against 
slitting mills, and tilt hammers, never was xecuted here. As to 
the postage, it was so useful a regulation, so tew persons paid it, and 
they found such a benefit by it, that little opposition was made to it. 
Yet every man who thought about it called it an usurpation. Du 
ties for regulating 1 ^ trade we paid, because we thought it just and 
accessary that they should regulate the trade which their power 
protected. As for duties for a revenue, none were ever laid by 
parliament for that purpose until 1764, when, and ever 
since, its authority to do it has been constantly denied. Nor is 
this complaisant writer near the truth, when he says, " We know 
that in all those acts of government, the good of the whole had 
been consulted." On the contrary, we know that the private in 
terest of provincial governors and West India planters, had been 
consulted in the duties on foreign molasses, &c. and the private 
interest of a few Portugal merchants, in obliging us to touch at 
Falmouth with fruit, &c. in opposition to the good of the whole, 
and in many other instances. 

The resolves of the house of Burgesses of Virginia, upon the 
stamp act, did great honor to that province, and to the eminent 
patriot Patrick Henry, Esq. who composed them. But these re 
solves made no alteration in the opinion of the Colonies, con 
cerning the right of parliament to make that act. They expres 
sed the universal opinion of the continent at that time, and the 
alacrity with which every other Colony, and the congress at 
New York, adopted the same sentiment in similar resolves, 
proves the entire urJon of the Colonies in it, and their universal 
determination to avow and support it. 

What follows here, that it became so popular that his life was 
in danger, who suggested the contrary, and that the press was 
open to one side only, are direct misrepresentations and wicked 

Then we are told, by this sincere writer, that when we ob 
tained a partial repeal of the statute imposing duties on glass, pa 
per, and teas, this was the lucky moment, wh^n to have closed 
the dispute. What? With a Board of commissioners remaining 


the sole end of whose creation was to form and conduct a reve 
nue w ith an ac t of parliament remaining, the professed design of 
which expressed in the preamble, was to raise a revenue, and ap 
propriate it to the payment of governors and judges salaries, the 
duty remaining too upon an article, which must raise a large 
sum, the consumption of which would constantly increase ? Was 
this a time to retreat ? Let me ask this sincere writer a simple 
question. Does he seriously believe that the designs of impos 
ing other taxes, and of new modelling our governments, would 
have been laid aside, by the ministry or by the servants of the 
crown here? Does he think that Mr. Bernard, Mr. Hutchinson, 
the commissioners and others, would have been content then to 
have desisted ? If he really thinks so, he knows little of the hu 
man heart, and still less of those gentlemen s hearts. It was at 
this very time that the salary was given to the governor, and an 
order soliciting for that to the judges. 

Then we are entertained with a great deal of ingenious talk 
about whigsand tories, and at last are told that some of the whigs 
owed all their importance to popularity. And what then ? Did 
not as many of the tories owe their importance to popularity ? 
And did not many more owe all their importance to unpopulari 
ty ? If it had riot been for their taking an active part on the 
side of the ministry, would not some of the most conspicuous and 
eminent of them have been unimportant enough ? Indeed, 
through the two last administrations to despise and hate the peo 
ple, and to be despised and hated by them were the principal re- 
ommendations to the favours of government, and all the qualifi 
cation that was required. 

The tories, says he, were for closing the controversy. That 
i*, they were for contending no more, and it was equally true 
that they never were for contending at all, but lying at mercy. 
It was the very end they had aimed at from the beginning. 
They had now got the governor s salary out of the revenue a 
number of pensions and places, and they knew they could at any 
time get the judges salaries from the same fountain, and they 
wanted to get the people reconciled and familiarised to this, be 
fore they went upon any new projects. 

The whigs were averse to restoring government, they even 
refused to revive a temporary riot act, which expired about this 
time. Government had as much vigour then as ever, excepting 
only in those cases which affected this dispute. The riot act ex 
pired in 1770, immediately after the massacre in King Street. 
It was not revived and never will be in this Colony, nor will any 
one ever be made in any other, while a standing army is illegally 
posted here, to butcher the people, whenever a governor, or a 
magistrate, who may be a tool, shall order it. "Perhaps the whigs 
thought that mobs were a necessary ingredient in their system 
"f opposition." Whether they did or no, it is certain that mobs 
have been thought a necessary ingredient by the tories in their 
system of administration, mobs of the worst sort with red coats, 


fuzees and bayonets, and the lives and limbs of the whigs have 
been in greater danger from these, than ever the tories were 
from others. 

" The scheme of the whigs flattered the people with the idea 
of independence ; the tories plan supposed a degree of subordina 
tion." This is artful enough, as usual, not to say Jesuitical. The 
word independence is one of those, which this writer uses, as he 
does treason and rebellion, to impose upon the undistinguishing on 
both sides of the Atlantic* But let us take him to pieces. What 
does he mean by independence ? Does he mean independent 
of the crown of Great Britain, and an independent republic in 
America, or a confederation of independent republics ? No doubt 
he intended the undistinguishing should understand him so. If he 
did ; nothing can be more wicked, or a greater slander on the 
whigs ; because he knows there is not a man in the province, 
among the whigs, nor ever was, who harbours a wish of that sort. 
Does he mean that the people were flattered with the idea of to 
tal independence on parliament ? If he does, this is equally mali 
cious and injurious ; because he knows that the equity and neces 
sity of parliament s regulating trade has always been acknowl 
edged, our determination to consent and submit to such regula 
tions constantly expressed, and all the acts of trade in fact, to this 
very day, much more submitted to and strictly executed in this 
province, than any other in America. 

There is equal ambiguity in the words " degree of subordi 
nation." The whigs acknowledge a subordination to the king, 
in as strict and strong a sense as the tories. The whigs acknow 
ledge a voluntary subordination to parliament, as far as the regu 
lation of trade. What degree of subordination then do the tories 
acknowledge ? An absolute dependance upon parliament as their 
supreme legislative, in all cases whatever, in their internal poli 
ty as well as taxation ? This would be too gross and would lose 
him all his readers ; for there is nobody here who will expose 
his understanding so much, as explicitly to adopt such a sentiment. 
Yet it is such an absolute dependance and submission, that 
these writers would persuade us to, or else there is no need of 
changing our sentiments and conduct. Why will not these gen 
tlemen speak out, shew us plainly their opinion that the new gov 
ernment, they have fabricated for this province, is better than 
the old, and that all the other measures, we complain of, are for 
our and the public good, and exhort us directly to submit to them \ 
The reason is, because they know they should lose their readers. 

u The whigs were sensible that there was no oppression that 
could be seen or felt." The tories have so often said and wrote 
this to one another, that I sometimes suspect they believe it to be 
true. But it is quite otherwise. The castle of the province was 
taken out of their hand and garrisoned by regular soldiers : this 
they could see, and they thought it radicated an hostile intention 
and disposition towards them. They continually paid their money 


to collectors of duties : this they could both see and feel. An 
host of placemen, whose whole business it was to collect a reve 
nue, were continually rolling before them in their chariots. 
These they saw. Their governor was no longer paid by them 
selves, according to their charter, but out of the new revenue, 
hi order to render their assemblies useless and indeed cotempti- 
ble. The judges salaries were threatened every day to be paid 
in the same unconstitutional manner. The dullest eye-sight 
could not but see to what all this tended, viz. ; to prepare the way 
for greater innovations and oppressions. They knew a minister 
would never spend his money in this way, if he had not some 
end to answer by it. Another thing they both saw and felt. 
Every man, of every character, who by voting, writing, speaking, 
or otlierwise, had favoured th e stamp act, the tea act, and every 
other measure of a minister or governor, who they knew was aim 
ing at the destruction of their form of government, and introducing 
parliamentary taxation, was uniformly, in some department or 
other, promoted to some place of honour or profit for ten years 
together : and, on the other hand, every man who favoured the 
people in their opposition to those innovations, was depressed, 
degraded and persecuted, as far as it was in the power of the gov 
ernment to do it. 

This they considered as a systematical means of encouraging 
every man of abilities to espouse the cause of parliamenta^ tax 
ation, and the plan of destroying their charter privilege, and to 
discourage all from exerting themselves, in opposition to them. 
This they thought a plan to enslave them, for they uniformly 
think that the destruction of their charter, making the council 
and judges wholly dependant on the crown, and the people sub 
ject to the unlimited power of parliament, as their supreme legis 
lative, is slaverj r . They were certainly rightly told, then, that 
the ministry and their governors together had formed a design 
to enslave them ; and that when once this was done, they had the 
highest reason to expect window taxes, hearth taxes, land taxes 
and all others : and that these were only paving the way for 
reducing the country to lordships. Were the people mistaken in 
these suspicions ? Is it not now certain that governor Bernard in 
1764, had formed a design of this sort ? Read his principles of 
polity And that lieutenant governor Oliver as late as 1768 or 9, 
inforced the same plan ? Read his letters. 

Now if Massachusettensis will be ingenuous, avow this design, 
shew the people its utility, and that it ought to be done by par 
liament, he will act the part of an honest man. But to insinuate 
that there was no such plan, when he knows there was, is acting 
the part of one of the junto. 

It is true that the people of this country in general, and of this 
province in special, have an hereditary apprehension of and 
aversion to lordships, temporal and spiritual. Their ancestors 
fled to this wilderness to avoid them they suffered sufficiently 


under them in England. And there are few of the present gen 
eration, who have not been warned of the danger of them by their 
fathers or grandfathers, and injoined to oppose them. And neith 
er Bernard nor Oliver ever dared to avow, before them, the de 
signs which they had certainly formed to introduce them. Nor 
does Massachusettensis dare to avow his opinion in their favour. 
I do not mean that such avowal would expose their persons to 
danger, but their characters and writings to universal contempt. 
When you were told that the people of England were deprav 
ed, the parliament venal, and the ministry corrupt, were you not 
told most melancholy truths ? Will Massachusettensis deny any of 
them? Does not every man, who comes from England, whig or tory, 
tell you the same thing ? Do they make any secret of it, or use 
any delicacy about it ? Do they not most of them avow that cor 
ruption is so established there, as to be incurable, and a necessa 
ry instrument of government ? Is not the British ccnstitution ar 
rived nearly to that point, where the Roman republic was, when 
Jugurtha left it, and pronounced it a venal city ripe for destruction, 
if it can only find a purchaser ? If Massachusettensis can prove 
that it is not, he will remove from my mind, one of the heaviest 
loads which lies upon it. 

Who has censured the tories for remissness, I know not. Who 
ever it was, he did them great injustice. Every one that I know 
of that character has been through the whole tempestuous period, 
as indefatigable as human nature will admit, going about seeking 
whom he might devour, making use of art, flattery, terror, temp 
tation and allurements in every shape, in which human wit could 
dress it up, in public and private. But all to no purpose. The 
people have grown more and more weary of them every day, 
until now the land mourns under them. 

Massachusettensis is then seized with a violent fit of anger at 
the clergy, it is curious to observe the conduct of the tories 
towards this sacred body. If a clergyman preaches against the 
principles of the revolution, and tells the people that upon pain 
of damnation, they must submit to an established government, of 
whatever character the tories cry him up, as an excellent man, 
and a wonderful preacher, invite him to their tables, procure him 
missions from the society, and chaplainships to the navy, and flat 
ter him with the hopes of lawn sleeves. But if a clergyman 
preaches Christianity, and tells the magistrates that they were not 
distinguished from their brethren, for their private emolument, 
but for the good of the people ; that the people are bound in con 
science to obey a good government, but are not bound to submit 
to one, that aims at destroying all the ends of government Oh 
Sedition ! Treason ! 

The clergy in all ages and countries, and in this in particular, 
are disposed enough to be on the side of government, as long as 
it is tolerable. If they have not been generally, in the late ad 
ministrations, on that side, it is a demonstration that the late ad 
ministration has been universally odious. 


The clergy of this province are a virtuous, sensible and learn 
ed set of men; and they do not take their sermons from newspapers, 
but the bible ; unless it be a few, who preach passive obedience. 
These are not generally curious enough to read Hobbs. 

It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate their discourses to 
the times, to preach against such sins, as are most prevalent, and 
recommend such virtues, as are most wanted. For example ; if 
exorbitant ambition, and venality are predominant, ought they 
not to warn theft hearers against their vices ? If public spirit is 
much wanted, should they not inculcate this great virtue ? If 
the rights and duties of Christian magistrates and subjects are dis 
puted, should they not explain them, shew their nature, ends, 
limitations and restrictions, how much soever it may move the 
gall of Massachusettensis ? 

Let me put a supposition : Justice is a great Christian, as well 
as moral duty and virtue, which the clergy ought to inculcate 
and explain. Suppose a great man of a parish should for seven 
years together receive 600 sterling a year, for discharging the 
duties of an important office ; but during the whole time, should 
never do one act or take one step about it. Would not this be 
great injustice to the public ? And ought not the parson of that 
parish to cry aloud and spare not, and shew such a bold trans 
gressor his sin ? shew that justice was due to the public as well 
as to an individual ? and that cheating the public of four thousand 
two hundred pounds sterling, is at least as great a sin, as taking a 
chicken from a private hen roost, or perhaps a watch from a fob ? 

Then we are told that newspapers and preachers have excit 
ed outrages disgraceful to humanity. Upon this subject I will 
venture to say, that there have been outrages in this province, 
which I neither justify, excuse or extenuate ; but these were not 
excited, that I know of, by newspapers or sermons : that how 
ever, if we run through the last ten years, and consider all the 
tumults and outrages that have happened, and at the same time 
recollect the insults, provocations and oppressions which this 
people have endured ; we shall find the two characteristics of 
this people, religion and humanity, strongly marked on all their 
proceedings. Not a life, nor, that 1 have ever heard, a single limb 
has been lost through the whole. 1 will take upon me to say, 
there is not another province on this continent, nor in his majes 
ty s dominions, where the people, under the same indignities, 
would not have gone greater lengths. Consider the tumults in 
the three kingdoms, consider the tumults in ancient Rome, in 
the most virtuous of her periods, and compare them with 
ours. It is a saying of Machiavel, which no wise man ever 
contradicted, which has been literally verified in this province ; 
that " while the mass of the people is not corrupted, tumults 
do no hurt.* By which he means, that they leave no lasting ill 
effects behind. 

But let us consider the outrages committed by the tories. Half 
a dozen men shot dead in an instant, in King Street, frequent re- 


sistance and affronts to civil officers and magistrates, officers, 
watchmen, citizens, cut and mangle in a most inhuman manner. 
Not to mention the shootings for desertion, and the frequent cru 
el whippings for other faults, cutting and mangling men s bo-^ 
dies before the eyes of citizens ; spectacles which ought never 
to be introduced into populous places. The worst sort of tu 
mults and outrages, ever committed in this province, were excit 
ed by the tories. But more of this hereafter. 

We are then told that the whigs erected a provincial democ 
racy, or republic, in the province. I wish Massachusettensis 
knew what a democracy, or republic is. But this subject must 
be considered another time. 


Messieurs Printers. Instead of Cawings of Cormorants, in a former paper, 
vou have printed Cooings, too dove-like a word for the birds intended. 


To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 

February 20, 1775. 


WE are at length arrived at the paper, on which I made 
a few strictures, some weeks ago : these I shall not irepeat, but 
proceed to consider the other part of it. 

We are told, " It is an universal truth, that he that would ex 
cite a rebellion, is at heart, as great a tyrant, as ever wielded the 
iron rod of oppression." Be it so. We are not exciting a rebel 
lion. Opposition, nay open, avowed resistance by arms, against 
usurpation and lawless violence, is not rebellion by the law of 
God, or the land. Resistance to lawful authority makes re 
bellion. Hampden, Russell, Sydney, Somers, Holt, Tillotson, 
Burnet, Hoadly, &c. were no tyrants nor rebels, although some 
of them were in arms, and the others undoubtedly excited resist 
ance, against the tories. Do not beg the question, Mr. Massa 
chusettensis, and then give yourself airs of triumph. Remem 
ber the frank Veteran acknowledges, that " the word rebel is a 
convertible term." 

This writer next attempts to trace the spirit of opposition 
through the general court, and the courts of common law. " It 
was the policy of the whigs, to have their questions, upon high 
matters, determined by yea and nay votes, which were published 


in the gazettes." And ought not great questions to be so deter 
mined ? In many other assemblies. New York particularly, they 
always are. What better can be devised to discover the true 
sense of the people ? It is extremely provoking to courtiers, that 
thoy cannot vote, as the cabinet direct them, against their con 
sciences, the known sense of their constituents, and the obvious 
good of the community, without being detected. Generally, per 
haps universally, no unpopular measure in a free government, 
particularly the English, ought ever to pass. Why have the 
people a share in the legislature, but to prevent such measures 
from passing, I mean such as are disapproved by the people at 
large ? But did not these yea and nay votes expose the whigs, as 
weil as tories, to the impartial judgment of the public? If the 
votes of the former were given for measures injurious to the com 
munity, had not the latter an equal opportunity of improving them 
to the disadvantage of their adversaries in the next election ? Be 
sides, were not those few persons in the house, who generally 
voted for unpopular measures, near the governor, in possession of 
his confidence ? Had they not the absolute disposal in their towns 
and counties of the favour of government ? Were not all the 
judges, justices, sheriffs, coroners and military officers in their 
towns, made upon their recommendation ? Did not this give 
them a prodigious weight and influence ? Had the whigs any 
such advantage ? And does not the influence of these yea 
and nay votes, consequently prove to a demonstration, the 
unanimity of the people, against the measures of the court? 

As to what is said of u severe strictures, illiberal invectives, 
abuse and scurrility, upon the dissentients," there was quite ^s 
much of all these published against the leading whigs. In truth, 
the strictures, &c. against the tories were generally nothing 
more, than hints at the particular place or olfice, which was 
known to be the temptation to vote against the country. That 
4i the dissentient was in danger of losing his bread and involving 
his family in ruin," is equally injurious. Not an instance can be 
produced of a member losing his bread, or injuring his business, 
by voting for unpopular measures. On the contrary such voters 
never failed to obtain some lucrative employment, title, or honor 
ary office, as a reward from the court. 

If " one set of members in committee had always prepared 
the resolves," &,c. which they did not ; what would this prove, 
but that this set was thought by the house the fittest for the pur 
pose ? Can it ever be otherwise ? Will any popular assembly 
choose its worst members for the best services? Will an assem 
bly of patriots choose courtiers to prepare votes against the court? 
No resolves against the claims of parliament or administration, 
or the measures of the governor, (excepting those against the 
stamp act, and perhaps the answers to governor Hutchinson s 
speeches uuon the supremacy of parliament) ever passed through 
the house, without meeting an obstacle. The governor had to 


the List hour of the house s existence, always some seekers and 
expectants in the house, who never failed lo oppose, and ofter 
the best arguments they could ; and were always patiently heard : 
that the lips of the dissentients were sealed up ; that they sat in 
silence, and beheld with regret, measures they dared not op 
pose, are groundless suggestions and gross reflections upon thV 
honour and courage of those members. The debates of tin? 
houe were public, and every man, who has attended the gallery, 
knows there never was more freedom of debate in any assembly 

Massachusettensis, in the next place, conducts us to the agent, 
and tell us " there can not be a provincial agent without an ap 
pointment by the three branches of the assembly. The whig^ 
soon found that they could not have such services rendered them, 
from a provincial agent as would answer their purposes." 

The treatment this province has received, respecting the ag-en- 
cy, since Mr. Hutchinson s administration commenced, is a flagrant 
example of injustice. There is no law, which requires the 
province to maintain any agent in England ; much less is there 
any reason, which necessarily requires, that the three branches 
should join in the appointment. In ordinary times, indeed, when a 
harmony prevails among the branches, it is well enough to have 
an agent constituted by all. But in times when the foundations of 
the , constitution are disputed, and certainly attacked by one 
branch or the other, to pretend that the house ought to joiu 
the governor in the choice, is a palpable absurdity. It is equiv 
alent to saying that the people shall have no agent at all ; that 
all communication shall be cut off; and that there shall be no 
channel, through which complaints and petitions may be convey 
ed to the royal ear; because a governor will not concur in an 
agent whose sentiments are not like his ; nor will an agent of 
the governors appointment be likely to urge accusations against 
them, with any diligence or zeal, if the people have occasion 
to complain against him. 

Every private citizen, much more, every representative body, 
has an undoubted right to petition the king, to convey such 
petition by an agent, and to pay him for his service. Mr. Ber 
nard, to do him justice, had so much regard to these principles, 
as to consent to the payment of the people s agents, while he 
staid. But Mr. Hutchinson was scarcely seated in the chair, as 
lieutenant governor, before we had intelligence from England, 
that my lord Hillsborough told Dr. Franklin, he had received a 
letter from governor Hutchinson against consenting to the salary 
of the agent. Such an instruction was accordingly soon sent, 
and no agent for the board or house, has received a farthing 
for services, since that time, though Dr. Franklin and Mr. Bollan 
have taken much pains, and one of them expended considerable 
sums of money. There is a meanness in this play that would 
disgrace a gambler ; a manifest fear that the truth should be 
known to the sovereign or the people. Many persons have 


thought that the province ought to have dismissed all agents 
from that time, as useless and nugatory ; this behaviour amount 
ing to a declaration, that we had no chance or hopes of justice 
from a minister. 

But this province, at least as meritorious as any^ has been long 
accustomed to indignities and injustice, and to bear both with un 
paralleled patience. Others, have pursued the same method be 
fore and since ; but we have never heard that their agents are un 
paid. They would scarcely have borne it with so much resignation. 

It is great assurance to blame the house for this, which was 
both their right and duty ; but a stain in the character of his 
patron, which will not be soon worn out. Indeed this passage 
seems to have been brought in, chiefly for the sake of a stroke or 
two, addressed to the lowest and meanest of the people ; I mean 
the insinuation that the two agents doubled the expence, which is 
as groundless as it is contracted ; and that the ostensible agent 
for the province was only agent for a few individuals, that had 
got the art of wielding the house ; and that several hundred ster 
ling a year, for attending levees and writing letters, were worth 
preserving. We, my friends, know that no members have the 
art -of wielding us oi^our house, but by concurring in our princi 
ples, and assisting us in our designs. Numbers in both houses 
have turned about and expected to wield us round with them ; 
but they have been disappointed, and ever will be. Such apos 
tates have never yet failed of our utter contempt, whatever titles, 
places or pensions they might obtain. 

The agent has never echoed back, or transmitted to America, 
any sentiments, which he did not give in substance to governor 
Shirley, twenty years ago ; and therefore this insinuation is but 
another slander. The remainder of what is said of the agency 
is levelled at Dr. Franklin, and is but a dull appendix to Wedder- 
burn s ribaldry, having all his malice without any of his wit or 
spirit. Nero murdered Seneca, that he might pull up virtue by 
the roots ; and the same maxim governs the scribblers and speech- 
iiiers, on the side of the minister. It is sufficient to discover that 
any man has abilities and integrity, a love of virtue and liberty ; 
he must be run down at all events. Witness Pitt and Franklin 
and too many others. 

My design in pursuing this malicious slanderer, concealed as he 
is, under so soft and oily an appearance, through all the doublings 
of his tedious course, is to vindicate this Colony from his base as 
persions ; that strangers now among us and the impartial public 
may see the wicked arts, which are still employed against us. 
After the vilest abuse upon the agent of the province and the 
house, that appointed him, we are brought to his majesty s coun 
cil, and are told that the u whigs reminded them of their mortal 
ity If any one opposed the violent measures, he lost his election 
next May. Half the whole number, mostly men of the first fami 
lies, note, abilities, attached to their native country, wealthy and 


independent, were tumbled from their seats in disgrace. Thus 
(he board lost its weight, and the political balance was destroyed." 

It is impossible for any man acquainted with this subject to read 
this zealous rant, without smiling, until he attends to tbe wicked 
ness of it, which will provoke his utmost indignation. Let us 
however consider it soberly. 

From the date of our charter, to the time of the stamp act, and 
indeed since that time (notwithstanding the misrepresentations of 
our charter constitution, as too popular and republican) the 
council of this province have been generally on the side of the 
governor and the prerogative. For the truth of this, I appeal 
to our whole history and experience. The art and power of 
governors, and especially the negative, have been a stronger 
motive on the one hand, than the annual election of the two 
houses on the,x>ther. In disputes between the governor and the 
house, the council have generally adhered to the former, and in 
many cases have complied with his humour, when scarcely any 
council by mandamus, upon this continent, would have done it. 

But in the time of the stamp act, it was found productive of 
many mischiefs and dangers, to have officers of the crown, who 
were dependant on the ministry, and judges of the superior court, 
whose offices were thought incompatible with a voice in the le 
gislature, members of council. 

In May 1765, Lt. Gov. Hutchinson, Sec. Oliver, and Mr. Bel 
cher were officers of the crown, the judges of the superior court, 
and some other gentlemen, who held commissions under the gov 
ernor, were members of council. Mr. Hutchinson was chief jus 
tice and a judge of probate for the first county, as well as lieu 
tenant governor, and a counsellor ; too many offices for the great 
est and best man in the world to hold, too much business for any 
man to do ; besides, that these offices were frequently clashing 
and interfering with each other. Two other justices of the supe 
rior court were counsellors, and nearly and closely connected with 
him by family alliances. One other justice was judge of admi 
ralty during pleasure. Such a jumble of offices never got to 
gether before in any English government. It was found in short, 
that the famous triumvirate, Bernard, Hutchinson and Oliver, 
the ever memorable, secret, confidential letter writers, whom 
1 call the junto, had by degrees, and before the people were 
aware of it, erected a tyranny in the province. Bernard hai all 
the executive, and a negative on the legislative ; Hutchinson and 
Oliver, by their popular arts and secret intrigues, had elevated 
to the board, such a collection of crown officers, and their own 
relations, as to have too much influence there ; and they had 
three of a family on the superior bench, which is the supreme 
tribunal in all causes civil and criminal, vested ;vith all the 
powers of the king s bench, common picas and exchequer, which 
gave them power over every act of this court. This junto there 
fore had the legislative aud executive in their coatroul. and 


more natural influence over the judicial, than is ever to be 
trusted to any set of men in the world. The public accordingly 
found all these springs and wheels in the constitution set in mo 
tion to promote submission to the stamp act, and to discounte 
nance resistance to it ; and they thought they had a violent pre 
sumption, that they would forever be employed to encourage a 
compliance with all ministerial measures and parliamentary claims, 
of whatever character they might be. 

The designs of the junto, however, were concealed as care 
fully as possible. Most persons were jealous; few were certain. 
When the assembly met in Blay, 1766, after the stamp/act was 
repealed, the whigs flattered themselves with hopes of peace and 
liberty for the future. Mr. Otis, whose abilities and integrity, 
whose great exertions, and most exemplary sacrifices of his pri 
vate interest to the public service, had entitled him to all the 
promotion, which the people could bestow, was chosen speaker 
of the house. Bernard negatived the choice. It can scarcely 
be conceived by a stranger, what an alarm this manreuvre gave 
to the public. It was thought equivalent to a declaration, that 
although the people had been so successful as to obtain a repeal 
of the stamp act, yet they must not hope to be quiet long, for 
parliament, by the declaratory act, had asserted its supreme au 
thority, and new taxations and regulations should be made, if the 
junto could obtain them : and every man who should dare to op. 
pose such projects, let his powers, or virtues, his family or for 
tune be what they would, should be surely cut off from all hopes 
of advancement. The electors thought it high time to be upon 
their guard. All the foregoing reasons and motives prevailed 
with the electors ; and the crown officers and justices of the su 
preme court, were left out of council in the new choice. Those 
who were elected in their places were all negatived by Bernard, 
which was considered as a fresh proof, that the junto still perse 
vered in their designs of obtaining a revenue, to divide among 

The gentlemen elected anew, were of equal fortune and in 
tegrity, at least, and not much inferior in abilities to those left 
out, and indeed, in point of fortune, family, note or abilities, 
the councils which have been chosen from that time to this, taken 
on an average, have been very little inferior, if any, to those 
chosen before. Let Mussachusettensis descend if he will, to every 
particular gentleman by name through the whole period, and I 
will make out my assertion. 

Every impartial person will not only think these reasons a full 
vindication of the conduct of the two houses, but that it was their 
indispensable duty to their country, to act the part they did; 
and the course of time, which has developed the dark intrigues 
of the junto, before and since, has confirmed the rectitude and 
necessity of the measure. Had Bernard s principles of polity- 
been published and known at that time, no member of the house, 


who should have voted for any of the persons then left out, if it 
was known to his constituents, would ever have obtained another 

By the next step we rise to the chair. u With the board, the 
chair fell likewise," he says. But what a slander is this ? Neither 
fell ; both remained in as much vigour as ever. The junto it iw 
true, and some other gentlemen who were not in their secret, but 
however had been misled to concur in their measures, were left 
out of council. But the board had as much authority as ever. 
The board of 1766 could not have influenced the people to ac 
knowledge the supreme uncontroulable authority of parliament, 
nor could that of 1765, have done it. So that by the chair, and 
the board s falling, he means no more, if his meaning has any 
truth in it, than that the junto fell ; the designs of taxing the Col 
onies fell, and the schemes for destroying all the charters on the 
continent and for erecting lordships fell. These, it must be ac- 
knowleged, fell very low indeed, in the esteem of the people, and 
the two houses. 

4t The governor," says our wily writer, " could do little or 
nothing without the council, by the charter." " If he called 
upon a military officer to raise the militia, he was answered they 
were there already," &c. The council, by the charter, had no 
thing to do with the militia. The governor alone had all author 
ity over them. The council therefore are not to blame for their 
conduct. If the militia refused obedience to the captain general, 
or his subordinate officer, when commanded to assist in carrying 
into execution the stamp act, or in dispersing those who were 
opposing it, does not this prove the universal sense and resolu 
tion of the people not to submit to it ? Did not a regular army 
do more to James the second ? If those, over whom the gover 
nor had the most absolute authority and decisive influence, refus 
ed obedience, does not this show how deeply rooted in all 
men s minds was the abhorrence of that unconstitutional power 
which was usurping over them ? u If he called upon the coun 
cil for their assistance, they must first inquire into the cause." 
An unpardonable crime, no doubt ! But is it the duty of a mid 
dle branch of legislature, to do as the first shall command them, 
implicitly, or to judge for themselves ? Is it the duty of a privy 
council, to understand the subject before they give advice, or on 
ly to lend their names to any edict,in order to make it less unpop^ 
ular ? It would be a shame to answer such observations as these, 
if it was not for their wickedness. Our council, all along how 
ever did as much as any council could have done. Was the 
mandamus council at New York able to do more, to influence the 
people to a submission to the stamp act ? Was the chair, the 
board, the septennial house, with the assistance of general Gage 
and his troops, able to do more, in that city, than our branches 
did in this province ? Not one iota. Nor could Bernard, his 
council, and house, if they had been unanimous, have induced 


submission. The people would have spurned them all, for they 
are not to be wheedled out of their liberties by their own repre 
sentatives, any more than by strangers. " If he wrote to gov 
ernment at home to strengthen his hands, some officious person 
procured and sent back his letters." At last it seems to be ac 
knowledged, that the governor did write for a military force, to 
strengthen government. For what ? to enable it to enforce 
stamp acts, tea acts, and other internal regulations, the authority 
of which the people were determined never to acknowledge. 

But what a pity it was, that these worthy gentlemen could 
not be allowed, from the dearest affection to their native coun 
try, to which they had every possible attachment, to go on in 
profound confidential secrecy, procuring troops to cut our throats, 
acts of parliament to drain our purses, destroy our charter* 
and assemblies, getting estates and dignities for themselves and 
their own families, and all the while most devoutly professing 
to be friends to our charter, enemies to parliamentary taxation, 
and to all pensions, without being detected ? How happy ! if 
they could have annihilated all our charters, and yet have been 
beloved, nay deified by the people, as friends and advocates for 
their charters? What masterly politicians! to have made them 
selves nobles for life, and yet have been thought very sorry, 
that the two houses were denied the privilege of choosing the 
council ? How sagacious, to get large pensions for themselves, 
and yet be thought to mourn, that pensions and venality were 
introduced into the country? How sweet and pleasant 1 to have 
been the most popular men in the community, for being staunch 
and zealous dissenters, true blue Calvinists, and able advocates 
for public virtue and popular government, after they had in 
troduced an American Episcopate, universal corruption among the 
leading men, and deprived the people of all share in their su 
preme legislative council ? I mention an Episcopate, for although 
I do not know that governors Hutchinson and Oliver ever direct 
ly solicited for bishops, yet they must have seen, that these 
would have been one effect, very soon, of establishing the un 
limited authority of parliament ! 

I agree with this writer, that it was not the persons of Ber 
nard, Hutchinson or Oliver, that made them obnoxious; but 
their principles and practices. And I will agree, that if Chatham, 
Campden and St.Asaph, (I beg pardon for introducing these rever 
end names into such company, and lor making a supposition 
which is absurd) had been here, and prosecuted such schemes, 
they would have met with contempt and execration from this peo 
ple. But when he says, that had the intimations in those letters 
been attended to, we had now been as happy a people as good 
government could make us," it is too gross to make us angry. 
We can do nothing but smile. Have not these intimations been 
attended to ? Have not fleets and armies been sent here, when 
ever they requested? Have not governors , lieutenant governors , 


secretaries , judges , attorney generals , and solicitor generals* 
salaries been paid out of the revenue as they solicited? Have 
not taxes been laid, and continued ? Have not English liberties 
been abridged as Hutchinson desired ? Have not u penalties of 
another kind" been inflicted, as he disired ? Has not our charter 
been destroyed, and the council put into the king^s hands, as Ber 
nard requested ? In short, almost all the wild mock pranks of 
this desperate triumvirate have been attended to and adopted, and 
we are now as miserable as tyranny can well make us. That 
Bernard came here with the affections of New Jersey, I^never 
heard nor read, but in this writer. Mis abilities were considera 
ble, or he could not have done such extensive mischief. His true 
British honesty and punctuality will be acknowledged by none, 
but such as owe all their importance to flattering* him. 

That Hutchinson was amiable and exemplary, in some respects, 
and very unamiable and unexemplary, in others, is a certain 
truth j otherwise he never would have retained so much popu 
larity on one hand, nor made so pernicious a use of it on the oth 
er. His behavior, in several important departments, was with 
ability and integrity, in cases which did not effect his political 
system, but he bent all his offices to that. Had he continued 
stedfast to those principles in religion and government, which in 
his former life he professed, and which alone had procured him 
the confidence of the people and all his importance, he would 
have lived and died, respected and beloved, and have done hon 
or to his native country. But by renouncing these principles 
and that conduct, which had made him and all his ancestors re 
spectable, his character is now considered by all America, and 
the best part of the three kingdoms, notwithstanding the counte 
nance he receives from the ministry, as a reproach to the pro 
vince that gave him birth, as a man who by all his actions aimed 
at making himself great, at the expense of the liberties of his na 
tive country. This gentleman was open to flattery, in so re 
markable a degree, that any man who would flatter him was 
sure of his friendship, and every one who would riot, was sure of 
his enmity. He was credulous, in a rediculous degree, of every 
thing that favoured his own plans, and equally incredulous of 
every thing which made against them. His natural abilities 
which have been greatly exaggerated by persons whom he had 
advanced to power, were far from being of the first rate. His 
industry was prodigious. His knowledge lay chiefly in the laws 
and politics and history of this province, in which he had a long 
experience. Yet with all his advantages, he never was master 
of the true character of his native country, not even of New 
England and the Massachusetts Bay. Through the whole trou 
blesome period since the last war, he manifestly mistook the 
temper, principles, and opinions of this people. He had resolv 
ed upon a system, and never could or would see the impractica 
bility of it. 


It is very true that all his abilities, virtues, interests and con 
nections, were insufficient ; but for what ? To prevail on the 
people to acquiesce in the mighty claim of parliamentary authori 
ty The constitution was not gone. The suggestion, that it was, 
is a vile slander. It had as much vigour as ever, and even the 
governor had as much power as ever, excepting in cases which 
affected that claim. " The spirit" says this writer " was truly 
republican." It was not so in any one case whatever ; any fur 
ther than the spirit of the British constitution is republican. 
Even in the grand fundamental dispute, the people arranged 
themselves under their house of representatives and council, with 
as much order as ever, and conducted their opposition as much 
by the constitution as ever. It is true their constitution was em 
ployed against the measures of the junto, which created their 
enmity to it. However I have not such an horror of republican 
spirit, which is a spirit of true virtue, and honest independence ; 
I do not mean on the king, but on men in power. This spirit i* 
so far from being incompatible with the British constitution, that it 
is the greatest glory of it, and the nation has always been most 
prosperous, when it has most prevailed and been most encourag 
ed by the crown. 1 wish it increased in every part of the world, 
especially in America ; and I think the measures, the tories are 
now pursuing, will increase it to a degree that will ensure us, in 
the end, redress of grievances and an happy reconciliation with 
Great Britain. 

"Governor Hutchinson strove to convince us, by the principles 
of government, our charters and acknowledgments, that our 
claims were inconsistent with the subordination due to Great 
Britain," &c. says this writer. 

Suffer me to introduce here, a little history. In 1764, when 
the system of taxing arid new modelling the Colonies was first ap 
prehended, lieutenant governor Hutchinson^ friends struggled in 
several successive sessions of the general court, to get him chos 
en agent for the province at the court of Great Britain. At this 
time he declared freely, that he was of the same sentiment with tht 
people, that parliament had no right to tax them ; but differed from 
the country party, only in his opinion of the policy of denying that 
right, in their petitions, &c. I would not injure him ; I was told 
this by three gentlemen who were, of the committee of both 
houses, to prepare that petition, that he made this declaration ex 
plicitly before that committee. I have been told by other gen 
tlemen that he made the same declaration to them. It is possible 
that he might make use of expressions studied for the purpose, 
which would not strictly bear this construction. But it is certain 
that they understood him so, and that this was the general opin 
ion of his sentiments until he came to the chair. 

The country party saw, that this aspiring genius aimed at 
keeping fair with the ministry, by supporting their measures, and 
with the people, by pretending to be of our principles, and be- 


foveen both to trim himself up to the chair. The only reason 
why he did not obtain an election at one time, and was excused 
from the service at another, after he had been chosen by a small 
majority, was because the members knew he would not openly 
deny the right, and assure his majesty, the parliament, and minis 
try, that the people never would submit to it. For the same rea 
son he was left out of council. But he continued to, cultivate; 
his popularity, and to maintain a general opinion among the peo 
ple, that he denied the right in his private judgment, and this 
idea preserved most of those who continued their esteem for him. 

But upon Bernard s removal, and his taking the chair as lieu 
tenant governor, he had no farther expectations from the people 
nor complaisance for their opinions. In one of his first speeches 
he took care to advance the supreme authority of parliament. 
This astonished many of his friends. They were heard to say, 
we have been deceived. We thought he had been abused, but 
we now find what has been said of him is true. He is determined 
to join in the designs against this country. After his promotion 
to the government, finding that the people had little confidence 
in him, and shewing that he had no interest at home to support 
him, but what he had acquired by joining with Bernard in kick 
ing up a dust, he determined to strike a bold stroke, and in a 
formal speech to both houses, became a champion for the un 
bounded authority of parliament, over the Colonies. This he 
thought would lay the ministry under obligation to support him 
in the government, or else to provide for him out of it, not 
considering that starting that question before that assembly, and 
calling upon them, as he did, to dispute with him upon it, was 
scattering firebrands, arrows and death in sport. The arguments 
he then advanced were inconclusive indeed : but they shall be 
considered, when I come to the feeble attempt of Massachuset- 
tensis to give a colour to the same position. 

The house, thus called upon, either to acknowledge the unlim 
ited authority of parliament, or confute his arguments, were 
bound by their duty to God, their country and posterity, to give 
him a full and explicit answer. They proved incontestibly, that 
he was out in his facts, inconsistent with himself, and in every 
principle of his law, he had committed a blunder. Tims the 
fowler was caught in his own snare ; and although thi. country 
has suffered severe temporary calamities, in consequence of this 
speech, yet I hope they will not be durable ; but his ruin wa? 
certainly in part owing to it. Nothing ever opened the eyes 
of the people so much, as his designs, excepting his letters. 
Thus it is the fate of Massachusettensis to praise this gentle i 
man, for these things which the wise part of mankind condemn in 
him, as the most insidious and mischievous of actions. If it was 
out of his power to do us any more injuries, I should wish to for 
get the past ; but as there is reason to fear he is still to continue 
his malevolent labours against this country, although he is out of 


our sight, he ought not to be out of our minds. This country 
has every thing to fear, in the present state of the British court, 
while the lords Bute, Mansfield and North have the principal con 
duct of affairs, from the deep intrigues of that artful man. 

To proceed to his successor, whom Massachusettensis has 
heen pleaded to compliment with the epithet of u amiable." I 
have no inclination to detract from this praise, but have no pane- 
gy ricks or invectives for any man, much less for any governor, un 
til satisfied of his character and designs. This gentleman s 
conduct, although he came here to support the systems of his two 
predecessors, and contracted to throw himself into the arms of 
their connections, when he has acted himself, and not been 
teased by others much less amiable and judicious than himself, 
into measures which his own inclination would have avoided, has 
been in general as unexceptionable as could be expected, in his 
very delicate, intricate and difficult situation. 

We are then told " that disaffection to Great Britain was infus 
ed into the body of the people." The leading whigs, have ever, 
systematically, and upon principle, endeavoured to preserve the 
people from all disaffection to the king on the one hand, and the 
body of the people on the other ; but to lay the blame where it 
is justly due on the ministry and their instruments. 

We are next conducted into the superior court, and informed 
" that the judges were dependant on the annual grants of the 
general court ; that their salaries were small in proportion to the 
salaries of other officers, of less importance ; that they often pe 
titioned the assembly to enlarge them, without success, and were 
reminded of their dependance ; that they remained unshaken 
amid the raging tempests, which is to be attributed rather to their 
firmness than situation." 

That the salaries were small, must be allowed : but not smal 
ler in proportion than those of other officers. All salaries in this 
province have been and are snjall. It has been the policy of the 
country to keep them so, not so much from a spirit of parsimony, 
as an opinion, that the service of the public ought to be an hon 
orary, rather than a lucrative employment; and that the great 
men ought to be obliged to set examples of simplicity and frugality 
before the people. 

But if we consider things maturely, and make allowance for all 
circumstances, 1 think the country may be vindicated. This 
province, during the last war. had such overbearing burdens upon 
it,that it was necessitated to use economy in every thing. At the 
peace she was half a million sterling in debt, nearly. She thought 
it the best policy to get out of debt, before she raised the wages 
of her servants; and if Great Britain had thought as wisely, she 
would not now have had 140 millions to pay ; and she would nev 
er have thought of taxing America. 

Low as the wages were, it was found that, whenever a vacan 
cy happened, the place was solicited with much more anxiety and 
zeal, than the kingdom of heaven. 


Another cause which had its effect was this. The judges of 
that court had almost always enjoyed some other office. At the 
time of the stamp act the chief justice was lieutenant governor, 
which yielded him a profit, and a judge of probate for the county 
of Suffolk, which yielded him another profit, and a counsellor, 
which if it was not very profitable, gave him an opportunity of 
promoting his family and friends to other profitable offices, an op 
portunity which the country saw he most religiously improved. 
Another justice of this court was a judge of admiralty, and anoth 
er was judge of probate for the county of Plymouth. The peo 
ple thought therefore, that as their time was not wholly taken up 
by their offices, as judges of the superior court, there was no rea 
son why they should be paid as much, as if it had been. 

Another reason was this : those justices had not been bred 
to the bar, but taken from merchandise, husbandry and other oc 
cupations ; had been at no great expence for education, or libra 
ries, and therefore the people thought that equity did not de 
mand large salaries. 

It must be confessed that another motive had its weight. The 
people were growing jealous of the chief justice and two other 
justices at least, and therefore thought it imprudent to enlarge 
their salaries, and by that means their influence. 

Whether all these arguments were sufficient to vindicate the 
people for not enlarging their salaries, I shall leave to you, 
my friends, whose right it is to judge. But that the judges pe 
titioned " often" to the assembly I do not remember. I knew it 
was suspected by many, and confidently affirmed by some, that 
judge Russell carried home with him, in 1766, a petition to his ma 
jesty, subscribed by himself, and chief justice Hutchinson at least, 
praying his majesty to take the payment of the judges into his 
own hands ; and that thi* petition, together with the solicitations 
of governor Bernard, and others, had the success to procure the 
act of parliament, to enable his majesty to appropriate the reve 
nue to the support of the administration of justice, &c. from 
whence a great part of the present calamities of America have 

That the high whigs took care to get themselves chosen of the 
grand juries I do not believe. Nine tenths of the people were 
high whigs ; and therefore it was not easy to get a grand jury 
without nine whigs in ten, in it. And the matter would riot be 
much mended by the new act of parliament. The sheriff must 
return the same set of jurors, court after court, or else his juries 
would l>e nine tenths of them high whigs still. Indeed the tories 
are so envenomed now with malice, envy, revenge and disap 
pointed ambition, that they would be willing, for what I know, to 
be jurors for life, in order to give verdicts against the whigs. And 
many of them would readily do a, I doubt not, without any other 
law or evidence, than what they lound in their own breasts. The 
suggestion of legerdemain, in drawing the names of petit jurors out 


of the box, is scandalous. Human wisdom cannot devise a method 
of obtaining petit jurors more fairly, and better secured against a 
possibility of corruption of any kind, than that established by our 
provincial law. They were drawn by chance out of a box, in 
open town meeting, to which the tories went, or might have gone, 
as well as the whigs, and have seen with their own eyes, that 
nothing unfair ever did or could take place. If the jurors con 
sisted of whigs, it was because the freeholders were whigs, that is 
honest men. But now, it seems, if Massachusettensis can have his 
will, the sheriff, who will be a person properly qualified for the 
purpose, is to pick out a tory jury, if he can find one in ten, or 
one in twenty of that character among the freeholders ; and it is 
no doubt expected, that every newspaper that presumes to deny 
the right of parliament to tax us, or destroy our charter, will be 
presented as a libel, and every member of a committee of corres 
pondence, or a congress, &,c. &c. &c. are to be indicted for rebel 
lion. These would be pleasant times to Massachusettensis and the 
junto, but they will never live to see them. 

" The judges pointed out seditious libels, on governors, ma 
gistrates, arid the whole government to no effect." They did so. 
But the jurors thought some of these no libels, but solemn truths. 
At one time, I have heard that all the newspapers for several 
years, the Massachusetts Gazette, Evening Post, Boston Chronicle, 
Boston Gazette, and Massachusetts Spy, were laid before a grand 
jury at once. The jurors thought there were multitudes of libels 
written by the tories, and they did not know whom they should 
attack, if they presented them ; perhaps governor Bernard, lieut. 
governor Hutchinson, secretary Oliver possibly the attorney 
general They saw so many difficulties they knew not what to do. 

As to the riots nnd insurrections, it is surprising that this writer 
should say " scarce one offender was indicted, and I think not one 
convicted." Were not many indicted, convicted, and punished 
too in the county of Essex, and Middlesex, and indeed in every 
other county ? But perhaps he will say, he means such as were 
connected with politicks. Yet this is not true, for a large number 
in Essex were punished for abusing an informer, and others were 
indicted and convicted in Boston for a similar offence. None were 
indicted for pulling down the stamp office, because this was thought 
an honorable and glorious action, not a riot. And so it must be 
said of several other tumults. But was not this the case in royal 
as well as charter governments ? Nor will this inconvenience be 
remedied by a sheriff s jury, if such an one should ever sit. For 
if such a jury should convict, the people will never bear the pun 
ishment. It is in vain to expect or hope to carry on government, 
against the universal bent and genius of the people ; we may whim 
per ^nd whine as much as we will, but nature made it impossible, 
when she made men. 

If causes of mewn and tuum were not always exempt from party 
influence, the tories will get no credit by an examination into par- 


licular cases. Though I believe there was no great blame on 
either party, in this respect, where the case was not connected 
with politicks. 

We are then told " the whigs once flattered themselves they 
should he able to divide the province between them." I suppose 
he means, that they should be able to get the honorable and lu 
crative offices of the province into their hands. If this was true, 
they would be chargeable with only designing what the toriea 
have actually done ; with this difference, that the whigs would 
have done it by saving the liberties and the constitution of the 
province whereas the tories have done it by the destruction of 
both. That the whigs have ambition, a desire of profit, and other 
passions, like other men, it would be foolish to deny. But this 
writer cannot name a set of men in the whole British empire, 
who have sacrificed their private interest to their nation s honour, 
and the public good, in so remarkable a manner, as the leading 
whigs have done, in the two last administrations. 

" As to cutting asunder the sinews of government and breaking 1 
in pieces the ligament of social life," as far as this has been done, 
I have proved by incontestible evidence from Bernard s, Hutchin- 
son s and Oliver s letters, that the tories have done it, against all 
the endeavours of the whigs to prevent them from first to last. 

The public is then amused with two instances of the weakness 
of our government, and these are, with equal artifice and injustice, 
insinuated to be chargeable upon the whigs. But the whigs are 
as innocent of these, as the tories. Malcom was as much against 
the inclinations and judgment of the whigs as the tories. But the 
real injury, he received, is exaggerated by this writer. The 
cruelty of his whipping, and the danger of his life, are too highly 

Malcom was such an oddity as naturally to excite the curiosity 
and ridicule of the lowest class of people, wherever he went : had 
been active in battle against the regulators in North Carolina, who 
were thought in Boston to be an injured people. A few weeks 
before, he had made a seizure at Kennebeck river, 150 mile? from 
Boston, and by some imprudence had excited the wrath of the 
people there, in such a degree, thai they tarred and feathered 
him over his clothes. He comes to Boston to complain. The news 
of it was spread in town. It was a critical time, when the pas 
sions of the people were warm. Malcom attacked a lad in the 
street, and cut his head with a cutlass, in return for some words 
from the boy, which I suppose were irritating. The boy run 
bleeding through the street to his relations, of whom he had many. 
As he passed the street, the people inquired into the cause of his 
wounds, and a sudden heat arose against Malcom, which neither 
whigs nor tories, though both endeavoured it, could restrain ; and 
produced the injuries of which he justly complained. But such a 
coincidence of circumstances might, at any time, and in any place, 
have produced such an effect ; and therefore it is no evidence of 


the weakness of government. Why he petitioned the general 
court, unless he was advised to it by the tories, to make a noise, 
I know not. That court had nothing to do with it. He might 
have brought his action against the trespassers, but never did. 
He chose to go to P^ngland and get 2001. a year, which would 
make his tarring the luckiest incident of his life. 

The hospital at Marblehead is another instance, no more owing 
to the politicks of the times, than the burning of the temple at 
Ephesus. This hospital was newly erected, much against the 
will of the multitude. The patients were careless, some of them 
wantonly so, and others were suspected of designing to spread the 
small pox in the town, which was full of people, who had not 
passed through the distemper. It is needless to be particular, but 
the apprehension became general, the people arose and burnt the 
hospital. But the whigs are so little blameable for this, that two 
of the principal whigs in the province, gentlemen highly esteemed 
and beloved in the town, even by those who burnt the building, 
were owners of it. The principles and temper of the times had 
no share in this, any more than in cutting down the market in 
Boston, or in demolishing mills and dams in some parts of the 
country, in order to let the alewives pass up the streams, forty 
years ago. Such incidents happen in all governments at times, 
and it is a fresh proof of the weakness of this writer s cause, that 
he is driven to such wretched shifts to defend it. 

Towards the close of this long speculation, Massachusetten- 
sis grows more and more splenetical, peevish, angry and absurd. 
He tells us, that in order to avoid the necessity of altering our 
provincial constitution, government at home made the judges inde 
pendent of the grants of the general assembly. That is, in order 
to avoid the hazard of taking the fort by storm, they determined 
to take it by sap. In order to avoid altering our constitution, they 
changed it in the most essential manner : for surely by our charter 
the province was to pay the judges as well as the governor. 
Taking away this privilege, and making them receive their pay 
from the crown, was destroying the charter so far forth, and mak 
ing them dependent on the minister. As to their being dependent 
on the leading whigs, he means they were dependent on the pro 
vince. And which is fairest to be dependent on, the province or 
on the minister ? In all this troublesome period, the leading whigs 
had never hesitated about granting their salaries, nor ever once 
moved to have them lessened, nor would the house have listened 
to them if they had. " This was done, he says, to make them 
steady." We know that very well. Steady to what? Steady to 
the plans of Bernard, Hutchinson, Oliver, North, Mansfield and 
Bute ; which the people thought was steadiness to their ruin, and 
therefore it was found, that a determined spirit of opposition to it 
arose, in every part of the province, like that to the stamp act. 

The chief justice, it is true, was accused by the house of repre 
s^ntatives, of receiving a bribe, a ministerial, not a royal bribe. 
For the king can do no wrong, although he may be deceived in 


his grant. The minister is accountable. The crime of receiving 
an illegal patent, is not the less for purchasing 1 it, even of the king 
himself. Many impeachments have been for such offences. 

He talks about attemps to strengthen government, and save our 
charter. With what modesty can he say this, when he knows 
that the overthrow of our charter was the very object which the 
junto had been invariably pursuing for a long- course of years? 
Does he think his readers are to be deceived by such gross arts ? 
But he says u the whigs subverted the charter constitution, abridg 
ed the freedom of the house, annihilated the freedom ol the board, 
and rendered the governor a doge of Venice." The freedom of 
the house was never abridged, the freedom of the board was 
never lessened. The governor had as much power as ever. The 
house and board, it is true, would do nothing in favour of parlia 
mentary taxation. Their judgments and consciences were against 
it ; and if they ever had done any thing 1 in favour of it, it would 
have been through fear and not freedom. The governor found 
he could do nothing- in favour of it. excepting to promote, in every 
department in the state, men who hated the people and were 
hated by them. Enough of this he did in all conscience ; and after 
rilling offices with men who were despised, he wondered that the 
officers were not revered. " They, the whigs, engrossed all the 
power of the province into their own hands." That is. the house 
and board were whigs; the grand juries and petit juries were 
whigs ; towns Avere whigs ; the clergv were whigs ; the agents 
were whigs ; and wherever you found people, you found all whigs ; 
excepting those who had commissions from the crown or the gov 
ernor. This is almost true, and it is to the eternal shame of the 
tories, that they should pursue their ignis fatuus with such un 
governable fury as they have done, after such repeated and mul 
tiplied demonstrations, that the whole people were so universally 
bent against them. But nothing will satisfy them still, but blood 
and carnage. The destruction of the whigs, charters, English lib 
erties and all. they must and will have, if it costs the blood of tens 
of thousands of innocent people. This is the benign temper of 
the tories. 

This influence of the whigs, he calls a democracy or republic, 
and then a despotism : two ideas incompatible with each other. 
A democratical despotism is a contradiction in terms. 

He then says, that " the good policy of the act for regulating the 
government in this province, will be the subject of some future 
paper." But that paper is still to come, and I suspect ever will 
be. I wish to hear him upon it however. 

With this, he and the junto ought to have begun. Bernard and 
the rest, in 1764, ought to have published their objections to this 
government, if they had been honest men, and produced their 
arguments in favour of the alteration, convinced the people of 
the necessity of it, and proposed some constitutional plan for ef 
fecting it. But the same motives which induced them to take 


another course, will prevail with Massachusettensis to wave the 
good policy of the act. He will be much more cunningly em 
ployed in labouring to terrify women and children with the hor 
rors of a civil war, and the dread of a division among the people. 
There lies vour fort, Massachusettensis, make the most of it. 



To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 

February 27, 1775. 


SUCH events as the resistance to the stamp act, and to the 
tea act. particularly the destruction of that which was sent by 
the ministry, in the name of the East India Company, have ever 
been cautiously spoken of by the whigs, because they knew the 
delicacy of the subject, and they lived in continual hopes of a 
speedy restoration of liberty and peace. But we are now thrown 
into a situation, which would render any further delicacy upon 
this point criminal. 

Be it remembered then, that there are tumults, seditions, pop 
ular commotions, insurrections and civil wars, upon just occasions, 
as well as unjust. 

Grotius B. 1. c. 3. . 1. observes, " that some sort of private 
war may be lawfully waged It is not repugnant to the law of 
nature, for any one to repel injuries by force. 

2. The liberty allowed before is much restrained, since the 
erection of tribunals. Yet there are some cases wherein that 
right still subsists ; that is, when the way to legal justice is not 
open ; for the law which forbids a man to pursue his right any 
other way, ought to be understood with this equitable restriction, 
that one finds judges to whom he need apply, &c. 

Sidney s discourses upon government c. 2. 24. Tis in vain 
to seek a government in all points free from a possibility of civil 
war*, tumults and seditions : that is a blessing denied to this life, 
and reserved to complete the felicity of the next. Seditions, tu 
mults, and wars do arise from mistake or from malice ; from just 
occasions or unjust. Seditions proceeding from malice are sel 
dom or never seen,in popular governments ; for they are hurtful 
to (he people, and none have ever willingly and knowingly hurt 
themselves. There- may be, and often is, malice in those who 
excite them ; but the people is ever deceived, and whatev- 


er is thereupon done, ought to be imputed to error, &c. Bat m 
absolute monarchies, almost all the troubles that arise proceed 
from malice ; they cannot be reformed ; the extinction of them is 
exeeeding difficult, if they have continued long enough to corrupt 
the people ; and those who appear agamt them seek only to set 
up themselves or their friends. The mischiefs designed are of 
ten dissembled, or denied, till they are past all possibility of be 
ing cured by any other way than force ; and such as are by ne 
cessity driven to use that remedy, know they must perfect theii 
work or perish. He that draws his sword against the prince, say 
the French, ought to throw away the scabbard ; for though the 
design be never so just, yet the authors are sure to be ruined i; 
it miscarry. Peace is seldom made, and never kept, unless the 
subject retain such a power in his hands, as may oblige the prince 
to stand to what is agreed ; and in time some trick is found to 
deprive him of that benefit. 

It may seem strange to some that I mention seditions, tumults 
and wars, upon just occasions ; but I can find no reason to re 
tract the terms. God, intending that men should live justly will. 
one another, does certainly intend that he or they, who do no 
wrong, should suffer none ; and the law that forbids injuries, 
were of no use, if no penalty might be inflicted on those, that 
will not obey it. If injustice therefore be evil, and injuries be 
forbidden, they are also to be punished ; and the law, instituted 
for their prevention, must necessarily intend the avenging of such 
as cannot be prevented. The work of the magistracy is to exe 
cute this law ; the sword of justice is put into their hands to re 
strain the fury of those within the society, who will not be a law to 
themselves ; and the sword of war to protect the people against. 
the violence of foreigners. This is without exception, and would 
be in vain if it were not. But the magistrate who is to protect 
the people from injury, may, and is often known, not to have 
done it : he sometimes renders his office useless by neglecting to 
do justice ; sometimes mischievous by ovcrthroiving it. This strikes 
at the root of God s general ordinance, that there should be laws ; 
and the particular ordinances of all societies that appoint such as 
seem best to them, rhe magistrate therefore is comprehended under 
both, and subject to both, as zvell as private men. 

The ways of preventing or punishing injuries are judicial or 
extrajudicial. Judicial proceedings are of force against those 
who submit, or may be brought to trial, but are of no effect against 
those who resist, and are of such power that they cannot be con 
strained. It were absurd to cite a man to appear before a tribu 
nal, who can awe the judges, or has armies to defend him ; and impi 
ous to think that he who has added treachery to his other crimes, 
and usurped a power above the law, should be protected by 
the enormity of his wickedness. Legal proceedings, therefore, 
are to be used when the delinquent submits to the law ; and all 
are just ; when he will not be kept in order by the legal. 


The word sedition is generally applied to all numerous assem 
blies, without or against the authority of the magistrate, or oi 
those who assume that power. Athaliah and Jezebel were more 
ready to cry out treason, than David, &c. 

Tumult is from the disorderly manner of those assemblies, 
where things can seldom be done regularly ; and war is that " de- 
certatio per vim," or trial by force, to which men corne, when 
other ways are ineffectual. 

If the laws of God and men, are therefore of no effect, when 
the magistracy is left at liberty to break them ; and if the lusts of 
those who are too strong for the tribunals of justice, cannot be 
otherwise restrained than by sedition, tumults and war; those 
seditions, tumults and wars, are justified by the laws of God and 

I will not take upon me to enumerate all the cases in which 
this may be done, but content myself with three, which have most 
frequently given occasion for proceedings of this kind. The first 
is, when *one or more men take upon them the power and name 
of a magistracy, to which they are not justly called. The. second^ 
when one or more being justly called, continue in their magistra 
cy longer than the laws by which they are called, do prescribe. 
And the third, when he or they, who are rightly called, do assume 
a power, though within the time prescribed, that the law does 
not give ; or turn that which the law does give, to an end differ 
ent and contrary to that which is intended by it. 

The same course is justly used against a legal magistrate, who 
Takes upon him to exercise a power which the law does not give ; 
for in that respect he is a private man. " Quia, as Grotius says, 
eotenus non habet imperium," and may be restrained as well as 
any other, because he is not set up to do what he lists, but what the 
law appoints for the good of the people ; and as he has no other 
power than what the law allow r s, so the same law limits and directs 
the exercise of that which he has. 

Puffendorf s law of nature and nations L. 7. c. 8. 5 and 6. 
Barbeyrac s note on section 6. When we speak of a tyrant that 
may lawfully be dethroned, we do not mean by the people, the 
vile populace or rabble of the country, nor the cabal of a small 
number of factious persons; but the greater and more judicious 
part of the subjects of all ranks. Besides the tyranny must be so 
notorious and evidently clear, as to leave no body any room to 
doubt of it, &c. Now a prince may easily avoid making himself 
so universally suspected and odious to his subjects ; for as Mr. 
Locke says, in his treatise of civil government, c. 18 09. u It 
is as impossible for a governor, if he really means the good of the 
people and the preservation of them and the laws together, not 
to make them see and feel it; as it is for the father of a family, 
not to let his children see he loves and takes care of them." And 
therefore the general insurrection of a whole nation does not de 
serve the name of a rebellion. We may see what Mr. Sic^ev 


says upon this subject in his discourse concerning government 
c. 3. 30. Neither are subjects bound to stay till .the prince has 
entirely finished the chains which he is preparing for them, and 
put it out of their power to oppose. It i? sufficient that all the 
advances which he makes are manifestly tending to their oppres 
sion, that he is marching boldly on to the ruin of the state. In. 
such a case, says Mr. Locke, admirably well, ubi supra 210. How 
can a man any more hinder himself from believing in his own 
mind, which way things are going, or from casting about to save 
himself, than he could from believing the captain of the ship he 
was in, was carrying him and the rest of his company to Algiers, 
when he found him always steering that course, though cross 
winds, leaks in his ship and want of men and provisions, did often 
force him to turn his course another way for some time, which 
he steadily returned to again, as soon as the winds, weather, and 
other circumstances would let him." This chiefly takes place 
with respect to kings, whose power is limited by fundamental 

" If it is objected, that the people being ignorant, and always 
discontented, to lay the foundation of government, in the unsteady 
opinion and the uncertain humour of the people, is to expose it to 
certain ruin ; the same author will answer you, that on the con 
trary, people are not so easily got out of their old forms as 
some are apt to suggest. England, for instance, notwithstanding 
the many revolutions that have been seen in that kingdom, has 
always kept to its old legislative of king, lords, and commons ; 
and whatever provocations have made the crown to be taken 
from some of their princes heads, they never carried the people 
so far as to place it in another line. But it will be said, this hy 
pothesis lays a ferment for frequent rebellion. No more, says 
Mr. Locke, than any other hypothesis. For when the people 
are made miserable, and find themselves exposed to the ill usage 
of arbitrary power ; cry up their governors as you will for sons 
of Jupiter, let them be sacred and divine, descended or authoris 
ed from heaven ; give them out for whom or what you please, 
the same will happen. The people generally ill treated, and 
contrary to right, will be ready upon any occasion to ease them 
selves of a burden that sits heavy upon them. 2. Such revolu 
tions happen not upon every little mismanagement in public af 
fairs. Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and incon 
venient laws, and all the slips of human frailty will be borne by 
the people, without mutiny and murmur. 3. This power in the 
people of providing for their safety anew by a legislative, when 
their legislators have acted contrary to their trust, by invading 
their property, is the best fence against rebellion, and the proba- 
blest means to hinder it ; for rebellion being an opposition, not 
to persons, but authority, which is founded only in the con 
stitutions and laws of the government : those whoever they be, 
by force break through, and by force justify the violation ofthem. 


are truly and properly rebels. For when men by entering into so 
ciety, and civil government, have excluded force, and introduc 
ed laws for the preservation of property, peace and unity, 
among- themselves ; those who set up force again, in opposition 
to the laws, do rebellare, that is, do bring back again the state 
of war, and are property, rebels, as the author shews. In the 
last place, he demonstrates that there are also greater inconveni- 
encies in allowing all to those that govern, than in granting some 
thing to the people. But it will be said, that ill affected and fac 
tious men may spread among the people, and make them believe 
that the prince or legislative, act contrary to their trust, when 
they only make use of their due prerogative. To this Mr. Locke 
answers, that the people however is to judge of all that; because 
no body can better judge whether his trustee or deputy acts well, 
and according to the trust reposed in him, than he who deputed 
him. He might make the like query, (says Mr. LeClerk, from 
whom this extract is taken) and ask, whether the people being 
oppressed by an authority which they set up, but for their own 
good, it is just, that those who are vested with, this authority, 
and of which they are complaining, should themselves be judges 
of the complaints made against them. The greatest flatterers of 
kings, dare not say, that the people are obliged to suffer absolute 
ly all their humours, how irregular soever they be ; and there 
fore must confess, that when no regard is had to their complaints, 
the very foundations of society are destroyed ; the prince and 
people are in a state of war with each other, like two independ 
ent states, that are doing themselves justice, and acknowledge no 
person upon earth, who in a sovereign manner, can determine 
the disputes between them, &c. 

If there is any thing in these quotations, which is applicable 
to the destruction of the tea, or any other branch of our subject, 
it is not my fault ; I did not make it. Surely Grotius, Puffendorf, 
Barbeyrac, Locke, Sidney, and LeClerk, are writers, of suffi 
cient weight ti> put in the scale against the mercenary scribblers 
in New York and Boston, who have the unexampled impudence 
and lolh r , to call these which are revolution principles in question, 
and to ground their arguments upon passive obedience as a corner 
stone. What an opinion must these writers have of the principles 
of their patrons, the lords Bute, Mansfield and North, when they 
hope to recommend themselves by reviving that stupid doctrine, 
which has been ir;,dmous so many years. Dr. Sachevaril himself 
tells us that his sermons were burnt by the hands of the common 
hangman, by the order of the king, lords and commons, in order to 
fix an eternal and indelible brand of infamy on that doctrine. 

In the Gazette of January the 2d, Massachusettensis entertains 
you with an account of his own important self. This is a subject 
which he has very much at heart, but it is of no consequence to 
you or me, and therefore little need be said of it. If he had such 
a stand in the community, that he could have seen all the polit- 


ical manoeuvres, it is plain he must have shut his eyes, or he 
never could have mistaken so grossly, causes for effects, and ef 
fects for causes. 

He undertakes to point out the principles and motive* upon 
which the blockade act was made, which were according to him. 
the destruction of the East India Company s tea. He might have 
said more properly the ministerial tea ; for such it was, and the 
company are no losers ; they have received from the public trea 
sury compensation for it. 

Then we are amused with a long discourse about the nature of 
the British government, commerce, agriculture, arts, manufac 
tures, regulations of trade, custom-house officers, which, as it has 
no relation to the subject, I shall pass over. 

The case is shortly this. The East India Company, by their 
contract with government, in their charter and statute, are bound 
in consideration of their important profitable privileges to pay to 
the public treasury, a revenue, annually, of four hundred thousand 
pounds sterling, so long as they can hold up their dividends, at 
twelve per cent, and no longer. 

The mistaken policy of the ministry, in obstinately persisting in 
their claim of right to tax America, and refusing to repeal the duty 
on tea, with those on glass, paper and paint, had induced all 
America, except a few merchants in Boston, most of whom were 
closely connected with the junto, to refuse to import tea from 
Great Britain ; the consequence of which was a kind of stagnation 
in the affairs of the company, and an immense accumulation of 
tea in their stores, which they could not sell. This, among other 
causes, contributed to affect their credit, and their dividends were 
on the point of falling below twelve per cent, and consequently 
the government was upon the point of losing 400,0001. sterling a 
year of revenue. The company solicited the ministry to take off 
the duty in America : but they adhering to their plan of taxing the 
colonies and establishing a precedent, framed an act to etiable the 
company to send their tea directly to America. This was admired 
as a master-piece of policy. It was thought they would accom 
plish four great purposes at once : establish their precedent of 
taxing America ; raise a large revenue there by the duties ; save 
the credit of the company, and the 400,0001, to the government. 
The company however, were so little pleased with this, that there 
were great debates among the directors^ ^ther they should 
risque it, which were finally determined by a majority of one only, 
and that one the chairman, being unwilling as it is said, to inter 
fere, in the dispute between the minister and the colonies, and un 
certain what the result would be : and this small majority was not 
obtained, as it is said, until a sufficient intimation was given that 
the company should not be losers. 

When these designs were made known, it appeared, that Ameri 
can politicians were not to be deceived ; that their sight was as 
quick and clear as the minister s ; and that they were as steady to 


their purpos, as he was to his. This was thought by all the 
colonies to be the precise point of time, when it became abso 
lutely necessary to make a stand. If the tea should be landed, it 
would be sold ; if sold, the duties would amount to a large sum 3 
which would be instantly applied to increase the friends and advo 
cates for more duties, and to divide the people ; and the company 
would get such a footing, that no opposition afterwards could ever 
be effectual. And as soon as the duties on tea should be estab 
lished, they would be ranked among post-office fees, and other 
precedents, and used as arguments, both of the right and expedi 
ency of laying on others, perhaps on all the necessaries, as well as 
conveniences and luxuries of life. The whole continent was 
^nited in the sentiment, that all opposition to parliamentary taxa 
tion must be given up forever, if this critical moment was neglect 
ed. Accordingly, New York and Philadelphia determined that 
the ships should be sent back ; and Charleston, that the tea should 
be stored and locked up. This was attended with no danger in 
that city, because they are fully united in sentiment and affection, 
and have no Junto to perplex them, Boston was under greater 
difficulties. The consignees at New York and Philadelphia most 
readily resigned. The consignees at Boston, the children, cousins, 
and most intimate connections of governor Hutchinson, refused. 
I am very sorry that I cannot stir a single step in developing the 
causes of my country s miseries, without stumbling upon this gen 
tleman. But so it is. From the near relation and most intimate 
connection of the consignees with him, there is great cause of 
jealousy, if not a violent presumption, that he was at the bottom 
of all this business, that he had planned it, in his confidential let 
ters with Bernard, and both of them joined in suggesting and re 
commending it to the ministry. Without this supposition, it is 
difficult to account for the obstinacy with which the consignees 
refused to resign, and the governor to let the vessel go. However 
this might be, Boston is the only place upon the continent, per 
haps in the world, which ever breeds a species of misanthropes, 
who will persist in their schemes for their private interest, with 
such obstinacy, in opposition to the public good ; disoblige all their 
fellow citizens for a little pelf, and make themselves odious and 
infamous, when they might be respected and esteemed. It must 
be said, however, in vindication of the town, that this breed is 
spawned chiefly \)f*~^ Junto. The consignees would not resign ; 
the custom house refused clearances ; governor Hutchinson refused 
passes by the castle. The question then was, with many, whether 
the governor, officers, and consignees should be compelled to send 
the ships hence ? An army and navy was at hand, and bloodshed 
was apprehended. At last, when the continent, as well as the 
town and province, were waiting the issue of this deliberation with 
the utmost anxiety, a number of persons, in the night, put them 
out of suspense, by an oblation to Neptune. I have heard some 
gentlemen say, " this was a very unjustifiable proceeding" " that 


if they had gone at noon-day, and in their ordinary habits, and 
drowned it in the face of the world, it would have heen a merito 
rious, a most glorious action : but to go in the night, and much 
more in disguise, they thought very inexcusable." 

"The revenue was not the consideration before parliament, 1 
says Massachusettensis. Let who will believe him, But if it was 
not, the danger to America was the same. I take no notice of the 
idea of a monopoly. If it had been only a monopoly (though in 
this light it would have been a very great grievance) it would not 
have excited, nor in the opinion of any one justified the step that 
was taken. It was an attack upon a fundamental principle of the 
constitution, and upon that supposition was resisted, after multi 
tudes of petitions to no purpose, and because there was no tribunal 
in the constitution, from whence redress could have been ob 

There is one passage so pretty, that I cannot refuse myself the 
pleasure of transcribing it. " A smuggler and a whig are cousin 
Germans, the offspring of two sisters, avarice and ambition. They 
had been playing into each other s hands a long time. The smug 
gler received protection from the whig, and he in his turn receiv 
ed support from the smuggler. The illicit trader now demanded 
protection from his kinsman, and it would have been unnatural in 
him to have refused it ; and beside, an opportunity presented of 
strengthening his own interest." 

The wit and the beauty of the style, in this place, seem to have 
quite enraptured the lively juvenile imagination of this writer. 

The truth of the fact he never regards, any more than the jus 
tice of the sentiment. Some years ago, the smugglers might be 
pretty equally divided between the whigs and the tories. Since 
that time 9 they have almost all married into the tory families, for 
the sake of dispensations and indulgencies. If I were to let my- 
se,lf into secret history, I could tell very diverting stories of smug 
gling tories in New-York and Boston. Massachusettensis is quar 
relling with some of his best friends. Let him learn more dis 

We are then told that u the consignees offered to store the tea, 
under the care of the selectmen, or a committee of the town," 
This expedient might have answered, if none of the junto, nor any 
of their connections, had been in Boston. But is it a wonder, 
that the selectmen declined accepting such a deposit? They 
supposed they should be answerable, and nobody doubted that to 
ries might be found who would not scruple to set fire to the store, 
in order to make them liable. Besides if the tea was landed, 
though only to be stored, the duty must be paid, which it was 
thought was giving up the point. 

Another consideration, which had great weight, was, the other 
colonies were grown jealous of Boston, and thought it already 
deficient in point of punctuality, against the dutied articles : and 
if the tea was once stored, w4ieles misrht be used, if not violence. 

5 O 7 


to disperse it abroad. But if through the continual vigilance and 
activity of the committee and the people, through a whole winter, 
this should be prevented ; yet one thing was certain, that the 
tories would write to the other colonies and to England, thous 
ands of falsehoods concerning it, in order to induce the ministry 
to persevere, and to sow jealousies and create divisions among 
the colonies. 

Our acute logician then undertakes to prove the destruction of 
the tea unjustifiable, even upon the principle of the whigs, that 
the duty was unconstitutional. The only argument he uses is 
this : that " unless we purchase the tea, we shall never pay the 
duty." This argument is so frivolous, and has been so often con 
futed and exposed, that if the party had any other, I think they 
would relinquish this. Where will it carry us ? If a duty was 
laid upon our horses, we may walk ; if upon our butcher s meat, 
we may live upon the produce of the dairy ; and if that should 
be taxed, we may subsist as well as our fellow slaves in Ireland, 
upon Spanish potatoes and cold water. If a thousand pounds was 
laid upon the birth of every child, if children are not begotten, 
none will be born ; if, upon every marriage, no duties will be 
paid, if all the young gentlemen and ladies agree to live batchel- 
Ors and maidens. 

In order to form a rational judgment of the quality of this trans 
action, and determine whether it was good or evil, we must go 
to the .bottom of this great controversy. If parliament has a 
right to tax us and legislate for us, in all cases, the destruction of 
the tea was unjustifiable ; but if the people of America are right 
in their principle, that parliament has no such right, that the act 
of parliament is null and void, and it is lawful to oppose and resist 
it, the question then is, whether the destruction was necessary ? 
for every principle of reason, justice and prudence, in such cases, 
demands that the least mischief shall be done ; the least evil among 
a number shall always be preferred. 

All men are convinced that it was impracticable to return it, 
and rendered so by Mr. Hutchinson and the Boston consignees. 
Whether to have stored it would have answered the end, or 
been a less mischief than drowning it, I shall leave to the judg 
ment of the public. The other colonies, ii; seems, have no scru 
ples about it, for we find that whenever tea arrives in any of 
them, whether from the East India Company, or any other quar 
ter, it never fails to share the fate of that in Boston. All men 
will agree that such steps ought not to be taken, but in cases of 
absolute necessity, and that such necessity must be very clear. 
But most people in America now think, the destruction of the 
Boston tea was absolutely necessary, and therefore right and 
just. It is very true, they say, if the whole people had been 
united in sentiment, and equally stable in their resolution, not to 
buy or drink it, there might have been a reason for preserving 
it ; but the people here were not so virtuous or so happy. The 


British ministry had plundered the people by illegal taxes, and 
applied the money in salaries and pensions, by which devices, 
they had insidiously attached to their party, no inconsiderable 
number of persons, some of whom were of family, fortune and 
influence, though many of them were of desperate fortunes, each 
of whom, however, had his circle of friends, connections and de 
pendants, who were determined to drink tea, both as evidence of 
their servility to administration, and their contempt and hatred 
of the people. These it was impossible to restrain without vio 
lence, perhaps bloodshed, certainly without hazarding more than 
the tea was worth. To this tribe of the wicked* they say, must 
be added another, perhaps more numerous, of the weak ; who 
never could be brought to think of the consequences of their 
actions, but would gratify their appetites, if they could come at 
the means. What numbers are there in every community, who 
have no providence, or prudence in their private affairs, but will 
go on indulging the present appetite, prejudice, or passion, to the 
ruin of their estates and families, as well as their own health and 
characters ! how much larger is the number of those who havf 
no foresight for tbe public, or consideration of the freedom oi 
posterity ? Such an abstinence from the tea, as would have avoid 
ed the establishment of a precedent, dependent on the unanimity 
of the people, was a felicity that was unattainable. Must the wise, 
the virtuous and worthy part of the community, who constituted 
a very great majority, surrender their liberty, and involve their 
posterity in misery in complaisance to a detestable, though smali 
party of knaves, and a despicable, though more numerous com 
pany of fools ? 

If Boston could have been treated like other places, like New 
York and Philadelphia, the tea might have gone home from 
thence, as it did from those cities. That inveterate, desperate 
junto, to whom we owe all our calamities, were determined to 
hurt us in this, as in all other cases, as much as they could. It is 
to be hoped they will one day repent and be forgiven, but it is 
yery hard to forgive without repentance. When the news of 
this event arrived in England, it excited such passions in the 
minister as nothing could restrain ; his resentment was inkindled 
into revenge, rage, and madness ; his veracity was piqued, as his 
master piece of policy, proved but a bubble. The bustling was 
the fruit of a favourite amour, and no wonder that his natural af 
fection was touched, when he saw it dispatched before his eyes. 
His grief and ingenuity, if he had any. were affected at the thought 
that he had misled the East India Company so much nearer to dcs 
truction, and that he had rendered the breach between the king 
dom and the colonies almost irreconciieable : his shame was ex 
cited because opposition had gained a triumph over him, and the 
three kingdoms were laughing 1 at him for his obstinacy and his 
blunders : instead of relieving the company he had hastened its 
ruin : instead of establishing the absolute and unlimited sovereign- 


(y of parliament over the colonies, he had excited a more deci 
sive denial of it, and resistance to it. An election drew nigh and 
he dreaded the resentment even of the corrupted electors. 

In this state of mind bordering on despair, he determines to 
strike a bold stroke. Bernard was near and did not fail to em 
brace the opportunity, to push the old systems of the junto. By 
attacking- all the colonies together, by the stamp-act, and the 
paint and glass act, they had been defeated. The charter con 
stitution of the Massachusetts Bay, had contributed greatly to 
both these defeats. Their representatives were too numerous, 
and too frequently elected, to be corrupted : their people had 
been used to consider public affairs in their town meetings : their 
counsellors were not absolutely at the nod of a minister or gov 
ernor, but were once a year equally dependant on the governor 
and the two houses. Their grand jurors, were elective by the 
people, their petit jurors were returned merely by lot. Bern 
ard and the junto rightly judged, that by this constitution the peo 
ple had a check on every branch of power, and therefore as lon 
us it lasted, parliamentary taxations, &c. could never be inforced, 

Bernard, publishes his select letters, and his principles of poli 
ty ; his son writes in defence of the Quebec bill ; hireling garret- 
teers are employed to scribble millions of lies against us, in 
pamphlets and newspapers ; and setters employed in the coffee 
houses, to challenge or knock down all the advocates for the poor 
Massachusetts. It was now determined, instead of attacking the 
colonies together, though they had been all equally opposed to 
the plans of the ministry and the claims of parliament, and there 
fore upon ministerial principles equally guilty, to handle them 
one by one ; and to begin with Boston and the Massachusetts. 
The destruction of the tea was a fine event for scribblers and 
^peechifiers to declaim upon ; and there was an hereditary hatred 
of New England, in the minds of many in England, on account of 
their non-conforming principles. It was likewise thought there 
was a similar jealousy and animosity in the other colonies against 
Xew England ; that they would therefore certainly desert her ; 
that she would be intimidated and submit ; and then the minis 
ter, among his own friends, would acquire immortal honour, 
as the most able, skilful and undaunted statesman of the age. 

The port bili, charter bill, murder bill, Quebec bill, making 
altogether such a frightful system, as would have terrified any 
people, who did not prefer liberty to life, were all concerted at 
once ; but all this art and violence have not succeeded. This peo 
ple, under great trials and dangers, have discovered great abili 
ties and virtues, and that nothing is so terrible to them as the loss 
of their liberties. If these arts and violences are persisted in, 
and still greater concerted and carried on against them, the world 
will see that their fortitude, patience and magnanimity will rise in 

" Had Cromwell," says our what shall I call him ? " had the 
guidance of the national ire, your proud capital had been levelled 


with the dust." Is it any breach of charity to suppose that such 
an event as this, would have been a gratification to this writer? 
can we otherwise account for his indulging himself in a thought so 
diabolical ? will he set up Cromwell as a model for his deified 
lords, Bute, Mansfield and North ? If he should, there is nothing 
in the whole history of him so cruel as this. All his conduct in 
Ireland, as exceptionable as any part of his whole life, ailbrds 
nothing that can give the least probability to the idea of this writer. 
The rebellion in Ireland, was most obstinate, and of many years 
duration; 100,000 Protestants had been murdered in a day, in cold 
blood, by Papists, and therefore Cromwell might plead some ex 
cuse, that cruel severities were necessary, in order to restore any 
peace to that kingdom. But all this will not justify him ; for as 
has been observed by an historian, upon his conduct in this in 
stance, "men are not to divest themselves of humanity, and turn 
themselves into devils, because policy may suggest that they will 
succeed better as devils than as men !" But is there any parity or 
similitude between a rebellion of a dozen years standing, in which 
many battles had been fought, many thousands fallen in war, and 
100,000 massacred in a day; and the drowning three cargoes of 
tea ? To what strains of malevolence, to what flights of diabolical 
fury, is not tory rage capable of transporting men ! 

" The whigs saw their ruin connected with a compliance with 
the terms of opening the port." They saw the ruin of their 
country connected with such a compliance, and their own involved 
in it. But they might have easily voted a compliance, for they 
were undoubtedly a vast majority, and have enjoyed the esteem 
and affection of their fellow slaves to their last hours. Several of 
them could have paid for the tea, and never have felt the loss. 
They knew they must suffer, vastly more, than the tea was worth ; 
but they thought they acted for America and posterity ; and that 
they ought not to take such a step without the advice of the colo 
nies. They have declared our cause their own that they never 
will submit to a precedent in any part of the united colonies, by 
which parliament may take away wharves and other lawful es 
tates, or demolish charters ; for if they do, they have a moral 
certainty that in the course of a few years, every right of Ameri 
cans will be taken away, and governors and councils, holding at 
the will of a minister, will be the only legislatives in the col 

A pompous account of the- addressers of Mr. llutchinson, then 
follows. . They consisted of his relations, his fellow labourers in 
the tory vineyard, and persons whom he had raised in tS^e course 
of four administrations, Shirley s, Povvnai s, Bernard s, and his 
own, to places in the province. Considering the industry that was 
used, and the vast number of persons in the province, who had 
received commissions under government upon his recommenda- 
tion, the small number of subscribers that was obtained, is among 
a thousand demonstrations of the unanimity of this people. If it 


had beeH thought werth while to have procured a remonstrance 
against him, fifty thousand subscribers might have been easily 
found. Several gentlemen of property were among these ad 
dressers, and some of fair character ; but their acquaintance and 
friendships lay among the junto and their subalterns entirely. 
Besides, did these addressers approve the policy or justice of any 
one of the bills, which were passed the last session of the late 
parliament ? Did they acknowledge the unlimited authority of 
parliament ? The Middlesex magistrates remonstrated against tax 
ation : but they were flattered with hopes, that Mr. Hutchinson 
would get the port-bill, &c. repealed : that is, that he would have 
undone all, which every one, but themselves, knew he has been 
doing these fifteen years. 

"But these patriotic endeavours, were defeated." By what? 
" By an invention of the fertile brain of one of our party agents, 
called a committee of correspondence. " This is the foulest, sub 
tlest and most venemous serpent, that ever issued from the eggs of se 

I should rather call it, the Ichneumon, a very industrious, ac 
tive and useful animal, which was worshipped in Egypt as 
a divinity, because it defended their country from the ravages 
of the crocodiles. It was the whole occupation of this little crea 
ture to destroy those wily and ravenous monsters. It crushed 
their eggs, wherever they laid them, and with a wonderful ad 
dress and courage, would leap into their mouths, penetrate their 
entrails, and never leave until it destroyed them. 

If the honour of this invention is due to the gentleman, who 
is generally understood by the " party agent" or Massachuset- 
tensis, it belongs to one, to whom America has erected a statue 
in her heart, for his integrity, fortitude and perseverance in 
her cause That the invention itself is very useful and impor 
tant, is sufficiently clear, from the unlimited wrath of the tories 
against it, and from the gall which this writer discharges upon it. 
Almost all mankind have lost their liberties through ignorance, 
inattention and disunion. These committees are admirably cal 
culated to diffuse knowledge, to communicate intelligence, and 
promote unanimity. If the high whigs are generally of such com 
mittees, it is because the freeholders, who choose them, are such, 
and therefore prefer their peers. The tories, high or low, if 
they can make interest enough among the people, may get them 
selves chosen, and promote the great cause of parliamentary 
revenues, and the other sublime doctrines and mysteries of toryism. 
That these committees think themselves "amenable to none," 
is faise ; for there is not a man upon any one of them, who does 
not acknowledge himself to hold his place, at the pleasure of his 
constituents, and to be accountable to them, whenever they de 
mand it. If the committee of the town of Boston was appointed, 
for a special purpose at first, their commission has been renewed 
from time to time ; they have been frequently thanked by the 


tpwa for their vigilance, activity and disinterested labours in the 
public service. Their doings have been laid before the town and 
approved of by it. The malice of the tories has several times 
swelled open their bosoms, and broke out into the most intempe 
rate and illiberal invectives against it ; but all in vain. It has 
only served to shew the impotence of the tories, and increase 
the importance of the committee. 

These committees cannot be too religiously careful of the ex 
act truth of the intelligence they receive or convey ; nor too 
anxious for the rectitude and purity of the measures they propose 
or adopt ; they should be very sure that they do no injury to any 
man s person, property or character ; and they are generally per 
sons of such worth, that I have no doubt of their attention to 
these rules ; and therefore that the reproaches of this writer are 
mere slanders. 

If we recollect how many states have lost their liberties, 
merely from want of communication with each other, and union 
among themselves, we shall think that these committees may be 
intended by Providence to accomplish great events. What the 
eloquence and talents of negociation of Demosthenes himself 
could not effect, among the states of Greece, might have been ef 
fected by so simple a device. Castile, Arragon, Valencia, Major 
ca, &c. all complained of oppression under Charles the fifth, tiew 
out into transports of rage, and took arms against him. But they 
never consulted or communicated with each other. They resisted 
separately, and were separately subdued. Had Don Juan Padil- 
la, or his wife, been possessed of the genius to invent a com 
mittee of correspondence, perhaps the liberties of the Spanish na 
tion might have remained to this hour, without any necessity to 
have had recourse to arms. Hear the opinion of Dr. Robertson. 
u While the spirit of disaffection was so general among the Span 
iards, and so many causes concurred in precipitating them into 
such violent measures, in order to obtain redress of their griev 
ances, it may appear strange that the malecontents in the differ 
ent kingdoms should have carried on their operations without any 
mutual concert or even any intercourse with each other. By 
uniting their councils and arms, they might have acted both with 
greater force, and with more effect. The appearance of a na 
tional confederacy would have rendered it no less respectable 
among the people, than formidable to the crown ; and the empe 
ror, unable to resist such a combination, must hare complied with 
any terms, which the members of it thought fit to prescribe." 

That it is owing to those committees that so many persons have 
been found to recant and resign, and so many others to fly to the 
army, is a mistake ; for the same things would have taken place, if 
such a committee had never been in being, and such persons 
would probably have met with much rougher usage. This wri 
ter asks, " have not these persons as good a right to think and act 
for themselves as the whig* ?" I answer yes. But if any man, 


whig or tory, shall take it into his head to think for himself, that 
he has a right to take my property, without my consent ; however 
tender 1 may be of the right of private judgment and the free 
dom of thought, this is a point in which I shall be very likely 
to differ from him, and to think for myself, that I have a right 
to resist him. If any man should think, ever so conscientiously 
that the Roman Catholic religion is better than the Protestant, 
or that the French government is preferable to the British con 
stitution in its purity ; Protestants and Britons, will not be so ten 
der of that man s conscience as to suffer him to introduce his 
favourite religion and government. So the well bred gentle 
men, who are so polite as to think, that the charter constitution 
of this province ought to be abolished, and another introduced, 
wholly at the will of a minister or the crown ; or that our ec 
clesiastical constitution is bad, and high church ought to come 
in, fen r people will be so tender of these consciences or com 
plainant to such polite taste, as to suffer the one or the other to 
be established. There are certain prejudices among the people, 
so strong, as to be irresistible. Reasoning is vain, and opposition 
idle. For example, there are certain popular maxims and pre 
cepts called the ten commandments. Suppose a number of line 
gentlemen, superior to the prejudices of education, should dis 
cover that these were made for the common people, and are too 
illiberal for gentlemen of refined taste to observe ; and according 
ly should engage in secret confidential correspondences to pro 
cure an act of parliament, to abolish the whole decalogue, or 
to exempt them from all obligation to observe it. If they should 
succeed, arid their letters be detected, such is the force of pre 
judice, and deep habits among the lower sort of people, that 
it is much to be questioned, whether those refined geniuses would 
be allowed to enjoy tjiemselves in the latitude of their sentiments. 
1 once knew a man, who had studied Jacob Beckman and other 
mystics until he conscienciously thought the millenium commenc 
ed, and all human authority at an end ; that the saints only had 
a right to property, and to take from sinners any thing they 
wanted. In this persuasion, he very honestly stole a horse. 
Mankind pitied the poor man s infirmity, but thought it however 
their duty to confine him that he might steal no more. 

The freedom of thinking was never yet extended in any coun 
try so far, as the utter subversion of all religion and morality ; 
nor as the abolition of the laws and constitution of the country. 

But " are not these persons as closely connected with the in 
terest of their country as the whigs ?" I answer, they are not : 
they have found an interest in opposition to that of their coun 
try, and are making themselves rich and their families illustrious, 
by depressing and destroying their country. But " do not their 
former lives and conversations appear to have been regulated by 
principles, as much as those of the whigs ?" A few of them, it must 
be acknowledged, until seduced by the bewitching charms of 


wealth and power, appeared to be men of principle. But taking 
the whigs and tories on an average, the balance of principle, as 
well as genius, learning, wit and wealth, is infinitely in favour 
of the former. As to some of these fugitives, they are known to 
be men of no principles at all, in religion, morals or government. 

But the " policy" is questioned, and you are asked if you ex 
pect to make converts by it ? As to the policy or impolicy of it, 
I have nothing to say ; but we do not expect to make converts of 
most of those persons by any means whatever, as long as they 
have any hopes that the ministry will place and pension them. 
The instant these hopes are extinguished, we all know they will 
he converted of course. Converts from places and pensions are 
only to be made by places and pensions ; all other reasoning is 
idle ; these are the penultima ratio of the tories, as field pieces 
are the ultima. 

That we are not " unanimous is certain." But there are nine 
teen on one side to one on the other, through the province ; and 
ninety-nine, out of an hundred of the remaining twentieth part, 
can be fairly shewn to have some sinister private view, to induce 
them to profess his opinion. 

Then we are threatened high, that " this is a changeable world, 
and times rolling wheel may ere long bring them uppermost, 
and in that case we should not wish to have them fraught with 

To all this we answer, without ceremony, that they always 
have been uppermost, in every respect, excepting only the es 
teem and affection of the people ; that they always have been 
fraught with resentment (even their cunning and policy have not 
restrained them) and we know they always will be ; that they 
have indulged their resentment and malice, in every instance in 
which they had power to do it ; and we know that their revenge 
will never have other limits, than their power. 

Then this consistent writer, begins to flatter the people ; u he 
appeals to their good sense, he knows they have it ;" the same 
people, whom he has so many times represented as mad and 

* 1 know you are loyal and friends to good order." This is 
the same people that, in the whole course of his writings, he has 
represented as continuing for ten years together in a continual 
state of disorder, demolishing the chair, board, supreme court, 
and encouraging all sorts of riots, insurrections, treason and re 
bellion. Such are the shifs to which a man is driven, when he 
aims at carrying a point, not at discovering truth. 

The people are then told that " they have been insidiously 
taught to believe that Great Brtain is rapacious, cruel and vin 
dictive, and envies us the inheritance purchased by the sweat 
and blood of our ancestors." The people do not believe this 
they will not believe it. On the contrary, they believe, if it was 
not for scandals constantly transmitted from this province by the 

tones, the nation would redress our grievances. Nay as little as 
they reverence the ministry, they even believe that the lords 
North, Mansfield and Bute would relieve them, and would have 
done it long ago, if they had known the truth. The moment 
this is done " long live our gracious king and happiness to Brit 
ain," will resound from one end of the. province to the other ; but 
it requires a very little foresight to determine, that no other plan 
of governing the province and the colonies will ever restore a 
harmony between the two countries, but desisting from the plan 
of taxing them and interfering with their internal concerns, and re 
turning to that system of colony administration, which nature dic 
tated, and experience for one hundred and fifty years found useful. 



To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay t 

March 6, 1775. 


** OUR rhetorical magician, in his paper of January the 9th 
continues to wheedle. " You want nothing but to know the true 
state of facts, to rectify whatever is amiss." He becomes an ad 
vocate for the poor of Boston ! Is for making great allowance 
for the whigs. " The whigs are too valuable a part of the com 
munity to lose. He would not draw down the vengeance of 
Great Britain. He shall become an advocate for the leading 
whigs." &c. It is in vain for us to enquire after the sincerity or 
consistency of all this. It is agreeable to the precept of Horace. 
Irritat, mulcet, falsis terroribus implet, ut magus. And that is all he 

^After a long discourse, which has nothing in it, but what has 
been answered already, he comes to a great subject indeed, the 
British constitution ; and undertakes to prove that " the authority 
of parliament extends to the colonies." 

Why will not this writer state the question fairly ? The whigs 
allow that from the necessity of a case not provided for by com 
mon law, and to supply a defect in the British dominions, which 
there undoubtedly is, if they are to be governed only by that law, 
America has all along consented, still consents, and ever will con 
sent, that parliament being the most powerful legislature in the 
dominions, should regulate the trade of the dominions. This is 
founding the authority of parliament to regulate our trade, upon 
compact and consent of the colonies, not upon any principle of com- 


mon or statute law, not upon any orignal principle of the English 
constitution, not upon the principle that parliament is the su 
preme and sovereign legislature over them in all cases whatsoever. 

The question is not therefore, whether the authority of parlia 
ment extends to the colonies in any case ; for it is admitted bj the 
whigs that it does in that of commerce : but whether it extends 
in all cases. 

We are then detained with a long account of the three simple- 
forms of government ; and are told that " the British constitution 
consisting of king, lords and commons, is formed upon the prin 
ciples of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, in due pro 
portion ; that it includes the principal excellencies, and ex- 
eludes the principal defects of the other kinds of government 
the most perfect system that the wisdom of ages has produced^ 
and Englishmen glory in being subject to and protected by it." 

Then we are told, "that the colonies are a part of the Brit 
ish empire." But what are we to understand by this ? Some 
of the colonies, most of them indeed, were settled before the 
kingdom of Great Britain was brought into existence. The unioa 
of England and Scotland, was made and established by act of par 
liament in the reign of queen Ann ; and it was this union and stat 
ute which erected the kingdom of Great Britain. The colo 
nies were settled long before, in the reigns of the Jameses and 
Charleses. What authority over them had Scotland ? Scotland, 
England, and the colonies were all under one king before that ; 
the two crowns of England and Scotland, united on the head of 
James the first, and continued united on that of Charles the first, 
when our first charter was granted. Our charter being granted 
by him, who was king of both nations, to our ancestors, most of 
whom were post nati, born after the union of the two crowns, 
and consequently, as was adjudged in Calvin s case, free, natural 
subjects of Scotland, as well as England ; had not the king as 
good a right to have governed the colonies by his Scottish, as br 
his English parliament, and to have granted our charters under 
the seal of Scotland, as well as that of England ? 

But to wave this. If the English parliament were to govern 
us, where did they get the right, without our consent to take the 
Scottish parliament into a participation of the government over us? 
When this was done, was the American share of the democracy of 
the constitution consulted ? If not, were not the Americans de 
prived of the benefit ot the democraticai part of the constitution ? 
And is not the democracy as essential to the English constitution. 
as the monarchy or aristocracy ? Should we have been moi\; ef 
fectually deprived of the beue it of the British or English con 
stitution, if one or both housrs of parliament, or if our house 
and council had made this union with the two houses of parlia 
ment in Scotland, without the king? 

If a new constitution was to bo formed for the whole British 
dominions, and a supreme legislature coextensive with it, upon 


the general principles of the English constitution, an equal mixture 
of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, let us see what would be 
necessary. England had six millions of people we will say : Ame 
rica had three. England has five hundred members in the house 
of commons we will say : America must have two hundred and 
fifty. Is it possible die should maintain them there, or could they 
at such a distance know the state, the sense or exigencies of their 
constituents ? Ireland, too, must be incorporated, and send anoth 
er hundred or two of members. The territory in the East Indies 
and West India Islands must send members. And after all this, 
ftvery navigation act, every act of trade must be repealed. Ame 
rica and the East nnd West Indies and Africa too must have equal 
liberty to trade with all the world, that the favoured inhabitants 
of Great Britain have now. Will the ministry thank Massachuset- 
tensis for becoming an advocate for such an union and incorpora 
tion of all the dominions of the king of Great Britain? Yet with 
out such an union, a legislature which shall be sovereign and su 
preme in all cases whatsoever, and coextensive with the empire, 
can never be established upon the general principles of the English 
constitution, which Massachusettensis lays down, viz an equal 
mixture of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. Nay further;, 
in order to comply with this principle, this new government, this 
mighty Colossus, which is to bestride the narrow world, must have 
an house of lords consisting of Irish, East and West Indian, Af 
rican, American, as well as English and Scottish noblemen ; for the 
nobility ought to be scattered about all the dominions, as well as 
the representatives of the commons. If in twenty years more 
America should have six millions of inhabitants, as there is a 
boundless territory to fill up. she must have five hundred repre 
sentatives. Upon these principles, if in forty years she should 
have twelve millions, a thousand; and if the inhabitants of the 
three kingdoms remain as they are, being already full of inhabi 
tants, what will become of your supreme legislative? It will be 
translated, crown and all, to America. This is a sublime system 
for America. It will flatter those ideas of independency, which 
the tories impute to them, if they have any such, more than any 
other plan of independency that 1 have ever heard projected. 

" The best writers upon the law of nations, tell us, that when a 
nation takes possession of a distant country and settles there, that 
country, though separated from the principal establishment, or 
mother country, naturally becomes a part of the state, equal with its 
ancient possessions." We are not told who these "best writers" 
are : I think we ought to be introduced to them. But their 
meaning may be no more, than that it is best they should be in 
corporated with the ancient establishment by contract, or by some 
new law and institution, by which the new country shall have 
equal right, powers and privileges, as well as equal protection; 
and be under equal obligations of obedience with the old. Has 
there been any such contract between Britain and the colonies? 


ts America incorporated into the realm ? Is it a part of the realm ? 
Is it a part of the kingdom ? Has it any share in the legislative of 
the realm ? The constitution requires that every foot of land 
should be represented in the third estate, the democratical branch 
of the constitution. How many millions of acres in America, how 
many thousands of wealthy landholders, have no representatives 

But let these " best writers" say what they will, there is noth 
ing in the law of nations, which is only the law of right reason, 
applied to the conduct of nations, that requires that emigrants from 
a state that should continue, or be made a part of the state. 

The practice of nations has been different. The, Greeks planted 
colonies, and neither demanded nor pretended any authority over 
them, but they became distinct independent commonwealths. 

The Romans continued their colonies under the jurisdiction of 
the mother commonwealth ; but, nevertheless, she allowed them 
the privileges of cities. Indeed that sagacious city seems to have 
been aware of difficulties, similar to those, under which Great 
Britain is now labouring ; she seems to have been sensible of the 
impossibility of keeping colonies, planted at great distances, under 
the absolute controul of her senatus cojisulta. Harrington tells us, 
Oceana p. 43. that the commonwealth of Rome, by planting colo 
nies of its citizens within the bounds of Italy, took the best way of 
propagating itself, and naturalizing the country ; whereas if it had 
planted such colonies without the bounds of Italy, it would have 
alienated the citizens, and given a root to -liberty abroad, that 
might have sprung up foreign, or savage and hostile to her; 
wherefore it never made any such dispersion of itself and its strength , 
till it was under the yoke of the emperors, who disburdening 
themselves of the people, as having less apprehension of what 
they could do abroad than at home, took a contrary course." But 
these Italian cities, although established by decrees of the senate 
of Rome, to which the colonist was always party, either as a Ro 
man citizen about to emigrate, or as a conquered enemy treating- 
upon terms ; were always allowed all the rights of Roman citizens, 
and were governed by senates of their own. It was the policy of 
Rome to conciliate her colonies, by allowing them equal libertiej^ 
with her citizens. Witness the example of the Privernales^Phis 
people had been conquered, and complaining of oppressions, re 
volted. At last they sent ambassadors to R.ome to treat of peace. 
The senate was divided in opinion. Some were for violent, others 
for lenient measures. In the course of the debate, a senator, whose 
opinion was for bringing them to his feet, proudly asked one of the 
ambassadors, what punishment he thought his countrymen deserv 
ed ? Earn inquit, quam merentur, qui sc libertate dignos censent. 
That punishment which those deserve, who think themselves wor 
thy of liberty. Another senator, seeing that the ministerial mem 
bers were exasperated with the honest answer, in order to divert 
their ansrer, asks another question. What if wo remit all punish- 


mcnt ? What kiud of a peace may we hope for with you ? Si bonam. 
dederitis, inquit et fida/n, ct perpetuam ; si malam, hand diuturnam. 
If you give us a just peace, it will be faithfully observed, and per 
petually : but if a bad one, it will not last long. The ministerial 
senators were all on fire at this answer, cried out sedition and re 
bellion ; but the wiser majority decreed, " viri et liberi, vocemau* 
ditam, an credi posse, ullum populum, aut hominem denique, in ea 
condition^ cujus cum pacjiiteat, diutius, quam necesse sit, mansurum ? 
Ibipacem essejidam, ubi voluntarii pacati sint ; ncque eo loco, ubi ser- 
vitutem esse velint, fidem sperandam esse." " That they had heard 
the voice of a man and a son of liberty ; that it was not natural or 
credible that any people, or any man, would continue longer than 
necessity should compel him, in a condition that grieved and dis 
pleased him. A faithful peace was to be expected from men 
whose affections were conciliated, nor was any kind of fidelity to 
be expected from slaves. 1 The consul exclaimed, " Eos dtmum 
qui nihil, praeterquam de libertate, existent, dignos esse qui Romani 
jiant." That they who regarded nothing so much as their liberty, 
deserved to be Romans. " Itaque et in senatu causam obtinuere, et 
ex auctoritate patrum, latum ad populum est, ut Privernatibus civitas 
daretur. Therefore the Privernates obtained their cause in the 
senate, and it was by the authority of those fathers, recommended 
to the people, that the privileges of a city should be granted them. 
The practice of free nations only can be adduced, as precedents 
of what the law of nature has been thought to dictate upon this 
subject of colonies. Their practice is different. The senate and peo 
ple of Rome did not interfere commonly by making laws for their 
colonies, but left them to be ruled by their governors and senates. 
Can Massachusettensis produce from the whole history of Rome, or 
from the Digest, one example of a Senatus consul-turn or a Plebiscitum 
lading taxes on the colony ? 

ving mentioned the wisdom of the Romans, for not planting 
colonies out of Italy, and their reasons for it, I cannot help recol 
lecting an observation of Harrington, Oceana. p. 44. " For the 
colonies in the Indies," says he, " they are yet babes, that cannot 
live without sucking the breasts of their mother cities ; but such as 
I mistake, if, when they come of age, they do not wean themselves, 
which causes me to wonder at princes that delight to be exhaust 
ed that way." This was written 120 years ago ; the colonies are 
now nearer manhood than ever Harrington foresaw they would 
arrive, in such a period of time. Is it not astonishing then, that 
any British minister should ever have considered this subject so 
little, as to believe it possible for him to new model all our go 
vernments, to tax us by an authority that never taxed us before, 
and subdue us to an implicit obedience to a legislature, that mil 
lions of us scarcely ever thought any thing about? 

I have said, that the practice of free governments alone can be 
quoted with propriety, to shew the sense of nations. But the 
sense and practice of nations is not enough. Their practice must 
be reasonable, just and right, or it will not govern Americans. 


Absolute monarchies, whatever their practice may be, are noth 
ing- to us. For as Harrington observes, "Absolute monarchy, 
as that of the Turks, neither plants its people at home nor abroad, 
otherwise than as tenants for life or at will ; wherefore its national 
and provincial government is all one." 

I deny, therefore, that the practice of free nations, or the opin 
ions of the best writers upon the law of nations, will warrant the 
position of Massachusettensis, that when a nation takes possession 
of a distant territory, that becomes a part of the state equally with 
its ancient possessions. The practice of free nations, and the 
opinions of the best writers, are in general on the contrary. 

I agree, that u two supreme and independent authorities can 
not exist in the same state," any more than two supreme beings 
in one universe. And therefore I contend, that our provincial 
legislatures are the only supreme authorities in our colonies. 
Parliament, notwithstanding this, may be allowed an authority su 
preme and sovereign over the ocean, which may be limited by 
the banks of the ocean, or the bounds of our charters ; our 
charters give us no authority over the high seas. Parliament 
has our consent to assume a jurisdiction over them. And here is 
a line fairly drawn between the rights of Britain and the rights of 
the colonies, viz. the banks of the ocean,or low water mark ; the 
line of division between common law and civil, or maritime law. 
If this is not sufficient if parliament are at a loss for any princi 
ple of natural, civil, maritime, moral or common law, on which to 
ground any authority over the high seas, the Atlantic especially, 
fet the Colonies be treated like reasonable creatures, and they 
will discover great ingenuity and modesty. The acts of trade 
and navigation might be confirmed by provincial laws, and car 
ried into execution by our own courts and juries, and in this case 
illicit trade would be cut up by the roots forever. I knew the 
smuggling tories in New-York and Boston would cry out against 
this, because it would not only destroy their profitable game of 
smuggling, but their whole place and pension system. But the 
whigs, that is a vast majority of the whole continent, would not 
regard the smuggling tories. In one word, if public principles 
and motives and arguments, were alone to determine this dispute 
between the two countries, it might be settled forever, in a few 
hours ; but the everlasting clamours of prejudice, passion and 
private interst, drown every consideration of tfiat sort, and are 
precipitating us into a civil war. 

" If then we are a part of the British empire, we must be 
subject to the supreme power of the state, which is vested in the 
estates in parliament." 

Here again we are to be conjured out of our senses by the 
magic in the words "British empire," and "supreme power of 
the state." But however it may sound, I say we are not a part 
of the British empire ; because the British government is not an 
empire. The governments of France, Spain, &c. are not em- 


pires,but monarchies,supposed to be governed by fixed fundamen 
tal laws, though not really. The British government is still 
less intited to the style of an empire : it is a limited monarchy. 
If Aristotle, Livy, and Harrington knew what a republic was, the 
British constitution is much more like a republic, than an empire. 
They define a republic to be a government of laivs, and not of 
men. If this definition is just, the British constitution is nothing 
more nor less than a republic, in which the king is first magis 
trate. This office being hereditary and being possessed of such 
ample and splendid prerogatives^ no objection to the government s 
being a republic, as long as it is bound by fixed laws, which the 
people have a voice in making, and a right to defend. An em 
pire is a despotism, and an emperor a despot, bound by no law or 
imitation, but his own will: it is a stretch of tyranny beyond ab 
solute monarchy. For although the will of an absolute monarch 
is law, yet his edicts must be registered by parliaments. Even 
this formality is not necessary in an empire. There the maxim 
is quod principi plucidt, legis habet vigorem, even without having 
that will and pleasure recorded. There are but three empires 
now in Europe, the German, or holy Roman, the Russian and the 

There is another sense indeed, in which the word empire is 
ued, in which it may be applied to the government of Geneva, 
or any other republic, as well as to monarchy, or despotism. In 
this sense it is synonimous with government, rule, or dominion. 
In this sense, we are within the dominion, rule, or government of 
the king of Great Britain. 

The question should be, whether we are a part of the kingdom 
of Great Britain : this is the only language, known in English 
laws. We are not then a part of the British kingdom, realm or 
state ; and therefore the supreme power of the kingdom, realm 
or state, is riot upon these principles, the supreme power of us. 
That " supreme power over America is vested in the estates in 
parliament," is an affront to us ; for there is not an acre of Amer 
ican land represented there there are no American estates in 

To say that we " must be" subject, seems, to betray a con 
sciousness, that we are not by any law or upon any principles, 
but those of mere power ; and an opinion that we ought to be or 
that it is necessary that we should be. But if this should be, ad 
mitted, for argument s sake only, what is the consequence 1 The 
consequences that may fairly be drawn are these : That Britain 
has been imprudent enough to let colonies be planted, until they 
are become numerous and important, without ever having wis 
dom enough to concert a plan for their government, consistent 
with her own welfare : that now it is neccessary to make them 
submit to the authority of parliament : and because there is no 
principle of law or justice, or reason, by which she can effect it; 
therefore she will resort to war and conquest to the masirn 
dekuda est Carthago. These are the consequences, according to 


this writer s idea. We think the consequences are, that she has 
after 150 years, discovered a defect in her government, which 
ought to be supplied by some just and reasonable means ; that is, 
by the consent of the colonies ; for metaphysicians and politicians 
may dispute forever, but they will never find any other moral 
principle or foundation of rule or obedience, than the consent of 
governors and governed. She has found out that the great ma- 
diine will not go any longer without a new wheel. She will make 
this herself. We think she is making it of such materials and 
workmanship as will tear the whole machine to pieces. We are 
willing if she can convince us of the necessity of such a wheel, to 
assist with artists and materials, in making it, so that it may answer 
the end. But she says, we shall have no share in it ; and if we 
will not let her patch it up as she pleases, her Massachusettensis 
and other advocates tell us, she will tear it to pieces herself, by 
cutting our throats. To this kind of reasoning we can only an 
swer, that we will not stand still to he butchered. We will de 
fend our lives as long as providence shall enable us. 

u It is beyond doubt, that it was the sense both of the parent 
country and our ancestors, that they were to remain subject to par 

This has been often asserted, and as often contradicted, and fully 
confuted. The -confutation may not, however, have come to eve- 
ryeve whiich has read this newspaper. 

XTfhe public acts of kings and ministers of state, in that age, 
when our ancestors emigrated, which were not complained of, re 
monstrated and protested against by the commons, are looked 
upon as sufficient proof of the u sense" of the parent country. 

The charter to the treasurer and company of Virginia, 23d 
March, 1609, grants ample power of government, legislative, 
executive and judicial, and then contains an express covenant " to 
and with the said treasurer and company, their successors, factors 
and assigns, that they, and every of them, shall be free from all 
taxes and impositions forever, upon any goods or merchandizes, 
at any time or times hereafter, either upon importation thither, 
or exportation from thence, into our realm of England, or into 
any other of our realms or dominions." 

I agree with this writer, that the authority of a supreme legis 
lature, includes the right of taxation. Is not this quotation then 
an irresistible proof, that " it was not the sense of king James or 
his ministers, or of the ancestors of the Virginians, that they were 
to remain subject to parliament as a supreme legislature ?" 

After this, James issued a proclamation, recalling the patent, 
but this was never regarded. Then Charles issued another pro 
clamation, which produced a remonstrance from Virginia, 
which was answered by a letter from the lords of the 
privy council, 22d July, ] 634, containing the royal assurance thai 
iC all their estates, trade, freedom, and privileges should be en 
joyed by them, in as extensive a manner, as they enjoyed them 
before those proclamations." 


Here is another evidence of the sense of the king and his minis 

Afterwards parliament sent a squadron of ships to Virginia ; the 
colony rose in open resistance until the parliamentary commission 
ers granted them conditions, that they should enjoy the privileges 
of Englishmen ; that their assembly should transact the affairs of 
the colonies ; that they should have a free trade to all places and 
nations, as the people of England ; and fourthly, that " Virginia 
shall be free from all taxes, customs, and impositions whatever, and 
none shall be imposed on them without consent of their general 
assembly ; and that neither forts nor castles be erected, or garri 
sons maintained, without their consent." 

One would think this was evidence enough of the sense both of 
the parent country and our ancestors. 

After the acts of navigation were passed, Virginia sent agents to 
England, and a remonstrance against those acts. Charles, in an 
swer, sent a declaration under the privy seal, 19th April, 1676, 
affirming, u that taxes ought not to be laid upon the inhabitants 
and proprietors of the colony, but by the common consent of the 
general assembly ; except such impositions as the parliament 
should lay on the commodities imported into England from the 
colony." And he ordered a charter, under the great seal, to se 
cure this right to the Virginians. 

What becomes of the " sense" of the parent country and our 
ancestors? for the ancestors of the Virginians are our ancestors, 
when we speak of ourselves as Americans. From Virginia let us 
pass to Maryland. Charles 1st, in 1633, gave a charter to the 
baron of Baltimore, containing ample powers of government, and 
this express covenant : " to and with the said lord Baltimore, his 
heirs and assigns, that we, our heirs and successors, shall at no 
time hereafter, set or make, or cause to be set any imposition, 
custom, or other taxation, rate, or contribution whatsoever, in and 
upon the dwellings and inhabitants of the aforesaid province, for 
their lands, tenements, goods or chattels, within the said province ; 
or to be laden or unladen, within the ports or harbours of the said 

What then was the ^ sense" of the parent country, and the an 
cestors of Maryland? But if by " our ancestors," he confines his 
idea to New England or this province, let us consider. The first 
planters of Plymouth were our ancestors in the strictest sense. 
They had no charter or patent for the land they took possession 
of, and derived no authority from the English parliament or crown, 
to set up their government. They purchased land of the Indians, 
and set up a government of their own, on the simple principle of 
nature, T\nd afterwards purchased a patent for the land of the 
council at Plymouth, but never purchased any charter for govern 
ment of the crown, or the king, and continued to exercise all the 
powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, upon 
the plain ground of an original contract among independent iadi- 


viduals for 68 years, i. e. until their incorporation with Massachu 
setts by our present charter. The same may be said of the colo 
nies which emigrated to Say-Brook, New-Haven, and other parts 
of Connecticut. They seem to have had no idea of dependence- 
on parliament, any more than on the conclave. The secretary 
of Connecticut has now in his possession, an original letter from 
Charles 2d. to that colony, in which he considers them rather 
as friendly allies, than as subjects Ito his English parliament, and 
even requests them to pass a law in their assembly relative to 

The sentiments of your ancestors in the Massachusetts, may 
be learned from almost every ancient paper and record. It would 
be endless to recite all the passages, in which it appears that thej 
thought themselves exempt from the authority of parliament, not 
only in the point of taxation, but in all cases whatsoever. Let me 
mention one. Randolph, one of the predecessors of Massachuset- 
tensis, in a representation to Charles 2d. dated 20th September, 
1676, say*. " I went to visit the governor at his house, and among 1 
other discourse, I told him I took notice of several ships that were 
arrived at Boston, some since my being there, from Spain, France, 
Streights, Canaries, and other parts of Europe, contrary to your 
majesty s laws for encouraging navigation and regulating the trade 
of the plantations." He freely declared to me, that the law made 
by your majesty and your parliament, obligeth them in nothing 
but what consists with the interest of that colony, that the legisla 
tive power is and abides in them solely to act and make laws by 
virtue of a charter from your majesty s royal father. Here is a 
positive assertion of an exemption from the authority of parlia 
ment, even in the case of the regulation of trade. 

Afterwards in 1677, the general court passed a law, which 
shews the sense of our ancestors in a very strong light. It is in 
these words. u This court being informed, by letters received 
this day from our messengers, of his mnjesty s expectation that 
the acts of Trade and Navigation be exactly and punctually ob 
served by this his majesty s colony, his pleasure therein not hav 
ing before now, signified unto us, either by express from his maj 
esty, or any of his ministers of state ; It is therefore hereby or 
dered, and by the authority of this court enacted, that hence 
forth, all masters of ships, ketches, or other vessels, of greater 
or lesser burthen, arriving in, or sailing from any of the ports in 
this jurisdiction, do, without coven, or fraud, yield faithful and 
constant obedience unto, and observation of all the said acts, of 
navigation and trade, on penalty of suffering such forfeitures, loss 
and damage as in the said acts art particularly expressed. And 
the governor and council, and all officers commissionated and au 
thorised by them, are hereby ordered and required to see to 
the strict observation of the said acts." As soon as they had pas 
sed this law, they wrote a letter to their agent, in which they 
acknowledge they had not conformed to the acts of trade ; and 


they say, they " apprehended them to he 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. How 
ever, as his majesty had signified his pleasure, that these acts 
should be observed in the Massachusetts, they had made provision 
by a law of the colony, that -they should be strictly attended to, 
from time to time, although it greatly discouraged trade, and was 
a great damage to his majesty s plantation/ 

Thus it appears, that the ancient Massachusettensians and Vir 
ginians, had precisely the same sense of the authority of parlia 
ment viz. that it had none at all : and the same sense of the ne 
cessity, that by the voluntary act of the colonies, their free 
cheerful consent, it should be allowed the power of regulating 
frade : and this is precisely the idea of the late congress at Phila- 
Jelphia, expressed in the fourth proposition in their Bill of 

But this was the sense of the parent country too, at that time ; 
for king Charles II. in a letter to the Massachusetts, after this law, 
had been laid before him, has these words ; " We are informed 
that you have lately made some good provision for observing the 
acts of trade and navigation, which is well pleasing unto us. * 
Had he, or his ministers an idea that parliament was the sovereign 
legislative over the colony ? If he had, would he not have cen 
sured this law, as an insult to that legislature ? 

I sincerely hope, we shall see no more such round affirmations, 
hat it was the sense of the parent country and our ancestors, 
that they were to remain subject to parliament. 

So far from thinking themselves subject to parliament, that 
during the Interregnum, it was their desire and design to have 
oeen a free commonwealth, an independent republic ; and after 
the restoration, it was with the utmost reluctance, that in the 
course of 16 or 17 years, they were brought to take the oaths of 
allegiance : and for some time after this, they insisted upon tak 
ing an oath of fidelity to the country, before that of allegiance 
to the the king. 

That " it is evident from the charter itself," that they were to 
remain subject to parliament, is very unaccountable, when there 
Jsr^t one word in either charter concerning parliament. 
^That the authority of parliament has been exercised almost 
over since the settlement of the country, is a mistake ; for there 
is no instance, until the first Navigation Act, which was in 1660, 
more than 40 years after the fisrt settlement. This act was never 
executed or regarded, until 17 years afterwards, and then it was 
not executed as an act of parliament, but as a law of the colony, 
to which the kvig agreed. 

u This has been expressly acknowledged by our provincial 
legislatures/ 7 TIioiv is too much truth in this. It has been 


twice acknowledged by our house of Representatives, that par 
liament was the supreme legislative ; but this was directly repug 
nant to a multitude of other votes by which it was denied. 
This was in conformity to the distinction between taxation and 
legislation, which has since been found to be a distinction with 
out a difference. 

When a great question is first started, there are very few, 
even of the greatest minds, which suddenly and intuitively com 
prehend it, in all its consequences. 

It is both " our interest and our duty to continue subject to the 
authority of parliament," as far as the regulation of our trade, 
if it will be content with that, but no longer. 

" If the colonies are not subject to the authority of parliament, 
Great Britain and the colonies must be distinct states, as completely 
so as England and Scotland were before the union, or as Great 
Britain and Hanover are now." There is no need of being 
startled at this consequence. It is very harmless. There is no 
absurdity at all in it. Distinct states may be united under one 
king. And those states may be further cemented and united to 
gether, by a treaty of commerce, This is the case. We have, 
by our own express consent, contracted to observe the navigation 
act, and by our implied consent, by long usage and uninterrupted 
acquiescence, have submitted to the other acts of trade, however 
grievous some of them may be. This may be compared to a 
treaty of commerce, by which those distinct states are cemented 
together, in perpetual league and amity. And if any further 
ratifications of this pact or treaty are necessary, the colonies 
would readily enter into them, provided their other liberties were 

That the colonies owe " no allegiance" to any imperial crown, 
provided such a crown involves in it an house of lords and a house 
of commons, is certain. Indeed, we owe no allegiance to any 
crown at all. We owe allegiance to the person of his majesty, 
king George the third, whom God preserve. But allegiance is 
due universally, both from Britons and Americans to the person 
of the king, not to his crown : to his natural, not his politic capa 
city : as I will undertake to prove hereafter, from the highest 
authorities, and most solemn adjudications, which were ever 
made within any part of the British dominions. 

If his majesty s title to the crown is u derived from an act of 
parliament, made since the settlement of these colonies," it was 
not made since the date of our charter. Our charter was granted 
by king William and queen Mary, three years after the revo 
lution ; and the oaths of allegiance are established by a law of 
the province. So that our allegiance to his majesty is not due 
by virtue of any act of a British parliament, but by our own 
charter and province laws. It ought to be remembered, that there 
was a revolution here, as well as in F.^Harv 1 . and that we made 


an enginal, express contract with king William, as well as the 
people of England. 

If it follows from thence, that he appears king of the Massa 
chusetts, king of Rhode-Island, king of Connecticut, &c. this 
is no absurdity at all. Me will appear in this light, and does ap 
pear so, whether parliament has authority over us or not. He 
is king of Ireland. I suppose, although parliament is allowed to 
have authority there. As to giving his majesty those titles, I 
have no objection at all : I wish he would be graciously pleased 
to assume them. 

The only proposition in all this writer s long string of pretend 
ed absurdities, which he says follows from the position, that we 
are distinct states, is this : That, " as the king must govern each 
state by its parliament, those several parliaments would pursue 
the particular interest of its own state ; and however well dis 
posed the king might be to pursue a line of interest that was 
common to all, the checks and controul that he would meet with, 
would render it impossible." Every argument ought to be al 
lowed its full weight : and therefore candour obliges me to ac 
knowledge, that here lies all the difficulty that there is in this 
whole controversy. There has been, from first to last, on both 
sides of the Atlantic, an idea, an apprehension that it was neces 
sary, there should be some superintending power, to draw to 
gether all the wills, and unite all the strength of the subjects in 
all the dominions, in case of war, and in the case of trade. The 
necessity of this, in case of trade, has been so apparent, that, as 
has often been said, we have consented that parliament should 
exercise such a power. In case of war, it has by some been 
thought necessary. But, in fact and experience, it has not been 
found so. What though the proprietary colonies, on account of 
disputes with the proprietors, did not come in so early to the as 
sistance of the general cause in the last war, as they ought, and 
perhaps one of thorn not at all ! The inconveniences of this 
were small, in comparison of the absolute ruin to the liberties of 
all which mast follow the submission to parliament, in all cases, 
which would be giving up all the popular limitations upon the 
government. These inconveniences fell chiefly upon New Eng 
land. She was necessitated to greater exertions : but she had 
rather suffer these again and again, than others infinitely greater. 
However this subject has been so long in contemplation, that it is 
fully understood now, in all the colonies ; so that there is no dan 
ger in case of another war, of any colony s failing of its duty. 

But admitting the proposition in its full force, that it is abso 
lutely necessary there should be a supreme power, co-extensive 
with all the dominions, will it follow that parliament, as now con 
stituted, has a right to assume this supreme jurisdiction ? By no 

A union of the colonies might be projected, and an American 
legislature ; for. if America has 3,000,000 people, and the whole 


dominions 12,000,000, she ought to send a quarter part of all the 
members to the house of commons, and instead of holding par 
liaments always at Westminster, the haughty members for Great 
Britain must humble themselves, one session in four, to cross the 
atlantic, and hold the parliament in America. 

There is no avoiding all inconveniences in human affairs. The 
greatest possible or conceivable would arise from ceding to par 
liament power over us, without a representation in it. The 
next greatest would accrue from any plan that can be devised 
for a representation there. The least of all would arise from going 
on as we begun, and fared well for 150 years, by letting par 
liament regulate trade, and our own assemblies all other matters. 
*sfi& to " the prerogatives not being defined, or limited," it is as 
much so in the colonies as in Great Britain, and as well understood, 
and as cheerfully submitted to in the former as the latter. 

But * where is the British constitution, that we all agree we 
are entitled to ?" I answer, if we enjoy, and are entitled to 
more liberty than the British constitution allows, where is the 
harm ? Or, if we enjoy the British constitution in greater purity 
and perfection than they do in England, as is really the case, 
whose fault is this ? Not ours. 

We may find all the blessings " of this constitution in our pro 
vincial assemblies." Our houses of Representatives have, and 
ought to exercise, every power of the House of Commons. The 
first charter to this colony is nothing to the present argument : 
but it did grant a power of taxing the people, implicitly, though 
not in express terms. It granted all the rights and liberties of 
Englishmen, which include the power of taxing the people. 

" Our council boards," in the royal governments, " are des 
titute of the noble independence and splendid appendages of 
peerages." Most certainly : they are the meanest creatures 
and tools in the political creation; dependent every moment for 
their existence on the tainted breath of a prime minister. But 
they have the authority of the house of lords, in our little models 
of the English constitution ; and it is this which makes them so 
great a grievance. The crown has really two branches of our 
legislature in its power. Let an act of parliament pass at home, 
putting it in the power of the king, to remove any peer from the 
house of lords at his pleasure, and what will become of the Brit 
ish constitution ? It will be overturned from the foundation. 
Yet we are perpetually insulted, by being told, that making our 
council by mandamus, brings us nearer to the British constitution. 
In this province, by charter, the council certainly hold their seats 
for the year, after being chosen and approved, independent of both 
the other branches. For their creation, they are equally obliged 
to both the other branches ; so that there is little or no bias in 
favour of either, if any, it is in favour of the prerogative. In 
short, it is not easy without an hereditary nobility, to constitute a 
council more independent, more nearly resembling the house of 


lords, than the council of this province has ever been by charter, 
But perhaps it will be said that we are to enjoy the British con 
stitution in our supreme legislature, the parliament, not in our 
provincial legislatures. 

To this I answer, if parliament is to be our supreme legislature, 
we shall be under a complete oligarchy or aristocracy, not the 
British constitution, which this writer himself defines a mixture 
of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. For king, lords and 
commons will constitute one great oligarchy, as they will stand 
related to America, as much as the decemvirs did in Rome ; 
with this difference for the worse, that our rulers are to be three 
thousand miles off. The definition of an oligarchy, is a govern 
ment by a number of grandees, over whom the people have no 
controul. The states of Holland were once chosen by the peo 
ple frequently; then chosen for life. Now they are not chosen 
by the people at all. When a member dies, his place is filled up, 
not by the people he is to represent, but by the states. Is not this 
depriving the Hollanders of a free constitution, and subjecting 
them to an aristocracy, or oligarchy ? Will not the government 
of America be like it ? Will not representatives be chosen for 
them by others, whom they never saw nor heard of? If our 
provincial constitutions are in any respect imperfect and want al 
teration, they have capacity enough to discern it, and power 
enough to effect it, without the interposition of parliament. 
There never was an American constitution attempted by parlia 
ment, before the Quebec bill and Massachusetts bill. These are 
such samples of what they may, and probably will be, that few 
Americans are iu love with them. However, America will never 
allow that parliament has any authority to alter their constitution 
at all. She is wholly penetrated with a sense of the necessity 
of resisting it, at all hazards. And she would resist it, if the con 
stitution of the Massachusetts had been altered as much for the 
better, as it is for the worse. The question we insist on most is 
not whether the alteration is for the better or not, but whether 
parliament has any right to make any alteration at all. And it is 
the universal sense of America, that it has none. 

We are told that " the provincial constitutions have no prin 
ciple of stability within themselves." This is so great a mistake, 
that there is not more order, or stability in any government upon 
the globe, thai) there ever has been in that of Connecticut. The 
same may be said of the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania ; and 
indeed of the olhers very nearly. " That these constitutions in 
turbulent times would become wholly monarchial, or wholly re 
publican ;" they must be such times as would have a similar 
effect upon the constitution at home. But in order to avoid the 
danger of this, what is to be done ? Not give us an English con 
stitution, it seems, but make sure of us at once, by giving us con 
stitutions wholly monarchical, annihilating our houses of repre 
sentatives first, by taking from them the support of government, &c. 


and then making the councils and judges wholly dependant on 
the crown. 

That a representation in parliament is impracticable we all 
agree : hut the consequence is, that we must have a represen 
tation in our supreme legislatures here. This was the conse 
quence that was drawn by kings, ministers, our ancestors, and the 
whole nation, more than a century ago, when the colonies were 
first settled, and continued to be the general sense until the last 
peace ; and it must be the general sense again soon, or Great 
Britain will lose her cclonies. 

" This is apparently the meaning of that celebrated passage in 
Gov. Hutchinson s letter, that rung through the continent, viz. 
w - There must be an abridgment of what is called English lib 
erties." But all the art and subtlety of Massachusettensis will 
never vindicate or excuse that expression. According to this 
writer, it should have been there is an abridgment of English 
liberties, and it cannot be otherwise." But every candid reader 
must see that the letter writer had more than that in his view and 
in his wishes. In the same letter, a little before, he says, " what 
marks of resentment the parliament will shew, whether they 
will be upon the province in general, or particular persons, is 
extremely uncertain ; but that they will be placed somewhere is 
most certain, and 1 add, because I think it ought to be so." Is it 
possible to read this without thinking of the port bill, the charter 
bill, and the resolves for sending persons to England by the stat 
ute of Henry VIII. to be tried^! But this is not all. " This is 
most certainly a crisis," says he, &c. "If no measure shall have 
been taken to secure this dependence, (i. e. the dependence 
which a colony ought to have upon the parent state) it is all over 
with us." " The friends of government will be utterly dis 
heartened ; and the friends of anarchy will he afraid of nothing, 
be it ever so extravagant." But this is not all. " I never think 
of the measures necessary for the peace and good order of the 
colonies without pain." " There must be an abridgment of what 
are called English liberties." What could he mean ? Any thing 
less than depriving us of trial by jury ? Perhaps he wanted an 
act of parliament to try persons here for treason by a court of 
admiralty. Perhaps an act that the province should be governed 
by a governor and a mandamus council, without an house of rep- 
resentatives. But to put it out of all doubt that his meaning was 
much worse than Massachusettensis endeavors to make it, he ex 
plains himself in a subsequent part of the letter. " I wish," says he, 
" the good of the colony, when I wish to see some further restraint o+ 
liberty." Here it is rendered certain, that he is pleading for a 
further restraint of libert}^, not explaining the restraint, he appre 
hended the constitution had already laid us under. 

My indignation at this letter, has sometimes been softened by 
compassion. It carries on * the face of it evident marks of mad 
ness. It was written in such a transport of passions, ambition arid 


revenge chiefly, that his reason was manifestly overpowered. 
The vessel was tost in such a hurricane, that she could not feel 
her helm. Indeed, he seems to have had a confused conscious 
ness of this himself. Pardon me this excursion, says he, it really 
proceeds from the state of mind into which our perplexed affairs 
often throws me." 

u It is our highest interest to continue a part of the British 
empire ; and equally our duty to remain subject to the authority 
o,parliament," says Massachusettensis. 

**\Ve are a part of the British dominions, that is of the king of 
Great Britain, and it is our interest and duty to continue so. It 
is equally our interest and duty to continue subject to the authority 
of parliament, in the regulation of our trade, as long as she shall 
leave us to govern our internal policy, and to give and grant our 
own money, and no longer. 

This letter concludes with an agreeable flight of fancy. The 
time may not be so far off, however, as this writer imagines, when 
the colonies may have the balance of numbers and wealth in her 
favour. But when that shall happen, if we should attempt te 
rule her by an American parliament, without an adequate rep 
resentation in it, she will infallibly resist us by her arms. 



To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay\ 

March 13, 1775. 


IT has been often observed by me, and it cannot be too often 
repeated, that colonization is cams omissus at common law. 
There is no such title known in that law. By common law, I 
mean that saystem of customs, written and unwritten, which was 
known and in force in England, in the time of king Richard 1st. 
This continued to be the case, down to the reign of Elizabeth, 
and king James 1st. In all that time, the laws of England were 
confined to the realm, and within the four seas. There was no 
provision made in this law for governing colonies beyond the 
Atlantic, or beyond the four seas, by authority of parliament, no 
nor for the king to grant charters to subjects to settle in foreign 
countries. It was the king s prerogative to prohibit the emigra 
tion of any of his subjects, by issuing his writ ne exeat regno, 
And therefore it was in the king s power to permit his subjects to 
leave the kingdom, i Hawk. P. C. c. 22. 4. It is a high 


orime to disobey the king s lawful commands, or prohibitions, as 
not returning from beyond sea, upon the king s letters to that 
purpose ; for which the offender s lands shall be seized until he 
return ; and when he does return, he shall be fined, &c. or going 
beyond sea, against the king s will, expressly signified, either by 
the writ ne exeat regno, or under the great or privy seal, or 
signet, or by proclamation." When a subject left the kingdom, 
by the king s permission, and if the nation did not remonstrate 
against it, by the nation s permission too, at least connivance, he 
carried with him, as a man, all the rights of nature. His alle 
giance bound him to the king, and entitled him to protection. 
But how ? not in France ; the king of England was not bound to 
protect him in France, nor in America ; not in the dominions oi 
Lewis, nor of Passachus, or Massachusetts. He had a right to 
protection, and the liberties of England upon his return there, 
not otherwise. How then do we, New Englandmen, derive our 
laws ? I say, not from parliament, not from common law, but 
from the law of nature, and the compact made with the king in 
our charters. Our ancestors were entitled to the common law 
of England, when they emigrated, that is, to just so much of it as 
they pleased to adopt, and no more. They were not bound or 
obliged to submit to it, unless they chose it. By a positive prin 
ciple of the common law, they were bound, let them be in what 
part of the world they would, to do nothing against the alle 
giance of the king. But no kind of provision was ever made by 
common law, for punishing or trying any man, even for treason, 
committed out of the realm. He must be tried in some county oi 
the realm, by that law, the county where the overt -act was done, 
or he could not be tried at all. Nor was any provision ever made, 
until the reign of Henry VIII. for trying treasons committed 
abroad, and the acts of that reign were made on purpose to catch 
cardinal Pole. 

So that our ancestors, when they emigrated, having obtained 
permission of the king to come here, and being never commanded 
to return into the realm, had a clear right to have erected in this 
wilderness a British constitution, or a perfect democracy, or any 
other form of government they saw fit. They indeed, while 
they lived, could not have taken arms against the king of Eng 
land, without violating their allegiance, but their children would 
not have been born within the king s allegiance, would not have 
been natural subjects, and consequently not entitled to protection^ 
or bound to the king. 

Massachusettensis, Jan. 16, seems possessed of these ideas, and 
attempts in the most aukward manner, to get rid of them. He is 
conscious that America must be a part of the realm, before it can 
be bound by the authority of parliament ; and therefore is obli 
ged to suggest, that we are annexed to the realm, and to endeav 
our to confuse himself and his readers, by confounding the realm, 
with the empire and dominions. 


But will any man soberly contend, that America was ever an 
nexed to the realm ? to what realm ? Wken New England was 
settled, there was a realm of England, a realm of Scotland, and 
a realm of Ireland. To which of these three realms was New 
England annexed ? To the realm of England, it will be said. 
But by what law ? no territory could be annexed to the realm of 
England, but by an act of parliament. Acts of parliament have 
been passed to annex Wales, &c. &c. to the realm. But none 
ever passed to annex America. But if New-England was an 
nexed to the realm of England, how came she annexed to the 
realm of, or kingdom of Great Britain ? The two realms of Eng 
land and Scotland were, by the act of union, incorporated into 
one kingdom by the name of Great Britain : but there is not one 
word about America in that act. 

Besides, if America was annexed to the realm, or a part of the 
kingdom, every act of parliament that is made, would extend to 
it, named or not named. But every body knows that every act 
of parliament, and every other record, constantly distinguishes 
between this kingdom, and his majesty s other dominions. Will 
it be said that Ireland is annexed to the realm, or a part of the 
kingdom of Great Britain ? Ireland is a distinct kingdom, or 
realm, by itself, notwithstanding British parliament claims a right 
of binding it in all cases, and exercises it in some. And even so 
the Massachusetts is a realm, New York is a realm, Pennsylvania 
another realm, to all intents and purposes, as much as Ireland is, 
or England or Scotland ever were. The king of Great Britain 
is the sovereign of all these realms. 

This writer says, u that in denying that the colonies are an 
nexed to the realm, and subject to the authority of parliament, 
individuals and bodies of men subvert the fundamentals of gov 
ernment, deprive us of British liberties, and build up absolute 
monarchy in the colonies." 

This is the first time that I ever heard or read that the col 
onies are annexed to the realm. It is utterly denied that they 
are, and that it is possible they should be, without an act of par 
liament, and acts of the colonies. Such an act of parliament can 
not be produced, nor any such law of any one colony. Therefore 
as this writer builds the whole authority of parliament upon this 
fact, viz : That the colonies are annexed to the realm, and as it is 
certain they never were so annexed, the consequence is, that his 
whole superstructure falls. 

When he says, that thcv subvert the fundamentals of govern 
ment, he begs the question. We say that the contrary doc 
trines subvert the fundamentals of government. When he says 
that they deprive us of British liberties, he begs the question 
again. We say that the contrary doctrine deprives us of English 
liberties ; as to British liberties, we scarcely know what they 
are, as the -liberties of England and Scotland are not precisely the 
samo to this day;. English liberties are but certain rights of na- 


ture, reserved to the citizen, by the English constitution, which 
rights cleaved to our ancestors, when they crossed the Atlantic, 
and would have inhered in them, if instead of coming to INew- 
England they had gone to Outaheite, or Patagonia, even although 
they had taken no patent or charter from the king at all These 
rights did not adhere to them the less, for their purchasing pa 
tents and charters, in which the king expressly stipulates with 
them, that they and their posterity should forever enjoy all 
those rights and liberties. 

The human mind is not naturally the clearest atmosphere ; but 
the clouds and vapours which have been raised in it, by the 
artifices of temporal and spiritual tyrants, have made it impossible 
to see objects in it distinctly. Scarcely any thing is involved in 
more systematical obscurity, than the rights of our ancestors, 
when they arrived in America. How, in common sense, came 
the dominions of king Philip, king Massachusetts, and twenty 
other sovereigns, independent princes here, to be within the al 
legiance of the kings of England, James and Charles ? America 
was no more within the allegiance of those princes, by the com 
mon law of England, or by the law of nature, than France and 
Spain were. Discovery, if that was incontestible, could give no 
title to the English king, by common law, or by the law of nature, 
to the lands, tenements, and hereditaments of the native Indians 
here. Our ancestors were sensible of this, and therefore hon 
estly purchased their lands of the natives. They might have 
bought them to hold allodially, if they would. 

But there were two ideas, which confused them, and have con 
tinued to confuse their posterity, one derived from the feudal, 
the other from the canon law. By the former of these sys 
tems, the prince, the general, was supposed to be sovereign lord 
of all the lands, conquered by the soldiers in his army ; and upon 
this principle, the king of England was considered in law as sove 
reign lord of all the land within the realm. If he had sent an 
army here to conquer king Massachusetts, and it had succeeded, 
he would have been sovereign lord of the land here upon these 
principles ; but there was no rule of the common law, that made 
the discovery of a country by a subject, a title to that country in 
the prince. But conquest would not have annexed the country 
to the realm, nor have given any authority to the parliament. 
But there was another mist cast before the eyes of the English 
nation from another source. The pope claimed a sovereign pro 
priety in, as well as authority over the whole earth. As head of 
the Christian church, and vicar of God, he churned this authority 
%rver all Christendom ; and, in the same character, he claimed a 
right to all the countries and possessions of heathens and infidels ; 
a right divine to exterminate and destroy them at his discretion, 
in order to propagate the catholic faith. When king Henry V1IL 
and his parliament, threw off the authority of the pope, stripped 
his holiness of bis supremacy, ami invested it in himself by at 


act of parliament, he and his courtiers seemed to think that all 
the rights of the holy see were transferred to him ; and it was a 
union of these two, the most impertinent and fantastical ideas that 
ever got into an human pericranium, viz : that as feudal sove 
reign and supreme head of the church together, a king of Eng 
land had a right to all the land their subjects could find, not pos 
sessed by a n y Christian state, or prince, though possessed by 
heathen or infidel nations, which seems to have deluded the na 
tion about the time of the settlement of the colonies. But none 
of these ideas gave or inferred any right in parliament, over the 
new countries conquered or discovered ; and therefore denying 
that the colonies are a part of the realm, and that as such they 
are subject to parliament, by no means deprives us of English 
liberties. Nor does it " build up absolute monarchy in the col 
onies." For admitting these notions of the common and feudal 
law to have been in full force, and that the king was absolute in 
America, when it was settled ; yet he had a right to enter into 
a contract with his subjects, and stipulate that they should enjoy 
all the rights and liberties of Englishmen forever, in consideration 
of their undertaking to clear the wilderness, propagate Chris 
tianity, pay a fifth part of ore, &c. Such a contract as this has 
been made with all the colonies ; royal governments, as well as 
charter ones. For the commissions to the governors contain the 
plan of the government, and the contract between the king and 
subject, in the former, as much as the charters in the latter. 

Indeed this was the reasoning, and upon these feudal and cath 
olic principles in the time of some of the predecessors of Massa- 
chusettensis. This was the meaning of Dudley, when he asked, 
" Do you think that English liberties will follow you to the ends 
of the earth ?" His meaning was, that English liberties were 
confined to the realm, and out of that the king was absolute. 
But this was not true ; for an English king had no right to be ab 
solute over Englishmen, out of the realm, any more than in it ; 
and they were released from their allegiance, as soon as he de 
prived them of their liberties. 

But c our charters suppose regal authority in the grantor." 
True thev suppose it, whether there was any or not. " If that 
authority be derived from the British (he should have said Eng 
lish) crown, it presupposes this territory to have been a part of 
the British (he should have said English) dominion, and as such 
subject to the imperial sovereign. How can this writer shew 
this authority to be derived from the English crown, including in 
the idea of it lords and commons ? Is there the least color for 
such an authority, but in the popish and feudal ideas before men 
tioned ? And do these popifeh and feudal ideas include parliament? 
Was parliament, were lords and commons parts of the head of the 
church, or was parliament, that is, lords and commons, part of 
the sovereign feudatory ? Never. But why was this authority 
derived from the English^ any more than the Scottish or Irish 

crown ? It is true the land was to be held in soccage, like the 
manor of East Greenwich ; but this was compact, and it might 
have been as well to hold, as they held in Glasgow or Dublin. 

But, says this writer, " if that authority was vested in the per 
son of the king in a different capacity, the British constitution 
and laws are out of the question, and the king must be absolute 
as to us, as his prerogatives have never been limited." Not the 
prerogatives limited in our charters, when in every one of them 
all the rights of Englishmen are secured to us ! Are not the 
rights of Englishmen sufficiently known, and are not the prerog 
atives of the king among those rights ? 

As to those colonies which are destitute of charters, the com 
missions to their governors have ever been considered as equiv 
alent securities, both for property, jurisdiction, and privileges, 
with charters ; and as to the power of the crown being absolute 
in those colonies, it is absolute no where. There is no funda 
mental or other law, that makes a king of England absolute any 
where, except in conquered countries ; and an attempt to assume 
such a power, by the fundamental laws, forfeits the prince s right 
even to the limited crown. 

As to " the charter governments reverting to absolute mon 
archy, as their charters may happen to be forfeited, by the gran 
tees not fulfilling the conditions of them ;" I answer, if they 
could be forfeited, and were actually forfeited, the only conse 
quence would be, that the king would have no power over them 
at all. He would not be bound to protect the people, nor, that I 
can see, would the people here, who were born here, be, by any 
principle of common law, bound even to allegiance to the king. 
The connection would be broken between the crown and the na 
tives of the country. 

It has been a great dispute whether charters granted within 
the realm, can be forfeited at all. It was a question debated with 
infinite learning, in the case of the charter of London : it was ad 
judged forfeited, in an arbitrary reign : but afterwards, after the 
revolution, it was declared in parliament, not forfeited, and by an 
act of parliament made incapable of forfeiture. The charter of 
Massachusetts was declared forfeited too. So were other Amer 
ican charters. The Massachusetts alone, were tame enough to 
give it up. But no American charter will ever be decreed for 
feited again, or if any should, the decree will be regarded no 
more, than a vote of the lower house of the robinhood society. 
The court of chancery has no authority without the realm ; by 
common law, surely it has none in America. What ! the priv 
ileges of millions of Americans depend on the discretion of a lord 
chancellor? God forbid!. The passivity of this colony in re 
ceiving the present charter, in lieu of the first, is, in the opinion 
of some, the deepest stain upon its character. There is less to 
be said in excuse for it, than the witchcraft, or hanging the Qua 
kers. A vast party in the province were against it at the time. 


and thought themselves betrayed by theiv agent. It has beet* 3 
warning- to their posterity, and one principal motive with the peo 
ple, never to trust any agent with power to concede away their 
privileges again. It may as well be pretended that the people of 
Great Britain can forfeit their privileges, as the people of this 
province. If the contract of state is broken, the people and 
king of England must recur to nature. It is the same in this pro 
vince. We shall never more submit to decrees in chancery, or 
acts of parliament, annihilating charters, or abridging English 

Whether Massachusettensis was born as a politician, in the year 
1764, I knew not : but he often writes as if he know nothing of 
that period. In his attempt to trace the denial of the supreme 
authority of the parliament, be commits such mistakes, as a maa 
of age, at that time, ought to blush at. He says, that " when the 
stamp act was made, the authority of parliament to impose ex 
ternal taxes, or, in other words, to lay duties upon goods and iner 
chandize was admitted," and that when the tea act was made, 
^ a new distinction was set up, that parliament had a right to lay 
duties upon merchandize, for the purpose of regulating- trade, but 
not for the purpose of raising a revenue." This is a total mis 
apprehension of the declared opinions of people at those times. 
The authority of parliament to lay taxes for a revenue has been 
always generally denied. And their right to lay duties to reg 
ulate trade, has been denied by many, who have ever contended 
that trade should be regulated only by prohibitions. 

The act of parliament of the 4th George 3d, passed in the year 
1764, was the first act of the British parliament that ever was 
passed, in which the design of raising a revenue was expressed. 
Let Massachusettensis name any statute before that, in which the 
word revenue is used, or the thought of raising a revenue is ex 
pressed. This act is entitled, " an act for granting certain duties 
in the British colonies, and plantations in America," &c. The 
word revenue, in the preamble of this act, instantly ran through 
the colonies, and rang an alarm, almost as much as if the design 
of forging chains for the colonists had been expressed in words. 
1 have now before me a pamphlet, written and printed in the 
year 1764, entitled, " The sentiments of a British American, 5 
upon this act. How the idea of a revenue, though from an ac 
knowledged external tax, relished in that time, may be read 
in the frontispiece of that pamphlet. 

Ergo quid refert mea 
Cui serviam ? clitellas dum portem meas. PHAEDRUS. 

The first objection to this act, which was made in that pamph 
let, by its worthy author, OXENBRIDGE THACHER, Esq. who died 
a martyr to that amity for his country, which the conduct of the 
junto gave him, is this. " The first objection is, that a tnx is 


thereby laid on several commodities, to be. raised and levied io 
the plantations, and to be remitted home to England. This it 
esteemed a grievance, inasmuch as the same are laid, without the 
consent of the representatives of the colonists, it is esteemed 
an essential British right, that no person shall be subject to any 
tfix ; but what in person, or by his representative, he hath a voice 
in laying." Here is a tax unquestionably external, in the sense in 
which that word is used, in the distinction that is made by some 
between external and internal taxes, and unquestionably laid in 
part for the regulation of trade ; yet called a grievance, and a 
rioiation of an essential British right, in the year 17^4, by one 
who was then at the head of the popular branch of our consti 
tution, and as well acquainted with the sense of his constituents, 
as any man living. And it is indisputable, that in those words he 
wrote the almost universal sense of this colony. 

There are so many egregious errors in point of fact, and res 
pecting the opinions of the people in this writer, which it is difficult 
to impute to wilful misrepresentation, that I sometimes think he 
is some smart young gentleman, come up into life since this great 
controversy was opened ; if not, he must have conversed wholly 
with the junto, and they must have deceived him, respecting their 
own sentiments. 

This writer sneers at the distinction between a right to lay the 
former duty of a shilling on the pound of tea, and the right to 
lay the three pence. But is there not a real difference between 
laying a duty to be paid in England upon exportation, and to be 
paid in America upon importation ? Is there not a difference be 
tween parliament s laying on duties within their own realm, where 
they have undoubtedly jurisdiction, and laying them out of their 
realm, nay laying them on in our realm, where we say they have 
no jurisdiction ? Let them lay on what duties they please in 
England, we have nothing to say against that. 

" Our patriots most heroically resolved to become independent 
states, and flatly denied that parliament had a right to make any 
laws whatever that should be binding upon the colonies." 

Our scribbler, more heroically still, is determined to shew the 
world, that he has courage superior to all regard to modesty, 
justice, or truth. Our patriots have never determined, or de 
sired to be independent states, if a voluntary cession of a right to 
regulate their trade can make them dependent even on parliament, 
though they are clear in theory, that by the common law, 
and the English constitution, parliament has no authority over 
them. None of the patriots of this province, of the present age, 
have ever denied that parliament has a right, from our voluntary 
cession, to make laws which shall bind the colonies, as far as their 
commerce extends. 

w There is no possible medium between absolute independence 
and subjection to the authority of parliament." If this is true, it 
may be depended upon, that all North America are as fully con* 


vinced of their independence, their absolute independence, as 
they are of their own existence, and as fully determined to de 
fend it at all hazards, as Great Britain is to defend her indepen 
dence against foreign nations. But it is not true. An absolute 
independence of parliament, in all internal concerns and cases of 
taxation, is very compatible with an absolute dependence on it, in 
all cases of external commerce. 

" He must be blind indeed that cannot see our dearest interest 
in the latter, (that is in an absolute subjection to the authority of 
parliament,) notwithstanding many pant after the former" (that 
is absolute independence.) The man who is capable of writing, 
in cool blood, that our interest lies in an absolute subjection to 
parliament, is capable of writing, or saying any thing for the sake 
of his pension : a legislature that has so often discovered a want 
of information concerning us and our country ; a legislature in 
terested to lay burdens upon us ; a legislature, two branches of 
which, I mean the lords and commons, neither love nor fear us ! 
Every American of fortune and common sense, must look upon 
his property te be sunk downright one half of its value, the mo 
ment such an absolute subjection to parliament is established. 

That there are any who pant after " independence," (meaning 
by this word a new plan of government over all America, un 
connected with the crown of England, or meaning by it an ex 
emption from the power of parliament to regulate trade) is as 
great a slander upon the province as ever was committed to wri 
ting. The patriots of this province desire nothing new ; they 
wish only to keep their old privileges. They were for 150 years 
allowed to tax themselves, and govern their internal concerns, as 
they thought best. Parliament governed their trade as they 
thought fit. This plan, they wish may continue forever. But it 
is honestly confessed, rather than become subject to the absolute 
authority of parliament, in all cases of taxation and internal pol 
ity, they will be driven to throw off that of regulating trade. 

" To deny the supreme authority of the state, is a high misde 
meanor; to oppose it by force, an overt act of treason." True: 
and therefore Massachusettensis, who denies the king represented 
by his governor, his majesty s council, by charter, and house of 
representatives, to be the supreme authority of this province, has 
been guilty of a high misdemeanour : and those ministers, gov 
ernors, and their instruments, who have brought a military force 
here, and employed it against that supreme authority, are guilty 

of ^ and ought to be punished with . I will be 

more mannerly than Massachusettensis. 

" The realm of England is an appropriate term for the ancient 
realm of England, in contradistinction to Wales and other terri 
tories, that have been annexed to it." 

There are so many particulars in the case of Wales analogous 
ro the case of America, that I must beg leave to enlarge upon it. 


"Wales was a little portion of the island of Great Britain, which 
the Saxons were never able to conquer. The Britons had re 
served this tract of land to themselves, and subsisted wholly by 
pasturage, among their mountains. Their princes, however, 
during the Norman period, and until the reign of king Edward 
the first, did homage to the crown of England, as their feudal sove 
reign, in the same manner as the prince of one independent state 
in Europe frequently did to the sovereign of another. This lit 
tle principality of shepherds and cowherds, had however main 
tained their independence, through long and bloody wars against 
the omnipotence of England, for 800 years. It is needless to 
enumerate the causes of the war between Lewellyn and Edward 
the first. It is sufficient to say that the Welch prince refused to 
50 to England to do homage, and Edward obtained a new aid of 
a fifteenth from his parliament, to march with a strong force into 
Wales. Edward was joined by David and Roderic, two brothers 
of Lewellyn, who made a strong party among the Welch them 
selves, to assist and second the attempts to enslave their native 
country. The English monarch, however, with all these advan 
tages, was afraid to put the valor of his enemies to a trial, and 
trusted to the slow effects of famine to subdue them. Their pas 
turage, with such an enemy in their country, could not subsist 
them, and Lewellyn, Nov. 19, 1277, at last submitted, and bound 
himself to pay a reparation of damages, to do homage to the 
crown of England, and almost to surrender his independence as 
a prince, by permitting all the other Barons of Wales, excepting 
four, to swear fealty to the same crown. But fresh complaints 
soon arose. The English grew insolent on their bloodless vic 
tory, and oppressed the inhabitants ; many insults were offered, 
which at last raised the indignation of the Welch, so that they 
determined again to take arms, rather than bear any longer the 
oppression of the haughty victors. The war raged sometime, 
until Edward summoned all his military tenants, and advanced 
with an army too powerful for the Welch to resist. Lewellyu 
was at last surprized, by Edward s general Mortimer, and fighting 
at a great disadvantage, was slain, with two thousand of his men. 
David, who succeeded in the principality, maintained the war for 
some time, but at last was betrayed to the enemy, sent in chains 
to Shrewsbury, brought to a formal trial before the peers of Eng 
land, and although a sovereign prince, ordered by Edward to be 
hanged, drawn and quartered, as a traitor, for defending by arms 
the liberties of his native country ! All the Welch nobility sub 
mitted to the conqueror. The laws of England, sheriffs, and 
other ministers of justice, were established in that principality, 
"which had maintained its liberties and independency, 800 years. 
Now Wales was always part of the dominions of England. 
u Wales was always feudatory to the kingdom of England. It 
was always held of the crown of England, or the kingdom of 
England : that is, whoever was king of England, had a right to 


homage, &c. irom the prince of Wales. But yet Wales was not 
parcel of the realm or kingdom, nor bound by the laws of Eng 
land. I mention, and insist upon this, because it shews, that al 
though the colonies are bound to the crown of England, or, 
in other words, owe allegiance to whomsoever is king- of England ; 
yet it does not follow that the colonies are parcel of the realm 
or kingdom, and bound by its laws. As this is a point of great 
importance, I must beg pardon, however unentertaining it may 
be, to produce my authorities. 

Comyns digest, v. 5. page 626. Wales was always feudatory 
to the kingdom of England. 

Held of the crown, but not parcel. Per Cook. 1 Roll. 247. 
2 Roll. 29. And therefore the kings of Wales did homage, and 
swore fealty to H. 2. and John and H. 3. 

And 11 Ed. 1. Upon the conquest of Lewellyn, prince or king 
of Wales, that principality became a part of the dominion of 
the realm of England. And by the statute Walliae 12 Ed. 1. 
It was annexed and united to the crown of England, tanquam 
partem corporis ejusdcin, &c. Yet if the statute Walliae, made 
at Rutland 12 Ed. 1. WHS not an act of parliament (as it seems 
that it was not) the incorporation made thereby was only an 
union jure feudali, et non jure proprietatis" 

" Wales, before the union with England, was governed by its 
proper laws, - &c. 

By these authorities it appears, that Wales was subject, by the 
feudal law, to the crown of England, before the conquest of Le 
wellyn ; but not subject to the laws of England ; and indeed after 
this conquest, Edward and his nobles, did not seem to think it 
subject to the English parliament, but to the will of the king as 
a conqueror of it in war. Accordingly that instrument which ii* 
called Statutum Walliae, and to be found in the appendix to the 
statutes p. 3, although it was made by the advice of the peers, 
or officers of the army more properly, yet it never was passed 
as an act of parliament, but as an edict of the king. It begins 
not in the stile of an act of parliament. Edvoardus Dei gratia Rex 
Angliae, Do minus Hybemiae, et Dux Aquitaniae, omnibus Jidelibus 
suis, &c. in JVallia. Divina providentia, quae in sui dispositione, 
says he, nonfallitur, inter alia dispensations suae munera, quibus 
nos et Regnum nostrum Angliae decorare dignata est, terrain Wal 
liae, cum, i 1 )! co Us stm, prius, nobis, jure feudali subjectam, jam, sui 
gratia, in proprietatis nostrae dominium, obstaculis quibuscumque 
cessantibns, totaliter, et cum integritate convertit, et coronae regtti 
praedicti, tanquam partem corporis ejusdem annexuit et univit. 

Here is the most certain evidence that Wales was subject to 
the kings of England by the feudal law before the conquest, 
though not bound by any laws but their own. 2d. That the con 
quest was considered, in that day, as conferring the property, ;;S 
well as jurisdiction of Wales to the English crown. 3. The con 
quest was considered as annexing and uniting Wales to the Ens:- 


lish crown, both in point of property and jurisdiction, as a part of 
one body. Yet notwithstanding all this, parliament was not con 
sidered as acquiring any share in the government of Wales by 
this conquest. If, then, it should be admitted that the colonies 
are all annexed and united to the crown of England, it will not 
follow that lords and commons have any authority over them. 

This statutum Walliae, as well as the whole case and history of 
that principality, is well worthy of the attention and study of 
Americans, because it abounds with evidence, that a country may 
be subject to the crown of England, without being- subject to tha 
lords and commons of that realm, which entirely overthrows the 
whole argument of Gov. Hutchinson, and of Massachusettensis, 
in support of the supreme authority of parliament, over all the 
dominions of the imperial crown. " JVbs itaque, &c. says King 
Edward 1. volentes predictam terrain, &c. sicut et caeteras ditioni 
nostrae subjectas, &c. subdebito regimine gubernari, et incolas seu 
habitatores terrarum illaram, qui alto et basso, se submiserunt vol- 
untati nostrae, et quos sic ad nostram recepimus voluntatem, certis 
legibus et consuetudinibus, &LC. tractari leges, et consuetudines, par- 
turn illarum hactenus usitatas coram nobis et proceribus regni nostri 
fecimus reeitari, quibus diligentcr auditis, et plenus intellectisj quas- 
dam ipsarum de concilio procerum predictonun delevimus, quasdam 
permisimus, et quasdam correximus, et etiam quasdam alias adjun- 
gendas et statuendas decrevimus, et eat, &c, observari volumus in 
forma subscripta. 

And then goes on to prescribe and establish a whole code of 
laws for the principality, in the style of a sole legislature, and 

Et ideo vobis mandamus, quod prernissa de cetero in omnibus fir - 
miter observdtis. Ita tamen quod quotiescunque, et quandocunque, et 
ubicunque, nobis placuerit, possimus predicta statuta et coram partes 
singulas declarare, interpretari, addere sine dwiinuere, pro nostro 
libito roluntatis, et prout securitati nostrae et terrae nostrae predictae 
-jiderimus expedire. 

Here is then a conquered people submitting to a system of laws 
framed by the mere will of the conqueror, and agreeing to be 
forever governed by his mere will. This absolute monarch, then, 
might afterwards govern this country, with or without the advice 
of his English lords and commons. 

To shew that Wales was held before the conquest of Lewellyn, 
of the king of England, although governed by its own laws, hear 
lord Coke, Inst. 194, in his commentary on the statute of West 
minster. u At this time, viz. in 3 Ed. 1. Lewellyn was a prince 
or king of Wales, who held the same of the king of England, as 
his superior lord, and owed him liege homage and fealty ; and this 
js proved by our act, viz : that the king of England was superior 
dominus, i. e. sovereign lord of the kingdom, or principality of 



Lord Coke, m 4 Inst. 239, says " Wales was sometime a realm, 
er kingdom, (realm from the French word royaume, and both a 
regno) and governed per suas regulas," and afterwards, " but jure 
Jeadali," the kingdom of Wales was holden of the crown of Eng 
land, and thereby, as Bracton saith, was sub poetstate regis. And 
so it continued until the 11th year of king Edward 1st. when he 
subdued the prince of Wales, rising against him, and executed 
him for treason." " The next year, viz. in the 12th year of 
king Edward 1. by authority of parliament, it is declared thus r 
speaking in the person of the king, as ancient statutes were wont 
to do, divina providentia," &c. as in the statute Walliae, before 
recited. But here is a*n inaccuracy, for the statutum Walliae was 
not an act of parliament, but made by the king with the advice 
of his officers of the army, by his sole authority, as the statute 
itself sufficiently shews. " Note," says lord Coke, " diverse mon- 
archs hold their kingdoms of others jure feuddli, as the duke of 
Lombardy, Cicill, Naples, and Bohemia of the empire, Granado, 
Leons of Aragon, Navarre, Portugal of Castile ; and so others." 

After this the Welch seem to have been fond of the English 
laws, and desirous of being incorporated into the realm, to be 
represented in parliament, and enjoy all the rights of English 
men, as well as to be bound by the English laws. But kings were 
so fond of governing this principality by their discretion alone, 
that they never could obtain these blessings until the reign of 
Henry 8th. and then they only could obtain a statute, which ena 
bled the king to alter their laws at his pleasure. They did in 
deed obtain in the 15 Ed. 2. a writ to call twenty-four members 
to the parliament at York from South Wales, and twenty-four 
from North Wales ; and again in the 20 Ed. 2. the like number 
of forty-eight members for Wales, at the parliament of West 
minster. But lord Coke tells us " that this wise and warlike na 
tion was long after the statutum Walliae not satisfied nor con 
tented, and especially, for that they truly and constantly took 
part with their rightful sovereign and liege lord, king Richard 2d. ; 
in revenge .whereof they had many severe and invective laws 
made against them in the reigns of Henry 4th. Henry 5th. &c. 
all which as unjust are repealed and abrogated. And to say the 
truth, this nation was never in quiet, until king Henry 7th. their 
own countryman, obtained the crown. And yet not so really re 
duced in his time, as in the reign of his son, Henry 8th. in whose 
time certain just laws, made at the humble suit of the subjects of 
Wales, the principality and dominion of Wales was incorporated 
and united to the realm of England ; and enacted that every one 
born in Wales should enjoy the liberties, rights and laws of this 
realm, as any subjects naturally born within this realm should 
have and inherit, and that they should have knights of shires, 
and burgesses of parliament." Yet we see they could not obtain 
any security for their liberties, for lord Coke tells us, " in the 
act of 34- Henry 8th. it was enacted, that the king s most royal 


majesty should, from time to time change, &c. all manner of things 
in that act rehearsed, as to his most excellent wisdom and dis 
cretion should be thought convenient, and also to make laws and 
ordinances for the commonwealth of his said dominion of Wales 
at his majesty s pleasure. But for that, the subjects of the do 
minion of Wales, &c. had lived in all dutiful subjection to the 
crown of England, &c. the said branch of the said statute of 34> 
Henry 8th. is repealed, and made void by 21 Jac. c, 10." 

But if we look into the statute itself of 7, Henry 8th. c. 26, 
we shall find the clearest proof, that being subject to the impe 
rial crown of England, did not entitle VVelchmen to the liberties of 
England, nor make them subject to the laws of England. u Al 
beit the dominion, principality and country of Wales, justly and 
righteously is, and ever hath been incorporated, annexed, united, and 
subject to and under the imperial crown of this realm, as a very mem 
ber and joint of the same ; wherefore, the king s most royal ma 
jesty of mere droit, and very right, is very head, king, lord and 
ruler; yet notwithstanding, because that, in the same country, 
principality and dominion, diverse rights, usages, la-aes and cus 
toms be far discrepant from the laws and customs of this realm, &c. 
Wherefore it is enacted, by king, lords and commons, " that his" 
(i. e. the king s) said country or dominion of Wales shall be, 
stand and continue forever from henceforth, incorporated, united, 
and annexed to and with this, his realm of England ; and that all 
and singular person and persons, born or to be born, in the said 
principality, country, or dominion of Wales, shall have, enjoy, 
and inherit, all and singular freedoms, liberties, rights, privileges, 
and laws within this his realfn^ and other the king s dominions, as 
other the king s subjects naturally born within the same, have, 
enjoy, and inherit." 2. Enacts that the laws of England shall 
be introduced and established in Wales : and that the laws, ordi 
nances and statutes of this realm of England forever, and none 
other shall be used and practised forever thereafter, in the said 
dominion of Wales. The 27th of this long statute enacts, that 
commissioners shall inquire into the laws and customs of Wales, 
and report to the king, who with his privy council, are empow 
ered to establish such of them as they should think proper. 
28 Enacts that in all future parliaments for this realm, two 
knights for the shire of Monmouth, and one burgess for the town, 
shall be chosen and allowed such fees as other knights and 
burgesses of parliament were allowed. 29 Enacts that one 
knight shall be elected for every shire within the country or do 
minion of Wales, and one burgess for every shire town, to serve 
in that and every future parliament to be holden for this realm. 
But by 36 the king is empowered to revoke, repeal and abro 
gate that whole act, or any part of it, at any time within three 

Upon this statute let it be observed, 1. That the language of 
Massachusettensis " imperial crown is used in it : and Wales is 


affirmed to have ever been annexed, and united to that imperial 
crown, as a very member and joint: which shews that being an 
nexed to the imperial crown, does not annex a country to the 
realm, or make it subject to the authority of parliament : because 
Wales certainly, before the conquest of Lewellyn, never was pre 
tended to be so subject, nor afterwards ever pretended to be 
annexed to the realm at all, nor subject to the authority of par 
liament, any otherwise than as the king claimed to be absolute in 
Wales, and therefore to make laws for it, by his mere will, either 
with the advice of his proceres, or without. 2. That Wales 
never was incorporated with the realm of England, until this 
Statute was made, nor subject to any authority of English lords 
and commons. 3. That the king was so tenacious of his exclu 
sive power over Wales, that he would not consent to this statute, 
without a clause in it, to retain the power in his own hands, of 
giving it what system of law he pleased. 4. That knights and 
burgesses, i. e. representatives, were considered as essential and 
fundamental in the constitution of the new legislature, which was 
to govern Wales. 5. That since this statute, the distinction be 
tween the realm of England and the realm of Wales, has been 
abolished, and the realm of England, now, and ever since, com 
prehends both ; so that MassacLusettensis is mistaken, when he 
says, that the realm of England is an appropriate term for the 
ancient realm of England, in contradistinction from Wales, &c. 
6. That this union and incorporation was made by the consent, 
and upon the supplication of the people of W T ales, as lord Coke 
and many other authors inform us, so that here was an express 
contract between the two bodies of people. To these obser 
vations let me add a few questions. 

Was there ever any act of parliament, annexing, uniting, and 
consolidating any one of all the colonies to and with the realm of 
England or the kingdom of Great Britain ? 2. If such an act of 
parliament should be made, would it upon any principles of Eng 
lish laws and government, have any validity, without the consent, 
petition, or supplication of the colonies ? 3. Can such an union 
and incorporation, ever be made, upon any principles of English 
laws -and government, without admitting representatives for the 
colonies in the house of commons, and American lords into the 
house of peers ? 4. Would not representatives in the house of 
commons, unless they were numerous in proportion to the num 
bers of people in America, be a snare rather than a blessing ? 
5. Would Britain ever agree to a proportionable number of Amer 
ican members, and if she would, could America support the ex 
pense of them ? 6. Could American representatives possibly 
know the sense, the exigencies, &c. of their constituents, at suoh 
a distance, so perfectly as it is absolutely necessary legislators 
should know ? 7. Could Americans ever come to the knowledge 
of the behaviour of their members, so as to dismiss the unworthy ? 
8. Would Americans, in general, ever submit to septennial elec 


;ions ? 9. Have we not sufficient evidence, in the general frailly 
and depravity of human nature, and especially the experience 
we have had of Massachusettensis and the junto, that a deep, 
treacherous, plausible, corrupt minister, would be able to seduce 
our members to betray us, as fast as we could send them ? 

To return to Wales. In the statute of 34 and 35 of Henry 8th. 
c. 26. we find a more complete system of laws and regulations 
for Wales. But the king is still tenacious of his absolute author 
ity over it. It begins, " our sovereign lord the king, of his ten 
der zeal and affection, &c. to his obedient subjects, &c. of Wales, 
&,c. hath devised and made divers sundry good and necessary or 
dinances, which his majesty of his most abundant goodness, at the 
humble suit and petition of his said subjects of Wales, is pleased 
and contented to be enacted by the assent of the lords spiritual 
and temporal, and the commons," &c. 

Nevertheless, the king would not yet give up his unlimited 
power over Wales, for by the 119 of this statute, the king, &c. 
may at all times, hereafter, from time to time, change, add, alter, 
order, minish, and reform all manner of things afore rehearsed, 
as to hfe most, excellent wisdom and discretion, shall be thought 
convenient ; and also to make laws and ordinances for the com 
monwealth and good quiet of his said dominion of Wales, and 
his subjects of the same, from time to time, at his majesty s 

And this last section was never repealed, until the 21 Jac. 1. c. 
10. 4. 

From the conquest of Lewellyn to this statute of James is near 
350 years, during all which time the Welch were very fond of 
being incorporated and enjoying the English laws ; the English 
were desirous that they should be, yet the crown would never 
suffer it to be completely done, because it claimed an authority 
to rule it by discretion. It is conceived, therefore, that there 
cannot be a more complete and decisive proof of any thing, than 
this instance is, that a country may be subject to the crown of 
England, the imperial crown ; and yet not annexed to the realm, 
or subject to the authority of parliament. 

The word crown, like the word throne, is used in various figu 
rative senses ; sometimes it means the kingly office, the head of 
the commonwealth, but it does not always mean the political ca 
pacity of the king ; much less does it include in the idea of it 
lords and commons. It may as well be pretended that the hou;<; 
of commons includes or implies a king. Nay, it may as well be 
pretended that the mace includes the three branches of the. leg 

By the feudal law, a person or a country might be subject to 
a king, a feudal sovereign, three several ways. 

1. It might be subject to his person, and in this case, it would 
continue so subject, let him be where he would, in his dominions 
or without. 2. To his crown, and in this case subjection was dne, 


to whatsoever person or family wore that crown, and would fol 
low it, whatever revolutions it underwent. 3. To his crown 
and realm of state, and in this case, it was incorporated as one 
body with the principal kingdom ; and if that was bound by a 
parliament, diet, or cortes, so was the other. 

It is humbly conceived, that the subjection of the colonies by 
compact, and law is of the second sort. 

Suffer me, my friends, to conclude by making my most respect 
ful compliments" to the gentlemen of the regiment of royal Welch 

In the celebration of their late festival, they discovered that 
they are not insensible of the feelings of a man for his native 
country. The most generous minds are the most exquisitely ca 
pable of this sentiment. Let me entreat them to recollect the 
history of their brave and intrepid countrymen, who struggled 
at least 1100 years for liberty. Let them compare the case of 
Wales with the case of America, and then lay their hands upon 
their hearts and say, whether we can in justice be bound by all 
acts of parliament, without being incorporated with the kingdom: 



To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay ; 

March 27, 1775. 


MASSACHUSETTENSIS in some of his writings has advanced, 
that our allegiance is due to the political capacity of the king, and 
therefore involves in it obedience to the British parliament. 
Gov. Hutchinson, in his memorable speech, laid down the same 
position. I have already shewn, from the case of Wales, that 
this position is groundless, and that allegiance was due from the 
Welch to the king, jure feodali, before the conquest of Lewellyn, 
and after that to the crown, until it was annexed to the realm, 
without being subject to acts of parliament any more than 
to acts of the king, without parliament. I shall hereafter shew 
from the case of Ireland, that subjection to the crown implies no 
obedience to parliament. But before I come to this, I must take 
notice of a pamphlet, entitled " A candid examination of the mu 
tual claims of Great Britain and the colonies, with a plan of ac 
commodation on constitutional principles." This author, p. 8, 
says, ;c to him (i. e. the king) in his representative capacity, 
and as me executor of the laws, made by a joint power of 
him and others, the oaths of allegiance are taken," and after- 

* One of the Kegiments then in Boston, Ab/e by the ^Publishers. 


wards : u hence these professions, (i. e. of allegiance) are not 
made to him either in his legislative, or executive capacities ; but 
yet it seems they are made to the king. Aod into this distinction, 
7v/izcA is no where to be found either in the constitution of the 
government, in reason or common sense, the ignorant and thought- 
Jess have been deluded ever since the passing of the stamp act, 
and they haye rested satisfied with it without the least examina 
tion." And in p. 9, he says, u 1 do not mean to offend the inven- 
ters of this refined distinction, when I ask them, " is this ac 
knowledgement made to the king, in his politic capacity as king 
of " Great Britain, &c. ? if so, it includes a promise of obedience 
to the British laws." There is no danger of this gentleman s 
giving offence to the inventers of this distinction, for they have 
been many centuries in their graves. This distinction is to be 
found every where. In the case of Wales, Ireland, and else 
where, as I shall shew most abundantly before 1 have done, it is 
to be found in two of the greatest cases, and most deliberate and 
solemn judgments that were ever passed. One of them is Cal 
vin s case, 7 Rep. which, as lord Coke tells us, was as elaborately, 
substantially, and judiciously argued, as he ever heard, or read 
of any. After it had been argued in the court of king s bench, 
by learned council, it was adjourned to the exchequer chamber, 
and there argued again, first by council on both sides, and then by 
the lord chancellor, and all the twelve judges of England, and 
among these were the greatest men, that Westminster-Hall ever 
could boast. Ellismore, Bacon, Hide, Hobart, Crook, and Coke, 
were all among them : and the chancellor and judges were 
unanimous in resolving. What, says the book ? 7. Rep. 10. 
" Now seeing the king hath but one person, and several capa 
cities, and one politic capacity for the realm of England, and an 
other for the realm of Scotland, it is necessary to be considered 
to which capacity ligeance is due. And it was resolved that it was 
due to the natural person of the king (which is ever accompan 
ied with the politic capacity, and the politic capacity as it were 
appropriated to the natural capacity) and it is not due to the po 
litic capacity only, that is, to the crown or kingdom, distinct from 
his natural capacity." And further on 7. Rep. 11. " But it was 
clearly resolved by all the judges, that presently by the descent 
his majesty was completely and absolutely king," &e. and that 
coronation was but a royal ornament. 6. " In the reign of Ed 
ward 2d. the Spencers, to cover the treason hatched in their 
hearts, invented this damnable and damned opinion, that homage 
and oath of allegiance was more by reason of the king s crown, 
(that is of his politic capacity) than by reason of the person of 
the king, upon which opinion they inferred execrable and detes 
table consequences." And afterwards, 12. " Where books 
and acts of parliament speak of the ligeance of England, &c. 
speaking briefly in a vulgar manner, are to be understood of the 
ligeance due by the people of England to the king ; for no man 


will affirm, that England itself, taking it for the continent thereof, 
doth owe any ligeance or faith, or that any faith or ligeance should 
be due to it : but it manifestly appeareth, that the ligeance or faith 
of the subject is proprium quarto modo to the king, omni, soli, et 
semper. And oftentimes in the reports of our book cases, and 
iu acts of parliament also, the crown or kingdom is taken for the 
king himself," &LC. " Tenure in capite is a tenure of the crown, 
and is a seigniorie in grosse, that is of the person of the king." 
And afterwards 6, " for special purposes the law makes him a body 
politic, immortal and invisible, whereunto our allegiance cannot ap 
pertain." I beg leave to observe here, that these words in tfce 
foregoing adjudication, that " the natural person of the king is 
ever accompanied with the politic capacity, and the politic capa 
city as it were appropriated to the natural capacity," neither im 
ply nor infer allegiance or subjection to the politic capacity ; be 
cause in the case of king James 1st. his natural person was " ac 
companied" with three politic capacities at least, as king of Eng 
land, Scotland, and Ireland : yet the allegiance of an Englishman 
to him did not imply or infer subjection to his politic capacity, as 
king of Scotland. 

Another place in which this distinction is to be found is in 
Moore s reports, p. 790. " The case of the union of the realm 
of Scotland with England." And this deliberation, I hope was 
solemn enough. This distinction was agreed on by commission 
ers of the English lords and commons in a conference with com 
missioners of the Scottish parliament, and after many arguments 
and consultations by the lord chancellor and all the judges, and 
afterwards adopted by the lords and commons of both nations. 
" The judges answered with one assent, says the book, that alle 
giance and laws were not of equiparation for six causes ;" the 
sixth and last of which is, " allegiance followeth the natural per 
son not the politick." " If the king go out of England with a 
company of his servants, allegiance remaineth among his subjects 
and servants, although he be out of his own realm, whereto his 
laws are confined, &c. and to prove the allegiance to be tied to 
the body natural of the king, not to the body politic, the lord 
Coke cited the phrases of diverse statutes, &c. And to prove 
that allegiance extended further than the laws national, they (the 
judges) shewed that every king of diverse kingdoms, or duke 
doms, is to command every people to defend any of his kingdoms, 
without respect of that nation where he is born ; as if the king 
of Spain be invaded in Portugal, he may levy for defence of Por 
tugal armies out of Spain, Naples, Castile, Milan, Flanders and 
the like ; as a thing incident to the allegiance of all his subjects, 
TO join together in defence of any of his territories, without re 
spect of the extent of the laws of that nation where he was born ; 
whereby it manifestly appeareth, that allegiance followeth the 
natural person of the king 1 , and is not tied to the body politick 
respectively in every kingdom. There is one observation, not 


immediately to the present point, but so connected with our con 
troversy, that it ought not to be overlooked. " For the matter 
of the great seal, the judges shewed that the seal was alterable 
by the king at his pleasure, and he might make one seal for both 
kingdoms, for seals, coin, and leagues, and of absolute prerogative 
of the king without parliament, nor restrained to any assent of 
the people." " But for further resolution of this point, how far 
the great seal doth command out of England, they made this dis 
tinction, that the great seal was current for remedials, which 
groweth on complaint of the subjects, and thereupon writs are 
addressed under the great seal of England, which writs are lim 
ited, their precinct to be within the places of the jurisdiction of 
the court, that was to give the redress of the wrong. And there 
fore writs are not to go into Ireland nor the Isles, nor Wales, nor 
the counties palatine, because the king s courts here have not 
power to hold plea of lands, nor things there. But the great seal 
hath a power preceptory, to the person, which power extendeth 
to any place, where the person may be found." Ludlow s case, 
&c. who being at Rome, a commandment under the great seal 
was sent for him to return." So Bertie s case in queen Mary s 
time, and Inglefield s case in queen Elizabeth s, the privy seal went 
to command them to return into the realm, and for not coming 
their lands were seized," &c. But to return to the point : 
" And as to the objection," says the book, " that none can be born a 
natural subject of two kingdoms, they denied that absolutely, 
for although locally, he can be born but in one, yet effectually, 
the allegiance of the king extending to both, his birthright shall 
extend to both." And afterwards, " but that his kingly power ex 
tendeth to diverse nations and kingdoms, all owe him equal sub 
jection, and are equally born to the benefit of his protection ; and 
although he is to govern them by their distinct laws, yet any one 
of the people coming into the other, is to have the benefit of the 
laws, wheresoever he cometh ; but living in one, or for his live 
lihood in one, he is not to be taxed in the other, because laws or 
dain taxes, impositions, and charges, as a discipline of subjection 
particularized to every particular nation." Another place where 
this distinction is to be found is in Foster s crown law, p. 184. 
" There have been writers, who have carried the notion of natu 
ral, perpetual, unalienable allegiance much farther than the sub 
ject of this discourse will lead me. They say, very truly, that 
it is due to the person of the king, &c." It is undoubtedly due to 
the person of the king ; but in that respect natural allegiance 
differeth nothing from what we call local. For allegiance con 
sidered in every light is alike due to the person of the king ; and 
is paid, and in the nature of things must be constantly paid, to that 
prince, who for time being, is in the actual and full possession of 
the regal dignity." 

Indeed allegiance to a sovereign lord, is nothing more than fe 
alty to a subordinate lord, and in neither case, has any relation 


to, or connection with laws or parliaments, lords or commons. 
There was a reciprocal confidence between the lord and vassal. 
The lord was to protect the vassal in the enjoyment of his land. 
The vassal was to be faithful to his lord, and defend him against 
his enemies. This obligation on the part of the vassal, was his 
fealty, fdelitas. The oath of fealty, by the feodal law to be ta 
ken by the vassal or tenant, is nearly in the very words as the an 
cient oath of allegiance. But neither fealty, allegiance, or the oaih 
of either implied any thing about laws, parliaments, lords or com 

The fealty and allegiance of Americans then is undoubtedly due 
to the person of king George the third, whom God long preserve 
and prosper. It is due to him, in his natural person, as that nat 
ural person is intituled to the crown, the kingly office, the royal 
dignity of the realm of England. And it becomes due to his nat 
ural person, because he is intituled to that office. And because 
by the charters, and other express and implied contracts made 
between the Americans and the kings of England, they have 
bound themselves to fealty and allegiance to the natural person 
of that prince, who shall rightfully hold the kingly office in En 
gland, and no otherwise. 

" With us in England, says Blackstone, v. 1, 367. it becoming a 
settled principle of tenure, that all lands in the kingdom are hold- 
en of the king as their sovereign and lord paramount, &,c. the 
oath of allegiance was necessarily confined to the person of the 
king alone. By an easy analogy, the term of allegiance was soon 
brought to signify all other engagements, which are due from sub 
jects simply and merely territorial. And the oath of allegiance, as 
administered for upwards of six hundred years, contained a promise 
to be true and faithful to the king and his heirs, and truth and 
faith to bear of life and limb and terrene honor, and not to know, 
or hear of any ill or damages intended him, without defending him 
therefrom." But at the revolution, the terms of this oath being 
thought perhaps to faVor too much the notion of non-resistance, 
the present form was introduced by the convention parliament, 
which is more general and indeterminate than the former, the sub 
ject promising " that he will be faithful, and bear true allegi 
ance to only the king," without mentioning his heirs, or specifying 
the least wherein that allegiance consists. 

Thus I think that all the authorities in law, coincide exactly 
with the observation which I have heretofore made upon the 
case of Wales, and shew that subjection to a king of England 
does not necessarily imply subjection to the crown of England ; 
and that subjection to the crown of England, does not imply sub 
jection to the parliament of England ; for allegiance is due to the 
person of the king, and to that alone, in all three cases, that is, 
whether we are subject to his parliament and crown, as well as 
his person, as the people in England are, whether we are subject 
to his crown arid person, without parliament, as the Welch were 
^fter the conquest of Levvellyn, and before the union, or as the 

Irish were after the conquest and before Poyning s law, or wheth 
er we are subject to his person alone, as the Scots were to the 
king of England, after the accession of James 1st. being not at all 
subject to the parliament or crown of England. 

We do not admit any binding authority in the decisions and ad 
judications of the court of king s bench or common pleas, or the 
court of chancery over America : but we quote them as the opin 
ions of learned men. In these we find a distinction between a 
country counquered, and a country discovered. Conquest, they 
say, gives the crown an absolute power : discovery, only gives 
the subject a right to all the laws of England. They add, that 
all the laws of England are in force there. I confess I do not 
see the reason of this. There are several cases in books of law 
which may be properly thrown before the public. I am no more 
of a lawyer than Massachusettensis, but have taken his advice, 
and conversed with many lawyers upon our subject, some honest, 
some dishonest, some living, some dead, and am willing to lay be 
fore you what I have learned from all of them. In Salk. 411, the 
case of Blankard and Galdy. " In debt upon a bond, the defend 
ant prayed oyer of the condition, and pleaded the statutes E. 6. 
against buying offices concerning the administration of justice ; 
and averred that this bond was given for the purchase of the 
office of provost marshal in Jamaica, and that it concerned the 
administration of justice, and that Jamaica is part of the revenue 
and possessions of the crown of England. The plaintiff replied, 
that Jamaica is an island beyond the seas, which was conquered 
from the Indians and Spaniards in Queen Elizabeth s time, and 
the inhabitants are governed by their own laws, and not by the 
laws of England. The defendant rejoined, that before such con 
quest, they were governed by their own laws ; but since that, by 
the laws of England. Shower argued for the plaintiff, that on a 
judgment in Jamaica, no writ of error lies here, but only an ap 
peal to the council ; and as they are not represented in our parlia 
ment, so they are not bound by our statutes, unless specially named, 
Vid. And. 115. Pemberton contra argued, that, by the conquest of 
a nation, its liberties, rights, and properties, are quite lost ; that by 
consequence their laws are lost too, for the law is but the rule and 
guard of the other ; those that conquer cannot, by their victory, 
lose their laws, and become subject to others, Vid. Vaugh. 405. 
That error lies here upon a judgment in Jamaica, which could 
not be, if they were not under the same law. Et. per Holt, C. 
J. and Cur. 1st. In case of an uninhabited country, newly found 
out by English subjects, all laws in force in England are in jforce 
there ; so it seemed to be agreed. 2. Jamaica being conquered, 
and not pleaded to be parcel of the kingdom of England, but part 
of the possessions and revenue of the crown of England ; the laws 
of England did not take place there, until declared so by the con 
queror, or his successors. The Isle of Man and Ireland are part 
of the pnsitfssinns of the crown of England, yet retain their an- 


cient laws, that in Davis, 36, it is not pretended thai the custom 
of tanistry was determined by the conquest of Ireland, but by the 
new settlement made there .after the conquest : that it was im 
possible the laws of this nation, by mere conquest, without more 
should take place, in a conquered country, because for a time, 
there must want officers, without which our laws can have 
no force ; that if our law did take place, yet they, in Jamaica, 
having- power to make new laws, our general laws may be 
altered by theirs in particulars ; also they held that in case of an 
infidel country ; their laws by conquest do not entirely cease, but 
only such as are against the law of God ; and that in such cases 
where the laws are rejected or silent, the conquered country shall 
be governed according to the rule of natural equity. Judgment, 
pro quer. 

Upon this case I beg leave to make a few observations. 1. That 
Shower s reasoning, that we are not bound by statutes, because not 
represented in parliament, is universal, and therefore his excep 
tion, u unless specially named," although it is taken from analogy 
to the case of Ireland, by lord Coke and others, yet it is not taken 
from the common law, but is merely arbitrary and groundless, as 
applied to us : because, if the want of representation could be 
supplied, by " expressly naming" a country, the right of repre 
sentation might be rendered null and nugatory. But of this, more 
another time. 

2. That by the opinion of Holt, and the whole court, the laws 
of England, common and statute, are in force in a vacant country, 
discovered by Englishmen. But America was not a vacant coun 
try ; it was full of inhabitants ; our ancestors purchased the land ; 
but if it had been vacant, his lordship has not shewn us any au 
thority at common law, that the laws of England would have been 
in force there. On the contrary, by that law, it is clear they did 
not extend beyond seas, and therefore could not be binding there, 
any further than the free will of the discoverers should make 
them. The discoverers had a right by nature, to set up those 
laws, if they liked them, or any others, that pleased them better, 
provided they were not inconsistent with their allegiance to the 
king. 3. The court held that a country must be parcel of the 
kingdom of England, before the laws of England could take 
place there ; which seems to be inconsistent with what is said 
before, because discovery of a vacant country does not make it 
parcel of the kingdom of England, which shews, that the court, 
when they said that all laws in force in England, are in force 
in th discovered country, meant no more than that the discov 
erers had a right to all such laws, if they chose to adopt them. 4, 
The idea of the court, in this case, is exactly conformable to, if not 
taken from the case of Wales. They consider a conquered coun 
try as Edward 1st. and his successors did Wales, as by the con 
quest annexed to the crown, as an absolute property, possession, 
or revenue, and therefore to be disposed of at its will ; not en- 


titled to the laws of England, although bound to be governed by 
the king s will, in parliament or out of it, as he pleased. 5 The 
Isle of Man and Ireland, are considered like Wales, as conquered 
countries, and part of the possessions (by which they mean pro 
perty or revenue) of the crown of England, yet have been al 
lowed by the king s will to retain their ancient laws. 6. That, 
the case of America differs totally from the case of Wales, Ire 
land, Man, or any other case, which is known at common law, or 
in English history. There is no one precedent in point, in any 
English records, and therefore it can be determined only by eter 
nal reason, and the law of nature. But yet that the analogy oi 
all these cases of Ireland, Wales, Man, Chester, Durham, Lan 
caster, &c. clearly concur with the dictates of reason and nature, 
that Americans are entitled to all the liberties of Englishmen, and 
that they are not bound by any acts of parliament whatever, by 
any law known in English records or history, excepting those for 
the regulation of trade, which they have consented to and acqui 
esced in. 7. To these let me add, that as the laws of England, 
and the authority of parliament were by common law confined to 
the realm, and within the lour seas, so was the force of the great 
seal ol England. Salk. 510. " The great seal of England is 
appropriated to England, and what is done under it has relation 
to England, and to no other place." So that the king, by common 
law, had no authority to create peers or governments, or any thing 
out of the realm, by his great seal ; and therefore our charters 
and commissions to governors, being under the great peal, gives 
us no more authority, nor binds us to any other duties, than if they 
had been given under the privy seal, or without any seal at all. 
Their binding force, both upon the crown and us, is wholly from 
compact and the law of nature. 

There is another case in which the same sentiments are pre 
served ; it is in 2, P. Williams, 75, memorandum 9th August, 1722, 
It was said by the master of the rolls to have been determined 
by the lords of the privy council, upon an appeal to the king in 
council from the foreign plantations. 1st. That if there be a new 
and uninhabited country, found out by English subjects, as the law 
is the birth right of every subject, so, wherever they go, they 
carry their laws with them, and therefore such new found country- 
is to be governed by the laws of Englnnd ; though after such 
country is inhabited by the English, acts of parliament made in 
England, without naming the foreign plantations, will not bind 
them; for which reason it has been determined thut ti?3 statute 
of frauds and perjuries, which requires three witnesses, and that 
these should subscribe in the testators presence in the case of a 
devise of land, does not bind Barbadoes, but that 2dly. W here 
the king of England conquers a country, it is a different conside 
ration ; for there the conqueror, by saving the lives of the peo 
ple conquered, gains a right and property in such people ! In con 
sequence of which he may impose upon them what laws he 


pleases. But 3dly. Until such laws, given by the conquering 
prince, the laws and customs of the conquered country shall hold 
place, unless where these are contrary to our religion, or enact 
any thing that is malum in se, or are silent ; for in all such cases 
the lawgof the conquering country shall prevail. 



To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. 

April 3, 1775. 


GIVE me leave now to descend from these general matters, to 
Mussachusettensis. He says " Ireland, who has perhaps the great 
est possible subordinate legislature, and sends no members to the 
British parliament, is bound by its acts when expressly named." 
But if we are to consider what ought to be, as well as what is, 
why should Ireland have the greatest possible subordinate legisla 
ture ? Is Ireland more numerous arid more important to what is 
nlled the British empire, than America? Subordinate as the 
v rish legislature is said to be, and a conquered country as undoubt 
edly it is, the parliament of Great Britain, although they claim a 
power to bind Ireland by statutes, have never laid one farthing of 
tax upon it. They knew it would occasion resistance if they 
should. But the authority of parliament to bind Ireland at all, if 
it has any. is founded upon a different principle entirely from any 
that takes place in the case of America. It is founded on the con 
sent and compact of the Irish by Poyning s lav/ to be so governed, 
if it has any foundation at all: and this consent was given and 
compact made in consequence of a conquest. 

In the reign of Henry 2d of England, there were five distinct 
sovereignties in Ireland ; Minister, Leinster, Meath, Ulster and 
Connaught, besides several small tribes. As the prince of any one 
of these petty states took the lead in war, he seemed to act, for 
the time being, as monarch of the island. About the year 1172, 
Roderic O Connor, king of Connuught, was advanced to this pre 
eminence. Henry had long cast a wishful eye upon Ireland, and 
now partly to divert his subjects from the thoughts of Becket s 
murder, partly to appease the wrath of the pope for the same 
event, and partly to gratify his own ambition, he lays hold of a 
pretence, that the Irish had taken some natives of England and sold 
them for slaves, applies to the pope for license to invade that 
island. Adrian the Hd, an Englishman by birth, who was then 


pontiff, and very clearly convinced in his own mind, of his right 
to dispose of kingdoms and empires, was easily persuaded, by the 
prospect of Peter s pence, to act as emperor of the world, and 
make an addition to his ghostly jurisdiction of an island which, 
though converted to Christianity, had never acknowledged any 
subjection to the see of Rome. He issued a bull, premising that 
Henry had ever shewn an anxious care to enlarge the church, and 
increase the saints on earth and in heaven : that his design upon 
Ireland proceeded from the same pious motives : that his applica 
tion to the holy see, was a sure earnest of success : that it was a 
point incontestible, that all Christian kingdoms belonged to the 
patrimony of St. Peter : that it was his duty to sow among them 
the seeds of the gospel, which might fructify to their eternal sal 
vation. He exhorts Henry to invade Ireland, exterminate the vices 
of the natives, and oblige them to pay yearly, from every house, 
a. penny to the see of Rome ; gives him full right and entire au 
thority over the whole island ; and commands all to obey him as 
their sovereign 

Macmorrough, a licentious scoundrel, who was king of Leinster, 
had been driven from his kingdom, for his tyranny, by his own 
subjects, in conjunction with Ororic, king of Meath, who made 
war upon him for committing a rape upon his queen, applied to 
Henry for assistance, to restore him, and promised to hold his 
kingdom in vassalage of the crown of England. 

Henry accepted the offer and engaged in the enterprise. It is 
unnecessary to recapitulate all the intrigues of Henry, to divide 
the Irish kingdoms among themselves, and set one against another* 
which are as curious as those of Edward 1st. to divide the. king 
dom of Wales, and play Lewellyn s brothers against him, or as 
those of the ministry, and our junto, to divide the American col 
onies, who have more sense than to be divided. It is sufficient to 
say, that Henry s expeditions terminated altogether by means of 
those divisions among the Irish, in the total conquest of Ireland, 
and its annexation forever to the English crown. By the annex 
ation of all Ireland to the English crown, I mean that all the prin 
ces and petty sovereigns in Ireland agreed to become vassals of 
the English crown. But what was the consequence of this ? The 
same consequence was drawn, by the kings of England in this 
case, as had been drawn in the case of Wales after the conquest 
of Lewellyn, viz : that Ireland was become part of the property, 
possession or revenue of the English crown, and that its authority 
over it was absolute and without controul. 

That matter must be traced from step to step. The first mon 
ument we find in English records, concerning Ireland, is a mere 
rescriptum principis, intituled statiUum Hiberniae de coheredibus, 14, 
Henry 3d, A. D. 1229. In the old abridgment Tit. Homage, this 
is said not to be a statute. Vid. Ruff head s statutes at large, V. 1. 
15. Mr. Cay very properly observes, that it is not an act of 
parliament, Vid. Barrington s observations on the statutes, p. 34. 


In this rescript, the king informs certain milites, (adventurers 
probably in the conquest of Ireland, or their descendants) who 
had doubts how lands holden by knights service descending to co 
partners, within age, should be divided, what is the law and cus 
tom in England with regard to this. 

But the record itself she ws it to be a royal rescript only. Rex 
dilecto et fideli suo gerardo Jit^fiauricii justir suo Hiberniae salutem* 
Quia tales Milites de partibus Hiberniae nuper, ad nos accedentes 
nobis ostenderunt, quod, &LC. Et a nobis petierunt inde certtorari 
qualiter in regno nostro Angliae in casu consimili hactenus usitatwn 
sit, &LC. He then goes on and certifies what the law in England 
was, and then concludes, Et Ideo nobis mandamus, quod predictas 
consuetudines in hoc casu, quas in regno nostro Angiiae habemus, ut 
prediclum est, in terra nostra Hiberniae proclamari et firmiter teneri, 
fac, &LC. 

Here again we find the king conducting, exactly as Edward 1st. 
did in Wales, after the conquest of Wales. Ireland had now been 
annexed to the English crown many years, vet parliament was not 
allowed to have obtained any jurisdiction over it, and Henry or 
dained laws for it by his sole and absolute authority, as Edward 1st. 
did by the statute of Wales. Another incontestibie proof that an 
nexing a country to the crown of England, does not annex it to 
the realm, or subject it to parliament. But we shall find innumer 
able proofs of this. 

Another incontestibie proof of this, is the ordinatio pro static 
Hiberniae made 17 Edward 1, 1288. 

This is an ori icance made by the king, by advice of his council, 
for the government of Ireland. u Edward, by the grace of God, 
king of England, lord of Ireland, &c. to all those who ahall see or 
hear these letters, doth send salutation. He then goes on and or 
dains many regulations, among which the seventh chapter is u that 
none of our officers shall receive an original wriiploadable at the 
common law, but such as be sealed by the great seal of Ireland," 
&c. This ordinance concludes, u In witness whereof we have 
caused these our letters patent to be made." Dated at Notting 
ham 24th Nov. 17th year of our reign. 

This law, if it was passed in parliament, was never considered 
to have any more binding force, than if it had been made only by 
the king. By Poyning s law indeed in the reign of Henry 7th. all 
precedent English statutes are made to bind in Ireland, and this 
among the rest ; but until Poyning s law, it had no validity as an 
act of parliament, and was never executed, but in the English 
pale, for, notwithstanding all that is said of the total compact by 
Henry 2d. ; yet it did not extend much beyond the neighbourhood 
of Dublin, and the conqueror could not enforce his laws and reg 
ulations much further. 

There is a note on the roll of 21 Edward 1st. in these words : 
u Et memorandum quod istud statutum, de verbo ad verbum, missum 
fuit in Hiberniam, teate rege apud Kenyngton 14 die, Augusti^ anno 


r&gni sui vicerimo septimo : et mandatum fuit Johanni Wogan jus- 
ticiario Hiberniae, quod pracdictum statutum, per Hiberniam, in /o- 
ds quibus expedire viderit legi, et publice proclamari acjirmiter <- 
ntri faciat. 

" This note most fully proves, that the king, by his sole au 
thority, could introduce any English law ; and will that authority 
be lessened by the concurrence of the two houses of parliament ? 
There is also an order of Charles 1st. in the third year of his 
reign, to the treasurers and chancellors of the exchequer, both 
f England and Ireland, by which they are directed to increase 
the duties upon Irish exports ; which shews that it was then im 
agined, that the king would tax Ireland by his prerogative, 
without the intervention of parliament." Yid. obs. on the sta 
tutes, p, 127. 

Another instance to shew, that the king by his sole authority, 
whenever he pleased, made regulations for the government of 
Ireland, notwithstanding it was annexed and subject to the crown 
of England, is the ordinatio facia pro statu terrae Hiberniae, in 
the 31 Edward 1. in the appendix to Ruifhead s statutes, p. 37. 
This is an extensive code of laws, made for the government of 
the Irish church and state, by the king alone, without lords or 
commons. The kings u volumus et firmiter precipimus" governs 
and establishes all, and among other things, he introduces by the 
18th chapter, the English laws for the regimen of persons of 
English extract settled in Ireland. 

The next appearance of Ireland, in the statutes of England, is 
in the 34 Edward 3d, c. 17. This is no more than a concession 
of the king to his lords and commons of England, in these words. 
" /tern, it is accorded that all the merchants,Jas well aliens as deni 
zens, may come into Ireland, with their merchandizes, and from 
thence freely return with their merchandizes and victuals, 
without fine or ransom to be taken of them, saving always to the 
king, his ancient customs and other duties." And by chapter 18, 
" Item, that the the people of England, as well religious as other, 
which have their heritage and possessions in Ireland, may bring 
their corn, beasts and victuals to the said land of Ireland, and 
from thence re-carry their goods and merchandizes into Eng 
land freely without impeachment, paying their customs and de 
voirs to the king." 

All this is no more than an agreement between the king and 
his English subjects, lords and commons, that there should be a 
free trade between the two islands, and that one of them should 
be free for strangers. But it is no colour of proof that the king 
could not govern Ireland without his English lords and commons. 

The 1. Henry 5th. c. 8. All Irishmen and Irish clerks, beg. 
gars, shall depart this realm bsfore the 1st day of November, ex 
cept graduates, sergeants, &c. is explained by 1. Henry 6th. c. 3. 
which shews what sort of Irishmen only may come to dwell in 
England. It enacts that all persons, born in Ireland, shall depart 


out of the realm of England, except a few ; and that Irishmen 
shall not be principals of any hall, and that Irishmen shall bring 
testimonials from the lieutenant, or justice of Ireland, that they 
are of the king s obeisance. By the 8th, Henry 6th. c. 8. Irish 
men resorting the realm of England, shall put in surety for 
their goodabearing." 

Thus 1 have cursorily mentioned every law made by the king 
of England, whether in parliament or out of it, for the govern 
ment of Ireland, from the conquest of it by Henry 2d. in 1 172, 
down to the reign of Henry 7th. when an express contract was 
made between the two kingdoms, that Ireland should for the fu 
ture be bound by English acts of parliament, in which it should 
be specially named. This contract was made in 1495 ; s-o that 
upon the whole it appears, beyond dispute, that for more than 
300 years, though a conquered country, and annexed to the crown 
of England ; yet was so far from being annexed to, or parcel of 
the realm, that the king s power was absolute there, and he 
might govern it without his English parliament, whose advice 
concerning it, he was under no obligation to ask or pursue. 

The contract I here alluded to, is what is called Poyning s 
law ; the history of which is briefly this. Ireland revolted from 
England, or rather adhered to the partizans of the house of 
York ; and Sir Edward Foyning was sent over about the year 
1495, by king Henry 7th. with very extensive powers, over the 
civil as well as military administration. On his arrival he made 
severe inquisition about the disaffected, and in particular attack 
ed the earls of Dismond and Kildare. The first stood upon the 
defensive, and eluded the power of the deputy : but Kildare was 
s:>nt prisoner to England : not to be executed, it seems, nor to be 
tried upon the statute of Henry 8iA, but to be dismissed, as he actu 
ally was, to his own country, with marks of the king s esteem and 
favor; Henry judging that, at such a juncture, he should gain 
more by clemency and indulgence, than by rigor and seventy. 
In this opinion he sent a commissioner to Ireland, with a formal 
amnesty, in favor of Desmond and all his adherents, whom the 
tools of his ministers did not fail to call traitors and rebels, with 
as good a grace and as much benevolence, as Massachusettensis 

Let me stop here and enquire, whether lord North has more 
wisdom than Henry 7th, or whether he took the hint from the 
history of Poyning, of sending Gen. Gage, with his civil and 
military powers ? If he did, he certainly did not imitate Henry, in 
his blustering menances, against certain " ringleaders and fore 

While Poyning resided in Ireland, he called a parliament, which 
is famous in history for the acts which it passed, in favour of Eng 
land, and Englishmen settled in Ireland. By these, which are 
still called Poyning s laws, all the former laws of England were 
made to be of force in Ireland, and no bill can be introduced into 


the Irish parliament, unless it previously receive the sanction of 
Hie English privy council ; and by a construction, if not by the 
express words of these laws, Ireland is still said to be bound by 
English statutes, in which it is specially named. Here then let 
Massachusettensis pause, and observe the original of the notion 
that countries might be bound by acts of parliament, if " specially 
named," though without the realm. Let him observe, too, that 
this notion is grounded entirely on the voluntary act, the free 
consent of the Irish nation, and an act of an Irish parliament, 
called Poyning s law. Let me ask him, has any colony in Amer 
ica ever made a Poyning s act ? Have they ever consented to be 
bound by acts of parliament, if specially named ? Have they 
ever acquiesced in, or implicitly consented to any acts of parlia 
ment, but such as are bonafide made for the regulation of trade ? 
This idea of binding countries without the realm, u by specially 
naming" them, is not an idea taken from the common law. There 
was no such principle, rule, or maxim, in that law ; it must be 
by statute law, then, or none. In the case of Wales and Ireland, 
it was introduced by solemn compact, and established by statute?., 
to which the Welch and Irish were parties, and expressly con 
sented. But in the case of America there is no such statute, 
and therefore Americans are bound by statutes, in which they are 
;t named," no more than by those in which they are not. 

The principle upon which Ireland is bound by English statutes, 
in which it is named, is this, that being a conquered country, and 
subject to the mere will of the king, it voluntarily consented to be 
so bound. This appears in part already, and more fully in 1. 
Blackstone 93, 100, &c. who tells us, " that Ireland is a distinct, 
though a dependant, subordinate kingdom." But how came it 
dependant and subordinate ? He tells us " that king John, in the 
twelfth year of his reign, after the conquest, went into Ireland, 
carried over with him many able sages of the law ; and there, 
by his letters patent, in right of the dominion of conquest, is 
said to have ordained and established, that Ireland should be gov 
erned by the laws of England ; which letters patent Sir Edward 
Coke apprehends to have been there continued in parliament. 7 
" By the same rule that no laws made in England, between king 1 
John s time and Poyning s law, were then binding in Ireland, it 
follows that no acts of the English parliament, made since the 
tenth of Henry 7th. do now bind the people of Ireland, unless 
specially named, or included under general words. And on the 
other hand, it is equally clear, that where Ireland is particularly 
named, or is included under general words, they are bound by 
such acts of parliament ; for it follows, from the very nature and 
constitution of a dependent state ; depemlance being very little 
else, but an obligation to conform to the will or law of that su 
perior person, or state, upon which the inferior depends. The 
original and true ground of this superiority, in the present case, 
is what we usually call, though somewhat, improperly, " th right- 


of conquest ;" a right allowed by the law of nations, if not by 
that of nature ; but which in reason and civil policy can mean 
nothing more, than that, in order to put an end to hostilities, " a 
compact is either expressly or tacitly made between the con 
queror and conquered, that* if they will acknowledge the victor 
for their master, he will treat them for the future as eubjects and 
not as enemies." 

These are the principles upon which the dependance and sub 
ordination of Ireland are founded. Whether they are just or 
not, is not necessary for us to enquire. The Irish nation have 
never been entirely convinced of their justice ; have been ever 
discontented with them ; and ripe and ready to dispute them. 
Their reasonings have ever been answered, by the ratio ultima 
and penultitna of the tories, and it requires to this hour no less 
than a standing army of 1 2,000 men to confute them ; as little 
as the British parliament exercises the right, which it claims of 
binding them by statutes, and although it never once attempted 
or presumed to tax them, and although they are so greatly infe 
rior to Britain in power, and so near in situation. 

But thus much is certain, that none of these principles take 
place, in the case of America. She never was conquered by 
Britain. She never consented to be a state dependant upon, or 
subordinate to the British parliament, excepting only in the reg 
ulation of her commerce ; and therefore the reasonings of Brit 
ish writers, upon the case of Ireland, are not applicable to the 
case of the colonies, any more than those upon the case of Wales. 

Thus have I rambled after Massachusettensis through Wale? 
and Ireland, but have not reached my journey s end. I have yet. 
to travel through Jersey, Guernsey, and I know not where. At 
present I shall conclude with one observation. In the history 
of Ireland and Wales, though undoubtedly conquered countries, 
and under the very eye and arm of England, the extreme diffi 
culty, the utter impracticability of governing a people, who have 
any sense, spirit, or love of liberty, without incorporating them 
into the state, or allowing them in some other way, equal privile 
ges may be clearly seen. Wales was forever revolting fora thous 
and years, until it obtained that mighty blessing. Ireland has 
been frequently revolting, although the most essential power of 
a supreme legislature, that of imposing taxes, has never been ex 
ercised over them, and it cannot now be kept under, but by force ; 
and it would revolt forever, if parliament should tax them. 
What kind of an opinion, then, must the ministry entertain of 
America 1 When her distance is so great, her territory so extea- 
siv?, her commerce so important, not a conquered country, but 
dearly purchased and defended ? When her trade is so essential 
to the navy, the commerce, the revenue, the very existence of 
Great Britain, as an independent state ? They must think Amer 
ica inhaited by three millions of fools and cowards. 




To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay* 

April 10, 1775. 


THE cases of Wales and Ireland are not yet exhausted. 
They afford such irrefragable proofs, that there is a distinction 
between the crown and realm, and that a country may be annex 
ed and subject to the former, and not the latter, that they ought 
to be thorougly studied and understood. 

The more these cases, as well as those of Chester, Durham, 
Jersey, Guernsey, Calais, Gascoine, Guienne, &c. are examined, 
the more clearly it will appear, that there is no precedent in 
English records ; no rule of common law ; no provision in the 
English constitution ; no policy in the English or British govern 
ment ; for the case of the colonies ; and therefore that we derive 
our laws and government solely from our own compacts with 
Britain and her kings, and from the great legislature of the uni 

We ought to be cautious of the inaccuracies of the greatest 
men, for these are apt to lead us astray. Lord Coke, in 7 Rep. 
21, 6, says, " Wales was sometimes a kingdom, as it appeareth 
by 19 Henry 6th. fol. 6, and by the act of parliament of 2 Henry 
0th. cap. 6, but while it was a kingdom, the same was holden> 
and within the fee of the king of England : and this appeareth by 
our books, Fleta, lib. 1. Edward 3d. 14, 8. Ed. 3d. 59, 13, Edward 
3d. Tit. Jurisdict. 10. Henry 4, 6. Plow. com. 368. And in this 
respect, in divers ancient charters, kings of old time styled them 
selves in several manners, as king Edgar, Britanniae Basileus, 
Etheldrus, Totius Albionis Dei providentia Imperator, Edre- 
dus, magnae Britanniae Monarcha, which, among many others 
of like nature 1 have seen. But by the statute of 1 2 of Edvvnrd 1st. 
Wales was united and incorporated into England, and made par 
cel of England in possession ; and therefore it is ruled in 7 Hen 
ry 4th. fol. 1*. That no protection doth lie, quia moratur in 
Wallia, because Wales is within the realm of England. And 
where it is recited in the act of 27 Henry 8th. that Wales was 
ever parcel of the realm of England, it is true in tins s- J nse, viz : 
that before 12 Edward 1st. it was parcel in tenure, and since it is- 
parcel of the body of the realm And whosoever is born within 
the fee of the king of England, though it be in another kingdom, 
is a natural born subject, and capable and inheritable of lands in 
England, as it appeareth in Plow. com. 126. And therefore 
those that were born in Wales before 1 2 Edward 1 st. while if 
was only holden of England, were capable and inheritable of 
lands in England." 


Where my lord Coke oi 4 any other sage, shews us the ground 
on which his opinion stands, we can judge for ourselves, wheth 
er the ground is good, and his opinion just. And if we exam 
ine hy this rule, we shall find in the foregoing words, several 
palpable inaccuracies of expression ; 1, by the 12 E. 1. (which is 
ihe. Statutum Wallm quoted by me before) it is certain " that 
Wales was not united and incoporated into England, and made 
parcel of England." It was annexed and united to the crown of 
England only. It was done by the king s sole and absolute au 
thority ; not by an act of parliament, but by a mere constitutio 
Imperatoria, and neither E. 1. nor any of his successors, ever 
would relinquish the right of ruling it, by mere will and discre 
tion until the reign of James I. 2. It is not recited in the 27 H. 
8, that Wales was ever parcel of the realm of England. The 
words of that statute are, " incorporated, annexed, united and 
subject to and under the imperial crown of this realm," is a de 
cisive proof that a country may be annexed to the one, without 
being united with the other. And this appears fully in lord 
Coke himself, 7 rep. 22, b. " Ireland originally came to the 
kings of England by conquest, but who was the first conquerer 
thereof hath been a question. I have seen a charter made by 
king Edgar, in these words, Ego Edgarus Jlnglorum Basileus, om 
nium quce, insularum oceani, quce Britanniam circumjacent, imperator 
ft dominus^gratias ago ipsi Deo omnipotent* regi meo, quimeumim- 
perium sic ampliavit et exaltavit super regnum patrum meorum* &LC, 
Mihi concessit propitia divinitas, cum anglorum imperis omnia reg- 
na insularum oceani, &c. Cum suis ferocibus regibus usque Nor- 
vegiam, maximainquc partem Hibernicc^ cum sua nobilissima civitate de 
Dublina, Anglorum regno subjugare, quapropter et ego Christi 
glofiam et laudem in regno meo exaltare^ et ejus servitium ampli- 
Jicare devotus disposui^ &:c. Yet for that it was wholly conquered 
in the reign of M. 2. The honour of the conquest of Ire 
land is attributed to him. That Ireland is a dominion separate 
and divided from England it is evident by our books, 20 H. 6, 
. Sir John Pilkington scase, 32 H.6, 26. 20 Eliz.Dyer360. Plow, 
com. 360. and 2,r.3. 1 ZJIibernia habetparUamentum,etfaciunt leges^el 
xtatuta noslra non ligant eos quia rum mittunt milites ad parliament 
turn,) (which is to be understood unless they be specially named) 
,ied persona eorum sunt, subjecti regis, sicut inhabilantes in Calesia, 
Oasconia ct Guigan. Wherein it is to be observed, that the Irish- 
Mian (as to his subjection) is compared to men bora in Calice, 
Uuscoin and Guian. Concerning- their laws, Ex rotulis petentium, 
de anno 1 1. Regis 8. 3, there is a charter which that king made 
beginning in these words : Rex Baronibus, Militibus et omnibus lib e- 
re tcnenibvs L, salutem, satis, ut credimus vestra audivit discretio^ 
quod qitando bones memoriae Johannes quondam rex Jlnglice, pater 
nosier vcnit in lliberniam, ipse duxit secum viros discretos et legis 
perils, quorum commuiii consilio et adjunctorum Hiberniansium^ 
statuit et prceccpit leges Anglicanas in Hibernia, ita quod easdem in- 
scripturas rcdacia-s rcliqiiit sltb sigillo suo ad saccariitm Dublin* So 


as now the laws of England became the proper laws oflreland; and 
therefore because they have parliaments holden whereat 
they have made diverse particular laws, concerning that dominion, 
as it appeareth in 20 Hen. b th, 8th. and 20 Eliz. Dyer, 360, and for 
that they retain unto this day, diverse of their ancient customs, 
the book in 20 Henry 6th. 8th. holdeth that Ireland is governed 
by laws and customs, separate and diverse from the laws, of Eng 
land. A voyage royal may be made into Ireland. Vid. 11. 
Henry 4th. 7th. and 7 Edward 4th. 27. which proveth it a distinct 
dominion. And in anno 33 Elizabeth, it was resolved by all the 
judges of England, in the case of Orurke, an Irishman, who had 
committed high treason in Ireland, that he, by the statute of 33. 
Henry 8th. c. 23, might be indicted, arraigned, and tried for the 
same in England, according to the purview of that statute ; the 
words of which statute be, that all treasons, &,c. committed by 
any person out of the realm of England, shall be from henceforth 
enquired of, &c. And they all resolved, (as afterwards they did 
also in Sir John Perrot s case) that Ireland was out of the realm 
of England, and that treasons committed there were to be tried 
within England, by that statute. In the statute of 4 Henry 7th. 
<:. 24 of fines, provision is made for them that be out of this land, 
and it is holden in Plow. com. in StowelPs case 375, that he that 
is in Ireland is out of this land, and consequently within that pro 
viso. Might not, then, the like plea be devised, as well against 
any person born in Ireland, as (this is against Calvin a Postnatus) 
in Scotland ? For the Irishman is born extra ligeantia rcgis, regni 
mi Jlngliae, &c. which be verba operativa in the plea. But all 
men know, that they are natural born subjects, and capable of, 
and inheritable to lands in England." 

I have been at the pains of transcribing this long passage for 
the sake of a variety of important observations that may be made 
upon it. 1. That exuberance of proof that is in it, both thai 
Ireland is annexed to the crown, and that it is not annexed to thf- 
realm of England. 2. That the reasoning in the year book, 
that Ireland has a parliament, and makes laws, and our statutes do 
not bind them, because they do not send knights to parliament, 
is universal, and concludes against these statutes binding, in which 
Ireland is specially named, as much as against these in which it 
is not, and therefore lord Coke s parenthesis, (which is to be un 
derstood unless they be specially named) is wholly arbitrary and 
groundless, unless it goes upon the supposition, that the king is 
absolute in Ireland, it being a conquered country, and so has pow 
er to bind it at his pleasure, by an act of parliament, or by au 
edict : or unless it goes upon the supposition of Blackstone, that 
there had been an express agreement and consent of the Irish na 
tion to be bound by acts of the English parliament ; and in either 
ca<se it is not applicable even by analogy to America, because that 
is not a conquered country, and most certainly never consented to 
be bound by all acts of parliament, in which it should be named. 
,5, That the instance, request and consent of the Irish is stated, 


as a ground upon which king John and his discreet law-sages, 
first established the laws of England in Ireland. 4*. The reso 
lution of the judges in the cases of Orurke and Perrot, is express 
that Ireland was without the realm of England, and the late res 
olutions of both houses of parliament, and the late opinion of 
tho judges, that Americans may be sent to England upon the same 
ataiiite to be tried for treason, is also express that America is out 
of the realm of England. So that we see what is to become of 
us, my friends. When they want to get our money by taxing 
us, our privileges by annihilating our charters, and to screen 
those from punishment who shall murder us at their command, 
then we are told that we are within the realm ; but when they 
want to draw, hang, and quarter us, for honestly defending those 
liberties which God and compact have given and secured to us, 
oh, then, we are clearly out of the realm. 5. In Stowell s case, 
it is resolved that Ireland is out of the land, that is the land of 
England. The consequence is, that it was out of the reach and 
extent of the law of the land, that is the common law. America 
surely is still further removed from that land ; and therefore is 
without the jurisdiction of that law which is called the law of 
the land in England. I think it must appear by this time, that 
America is not parcel of the realm, state, kingdom, government, 
empire, or land of England, or Great Britain, in any sense, which 
can make it subject universally to the supreme legislature of that 

But for the sake of curiosity, and for the purpose of shewing 
that the consent even of a conquered people has always been 
carefully conciliated, I beg leave to look over lord Coke s 4. 
Inst. p. 12. "After king Henry 2d." says he, " had conquered 
Ireland, he fitted and transcribed this modus, meaning the ancient 
treatise called modus tenendi parliamentum, which was rehearsed 
and declared before the conqueror at the time of the conquest, 
and by him approved for England, into Ireland, in a parchment 
roll, for the holding of parliaments there, wiiich no doubt H. 2. 
did by advice of his judges, &c. This modus, &c. was anno 6. 
II. 4. in the custody of sir Christopher Preston, which roll H. 4. 
in the same year, De cusensu Johannis Palbot Chevalier, his lieu 
tenant there, and of his council of Ireland, exemplified, &c. 

Here we see the original of a parliament in Ireland, which is 
assigned as the cause or reason why Ireland is a distant kingdom 
from England : and in the same, 4. inst. 349. we find more evi 
dence that all this was done at the instance and request of the 
people in Ireland. Lord Coke says, " H 2. the father of K. 
John, did ordain and command, at the instance of the Irish, that 
such laws as he had in England, should be of force and observed 
in Ireland. Hereby Ireland, being of itself a distant dominion, 
and no part of the kingdom of England, (as it directly appeareth 
by many authorities in Calvin s case) was to have parliaments 
holden there, as England, &c." See the record as quoted by lord 


Coke in the same page, which shews that even this establishment 
of English laws, was made De communi omnium dc IJibernics. con- 

This whole chapter is well worth attending to, because the 
records quoted in it shew how careful the ancients were to obtain 
the consent of the governed to all laws, though a conquered peo 
ple, and the king absolute. Very unlike the minister of our agra, 
who is for pulling down and building up the most sacred establish 
ments of laws and government, without the least regard to the 
consent or good will of Americans. There is one observation, 
more of lord Coke that deserves particular notice. " Sometimes 
the king of England called his nobles of Ireland to come to his par 
liament of England, &c. and by special words the parliament of 
England may bind the subjects of Ireland," and cites the record 8. 
E. 2. and subjoins " an excellent precedent to be followed, when 
soever any act of parliament shall be made in England, concern 
ing the state of Ireland, &c." By this lord Coke seems to inti 
mate an opinion, that representatives had been and ought to be 
called from Ireland to the parliament of England, whenever it 
undertook to govern it by statutes, in which it should be specially 

After all, I believe there is no evidence of any express contract 
of the Irish nation to be governed by the English parliament, and 
very little of an implied one ; that the notion of binding it by acts 
in which it is expressly named is merely arbitrary. And that this 
nation which has ever had many and great virtues, has been most 
grievously oppressed : and it is to this day so greatly injured and 
oppressed, that I wonder American committees of correspondence 
and congresses, have not attended more to it than they have. 
Perhaps in some future time they may. But I am running beyond 
my line. 

We must now turn to Burrows s reports, vol. 2. 834. Rex. vs. 
Cowle. Lord Mansfield has many observations upon the case of 
Wales, which ought not to be overlooked. Page 850, He says, 
"Edward 1st. conceived the great design of annexing all other 
parts of the island of Great Britain to the realm of England. The 
better to effectuate his idea, as time should offer occasion ; he 
mentioned, " that all parts thereof, not in his own hands or pos 
session, were holden of his crown." The consequence of this 
doctrine was, that, by the feudal law, supreme jurisdiction result 
ed to him, in right of his crown, as sovereign lord, in many cases, 
which he might lay hold of; and when the said territories should 
come into his hands and possession, they would come back as par 
cel of the realm of England, from which (by fiction of law at 
least) they had been originally severed. This doctrine was liter 
ally true as to the counties palatine of Chester nnd Durham. But 
(no matter upon what foundation) he maintained that the princi 
pality of Wales was holden of the imperial crown of England : he 
treated the prince of Wales as a rebellious vassal ; subdued him ; 


and took possession of the principality. Whereupon, on the 4th 
of December, in the 9th year of his reign, he issued a commission 
to enquire "per quas leges et per quas consuetudines^ antecessores nos- 
tri reoes regni consueverant principem WaWa et barones Wallenses 
Wallue et pares suos H alios in priores et eorum pares, <-c." If the 
principality was feudatory, the conclusion necessarily followed, 
that it was under the government of the king s laws, and the 
king s courts, in cases proper for them to interpose ; though (like 
counties palatine) they had peculiar laws and customs, jura rega 
lia, and complete jurisdiction at home." There was a writ at the 
same time issued to all his officers in Wales, to give information 
to the commissioners: and there were 14 interrogatories speci 
fying the points to he enquired into. The statute of Rutland 12. 
E. 1. refers to this inquiry. By that statute he does not annex 
Wales to England, but recites it as a consequence of its coming 
into his hands. Dhina providentia terrain Wallite, prius nobis jure 
fcodali sitbjectain, jam in propeietatis nostrce dominium convertit, et 
corona regni Anglia* tanqitam partem corporis ejusdem anmxuit, et 
univit" The 27. H. 8. c. 26. adheres to the same plan, and 
recites " that Wales ever hath been incorporated, annexed, united 
and subject to, and under the imperial crown of this realm, as a 
very member, and joint of the same." Edward 1. having suc 
ceeded as to Wales, maintained likewise that Scotland was holden 
of the crown of England. This opinion of the court was deliver 
ed by lord Mansfield in the year 1759. In conformity to the 
system contained in these words, my lord Mansfield, and my lord 
North, together with their little friends Bernard and Hutchinson, 
have " conceived the great design of annexing" all North Ameri 
ca " to the realm of England," and " the better to effectuate this 
idea, they all maintain, that North America is holden of the 

And, no matter upon what foundation, they all maintained that 
America is dependent on the imperial crown and parliament of 
Great Britain : and they are all very eagerly desirous of treating 
the Americans as rebellious vassals, to subdue them and take pos 
session of their country. And \vhen they do, no doubt America 
will come back as parcel of the realm of England, from which, 
by fiction of law at least, or by virtual representation, or by some 
other dream of a shadow of a shade, they had been originally 

Bat these noblemen and ignoblemen ought to have considered, 
that Americans understand the laws and the politicks as well as 
Themselves, and that there are 600,000 men in it, between 16 and 
60 years of age ; and therefore it will be very difficult to chicane 
them out of their liberties by u fictions of law," and u no matter 
upon what foundation." 

Methinks I hear his lordship upon this occasion, in a soliloquy 
somewhat like this. " We are now in the midst of a war, which 
fcas been conducted with unexampled success and glory. We 


have conquered a great part, and shall soon complete the conquest 
of the French power in America. His majesty is near 70 years 
of age, and must soon yield to nature. The amiable, virtuous 
and promising successor, educated under the care of my nearest 
friends, will be influenced by our advice. We must bring the war 
to a conclusion, for we have not the martial spirit and abilities of 
the great commoner : but we shall be obliged to leave upon the, 
nation an immense debt How shall we manage that? Why, I 
have seen letters from America, proposing that parliament should 
bring America to a closer dependence upon it, and representing 
that if it does not, she will fall a prey to some foreign power, or 
set up for herself. These hints may be improved, and a vast 
revenue drawn from that country and the East Indies, or at least 
the people here may be flattered and quieted with the hopes of 
it. It is the duty of a judge to declare law, but under this pre 
tence, many we know have given law or made law, and none in 
all the records of Westminster hall more than of late. Enough 
has been already made, if it is wisely improved by others, to over 
turn this constitution. Upon this occasion I will accommodate my 
expressions, to such a design upon America and Asia, and will so 
accommodate both law and fact, that they ma} hereafter be im 
proved to admirable effect in promoting our design." This is all 
romance, no doubt, but it has as good a mural as most romances. 
For 1st. It is an utter mistake that Ed. 1st. conceived the great 
design of annexing all to England, as one state, under one legisla 
ture. He conceived the design of annexing W T ales, &c. to his 
crown. He did not pretend that it was before subject to the 
crown, but to him. " Nobisjure feodali" are his words. And 
when he annexes it to his crown, he does it by an edict of his own, 
not an act of parliament : and he never did in his whole life allow., 
that his parliament, that is his lords and commons, had any au 
thority over it, or that he was obliged to take or ask their advice, 
in any one instance, concerning the management of it, nor did any 
of his successors for centuries. It was not Ed. 1. but Henry 7. 
who first conceived the great design of annexing it to the realm, 
and by him and H. 8. it was done, in part, but never completed, 
until Jac. 1. There is a sense indeed, in which annexing a terri 
tory to the crown, is annexing it to the realm, as putting a crown 
upon a man s head, is putting it on the man, but it does not make 
it a part of the man. 2d. His lordship mentions the statute of 
Rutland ; but this was not an act of parliament, and therefore 
could not annex Wales to the realm, if the king had intended it, 
for it never was in the power of the king alone to annex a coun 
try to the realm. This cannot be done, but by act of parliament. 
As to Edward s treating the prince of Wales as a u rebellious vas 
sal," this was arbitrary, and is spoken of by all historians as an 
infamous piece of tyranny. 

Ed. 1. and H. 8. both considered Wales, as the property and 
revenue of the crown, not as a part of the roalm. and the rxpres- 


sions, " corona rcgni Angtia:, tanquam partem corporis ejusdem," sig 
nified " as part of the same body," that is of the same " crown," 
not " realm" or " kingdom"; and the expressions in 27 H. 8. un 
der the imperial crown of this realm, as a very member " and 
joint of the same," mean, as a member and joint of the " imperial 
crown," not of the realm. For the whole history of the princi 
pality, the acts of kings, parliaments, and people shew, that Wales 
never was intituled by this annexation to the laws of England, nor 
bound to obey them. The case of Ireland is enough to prove 
that the crown and realm are not the same. For Ireland is cer 
tainly annexed to the crown of England, and it certainly is not 
annexed to the realm. 

There is one paragraph in the foregoing words of lord Mans 
field, which was quoted by his admirer governor Hutchinson in 
his dispute with the house, with a profound compliment. " He 
did not know a greater authority," &c. But let the authority be 
as great as it will, the doctrine will not bear the test. 

" If the principality was feudatory, the conclusion necessarily 
follows, that it was under the government of the king s laws." 
Ireland is feudatory to the crown of England, but would not be 
subject to the king s English laws, without its consent and compact, 
An estate may be feudatory to a lord, a country may be feudatory 
to a sovereign lord, upon all possible variety of conditions ; it may 
be only to render homage ; it may be to render a rent ; it may be 
to pay a tribute ; if his lordship by feudatory means, the original 
notion of feuds, it is true that the king the general imperator, 
was absolute, and the tenant held his estate only at will, and the 
subject not only his estate but his person and life at his will. But 
this notion of feuds had been relaxed in an infinite variety of de 
grees, in some the estate is held at will, in others for life, in oth 
ers for years, in others forever, to heirs,&,c. in some to be govern 
ed by the prince alone, in some by princes and nobles, and in gome 
by prince, nobles and commons, &c. So that being feudatory, by 
no means proves that English lords and commons have any share 
in the government over us. As to counties palatine ; these were 
not only holden of the king and crown, but were exerted by ex 
press acts of parliament, and therefore were never exempted 
from the authority of parliament. The same parliament, which 
erected the county palatine, and gave it its jura regalia, and com- 
pleat jurisdiction, might unmake it, and take away those regalia 
and jurisdiction. But American governments and constitutions 
were never erected by parliament, their regalia and jurisdiction 
were not given by parliament, and therefore parliament have no 
authority to take them away. 

But if the colonies are feudatory to the kings of England, and 
subject to the government of the king s laws, it is only to such 
laws as are made in their general assemblies, their provincial leg 



To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Say. 

April 17, 1775. 


WE now come to Jersey and Guernsey, which Massachusetteti 
sis says, u are no part of the realm of England, nor are they 
represented in parliament, but are subject to its authority/ A 
little knowledge of this subject will do us no harm ; and as soon 
as we shall acquire it, we shall be satisfied how these islands 
came to be subject to the authority of parliament. It is either 
upon the principle that the king is absolute there, and has a right 
to make laws for them by his mere will ; and therefore may ex 
press his will by an act of parliament, or an edict at his pleasure : 
or it is an usurpation. If it is an usurpation, it ought not to be a 
precedent for the colonies, but it ought to be reformed, and thev 
ought to be incorporated into the realm, by act of parliament, and 
their own act. Their situation is no objection to this. Ours is 
an insurmountable obstacle. 

Thus we see that in every instance which can be found, the 
observation proves to be true, that by the common law, the law? 
cf England, and the authority of parliament, and the limits of the. 
realm were confined within seas. That the kings of England 
had frequently foreign dominions, some by conquest, some by 
marriage, and some by descent. But in all those cases the king? 
were either absolute in those dominions, or bound to govern them 
according to their own respective laws, and by their own legis 
lative and executive councils. That the laws of England did not 
extend there, and the English parliament pretended no jurisdic 
tion there, nor claimed any right to controul the king in his 
government of those dominions. And from this extensive survey 
of all the foregoing cases, there results a confirmation of what 
has been so often said, that there is no provision in the common 
law, in English precedents, in the English government or consti 
tution, made for the case of the colonies. It is not a conquered, 
but a discovered country. It came not to the king by descent, 
but was explored by the settlers. It came not by marriage to 
the king, but was purchased by the settlers of the savages. It 
was not granted by the king of his grace, but was dearly, very 
dearly earned by the planters, in the labour, blood, and treasure 
which they expended to subdue it to cultivation. It stands upon 
no grounds, then, of law or policy, but what are found in the law 
of nature, and their express contracts in their charters, and their 
implied contracts in the commissions to governors and terms of 


The cases of Chester and Durham, counties palantine within 
the realm, shall conclude this fatiguing ramble. Chester was an 
earldom and a county ; and in the 21st year of king Richard 2d. 
A, D. 1397, it was, by an act of parliament, erected into a prin 
cipality, and several ca stles and towns, were annexed to it, saving 
to the king the rights of his crown. This was a county pala- 
.tine, and had jura regalia, before this erection of it into a princi 
pality. But the statute which made it a principality, was again 
repealed by 1. Henry 4th. c. 3, and in 1399, by the 1. Henry 4th. 
c. 18. Grievous complaints were made to the king, in parliament, 
of murders, man-slaughters, robberies, batteries, riots, &c. done 
by people of the county of Chester, in divers counties of England, 
For remedy of which it is enacted, that if any person of the 
county of Chester commit any murder or felony in any place out 
of that county, process shall be made against him by the com 
mon law, till the exigent in the. county where such murder or fel 
ony was done : and if he ilee into the county of Chester, and be 
outlawed, and put in exigent for such murderer felony, the same 
outlawry or exigent, shall be certified to the officers and ministers 
of the same county of Chester, and the felon shall be taken, hi? 
lands and goods within that county shall be seized as forfeit into 
the hands of the prince, or of him that shall be lord of the same 
county of Chester, and the king shall have the year and day and 
waste ; and the other lands and goods of such felons, out of said 
county, shall remain wholly to the king, &c. as forfeit. And a 
similar provision in case of battery or trespass, &c. 

Considering the great seal of England, and the process of the 
king s contracts did not run into Chester, it was natural that 
malefactors should take refuge there, and escape punishment, and 
therefore a statute like this was of indispensible necessity, and 
afterwards, in 1535, another statute was made, 27. Henry c. 5th. 
tor the making of justices of peace, within Chester, &c. It recites, 
; the king, considering the manifold robberies, murders, thefts, tres 
passes, riots, routs, embraceries, maintenances, oppressions, rup 
tures of his peace, &.c. which have been daily done within his 
county palatine of Chester, &,c. by reason that common justice 
hath not been indifferently ministered there, like and in form as it 
is in other places of this his realm, by reason whereof the said 
criminals have remained unpunished ; for redress whereof, and to 
the intent that one order of law should be had, the king is em 
powered to constitute justices of peace, quorum, and goal deliv 
ery, in Chester, &c." 

By the 32. Henry 8th. c. 43, another act was made concerning 
the county palatine of Chester, for shire days. 

These three acts soon excited discontent in Chester. They 
had enjoyed an exemption from the king s English courts, legis 
lative and executive, and they had no representatives in the Eng 
lish parliament, and therefore they thought it a violation of their 
rights, k bf subjected even to those three statutes, as reasonable 


and absolutely necessary as they appear to have been. And ac 
cordingly we find in 1542 34 and 35, Henry 8th. c. 13, a zeal 
ous petition to be represented in parliament, and an act was 
made for making of knights and burgesses within the county 
and city of Chester. It recites a part of the petition to the king 
from the inhabitants of Chester, stating, " that the county palatine, 
had been excluded from parliament, to have any knights and bur 
gesses there ; by reason whereof, the said inhabitants have hith 
erto sustained manifold disherisons, losses, and damages, in lands, 
goods, and bodies, as well as in the goods civil and politic govern 
ance and maintenance of the commonwealth of their said county : 
and forasmuch as the said inhabitants have always hitherto been 
bound by the acts and statutes, made by your highness and progen 
itors in said court, meaning, when expressly named, not otherwise, 
as far forth as other counties, cities, and boroughs, which have 
had knights and burgesses, and yet have had neither knight, nor 
burgess there, for the said county palatine ;- the said inhabitant*, 
for lack thereof, have been oftentimes touched and grieved with 
acts and statutes, made within said court, as well derogatory unto 
the most ancient jurisdictions, liberties, and privileges of your said 
county palatine, as prejudicial unto the common weal, quietness, 
rest and peace of your subjects, fee." For remedy whereof, two 
knights of the shire, and two burgesses for the city are established. 

I have before recited all the acts of parliament, which were 
ever made to meddle with Chester, except the 51. Henry 3d. 
stat. 5, in 1266, which only provides that the justices of Chester, 
and other bailiffs, shall be answerable in the exchequer, for wards, 
escheats, and other bailiwicks; yet Chester was never severed 
from the crown or realm of England, nor ever expressly exempt 
ed from the authority of parliament ; yet as they had generally 
enjoyed an exemption from the exercise of the authority of par 
liament, we see how soon they complain of it as grievous, arid 
claim a representation, as a right ; and we see how readily it was 
granted. America, on the contrary, is not in the realm, never 
was subject to the authority of parliament, by any principle of 
law, is so far from Great Britain, that she never can be represent 
ed ; yet she is to be bound in all cases whatsoever. 

The first statute, which appears in which Durham is named, i- 
27 Henry Sth. c 24, 21. Cuthbert, bishop of Durham, and his 
successors, and their temporal chancellor of the ^county palatine 
of Durham, are made justices of the peace. The next is 31 
Elizabeth, c. 9, recites, that Durham is, and of long time hath 
been, an ancient county palatine, in which the Queen s writ hath 
not, and yet doth not run ; enacts that a writ of proclamation 
upon an exigent against any person dwelling in the hishoprick 
shall run there for the future. And 5 confirms all the other 
liberties of the bishop and his officers. 

And after this, we find no other mention of that bishoprick in 
any statute until 25 Char. 2. c. 9, This statute recites, " where- 


as the inhabitants of the county palatine of Durham, have not 
hitherto had the liberty and privilege of electing and sending any 
knights and burgesses to the high court of parliament, although 
the inhabitants of the said county palatine are liable to all pay 
ments, rates, and subsidies, granted by parliament, equally with 
the inhabitants of other counties, cities, and burroughs, in this 
kingdom, who have their knighls and burgesses in the parliament, 
and are therefore concerned equally with others, the inhabitants 
of this kingdom, to have knights and burgesses in the said high 
court of parliament of their own election, to represent the condi 
tion of their county, as the inhabitants of other counties, cities, 
and burroughs, of this kingdom have." It enacts two knights for 
the county, and two burgesses for the city. Here it should be 
observed, that although they acknowledge that they had been lia 
ble to all rates, &c. granted by parliament, yet none had actually 
been laid upon them before this statute. 

Massachusettensis then comes to the first charter of this prov 
ince, and he tells us, that in it " we shall find irresistible evidence, 
that our being a part of the empire, subject to the supreme author 
ity of the state, bound by its laws, and subject to its protection, 
was the very terms and conditions by which our ancestors held 
their lands and settled the province." This is roundly and warm 
ly said : but there is more zeal in it than knowledge. As to 
our being part of the empire, it could not be the British empire, 
as it is called, because that was not then in being, but was created 
seventy or eighty years afterwards. It must be the English em 
pire then, but the nation was not then polite enough to have in 
troduced into the language of the law, or common parlance any 
such phrase or idea. Rome never introduced the terms Roman 
empire until the tragedy of her freedom was compleated. Before 
that, it was only the republic, or the city. In the same manner 
the realm or the kingdom, or the dominions of the king, were the 
fashionable style in the age of the first charter. As to being sub 
ject to the supreme authority of the state, the prince who grant 
ed that charter thought it resided in himself, without any such 
troublesome tumults as lords and commons ; and before the grant 
ing that charter, had dissolved his parliament, and determined 
never to call another, but to govern without. It is not very like 
ly then, that he intended our ancestors should be governed by 
parliament, or bound by its laws. As to being subject fo its pro 
tection, we may guess wfiat ideas king and parliament had of that, 
by the protection they actually afforded to our ancestors. Not 
one farthing was ever voted or given by the king or his parlia 
ment, or any one resolution taken about them. As to holding 
their lands, surely they did not hold their lands of lords and com 
mons. If they agreed to hold their lands of the king, this did not 
subject them to English lords and commons, any more than the 
inhabitants of Scotland holding their lands of the same king, sub 
jected them. But there is not a word about the empire, the 


supreme authority of the state, being- bound by its laws, or obliged 
for its protection in that whole charter. But " our charter is in 
the royal style." What then ? Is that the parliamentary style ? 
The style is this, " Charles, by the grace of God, king of Eng 
land, Scotland, France and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c." 
Now in which capacity did he grant that charter ? as king of 
France, or Ireland, or Scotland, or England ? He governed Eng 
land by one parliament, Scotland by another. Which parliament 
were we to be governed by ? And Ireland by a third ; and it might 
as well be reasoned that America was to be governed by the Irish 
parliament, as by the English. But it was granted " under the 
great seal of England" true. But this seal runneth not out of 
the realm, except to mandatory writs ; and when our charter was 
given, it was never intended to go out of the realm. The char 
ter and the corporation were intended to abide and remain with 
in the realm, and be like other Corporations there. But this 
affair of the seal is a mere piece of imposition. 

In Moore s reports in the case of the union of the realm of Scot 
land with England, it is resolved by the judges that " the seal IB 
alterable by the king at his pleasure, and he might make one seal 
for both kingdoms (of England and Scotland) for seals, coin, and 
leagues are of absolute prerogative to the king, without parlia 
ment, nor restrained to any assent of the people ;" and in deter 
mining how far the great seal doth command out of England, 
they made this distinction. " That the great seal was current for 
remediate, which groweth on complaint of the subject, and there 
upon writs are addressed under the great seal of England, which 
writs are limited, their precinct to be within the places of the 
jurisdiction of the court, that was to give the redress of the wrong. 
And therefore writs are not to go into Ireland, or the isles, nor 
Wales, nor the counties palatine, because the king s courts here 
have not power to hold pleas of lands or things there. But the 
great seal hath a power preceptory to the person, which power 
extendeth to any place, where the person may be found,&c." This 
authority plainly shews, that the great seal of England has no 
more authority out of the realm, except to mandatory or precep 
tory writs, and surely the first charter was no preceptory writ, 
than the privy seal, or the great seal of Scotland, or no seal at all. 
In truth, the seal and charter were intended to remain within the 
realm, and be of force to a corporation there ; but the moment 
it was transferred to New England, it lost all its legal force, by 
the common law of England ; and as this translation of it was ac 
quiesced in by all parties, it might well be considered as good 
evidence of a contract between the parties, and in no other light ; 
but not a whit the better or stronger for being under the great 
seal of England. But, "the grants are made by the king for his 
heirs arid successors." What then ? So the Scots held their 
lands of him, who was then king of England, his heirs and succes 
sors, and were bound to allegiance to him, his heirs and 


sors, but it did not follow from thence that the Scots were sub 
ject to the English parliament. So the inhabitants of Aquitain, 
for ten descents, held their lands, and were tied by allegiance to 
him who was king of England, his heirs and successors, but were 
under no subjection to English lords and commons. 

Heirs and successors of the king, are supposed to be the same 
persons, and are used as synonymous words in the English law. 
There is no positive artificial provision made by our laws, or th 
British constitution for revolutions. All our positive laws suppose 
that the royal office will descend to the eldest branch of the male 
line, or in default of that, to the eldest female, &c. forever, and 
that the succession will not be broken. It is true, that nature, 
necessity, and the great principles of self-preservation, have often 
over-ruled the succession. But this was done without any posi 
tive instruction of law. Therefore, the grants being by the 
king, for his heirs and successors, and the tenures being of the 
king, his heirs and successors, and the preservation being to the 
king, his heirs, and successors, are so far from proving that we 
were to be part of an empire, as one state, subject to the supreme 
authority of the English or British state, and subject to its protec 
tion, that they do not so much as prove that we are annexed to 
the English crown. And all the subtility of the writers on the 
side of the ministry, has never yet proved, that America is so 
much as annexed to the crown, much less to the realm. " It is 
apparent the king acted in his royal capacity, as king of England." 
This I den} . The laws of England gave him no authority to 
grant any territory out of the realm. Besides, there is no colour 
for his thinking that he acted in that capacity, but his using the 
great seal of England: but if the king is absolute in the affair of 
the seal, and may make or use any seal that he pleases, his using 
that seal which had been commonly used in England, is no cer 
tain proof that he acted as king of England ; for it is plain, he 
might have used the English seal in the government of Scotland, 
and in that case it will not be pretended that he would have acted 
in his royal capacity, as king of England. But his acting as king 
of England, " necessarily supposes the territory granted to be a 
part of the English dominions, and holden of the crown of Eng 
land." Here is the word " dominions," systematically introduced 
instead of the word c4 realm." There was no English dominions, 
but the realm. And I say that America was not any part of the 
English realm or dominions. And therefore, when the king 
granted it, he could not act as king of England, by the laws of 
England. As to the " territory being holden of the crown, there 
is no such thing in nature or art." Lands are holden according 
to the original notices of feuds of the natural person of the lord. 
Holding lands, in feudal language, means no more than the rela 
tion between lord and tenant. The reciprocal duties of these 
are all personal. Homage, fealty, &c. ad all other services, 
are personal to the lord ; protection, &c. is personal to the tenant. 


And therefore no homage, fealty, or other services, can ever be 
rendered to the body politic, the political capacity, which is not 
corporated, but only a frame in the mind, an idea. No lands 
here, or in England, are held of the crown, meaning by It, the 
political capacity ; they are all held of the royal person, the nat 
ural person of the king. Holding lands, &c. of the crown, is an. 
impropriety of expression, but it is often used, and when it is, it 
can have no other sensible meaning than this : that we hold 
lands of that person, whoever he is, who wears the crown ; the 
law supposes he will be a right, natural heir of the present king 

Massachusettensis then produces a quotation from the first 
charter, to prove several points. It is needless to repeat the; 
whole, but the parts chiefly relied on, are italicised. It makes 
the company a body politic in fact and name, &c. and enables it 
" to sue and be sued-" Then the writer asks, " whether this looks 
like a distinct state, or independent empire ?" I answer no. 
And that it is plain and uncontroverted, that the first charter was 
intended only to erect a corporation within the realm, and the 
governor and company were to reside within the realm, and their 
general courts were to be held there. Their agents, deputies, and 
servants only were to come to America. And if this had taken 
place, nobody ever doubted but they would have been subject to> 
parliament. But this intention was not regarded on either side, 
and the company came over to America, and brought their char 
ter with them. And as soon as they arrived here, they got out 
of the English realm, dominions, state, empire, call it by what 
name you will, and out of the legal jurisdiction of parliament. 
The king might, by his writ or proclamation, have commanded 
them to return ; but he did not. NOVANGLUS. 


HOSTILITIES, at Lexington, between Great Britain and her colo 
nies, commenced on the nineteenth of April, two days succeed 
ing the publication of this last essay. Several others were written, 
and sent to the printers of the Boston Gazette, which were probably 
lost, amidst the confusion occasioned by that event. 



TQ the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

December 12, 1774. 


WHEN a people, by what means soever, are reduced to such 
a situation, that every thing they hold dear, as men and citizens, 
is at stake, it is not only excuseable, but even praiseworthy for 
an individual to offer to the public any thing-, that he may think 
has a tendency to ward off the impending danger : nor should he 
be restrained from an apprehension that what he may offer will 
be unpopular, any more than a physician should be restrained 
from prescribing a salutary medicine, through fear it might be un 
palatable to his patient. 

The press, when open to all parties and influenced by none, is 
a salutary engine in a free state, perhaps a necessary one to pre 
serve the freedom of that state ; but, when a party has gained 
the ascendancy so far as to become the licensers of the press, 
either by an act of government, or by playing off the resentment 
of the populace against printers and authors, the press itself be 
comes an engine of oppression or licentiousness, and is as perni 
cious to society, as otherwise it would be beneficial. It is too 
true to be denied, that ever since the origin of our controversy 
with Great Britain, the press, in this town, has been much devot 
ed to the partizans of liberty ; they have been indulged in pub 
lishing what they pleased, fas vel nefas, while little has been pub- 
lished on the part of government. The effect this must have had 
upon the minds of the people in general is obvious ; they must 
have formed their opinion upon a partial view of the subject, and 
of course it must have been in some degree erroneous. Jn short, 
the changes have been rung so often upon oppression, tyranny 
and slavery, that, whether sleeping or waking they are continu 


ally vibrating in cur ears ; and it is now high time to ask our 
selves, whether we have not been deluded by sound only. 

M^dear countrymen, let us divest ourselves of prejudice, take 
a view of our present wretched situation, contrast it with our for 
mer happy one, carefully investigate the cause, and industriously 
seek some means to escape the evils we now feel, and prevent 
those that we have reason to expect. 

We have been so long advancing to our present state, and by 
such gradations, that perhaps many of us are insensible of our true 
state and real danger. Should you be told that acts of high trea 
son are flagrant through the country, that a great part of the 
province is in actual rebellion, would you believe it true? Should 
you not deem the person asserting it, an enemy to the province ? 
JSTay, should you not spurn him from you with indignation ? Be 
calm, my friends ; it is necessary to know the worst of a disease, 
to enable us to provide an effectual remedy. Are not the bands 
of society cut asunder, and the sanctions that hold man to man. 
trampled upon ? Can any of us recover a debt, or obtain com 
pensation for an injury, by law ? Are not many persons, whom once 
we respected and revered, driven from their homes and families, 
and forced to fly to the army for protection, for no other reason 
but their having accepted commissions under our king ? Is not 
civil government dissolved ? Some have been made to believe 
that nothing short of attempting the life of the king, or fighting 
his troops, can amount to high treason or rebellion. If, reader, 
you are one of those, apply to an honest lawyer, (if such an one 
can be found) and enquire what kind of offence it is for a num 
ber of men to assemble armed, and forcibly to obstruct the 
course of justice, even to prevent the king s courts from being 
held at their stated terms ; for a body of people to seize upon the 
king s provincial revenue; I mean the monies collected by virtue 
of grants made by the general court to his majesty for the sup 
port of his government, within this province ; for a body of men 
to assemble without being called by authority, and to pass govern 
mental acts ; or for a number of people to take the militia out of 
the hands of the king s representative, or to form a new militia, 
or to raise men and appoint officers for a public purpose, without 
the order or permission of the king, or his representative ; or for 
a number of men to take to their arms, and march with a profes 
sed design of opposing the king s troops ; ask, reader, of such a 
lawyer, what is the crime, and what the punishment ; and if, per- 
4 t hance, thou art one that hast been active in these things, and 
art not insensibility itself, his answer will harrow up thy soul. 

I assure you, my friends, I would not that this conduct should 
be told beyond the borders of this province ; 1 wish it were con 
signed to perpetual oblivion ; but alas, it is too notorious to be 
concealed ; our news-papers have already published it to the 
world ; we can neither prevent nor conceal it. The shaft is al 
ready sped, and the utmost exertion is necessary to prevent the 



blow. We already feel the effects of anarchy ; mutual confidence, 
affection, and tranquility, those sweetners of human life, are suc 
ceeded by distrust, hatred, and wild uproar; the useful arts of 
agriculture and commerce are neglected for caballing, mobbing 
this or the other man, because he acts, speaks, or is suspected of 
thinking different from the prevailing sentiment of the times, in 
purchasing arms, and forming a militia ; O height of madness ! 
with a professed design of opposing Great Britain. 1 suspect 
many of us have been induced to join in these measures, or but 
faintly to oppose them, from an apprehension that Great Britain 
would not, or could not exert herself sufficiently to subdue Amer 
ica. Let us consider this matter. However closely we may 
hug ourselves in the opinion, that the parliament has no right to 
tax or legislate for us, the people of England hold the contrary 
opinion as firmly. They tell us we are a part of the British em 
pire ; that every state, from the nature of government, must 
have a supreme, uncontrolable power, co-extensive with the em 
pire itself; and that that power is vested in parliament. It is as 
unpopular to deny this doctrine in Great Britain, as it is to assert 
it in the colonies ; so there is but little probability of serving our 
selves at this day by our ingenious distinctions between a right of 
legislation for one purpose, and not for another. We have bid 
them defiance ; and the longest sword must carry it, unless we 
change our measures. Mankind are the same, in all parts of the 
world. The same fondness for dominion that presides in the 
breast of an American, actuates the breast of an European. If 
the colonies are not a part of the British empire already, and 
subject to the supreme authority of the state, Great Britain will 
make them so. Had we been prudent enough to confine our op 
position within certain limits, we might have stood some chance 
of succeeding once more ; but alas, we have passed the Rubicon. 
It is now universally said and believed, in England, that if this op 
portunity of reclaiming the colonies, and reducing them to a sense 
of their duty is lost, they, in truth, will be dismembered from the 
empire, and become as distinct a state from Great Britain, as Han 
over; that is, although they may continue their allegiance to the 
person of the king, they will own none to the imperial crown of 
Great Britain, nor yield obedience to any of her laws, but such 
as they shall think proper to adopt. Can you indulge the thought 
one moment, that Great Britain will consent to this ? For what 
has she protected and defended the colonies against the maritime 
powers of Europe, from their first British settlement to this day ? 
For what did she purchase New-York of the Dutch ? For whaf 
was she so lavish of her best blood and treasure in the conquest 
of Canada, and other territories in America ? Was it to raise up 
a rival state, or to enlarge her own empire ? Or if the conside 
ration of empire was out of the question, what security can she 
have of our trade, when once she has lost our obedience ? I 
mention these things, my friends, that you may know how people 


reason upon the subject in England; and to convince you that 
you are much deceived, if you imagine that Great Britain will 
accede to the claims of the colonies, she will as soon conquer 
New- England as Ireland or Canada, if either of them revolted ; 
and by arms, if the milder influences of government prove inef 
fectual. Perhaps you are as fatally mistaken in another respect, 
I mean, as to the power of Great Britain to conquer. But can any 
of you, that think soberly upon the matter, be so deluded as to 
believe that Great Britain, who so lately carried her arms with 
success to every part of the globe, triumphed over the united 
powers of France and Spain, and whose fleets give law to the 
ocean, is unable to conquer us ? Should the colonies unite in a 
war against Great Britain (which by the way is not a supposable 
case) the colonies south of Pennsylvania would be unable to fur 
nish any men ; they have not more than is necessary to govern 
their numerous slaves, and to defend themselves against the In 
dians. I will suppose that the northern colonies can furnish a 
many, and indeed more men than can be used to advantage ; but 
have you arms fit for a campaign ? If you have arms, have you 
military stores, or can you procure them ? When this war is 
proclaimed, all supplies from foreign parts will be cut off. Have 
you money to maintain the war ? Or had you all those things, 
some others are still wanting, which are absolutely necessary to 
encounter regular troops, that is discipline, and that subordination, 
whereby each can command all below him, from a general officer- 
to the lowest subaltern ; these yon neither have nor can have in 
such a war. It is well known that the provincials in the late war 
were never brought to a proper discipline, though they had the 
example of the regular troops to encourage, and the martial law 
to enforce it. We all know, notwithstanding the province law 
for regulating the militia, it was under little more command than 
what the officers could obtain from treating and humouring the 
common soldiers ; whnt, then, can be expected from such au 
army as you will bring into the field, if you bring any, each one 
a politician, pulled up with his own opinion, and feeling himself 
second to none ? Can any of you command ten thousand such 
men ? Can you punish the disobedient ? Can all your wisdom 
direct their strength, courage or activity to any given point ? 
Would not the least disappointment or unfavourable aspect cause 
a general dereliction of the service ? Your new-fangled militia 
have already given us a specimen of their future conduct. IB 
some of their companies, they have already chosen two, in others, 
three sots of ofikers, and are as dissatisfied with the last choice 
as the lirnt. 1 do not doubt the natural bravery of my country 
men ; all men would act the same part in the same situation. 
Snch is the army with which you are to oppose the most poiver- 
&d nation upon the globe. An experienced officer would rather 
take his chance with five thousand British troops, than with fifty 
thousand such militia, i have hilhcrtd confined mv observations 


to the war within the interior parts of the colonies, let us now 
turn our eyes to our extensive sea coast, and that we find wholly 
at the mercy of Great Britain ; our trade, fishery, navigation, 
and maritime towns taken from us the very day that war is pro 
claimed. Inconceivably shocking the scene j if we turn our views 
to the wilderness, our back settlements a prey to our ancient en 
emy, the Canadians, whose wounds received from us in the late 
war, will bleed afresh at the prospect of revenge, and to the nu 
merous tribes of savages, whose tender mercies are cruelties. 
Thus with the British navy in the front, Canadians and savages in 
the rear, a regular army in the midst, we must be certain that 
whenever the sword of civil war is unsheathed, devastation will 
pass through our land like a whirlwind ; our houses be burnt to 
ashes ; our fair possessions laid waste, and he that falls by the 
sword, will be happy in escaping a more ignominious death. 

I have hitherto gone upon a supposition, that all the colonies, 
from Nova-Scotia to Georgia, would unite in the war against 
Great Britain ; but I believe, if we consider coolly upon the mat 
ter, we shall find no reason to expect any assistance out of New- 
England ; if so, there will be no arm stretched out to save us. 
New England, or perhaps this self-devoted province will fall alone 
the unpitied victim of its own folly, and furnish the world with 
one more instance of the fatal consequences of rebellion. 

I have as yet said nothing of the difference in sentiment among 
ourselves. Upon a superficial view we might imagine that this 
province was nearly unanimous ; but the case is far different. 
A very considerable part of the men of property in this province, 
are at this day firmly attached to the cause of government; bo 
dies of men, compelling persons to disavow their sentiments, to 
resign commissions, or to subscribe leagues and covenants, has 
wrought no change in their sentiments ; it has only attached them 
more closely to government, and caused them to wish more fer 
vently, and to pray more devoutly, for its restoration. These, and 
thousands beside, if they fight at all, will fight under the banners 
of loyalty. I can assure you that associations are now forming in/ 
several parts of this province, for the support of his majesty s 
government and mutual defence ; and let me tell you, whenever 
the royal standard shall be set up, there will be such a flocking 
to it, as will astonish the most obdurate. And now, in God s 
name, what is it that has brought us to this brink of destruction ? 
Has not the government of Great Britain been as mild and equita 
ble in the colonies, as in any part of her extensive dominions ? 
Has not she been a nursing mother to us, from the days of our in 
fancy to this time ? Has she not been indulgent almost to a fault 1 
Might not each one of us at this day have sat quietly under his 
own vine and fig-tree, and there have been none to make us afraid, 
were it not for our own folly ? Will not posterity be amazed, 
when they are told that the present distraction took its rise from 
a three penny duty on tea, and call it a more unaccountable frenzy. 

and more disgraceful to the annals of America, than that of the 
witchcraft ? 

I will attempt in the next paper to retrace the steps and mark 
the progressions that led us to this state. 1 promise to do it with 
fidelity ; and if any thing should look like reflecting on individu 
als or bodies of men, it must he set down to my impartiality, and 
not to a fondness for censuring. 



To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

December 19, 1774. 


I ENDEAVOURED last week to convince you of our real 
danger, not to render you desperate, but to induce you to seek 
immediately some effectual rejmedy. Our case is not -yet reme 
diless, as we have to deal with a nation not less generous and hu 
mane, than powerful and brave ; just indeed, but not vindictive. 

1 shall, in this and successive papers, trace this yet growing; 
distemper through its several stages, from the first rise to the 
present hour, point out the causes, mark the effects, shew the 
madness of persevering in our present line of conduct, and recom 
mend what, 1 have been long convinced, is our only remedy. I 
confess myself to be one of those, that think our present calamity 
is in a great measure to be attributed to the bad policy of a pop 
ular party in this province ; and that their measures for several 
years past, whatever may have been their intention, have been. 
diametricall} r opposite to their profession, the public good ; and 
cannot, at present, but compare their leaders to a false guide, that 
having led a benighted traveller through many mazes and wind 
ings in a thick wood, finds himself at length on the brink of a hor 
rid precipice, and, to save himself, seizes fast hold of his follower, 
to the utmost hazard of plunging both headlong down the steep, 
and being dashed in pieces together against the rocks below. 

In ordinary cases we may talk in the measured language of a 
courtier ; but when such a weight of vengeance is suspended over 
our heads, by a single thread, as threatens every moment to crush 
us to atoms, delicacy itself would be ill-timed. I will declare the 
plain truth wherever I find it, and claim it as a right to canvass 
popular measures and expose their errors and pernicious tendency, 


as freely as governmental measures are canvassed, so long as I 
confine myself within the limits of the law. 

At the conclusion of the late war, Great Britain found that 
though she had Tiumblecl her enemies, and greatly enlarged her 
own empire, that the national debt amounted to almost one hun 
dred and fifty millions, and that the annual cxpence of keeping 
her extended dominions in a state of defence, which good policy 
dictates no less in a time of peace than war, was increased in pro 
portion to the new acquisitions. Heavy taxes and duties were al 
ready laid, not only upon the luxuries and convenience^ but even 
the necessaries of life in Great Britain and Ireland. She knew 
that the colonies were as much benefitted by the conquests in the 
late war, as any part of the empire, and indeed more so, as their 
continental foes were subdued, and they might now extend their 
settlements not only to Canada, but even to the western ocean. 
The greatest opening was given to agriculture, the natural liveli 
hood of the country, that ever was known in the history of the 
world, and their trade, was protected by the British navy. The 
revenue to the crown, from America, amounted to but little more 
than the charges of collecting it. She thought it as reasonable 
that the colonies should bear a part of the national burden, as that 
they should share in the national benefit. For this purpose the 
stamp-act was passed. The colonies soon found that the duties 
imposedTiy the stamp-act would be grievous, as they were laid 
upon custom-house papers, law proceedings, conveyancing, and 
indeed extended to almost all their internal trade and dealings. 
It was generally believed through the colonies, that this was a tax 
not only exceeding our proportion, but beyond our utmost ability 
to pay. This idea, united the colonies generally in opposing it. 
At first we did not dream of denying the authority of parliament to . 
tax us, much less to legislate for us. We had always considered 
ourselves, as a part of the British empire, and the parliament,* as 
the supreme legislature of the whole. Acts of parliament for 
regulating our internal polity were familiar. We had paid post 
age agreeable to act of parliament, for establishing a post-office, 
duties imposed for regulating trade, and even for raising a revenue 
to the crown without questioning the right, though we closely ad 
verted to the rate or quantum. We knew that in all those acts of 
government, the good of the whole had been consulted, and when 
ever through want of information any thing grievous had been 
ordained, we were sure of obtaining redress by a proper repre 
sentation of it. We were happy in our subordination ; but in an 
evil hour, under the influence of some malignant planet, the de 
sign was formed of opposing the stamp-act, by a denial of the right 
of parliament to make it. The love of empire is so predominant 
in the human breast, that we rarely find an individual content with 
relinquishing a power that he is able to retain ; never a body of 
men. Some few months after it was known that the stamp-act 
was passed, some resolves *>f the house of burgesses in Virginia. 

denying the right of parliament to tax the colonies, made their 
appearance. We read them with Wonder ; they savoured of in 
dependence ; they flattered the human passions ; the reasoning 
was specious ; we wished it conclusive. The transition, to be 
lieving it so, was easy ; and we, and almost all America, followed 
their example, in resolving that the parliament had no such right. 
It now became unpopular to suggest the contrary ; his life would 
be in danger that asserted it. The newspapers were open to but 
one side of the question, and the inflammatory pieces that issued 
weekly from the press, worked up the populace to a fit temper to 
commit the outrages that ensued. A non-importation was agreed 
upon, which alarmed the merchants and manufacturers in Eng 
land. It was novel, and the people in England then supposed, that 
the love of liberty was so powerful in an American merchant, as 
to stifle his love of gain, and that the agreement would be relig 
iously adhered to. It has been said, that several thousands were 
expended in England, to foment the disturbances there. Howev 
er that may be, opposition to the ministry was then gaining ground, 
from circumstances, foreign to this. The ministry was changed, 
and the stamp-act repealed. The repealing statute passed, with 
difficulty however, through the house of peers, near forty noble 
lords protested against giving way to such an opposition, and fore 
told what has since literally come to pass in consequence of it. 
When the statute was made, imposing duties upon glass, paper, 
India teas, &c. imported into the colonies, it was said, that this 
was another instance of taxation, for some of the dutied commod 
ities were necessaries, we had them not within ourselves, were 
prohibited from importing them from any place except Great Brit 
ain, were therefore obliged to import them from Great Britain, 
and consequently, were obliged to pay the duties. Accordingly 
newspaper publications, pamphlets, resolves, non-importation 
agreements, and the whole system of American opposition was 
again put in motion. We obtained a partial repeal of this statute, ^ 
which took off the duties from all the articles except teas. This 
was the lucky moment when to have closed the dispute. We 
might have made a safe and honorable retreat. We had gained 
much, perhaps more than we expected. If the parliament had 
passed an act declaratory of their right to tax us, our assemblies 
had resolved, ten times, that they had no such right. We could 
not complain of the three-penny duty on tea as burdensome, for a 
shilling which had been laid upon it, for the purpose of regulating 
trade, and therefore was allowed to be constitutional, was taken 
off; so that we were in fact gainers nine-pence in a pound by the 
evv regulation. If the appropriation of the revenue, arising from 
this statute was disrelished, it was only our striking off one article 
of luxury from our manner of living, an article too, which if we 
may believe the resolves of most of the towns in this province, or 
rely on its collected wisdom in a resolve of the house of repre 
sentatives, was to the last degree ruinous to health. It was futile 


to urge its being a precedent, as a reason for keeping up the ball 
of contention ; for, allowing the supreme legislature ever to want 
a precedent, they had many for laying duties on commodities im 
ported into the colonies. And beside we had great reason to be 
lieve that the remaining part of the statute would be repealed, 
as soon as the parliament should suppose it could be done with 
honor to themselves, as the incidental revenue arising from the 
former regulation, was four fold to the revenue arising from the 
latter. A claim of the right, could work no injury, so long as 
there was no grievous exercise of it, especially as we had protest 
ed against it, through the whole, and could not be said to have 
departed from our claims in the least. We might now upon good 
terms have dropped the dispute, and been happy in the affections 
of our mother country ; but that is yet to come. Party is insep- 
erable from a free state. The several distributions of power, as 
they are limited by, so they create perpetual dissentions between 
each other, about their respective boundaries ; but the greatest 
source is the competition of individuals for preferment in the 
state. Popularity is the ladder by which the partizans usually 
climb. Accordingly, the struggle is, who shall have the greatest 
share of it. Each party professes disinterested patriotism, though 
some cynical writers have ventured to assert, that self-love is the 
ruling passion of the whole. There were two parties in this 
province of pretty long standing, known by the name of whig and 
tory, which at this time were not a little imbittered against each 
other. Men of abilities and acknowledged probity were n both 
sides. If the tories we.e suspected of pursuing their private in 
terest through the medium of court favor, there was equal reason 
to suspect the whigs of pursuing their private interest by the 
means of popularity. Indeed some of them owed all their impor 
tance to it, and must in a little time have sunk into obscurity, had 
these turbulent commotions then subsided. 

The tories and whigs took different routs, as usual. The to 
ries were for closing the controversy with Great Britain, the 
whigs for continuing it ; the tories were for restoring government 
in the province, which had become greatly relaxed by these con 
vulsions, to its former tone ; the whigs were averse to it ; they 
even refused to revive a temporary riot act, which expired about 
this time. Perhaps they thought that mobs were a necessary in 
gredient in their system of opposition. However, the whigs had 
great advantages in the unequal combat ; their scheme flattered 
the people with the idea of independence ; the tories plan suppo 
sed a degree of subordination, which is rather an humiliating idea ; 
besides there is a propensity in men to believe themselves injur 
ed and o,. pressed whenever they are told so. The ferment, raised 
in their%ninds in the time of the stamp-act, was not yet allayed, 
and the leaders of the whigs had gained the confidence of the peo 
ple by their successes in their former struggles, so that they had 
nothing to do but to keep up the spirit among the people, antl 


they were sure of commanding: in this province. It required some 
pains to prevent their minds settling into that calm, which is ordi 
narily the effect of a mild government ; the whigs were sensible 
that there was no oppression that could be either seen or felt ; if 
any thing was in reality amiss in government, it was its being too 
lax. So far was it from the innocent being in danger of suffering, 
that the most atrocious offenders escaped with impunity. They 
accordingly applied themselves to work upon the imagination, 
and to inflame the passions ; for this work they possessed great 
talents ; I will do justice to their ingenuity ; they were intimately 
acquainted with the feelings of man, and knew all the avenues to 
the human heart. Effigies, paintings, and other imagery were 
exhibited; the fourteenth of August was celebrated annually as 
a festival in commemoration of a mob s destroying a building, own- 
*^d by the late Lieutenant Governor, which was supposed to have 
been erected for a stamp-office; and compelling him to resign his 
office of stamp-master under liberty tree ; annual orations were 
delivered in the old south meeting house, on the fifth of March, 
the day when some persons were unfortunately killed by a party 
of the twenty-ninth regiment ; lists of imaginary grievances were 
continually published ; the people were told weekly that the min 
istry had formed a plan to enslave them ; that the duty upon tea 
was only a prelude to a window tax, hearth tax, land tax, and poll 
tax ; and these were only paving the way for reducing the coun 
try to lordships. This last bait was the more easily swallowed, as 
there seems to be an apprehension of that kind hereditary to the 
peopb of New-England ; arid were conjured by the duty they ow 
ed themselves, their country, and their God, by the reverence 
due to the sacred memory of their ancestors, and all their toils 
and sufferings in this once inhospitable wilderness, and by their 
affections for unborn millions, to rouse and exert themselves in 
the common cause. Thjs perpetual incantation kept the people 
in continual alarm. We were further stimulated by being told, 
that the people of England were depraved, the parliament venal, 
and the ministry corrupt ; nor were attempts wanting to traduce 
Majesty itself. The kingdom of Great Britain was depicted as an 
ancient structure, once the admiration of the world, now sliding 
from its base, and rushing to its fall. At the same time we were 
called upon to mark our own rapid growth, and behold the certain 
evidence that America was upon the eve of independent empire. 

When we consider what eifect a well written tragedy or novel 
has on the human passions, though we know it to be all fictitious, 
what effect must all this be supposed to have had upon those, that 
believed these high wrought images to be realities ? 

The tories have been censured for remissness in not having 
exerted themselves sufficiently at this period. The truth of thue 
cuse is this ; they saw and shuddered at the gathering storm, but 
durst not attempt to dispel it, lest it should burst on their own 
heads. Printers were threatened with the loss of their bread, for 


publishing freely on the tory side. One Mr. Mein was forced to. 
fly the country for persisting- in it. 

All our dissenting ministers were not inactive on this occasion. 
When the clergy engage in a political warfare, religion becomes 
a most powerful engine, either to support or overthrow the state. 
What effect must it have had upon the audience to hear the same 
sentiments and principles, which they had before read in a news 
paper, delivered on Sundays from the sacred desk, with a reli 
gious awe, and the most solemn appeals to heaven, from lips 
which they had been taught, from their cradles, to believe could 
utter nothing but eternal truths ? What was it natural to expect 
from a people bred under a free constitution, jealous of their lib 
erty, credulous, even to a proverb, when told their privileges 
were in danger, thus wrought upon in the extreme ? I answer, 
outrages disgraceful to humanity itself. What mischief was not 
an artful man, who had obtained the confidence and guidance of 
such an enraged multitude, capable of doing ? He had only to 
point out this or the other man, as an enemy of his country ; and no 
character, station, age, or merit could protect the proscribed from 
their fury. Happy was it for him, if he could secrete his person, 
and subject his property only to their lawless ravages. By such 
means, many people naturally brave and humane, have been, 
wrought upon to commit such acts of private mischief and public vi 
olence, as will blacken many a page in the history of our country. 

I shall next trace the effects of this spirit, which the whigs had 
thus infused into the body of the people, through the courts of 
common law, and the general assembly, and mark the ways and 
means, whereby they availed themselves of it, to the subversion of 
our charter constitution, antecedent to the late acts of parliament. 



To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Ban. 

December 26, 1774. 


TO undertake to convince a person of his error, is the indispen- 
sible duty, the certain, though dangerous test of friendship. He 
that could see his friend persevering in a fatal error, without re 
minding him of it, and striving to reclaim him, through fear that 
he might thereby incur his displeasure, would little deserve the 
sacred name himself. Such delicacy is not only false, hut criminal. 
Were I not fully convinced upon the m*st mature deliberation. 


that I am capable of, that the temporal salration of this province 
depends upon an entire and speedy change of measures, which 
must depend upon a change of sentiment, respecting our own con 
duct, and the justice of the British nation^ I never should have 
obtruded myself on the public. I repeat my promise, to avoid 
personal reflection, as much as the nature of the task will admit 
of; but will continue faithfully to expose the wretched policy of 
the whic-s, thouo-h I may be obliged to penetrate the arcana, and 
discover such things as, were there not a necessity for it, I should 
be infinitely happier in drawing a veil over, or covering with a 
mantle. Should I be so unfortunate as to incur your displeasure, 
I shall nevertheless think myself happy, if I can but snatch one of 
my fellow-subjects as a brand out of the burning 

Perhnps some may imagine that I have represented too many 
of my countrymen, as well as the leading whigs, in an unjust point 
of light, by supposing these so wicked as to mislead, or those so 
little circumspect as to be misled, in matters of the last importance. 
Whoever has been conversant with the history of man, must know 
that it abounds with such instances. The same game, and with 
the same success, has been played in all ages, and all countries. 

The bulk of the people are generally but little versed in mat 
ters of state. Want of inclination or opportunity to figure in pub 
lic life, makes them content to rest the affairs of government in 
the hands, where accident or merit has placed them. Their views 
and employments are confined to the humbler walks of business 
or retirement. There is a latent spark however, in their 
breasts, capable of being kindled into a flame ; to do this has al 
ways been the employment of the disaffected. They begin by 
reminding the people of the elevated rank they hold in the uni 
verse, as men ; that all men by nature are equal ; that kings are 
but the ministers of the people ; that their authority is delegated 
to them by the people for their good, and they have a right to 
resume it, and place it in other hands, or keep it themselves, 
whenever it is made use of to oppress them. Doubtless there 
have been instances where these principles have been inculcated 
to obtain a redress of real grievances, but they have been much 
oftener perverted to the worst of purposes. No government, 
however perfect in theory, is administered in perfection; the 
frailty of man does not admit of it. A small mistake, in point of 
policy, often furnishes a pretence to libel government, and per 
suade the people that their rulers are tyrants, and the whole 
government a system of oppression. Thus the seeds of sedition 
are usually sown, and the people are led to sacrifice real liberty 
to licentiousness, which gradually ripens into rebellion and civil 
war. And what is still more to be lamented, the generality of 
the people, who are thus made the dupes of artifice, and the 
mere stilts of ambition, are sure to be losers in the end. The 
test they can expect, is to be thrown neglected by, when they 
are no longer wanted ; but they are seldom so happy ; if they 


are subdued, confiscation of estate and ignominious death are 
their portion ; if they conquer, their own army is often turned 
upon them, to subjugate them to a more tyranical government 
than that they rebelled against. History is replete with instan 
ces of this kind ; we can trace them in remote antiquity, we find 
them in modern times, arid have a remarkable one in the very 
country from which we are derived. It is an universal truth, 
that he that would excite a rebellion, whatever professions of 
philanthropy he may make, when he is insinuating and worming 
himself into the good graces of the people, is at heart as great a 
tyrant as ever wielded the iron rod of oppression. I shall have 
occasion hereafter to consider this matter more fully, when I 
shall endeavour to convince you how little we can gain, and how 
much we may lose, by this unequal, unnatural, and desperate 
contest. My present business is, to trace the spirit of opposition 
to Great Britain through the general court, and the courts of 
common law. In moderate times, a representative that votes for 
an unpopular measure, or opposes a popular one, is in danger of 
losing his election the next year ; when party runs high, he isf 
sure to do it. It was the policy of the whigs to have their ques 
tions, upon high matters, determined by yea and nay votes, which 
were published with the representatives names in the next ga 
zette. This was commonly followed by severe strictures and the 
most illiberal invectives upon the dissentients ; sometimes they 
were held up as objects of resentment, of contempt at others ; the 
abuse was in proportion to the extravagance of the measure they 
opposed. This may seem not worth notice, but its consequences 
were important. The scurrility made its way into the dissen 
tient s town, it furnished his competitor with means to supplant 
him, and he took care to shun the rock his predecessor had split 
upon. In this temper of the times, it was enough to know who 
voted with Cassius and who with Lucius, to determine who was a 
friend and who an enemy to the country, without once adverting 
to the question before the house. The loss of a seat in the house 
was not of so much consequence ; but when once he became stig 
matized as an enemy to his country, he was exposed to insult ; 
and if his profession or business was such, that his livelihood de 
pended much on the good graces of his fellow citizens, he was in 
danger of losing his bread, and involving his whole family in ruin. 

One particular set of members, in committee, always prepared 
the resolves and other spirited measures. At first they were 
canvassed freely, at length would slide through the house with 
out meeting an obstacle. The lips of the dissentients were seal 
ed up ; they sat in silence, arid beheld with infinite regret the 
measures they durst not oppose. Many were borne down against 
their wills, by the violence of the current ; upon no other princi 
ple can we reconcile their ostensible conduct in the house to 
their declarations in private circles. The apparent unanimity in 
the house encouraged the opposition out of doors, and that in it 


turn strengthened the party in the house. Thus they went on 
mutually supporting and up-lifting each other. Assemblies and 
towns resolved alternately; some of them only omitted resolv 
ing to snatch the sceptre out of the hands of our sovereign, and 
tostrike the imperial crown from his sacred head. 

A master stroke in politics rsepeeting the agent, ought not to 
be neglected. Each colony has usually an agent residing at the 
court & of Great Britain. These agents are appointed by the three 
branches of their several assemblies ; and indeed there cannot be 
a provincial agent without such appointment. The whigs soon 
found that they could not have such services rendered them 
from a provincial agent, as would answer their purposes. The 
house therefore refused to join with the other two branches of 
the general court in the appointment. The house chose an 
agent for themselves, and the council appointed another. Thus 
we had two agents for private purposes, and the expence of 
agency doubled ; and with equal reason a third might have been 
added, as agent for the Governor, and the charges been trebled. 

The additional expence was of little consideration, compared 
with another inconvenience that attended this new mode of agen 
cy. The person appointed by the house was the ostensible 
agent of the province, though in fact he was only the agent of a 
few individuals that had got the art of managing the house at 
their pleasure. He knew his continuing in office depended upon 
them. An office, that yielded several hundred pounds sterling 
annually, the business of which consisted in little more than at 
tending the levees of the great, and writing letters to America, 
was worth preserving. Thus he was under a strong temptation 
to sacrifice the province to a party ; and ecchoed back the senti 
ments of his patrons. 

The advices continually received from one of the persons, that 
was thus appointed agent, had great influence upon the members 
of the house of more moderate principles. He had pushed his 
researches deep into nature, and made important discoveries ; 
; they thought he had done the same in politics, and did not admire 
him less as a politician, than as a philosopher. His intelligence as 
to the disposition of his majesty, the ministry, the parliament and 
the nation in general, was deemed the most authentic. He advi 
sed us to keep up our opposition, to resolve, and re-resolve, to 
cherish a military spirit, uniformly holding up this idea, that if we 
continued firm,- we had nothing to fear from the government in 
England. He even proposed some modes of opposition himself. 
The spirited measures were always ushered into the house with 
a letter from him. I have been sometimes almost ready to sus 
pect him of being the primum mobile, and, that like the man be 
hind the curtain at a puppet-shew, he was playing off the figures 
here with his own secret wires. If he advised to these measures 
contrary to his better knowledge, from sinister views, and to serve 
a private purpose, he has wilfully done the province irreparable 
injury. However, 1 will do him justice ; he enjoined it upon us 


to refrain from violence, as that would unite the nation against us , 
and I am rather inclined to think that he was deceived himself, 
with respect to the measures he recommended, as he has already 
felt the resentment of that very government, which he told us there 
was nothing to fear from. This disposition of the house could 
not have produced such fatal effects, had the other two branches 
of the legislature retained their constitutional freedom and influ 
ence. They might have been a sufficient check. 

The councillors depended upon the general assembly for their 
political existence ; the whigs reminded the council of their mor 
tality. If a councellor opposed the violent measures of the whigs 
with any spirit, he lost his election the next May. The council 
consisted of twenty-eight. From this principle, near half that 
number, mostly men of the first families, note and abilities, with 
every possible attachment to their native country, and as far from 
temptation as wealth and independence could remove them, were 
tumbled from their seats in disgrace. Thus the board, which was 
intended to moderate between the two extremes of prerogative 
and privilege, lost its weight in the scale, and the political balance 
of the province was destroyed. 

Had the chair been able to retain its own constitutional influ 
ence, the loss of the board would have been less felt ; but no 
longer supported by the board, that fell likewise. The Governor 
by the charter could do little or nothing without the council. If 
he called upon a military officer to raise the militia, he was an 
swered, they were there already. If he called upon his council 
for their assistance, they must first enquire into the cause. If he 
wrote to government at home to strengthen his hands, some offi 
cious person procured and sent back his letters. 

It was not the person of a Bernard or Hutchinson that made 
them obnoxious ; any other governors would have met with the 
same fate, had they discharged their duty with equal fidelity ; that 
is, had they strenuously opposed the principles and practices of the 
whigs; and when they found that the government here could not 
support itself, wrote home for aid sufficient to do it. And let me tell 
you, had the intimations in those letters, which you are taught to 
execrate, been timely attended to, we had now been as happy a 
people as good government could make us. Gov. Bernard came 
here recommended by the affections of the province over which 
he had presided. His abilities are acknowledged. True British 
honesty and punctuality are traits in his character, too strongly 
marked to escape the eye of prejudice itself. We know Gov 
ernor Hutchinson to be amiable and exemplary in private life. 
His great abilities, integrity and humanity were conspicuous, in 
the several important departments that he filled, before his ap 
pointment to the chair, and reflect honour on his native country. 
But his abilities and integrity, added to his thorough knowledge 
of the province, in all its interests and connexions, were insuffi 
cient in thi case. The constitution iteelf was jone, though the 


ancient form remained ; the spirit was truly republican. He en 
deavoured to reclaim us by gentle means He strove to convince 
us by arguments, drawn from the first principles of government ; 
our several charters, and the express acknowledgments of our an 
cestors, that our claims were inconsistent with the subordination 
due to Great Britain ; and if persisted in, might work the destruc 
tion of those that we were entitled to. For this he was called an en 
emy to his country, and set up as a mark for the envenomed ar 
rows of malice and party rage. Had I entertained a doubt about 
its being the governor, and not the man that was aimed at, the 
admirable facility with which the newspaper abuse was transfer 
red from Gov. Hutchinson to his humane and benevolent succes 
sor, Gen. Gage, almost as soon as he set foot on our shore, would 
have removed it. 

Thus, disaffection to Great Britain being infused into the body 
of the people, the subtle poison stole through all the veins and 
arteries, contaminated the blood, and destroyed the very stamina 
of the constitution. Had not the courts of justice been tainted 
in the early stages, our government might have expelled the 
virus, purged off the peccant humors, and recovered its former 
vigour, by its own strength. The judges of the superior court 
were dependant upon the annual grants of the general court for 
their support. Their salaries were small, in proportion to the 
salaries of other officers in the government, of less importance. 

They had often petitioned the assembly to enlarge them, with 
out success. They were at this time reminded of their depend- 
ance. However, it is but justice to say, that the judges remained 
unshaken, amid the raging tempests, which is to be attributed 
rather to their firmness than situation. But the spirit of the 
times was very apparent in the juries. The grand jurors were 
elective ; and in such places where libels, riots, and insurrections 
were the most frequent, the high whigs took care to get them 
selves chosen. The judges pointed out to them the seditious 
libels on governors, magistrates, and the whole government to no 
effect. They were enjoined to present riots and insurrections, of 
which there was ample evidence, with as little success. 

It is difficult to account for so many of the first rate whigs being" 
returned to serye on the petit jury at the term next after extra 
ordinary insurrections, without supposing some legerdemain in 
drawing their names out of the box. It is certain that notwith 
standing swarms of the most virulent libels infested the province, 
and there were so many riots and insurrections, scarce one offend 
er was indicted, and I think not one convicted and punished. 
Causes of meum et tuum were not always exempt from party in 
fluence. The mere circumstance of the whigs gaining the as 
cendency over the tories, is trifling. Had the whigs divided the 
province between them, as they once flattered themselves they 
should be able to do, it would have been of little consequence 
to the community, had they not cut asunder the very sinews of 


government? and broke in pieces the ligaments of social life in 
the attempt. I will mention two instances, which I have selected 
out of many, of the weakness of our government, as they are 
recent and unconnected with acts of parliament. One Malcolm, a 
loyal subject, and as such entitled to protection, the evening he- 
fore the last winter sessions of the general court, was dragged 
out of his house, stript, tarred and feathered, and carted several 
hours in the severest frost of that winter, to the utmost hazard 
of his life. He was carried to the gallows with an halter about 
his neck, and in his passage to and from the gallows, was beaten 
with as cruel stripes as ever were administered by the hands of a 
savage. The whipping, however, kept up the circulation of his 
blood, and saved the poor man s life. When they had satiated 
their malice, they dispersed in good order. This was transacted 
in the presence of thousands of spectators ; some of whom were 
members of the general court. Malcolm s life was despaired of 
several days, but he survived and presented a memorial to the 
general assembly, praying their interposition. The petition was 
read, and all he obtained was leave to withdraw it. So that he , 
was destitute of protection every hour, until he left the country, 
as were thousands beside, until the arrival of the king s troop. 
This originated from a small fracas in the street, wherein Malcolm 
struck, or threatened to strike a person that insulted him, with a 
cutlass, and had no connection with the quarrel of the times, un 
less his sustaining a small post in the customs made it. 

The other instance is much stronger than this, as it was totally 
detached from politics. It had been suspected that infection had 
been communicated from an hospital, lately erected at Marble- 
head, for the purpose of innoculating the small-pox, to the town s 
people. This caused a great insurrection ; the insurgents burnt 
the hospital ; not content with that, threatened the proprietors, 
and many others, some of the first fortunes and characters in the 
town, with burning their houses over their heads, and continued 
parading the streets, to the utmost terror of the inhabitants sev 
eral days. A massacre and general devastation was apprehended. 
The persons threatened, armed themselves, and petitioned the. 
general assembly, which was then sitting, for assistance, as there 
was little or no civil authority in the place. A committee was or 
dered to repair to Marblehead, report the facts, and enquire into 
the cause. The committee reported the facts nearly as stated in 
the petition. The report was accepted, and nothing farther done 
by the assembly. Such demonstrations of the weakness of gov 
ernment induced many person? to join the whigs, to seek from jvj 
them that protection, which the constitutional authority of the 
province was unable to afford. 

^Government at home, early in the day, made an effort to check 
us in our career, and to enable us to recover from anarchy with 
out her being driven to the necessity of altering our provincial 
constitution, knowing the predilection that people always have. 


for an ancient form of government. The judges of the superior 
court had not been staggered, though their feet stood in slippery 
places, they depended upon the leading whigs for their support. 
To keep them steady, they were made independent of the grants 
of the general assembly : but it was not a remedy any way ade 
quate to the disease. The whigs now turned their artillery 
against them, and it played briskly The chief justice, for ac 
cepting the crown grant, was accused of receiving a royal bribe. 
Thus, my friends, those very persons that had made you be 
lieve that every attempt to strengthen government and save our 
[charter was an infringement of your privileges, by little and lit 
tle destroyed your real liberty, subverted your charter constitu 
tion, abridged the freedom of the house, annihilated the freedom 
of the board, and rendered the governor a mere doge of Venice. 
They engrossed all the power of the province into their own 
hands. A democracy or republic it has heen called, but it does 
not deserve the name of either ; it was, however, a despotism 
cruelly carried into execution by mobs and riots, and more incom 
patible with the rights of mankind, than the enormous monarch 
ies of the East. The absolute necessity of the interposition of 
parliament is apparent, The good policy of the act for regula 
ting the government jn this province, will be the subject of some 
future paper. A particular enquiry into the despotism of the 
whig-s will be deferred for a chapter on congresses. I shall next 
ask your attention to a transaction, as important in its consequen 
ces, and perhaps more so, than any I have yet mentioned ; I mean 
the destruction of the tea, belonging to the East-India company. 
I am sensible of the difficulty of the task, in combating generally 
received opinions. It is hard work to eradicate deep-rooted pre 
judice. But I will persevere. There are hundreds, if not thou 
sands, in the province, that will feel the truth of what I have 
written, line by line as they read it, and as to those who obstinately 
shut their eyes against it now, haply the fever of the times may 
intermit, there may be some lucid interval, when their minds shall 
be open to truth, before it is too late to serve them ; otherwise it 
will be revealed to them in bitter moments, attended with keen 
remorse and unutterable anguish. Magna est v&ritas et prevalebit* 




To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. 

January 2, 1775. 


PERHAPS by this time some of you may enquire who it is, 
that suffers his pen to run so freely 1 I will tell you ; it is a native 
of this province, that knew it before many that are now basking 
in the rays of political sunshine, had a being-. He was favored 
not by whigs or tories, but the people, with such a stand in the 
community, as that he could distinctly see all the political manoeu 
vres of the province. He saw some with pleasure, others with 
pain. If he condemns the conduct of the whigs, he does not al 
ways approve of the conduct of the tories. He dwells upon the 
misconduct of the former^ because we are indebted to that for 
bringing us into this wretched state, unless the supineness of the 
latter, at some periods, and some impolitic efforts to check the 
whigs in their career, at others, that served like adding fuel to 
the fire, ought to be added to the account. He is now repaying- 
your favors, if he knows his own heart, from the purest gratitude 
and the most undissembled patriotism, which will one day be ac 
knowledged. I saw the small seed of sedition, when it was im 
planted ; it was, as a grain of mustard. I have watched the planl 
until it has become a great tree ; the vilest reptiles that crawl 
upon the earth, are concealed at the root ; the foulest birds of 
the air rest upon its branches. I now would induce you to go to 
work immediately with axes and hatchets, and cut it down, for a 
twofold reason ; because it is a pest to society, and lest it be felled 
suddenly by a stronger arm and crush its thousands in the fall. 

An apprehension of injustice in the conduct of Great Britain 
towards us, I have already told you was one source of our misery. 
Last week I endeavoured to convince you of the necessity of her 
regulating, or rather establishing some government amongst us. 
I am now to point out the principles and motives upon which the 
blockade act was made. The violent attack upon the property of 
the East-India company, in the destruction of their tea, was the 
cause of it. In order to form a right judgment of that ti ansaction, 
it is necessary to go back and view the cause of its being sent 
here. As the government of England is mixt, so the spirit or ge 
nius of the nation is at once monarchial, aristocratical, democrat* 
ical, martial and commercial. It is difficult to determine which is 
the most predominant principle, but it is worthy of remark, that, 
to injure the British nation upon either of these points, is like in 
juring a Frenchman in the point of honor. Commerce i the 


great source of national wealth ; for this reason it is cherished by 
all orders of men from the palace to the cottage. In some coun 
tries, a merchant is held in contempt by the nobles ; in England 
they respect him. He rises to high honors in the state, often 
contracts alliances with the first families in the kingdom, and no 
ble blood flows in the veins of his posterity. Trade is founded 
upon persons or countries mutually supplying each other with 
their redundances. Thus none are impoverished, all enriched, 
the asperities of human life worne away, and mankind made hap 
pier by it. Husbandry, manufacture and merchandize are its tri 
ple support ; deprived of either of these, it would cease. 

Agriculture is the natural livelihood of a country but thinly in 
habited, as arts and manufactures are of a populous one. The 
high price of labour prevents manufactures being carried on to 
advantage in the first, scarcity of soil obliges the inhabitants to 
pursue them in the latter. Upon these, and considerations ari 
sing from the fertility and produce of different climates, and such 
like principles, the grand system of the British trade is founded. 
The collected wisdom of the nation has always been attentive to 
this great point of policy, that the national trade might be so bal 
anced and poised, as that each part of her extended dominions- 
might be. benefitted, and the whole concentre to the good of the 
empire. This evinces the necessity of acts for regulating trade. 

To prevent one part of the empire being enriched at the ex- 
pence and to the impoverishing of another, checks, restrictions, 
and sometimes absolute prohibitions are necessary. These are 
imposed or taken off as circumstances vary. To carry the acts 
jf trade into execution, many officers are necessary. Thus, tve 
see a number of custom-house officers, so constituted as to be 
checks and controuls upon each other, and prevent their swerv 
ing from their duty, should they be tempted, and a board of com 
missioners appointed to superintend the whole, like the commis 
sioners of the customs in England. Hence also arises the neces 
sity of courts of admiralty. 

The laws and regulations of trade, are esteemed in England, as 
sacred. An estate made by smuggling or pursuing an illicit trade, 
is there looked upon as filthy lucre^ as monies amassed by gaming, 
and upon the same principle, because it is obtained at the expence, 
and often ruin of others. The smuggler not only injures the pub 
lic, but often ruins the fair trader. 

The great extent of sea-coast, many harbours, the variety oi 
islands, the numerous creeks and navigable rivers, afford the great 
est opportunity to drive an illicit trade, in these colonies, without 
detection. This advantage has not been overlooked by the avar 
icious, and many persons seem to have set the laws of trade at 
defence. This accounts for so many new regulations being made, 
new officers appointed, and ships of war, from time to time, station 
ed uloptf t| ie continent. The way to Holland and back again is 
.vi-ll known, nnd by much the greatest part of the tea that has 


been drank in America for several years, has been imported front 
thence and other places, in direct violation of law. By this the 
smugglers have amassed great estates, to the prejudice of the fair 
trader. It was sensibly felt by the East-India company ; they 
vrere prohibited from exporting their teas to America, and were 
obliged to sell it at auction in London ; the London merchant pur 
chased it^ and put a profit upon it when he shipt it for America ; 
the American merchant^ in his turn, put a profit upon it, and after 
him the shopkeeper; so that it came to the consumer s hands, at a 
very advanced price. Such quantities of tea were annually smug 
gled that it was scarcely worth while for the American merchant 
to import tea from England at all. Some of the principal trading 
towns in America were wholly supplied with this commodity by 
smuggling ; Boston however continued to import it, until advice 
was received that the parliament had it in contemplation to per 
mit the East-India company to send their teas directly to America. 
The Boston merchants then sent their orders conditionally to 
their correspondents in England, to have tea shipt for them in 
case the East-India company s tea did not come out ; one mer 
chant, a great whig, had such an order lying in England for sixty 
chests, on his own account, when the company s tea was sent. 
An act of parliament was made to enable the East-India company 
to send their tea directly to America, and sell it at auction there, 
not with a view of raising a revenue from the three penny duty, 
but to put it out of the power of the smugglers to injure them by 
their infamous trade. We have it from good authority, that the 
revenue was not the consideration before parliament, and it is 
reasonable to suppose it ; for had that been the point in view, it 
was only to restore the former regulation, which was then al 
lowed to be constitutional, and the revenue would have been res 
pectable. Had this new regulation taken effect, the people in 
America would have been great gainers. The wholesale mer 
chant might have been deprived of some of his gains ; but the 
retailer would have supplied himself with this article, directly 
from the auction, and the consumer reap the benefit, as tea would 
have been sold under the price that had been usual, by near one 
half. Thus the country in general would have been great gain 
ers, the East-India company secured in supplying the American 
market with this article, which they are entitled to by the laws 
of trade, and smuggling suppressed, at least as to tea. A smug 
gler and a whig are cousin germans, the offspring of two sisters, 
avarice and ambition. They had been playing into each others 
hands a long time. The smuggler received protection from the 
whig, and he in his turn received support from the smuggler. 
The illicit trader now demanded protection from his kinsman, and 
it would have been unnatural in him to have refused it ; and be 
side, an opportunity presented of strengthening his own interest 
The consignees were connected with the tories, and that was a 
further stimulus. Accordingly the press wa? ng-ain set to work ; 


and the old story repeated with addition about monopolies, and 
many infatuated persons once more wrought up to a proper pitch 
to carry into execution any violent measures, that their leaders 
should propose. A bold stroke was resolved upon. The whigs, 
though they had got the art of managing the people, had too much 
sense to be ignorant that it was all a mere finesse, not only with 
out, but directly repugnant to law, constitution and government, 
and could not last always. They determined to put all at hazard, 
and to be aut Cvsar aut nullus. The approaching storm was fore 
seen, and the first ship that arrived with the tea, detained below 
Castle William. A body meeting was assembled at the old south 
meeting-house, which has great advantage over a town meeting^ 
as no law has yet ascertained the qualification of the voters ; each 
person present^ of whatever age, estate or country, may take the 
liberty to speak or vote at such an assembly ; and that might 
serve as a screen to the town where it originated, in case of auy 
disastrous consequence. The body meeting consisting of several 
thousands, being thus assembled, with the leading whigs at its 
head, in the first place sent for the owner of the tea ship, and re 
quired him to bring her to the wharf, upon pain of their displea 
sure ; the ship was accordingly brought up, and the master was 
obliged to enter at the custom house. He reported the tea, after 
which twenty days are allowed for landing it and paying the duty. 
The next step was to resolve. They resolved that the tea 
should not be landed nor the duty paid, that it should go home in 
the same bottom that it came in, &c. &c. This was the same as 
resolving to destroy it, for as the ship had been compelled to come 
to the wharf, and was entered at the custom house, it could not, 
by law, be cleared out, without the duties being first paid, nor 
could the governor grant a permit for the vessel to pass Castle 
William, without a certificate from the custom house of such clear 
ance, consistent with his duty. The body accordingly, ordered a 
military guard to watch the ship every night until further orders. 
The consignees had been applied to, by the selectmen, to send the 
tea to England, they answered that they could not ; for if they did, 
it would be forfeited by the acts of trade, and they should be lia 
ble to make good the loss to the East India company. Some of 
the consignees were mobbed, and all were obliged to fly to the 
castle, and there immure themselves. They petitioned the gov 
ernor and council to take the property of the East India company 
under their protection. The council declined being concerned in 
it. The consignees then offered the body to store the tea under 
the care of the selectmen or a committee of the town of Boston, 
and to have no further concern in the matter until they could send 
to England, and receive further instructions from their principals. 
This was refused with disdain. The military guard was regular 
ly kept in rotation till the eve of the twentieth day, when the du 
ties must have been paid, the tea landed, or be liable to seizure ; 
then the military guard was withdrawn, or rather omitted being* 


posted, and a number of persons in disguise, forcibly entered the 
ships, (three being by this time arrived) split open the chests, and 
emptied all the tea, being of 10,OOOJ. sterling value, into the dock, 
and perfumed the town with its fragrance. Another circumstance 
ought not to be omitted : the afternoon before the destruction oi 
the tea, the body sent the owner of one of the ships to the gov 
ernor to demand a pass ; he answered, that he would as soon give 
a pass for that as any other vessel, if he had the proper certificate 
from the custom house ; without which he could not give a pass 
for any, consistent with his duty It was known that this would 
be the answer, when the message was sent, and it was with the 
utmost difficulty that the body were kept together till the mes 
senger returned. When the report was made, a shout was set up 
in the galleries and at the door, and the meeting immediately dis 
persed. The governor had, previous to this, sent a proclamation 
by the sheriff, commanding the body to disperse ; they permitted 
it to be read, and answered it with a general hiss. These are 
the facts, as truly and fairly stated, as 1 am able to state them. 
The ostensible reason for this conduct, was the tea s being sub 
ject to the three-penny duty. Let us take the advocates for this 
transaction upon their own principle, and admit the duty to be un 
constitutional, and see how the argument stands. Here is a car 
go of tea subject upon its being entered and landed, to a duty of 
three-pence per pound, which is paid by the East India company 
or by their factors, which amounts to the same thing. Unless we 
purchase the tea, we shall never pay the duty ; if we purchase it, 
we pay the three-pence included in the price : therefore, lest we 
should purchase it, we have a right to destroy it. A flimsy pre 
text ! and either supposes the people destitute of virtue, or that 
their purchasing the tea was a matter of no importance to the 
community ; but even this gauze covering is stript off, when we 
consider that the Boston merchants, and some who were active at 
the body meeting, were every day importing from England, iarge 
quantities of tea subject to the same duty and vending it unmolest 
ed ; and at this time had orders lying in their correspondent s 
hands, to send them considerable quantities of tea, in case the East- 
India company should not send it themselves. 

When the news of this transaction arrived in England, and it 
was considered in what manner almost every other regulation of 
trade had been evaded by artifice, and when artifice could no long 
er serve, recourse was had to violence ; the British lion was rou 
sed. The crown lawyers were called upon for the law ; they 
answered, high treason. Had a Cromwell, whom some amongst 
us deify and imitate in all his imitable perfections, had the gui 
dance of the national ire, unless compensation had been made to 
the sufferers immediately upon its being demanded, your proud 
capital had been levelled with the dust ; not content with that, 
rivers of blood would have been shed to make atonement for the 
injured honor of the nation. It was debated whether to attaint 


the principals of treason. We have a gracious king upon the 
throne ; he felt the resentment of a man, softened by the relent- 
ings of a parent. The bowels of our mother country yearned 
towards her refractory, obstinate child. 

It was determined to consider the offence in a milder light, and 
to compel an indemnification for the sufferers, and prevent the 
like for the future, by such means as would be mild, compared with 
the insult to the nation, or severe, as our future conduct should 
be ; that was to depend upon us. Accordingly the blockade act 
was passed, and had an act of justice been done in indemnifying 
the sufferers, and an act of loj alty in putting a stop to seditious 
practices, our port had long since been opened. This act has been 
called unjust, because it involves the innocent in the same pre 
dicament with the guilty ; but it ought to be considered, that oui 
newspapers had announced to the world, that several thousands 
attended those body meetings, and it did not appear that there was 
one dissentient, or any protest entered. I do not know how a per 
son could expect distinction, in such a case, if he neglected to distin 
guish himself. When the noble lord proposed it in the house of 
commons, he called upon all the members present, to mention a 
better method of obtaining justice in this case ; scarce one denied 
the necessity of doing something, but none could mention a more 
eligible way. Even ministerial opposition was abashed. If any 
parts of the act strike us, like the severity of a master, let us cool 
ly advert to the aggravated insult, and perhaps we shall wonder 
at the lenity of a parent. After this transaction, all parties seem 
to have lain upon their oars, waiting to see what parliament would 
do. When the blockade act arrived, many and many were desir 
ous of paying for the tea immediately, and some who were guilt 
less of the crime, offered to contribute to the compensation ; but 
our leading whigs must still rule the roast, and that inauspicious 
influence that had brought us hitherto, plunged us still deeper in 
misery. The whigs saw their ruin connected with a compliance 
with the terms of opening the port, as it would furnish a convin 
cing proof of the wretchedness of their policy in the destruction 
of the tea, and they might justly have been expected to pay the 
money demanded themselves, and set themselves industriously to 
work to prevent it, and engage the other colonies to espouse their 

This was a crisis too important and alarming to the province to 
be neglected by its friends. A number of as respectable persons 
as any in this province, belonging to Boston, Cambridge, Salem 
and Marblehead, now came forward, publicly to disavow the pro 
ceedings of the whigs, to do justice to the much injured character 
of Mr. Hutchinson, and to strengthen his influence at the court of 
Great Britain, where he was going to receive the well deserved 
plaudit of his sovereign, that he might be able to obtain a repeal 
or some mitigation of that act, the terms of which they foresaw, 
the perveraeness of the whigs would prevent a compliance with. 


This was-done by several addresses, which were subscribed by up 
wards of two hundred persons, and would have been by m;mj 
more, had not the sudden embarkation of Mr. Hutchinson prevent 
ed it. The justices of the court of common pleas and general --.-- 
Bioas of the peace for the county of Plymouth, sent their address 
to him in England. There were some of almost all orders of men 
among these addressers, but they consisted principally of men of 
property, large family connections, and several were independent 
in their circumstances, and lived wholly upon the income of their 
estates. Some indeed might be called partizans ; but a very con 
siderable proportion were persons that had of choice kept them 
selves at a distance from the political vortex ; had beheld the corn- 
petion of the whigs and tories without any emotion, while the 
community remained safe ; had looked down on the political dance 
in its various mazes and intricacies, and saw one falling, another 
rising, rather as a matter of amusement; but when they saw the 
capital of the province upon the point of being sacrificed by po 
litical cunning, it called up all their feelings. 

Their motives were truly patriotic. Let us now attend to the 
ways and means by which the whigs prevented these exertions 
producing such effects. Previous to this, a new, and until lately, 
unheard of, mode of opposition had been devised, said to be the 
invention of the fertile brain of one of our party agents, called a 
committee of correspondence. This is the foulest, subtlest, and 
most venemous serpent that ever issued from the eggs of sedition. 
These committees generally consist of the highest whigs, or at 
least there is some high whig upon them, that is the ruling spirit 
of the whole. They are commonly appointed at thin town meet 
ings, or if the meetings happen to be full, the moderate men sel 
dom speak or act at all, when this sort of business comes on. 
They have been by much too modest. Thus the meeting is often 
prefaced with, " at a full town meeting," and the several resolves 
headed with nem. con. with strict truth, when in fact, but a 
small proportion of the town have had a hand in the matter. It 
is said that the committee for the town of Boston was appointed 
for a special purpose, and that their commission long since expir 
ed. However that may be, these committees when once estab 
lished, think themselves amenable to none, they assume a dictato 
rial style, and have an opportunity under the apparent sanction of 
their several towns, of clandestinely wreaking private revenge- 
on individuals, by traducing their characters, and holding them up 
as enemies to their country, wherever they go, as also of misrep 
resenting facts and propagating sedition through the country. 
Thus, a man of principle and property, in travelling through the 
country, would be insulted by persons, whose faces he had never 
before seen ; he would often feel the smart without suspecting the 
hand that administered the blow. These committees, as they are 
not known in law, and can derive no authority from thence, lest 
they should not get their share of power, sometimes engross it 


all ; they frequently erect themselves into a tribunal, where the 
same persons are at once legislators, accusers, witnesses, judges, 
and jurors, and the mob the executioners. The accused has no 
day in court, and the execution of the sentence is the tirst notice 
he receives. This is the channel through which liberty matters 
have been chiefly conducted the summer and fall past. This ac 
counts for the same distempers breaking out in different parts of 
the province, at one and the same time, which might be attributed 
to something supernatural, by those that were unacquainted with 
the secret conductors of the infection. It is chiefly owing to these 
committees, that so many respectable persons have been abused, 
and forced to sign recantations and resignations ; that so many 
persons, to avoid such reiterated insults, as are more to be depre 
cated by a man of sentiment than death itself, have been obliged 
to quit their houses, families, and business, and fly to the army 
for protection ; that husband has been separated from wife, father 
from son, brother from brother, the sweet intercouse of conjugal 
and natural affection interrupted, and the unfortunate refugee for 
ced to abandon all the comforts of domestic life. My countrymen, 
I beg you to pause and reflect on this conduct. Have not these 
people, that are thus insulted, as good a right to think and act for 
themselves in matters of the last importance, as the whigs ? Are 
they not as closely connected with the interest of their country 
as the whigs ? Do not their former lives and conversations ap 
pear to have been regulated by principle, as much as those of the 
whigs ? You must answer, yes. Why, then, do you suffer them 
to be cruelly treated for differing in sentiment from you ? Is it 
consistent with that liberty you profess ? Let us wave the con 
sideration of right and liberty, and see if this conduct can be rec 
onciled to good policy. I}o you expect to make converts by it ? 
Persecution has the same effect in politics, that it has in religion; 
it confirms the sectary. Do you wish to silence them, that the 
inhabitants of the province may appear unanimous ? The mal 
treatment they receive, for differing from you, is undeniable evi 
dence that we are not unanimous. It may not be amiss to consid 
er, that this is a changeable world, and time s roiling wheel may 
ere long bring them uppermost ; in that case I am sure you would 
not wish to have them fraught with resentment. It is astonishing, 
my friends, that those who are in pursuit of liberty, should ever 
suffer arbitrary power, in such an hideous form and squalid hue, 
to get a footing among them, I appeal to your good sense ; I 
know you have it, and hope to penetrate to it, before I have fin 
ished my publications, notwithstanding the thick atmosphere that 
now envelopes it. JBqt to return from my digression, the commit 
tee of correspondence represented the destruction of the tea in 
their own way ; they represented those that addressed Gov. Hutch- 
mson, as persons of no note or property, as mean, base wretches, 
and seekers that had been sacrificing their country in adulation 
oi him. Whole nations have worshipped the rising, but if this be 


an instance, it is the only one of people s worshipping the setting 
sun. By this means the humane and benevolent, in various parts 
of the continent, were induced to advise us not to comply with the 
terms for opening our port, and engage to relieve us with their 
charities, from the distress that must otherwise fall upon the poor. 
Their charitable intentions ascend to heaven, like incense from 
the altar, in sweet memorial before the throne of God ; but their 
donations came near proving fatal to the province. It encouraged 
the whigs to persevere in injustice, and has been the means of se 
ducing many an honest man info the commission of a crime, that 
he did not suspect himself capable of being guilty of. What I 
have told you, is not the mere suggestions of a speculatist ; there 
are some mistakes as to numbers, and there may be some as to 
time and place, partly owing to miscopying, and partly to my not 
always having had the books and papers necessary to greater ac 
curacy, at hand ; but the relation of facts is in substance true, 
I had almost said, as holy writ. 1 do not ask you to take the truths 
of them from an anonymous writer. The evidence of most of 
them is within your reach ; examine for yourselves. I promise 
that the benefit you will reap therefrom will abundantly pay you, 
for the trouble of the research ; you will find I have faithfully 
unriddled the whole mystery of our political iniquity. I do not 
address myself to whigs or tories, but to the whole people. I 
know you well. You are loyal at heart, friends to good order, 
and do violence to yourselves in harboring, one moment, disres 
pectful sentiments towards Great Britain, the land of our forefa 
thers nativity, and sacred repository of their bones ; but you have 
been most insidiously induced to believe that Great Britain is ra 
pacious, cruel, and vindictive, and envies us the inheritance pur 
chased by the sweat and blood of our ancestors. Could that 
thick mist^ that hovers over the land and involves in it more than 
Egyptian darkness, be but once dispelled, that you might see our 
Sovereign, the provident father of all his people, and Great Brit 
ain a nursing mother to these colonies, as they really are, long live 
Our gracious king, and happiness to Britain, would resound from 
*me end of the provice to the other. 



To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay*. 

January 9, 1775. 


SOME of you may perhaps suspect that 1 have been wantonly 
scattering firebrand 4 ?, arrows, and death, to gratify a malicious 
and revengeful disposition. The truth is this. I had seen many 
excellent detached pieces, but could see no pen at work to trace 
our calamity to its source, and point out the many adventitious aids, 
that conspired to raise it to its present height, though I impatient 
ly expected it, being fully convinced that you wait only to know 
the true state of facts, to rectify whatever is amiss in .the- province, 
ivithout any foreign assistance. Others may be induced to think, 
that I grudge the industrious poor of Boston their scantlings of 
charity. I will issue, a brief in their favour. The opulent, be 
their political sentiments what they may, ought to relieve them 
from their sufferings, and those who, by former donations, have 
been the innocent cause of protracting their sufferings, are under 
a tenfold obligation to assist them now ; and at the same time to 
make the most explicit declarations, that they did not intend to 
promote, nor ever will join in rebellion. Great allowances are 
to be made for the crossings, windings, and tergiversations of a 
politician ; he is a cunning animal, and as government is said to be 
founded in opinion, his tricks may be a part of the arcana imp erii. 
Had our politicians confined themselves within any reasonable 
bounds, I never should have molested them ; but when I became 
satisfied, that many innocent, unsuspecting persons were in dan 
ger of being seduced to their utter ruin, and the province of 
Massachusetts Bay in danger of being drenched with blood and 
carnage, I could restrain, my emotions no longer ; and having 
once broke the bands of natural reserve, was determined to probe 
the sore to the bottom, though I was sure to touch the quick. It 
is very foreign from my intentions to draw down the vengeance of 
Great Britain upon the whigs; they are too valuable a part of the 
community to lose, if they will permit themselves to be saved. 
I wish nothing worse to the highest of them, than that they may 
be deprived of their influence, till such time as they shall have 
changed their sentiments, principles, and measures. 

Sedition has already been marked through its zigzag path to 
the present times. When the statute for regulating the govern 
ment arrived, a match was put to the train, and the mine, that had 
been long forming, sprung, and threw the whole province into 


confusion and anarchy. The occurrencies of the summer and 
autumn past are so recent and notorious, that a particular detail 
of them is unnecessary. Suffice it to say, that every barrier that 
civil government had erected for the security of property, liber 
ty and life, was broken down, and law, constitution and government 
trampled under foot by the rudest invaders. I shall not dwell 
upon these harsh notes much longer. 1 shall yet become an ad 
vocate for the leading; whigs ; much must be allowed to men, in 
their situation, forcibly actuated by the chagrin of di" ( ippointm?nt t 
the fear of punishment, and the fascination of hope at the same 

Perhaps the whole story of empire does not furnish another 
instance of a forcible opposition to government, with so much ap 
parent and little real cause, with such apparent probability with 
out any possibility of success. The stamp-act gave the alarm. 
The instability of the public councils from the Green villian ad 
ministration to the appointment of the Earl of Hillsborough to the 
American department, afforded as great a prospect of success, as 
the heavy duties imposed by the stamp-act, did a colour for the 
opposition. It was necessary to give the history of this matter 
in its course, offend who it would, because those acts of govern 
ment, that are called the greatest grievances, became proper and 
necessary, through the misconduct of our politicians, and the jus 
tice of Great Britain towards us, could not be made apparent 
without first pointing out that. I intend to consider the acts of 
the British government, which are held up as the principal griev 
ances, and inquire whether Great Br tain is chargeable with in 
justice in anyone of them; but must first ask your attention to 
.the authority of pnrliament. I suspect many of our politicians 
are wrong in their first principle, in denying that the constitutional 
authority of parliament extends to the colonies; if so, it must not 
be wondered at. that their whole fabric is so ruinous. 1 shall not 
travel through all the arguments that have been adduced, for and 
against this question, but attempt to reduce the substance of them 
to a narrow compass, after having taken a cursory view of the 
British constitution. 

The security of the people from internal rapacity and violence, 
and from foreign invasion, is the end and design of government. 
The simple forms of government are monarchy^ aristocracy, and 
democracy ; that is, where the authority of the state is vested in 
one, a few, or the many. Each of these species of government 
has advantages peculiar to itself, and would answer the ends of 
government, were the persons intrusted with tho authority of the 
state, always guided, themselves, by unerring wisdom and public 
virtue ; but rulers are not always exempt from the weakness and 
depravity which make government necessary to society. Thus 
monarchy is apt to rush headlong into tyranny, aristocracy to be 
get faction, and multiplied usurpation, and democracy, to degen 
erate into tumult, violence, and anarchy. A government formed 


upon these three principles, in due proportion, is the best calcu 
lated to answer the ends of government, and to endure. Such a 
government is the British constitution, consisting of king, lords 
and commons, which at once includes the principal excellencies, 
and excludes the principal detects of the other kinds of govern 
ment. It is allowed, both by Englishmen and foreigners, to be 
the most perfect system thnt the wisdom of ages has produced. 
The. distributions of power are so just, and the proportions so ex 
act, as at once to support and controul each other. An English 
man glories in being subject to, and protected by such a govern 
ment. The colonies are a part of the British empire. The 
best writers upon the law of nations tell us, that when a nation 
takes possession of a distant country, and settles there, that coun 
try, though separated from the principal establishment, or moth 
er country, naturally becomes a part of the state, equal with its 
ancient possessions. Two supreme or independent authorities 
cannot exist in the same state. It would be what is called irnpe- 
rium in imperio, the height of political absurdity. The analogy 
between the political and human body is great. Two independ 
ent authorities in a state would be like two distinct principles of 
volition and action in the human body, dissenting, opposing, and 
destroying each other. If, then, we are a part of the British 
empire, we must be subject to the supreme power of the state, 
which is vested in the estates of parliament, notwithstanding each 
of the colonies have legislative and executive powers of their 
own, delegated, or granted to them for the purposes of regulating 
their own internal police, which are subordinate to, and must ne 
cessarily be subject to the checks, controul, and regulation of the 
supreme authority. 

This doctrine is not new, but the denial of it is. It is beyond 
a doubt, that it was the sense both of the parent country, and our 
ancestors, that they were to remain subject to parliament. It is 
evident from the charter itself; and this authority has been ex 
ercised by parliament, from time to time, almost ever since the 
first settlement of the country, and has been expressly acknowl 
edged by our provincial legislatures. It is not less our interest, 
than our duty, to continue subject to the authority of parliament, 
which will be more fully considered hereafter. The principal 
argument against the authority of parliament, is this ; the Ameri 
cans are entitled to all the privileges of an Englishman ; it is the 
privilege of an Englishman to be exempt from all laws, that he 
does not consent to in person, or by representative. The Ameri- 
icans are not represented in parliament, and therefore are exempt 
from acts of parliament, or in other words, not subject to its au 
thority. This appears specious ; but leads to such absurdities as 
demonstrate its fallacy. If the colonies are not subject to the 
authority of parliament, Great Britain and the colonies must be 
distinct states, as completely so, as England and Scotland were be 
fore the union, or as Qreat Britain and Hanover are now. The 


colonies in that case will owe no allegiance to the imperial crown, 
and perhaps not to the person of the king", as the title to the. 
crown is derived from an act of parliament, made since the set 
tlement of this province, which act respects the imperial crown 
only. Let us w;:ve this difficult} , and suppose allegiance due from 
the colonies to the person of the king of Great Britain. He then 
appears in a new capacity, of king of America, or rather in sev 
eral new capacities, of king of Massachusetts, king of Rhode- 
Island, king of Connecticut, &LC. &,c. For if our connexion with 
Great Britain by the parliament be dissolved, we shall have none 
among ourselves, but each colony become as distinct from the 
others, as England was from Scotland, before the union. Some 
have supposed that each state, having one and the same person 
for its king, is a sufficient connection. Were he an absolute mon 
arch, it might be ; but in a mixed government, it is no union at 
all. For as the king must govern each state, by its parliament, 
those several parliaments would pursue the particular interest 
of its own state ; and however well disposed the king might be to 
pursue a line of interest, that was common to all, the checks and 
controul that he would meet with, would render it impossible. If 
the king of Great Britain has really the^e new capacities, they 
ought to be added to his titles ; and another difficulty will arise, 
the prerogatives of these new crowns have never been defined 
or limited. Is the monarchical part of the several provincial con 
stitutions to be nearer or more remote from absolute monarchy, 
in an inverted ratio to each one s approaching to, or receding from 
a republic ? But let us suppose the same prerogatives inherent in 
the several American crowns, as are in the imperial crown of 
Great Britain, where shall we tind the British constitution, that we 
all agree we are entitled to ? We shall seek for it in vain in our 
provincial assemblies. They are but faint sketches of the estates 
of parliament. The houses of representatives, or Burgesses, 
have not all the powers of the house of commons ; in the charter 
governments they have no more than what is expressly granted 
by their several charters. The first charters granted to this pro 
vince did not empower the assembly to tax the people at all. 
Our council boards are as destitute of the constitutional authority 
of the house of lords, as their several members are of the noble 
independence, and splendid appendages of peerage. The house 
of peers is the bulwark of the British constitution, and through 
successive ages, has withstood the shocks of monarchy, and the 
sappings of democracy, and the constitution gained strength by the 
conflict. Thus the supposition of our being independent states, 
or exempt from the authority of parliament, destroys the very 
idea of our having a British constitution. The provincial consti 
tutions, considered as subordinate, are generally well adapted to 
those purposes of government, for which they were intended ; 
that is, to regulate the internal police of the several colonies ; but 
have no principle of stability within themselves ; they may sup- 


port themselves in moderate times, but would be merged by the 
violence of turbulent ones, and the several colonies become 
wholly monarchical, or wholly republican, were ii not for the 
checks, controuls. regulations, and supports of the supreme au 
thority of the empire Thus the argument, that is drawn from 
their first principle of our being entitled to English liberties, 
destroys the principle itself, it deprives us of the bill of rights, 
and all the benefits resulting from tbe revolution of English laws, 
ad of the British constitution. 

Our patriots have been so intent upon building up American 
rights, that they have overlooked the rights of Great Britain, and 
our own interest. Instead of proving that we were entitled to 
privileges, that our fathers knew our situation would not ad 
mit us to enjoy, they have been arguing away our most essential 
rights. If there be any grievance, it does not consist in our being 
subjc-ct to the authority of parliament, but in our not having an 
actual representation in it. Were it possible for the colonies to 
have an equal representation in parliament, and were refused it 
npon proper application, I confess I should think it a grievance ; 
but at present it seems to be allowed, by all parties, to be imprac 
ticable, considering the colonies are distant from Great Britain a 
thousand transmarine leagues. If that be the case, the right or 
privilege, that we complain of being deprived of, i not withheld by 
Britain, but the first principles of government, and the immutable 
laws of nature, render it impossible for us to enjoy it. This ia 
apparently the meaning of that celebrated passage in Governor 
Hutcbinson s letter, that rang through the continent, viz: There 
must be an abridgment of what is called English liberties. He 
subjo ; ns, that he had never yet seen the projection, whereby a 
colony, three thousand miles distant from the parent state, might 
enjoy all the privileges of the parent state, and remain subject to 
it, or in words to that effect. The obnoxious sentence, taken de 
tached from the letter, appears very unfriendly to the colonies; 
but considered in connection with the other parts of the letter, is 
but a necessary result from our situation. Allegiance and protec 
tion are reciprocal. It is our highest interest to continue a part of 
the British empire ; and equally our. duty to remain subject to 
the authority of parliament. Our own internal police may gen 
erally be regulated by our provincial legislatures, but in na 
tional concerns, or where our own assemblies do not answer the 
ends of government with respect to ourselves, the ordinances or 
interposition of the great council of the nation is necessary. In 
this case, the major must rule the minor. After many more cen 
turies shall have rolled away, long after we, who are now bust 
ling upon the stage of life, shall have been received to the bosom 
of mother earth, and our names are forgotten, the colonies may 
be so far increased as to have the balance of wealth, numbers and 
power, in their flavour, the good of the empire make it necessary 
to fix the seat of government here ; and some future George, 


equally the friend of mankind, with him that now sways the 
British sceptre, may cross the Atlantic, and rule Great Britain, by 
an American parliament. MAJslSACHUSETTENSlS. 


To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

January 16, 1775. 


HAD a person, some fifteen years ago, undertaken to prove 
that the colonies were a part of the Briiish empire or dominion, 
and as such, subject to the authority of the British parliament, he 
would have acted as ridiculous a part, as to have undertaken to 
prove a self evident proposition. Had any person denied it, he 
would have been called a fool or madman. At this wise period, 
individuals and bodies of men deny it, notwithstanding- in doing it 
they subvert the fundamentals of government, deprive us of Brit 
ish liberties, and build up absolute monarchy in the colonies; for 
our charters suppose regal authority in the grantor ; if that au 
thority be derived from the British crown, it pre-supposes this ter 
ritory to have been a part of the British dominion, and as such 
subject to the imperial sovereign ; if that authority was vested in 
the person of the king, in a different capacity, the British constitu 
tion and laws are out of the question, and the king must be abso 
lute as to us, as his prerogatives have never been circumscribed. 
Such must have been the sovereign authority of the several kings, 
who have granted American charters, previous to the several 
grants ; there is nothing to detract from it, at this time, in those 
colonies that are destitute of charters, and the charter govern 
ments must severally revert to absolute monarchy, as their char 
ters may happen to be forfeited by the grantees not fulfilling the 
conditions ot them, as every charter contains an express or impli 
ed condition. 

It is curious indeed to trace the denial and oppugnation to the 
supreme authority of the state. W hen the stamp-act was made, 
the authority of parliament to impose internal taxes was denied ; 
but their right to impose external ones, or in other words, to lay 
duties upon goods and merchandize was admitted. When the act 
was made imposing duties upon tea, &c. a new distinction was :?et 
up, that the parliament had a right to lay duties upon merchan 
dize for the purpose of regulating trade, but not for the purpose 
of raising a revenue : that is, the parliament had good right and 
lawful authority to lay the former duty of a shilling on the pound, 


but had none to lay the present duty of three pence. Having got 
thus far safe, it was only taking one step more to extricate our 
selves entirely from their fangs, and become independant states, 
that our patriots most heroically resolved upon, and ilatiy denied 
that parliament had a right to make any laws whatever, that 
should be binding upon the colonies. There is no possible medi 
um between absolute independence, and subjection to the authori 
ty of parliament. He must be blind indeed that cannot see our 
dearest interest in the latter, notwithstanding many pant after the 
former. Misguided men ! could they once overtake their wish, 
they would be convinced of the maduess of the pursuit. 

My dear countrymen, it is of the last importance that we settle 
this point clearly in our minds; it will serve as a sure test, cer 
tain criterion and invariable standard to distinguish the friends 
from the enemies of our country, patriotism from sedition, loyalty 
from rebellion. To deny the supreme authority of the state, is a 
high misdemeanor, to say no worse of it ; to oppose it by force is 
an overt act of treason, punishable by comiscation of estate, and 
most ignominious death. The realm of England is an appropriate 
term for the ancient realm of England, in contradistinction to 
Wales and other territories, that have been annexed to it. These 
as they have been severally annexed to the crown, whether by 
conquest or otherwise, became a part of the empire, and subject 
to the authority of parliament, whether they send members to 
parliament or not, and whether they have legislative powers of 
their own or not. 

Thus Ireland, who has perhaps the greatest possible subordinate 
legislature, and sends no membeis to the British parliament, is 
bound by its acts, when expressly named. Guernsey and Jersey 
are no part of the realm of England, nor are they represented in 
parliament, but are subject to its authority : and, in the same pre 
dicament are the American colonies, and all the other dispersions 
of the empire. Permit me to request your attention to this sub 
ject a little longer ; I assure you it is as interesting and important, 
;>s it is dry and unentertaining. 

Let us now recur to the first charter of this province, and we 
shall find irresistible evidence, that our being part of the empire, 
subject to the supreme authority of the state, bound by its laws 
and entitled to its protection, were the very terms and conditions 
by which our ancestors held their lands, and settled the province. 
Our charter, like all other American charters, are under the great 
seal of England ; the grants are made by the king, for his heirs 
and successors ; the several tenures to be of the king, his heirs and 
successors in like manner are the reservations. it is apparent 
the king acted in his royal capacity, as king of England, which 
necessarily supposes the territory granted, to be a part of the En 
glish dominions, holden of the crown of England. 

The charter, after reciting several grants of the territory to sir 
Henry Roswell arid others, proceeds to incorporation ia these 


tr ords : " And for as much as the good and prosperous success of 
the plantations of the said parts of New England aforesaid, int^nd- 
ed by the said sir Henry Roswell and others, to be speedily set 
upon, cannot but chiefly depend, next under the blessing of almigh 
ty God, and the support of our royal authority $ upon the good gov 
ernment of the same, to the end that the affairs of business, which 
from time to time shall happen and arise concerning the said lands 
and the plantations of the same may be the better managed and 
ordered, we have further hereby, of our especial grace, certain 
knowledge and mere motion given, granted and confirmed, and 
for us, our heirs and successors, do give, grant and confirm unto 
our said trusty and well beloved subjects, sir Henry Roswell, &c. 
and all such others as shall hereafter be admitted and made free 
of the company and society hereafter mentioned, shall from time to 
time and at all times, forever hereafter, be by virtue of these 
presents, one body corporate, politic in fact -and name by the name of 
the governor and company of the Massachusetts Bay, in Aez England; 
and them by the name of the governor and company of the Mas 
sachusetts Bay, in New England, one body politic and corporate 
in deed, fact and name. We do for us our heirs and successors 
make, ordain, constitute and confirm by these presents, and that 
by that name they shall have perpetual succession, and that by 
that name they and their successors shall be capable and enabled 
as well to implead and to be impleaded, and to prosecute, demand and 
answer and be answered unto all and singular suits, causes, quarrels 
and actions of what kind or nature soever ; and also to have, take^ 
possess, acquire and purchase, any lands, tenements and hereditaments, 
or any goods or chattels, the same to lease, grant, demise, aleine, bar 
gain, sell and dispose of as our liege people of this our realm of Eng 
land, or any other corporation or body politic of the same may do." I 
would beg leave to ask one simple question, whether this looks 
like a distinct state or independent empire 1 Provision is then 
made for electing a governor, deputy governor, and eighteen as 
sistants. After which, is this clause : " We do for us, our heirs 
and successors, give and grant to the said governor and company, 
and their successors*, that the governor or in his absense the dep 
uty governor of the said company, for the time being, and such of 
the assistants or freemen of the said company as shall be present, 
or the greater number of them so assembled, whereof the govern 
or or deputy governor and six of the assistants, at the least to be 
seven, shall have full power and authority to choose, nominate 
and appoint such and so many others as they shall think fit, am 
shall be willing to accept the same, to be free of the said compa 
ny and body, and them into the same to admit and to elect and 
constitute such officers as they shall think fit and requisite for the 
ordering, managing and dispatching of the affairs of the said gov 
ernor and company and their successors, and to make laws and or 
dinances for the good and welfare of the said company, and for the 
government and ordering of the said lands and plantations, and 


the people inhabiting- and to inhabit the same, as to them from 
tirm- to time shall be thought meet : So as such laws and ordinan 
ces be not contrary or repugnant to the laws and statutes of this our 
realm of England." 

Another clause is this, " And for their further encouragement, 
of our especial grace and favor, we do by these presents, for 
us, our heirs, and successors, yield and grant to the said governor 
anr! company and their successors, and every of them, their factors 
ard assign*, that they and every of them shall be free and quit 
from all taxes, subsidies and customs in New England for the 
space of seven years, and from all taxes and impositions for the 
space of twenty-one years, upon all goods and merchandize, at 
any time or times hereafter, either upon importation thither, or 
exportation from thence into our realm of England, or into other 
of our dominions, by the said governor and company and their 
successors, their deputies, factors and assigns, &c." 

The exemption from taxes for seven years in one case, and 
twenty one years in the other, plainly indicates that after their ex- 
pirntion, this province would be liable to taxation. Now I would 
ask by what authority those taxes were to be imposed 1 It could 
not be by the governor and company, for no such power was dele 
gated or granted to them ; and besides it would have been absurd 
and nugatory to exempt them from their own taxation, supposing 
them to have had the power, for they might have exempted them 
selves. It must therefore be by the king or parliament ; it could 
not be by the king alone, for as king of England, the political ca 
pacity in which he granted the charter, he had no such power, 
exclusive of the lords and commons, consequently it must have 
been by the parliament. This clause in the charter is as evident 
a recognition of the authority of the parliament over this prov 
ince, as if the words, u acts of parliament," had been inserted, as 
they were in the Pennsylvania charter. There was no session of 
parliament after the grant of our charter until the year 1640. In 
1642 the house of commons passed a resolve, "that for the better 
advancement of the plantations in New England, and the encour 
agement of the planters to proceed in their undertaking^ their ex 
ports and imports should be freed and discharged from all customs, 
subsidies, taxations and duties until the further order of the house ;" 
which was gratefully received and recorded in the archives of 
our predecessors. This transaction shews very clearly in what 
sense our connection with England was then understood. It is 
true, that in some arbitrary reigns, attempts were made, by the 
servants of the crown to exclude the two houses of parliament, 
from any share of the authority over the colonies ; they also at 
tempted to render the king absolute in England ; but the parlia 
ment always rescued the colonies, as well as England from such 

I shall recite but one more clause of this charter, which is this, 
16 And further our will and pleasure is, and we do hereby for us. 

our heirs and successors, ordain, declare and grant to the said <rov- 
ernor and company, and their successors, that all and every of 
the subjects of us, our heirs and successors which shall go to and 
inhabit within the said land and premises hereby mentioned to be 
granted, and every of their children which shall happen to be 
born there, or on the seas in going thither, or returning from 
thence, shall have and enjoy all liberties and immunities of free and 
natural subjects, within any of the dominions of us, our heirs or suc 
cessors, to all intents, constructions and purposes whatsoever, as 
if they and every of them were born within the realm of Eng 
land." It is upon this, or a similar clause in the charter of Wil 
liam and Mary that our patriots have built up the stupendous fabric 
of American independence. They argue from it a total exemp 
tion from parliamentary authority, because we are not represent 
ed in parliament. 

I have already shewn that the supposition of our being exempt 
from the authority of parliament, is pregnant with the grossest 
absurdities. Let us now consider this clause in connection with 
the other parts of the charter. It is a rule of law, founded in rea 
son and common sense, to construe each part of an instrument, so 
as the whole may hang together, and be consistent with itself. 
If we suppose this clause to exempt us from the authority of par 
liament, we must throw away all the rest of the charter, for every 
other part indicates the contrary, as plainly as words can do it ; 
and what is still worse, this clause becomes felodese^ and destroys 
itself; for if we are not annexed to the crown> we are aliens, and 
no charter, grant, or other act of the crown can naturalize us or 
entitle us to the liberties and immunities of Englishmen. It can 
be done only by act of parliament. An alien is one born in a 
strange country out of the allegiance of the king, and is under 
many disabilities though residing in the realm ; as Wales, Jersey, 
Guernsey, Ireland, the foreign plantations, &c. were severally 
annexed to the crown, they became parts of one and the same 
empire, the natives of which are equally free as though they had 
Been born in that territory which was the ancient realm. As our 
patriots depend upon this clause, detached from the Charter, let us 
view it in that light. If a person born in England romoves to Ire 
land and settles there, he is then no longer represented in the Brit- 
ish parliament, but he and his posterity are, and will ever be sub 
ject to the authority of the British parliament. If he removes to 
Jersey, Guernsey, or any other parts of the British dominions that 
send no members to parliament, he will still be in the same pre 
dicament. So that the inhabitants of the American colonies do 
in fact enjoy all the liberties and immunities of natural born sub 
jects. We are entitled to no greater privileges than those that 
are born within the realm ; and they can enjoy no other than we 
do, when they reside out of it. Thus, it is evident that this clause* 
amounts to no more than the royal assurance, that we are a p-rt 
of the British empire ; are not aliens, but natural born subject* ? 

and as such, bound to obey the supreme power of the state, and 
entitled to protection from it. To avoid prolixity, I shall not re 
mark particularly upon other parts of this charter, but observe in 
general, that whoever reads it with attention, will meet with irre 
sistible evidence in every part of it, that our being a part of the 
English dominions, subject to the English crown, and within the 
jurisdiction of parliament, were the terms upon which our ances 
tors settled this colony, and the very tenures by which they held 
their estates. 

No lands within the British dominions are perfectly allodial ; 
they are held mediately or immediately of the king, and upon for 
feiture, revert to the crown. My dear countrymen, you have 
many of you been most falsely and wickedly told by our patriots, 
that Great Britain was meditating a land tax, and seeking to de 
prive us of our inheritance ; but had all the malice and subtilty of 
men and devils been united, a readier method to effect it could 
not have been devised, than the late denials of the authority of 
parliament, an<i forcible oppositions to its acts. Yet, this has been 
planned and executed chiefly by persons of desperate fortunes. 



To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

January 23, 1775. 


IF we carry our researches further back than the emigration 
of our ancestors, we shall find many things that reflect light upon 
the object we are in quest of. It is^ immaterial when America was 
first discovered or taken possession of by the English. In 1602 
one Gosnold landed upon one of the islands, called Elizabeth 
islands, which were so named in honor of queen Elizabeth, built a 
fort, and projected a settlement ; his men were discouraged, and 
the project failed. In 1606, king James granted all the continent 
trom 34 to 4i degrees, which he divided into two colonies, viz. 
the southern or Virginia, to certain merchants at London, the 
northern or New England, to certain merchants at Plymouth in 
England. In 1607, some of the patentees of the northern colony 
began a settlement at Sogadahoc ; but the emigrants were dis- 
irtened after the trial of one winter, and that attempt failed of 
success Thus this territory had not only been granted by the 
own tor purposes of colonization, which are to enlarge the en- 


pire or dominion of the parent state, and to open new sources of 
national wealth ; but actual possession had been taken by the 
grantees, previous to the emigration of our ancestors, or any grant 
to them. In 1 620, a patent was granted to the adventurers for 
the northern colony, incorporating them by the name of the coun 
cil /or the affairs of New Plymouth. From this company of mer 
chants in England, our ancestors derived their title to this territo 
ry. The tract of land called Massachusetts, was purchased of this 
company, by sir Henry Rosvvell and associates ; their deed bears 
date March 19th, 1627. In 1628 they obtained a charter of in 
corporation, which I have already remarked upon. The liber 
ties, privileges and franchises, granted by this charter, do not per 
haps exceed those granted to the city of London and other cor 
porations within the realm. The legislative power was very 
confined ; it did not even extend to levying taxes of any kind ; that 
power was however assumed under this charter, which by law 
worked a forfeiture ; and for this among other things, in the reign 
of Charles the second, the charter was adjudged forfeited, and 
the franchises seized into the king s hands. This judgment did 
not affect our ancestors title to their lands, that were not derived 
originally from the charter, though confirmed by it, but by pur 
chase from the council at Plymouth, who held immediately under 
the crown. Besides, our ancestors had now reduced what before 
was a naked right to possession, and by persevering through une 
qualled toils, hardships and dangers, at the approach of which oth 
er emigrants had fainted, rendered New England a very valuable 
acquisition both to the crown and nation. This was highly meri 
torious, and ought not to be overlooked in adjusting the present 
unhappy dispute ; but our patriots would deprive us of all the 
merit, both to the crown and nation, by severing us from both. 
After the revolution, our ancestors petitioned the parliament to 
restore the charter. A bill for that purpose passed the house of 
commons, but went no further. In consequence of another peti 
tion, king William and queen Mary granted our present charter, 
for uniting and incorporating the Massachusetts, New Plymouth, 
and several other territories into one province. More extensive 
powers of legislation,than those contained in the first charter,were 
become necessary, and were granted ; and the form of the leg 
islature made to approach nearer to the form of the supreme leg 
islature. The powers of legislation are confined to local or pro 
vincial purposes and further restricted by these words, viz. So a-s 
the same be not repugnant or contrary to the laws of this our realm of 
England. Our patriots have made many nice distinctions and cu 
rious refinements, to evade the force of these words ; but after all, 
it is impossible to reconcile them to the idea of an independent 
state, as it is to reconcile disability to omnipotence. The provin 
cial power of taxation is also restricted to provincial purposes, and 
allowed to be exercised over such only as are inhabitants or pro 
prietors within the province, I would observe here, that the 


granting subordinate powers of legislation, does not abridge or di 
minish the powers of the higher legislatures ; thus we see corpo 
rations in England and the several towns in this province vested 
with greater or lesser powers of legislation, without the parlia 
ment, in one case, or the general court in the other, being res 
trained, from enacting those very laws, that fall within the juris 
diction of the several corporations. Had our present charter been 
conceived in such equivocal terms, as that it might be construed 
as restraining the authority of parliament, the uniform usage ever 
since it passed the seal, would satisfy us that its intent was differ 
ent. The parliament, in the reign when it was granted, long be 
fore and in every reign since, has been making statutes to extend 
to the colonies, and those statutes have been as uniformly sub 
mitted to as authoritative, by the colonies, till within ten or a doz 
en years. Sometimes acts of parliament have been made, and 
sometimes have been repealed in consequence of petitions from 
the colonies. The provincial assemblies often refer to acts of 
parliament in their own, and have sometimes made acts to aid 
their execution. It is evident that it was the intention of their 
majesties, to grant subordinate powers of legislation, without im 
pairing or diminishing the authority of the supreme legislature. 
Had there been any words in the charter, that precluded that con 
struction, or did the whole taken together contradict it, lawyers 
would tell us, that the king was deceived in his grant, and the pa 
tentees took no estate by it, because the crown can neither alien 
ate a part of the British dominions, nor impair the supreme power 
of the empire, I have dwelt longer on this subject, than I at first 
intended, and not by any means done it justice, as to avoid prolix 
narratives and tedious deduction, 1 have omitted perhaps more 
than I have adduced, that evinces the truth of the position, that 
we are a part of the British dominions, and subject to the author 
ity of parliament. The novelty of the contrary tenets, will ap 
pear by extracting a part of a pamphlet, published in 17b 4, by a 
Boston gentleman, who was then the oracle of the whigs, and 
whose profound knowledge in the law and constitution is equalled 
but by few. 

" 1 also lay it down as one of the first principles from whence I 
intend to deduce the civil rights of the British colonies, that all of 
them are subject to, and dependent on Great Britain ; and that 
therefore as over subordinate governments, the parliament of 
Great Britain has an undoubted power and lawful authority to 
make acts for the general good, that by naming them, shall and 
ought to be equally binding, as upon the subjects of Great Britain 
within the realm. Is there the least difference, as to the consent 
of the colonists, whether taxes and impositions are laid on their 
trade, and other property by the crown alone, or by the parlia 
ment ? As it is agreed on all hands, the crown alone cannot im 
pose them, we should be justifiable in refusing to pay them, but 
M must and ought to yield obedience to an act of parliament, though er- 
till repealed." 


a It is a maxim, that the king can do no wrong ; and every 
good subject is bound to believe his king is not inclined to do any. 
We are blessed with a prince who has given abundant demonstrar 
tions, that in all his actions, he studies the good of his people, and 
the true glory of his crown, which are inseperable. It would 
therefore be the highest degree of impudence and disloyalty, to 
imagine that the king, at the head of his parliament, could have 
any but the most pure and perfect intentions of justice, goodness 
and truth, that human nature is capable of. All this I say and be 
lieve of the king and parliament, in all their acts; even in that 
which so nearly affects the interests of the colonists ; and that a 
most perfect and ready obedience is to be yielded to it while it re 
mains in force. The power of parliament is uncontroulable but 
by themselves, and we must obey. They only can repeal their 
own acts. There would be an end of all government, if one or a 
number of subjects, or subordinate provinces should take upon 
them so far to judge of the justice of an act of parliament, as to j 
refuse obedience to it. If there was nothing else to restrain such 
a step, prudence ought to do it, for forcibly resisting the parlia 
ment and the king s laws is high treason. Therefore let the par 
liament lay what burdens they please on us, we must, it is our 
duty to submit and patiently bear them, till they will be pleased to 
relieve us." 

The Pennsylvania Farmer, who took the lead in explaining 
away the right of parliament to raise a revenue in America, 
speaking of regulating trade, tells us, that " he who considers 
these provinces as states distinct from the British empire, has very 
slender notions of justice, or of their interest ; we are but parts 
of a whole, and therefore there must exist a power somewhere 
to preside, and preserve the connection in due order. This 
power is lodged in parliament, and we are as much dependant on 
Great Britain as a perfectly free people can be on another." He 
supposes that we are dependant in some considerable degree upon 
Great Britain ; and that that dependance is nevertheless consist 
ent with perfect freedom. 

Having settled this point, let us reflect upon the resolves and 
proceedings of our patriots. We often read resolves denying 
the authority of parliament, which is the imperial sovereign, gild 
ed over with professions of loyalty to tho king, but the golden 
leaf is too thin to conceal the treason. It either argues profound 
ignorance or hypocritical cunning. 

We find many unsuspecting persons prevailed on openly to op 
pose the execution of acts of parliament with force and arms. 
My friends, some of the persons that beguiled you, could have 
turned to the chapter, page and section, where such insurrections 
are pronounced rebellion, by the law of the land ; and had not 
their hearts been dead to a sense of justice, and steeled against 
every feeling of humanity, they would have timely warned you of 
your danger. Our patriots have sent us in pursuit of a mere 


ignis fatuus, a fascinating glare devoid of substance ; and now 
when we find ourselves bewildered, with scarce one ray of hope 
to raise our sinking spirits, or stay our fainting souls, they conjure 
up phantoms more delusive and fleeting, if possible, than that 
which first led us astray. They tell us, we are a match for Great 
Britain. The twentieth part of the strength that Great Britain 
could exert, were it necessary, is more than sufficient to crush 
this defenceless province to atoms, notwithstanding all the va 
pouring of the disaffected here and elsewhere. They tell us the 
army is disaffected to the service. What pains have our wretch 
ed politicians not taken to attach them to it ? The officers con 
ceive no very favourable opinion of the cause of the whigs, from 
the obloquy with which their General hath been treated, in re 
turn for his humanity, nor from the infamous attempts to seduce 
the soldiers from his majesty s service. The policy of some of 
our patriots has been as weak and contemptible, as their motives 
are sordid and malevolent; for when they found their success, in 
corrupting the soldiery, did not answer their expectations, they 
took pains to attach them firmer to the cause they adhered to, by 
preventing the eYecting of barracks for their winter quarters, by 
which means many contracted diseases, and some lives were lost, 
from the unwholesome buildings they were obliged to occupy ; 
and, as though some stimulus was still wanting, some provocation 
to prevent human nature revolting in the hour of battle, they de 
prived the soldiers of a gratification never denied to the brute 
creation ; straw to lie on. I do not mention this conduct to raise 
the resentment of the troops ; it has had its effect already; and 
it is proper you should know it ; nor should 1 have blotted paper 
in relating facts so mortifying to the pride of man, had it not been 
basely suggested that there would be a. defection should the army 
take the field. Those are matters of small moment, compared 
to another, which is the cause they are engaged in. It is no long 
er a struggle between whigs and tories, whether these or those 
shall occupy posts of honour, or enjoy the emoluments of office, 
nor is it now whether this or the other act of parliament shall be 
repealed. The army is sent here to decide a question, intimately 
connected with the honour and interest of the nation, no less than 
whether the colonies shall continne a part of, or be for ever dis 
membered from the British empire. It is a cause in which no 
honest American can wish our politicians success, though it is de 
voutly to be wished, that their discomfiture may be effected with 
out recourse being had to the ultima ratio the sword. This, our 
wretched situation, is but the natural consequence of denying the 
authority of parliament, and forcibly opposing its acts. 

Sometimes we are amused with intimations that Holland, France 
or Spain, will make a diversion in our favour. These, equally 
with the others, are suggestions of despair. These powers have 
colonies of their own, and might not choose to set a bad example, 
by encouraging the colonies of any other state to revolt. The 


Butch have too much money in the English funds, and are too 
much attached to their money to espouse our quarrel. The 
French and Spaniards have not yet forgot the drubbing they re 
ceived from Great Britain last war ; and all three fear to offend 
that power which our politicians would persuade us to despise. 

Lastly, they tell us that the people in England will take our 
part, and prevent matters from coming to extremity. This is 
their fort, where, when driven from every other post, they fly for 

Alas, my friends ! our congresses have stopped up every ave 
nue that leads to that sanctuary. We hear, by every arrival from 
England, that it is no longer a ministerial, (if it ever was) but a 
national cause. My dear countrymen, I deal plainly with you. 
I never should forgive myself if I did n.ot. Are there not eleven 
regiments in Boston ? A respectable fleet in the harbour ? Men 
of war stationed at every considerable port along the continent ? 
Are there not three ships of the line sent here, notwithstanding 
the danger of the winter coast, with more than the usual compli 
ment of marines ? Have not our congresses, county, provincial, 
and continental, instead of making advances for an accommoda 
tion, bid defiance to Great Britain ? He that runs may read 

If our politicians will not be pursuaded from running against the 
thick bosses of the buckler, it is time for us to leave them to their 
fate, and provide for the safety of ourselves, our wives, our chil 
dren, our friends, and our country. 

I have many things to add, but must now take my leave, for this 
week, by submitting to your judgment whether there be not an 
absolute necessity of immediately protesting against all traitorous 
resolves, leagues, and associations, of bodies of men, that appear 
to have acted in a representative capacity. Had our congresses 
been accidental or spontaneous meetings, the whole blame might 
have rested upon the individuals that composed them ; but as they 
appear in the character of the people s delegates, is there not the 
utmost danger of the innocent being confounded with the guilty, 
unless they take care timely to distinguish themselves ? 





To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

January 30, 1775. 


AS the oppugnation to the king in parliament tends manifestly 
to independence, and the Colonies would soon arrive at that point, 
did not Great Britain check them in their career ; let us indulge 
the idea, however extravagant and romantic, and suppose our 
selves for ever separated from the parent state. Let us suppose 
Great Britain sinking under the violence of the shock, and over 
whelmed hy her ancient hereditary enemies ; or what is more 
probable, opening new sources of national wealth, to supply the 
deficiency of that which used to flow to her through American 
channels, and perhaps planting more loyal colonies in the new 
discovered regions of the south, still retaining her pre-eminence 
among the nations, though regardless of America. 

Let us now advert to our own situation. Destitute of British 
protection, that impervious barrier, behind which, in perfect se 
curity, we have increased to a degree almost exceeding the bounds 
of probability, what other Britain could we look to when in dis 
tress ? What succedaneum does the world afford to make good 
the loss? Would not our trade, navigation, and fishery, which no 
nation dares violate or invade, when distinguished by British col 
ours, become the sport and prey of the maritime powers of Eu* 
rope ? Would not our maritime towns be exposed to the pilla 
ging of every piratical enterprise ? Are the colonies able to 
maintain a fleet, sufficient to afford one idea of security to such 
an extensive sea-coast ? Before they can defend themselves 
against foreign invasions, they must unite into one empire ; other 
wise the jarring interests, and opposite propensities, would render 
the many headed monster in politics, unwieldly and inactive. 
Neither the form or seat of government would be readily agreed 
upon ; more difficult still would it be to fix upon the person or 
persons, to be invested with the imperial authority. There is 
perhaps as great a diversity between the tempers and habits of 
the inhabitants of this province, and the tempers and habits of the 
Carolinians, as there subsists between some different nations ; nor 
need we travel so far ; the Rhode-Islanders are as diverse from 
the people of Connecticut, as those mentioned before. Most of 
the colonies are rivals to each other in trade. Between others 
there subsist deep animosities, respecting their boundaries, which 
have heretofore produced violent altercations, and the sword of 


civil war has been more than once unsheathed, without bringing 
these disputes to a decision. It is apparent that so many discord 
ant, heterogeneous particles could not suddenly unite and consoli 
date into one body. It is most probable, that if they werefrver 
united, the union would be effected by some aspiring genius, put 
ting himself at the head of the colonists army (for we must sup 
pose a very respectable one indeed, before we are severed from 
Britain) and taking advantage of the enfeebled, bleeding, and 
distracted state of the colonies, subjugate the whole to the yoke 
of despotism. Human nature is every where the same ; and this 
has often been the isue of those rebellions, that the rightful 
prince was unable to subdue. We need not travel through the 
states of ancient Greece and Rome, or the more modern ones in 
Europe, to pick up the instances, with which the way is strewed ; 
we have a notable one in our own. So odious and arbitrary was 
the protectorate of Cromwell, that when death had delivered 
them from the dread of the tyrant, all parties conspired to restore 
monarchy ; and each one strove to be the foremost in inviting 
home, and placing upon the imperial throne, their exiled prince, 
the son of the same Charles, who, not many years before, had 
been murdered on a scaffold. The republicans themselves now 
rushed to the opposite extreme, and had Charles 2d. been as am 
bitious, as some of his predecessors were, he might have estabr 
lished in England a power more arbitrary, than the first Charles 
ever had in contemplation. 

Let us now suppose the colonies united, and moulded into some 
form of government. Think one moment of the revenue neces 
sary to support this government, and to provide for even the ap 
pearance of defence. Conceive yourselves in a manner exhaust- 
ed by the conflict with Great Britain, now staggering and sinking 
under the load of your own taxes, and the weight of your own 
government. Consider further, that to*render government ope 
rative and salutary, subordination is necessary. This our patriots 
need not be told of; and when once they had mounted the steed, 
and found themselves so well seated as to run no risk of being 
thrown from the saddle, the severity of thoir discipline to restore 
subordination, would be in proportion to their former treachery 
in destroying it. We have already seen specimens of their tyran 
ny, in their inhuman treatment of persons guilty of no crime, 
except that of differing in sentiment from the whigs What then 
must we expect from such scourges of mankind, when supported 
fey imperial power ? 

To elude the difficulty resulting from our defenceless situation, 
we are told that the colonies would open a free trade with all the 
world, and all nations would join in protecting their common mart, 
A very little reflection will convince us that this is chimerical. 
American trade, however beneficial to Great Britain, while she 
can command it, would be but as a drop of the bucket, or the light 
dust of the balance, to all the commercial states of Europe. Be- 


sides, were Bntith fleets and armies no longer destined to our -pro 
tection, in a very short titns, France and Spain would recover 
possession of those territories, that were torn, reluctant and bleed 
ing iron them, in the last war, by the superior strength of Britain, 
Our enemies would again extend their line of fortification, from 
the northern to the southern shore ; and by means of our late 
settlements stretching themselves to the confines of Canada, and 
the communications opened from one country to the other, we 
should be exposed tt5 perpetual incursions from Canadians and 
savages But our distress would not end here ; for when once 
these incursions should be supported by the formidable arma 
ments of France and Spain, the whole continent would become 
their easy prey, and would be parcelled out, Poland like. Rec 
ollect the consternation we were thrown into last war, when Fort 
William Henry was taken by the French. It was apprehended 
that all New England would be overrun by their conquering arms. 
It was even proposed, for our own people to burn and lay waste 
all the country west of Connecticut river, to impede the enemies 
march, and prevent their ravaging the country east of it. This 
proposal come from no inccnsiderable man. Consider what must 
realty have been our fate, unaided by Britain last war. 

Great Britain aside, what earthly power could stretch out the 
compassionate arm to shield us from those powers, that have Jong 
beheld us with the sharp, piercing eyes of avidity, and have here 
tofore bled freely, and expended their millions to obtain us ? Do 
you suppose their lust of empire is satiated ? Or do you suppose 
they would scorn to obtain so glorious a prize by an easy conquest ? 
Or can any be so visionary or impious, as to believe that the Father 
of the Universe will work miracles in favour of rebellion ? And 
after having, by some unseen arm, and mighty power, destroyed 
Great Britain for us, will in the same mysterious way defend uf 
against other European powers ? Sometimes we are told, that 
the colonies may put themselves under the protection of some one 
foreign state ; but it ought to be considered, that to do that, we 
must throw ourselves into their power. We can make them no 
return for protection, but by trade ; and of that they can have no 
assurance, unless we become subject to their laws. This is evi 
dent by our contention with Britain. 

Which state would you prefer being annexed to ; France. 
Spain, or Holland ? I suppose the latter, as it is a republic. 
But are you sure, that the other powers of Europe would be idle 
spectators; content to suffer the Dutch to engross the Ameri 
can colonies, or their trade ? And what figure would the 
Dutch probably make in the unequal contest ? Their sword has 
heen long since sheathed in commerce. Those of you that have 
visited Surin-im, and seen a Dutch governor dispensing at discre 
tion his own opinions for law, would not suddenly exchange the 
English for Dutch government. 


I will subjoin some observations from the Farmer s letters. 
4i When the appeal is made to the sword, highly probable it is, 
that the puni-hment will exceed the offence, and the calamities 
attending on war outweigh those preceding it. These considera 
tions of justice and prudence, will always have great influence 
with good and wise men. To these reflections it remains to be 
added, and ought forever to be remembered, that resistance in the 
case of the colonies against their mother country, is extremely 
different from the resistance of a people against their prince. A 
nation may change their king, or race of kings, and retaining their 
ancient form of government, be gainers by changing. Thus 
Great Britain, under the illustrious house of Brunswick, a house 
that seems to flourish for the happiness of mankind, has found a 
felicity unknown in the reigns of the Stewarts. But if once we 
are separated from our mother country, what new form of govern 
ment shall we adopt, or where shall we find another Britain to 
supply our loss ? Torn from the body, to which we are united 
by religion, laws, affection, relation, language and commerce, we 
must bleed at every vein. In truth, the prosperity of these pro 
vinces is founded in their dependance on Great Britain." 



To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

February 6, 1775. 


WHEN we reflect upon the constitutional connection between 
Great Britain and the colonies, view the reciprocation of interest, 
consider that the welfare of Britain, in some measure, and the 
prosperity of America wholly depends upon that connection ; it is 
astonishing, indeed, almost incredible, that one person should be 
found on either side of the Atlantic, so base, and destitute of ev 
ery sentiment of justice, as to attempt to destroy or weaken it. 
If there are none such, in the name of Almighty God, let me ask ? 
wherefore is rebellion, that implacable fiend to society, suffered 
to rear its ghastly front among us, blasting, with haggard look, 
each social joy, and embittering every hour ? 

Rebellion is the most atrocious offence, that can be perpetrated 
by man, save those which are committed more immediately against 
the supreme Governor of the Universe, who is the avenger of his 
own cause. It dissolves the social band, annihilates the security 
resulting from law and government j introduces fraud, violence. 


rapine, murder, Sacrilege, and the long train of evils, that riot, 
uncontrolled, in a state of nature. Allegiance and protection are 
reciprocal. The subject is bound by the compact to yield obe 
dience to government, and in return, is entitled to protection from 
it ; thus the poor are protected against the rich ; the weak 
against the strong; the. individual against the many; and this 
protection is guaranteed to each member, by the whole commu 
nity. But when government is laid prostrate, a state of war, of 
all against all commences ; might overcomes right ; innocence it 
self has no security, unless the individual sequesters himself from 
his fellowmen, inhabits his own cave, and seeks his own prey. 
This is what is called a state of nature. 1 once thought it chi 

The punishment inflicted upon rebels and traitors, in all states, 
bears some proportion to the aggravated crime. By our law, the 
punishment is, " That the offender be drawn to the gallows, and 
not be carried, or walk ; that he be hanged by the neck, and then 
cut down alive ; that his entrails be taken out and burned while 
he is yet alive ; that his head be cut off; that his body be divided 
into four parts ; that his head and quarters be at the king s dis 
posal." The consequences of attainder, are forfeiture and cor 
ruption of blood. 

" Forfeiture is two-fold, of real and personal estate ; by attain 
der in high treason a man forfeits to the king all his lands and 
tenements of inheritance, whether fee simple, or fee tail ; and all 
his rights of entry on lands and tenements, which he had at the 
time of the offence committed, or at any time afterwards to be for 
ever vested in the crown. The forfeiture relates back to the 
time of the treason being committed, so as to avoid all interme 
diate sales and incumberances ; even the dower of the wife F is for 
feited. The natural justice of forfeiture, or confiscation of pro 
perty, for treason, is founded in tin* consideration, that he, who 
has thus violated the fundamental principles of government, and 
broken his part of the original contract between king and people, 
hath abandoned his connections with society ; hath no longer any 
right to those advantages, which before belonged to him purely as 
a member of the community, among which social advantages the 
right of transferring or transmitting property to others, is one of 
the chief. Such forfeitures, moreover, whereby his posterity 
must suffer, as well as himself, will help to restrain a man, not 
only by the sense of his duty and dread of personal punishment, 
but also by his passions and natural affections ; and will influence 
every dependant and relation he has to keep him from pffending." 
4 Black. 374. 375. 

It is remarkable, however, that this offence, notwithstanding 
\t is of a crimson colour, and the deepest dye, and its just punish 
ment is not confined to the person of the offender, but beggars all 
his family, is somc-tirnes committed by persons, who are not con 
scious of guilt. Sometimes they are ignorant of the law, and do 


not foresee the evils they bring upon society ; at others, they are 
induced to think that their cause is founded in the eternal princi 
ples of justice and truth, that they are only making an appeal to 
heaven, and may justly expect its decree in their favour. Doubt 
less many of the rebels, in the year 1745, were buoyed up with 
such sentiments, nevertheless they were cut down like grass be 
fore the scythe of the mower ; the gibbet and scaffold received 
those that the sword, wearied with destroying, had spared ; and 
what loyalist shed one pitying tear over their graves ? They 
were incorrigible rebels, and deserved their fate. The commu 
nity is in less danger, when the disaffected attempt to excite a re 
bellion against the person of the prince, than when government 
itself is the object, because in the former case the questions are 
few, simple, and their solutions obvious, the fatal consecmences 
more apparent, and the loyal people more alert to suppress it in 
embryo ; whereas, in the latter, a hundred rights of the people, 
inconsistent with government, and as many grievances, destitute 
of foundation, the mere creatures of distempered brains, are 
pourtrayed in the liveliest colours, and serve as bugbears to af 
fright from their duty, or as decoys to allure the ignorant, the 
credulous and the unwary, to their destruction. Their suspicions 
are drowned in the perpetual roar for liberty and country ; and 
even the professions of allegiance to the person of the king, are 
improved as means to subvert his government. 

In mentioning high treason in the course of these papers, I 
may not always have expressed myself with the precision of a 
lawyer ; they have a language peculiar to themselves. I have 
examined their books, and beg leave to lay before you some fur 
ther extracts, which deserve your attention. " To levy war 
against the king, was high treason by the common law, 3 inst. 9. 
This is also declared to be high treason by the stat. of 25 Edw. 
3. c. 2. and by the law of this province, 8 W. 3 c. 5. Assem 
bling in warlike array, against a statute, is levying war against 
the king, 1 Hale 133. So to destroy any trade generally, 146. 
Riding with banners displayed, or forming into companies ; or 
being furnished with military officers ; or armed with military 
weapons, as swords, guns, &c. any of these circumstances carries 
the speciem belli, and will support an indictment for high treason 
in levying war, 150. An insurrection to raise the price of ser 
vants wages was held to be an overt-act of this species of trea 
son, because this was done in defiance of the statute of labourers : 
it was done in defiance of the king s authority, 5 Bac. 117 cites 
3 inst. 10. Every assembling of a number of men, in a warlike 
manner, with a design to redress any public grievance, is likewise 
an overt-act of this species of treason, because this being an at 
tempt to do that by private authority, which only ought to be done 
by the king s authority, is an invasion of the prerogative, 5 Bac. 
117. cites 3 inst. 9. Ha. p. c. 14. Kel. 71. Sid. 358. 1. Hawk. 37 
Every assembling of a number of men in a warlike manner, with 


an intention to reform the government, or the law, is an overt- 
act of this species of treason, 5 Bac. 117. cites 3 inst. 9. 10. 
Poph. 122. Kel. 76. 7. 1 Hawk. 37. Levying war may be by 
taking arms, not only to dethrone the king, but under pretence 
to reform religion, or the laws, or to remove evil counceiiors, 
or other grievances, whether real or pretended, 4 Black. 81. Fos 
ter 211. If any levy war to expuise strangers ; to deliver men 
out of prison ; to remove councellors, or against any statute ; or 
to any other end, pretending reformation of their own heads, 
without warrant, this is levying war against the king, because they 
take upon them royal authority, which is against the king, 3 inst. 
9. If three, four, or more, rise to pull down an iaclosure, this 
is a riot ; but if they had risen of purpose to alter religion, estab 
lished within the realm, or laws, or to go from town to town gen 
erally, and cast down inciosures, this is a levying of war (though 
there be no great number of conspirators) within the purview 
cf this statute ; because the pretence is public and general, and 
not private in particular, 3 inst. 9. Foster 211. If any, with 
strength and weapons, invasive and defensive, do hold and defend 
a castle or fort, against the king and his power, this is levying 
of war against the king, 3 inst. 10 Foster 219. 1 Hale 14-9. 296. 
It was resolved by all the judges of England in the reign of Hen 
ry the 8th, that an insurrection against the statute of labourers, 
for the enhancing of salaries and wages, was a levying of war 
against the king, because it was generally against the king s law, 
and the offenders took upon them the reformation thereof, which 
subjects by gathering of power, ought not to do, 3 inst. 10. All ri 
sings in order to effect innovations of a. public and general concern, 
by an armed force, are, in construction of law, high treason within 
the clause of levying war For though they are not levelled at the 
person of the king, they are against his royal majesty. And besides, 
they have a direct tendency to dissolve all the bonds of society, 
and to destrov all property, and ail government too, by numbers 
and an armed force, Foster 211. In Benstead s case, Cro. car, 593. 
At a conference of all the justices and barons, it was resolved, that 
going to Lambeth house, in warlike manner, to surprize the arch 
bishop, who was a privy counsellor (it being with drums and a 
multitude) to the number of three hundred persons, was treason ; 
upon which Foster, page 212, observes, that if it did appear by 
the libel, which he says was previously posted up at the ex 
change, exhorting the apprentices to rise and sack the bishop s 
house, upon the Monday following, or by the cry of the rabble, 
at Lambeth house, that the attempt was made on account of mea 
sures the king had taken, or -was then taking at the instigation, as they 
imagined, of the archbishop, and that the rabble had deliberately and 
upon a public invitation, attempted by numbers and open force, to 
lake a severe revenge upon the privy counsellor for the measures 
the sovereign had taken or was pursuing, the grounds and reasons 
f the resolutions would be sufficiently explained, without taking 


that little circumstance of the drum into the case. And he deliv 
ers as his opinion, page 208, that no great stress can be laid on 
that distinction taken by Ld. C. J. Hale, between an insurrection 
with, and one without the appearance of an army formed under 
leaders, and provided witli military weapons, and with drums, col 
ours, &c. and says, the want of these circumstances weighed noth 
ing with the court in the cases of Damaree and Purchase, but that 
it was supplied by the number of the insurgents. That they were 
provided with axes, crows, and such like tools, furor arma minis- 
trat ; and adds, page 208, the true criterion in all these cases, is, 
quo ammo, did the parties assemble, whether on account of some 
private quarrel, or, page 211, to eifect innovations of -a public and 
general concern, by an armed force. Upon the case 01 Damaree 
and Purchase, reported 8 stat. in. 218. to 285. Judge Foster ob 
serves, page 215, that "since the meeting houses of protestant 
dissenters are. by the toleration act taken under protection of the 
law, the insurrection in the present case, being to pull down all 
dissenting protestant meeting-houses, was to be considered as a 
public declaration of the rabble against that act, and an attempt to 
render it ineffectually numbers and open force." 

tf there be a conspiracy to levy war, and afterwards war is lev 
ied, tfie conspiracy is, in every one of the conspirators, an overt 
act of this species of treason, for there can be no accessary in high 
treason, 5 Bac. 115. cites 3 inst. 9. 10. 138 Hales P. C. 14. Kel. 
19. 1 Hawk. 38. A compassing or conspiracy to levy war is no 
treason, for there must be a levying of war in facto. But if ma 
ny conspire to levy war, and some of them do levy the same ac 
cording to the conspiracy, this is high treason in all, for in treason 
all are principals, and war is levied, 3 inst. 9. Foster 2 13. 

The painful task of applying the above rules of law to the sev 
eral transactions that we have been eye witnesses to, will never 
be mine. Let me however intreatyou, to make the application 
in your own minds ; and those of you that have continued hither 
to faithful among- the faithless, Abdiel like, to persevere in your 
integrity ; and those of you that have been already ensnared by 
the accursed wiles of designing men, to cast yourselves immedi 
ately upon that mercy, so conspicuous through the British consti 
tution, and which is the brightest jewel in the imperial diadem. 




To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

February 13, 1775. 


I OFFERED to your consideration, last week, a few extracts 
from the law books, to enable those that have been but little con 
versant with the law of the land, to form a judgment, and deter 
mine for themselves, whether any have been so far beguiled and 
seduced from their allegiance, as to commit the most aggravated 
offence against society, high treason. The whigs reply, riots and 
insurrections are frequent in England, the land from which we 
sprang ; we are bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh. 
Granted ; but at the same time be it remembered, that in England 
the executive is commonly able and willing to suppress insurrec 
tions, the judiciary to distribute impartial justice, and the legisla 
tive power to aid and strengthen the two former if necessary : 
and whenever these have proved ineffectual to allay intestine com 
motions, war, with its concomitant horrors, have passed through 
the land, marking their rout with blood. The bigger part of Brit 
ain has at some period or other, within the reach of history, been 
forfeited to the crown, by the rebellion of its proprietors. 

Let us now take a view of American grievances, and try, by the 
sure touchstone of reason and the constitution, whether there be 
any act or acts, on the part of the king or parliament, that will 
justify the whigs even inforo conscientice, in thus forcibly opposing 
their government. Will the alteration of the mode of appointing 
one branch of our provincial legislature furnish so much as an 
excue for it, considering that our politicians, by their intrigues 
and machinations, had rendered the assembly incapable of answer 
ing the purpose of government, which is protection, and our 
charter was become as inefficacious as an old ballad ? Or can a 
plea of justification be founded on the parliaments giving us an 
exact transcript of English laws for returning jurors, when our 
own were insufficient to afford compensation to the injured, to 
suppress seditions, or even to restrain rebellion ? It has been here- 
toiore observed, that each member of the community is entitled 
to protection ; for this he pays taxes, for this he relinquishes his 
natural right of revenging injuries and redressing wrongs, and for 
this the sword of justice is placed in the hands of the magistrate. 
It is notorious that the whigs had usurped the power of the prov 
ince in a great measure, and exercised it by revenging themselves 
on their opponents, or in compelling them to enlist under their 
banners. Recollect the frequency of mobs and riots, the inva- 


sions and demolitions of dwelling houses and other property, the 
personal abuse, and frequent necessity of persons abandoning their 
habitations, the taking sanctuary on board men of war, or at the 
castle, previous to the regulating bill. Consider that these suf 
ferers were loyal subjects, violators of no law, that many of them 
were crown officers, and were thus persecuted for no other offence, 
than that of executing the king s law. Consider further, that if 
any of the sufferers sought redress in a court of law, he had the 
whole whig interest to combat ; they gathered like a cloud and 
hovered like harpies round the seat of justice, until the suitor was 
either condemned to pay cost to his antagonist, or recovered so 
small damages, as that they were swallowed up in his own. Con- 
aider further, that these riots were not the accidental or spontane 
ous risings of the populace, but the result of the deliberations and 
mature councils of the whigs, and were sometimes headed and led 
to action by their principals. Consider further, that the general 
assembly lent no aid to the executive power. Weigh these things, 
my friends, and doubt if you can, whether the act for regulating 
our government did not flow trom the parental tenderness of the 
British councils, to enable us to recover from anarchy, without 
Britain being driven to the necessity of inflicting punishment, 
which is her strange work. Having taken this cursory view of 
the convulsed state of the province, let us advert to our charter 
form of government, and we shall find its distributions of power to 
have been so preposterous, as to render it next to impossible for 
the province to recover by its own strength. The council was elec 
tive annually by the house, liable to the negative of the chair, and 
the chair restrained from acting,even in the executive department-, 
without the concurrence of the board. The political struggle is 
often between the governor and the house, and it is a maxim with 
politicians, that he that is not for us is against us. Accordingly, 
when party run high, if a counsellor adhered to the governor, the 
house refused to elect him the next year ; if he adhered to the 
house, the governor negatived him ; if he trimmed his bark so as 
to steer a middle course between Scylla and Charybdis, he was in 
danger of suffering more by the neglect of both parties, than of 
being wrecked but on one." 

In moderate times, this province has been happy under our 
charter form of government ; but when the political storm arose, 
its original defect became apparent. We have sometimes seen 
half a dozen sail of tory navigation unable, on an election day, to 
pass the bar formed by the flux and reflux of the tides at the en 
trance of the harbour, and as many whiggish ones stranded the 
next morning on Governor s Island. The whigs took the lead in 
this game, and therefore I think the blame ought to rest upon them, 
though the tables were turned upon them in the sequel. . A slen 
der acquaintance with human nature will inform, experience has 
evinced, that a body of men thus constituted, are not to be depend 
ed upon to act that vigorous, intrepid and decisive part, which the 


emergency of the late tunes required, and which might have pro 
vf.-d the salvation of the province. In short, the board which was 
intended to moderate hetvveen the governor and the house, or 
perhaps rather to support the former, was incapable of doing 
either by its original constitution. By the regulating act, the mem 
bers of the board are appointed by the king in the council, and are 
not liable even to the suspension of the governor ; their commis 
sions are durante lent placito, and they are therefore far from in 
dependence. The infant state of the colonies does not admit of 
a peerage, nor perhaps of any third branch of legislature wholly 
independent. In most of the colonies, the council is appointed by 
mandamus, and the members are moreover liable to be suspended 
by the governor, by which means they are more dependant, than 
those appointed according to the regulating act ; but no inconve 
nience arises from that mode of appointment. Long experience 
has evinced its utility. By this statute, extraordinary powers are 
devolved upon the chair, to enable the governor to maintain his 
authority, and to oppose with vigor the daring spirit of indepen- 
dance, so manifest in the whigs. Town meetings are restrained 
to prevent their passing traitorous resolves. Had these and many 
other innovations contained in this act, been made in moderate 
times, when due reverence was yielded to the magistrate, and 
obedience to the law, they might have been called grievances; 
but we have no reason to think, that had the situation of the prov 
ince been such that this statute would ever have had an existence 
nor have we any reason to doubt, but that it will be repealed, 
in whole or part, should our present form of government be found 
by experience to be productive of rapine or oppression. It is im 
possible that the king, lords or commons could have any sinister 
views in regulating the government of this province. Sometimes 
we are told that charters are sacred. However sacred, they are 
forfeited through negligence or abuse of their franchises, in which 
cases the law judges that, the body politic has broken the condi 
tion, upon which it was incorporated. 

There are many instances oi the negligence and abuse, that work 
the forfeiture of charters, delineated in law books. They also 
tell us, that all charters may be vacated by act of parliament. 
Had the form of our provincial legislature been established by act 
oi parliament, that act might have been constitutionally and equi 
tably repealed, when it was found to be incapable of answering 
the end of its institution. Stronger still is the present case, where 
the form of government was established by one branch of the leg 
islature only, viz. the king, and all three join in the revocation. 
This act was however a fatal stroke to the ambitious views of our 
republican patriots. The monarchial part of the costitution was 
so guarded by it, as to he no longer vulnerable by their shafts, and 
all their fancied greatness vanished, like the baseless fabric of a 
"i. Many that had been long striving to attain a seat at the 
board, with their faces thitherward, beheld, with infinite regret, 


their competitors advanced to the honors they aspired to then; 
selves. These disappointed, ambitious, and envious men, instil 
the poison of disaffection into the minds of the lower classes, and 
as soon as they are properly impregnated, exclaim, the people nev 
er will submit to it. They now would urge them into certain ruin, 
to prevent the execution of an act of parliament, designed and 
calculated to restore peace and harmony to the province, and to 
recal that happy state, when year rolled round on year, in a con 
tinual increase of our felicity. 

The Quebec bill is another capital grievance, because tlie Ca 
nadians are tolerated in the enjoyment of their religion, which 
they were entitled to, by an article of capitulation, when they 
submitted to the British arms. This toleration is not an exclusion 
of the protestant religion, which is established in every part of the 
empire, as firmly as civil polity can establish it. It is a strange 
kind of reasoning to argue, from the French inhabitants of the 
conquered province of Quebec being tolerated, in the enjoyment 
of the Roman Catholic religion, in which they were educated, and 
in which alone they repose their hope of eternal salvation ; that 
therefore government intends to deprive us of the enjoyment of 
t\e protestant religion, in which alone we believe, especially as 
the political interests of Britain depend upon protestant connex 
ions, and the king s being a protestant himself is an indispensable 
condition of his wearing the crown. This circumstance however 
served admirably for a fresh stimulus, and was eagerly grasped by 
the disaffected of all orders. It added pathos to pulpit oratory. 
We often see resolves and seditious letters interspersed with po 
pery here and there in Italics. If any of the clergy have endeav 
oured, from this circumstance, to alarm their too credulous audi 
ences, with an apprehension that their religious privileges were 
in danger, thereby to excite them to take up arms, we must lament 
the depravity of the best of men ; but human nature stands apal- 
led when we reflect upon the aggravated guilt f prostituting our 
holy religion to the accursed purposes of treason and rebellion. 
As to our lay politicians, I have long since ceased to wonder at 
any thing in them ; but it may be observed that there is no surer 
mark of a bad cause, than for its advocates to recur to such pitiful 
shifts to support it. This instance plainly indicates that their sole 
dependance is in preventing the passions subsiding, and cool reason 
resuming its seat. It is a mark of their shrewdness however, for 
whenever reason shall resume its seat, the political cheat will be 
detected, stand confest in its native turpitude, and the political 
knave be branded with marks of infamy, adequate, if possible, to 
the enormity of his crimes MASSACHUSETTENSIS. 



To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

February 20, 1775. 


IT would be an endless task to remark minutely upon each of 
the fancied grievances, that swarm and cluster, fill and deform the 
American chronicles. An adeptness at discovering grievances 
has lately been one of the principal recommendations to public 
notice and popular applause. We have had genuises selected for 
that purpose, called committees upon grievances ; a sagacious set 
they were, and discovered a multitude before it was known, that 
they themselves were the greatest grievances that the country 
was infested with. The case is shortly this ; the whigs suppose 
the colonies to be separate or distinct states : having fixed this 
opinion in their minds, they are at no loss for grievances. Could 
I agree with them in their first principle, 1 should acquiesce in ma 
ny of their deductions ; for in that case every act of parliament, 
extending to the colonies, and every movement of the crown to 
carry them into execution, would be really grievances, however 
wise and salutary they might be in themselves, as they would be 
exertions of a power that we were not constitutionally subject to, 
and would deserve the name of usurpation and tyranny j but de 
prived of this their cornerstone, the terrible fabric of grievances 
vanishes, like castles raised by enchantment, and leaves the won 
dering spectator amazed and confounded at the deception. He 
suspects himself !o have but just awoke from sleep, or recovered 
from a trance, and that the formidable spectre, that had froze him 
with horror, was no more than the creature of a vision, or the de 
lusion of a dream. 

Upon this point, whether the colonies are distinct states or not, 
our patriots have rashly tendered Great Britain an issue, against 
every principle of law and constitution, against reason and com 
mon prudence. There is no arbiter between us but the sword ; 
and that the decision of that tribunal will be against us, reason 
foresees, as plainly as it can discover any event that lies in the 
womb of futurity. No person, unless actuated by ambition, pride, 
malice, envy, or a malignant combination of the whole, that verg 
es towards madness, and hurries the man away from himself, would 
wage war upon such unequal terms. No honest man would en 
gage himself, much less plunge his country into the calamities of 
a war upon equal terms, without first settling with his conscience, 
in the retired moment* of reflection, the important question res 
pecting the justice of his cause. To do this, we must hear and 
weigh every thing that is fairly adduced, on either side of the 


question, with equal attention and care. A disposition to drink in 
with avidity, what favours our hypothesis, and to reject with dis 
gust whatever contravenes it, is an infallible mark of a narrow, 
selfish mind. In matters of small moment, such obstinacy is weak 
ness and folly, in important ones, fatal madness. There are ma- 
ny among us, that have devoted themselves to the slavish dominion 
of prejudice ; indeed the more liberal have seldom had an oppor 
tunity of bringing the question to a fair examen. The eloquence 
of the bar, the desk and the senate, the charms of poetry, the 
expressions of painting, sculpture and statuary have conspired to 
fix and rivet ideas of independance upon the mind of the colonists. 
The overwhelming torrent, supplied from so many fountains, rolled 
on with increasing rapidity and violence, till it became superior 
to all restraint. It was the reign of passion ; the small, still voice 
of reason was refused audience. I have observed that the press 
was heretofore open to but one side of the question, which has 
given offence to a writer in Edes and Gill s paper, under the sig 
nature of Novanglus, to whom 1 have many things to say. I would 
at present ask him, if the convention of committees for the coun 
ty of Worcester, in recommending to the inhabitants of that county 
not to take newspapers, published by two of the printers in this 
town, and two at New York, have not affected to be licensers of 
the press ? And whether, by proscribing these printers, and en 
deavouring to deprive them of a livelihood, they have not mani 
fested an illiberal, bigoted, arbitrary, malevolent disposition ? 
And whether, by thus attempting to destroy the liberty of the 
press, they have not betrayed a consciousness of the badruess of 
their cause ? 

Our warriors tell us, that the parliament shall be permitted to 
legislate for the purposes of regulating trade, but the parliament 
hath most unrighteously asserted, that it " had, hath, and of right 
ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes 
of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies in all cases 
whatever," that this claim is without any qualification or restric 
tion, is an innovation, and inconsistent with liberty. Let us can 
didly inquire into these three observations, upon the statute de 
claratory of the authority of parliament. As to its universality, 
it is true there are no exceptions expressed, but there is no gene 
ral rule without exceptions, expressed or implied. 

The implied ones in this case are obvious. It is evident that the 
intent and meaning of this act, was to assert the supremacy of 
parliament in the colonies, that is, that its constitutional authority 
to make laws and statutes binding upon the colonies, is, and ever 
had been as ample, as it is to make laws binding upon the realm 
No one that reads the declaratory statute, not even prejudice it 
self, can suppose that the parliament meant to assert thereby a 
right or power to deprive the colonists of their lives, to enslave 
them, or to make any law respecting the colonies, that would not 
be constitutional, were it made respecting Groat Britain. By an 


act of parliament passed in the year 1650, it was declared con 
cerning the colonies and plantations in America, that they had 
" ever since the planting thereof been arid ought to he subject to 
such laws, orders and regulations, as are or shall be made by the 
parliament of England." This declaration though differing in 
expression, is the same in substance with the other. Our house 
of representatives, in their dispute with governor Hutchinson, 
concerning the supremacy of parliament, say, " It is difficult, if 
possible, to draw a line of distinction between the universal author- 
it3 r of parliament over the colonies, and no authority at all." 

The declaratory statute was intended more especially to assert 
the right of parliament, to make laws and statutes for raising a 
revenue in America, lest the repeal of the stamp act might be urg 
ed as a disclaimer of the right. Let us now inquire whether a 
power to raise a revenue be not the inherent, unalienable right of 
(he supreme legislative of every well regulated state, where the 
hereditary revenues of the crown, or established revenues of the 
state are insufficient of themselves ; and whether that power be 
not necessarily coextensive with the power of legislation, or rath 
er necessarily implied in it. 

The end or design of government, as has been already observ 
ed, is the security of the people from internal violence and rapa 
city, and from foreign invasion. The supreme power of & 
state must necessarily be so extensive and ample as to answer 
those purposes, otherwise it is constituted in vain, and degenerates 
into empty parade and mere ostentatious pegeantry. These pur 
poses cannot be answered without a power to raise a revenue : 
for without it neither the laws can be executed, nor the state de 
fended. This revenue ought, in national concerns, to be appor 
tioned throughout the whole empire according to the abilities of 
the seyeral parts, as the claim of each to protection, is equal; a 
refusal to yield the former is as unjust as the withholding of the 
.latter. Were any part of an empire exempt from contributing 
their proportionable part of the revenue, necessary for the whole, 
such exemption would be manifest injustice to the rest of the 
empire ; as it must of course bear more than its proportion of 
the public burden, and it would amount to an additional tax. If 
the proportion of each part was to be determined only by itself 
in a separate legislature, it would not only involve in it the ab 
surdity of imperium in imperio, but the perpetual contention ari 
sing from the predominant principle of self-interest in each, with 
out having any common arbiter between them, would render the 
disjointed, discordant, torn, and dismembered state incapable of 
collecting or conducting its force and energy for the preservation 
of the whole, as emergencies might require. A government thus 
constituted, would contain the seeds of dissolution in its first prin 
ciples, and must soon destroy itself. 

I have already shewn, that by your first charter, this province 
rag to l,e subject to taxation, after the lapse of twenty-one years, 


and that the authority of parliament to impose such taxes, was 
claimed so early as the year 1642. 

In the patent for Pennsylvania, which is now in force, there is 
this clause, " And further our pleasure is, and by these presents, 
for us, &c. we do covenant and grant to, and with the said William 
Penn. &c. that we, &c. shall at no time hereafter set or make, or 
cause to be set, any imposition, custom, or other taxation, or rate 
or contribution whatsoever, in and upon the dwellers, and inhab 
itants of the aforesaid province, for their lands, tenements, goods 
or chattels within the said province, or in and upon any goods or 
merchandise within the said province, to be laden or unladen with 
in the ports or harbours of the said province, unless the same 
be with the consent of the proprietors, chief governor, or assem 
bly, or act of parliament." 

These are stubborn facts ; they are incapable of being winked 
out of existence, how much soever, we may be disposed to shut 
our eyes upon them. They prove, that the claim of a right to 
raise a revenue in the colonies, exclusive of the grants of their 
own assemblies, is coeval with the colonies themselves. I shall 
next shew, that there has been an actual, uninterrupted exercise 
of that right, by the parliament time immemorial. 



To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts 

February 27, 1775. 


BY an act of parliament made in the twenty-fifth year of tlio 
reign of Charles 2d. duties are laid upon goods and merchandise 
of various kinds, exported from the colonies to foreign countries, 
or carried from one colony to another, payable on exportation. I 
will recite a part of it, viz : u For so much of the said commo 
dities as shall be laden and put on board such ship or vessel ; that 
is to say, for sugar, white, the hundred weight, five shillings ; and 
brown and Muscovados, the hundred weight, one shilling and six 
pence ; tobacco, the pound, one penny ; cotton wool, the pound, 
one half-penny ; for indigo, two-pence ; ginger, the hundred 
weight, one shilling; logwood, the hundred weight, five pounds: 
fustic, and all other dying wood, the hundred weight, six-pence : 
cocoa, the pound, one-penny, to be levied, collected, and paid, at 
such places, and to such collectors and other officers, as shall be 
appointed in the respective plantations, to collect, levy- and re 


eeive the same, before the landing thereof, and under such penal 
ties, both to the officers, and upon the goods, as for non-payment 
of, or defrauding his majesty of his customs in England. And for 
the better collecting of the several rates and duties imposed by this 
act, be it enacted that this whole business shall be ordered and 
managed, and the several duties hereby imposed shall be caused 
to be levied by the commissioners of the customs in England, by and 
under the authority of the lord treasurer of England, or commis 
sioners of the treasury." 

It is apparent, from the reasoning of this statute, that these du 
ties were imposed for the sole purpose of revenue. There has 
lately been a most ingenious play upon the words and expressions 
tax, revenue, purpose of raising a revenue, sole purpose of raising a 
revenue, express purpose of raising a revenue, as though their being 
inserted in, or left out of a statute, would make any essential dif 
ference in the statute. This is mere playing with words ; for if, 
from the whole tenor of the act, it is evident, that the intent of 
the legislature was to tax, rather than to regulate the trade, by 
imposing duties on goods and merchandise, it is to all intents and 
purposes, an instance of taxation, be the form of words, in which 
the statute is conceived, what it will. That such was the intent 
of the legislature, in this instance, any one that will take the pains 
to read it, will be convinced. There have been divers alterations 
made in this by subsequent statutes, but some of the above taxes 
remain, and are collected and paid in the colonies to this day. 
By an act of the 7th. and 8th. of William and Mary, it is enacted, 
" that every seaman, whatsoever, that shall serve his majesty, or 
any other person whatever in any of his majesty s ships or vessels, 
whatsoever, belonging, or to belong to any subjects of England, 
or any other his majesty s dominions, shall allow, and there shall 
be paid out of the wages of every such seaman, to grow dile for 
such his service, six-pence per annum for the better support of 
the said hospital, and to augment the revenue thereof." This tax 
was imposed in the reign of king William 3d. of blessed memory, 
and is still levied in the colonies. It would require a volume to 
recite, or minutely to remark upon all the revenue acts that relate 
to America. We find them in many reigns, imposing new duties, 
taking off, or reducing old ones, and making provision for their 
collection, or new appropriations of them. By an act of the 7th. 
and 8th. of William and Mary, entitled, " an act for preventing 
frauds and regulating abuses in the plantations." All former acts 
respecting the plantations are renewed, and all ships and vessels 
coming into any port here, are liable to the same regulations and 
restrictions, as ships in the ports in England are liable to ; and 
enacts, " That the officers for collecting and managing his majesties 
revenue, and inspecting the plantation trade in many of the said plan- 
fat tons, shall have the same powers and authority for visiting 
and searching of ships, and taking their entries, and for seizing, or 
securing, or bringing on shore any of the goods prohibited to be 


imported or exported into or out of any of the said colonies ami 
plantations, orjor which any duties are payable, or ought to be paid 
by any of the before mentioned acts, as are provided for the officers of 
the customs in England" 

The act of the 9th of Queen Ann, for establishing a post-of 
fice, gives this reason for its establishment, and for laying- taxes 
thereby imposed on the carriage of letters in Great Britain and 
Ireland, the colonies and plantations in North America and the 
West Indies, and all other her majesty s dominions and territories, 
" that the business may be done in such manner as may be most 
beneficial to the people of these kingdoms, and her majesty may 
be supplied, and the revenue arising by the said office, better im 
proved, settled, and secured to her majesty, her heirs, and succes 
sors." The celebrated patriot, Dr. Franklin, was till lately one 
of the principal collectors of it. The merit in putting the post- 
office in America upon such a footing as to yield a large revenue 
to the crown, is principally ascribed to him by the whigs. I would 
not wish to detract from the real merit of that gentleman, but had 
a tory been half so assiduous in increasing the America revenue, 
Novanglus would have wrote parricide at the end of his name. 
By an act of the sixth of George 2d. a duty is laid on all foreign 
rum, molasses, syrups, sugars, and paneles, to be raised, levied, 
collected, and paid unto, and for the use of his majesty, his heirs, and 
successors. The preamble of an act of the fourth of his present 
majesty declares, u that it is just and necessary that a revenue in 
America for defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and se 
curing the same,^ &LC. by which act duties are laid upon foreign 
sugars, coffee, Madeira wine ; upon Portugal, Spanish, and all 
other wine, except French wine, imported from Great Britain ; 
upon silks, bengals, stuffs, calico, linen cloth, cambric, and lawn, 
imported from particular places. 

Thus, my friends, it is evident, that the parliament has been in 
the actual, uninterrupted use and exercise of the right claimed 
by them, to raise a revenue in America, from a period more re 
mote than the grant of the present charter, to this day. These 
revenue acts have never been called unconstitutional till very 
lately. Both whigs and tories acknowledged them to be constitu 
tional. In 1764, Governor Bernard wrote and transmitted to his 
friends, his polity alluded to, and in par* recited by Novanglus,< 
wherein he asserts the right or authority oi" the parliament to tax 
the colonies Mr. Otis, whose patriotism, sound policy, profound 
learning, integrity and honour, i.s mentioned in strong terms by 
Novanglus, in the self-same year, in a pamphlet which he pub- 
fished to the whole world, asserts the right or authority of parlia 
ment to tax the colonies, as roundly as ever Governor Bernard 
did, which I shall have occasion to take an extract from hereafter. 
Mr. Otis was at that time the most popular man in the province,- 
and continued his popularity muny years afterwards. 


Is it not a nost astonishing instance of caprice, or infatuation, 
that a province, torn from its foundations, should be precipitating 
itself into a war with Great Britain, because the British parliament 
asserts its right of racing a revenue in America, inasmuch as the 
claim of that right is as ancient as the colonies themselves ; and 
there is at present no grievous exercise of it? The parliaments 
refusing to repeal the act is the ostensible foundation of our 
quarrel. If we ask the whigs whether the pitiful three penny 
duty upon a luxurious, unwholesome, foreign commodity gives 
just occasion for the opposition ; they tell us it is the precedent 
they are contending about, insinuating that it is an innovation. 
But this ground is not tenable; for a total repeal of the tea-act 
would not serve us upon the score of precedents. They are nu 
merous without this The whigs have been extremely partial res 
pecting tea. Poor tea has been made the shibboleth of party, while 
molasses, wine, coffee, indigo,, &c. SLC. have been unmolested. A 
person that drinks New England rum, distilled from molasses, sub 
ject to a like duty, is equally deserving of a coat of tar and feath 
ers, with him that drinks tea. A coffee drinker is as culpable as 
either, viewed in a political light. But, say our patriots, if the 
British parliament may take a penny from us, .without our consent, 
they may a pound, and so on, till they have filched away all our 
property. This incessant incantation operates like a spell or 
charm, and checks the efforts of loyalty in many an honest breast. 
Let us give it its full weight. Do they mean, that if the parlia 
ment has a right to raise a revenue of one penny on the colonies, 
that they must therefore have a rigid to wrest from iis all our 
property ? If this be their meaning, I deny their deduction ; for 
the supreme legislature can have no right to tax any part of the 
empire to a greater amount, than its just and equitable proportion 
of the necessary, national cxpence. This is a line drawn by the 
constitution itself. Do they mean, that if we admit that the par 
liament may constitutionally raise one penny upon us for the pur 
poses of revenue, they will probably proceed from light to heavy 
taxes, till their impositions become grievous and intolerable ? 
This amounts to no more than a denial of the right, lest it should 
be abused. But an argument drawn from the actual abuse of a 
power, will not conclude to the illegality of such power, much 
less will an argument drawn from a capability of its being abused. 
If it would, we might readily argue away all power, that man is 
entrusted with. I will admit, that a power of taxation is more 
liable to abuse, than legislation separately considered ; and it 
would give me pleasure to see some other line drawn ; some 
other barrier erected, than what the constitution has already done, 
if it be possible, whereby the constitutional authority of the 
supreme legislature, might be preserved entire, and America be 
guaranteed in every right and exemption, consistent with her 
subordination and d^pendance. But this can only be done by par 
liament. I repeat 1 arn no advocate for a land tax, or any other 


kind of internal tax, nor do I think we were in any danger of 
them. I have not heen able to discover one symptom of any 
such intention in the parliament, since the repeal of the stamp- 
act. Indeed, the principal speakers of the majority, that repeal 
ed the stamp-act drew the line for us, between internal and ex 
ternal taxation, and I think we ought, in honour, justice, and good 
policy, to have acquiesced therein, at least until there was some 
burdensome exercise of taxation. For there is but little danger 
from the latter, that is from duties laid upon trade, as any griev 
ous restriction or imposition on American trade, would be sensi 
bly felt by the British ; and I think with Dr. Franklin, that " they 
(the British nation) have a natural and equitable right to some 
toll or duty upon merchandizes carried through that part of their 
dominions, viz : the American seas, towards defraying the expence 
they are at in ships to maintain the safety of that carriage." 
These were his words in his examination at the bar of the house, 
in 1765. Sed tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis. Before 
we appeal to heaven for the justice of our cause, we ought to 
determine with ourselves, some other questions, whether America 
is not obliged in equity to contribute something toward the na 
tional defence : whether the present American revenue, 
amounts to our proportion : and whether we can, with any toler 
able grace, accuse Great Britain of injustice in imposing the late 
duties, when our assemblies were previously called upon, and 
refused to make any provision for themselves. These, with sev 
eral imaginary grievances, not yet particularly remarked upon. 
I shall consider in reviewing the publications of Novanglus ; a 
performance which, though not destitute of ingenuity, I read with 
a mixture of grief and indignation, as it seems to be calculated to 
blow up every spark of animosity, and to kindle such a flame, as 
must inevitably consume a great part of this once happy province, 
before it can be extingnished. MASSACHUSETTENSIS. 


To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

f March 6, 1775. 


NOVANGLUS, and all ethers, have an indisputable right to 
publish their sentiments and opinions to the world, provided they 
conform to truth, decency, and the municipal laws, of the society 
of which they are members. He has wrote with a professed de 
sign of exposing the errors and sophistry which he supposes are 


frequent in my publications. His design is so far laudable, and I 
intend to correct them wherever he convinces me there is an in 
stance of either. I have no objection to the minutest disquisition ; 
contradiction and disputation, like the collision of flint and steel, 
often strike out new light ; the bare opinions of either of us, un 
accompanied by the grounds and reasons upon which they were 
formed, must be considered only as propositions made to the read 
er, for him to adopt, or reject as his own reason may judge, or 
feelings dictate. A large proportion of the labours of Novanglus 
consist in denials of my allegations in matters of such public no 
toriety, as that no reply is necessary. He has alleged many 
things destitute of foundation ; those that affect the main object of 
our pursuit, but remotely, if at all, I shall pass by without par 
ticular remark ; others, of a more interesting nature, I shall 
review minutely. After some general observations upon Massa- 
chesettensis, he slides into a most virulent attack upon particular 
persons, by names, with such incomparable ease, that shews him 
to be a great proficient in the modern art of detraction and ca 
lumny. He accuses the late governor Shirley, governor Hutch- 
inson, the late lieutenant governor Oliver, the late judge Russell, 
Mr. Paxton, and brigadier Ruggles, of a conspiracy to enslave 
their country. The charge is high coloured ; if it be just, they 
merit the epithets dealt about so indiscriminately, of enemies to 
their country. If it be groundless, Novanglus has acted the part 
of an assassin, in thus attempting to destroy the reputation of the 
living ; and of something worse than an assassin, in entering those 
hallowed mansions, where the wicked commonly cease from trou 
bling, and the weary are at rest, to disturb the repose of the dead. 
That the charge is groundless respecting governor Bernard, gov 
ernor Hutchinson, and the late lieutenant governor, I dare assert, 
because they have been acquitted of it in such a manner, as every 
good citizen must acquiesce in. Our house of representatives, 
acting as the grand inquest of the province, presented them before 
the king in council, and after a full hearing, they were acquitted 
with honour, and the several impeachments dismissed, as ground 
less, vexatious, and scandalous. The accusation of the house was 
similar to this of Novanglus ; the court they chose to institute 
their suit in, was of competent and high jurisdiction, and its de 
cision final. This is a sufficient answer to the state charges made 
by this writer, so far as they respect the governors Bernard, 
Hutchinson and Oliver, whom he accuses as principals ; and it is 
a general rule, that if the principal be innocent, the accessary 
cannot be guilty. A determination of a constitutional arbiter 
ought to seal up the lips of even prejudice itself, in silence ; oth 
erwise litigation must be endless. This calumniator, nevertheless, 
has the effrontery to renew the charge in a public news paper, 
although thereby he arraigns our most gracious Sovereign, and 
the lords of the privy council, as well as the gentlemen he has 
named. Not content with wounding the honour of judges, coun- 


sellers and governors, with missile weapons, darted from an ob 
scure corner, he now aims a blow at majesty itself. Any one may 
accuse ; but accusation, unsupported by proof, recoils upon the 
head of the accuser. It is entertaining- enough to consider the 
crimes and misdemeanors alleged, and then examine the evidence 
he adduces, stript of the false glare he has thrown upon it. 

The crimes are these; the persons named by him conspired 
together to enslave their country, in consequence of a plan, the 
outlines of which have been drawn by sir Edmund Andross and 
others, and handed down by tradition to the present times. He 
tells us that governor Shirley, in 1754, communicated the profound 
secret, the great design of taxing the colonies by act of parliament, 
to the sagacious gentleman, eminent philosopher, and distinguish 
ed patriot, Dr. Franklin. The profound secret is this ; after the 
commencement of hostilities between the English and French col 
onies in the last war, a convention of committees from several 
provinces were called by the king, to agree upon some general 
plan of defence. The principal difficulty they met with was in 
devising means whereby each colony might be obliged to contri 
bute its proportionable part. General Shirley proposed that ap 
plication should be made to parliament to impower the committees of 
the several colonies to tax the whole according to their several propor 
tions. This plan was adopted by the convention, and approved 
of by the assembly in New York, who passed a resolve in these 
words : " That the scheme proposed by governor Shirley for the 
defence of the British colonies in North America, is well concert 
ed, and that this colony joins therein." This however did not 
succeed, and he proposed anpther, viz. for the parliament to asses* 
each one s proportion, and in case of failure to raise it on their 
part, that it should be done by parliament. This is the profound 
secret. His assiduity in endeavouring to have some effectual 
plan of general defence established, is, by the false colouring of 
this writer, represented as an attempt to aggrandise himself, fami 
ly and friends ; and that gentleman, under whose administration 
the several parties in the province were as much united, and the 
whole province rendered as happy as it ever was, for so long a 
time together, is called a "crafty, busy, ambitious, intriguing, en- 
terprizing man." This attempt of Governor Shirley for a par 
liamentary taxation, is however a circumstance strongly militating 
with this writer s hypothesis, for the approbation shewn to the 
Governor s proposal by the convention, which consisted of per 
sons from the several colonies, not inferior in point of discern 
ment, integrity, knowledge or patriotism to the members of our 
late grand congress, and the vote of the New York assembly fur 
nishes pretty strong evidence that the authority of parliament, 
even in point of taxation, was not doubted in that day. Even 
Dr. Franklin, in the letter alluded to, does not deny the right. 
His objections go to the inexpediency of the measure. He sup 
poses it would create uneasiness in the minds of the colonists 


should they be thus taxed, unless they were previously allowed 
to send representatives to parliament. If Dr. Franklin really 
supposes that the parliament has no constitutional right to raise 
a revenue in America, I must confess myself at a loss to reconcile 
his conduct in accepting the office of post-master, and his assidui 
ty in increasing the revenue in that department, to the patriotism 
predicated of him by Novanglus, especially as this unfortunately 
happens to be an internal tax. This writer then tells us, that the 
plan was interrupted by the war, and afterwards by Governor 
Pownal s administration. That Messieurs Hutchinson and Oliver, 
stung with envy at Governor Pownal s favourites, propagated 
slanders respecting him to render him uneasy in his seat. My 
answer is this, that he that publishes such falsehoods as these in 
a public newspaper, with an air of seriousness, insults the under 
standing of the public, more than he injures the individuals he 
defames. In the next place we are told, that Governor Bernard 
was the proper man for this purpose, and he was employed by 
the junto to suggest to the ministry the project of taxing the col 
onies by act of parliament. Sometimes Governor Bernard is the 
arch enemy of America, the source of all our troubles, now only 
a tool in the hands of others. I wish ISTovanglus s memory had 
served him better, his tale might have been consistent with itself, 
however variant from truth. After making these assertions with 
equal gravity and assurance, he tells us, he does not advance this 
without evidence. I had been looking out for evidence a long 
time, and was all attention when it was promised, but my disap 
pointment was equal to the expectation he had raised, when I 
found the evidence amounted to nothing more than Governor 
Bernard s letters and principles of law and polity, wherein he as 
serts the supremacy of parliamet over the colonies both as to 
legislation and taxation. Where this writer got his logic, I do 
not know. Reduced to a syllogism, his argument stands thus ; 
Governor Bernard, in 176*. wrote and transmitted to England 
certain letters and principles of law and polity, wherein he asserts 
the right of parliament to tax the colonies; Messieurs Hutchin 
son and Oliver were in unison with him in all his measures ; 
therefore Messieurs Hutchinson and Oliver employed Governor 
Bernard to suggest to the ministry the project of taxing the colo 
nies by act of parliament. The letters and principles are the 
whole of the evidence, and this is all the appearance of argument 
contained in his publication. Let us examine the premises. 
That Governor Bernard asserted the right of parliament to tax 
the colonies in 1764, is true. So did Mr. Otis, in a pamphlet he 
published the self-same year, from which I have already taken an 
extract. In a pamphlet published in 1765, Mr. Otis tells us, " it 
is certain that the parliament of Great Britain hath a just, clear, 
equitable and constitutional right, pov/er and authority to bind 
the colonies by all acts wherein they are named. Every lawyer, 
nay every Tyro, knows this ; no less certain is it that the parlia- 


ment of Great Britain has a just and equitable right, power and 
authority to impose taxes on the colonies internal and external, on 
lands as well as on trade. 1 But does it follow from Governor 
Bernard s transmitting his principles of polity to four persons in 
England, or from Mr. Otis s publishing to the whole world similar 
principles, that either the one or the other suggested to the min 
istry the project of taxing the colonies hy act of parliament? 
Hardly, supposing the transmission aud publication had been prior 
to the resolution of parliament to that purpose ; but very unfor 
tunately for our reasoner, they were both subsequent to it, and 
were the effect and not the cause. 

The hisiory of the stamp act is this. At the close of the last 
war, which was a native of America, and increased the national 
debt upwards of sixty millions, it was thought by parliament to 
be but equitable, that an additional revenue should be raised in 
America, towards defraying the necessary charges of keeping it 
in a state of defence. A resolve of this nature was passed, and 
the colonies made acquainted with it through their agents, in 
1764, that their assemblies might make the necessary provision 
if they would. The assemblies neglected doing any thing, and 
the parliament passed the stamp act. There is not so much as 
a colourable pretence that any American had a hand in the mat 
ter. Had governor Bernard, governor Hutchinson, or the late 
lieutenant governor been any way instrumental in obtaining the 
stamp act, it is very strange that not a glimpse of evidence should 
ever have appeared, especially when we consider that their pri 
vate correspondence has been published, letters which were 
written in the full confidence of unsuspecting friendship. The 
evidence, as Novanglus calls it, is wretchedly deficient as to fix 
ing the charge upon governor Bernard ; but, even admitting that 
governor Bernard suggested to the ministry the design of taxing, 
there is no kind of evidence to prove that the junto, as this ele 
gant writer calls the others, approved of it, much less that they 
employed him to do it. But, says he, no one can doubt but that 
Messieurs Hutchinson and Oliver were in unison with governor 
Bernard, in all his measures. This is not a fact, Mr. Hutchinson 
dissented from him respecting the alteration of our charter, and 
wrote to his friends in England to prevent it. Whether gover 
nor Bernard wrote in favour of the stamp act being repealed or 
not I cannot say, but I know that governor Hutchinson did, and 
have reason to think his letters had great weight in turning the 
scale, which hung doubtful a longtime, in favour of the repeal. 
These facts are known to many in the province, whigs as well n> 
tories, yet such was the infatuation that prevailed, that the mob 
destroyed his house upon supposition that he, was the patron of 
the stamp act. Even in the letters wrote to the late Mr. Whate- 
ly, we find him advising to a total repeal of the tea act. It can 
not be fairly inferred from persons intimacy or mutual confidence, 
that they always approve of each others plans. Messieurs Oris, 


Gushing, Hancock and Adams were as confidential friends, and 
made common cause equally with the other gentlemen. May we 
thence infer, that the three latter hold that the parliament has a 
just and equitable right to impose taxes on the colonies ? Or, that 
the time may come, when the real interest of the whole may 
require an act of parliament to annihilate all our charters ?" 
For these also are Mr. Otis s words. Or may we lay it down as 
a principle to reason from, that these gentlemen never disagree 
respecting measures ? We know they do often, very materially. 
This writer is unlucky both in his principles and inferences. 
But where is the evidence respecting brigadier Ruggles, Mr. 
Paxton, and the late judge Russel ? He does not produce even 
the shadow of a shade. He does not even pretend that they were 
in unison with governor Bernard in all his measures. In matters 
of small moment a man may be allowed to amuse with ingenious 
fiction, but in personal accusation, in matters so interesting both 
to the individual arid to the public, reason and candour require 
something more than assertion, without proof, declamation with 
out argument, and censure without dignity or moderation : this 
however, is characteristic of Novanglus. It is the stale trick of 
the whig writers feloniously to stab the reputation, when their 
antagonists are invulnerable in their public conduct. 

These gentlemen were all of them, and the survivers still con 
tinue to be, friends of the English constitution, equally tenacious 
of the privileges of the people, and of the prerogative of the 
crown, zealous advocates for the colonies continuing their consti 
tutional dependance upon Great Britain, as they think it no less 
the interest than the duty of the colonists ; averse to tyranny and 
oppression in all their forms, and always ready to exert themselves 
for the relief of the oppressed, though they differ materially from 
the whigs in the mode of obtaining it ; they discharged the duties 
of the several important departments they were called to fill, with 
equal faithfulness and ability ; their public services gained them 
the confidence of the people, real merit drew after it popularity; 
their principles, firmness and popularity rendered them obnoxious 
to certain persons amongst us, who have long been indulging them 
selves, in hopes of rearing up an American commonwealth, upon 
the ruin of the British constitution. This republican party is of 
long standing ; they lay however, in a great measure, dormant for 
several years. The distrust, jealousy and ferment raised by the 
stamp act, afforded scope for action. At first they wore the 
garb of hypocrisy, they professed to be friends to the British con 
stitution in general, but claimed some exemptions from their local 
circumstances ; at length threw otf their disguise, and now stand 
confessed to the world in their true characters, American republi 
cans. These republicans knew, that it would be impossible for 
them to succeed in their darling projects, without first destroying 
the influence of these adherents to the constitution. Their only- 
method to accomplish it, was by publications charged with fals- 


hood and scurrility. Notwithstanding the favorable opportunity 
the stamp act gave of imposing upon the ignorant and credulous, 
I have sometimes been amazed, to see with how little hesitation, 
some slovenly baits were swallowed. Sometimes the adherents 
to the constitution were called ministerial tools, at others, kings, 
lords and commons, were the tools of them ; for almost every act 
of parliament that has been made respecting America, in the pres 
ent reign, we were told was drafted in Boston, or its environs, and 
only sent to England to run through the forms of parliament 
Such stories, however improbable, gained credit; even the ficti 
tious bill for restraining marriages and murdering bastard child 
ren, met with some simple enough to think it real. He that read 
ily imbibes such absurdities, may claim affinity with the person 
mentioned by Mr. Addison, that made it his practice to 
Swallow a chimera every morning for breakfast. To be more 
serious, I pity the weakness of those that are capable of being 
thus duped, almost as much as I despise the wretch that would 
avail himself of it, to destroy private characters and the public 
tranquility. By such, infamous methods, many of the ancient, 
trusty and skilful pilots, who had steered the communit} safely 
in the most perilous times, were driven from the helm, and their 
places occupied by different persons, some of whom, bankrupts in 
fortune, business and fame, are now striving to run the ship on the 
rocks, that they may have an opportunity of plundering the 
wreck. The gentlemen named by Novanglus, have nevertheless 
persevered with unshaken constancy and firmness, in their patri 
otic principles and conduct, through a variety of fortune ; and 
have at present, the mournful consolation of reflecting, that had 
their admonitions and councils been timely attended to, their coun^ 
try would never have been involved in its present calamity. 



To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

March 13, 1775. 


OUR patriotic writers, as they call each other, estimate the 
services rendered by, and the advantages resulting from the col 
onies to Britain, at a high rate, but allow but little, if any, merit 
in her towards the colonies. Novanglus would persuade us that 
exclusive of her assistance in the last war, we have had but Httle 
tff her protection, unless it was such as her name alone afforded- 


Dr. Franklin when before the house of commons, in 1765, denied 
that the late war was entered into for the defence of the people 
in America. The Pennsylvania Farmer tell* us in his letters, that 
the war was undertaken solely for the benefit of Great Britain, 
and that however advantageous the subduing or keeping any of 
these countries, viz. Canada, Nova-Scotia and the Floridas may 
be to Great Britain, the acquisition is greatly injurious to these 
colonies. And that the colonies, as constantly as streams tend to 
the ocean, have been pouring the fruits of all their labours into 
their mother s lap. Thus, they would induce us to believe, that 
we derive little or no advantage from GreatBritain,and thence they 
infer the injustice, rapacity and cruelty of her conduct towards us. 
I fully agree with them, that the services rendered by the colo 
nies are great and meritorious. The plantations are additions to 
the empire of inestimable value. The American market for 
British manufactures, the great nursery for seamen formed by our 
shipping, the cultivation of deserts, and our rapid population, arc 
increasing and inexhaustible sources of national wealth and 
strength. I commend these patriots for their estimations of the 
national advantages accruing from the colonies, as much as I think 
them deserving of censure for depreciating the advantages and 
benefits that we derive from Britain. A particular inquiry into 
the protection afforded us, and the commercial advantages result 
ing to us from the parent state, will go a great way towards con 
ciliating the affections of those whose minds are at present undu 
ly impressed with different sentiments towards Great Britain. 
The intestine commotions with which England was convulsed and 
torn soon after the emigration of our ancestors, probably prevent 
ed that attention being given to them in the earliest stages of this 
colony, that otherwise would have been given. The principal 
difficulties that the adventurers met with after the struggle of a 
few of the first years were over, were the incursions of the French 
and savages conjointly, or of the latter instigated and supported 
by the former. Upon a representation of this to England, in the 
time of the interregnum, Acadia, which was then the principal 
source of our disquietude, was reduced by an English armament 
At the request of this colony, in queen Ann s reign, a fleet of fif 
teen men of war, besides transports, troops, &,c. were sent to as 
sist us in an expedition against Canada ; the fleet suffered ship 
wreck, and the attempt proved abortive. It ought not to be 
forgot, that the siege of Louisbourg, in 1745, by our own forces, 
was covered by a British fleet of ten ships, four of 60 guns, one of 
50, and five of 40 guns, besides the Vigilant of 64, which 
was taken during the siege, as she was attempting to throw sup 
plies into the garrison. It is not probable that the expedition 
would have been undertaken without an expectation of some naval 
assistance, or that the reduction could have been effected without 
it. \n January, 1754, our assembly, in a message to governor 
Shirley, prayed him to represent to the king, " that the French 


had made such extraordinary encroachments, and taken such mea 
sures, since the conclusion of the preceding war, as threatened 
great danger, and perhaps, in time, even the entire destruction of 
this province, without the interposition of his majesty, notwith 
standing any provision we could make to prevent it." " That the 
French had erected a fort on the isthmus of the peninsula near 
Bay Vert in Nova Scotia, by means of which they maintained a 
communication by sea with Canada, St. John s Island and Louis- 
bourg." " That near the mouth of St. John s river, the French 
had possessed themselves of two forts formerly built by them, one 
of which was garrisoned by regular troops, and had erected anoth 
er strong fort at twenty leagues up the river, and that these en 
croachments might prove fatal not only to the eastern parts of his 
majesty s territories within this province, but also in time to the 
whole of this province, and the rest of his majesty s territories on 
this continent." "That whilst the French held Acadia under the 
treaty of St, Germain, they so cut off the trade of this province, 
and galled the inhabitants with incursions into their territories, 
that OLIVER CROMWELL found it necessary for the safety of 
New England to make a descent by sea into the river of St. John, 
and dispossess them of that and all the forts in Acadia. That 
Acadia was restored to the French by the treaty of Breda in 1667." 
That this colony felt again the same mischievous effects from 
their possessing it, insomuch, that after forming several expedi 
tions against it, the inhabitants were obliged in the latter end of 
the war in queen Ann s reign, to represent to her majesty how 
destructive the possession of the bay of Fundy and Nova Scotia, 
by the French, was to this province and the British trade ; where 
upon the British ministry thought it necessary to fit out u formal 
expedition against that province with English troops, and a consider 
able armament of our own, under general Nicholson, by which it 
was again reduced to the subjection of the crown of Great Britain. 
"That we were then, viz. in 1754, liable to feel more mischiev 
ous effects than we had ever yet done, unless his majesty should 
be graciously pleased to cause them to be removed." They also 
demonstrated our danger from the encroachments of the French 
at Crown Point. In April, 1754, the council and house represent 
ed, " That it evidently appeared, that the French were so far ad- 
Tanced in the execution of a plan projected more than fifty years 
since, for the extending their possessions from the mouth of the 
Mississippi on the south, to Hudson s Bay on the north, for secur 
ing the vast body of Indians in that inland country, and for sub 
jecting the whole continent to the crown of France." " That 
many circumstances gave them great advantages over us, which 
if not attended to, would soon overbalance our superiority of num 
bers ; and that these advantages could not be renioved without 
his majesty s gracious interposition." 

The assembly of Virginia, in an address to the king, represent 
ed, " that the endeavours of the French to establish a settlement 


upon the frontiers, was a high insult offered to his majesty, and if 
not timely opposed, with vigor and resolution, must be attended 
with the most fatal consequences," and prayed his majesty to ex 
tend his royal beneficence towards them. 

The commissioners who met at Albany the same year, repre 
sented, " that it was the evident design of the French to surround 
the British colonies ; to fortify themselves on the back thereof; ; 
to take and keep possession of the heads of all the important riv- i 
ers ; to draw over the Indians to their interest, and with the help 
of such Indians, added to such forces as were then arrived, and 
might afterwards arrive, or be sent from JCurope, to be in a capa 
city of making a general attack on the several governments ; and 
if at the same time a strong naval force should be sent from : 
France, there was the utmost danger that the whole continent 
would be subjected to the crown." u That it seemed absolutely 
necessary that speedy and effectual measures should be taken, to 
secure the colonies from the slavery they were threatened with." 

We did not pray in vain. Great Britain, ever attentive to the 
real grievances pf her colonies, hastened to our relief with mater- ; 
nal speed. She covered our seas with her ships, and sent forth 
the bravest of her sons to fight our battles. They fought^ they 
bled and conquered with us. Canada, Nova Scotia, the Floridas, 
and all our American foes were laid at our feet. It was a dear! 
bought victory ; the wilds of America were enriched with the 
blood of the noble and the brave. 

The war, which at our request, was thus kindled in America, 
spread through the four quarters of the globe, and obliged Great 
Britain to exert her whole force and energy to stop the rapid 
progress of its devouring flames. 

To these instances of actual exertions for our immediate pro 
tection and defence, ought to be added, the fleets stationed on our 
coast and the convoys and security afforded to our trade and fish 
ery, in times of war; and her maintaining in times of peace such 
a navy and army, as to be always in readiness to give protection 
as exigencies may require ; and her ambassadors residing at for 
eign courts to watch and give the earliest intelligence of their 
motions. By such precautions every part of her wide extended 
empire enjoys as ample security as human power and policy can 
afford. Those necessary precautions are supported at an immense 
expense, and the colonies reap the benefit of them equally with 
the rest of the empire. To these considerations it should like 
wise be added, that whenever the colonies have exerted them 
selves in war, though in their own defence, to a greater degree 
than their proportion with the rest of the empire, they have been, 
reimbursed by parliamentary grants. This was the case, in the 
last war, with this province. 

From this view, which I think is an impartial one, it is evident 
that Great Britain is not less attentive to our interest than her own ; 
and that her sons that have settled on new and distant plantations 

. 213 

are equally dear to her with those that cultivate the ancient do 
main, and inhabit the mansion house. 



To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 

t March 20, 1775. 


THE outlines of British commerce have been heretofore 
sketched; and the interest of each part, in particular, and of the. 
whole empire conjointly, have been shewn to be the principles by 
which the grand system is poized and balanced. Whoever will 
take upon himself the trouble of reading* and comparing the sev 
eral acts of trade, which respect the colonies, will be convinced, 
that the cherishing their trade, and promoting their interest, have 
been the objects of parliamentary attention, equally with those 
of Britain. He will see, that the great council of the empire has 
ever esteemed our prosperity as inseperable from the British ; 
and if in some instances the colonies have been restricted to the 
emolument of other parts of the empire, they, in their turn, not 
excepting England itself, have been also restricted sufficiently to 
restore the balance, if not to cause a preponderation in our 

Permit me to transcribe a page or two from a pamphlet written 
in England, and lately republished here, wherein this matter is 
stated with great justice and accuracy. 

" The people of England and the American adventurers, being 
80 differently circumstanced, it required no great sagacity to dis 
cover, that as there were many commodities which America 
could supply on better terms than they could be raised in England, 
so must it be much more for the colonies, advantage to take 
others from England, than attempt to make them themselves. 
The American lands were cheap, covered with woods, and 
abounded with native commodities. The first attendon of the 
settlers was necessarily engaged in cutting down the timber, and 
clearing the ground for culture ; for before they had supplied 
themselves with provisions, and had hands to spare from agricul 
ture, it was impossible they could set about manufacturing. En 
gland, therefore, undertook to supply them with manufactures, 
and either purchased herself or found markets for the timber the 
colonists cut down upon their lands, or the fish they caught upon 
their coasts. It was soon discovered that the tobacco plant was a 


native of and flourished in Virginia. It had been also planted in 
England, and was found to delight in the soil. The legislature, 
however,wisely and equitably considering that England had variety 
of products, and Virginia had no other to hny her necessaries with, 
passed an act prohibiting the people of England from planting to 
bacco, and thereby giving the monopoly of that plant to the 
colonies. As the inhabitants increased, and the lands became more 
cultivated, further and new advantages were thrown in the way 
of the American colonies. All foreign markets, as well as Great- 
Britain, were open for their timber and provisions, and the Brit 
ish West-India islands were prohibited from purchasing those 
commodities from any other than them. And since England has 
found itself in danger of wanting a supply of timber, and it has 
been judged necessary to confine the export from America to 
Great-Britain and Ireland, full and ample indemnity has been giv 
en to the colonies for the loss of a choice of markets in Europe, 
by very large bounties paid out of the revenue of Great Britain, 
upon the importation of American timber. And as a further en 
couragement and reward to them for clearing their lands, boun 
ties are given upon tar and pitch, which are made from their de 
cayed and useless trees; and the very ashes of their lops and 
branches are made of value by the late bountv on American pot 
ashes. The soil and climate of the northern colonies having 
been found well adapted to the culture of flax and hemp, bounties, 
equal to half the first cost of those commodities, have been grant 
ed by parliament, payable out of the British revenue, upon their 
importation into Great Britain. The growth of rice in the south 
ern colonies has been greatly encouraged, by prohibiting the im 
portation of that grain into the British dominions from other parts, 
and allowing it to be transported from the colonies to the for 
eign territories in America, and even to the southern parts of 
Europe. Indigo has been nurtured in those colonies by great 
parliamentary bounties, which have been long paid upon the im 
portation into Great Britain ; and of late are allowed to remain, 
even when it is carried out again to foreign markets. Silk and 
wine have also been objects of parliamentary munificence ; and 
will one day probably become considerable American products 
under that encouragement. In which of these instances, it may 
be demanded, has the legislature shown itself partial to the peo 
ple of England and unjust to the colonies? Or wherein have the 
colonies been injured 1 We hear muf.h of the restraints under 
which the trade of the colonies is laid by acts of parliament for 
the advantage of Great Britain, but the restraints under which the 
people of Great Britain are laid by acts of parliament for the ad- 
vautage of the colonies, are carefully kept out of sight; and yet, 
upon a comparison the one will be found full as grievous as the 
other. For is it a greater hardship on the colonies, to be con 
n-lied in some instances to the markets of Great Britain for the sale 
of their commodities, than it is on the people of Great Britain to 


be obliged to buy the commodities from them only? If the island 
colonies are obliged to give the people of Great Britain the pre- 
emption of their sugar and coffee, is it not a greater hardship on 
the people of Great Britain to be restrained from purchasing su 
gar and coffee from other countries, where they could get those 
commodities much cheaper than the colonies make them pay for 
them ? Could not our manufactures have indigo much better and 
cheaper from France and Spain than from Carolina ? And yet is 
there not a duty imposed by acts of parliament on French and 
Spanish indigo,- that it may come to our manufacturers at a dearer 
rate than Carolina indigo, though a bounty is also given out of the 
money of the people of England to the Carolina planter, to enable 
him to sell his indigo upon a par with the French and Spanish ? 
But the instance which has already been taken notice of, the act 
which prohibits the culture of the tobacco plant in Great Britain 
or Ireland, is still more in point, and a more striking proof of the 
justice and impartiality of the supreme legislature; for what re 
straints, let me ask, are the colonies laid under, which bear so 
strong marks of hardship, as the prohibiting the farmers in Great 
Britain and Ireland from raising upon their own lands, a product 
which is become almost a necessary of life to them and their fam 
ilies ? And this most extraordinary restraint is laid upon them, for 
the avowed and sole purpose of giving Virginia and Maryland a 
monopoly of that commodity, and obliging the people of Great 
Britain and Ireland to buy all the tobacco they consume, from 
them, at the prices they think fit to sell it for. The annals of no 
country, that ever planted colonies, can produce such an instance 
as this of regard and kindness to their colonies, and of restraint 
upon the inhabitants of the mother country for their advantage. 
Nor is there any restraint laid upon the inhabitants of the colonies 
in return, which carries with it so great appearance of hardships, 
although the people of Great Britain and Ireland have, from their 
regard and affection to the colonies, submitted to it without a mur 
mur for near a century." For a more particular inquiry, let me 
recommend the. perusal of the pamphlet itself, also another pam 
phlet lately published, entitled, " the advantages which America 
derives from her commerce, connection and dependance on Great 

A calculation has lately been made both of the amount of the 
revenue arising from the duties with which our trade is at present 
charged, and of the bounties and encouragement paid out of the 
British revenue upon articles of American produce imported into 
England, and the latter is found to exceed the former more than 
four fold. This does not look like a partiality to our disadvantage. 
However, there is no surer method of determining whether the 
colonies have been oppressed by the laws of trade and revenue, 
than by observing their effects. 

From what source has the wealth of the colonies flowed ? 
Whence is it derived ? Not from agriculture only : exclusive of 


commerce the colonists would this day have been a poor people 
possessed of little more than the necessaries for supporting life ; 
of course their numbers would be few ; for population always 
keeps pace with the ability of maintaining a family ; there would 
have been but little or no resort of strangers here ; the arts 
and sciences would have made but small progress ; the inhabitants 
would rather have degenerated into a state of ignorance and bar 
barity. Or had Great Britain laid such restrictions upon our trade, 
as our patriots would induce us to believe, that is, had we been 
pouring the fruits of all our labour into the lap of our parent and 
been enriching her by the sweat of our brow, without receiving 
an equivalent, the patrimony derived from our ancestors must 
have dwindled from little to less, until their posterity should have 
suffered a general bankruptcy. 

But how different are the effects of our connection with, and 
subordination to Britain ? They are too strongly marked to escape 
the most careless observer. Our merchants are opulent, and our 
yeomanry in easier circumstances than the noblesse of some states. 
Population is so rapid as to double the number of inhabitants in 
the short period of twenty-five years. Cities are springing up in 
the depths of the wilderness. Schools, colleges, and even uni 
versities are interspersed through the Continent ; our country 
abounds with foreign refinements, and flows with exotic luxuries. 
These are infallible marks not only of opulence but of freedom. 
The recluse may speculate the envious repine the disaffected 
calumniate all these may combine to excite fears and jealousies 
in the minds of the multitude, and keep them in alarm from the 
beginning to the end of the year; but such evidence as this must 
for ever carry conviction with it to the minds of the dipassion- 
ate and judicious. 

Where are the traces of the slavery that our patriots would 
terrify us with ? The effects of slavery are as glaring and ob 
vious in those countries that are cursed with its abode, as the ef 
fects of war, pestilence or famine. Our land is not disgraced by 
the wooden shoes of France, or the uncombed hair of Poland : 
we haye neither racks nor inquisitions, tortures or assassinations : 
the mildness of our criminal jurisprudence is proverbial, " a 
man must have many friends to get hanged in New England." Who 
has been arbitrarily imprisoned, disseized of his freehold, or de 
spoiled of his goods ? Each peasant, that is industrious, may 
acquire an estate, enjoy it in his life time, and at his death, trans 
mit a fair inheritance to his posterity. The protestant religion 
is established, as far as human laws can establish it. My dear 
friends, let me ask each one whether he has not enjoyed every 
blessing, that is in the power of civil government to bestow ? And 
yet the parliament has, from the earliest days of the colonies, 
claimed the lately controverted right, both of legislation and tax 
ation ; and for more than a century has been in the actual exer 
cise of it. There is no grieyious exercise of that right at this 


day, unless the measures taken to prevent our revolting, may be 
called grievances. Are we, then, to rebel, lest there should 
be grievances ? Are we to take up arms and make war against 
our parent, lest that parent, contrary to the experience of a cen 
tury and a half, contrary to her own genius, inclination, affection 
and interest, should treat us or our posterity as bastards and not 
as sons, and instead of protecting should enslave us ? The annals 
of the world have not yet been deformed with a single instance of 
so unnatural, so causless, so wanton, so wicked a rebellion. 

There i? but a step between you and ruin : and should our 
patriots succeed in their endeavours to urge you on to take that 
step, and hostilities actually commence, New England will stand 
recorded a singular monument of human folly and wickedness. I 
beg leave to transcribe a little from the Farmer s letters. " Good 
Heaven ! Shall a total oblivion of former tendernesses and bless 
ings be spread over the minds of a good and wise people by the 
sordid arts of intriguing men, who covering their selfish projects 
under pretences of public good, first enrage their countrymen in 
to a frenzy of passion, and then advance their own influence and 
interest by gratifying the passion, which they themselves have ex 
cited ?" When cool dispassionate posterity shall consider the af 
fectionate intercourse, the reciprocal benefits, and the unsuspect 
ing confidence, that have subsisted between these colonies and 
their parent state, for such a length of time, they will execrate, 
with the bitterest curses, the infamous memory of those men 
whose ambition unnecessarily, wantonly, cruelly, first opened the 
sources of civil discord. MASSACHUSETTENS1S, 


To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts 

March 27, 1775. 


OUR patriots exclaim, " that humble and reasonable petitions 
from the representatives of the people have been frequently 
treated with contempt." This is as virulent a libel upon his ma 
jesty s government, as falshood and ingenuity combined could fab 
ricate. Our humble and reasonable petititions have not only been 
ever graciously received, when the established mode of exhibit 
ing them has been observed, but generally granted. Applications 
of a different kind, have been treated with neglect, though not al 
ways with the contempt they deserved. These either originated 


in illegal assemblies, and could not be received without implicitly 
countenancing such enormities, or contained such matter, and 
were conceived in such terms, as to be at once an insult to his 
majesty, and a libel on his government. Instead of being decent 
remonstrances against real grievances, or prayers for their re 
moval, they were insidious attempts to wrest from the crown, or 
the supreme legislature, their inherent, unalienable prerogatives 
or rights. 

We have a recent instance of this kind of petition, in the ap 
plication of the continental congress to the king, which starts with 
these words : " A standing army has been kept in these colonies 
ever since the conclusion of the late war, without the consent of our 
assemblies. 1 This is a denial of the king s authority to station his 
military forces in such parts of the empire, as his majesty may 
judge expedient for the common safety. They might with equal 
propriety have advanced one step further, and denied its being 
a prerogative of the crown to declare war, or conclude a peace, 
by which the colonies should be affected, without the consent of 
our assemblies. Such petitions carry the marks of death in their 
faces, as they cannot be granted but by surrendering some con 
stitutional right at the same time ; and therefore afford grounds for 
suspicion at least, that they were never intended to be granted, 
but to irritate and provoke the power petilioned to. It is one 
thing to remonstrate the inexpediency or inconveniency of a par 
ticular act of the prerogative, and another to deny the existence 
of (he prerogative. It is one thing to complain of the inutiiity or 
hardship of a particular act of parliament, and quite another to 
deny the authority of parliament to make any act Had our pa 
triots confined themselves to the former, they would have acted a 
part conformable to the character they assumed, and merited the 
encomiums they arrogate. 

There is not one act of parliament that respects us, but would 
have been repealed, upon the legislators being convinced, that it 
was oppressive ; and scarcely one, but would have shared the 
same late, upon a representation of its being generally disgustful 
to America. But, by adhering to the latter, our politicians have 
i ignorantly or wilfully betrayed their country. Even when Great 
Britain has relaxed in her measures, or appeared to recede from 
her claims, instead of manifestations of gratitude, our politicians 
have risen in their demands, and sometimes to such a degree of 
insolence, as to lay the British government under a necessity of 
persevering in its measures to preserve its honour. 

It was my intention, when I began these papers, to have mi 
nutely examined the proceedings of the continental congress, as 
Ihe delegates appear to me to have given their country a deeper 
wound, than any of their predecessors had inflicted, and I pray 
God it may not prove an incurable one ; but am in some measure 
anticipated by Grotius, Phileareine, and the many pamphlets that 
have been published ; and shall therefore confine my observations 
to some of its most striking and characteristic features. 


A congress or convention of committees from the several colo 
nies, constitutionally appointpd by the supreme authority of the 
state, or by the several provincial legislatures, amenable to, and 
controulable by the power that convened them, would be salatary 
in many supposeable cases. Such was the convention of 1754; 
but a congress otherwise appointed, must be an unlawful asse ^blyj 
wholly incompatible with the constitution, and dangerous in the 
extreme, more especially as such assemblies will ever chiefly con 
sist of the most violent partizans. The prince, or sovereign, as v 
some writers call the supreme authority of a state, is sufficiently 
ample and extensive to provide a remedy for every wrong-, in all 
possible emergencies and contingencies ; consequently a power, 
that is not derived from such authority, springing up in a state, 
must encroach upon it, and in proportion as the usurpation en 
larges itself, the rightful prince must be diminished ; indeed, they 
cannot long subsist together, but must continually militate, till one 
or the other be destroyed. Had the continental congress consisted 
of committees from the several houses of assembly, although des 
titute of the consent of the several governors, they would have 
had some appearance of authority ; but many of them were ap 
pointed by other committees, as illegally constituted as themselves. 
However, at so critical and delicate a juncture, Great Britain be 
ing alarmed with an apprehension, that the colonies were aiming 
at independence on the one hand, and the colonies apprehensive 
of grievous impositions and exactions from Great Britain on the 
other ; many real patriots imagined, that a congress might be em 
inently serviceable, as they might prevail on the Bostonians to 
make restitution to the East India company, might still the com 
motions in this province, remove any ill founded apprehensions 
respecting the colonies, and propose some plan for a cordial and 
permanent reconciliation, which might be adopted by the several 
assemblies, and make its way through them to the supreme legis 
lature. Placed in this point of light, many good men viewed it 
with an indulgent eye, and tories, as well as whigs, bade the dele 
gates God speed. 

The path of duty was too plain to be overlooked ; but unfor 
tunately some of the most influential of the members were the 
very persons that had been the wilful cause of the evils they were 
expected to remedy. Fishing in troubled waters had long been 
their business and delight ; and they deprecated nothing more 
than that the storm they had blown up, should subside. They 
were old in intrigue, and would have figured in a conclave. The 
subtility, hypocrisy, cunning, and chicanery, habitual to such men, 
were practised with as much success in this, as they had been be 
fore in other popular assemblies. 

Some of the members, of the first rate abilities and characters, 
endeavoured to confine the deliberations and resolves of the con 
gress to the design of its institution, which was u to restore peace, 
harmony, and mutual confidence," but were obliged to succumb 


to the intemperate zeal of some, and at length were so circum 
vented and wrought upon by the artifice and duplicity of others, 
as to lend the sanction of their names to such measures, as they 
condemned in their hearts. PVfc a pamphlet published by one 
of the delegates, entitled, "A candid examination, &c." 

The congress could not be ignorant of what every body else 
Knew, that their appointment was repugnant to, and inconsistent 
with every idea of government, and therefore wisely determined 
to destroy it. Their first essay that transpired, and which was 
matter of no less grief to the friends of our country, than of tri 
umph to its enemies, was the ever memorable resolve approba 
ting and adopting the Suffolk resolves, thereby undertaking to give 
a continental sanction to a forcible opposition to acts of parliament, 
shutting up the courts of justice, and thereby abrogating all hu 
man laws, seizing the king s provincial revenue, raising forces in 
opposition to the king s,and all the tumultuary violence,with which 
this unhappy province had been rent asunder. 

This fixed the complexion, and marked the character of the 
congress. We were, therefore, but little surprized, when it was 
announced, that as far as was in their power, they had dismem 
bered the colonies from the parent country. This they did by 
resolving, that " the colonists are entitled to an exclusive power 
of legislation in their several provincial legislatures." This 
stands in its full force, and is an absolute denial of the authority 
of parliament respecting the colonies. 

Their subjoining that, " from necessity they consent to the ope 
ration (not the authority) of such acts of the British parliament, 
as are (not shall be) restrained to external commerce," 
is so far from weakening their first principle, that it strengthens 
it, and is an adoption of the acts of trade. This resolve is a man 
ifest revolt from the British empire. Consistent with it, is their 
overlooking the supreme legislature, and addressing the inhabi 
tants of Great Britain, in the style of a manifesto, in which they 
flatter, complain, coax, and threaten alternately ; and their prohib 
iting all commercial intercourse between the two countries : with 
equal propriety and justice the congress might have declared war 
against Great Britain ; and they intimate that they might justlv do 
it, and actually shall, if the measures already taken prove ineffec 
tual. For in the address to the colonies, after attempting to en 
rage their countrymen by every colouring and heightning in the 
power of language, to the utmost pitch of frenzy, they say, " the 
state of these colonies would certainly justify other measures than 
we have advised ; we were inclined to offer once more to his ma 
jesty the petition of his faithful and oppressed subjects in America," 
and admonish the colonists to " extend their views to mournful 
events, and to be in all respects prepared for every contingency." 

This is treating Great Britain as an alien enemy ; and if Great 
Britain be such, it is justifiable by the law of nations. But their 
attempt to alienate the affections of the inhabitants of the new 


conquered province of Quebec from his majesty s government, is 
altogether unjustifiable, even upon that principle. In the truly 
Jesuitical address to the Canadians, the congress endeavour to se 
duce them from their allegiance, and prevail on them to join the 
confederacy. After insinuating that they had been tricked, du 
ped, oppressed and enslaved by the Quebec bill, the congress ex 
claim, why this degrading distinction? " Have not Canadians sense 
enough to attend to any other public affairs, than gathering stones 
from one place and piling them up in another ? Unhappy people ; 
who are not only injured but insulted." " Such a treacherous 
ingenuity has been exerted, in drawing up the code lately offered 
you, that every sentence, beginning with a benevolent pretention, 
concludes with a destructive power ; and the substance of the 
whole divested of its smooth words, is that the crooyn and its min 
isters shall be as absolute throughout your extended province, as 
the despots of Asia or Africa. We defy you, casting your view up 
on every side, to discover a single circumstance promising, from 
any quarter, the faintest hope of liberty to you or your posterity, 
but from an entire adoption into the union of these colonies." The 
treachery of the congress in this address is the more flagrant, by 
the Quebec bill s having been adapted to the genius and manners 
of the Canadians, formed upon their own petition, and received 
with every testimonial of gratitude. The public tranquility has 
been often disturbed by treasonable plots and conspiracies. Great 
Britain has been repeatedly deluged by the blood of its slaughter 
ed citizens, and shaken to its centre by rebellion. To offer such 
aggravated insult to British government was reserved for the grand 
continental congress. None but ideots or madmen could suppose 
such measures had a tendency to restore " union and harmony be 
tween Great Britain and the colonies." Nay ! The very demands of 
the congress evince, that that was not in their intention. Instead 
of confining themselves to those acts, which occasioned the misun 
derstanding, they demand a repeal of fourteen, and bind the colo 
nies by a law not to trade with Great Britain, until that shall be 
done. Then, and not before, the colonists are to treat Great Brit- 
oin as an alien friend, and in no other light is the parent country 
ever after to be viewed ; for the parliament is to surcease enact 
ing laws to respect us forever. These demands are such as can 
not be complied with, consistent with either the honor or interest 
of the empire, and are therefore insuperable obstacles to a union 
via congress. 

The delegates erecting themselves into the states general or su 
preme legislature of all the colonies, from Nova Scotia to Georgia, 
does not leave a doubt respecting their aiming, in good earnest, 
at independency : this they did by enacting laws. Although they 
recognize the authority of the several provincial legislatures, yet 
they consider their own authority as paramount or supreme ; oth 
erwise they would not have acted decisively, but submitted their 
plans to the final determination of the assemblies. Sometimes in- 


deed they use the terms request and recommend ; at others they 
speak in the style of authority. Such is the resolve of the 27th 
of September : " Resolved from and after the first day of Decem 
ber next, there he no importation into British America from Great 
Britain or Ireland of any goods, wares or merchandize whatsoev 
er, or from any other place of any such goods, wares or merchan 
dize, as shall have been exported from Great Britain or Ireland, 
and that no such goods, wares or merchandize imported, after the 
said first day of December next, be used or purchased. October 
15, the congress resumed the consideration of the plan for carry 
ing into effect the non-importation, &c. October 20, the plan is 
compleated, determined upon, and ordered to be subscribed by all 
the members : they call it an association, but it has all the con 
stituent parts of a law. They begin, " We his majesty s most 
loval subjects the delegates of the several colonies of, &c. depu 
ted to represent them in a continental congress," and agree for 
themselves and the inhabitants of the several colonies whom they 
represent, not to import, export or consume, &c. as also to ob 
serve several sumptuary regulations under certain penalties and 
forfeitures, and that a committee be chosen in every county, city 
and town, by those who are qualified to vote for representatives 
in the legislature, to see that the association be observed and 
kept, and to punish the violators of it ; and afterwards, u recom 
mend it to the provincial conventions, and to the committees in 
the respective colonies to establish such further regulations, as 
they may think proper, fur carrying into execution the associa 
tion." Here we find the congress enacting laws, that is, estab 
lishing, as the representatives of the people, certain rules of con 
duct to be observed and kept by all the inhabitants of these colo 
nies, under certain pains and penalties, such as masters of vessels 
being dismissed from their employment ; goods to be seized and 
sold at auction, and the first cost only returned to the proprietor, 
a different appropriation made of the overplus ; persons being 
stigmatized in the gazette, as enemies to their country, and ex 
cluded the benefits of society, &c. 

The congress seem to have been apprehensive that some 
squeamish people might be startled at their assuming the powers 
of legislation, and therefore, in the former part of their associa 
tion say, they bind themselves and constituents under the sacred 
ties of virtue, honor, and love to their country, afterwards estab 
lish penalties and forfeitures, and conclude by solemnly binding 
themselves and constituents under the ties aforesaid, which in 
clude them all. This looks like artifice : but they might have 
spared themselves that trouble ; for every law is or ought to be 
m;ule under the sacred ties of virtue, honor and a love to the coun 
try, expressed or implied, though the penal sanction be also ne 
cessary. In short, were the colonies distinct states, and the pow 
ers of .legislation vested in delegates thus appointed, their associa 
tion would be as good a form of enacting laws as could be devised. 


By their assuming- the powers of legislation, the congress have 
not only superseded our provincial legislatures, but have excluded 
every idea of monarchy ; and not content with the havock al 
ready made in our constitution, in the plenitude of their power, 
have appointed another congress to be held in Mav. 

Those, that have attempted to establish new systems, have gen 
erally taken care to be consistent with themselves. Let us com 
pare the several parts of the continental proceedings with each 

The delegates call themselves and constituents his majesty s 
most loyal subjects," his majesty s most faithful subject* aflirm, 
that the colonists are entitled " to all the immunities and privi 
leges granted and confirmed to them by royal charters," declare 
that they " wish not a diminution of thr- prerogative, nor solicit the 
grant of any new right or favour," and they bk shall alwars care 
fully and-zealously endeavour to support his royal authority and 
oar connection with Great Britain ;" yet deny the king s prerog 
ative to station troops in the colonies, disown him in the c;;p-acity 
in which he granted the provincial charters ; disclaim the authori 
ty of the king in parliament ; and undertake to enact and execute 
laws without any authority derived from the crown. This is dis 
solving all connection between the colonies and the crown, and 
giving us a new king, altogether incomprehensible, not indeed from 
the infinity of his attributes, but from a privation of every royal 
prerogative, and not leaving even a semblance of a connection 
with Great Britain. 

They declare, that the colonists " are entitled to all the rights, 
liberties and immunities of free and natural born subjects within 
the realm of England," and " all the benefits secured to the sub 
ject by the English constitution," but disclaim ail obedience to 
British government; in other words, they claim the protection, 
and disclaim the allegiance. They remonstrate as a grievance 
that " both houses of parliament have resolved that the colonists 
rrtay be tried in England for ofFences, alleged to have been com 
mitted in America, by virtue of a statute passed in the thirty-fifth 
year of Henry the eighth ; and yet resolve that they are entitled 
to the benefit of such English statutes, as existed at the time of 
their colonization, and are applicable to their several local and 
other circumstances. They resolve that the colonists are entitled 
to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several pro 
vincial assemblies ; yet undertake to legislate in congress. 

The "immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English 
constitution, and our several charters are the basis, upon which 
they pretend to found themselves, and complain more especially 
of being deprived of trials by juries ; but establish ordinances in 
compatible with either the laws of nature, the English constitu 
tion, or our charter ; and appoint committees to punish the viola- 
ters of them, not only without a jury, but even without a form of 


They repeatedly complain of the Roman Catholic religion be 
ing established in Canada ; and in their address to the Canadians, 
ask, " If liberty of conscience be oifered them in their religion by 
the Quebec bill," and answer, " no : God gave it to you and the 
temporal powers, with which you have been and are connected, 
iirmly stipulated for your enjoyment of it. If laws, divine and 
human, could secure it against the despotic caprices of wicked 
men, it was secured before." 

They say to the people of Great Britain, u place us in the same 
situation, that we were in, at the close of the last war, and our 
harmony will be restored." Yet some of the principal grievances, 
which are to be redressed, existed long before that era, viz. 
The king s keeping a standing army in the colonies ; judges of 
admiralty receiving their fees, &c. from the effects condemned by 
themselves ; counsellors holding commissions during pleasure, ex 
ercising legislative authority ; and the capital grievance of all, 
the parliament claiming and exercising over the colonies a right 
both of legislation and taxation. However the wisdom of the 
grand continental congress may reconcile these seeming inconsist* 

Had the delegates been appointed to devise means to irritate and 
enrage the inhabitants of the two countries, against each other, 
beyond a possibility of reconciliation, to abolish our equal system 
of jurisprudence, and establish a judicatory as arbitrary, as the 
Romish inquisition, to perpetuate animosities among ourselves, to 
reduce thousands from affluence to poverty and indigence, to in 
jure Great Britain, Ireland, the West Indies, and these colonies, 
to attempt a revolt from the authority of the empire, and finally 
to draw down upon the colonies the whole vengeance of Great 
Britain ; more promising means to effect the whole could not have 
been devised than those the congress adopted. Any deviation 
from their plan would have been treachery to their constituents, 
and an abuse of the trust and confidence reposed in them. Some 
idolaters have attributed to the congress the collected wisdom of 
the continent. It is as near the truth to say, that every particle 
of disaffection, petulance, ingratitude, and disloyalty, that for ten 
years past have been scattered through the continent, were united 
dii l consolidated in them. Are these thy Gods, O Israel ! 




To the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay$ 

April 3, 1775. 


THE advocates for the opposition to parliament often remind 
us of the rights of the people, repeat the Latin adage vox populi 
vox Dei) and tell us that government in the dernier resort is in the 
people ; they chime away melodiously, and to render their music 
more ravishing, tell us, that these are revolution principles. I 
hold the rights of the people as sacred, and revere the principles, 
that have established the succession to the imperial crown of 
Great Britain^ in the line of th e illustrious house of Brunswick ; 
but that the difficulty lies in applying them to the cause of the 
whigs, hie labor hoc opud est ; for admitting that the collective body 
of the people, that are subject to the British empire, have an in 
herent right to change their form of government, or race of kings, 
it does not follow, that the inhabitants of a single province, or of a 
number of provinces, or any given part under a majority of the 
whole empire, have such a right. By admitting that the less may 
rule or sequester themselves from the greater, we unhinge all 
government. Novanglus has accused me of traducing the people 
of this province. I deny the charge. Popular demagogues al 
ways call themselves the people, and when their own measures 
are censured, cry out, the people, the people are abused and in 
sulted. He says, that I once entertained different sentiments from 
those now advanced. I did not write to exculpate myself. If 
through ignorance, inadvertence or design, t have heretofore con 
tributed in any degree, to the forming that destructive system of 
politics that is now in vogue, I was under the greater obligation 
thus publicly to expose its errors, and point out its pernicious ten 
dency. He suggests, that I write from sordid motives. I despise 
the imputation. I have written my real sentiments not to serve a 
party (for, as he justly observes, I hare sometimes quarreled 
with my friends) but to serve the public; nor would I injure my 
country to inherit ail the treasures that avarice and ambition sigh 
for. Fully convinced, that our calamities were chiefly created by 
the leading whigs, and that a persevering in the same measures 
that gave rise to our troubles would complete our ruin, I have 
written freely. It is painful to me to give offence to an individual, 
but I have not spared the ruinous policy of my brother or my 
friend ; they are both far advanced. Truth, from its own energy, 
will finally prevail ; but to have a speedy effect, it must sometimes 
be accompanied with severity. The terms whig and tory have 


been adopted according to the arbitrary use of them in this pro 
vince, btit they rather ought to be reversed ; an American tory 
is a supporter of our excellent constitution, and an American whig 
a subverter of it. 

Novanglus abuses me, for saying, that the whigs aim at inde 
pendence. The writer from Hampshire county is my advocate. 
He frankly asserts the independency of the colonies without any 
reserve ; and is the only consistent writer I have met with on that 
side of the question. For by separating us from the king as well 
as the parliament, he is under no necessity of contradicting him 
self. Novanglus strives to hide the inconsistencies of his hypoth 
esis, under a huge pile of learning. Surely he is not to learn, 
that arguments drawn from obsolete maxims, raked out of the 
ruins of the feudal system, or from principles of absolute mon 
archy, will not conclude to the present constitution of govern 
ment. When he has finished his essays, he may expect some 
particular remarks upon them. I should not have taken the 
trouble of writing these letters, had I not been satisfied that real 
and permanent good would accrue to this province, and indeed to 
all the colonies, from a speedy change of measures. Public jus 
tice and generosity are no less characteristic of the English, than 
their private honesty and hospitality. The total repeal of the 
stamp act, and the partial repeal of the act imposing duties on pa 
per, &c. may convince us that the nation has no disposition to 
injure us. We are blessed with a king that reflects honor upon a 
crown. He is so far from being avaricious, that he has relinquish 
ed a part of his revenue ; and so far from being tyrannical, that he 
has generously surrendered part of his prerogative for the sake of 
freedom. His court is so far from being tinctured with dissipation, 
that the palace is rather an academy of the literati, and the royal 
pair are as exemplary in every private virtue, as they are exalted 
in their stations. We have only to cease contending with the su 
preme-legislature, respecting its authority, with the king respect 
ing his prerogatives, and with Great Britain respecting our subor 
dination ; to dismiss our illegal committees, disband our forces, 
despise the thraldom of arrogant co-tigresses, and submit to constitu 
tional government, to be happy. 

Many appear to consider themselves as procul a Jove afulmine 
procul } and because we never have experienced any severity from 
Great Britain, think it impossible that we should. The English 
nation will bear much from its friends ; but whoever has read its 
history must know, that there is a line that cannot be passed with 
impunity. It is not the fault of our patriots if that line be not al 
ready passed. They have demanded of Great Britain more than 
she can grant, consistent with honor, her interest, or our own, and 
are now brandishing the sword of defiance. 

Do you expect to conquer in war ? War is no longer a simple, 
but an intricate science, not to be learned from books or two or 
three campaigns, but from long experience. You need not- be toW 


that his majesty s generals, Gage and Haldimand, are possessed of 
every talent requisite to great commanders, matured by long ex 
perience in many parts of the world, and stand high in military 
fame : that many of the officers have been bred to arms from their 
infancy, and a large proportion of the army now here, have al 
ready reaped immortal honors in the iron harvest of the field. 
Alas ! My friends, you have nothing to oppose to this force, but a 
militia unused to service, impatient of command, and destitute of 
resources. Can your officers depend upon the privates, or the 
privates upon the officers ? Your war can be but little more than 
mere tumultuary rage : and besides, there is an awful disparity 
between troops that fight the battles of their sovereign, and those 
that follow the standard of rebellion. These reflections may ar 
rest you in an hour that you think not of, and come too late to 
serve you. Nothing short of a miracle could gain you one battle ; 
but could you destroy all the British troops that are now here, 
and burn the men of war that command our coast, it would be but 
the beginning of sorrow ; and yet without a decisive battle, one 
campaign would ruin you. This province does not produce its 
necessary provision, when the husbandman can pursue his calling 
without molestation : what then must be your condition, when the 
demand shall be increased, and the resource in a manner cut off? 
Figure to yourselves what must be your distress, should your wives 
and children be driven from such places, as the king s troops shall 
occupy, into the interior parts of the province, and they as well 
as you, be destitute of support. I take no pleasure in painting 
these scenes of distress. The whigs affect to divert you from 
them by ridicule ; but should war commence, you can expect 
nothing but its severities. Might I hazard an opinion, but few of 
your leaders ever intended to engage in hostilities, but they may 
have rendered inevitable what they intended for intimidation. 
Those that unsheath the sword of rebellion may throw away the 
scabbard, they cannot be treated with, while in arms ; and if they 
lay them down, they are in no other predicament than conquered 
rebels. The conquered in other wars do not forfeit the rights of 
men, nor all the rights of citizens, even their bravery is rewarded 
by a generous victor ; far different is the case of a routed rebel 
host. My dear countrymen, you have before you, at your elec 
tion, peace or war, happiness or misery. May the God of our 
forefathers direct you in the way that leads to peace ahd happi 
ness, before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, before the 
evildays come, .herein you shall 









Quincy, January 14, 1818. 

IN a former letter I hazarded an opinion, that the true his 
tory of the American revolution could not be recovered. I had 
many reasons for that apprehension ; one of which I will attempt 
to explain. 

Of the determination of the British cabinet to assert and main 
tain the sovereign authority of parliament over the colonies, in 
all cases of taxation and internal policy, the first demonstration 
which arrived in America was an order in council to the officers 
of the customs in Massachusetts Bay, to carry into execution the 
acts of trade^ and to apply to the supreme judicature of the pro 
vince for writs of assistance, to authorise them to break and enter 
all houses, cellars, stores, shops, ships, bales, casks, &c. to search 
and seize all goods, wares, and merchandizes, on which the taxes 
imposed by those acts had not been paid. 

Mr. Cockle, of Salem, a deputy under Mr. Paxton, of Boston, 
the collector of the customs, petitioned the superior court in Sa 
lem, in November, 1760, for such a writ. The court doubted its 
constitutionality, and consequently its legality ; but as the king s 
order ought to be considered, they ordered the question to be ar 
gued before them, by counsel, at the next February term in 


The community was greatly alarmed. The merchants of Sa 
lem and of Boston, applied to Mr. Otis to defend them and their 
country, ngainst that formidable instrument of arbitrary power. 
They tendered him rich fees ; he engaged in their cause, but 
would accept no fees. 

JAMES OTIS, of Boston, sprung from families among the ear 
liest of the planters of the colonies, and the most respectable in 
rank, while the word rank, and the idea annexed to it, were tole 
rated in America. He was a gentleman of general science, and 
extensive literature. He had been an indefatigable student dur 
ing the whole course of his education in college, and at the bar. 
He was well versed in Greek and Roman history, philosophy, or 
atory, poetry, and mythology. His classical studies had been un 
usually ardent, and his acquisitions uncommonly great. He had 
composed a treatise on Latju prosody, which he lent to me, and I 
urged him to print. He consented. It is extant, and may speak 
for itself. It has been lately reviewed in the Anthology by one of 
our best scholars, at a mature age, and in a respectable station. 
He had also composed, with equal skill and great labour, a treatise 
on Greek prosody. This he also lent me, and, by his indulgence, 
I had it in my possession six months. When I returned it, I beg 
ged him to print it. He said there were no Greek types in the 
country, or, if there were, there was no printer who knew how to 
use them. He was a passionate admirer of the Greek poets, es 
pecially of Homer ; and he said it was in vain to attempt to read 
the poets in any language, without being master of their prosody. 
This classic scholar was also a great master of the laws of nature 
and nations. He had read Puffendorph, Grotius, Barbeyrac, Bur- 
lamaqui, Vattel, Heineccius; and, in the civil law, Domal, Jus. 
tinian, and, upon occasions, consulted the corpus juris at large. It 
was a maxim which he inculcated on his pupils, as his patron in 
profession, Mr. Gridley, had done before him, " that a lawyer 
ought never to be without a volume of natural or public law, or moral 
philosophy, on his table, or in his pocket." In the history, the com 
mon iaw,and statute laws of England, he had no superior, at least 
in Boston. 

Thus qualified to resist the system of usurpation and despotism, 
meditated by the British ministry, under the auspices of the earl 
of Bute, Mr. Otis resigned his commission from the crown, as ad 
vocate general, an office very lucrative at that time, and a sure 
road to the highest favours of government in America, and enga 
ged in the cause of his country without fee or reward. His ar 
gument, speech, discourse, oration, harangue call it by which 
name you will, was the most impressive upon his crowded audi 
ence of any, that I ever heard before or since, excepting only ma 
ny speeches by himself in Fanuiel Hall, and in the House of Rep 
resentatives, which he made from time to time, for ten years after 
wards. There were no stenographers in those days. Speeches 
were not printed ; and all that was not remembered, like the har- 


angues of Indian orators, was lost in air. Who, at the distance 
of fifty seven years, would attempt, upon memory, to give even 
a sketch of it. Some of the heads are remembered, out of which 
Livy or Sallust would not scruple to compose an oration for history. 
I shall not essay an analysis or a sketch of it, at present. I shall 
only essay an analysis or a sketch of it, at present. I shall only 
say, and I do say in the most solemn manner, that Mr. Otis s ora 
tion, against writs of assistance, breathed into this nation the 
breath of life. 

Although Mr. Otis had never before interfered in public affairs, 
his exertions, on this single occasion, secured him a commanding 
popularity with the friends of their country, and the terror and 
vengeance of her enemies ; neither of which ever deserted him. 

At the next election, in May, 1761, he was elected, by a vast 
majority, a representative in the legislature, of the town of Bos 
ton, and continued to be so elected annually for nine years. Here, 
at the head of the country interest, he conducted her cause with a 
fortitude, prudence, ability and perseverance which has never 
been exceeded in America, at every sacrifice of health, pleasure, 
profit and reputation, and against all the powers of government, 
and all the talents, learning, wit, scurrility and insolence of its 

Hampden was shot in open field of battle. Otis was basely as 
sassinated in a coffee house, in the night, by a well dressed ban 
ditti, with a commissioner of the customs at their head. 

During the period of nine years, that Mr. Otis was at the head 
of the cause of his country, he held correspondence with gentle 
men in England, Scotland and various colonies in America. He 
must have written and received many letters, collected many 
pamphlets, and, probably, composed manuscripts, which might 
nave illustrated the rising dawn of the revolution. 

After my return from Europe, I asked his daughter whether she 
had found among her father s manuscripts, a treatise on Greek 
prosody ? With hands and eyes uplifted, in a paroxysm of grief, 
she cried, " Oh ! sir, I have not a line from my father s pen. 1 
have not even his name in his own hand writing." When she was 
a little calmed, I asked her, " Who has his papers ? Where are 
they?" She answered, "They are no more. In one of those 
unhappy dispositions of mind, which distressed him after his great 
misfortune, and a little before his death, he collected all his pa- 
pers and pamphlets and committed them to the flames. He was 
several days employed in it. r 

I cannot enlarge. I submit this hint to your reflections. En 
closed is a morsel of verse, written soon after Mr. Otis s death, by 
a very young gentleman, who is now one of our excellent magis 
trates. If you do not think fit to print this letter and that verse, 
I pray you to return them to JOHN ADAMS. 


On the death of JAMES OTIS, killed by lightning, at Andover^ soon after the 

peace 0/1783, written at the time. 
WHEN flushed with conquest and elate with pride, 
Britannia s monarch Heaven s high will defy d ; 
And, bent on blood, by lust of rule inclined, 
With odious chains to vex the freeborn mind ; 
On these young shores set up unjust command, 
And spread the slaves of office round the land; 
Then OTIS rose, and, great in patriot fame, 
To list ning crowds resistance dar d proclaim. 
From soul to soiil the bright idea ran, 
The fire of freedom flew from man to man ; 
His pen, like Sidneys, made the doctrine known, 
His tongue, like Tully^s^ shook a tyrant s throne. 
Then men grew bold. and. in the public eye, 
The right divine of monarch s dar^d to try ; 
Light shone on all, despotic darkness fled 
And for a SENTIMENT a nation bled. 
From men, like OTIS, INDEPENDENCE grew ; 
From such beginnings empire rose to view. 
Born for the world, his comprehensive mind 
Scann d the wide politics of human kind : 
Bless d with a native strength and fire of thought, 
With Greek and Roman learning richly fraught, 
Up to the fountain head he pushed his view, 
And from first principles his maxims drew. 
Spite of the times, this truth he blaz d abroad ; 
" The people s safety is the law of GOD."* 
For this he suffered ; hireling slaves combined 
To dress in shades the brightest of mankind. 
And see thev come, a dark designing band, 
With Murder s heart and Execution s hand. 
Hold, villains ! Those polluted hands restrain ; 
Nor that exalted head with blows profane ! 
A nobler end awaits his patriot head ; 
In other sort ht ll join the illustrious dead. 
Yes ! when the glorious work which he begun, 
Shall stand the most complete beneath the sun 
When peace shall come to crown the grand design, 
His eyes shall live to see the work divins. 
The Heavens shall then his generous spirit claim, 
" In storms as loud as his immortal fame. *t 
Hark ! the deep thunders echo round the skies ! 
On wings of flame the eternal errand flies. 
One chosen, charitable bolt is sped, 
And OTIS mingles with the glorious dead. 

* Salus pnpuli, was the motto of one of his essays. 

t V 7 alltr,on the death of Cromwell. 



Quincy, February IS, 1818. 

THE American Revolution was not a common event. Its 
effects and consequences have already been awful over a great 
part of the globe. And when and where are they to cease ? 

But what do we mean by the American revolution ? Do we mean 
the American war ? The revolution was effected before the war 
commenced. The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the 
people A change in their religious sentiments, of their duties 
and obligations. While the king, and all in authority under him, 
were believed to govern in justice and mercy according to the laws, 
and constitution derived to them from the God of nature, and 
transmitted to them by their ancestors they thought themselves 
bound to pray for the king and queen and all the royal family, and 
all in authority under them ; as ministers ordained of God for their 
good. But when they saw those powers renouncing all the prin 
ciples of authority, and bent upon the destruction of all the secu 
rities of their lives, liberties and properties, they thought it their 
duty to pray for the continental congress and all the thirteen state 
congresses, &c. 

There might be, and there were others, who thought less about 
religion and conscience, but had certain habitual sentiments of al 
legiance and loyalty derived from their education ; but believing 
allegiance and protection to be reciprocal, when protection was 
withdrawn, they thought allegiance was dissolved. 

Another alteration was common to all. The people of Ameri 
ca had been educated in an habitual affection for England as" their 
mother country ; and while they thought her a kind and tender 
parent (erroneously enough, however, for she never was such a 
mother) no affection could be more sincere. But when they found 
her a cruel Beldam, willing like lady Macbeth, to " dash their 
brains out," it is no wonder if their filial affections ceased and were 
changed into indignation and horror. 

This radical change in the principles., opinions, sentiments and aj- 
fections of the people, was the real American revolution. 

By what means, this great and important alteration in the relig 
ious, moral, political and social character of the people of thirteen 
colonies, all distinct, unconnected and independent of each other, 
was begun, pursued and accomplished, it is surely interesting to 
humanity to investigate, and perpetuate to posterity. 

To this end it is greatly to be desired that young gentlemen of 
letters in all the states, especially in the thirteen original states, 
would undertake the laborious, but certainly interesting and amu 
sing task, of searching and collecting all the records, pamphlets, 
newspapers, and even handbills, which in any way contributed to 


change the temper and views of the people and compose them into 
an independent nation. 

The colonies had grown up under constitutions of government 
so different, there was so great a variety of religions, they were 
composed of so many different nations, their customs, manners and 
habits had so little resemblance, and their intercourse had been so 
rare and their knowledge of each other so imperfect, that to unite 
them in the same principles in theory and the same system of ac 
tion, was certainly a very difficult enterprise. The complete 
accomplishment of it, in so short a time and by such simple means, 
was perhaps a singular example in the history of mankind. Thir 
teen clocks were made to strike together ; a perfection of mechan 
ism which no artist had ever before effected. 

In this research, the glorioroles of individual gentlemen and of 
separate states is of little consequence. The means and the mea 
sures are the proper objects of investigation. These may be of 
use to posterity, not only in this nation, but in South America and 
all other countries. They may teach mankind that revolutions 
are no trifles ; that they ought never to be undertaken rashly ; nor 
without deliberate consideration and sober reflection ; nor without 
a solid, immutable, eternal foundation of justice and humanity ; 
nor without a people possessed of intelligence, fortitude and integ 
rity sufficient to carry them with steadiness, patience, and perse 
verance, through all the vicissitudes of fortune, the fiery trials 
and melancholy disasters they may have to encounter. 

The town of Boston early instituted an annual oration on the 
fourth of July, in commemoration of the principles and feelings 
which contributed to produce the revolution. Many of those 
orations 1 have heard, and all that I could obtain 1 have read. 
Much ingenuity and eloquence appears upon every subject, except 
those principles and feelings. That ofrny honest and amiable 
neighbour, Josiah Quincy, appeared to me the most directly to 
the purpose of the institution. Those principles and feelings 
ought to be traced back for two hundred years, and sought in the 
history of the country from the first plantations in America. Nor 
should the principles and feelings of the English and Scotch to 
wards the colonies, through that whole period ever be forgotten. 
The perpetual discordance between British principles and feelings 
and of those of America, the next year after the suppression of 
the French power in America, came to a crisis, and produced an 

It was not until after the annihilation of the French dominion in 
America, that any British ministry had dared to gratify their own 
.wishes, and the desire of the nation, by projecting a formal plan 
for raising a natioral revenue from America, by parliamentary 
taxation. The first great manifestation of this design was by the 
order to carry into strict executions those, acts of parliament 
which were well known by the appellation of the acts of trade, 
which had lain a dead letter, unexecuted for a half a century, and 
some cf them, I believe, for nearly a whole one. 


This produced, in 1760 and 1761, an awakening and a revival ol 
American principles and feelings, with an enthusiasm which went 
on increasing, till in 1775 it burst out in open violence, hostility 
and fury. 

The characters, the most conspicuous, the most ardent and in 
fluential in this revival, from 1760 to 1766, were, first and fore 
most, before all and above all, James Otis ; next to him was Oxen- 
bridge Thatcher ; next to him, Samuel Adams ; next to him, John 
Hancock ; then Dr. Mayhew ; then Dr. Cooper and hi* brother. 
Of Mr. Hancock s life, character, generous nature, great and dis 
interested sacrifices, and important services, if I had forces, I 
should be glad to write a volume. But this I hope will be done 
by some younger and abler hand. Mr. Thatcher, because his 
name and merits are less known, must not be wholly omitted. 
This gentleman was an eminent barrister at law, in as large prac 
tice as any one in Boston. There was not a citizen of that town 
more universally beloved for his learning, ingenuity, every domes 
tic and social virtue, and conscientious conduct in every relation 
of life. His patriotism was as ardent as his progenitors had been 
ancient and illustrious in this country. Hutchinson often said, 
" Thatcher was not born a plebeian, but he was determined to die 
one." In May, 1763, I believe, he was chosen by the town of 
Boston one of their representatives in the legislature, a colleague 
with Mr. Otis, who had been a member from May 1761, and he 
continued to be re-elected annually till his death in 1765, when 
Mr. Samuel Adams was elected to fill his place, in the absence of 
Mr. Otis, then attending the congress at New York. Thatcher 
had long been jealous of the unbounded ambition of Mr. Hutchin 
son, but when he found him not content with the office of lieut. 
governor, the command of the castle and its emoluments, of judge 
of probate for the county of Suffolk, a seat in his majesty s council 
in the legislature, his brother in-law secretary of state by the 
king s commission, a brother of that secretary of state, a judge of 
the supreme court and a member of council, now in 1760 and 1761, 
soliciting and accepting the office of chief justice of the superior 
court of judicature, he concluded, as Mr. Otis did, and as every 
other enlightened friend of his country did, that he sought that 
office with the determined purpose of determining all causes in fa 
vor of the ministry at St. James s, and their servile parliament. 

His indignation against him henceforward, to 1765, when he 
died, knew no bounds but truth. I speak from personal know 
ledge. For, from 1758 to 1765, I attended every superior and 
inferior court in Boston, and recollect not one, in which he did not 
invite me home to spend evenings with him, when he made me 
converse with him as well as I could, on all subjects of religion, 
morals, law, politics, history, philosophy, belles lettres, theology, 
mythology, cosmogony, metaphysics, Lock, Clark, Leibnits, Bo- 
lingbroke, Berckley, the pre-established harmony of the uni- 
yerse, the nature of matter and of spirit, and the eternal establish- 


ment of coincidences between their operations, fate, ibreknow- 
ledge, absolute ; and we reasoned on such unfathomable subjects 
as high as Milton s gentry in pandemonium ; and we understood 
them as well as they did, and no better. To such mighty myste 
ries he added the news of the day, and the tittle tattle of the town. 
But his favourite subject was politics, and the impending threaten 
ing system of parliamentary taxation and universal government 
over the colonies. On this subject he was so anxious and agitated 
that I have no doubt it occasioned his premature death. From the 
time when he argued the question of writs of assistance, to his 
death.he considered the king, ministry, parliament and nation of G. 
B. as determined to new model the colonies from the foundation ; 
to annul all their charters, to constitute them all royal govern 
ments ; to raise a revenue in America by parliamentary taxation ; 
to apply that revenue to pay the salaries of go vernours, judges and 
all other crown officers ; and, after all this, to raise as large a 
revenue as they pleased, to be applied to national purposes at the 
exchequer in England ; and further to establish bishops and the 
whole system of the church of England, tythesand all, throughout 
all British America. This system, he said, if it was suffered to 
prevail, would extinguish the flame of liberty ail over the world ; 
that America would be employed as an engine to batter down all 
the miserable remains of liberty in Great Britain and Ireland, 
where only any semblance of it was left in the world. To this 
system he considered Hutchinson, the Olivers and all their con 
nections, dependants, adherents, shoelickers, c. entirely devo 
ted. He asserted that they were all engaged with all the crown 
officers in America and the understrappers of the ministry in Eng 
land, in a deep and treasonable conspiracy to betray the liberties 
of their country, for their own private, personal and family ag 
grandizement. His philippicks against the unprincipled ambition 
and avarice of all of them, but especially of Hutchinson, were 
unbridled ; not only in private, confidential conversations, but in 
all companies and on all occasions. He gave Hutchinson the sob 
riquet of u Summa Potestatis," and rarely mentioned him but by 
the name of u Summa." His liberties of speech were no secrets 
to his enemies. I have sometimes wondered that they did not 
throw him over the bar, as they did soon afterwards major Haw- 
ley. For they hated him worse than they did James Otis, or 
Samuel Adams, and they feared him more, because they had no 
revenge for a father s disappointment of a seat on the superior 
bench to impute to him, as they did to Otis ; and Thatcher s char 
acter through life had been so modest, decent, unassuming ; his 
morals so pure, and his religion so venerated, that they dared not 
attack him. In his office were educated to the bar, two eminent 
characters, the late judge Lowell, and JosiahQuincy, aptly called 
the Boston Cicero. Mr. Thatcher s frame was slender, his con 
stitution delicate ; whether his physicians overstrained his vessels 
mercury, when he had the small pox by inoculation at the 


castle, er whether he was overplied by public anxieties and exer 
tions, the small pox left him in a decline from which he never 
recovered. Not long before his death he sent for me to commit 
to my care some of his business at the bar. I asked him whether 
he had seen the Virginia resolves : u Oh yes they are men ! they 
are noble spirits ! It kills me to think of the lethargy and stupidi 
ty that prevails here. I long to be out. 1 will go out. 1 will go 
out. I will go into court, and make a speech which shall be read 
after my death, as my dying testimony against this infernal tyranny 
which they are bringing upon us." Seeing the violent agitation 
into which it threw him, I changed the subject as soon as possible, 
and retired. He had been confined for some time. Had he been 
abroad among the people, he would not have complained so pa^ 
thetically of the " lethargy and stupidity that prevailed. 1 for town, 
and country were all alive ; and in August became active enough, 
and some of the people proceeded to unwarrantable excesses, 
which were more lamented by the patriots than by their enemies. 
Mr. Thatcher soon died, deeply lamented by all the friends of 
their country. 

Another gentleman, who had great influence in the commence 
ment of the revolution, was doctor Jonathan Mayhevv, a descend 
ant of the ancient governor of Martha s Vineyard. This divine 
had raised a great reputation both in Europe and America, by the 
publication of a volume of seven sermons in the reign of king 
George the second, 1749, and by many other writings, particular 
ly a sermon in 1750, on the thirtieth of January, on the subject 
of passive obedience and non-resistance ; in which the sainismp 
and matyrdom of king Charles the first are considered, seasoned 
with wit and satire superior to any in Swift or Franklin. It was 
read by every body ; celebrated by friends and abused by enemies. 
During the reigns of king George the first and king George the 
second, the reigns of the Stuarts, the two Jameses and the two 
Charleses, were in general disgrace in England. In America they 
had always been held in abhorrence. The persecutions and cru 
elties suffered by their ancestors under those reigns, had been 
transmitted by history and tradition, and Mayhew seemed to be 
raised up to revive all their animosities against tyranny, in church 
and state, and at the same time to destroy their bigotry, fanaticism 
and inconsistency. David Hume s plausible, elegant, fascinating 
and fallacious apology, in which he varnished over the crimes of 
the Stuarts, had not then appeared. To draw the character of 
Mayhew would be to transcribe a dozen volumes. This transcen- 
dant genius threw all the weight of his great fame into the scale 
of his country in 1761, and maintained it there with zeal and ardor 
till his death in 1766. In 1763 appeared the controversy between 
him and Mr. Apthorp, Mr. Caner, Dr. Johnson and archbishop 
Seeker, on the charter and conduct of the society for propagating 
the gospel in foreign parts. To form a judgment of this debate I 
beg leave to refer to a review of the whole, printed at the time 


and written by Samuel Adams, though by some, very absurdly and 
erroneously, ascribed to Mr. Apthorp. If I am not mistaken, it 
will be found a model of candor, sagacity, impartiality, and close, 
correct reasoning. 

If any gentleman supposes this controversy to be nothing to the 
present purpose, he is grossly mistaken. It spread an universal 
alarm against the authority of parliament. It excited a general 
and just apprehension, that bishops and diocesses and churches, 
and priests, and tythes, were to be imposed on us by parliament. 
It was known, that neither king, nor ministry, nor archbishops, 
could appoint bishops, in America, without an act of parliament; 
and if parliament could tax us, they could establish the church 
of England, with all its creeds, articles, tests, ceremonies, and 
tythes, and prohibit all other churches, as conventicles, and schism 

Nor must Mr. Gushing be forgotten. His good sense and sound 
judgment, the urbanity of his manners, his universal good char 
acter, his numerous friends and connections, and his continual in 
tercourse with all sorts of people, added to his constant attach 
ment to the liberties of his country, gave him a great and salutary 
influence from the beginning in 1760. 

Let me recommend these hints to the consideration of Mr. Wirt, 
whose life of Mr. Henry I have read with great delight. I think 
that after mature investigation, he will be convinced, that Mr. 
Henry did not " give the first impulse to the ball of independence," 
and that Otis, Thatcher, Samuel Adams, Mayhew, Hancock, Gush 
ing, and thousands of others, were labouring for several years at 
the wheel, before the name of Henry was heard beyond the lim 
its of Virginia. 

If you print this, I will endeavour to send you something con 
cerning Samuel Adams, who was destined to a longer career, and 
to act a more conspicuous, and perhaps a more important part 
than any other man. But his life would require a volume. If you 
decline printing this letter, I pra3 you to return it as soon as pos 
sible to, 

Sir, Your humble servant, 



Quincy, January 5, 1818. 

YOUR sketches of the life of Mr. Henry have given me a rich 
entertainment. I will not compare them to the Sybil, conducting 
^neas to see the ghosts of departed sages and heroes in the region 
below, but to an angel, convoying me to the abodes of the bless 
ed on high, to converse with the spirits of just men made perfect. 


The names of Henry, Lee, Bland, Pendleton, Washington, Rut- 
ledge, Dickinson, Wythe, and many others, will ever thrill through 
my veins with an agreeable sensation. 1 am not about to make 
any critical remarks upon your works, at present. But, sir, 

Erant heroes ante Agameranona rmilti- 
Or, not to garble Horace, 
Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona 
Multi : sed crimes illacrimabiles 
Urgentur, ignotique longa 
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro. 

If I could go back to the age of thirty five, Mr. Wirt, I would 
endeavour to become your rival : not in elegance of composition, 
but in a simple narration of facts, supported by records, histories, 
and testimonies, of irrefragable authority. I would adopt, in all 
its modesty, your title, u Sketches of the life and writings of James 
Otis, of Boston." And. in imitation of your example, I would in 
troduce portraits of a long catalogue of illustrious men, who were 
agents in the revolution, in favor of it or against it. 

Jeremiah Gridley, the father of the bar in Boston, and the pre 
ceptor of Pratt, Otis, Thatcher, Gushing, and many others ; Ben 
jamin Pratt, chief justice of New-York ; colonel John Tynge, 
James Otis, of Boston, the hero of the biography ; Oxenbridge 
Thatcher, Jonathan Sewall, attorney general and judge of admi 
ralty ; Samuel Quincy, solicitor general ; Daniel Leonard, now 
chief justice of Bermuda ; Josiah Quincy, the Boston Cicero ; 
Richard Dana and Francis Dana, his son, first minister to Russia, 
and afterwards chief justice ; Jonathan Mayhew, D. D. Samuel 
Cooper, D. D. Charles Chauncey, D. D James Warren and his 
wife ; Joseph Warren, of Bunker s Hill ; John Winthrop, profes 
sor at Harvard college, and a member of council ; Samuel Dex 
ter, the father ; John Worthington, of Springfield ; Joseph Haw- 
ley, of Northampton, and James Lovel, of Boston ; governors 
Shirley, Pownal, Bernard, Hutchinson, Hancock, Bowdoin, Adams, 
Sullivan, and Gerry ; lieutenant governor Oliver, chief justice 
Oliver, judge Edmund Trowbridge, judge William Cushing, and 
Timothy Ruggles, ought not to be omitted. The military char 
acters, Ward, Lincoln, Warren, Knox, Brooks, Heath, &c. must 
come in of course. Nor should Benjamin Kent, Samuel Swift, 
or John Reed, be forgotten. 

I envy none of the well merited glories of Virginia, or any of 
her sages or heroes. But, sir, I am jealous, very jealous, of the 
honour of Massachusetts. 

The resistance to the British system, for subjugating the colo 
nies, began in 1760, and in the month of February, 1761, James 
Otis electrified the town of Boston, the province of Massachu 
setts bay, and the whole continent, more than Patrick Henry ever 
did in the whole course of his life. If we must have panegyrics 
and hyperboles, 1 must say, that if Mr. Henry was Demosthenes, 
and Mr. Richard Henry Lee, Cicero, James Otis wns Isaiah ami 
Ezekiel UNITED. 


hope, sir, that some young gentleman, of the ancient and hon- 
able family of " The Searchers," will hereafter do impartial 


ourable family of 

justice, both to Virginia and Massachusetts. 

After all thi* freedom, I assure you, sir, it is no flattery, when I 
congratulate the nation on the acquisition of an attorney general of 
such talents and industry as your " Sketches" demonstrate. 
With great esteem, 1 am, Sir, 

Your friend and humble servant, 

Mr. WIRT, Attorney General of the United States, 



Qiiinty, January 23, 

I THANK you for your kind letter of the 12th of this month. 
As I esteem the character of Mr. Henry, an honour to our country r 
and your volume a masterly delineation of it, I gave orders to 
purchase it as soon as I heard of it, but was told it was not to be 
had in Boston. 1 have seen it only by great favour on a short loan. 
A copj^ from the author would be worth many by purchase. It 
may be sent to me by the mail. 

From a personal acquaintance, perhaps I might say a friend 
ship, with Mr. Henry, of more than forty years, and from all that 
I have heard or read of him, I have always considered him as a 
gentleman of deep reflection t keen sagacity, clear foresight, dar 
ing enterprise, inflexible intrepidity, and untainted integrity ; with 
an ardent zeal for the liberties, the honour, and felicity of his 
country, and his species. All this, you justly as I believe, repre 
sent him to have been. There are, however, remarks to be 
made upon your work, which, if I had the eyes and hands, I would, 
in the spirit of friendship, attempt. But my hands, and eyes, 
and life, are but for a moment. 

When congress had finished their business, as they thought, in 
the autumn of 17?4, 1 had. with Mr. Henry, before we took leave 
of each other, some familiar conversation, in which I expressed 
a full conviction, thnt our resolves, declarations of rights, enumer 
ation of wrongs, petitions, remonstrances, and addresses, associa* 
tions, and non-importation agreements, however they might be k- 
pected in America, and however necessary to cement the union 
of the colonies, would be but waste water in England. Mr. Hen 
ry said, they might make some impression among the people of 
England, but agreed with me that they would be totally lost upon 
the government. 1 had but just received a short and hasty letter, 
written to me by major Joseph Hawley, of Northampton, con 
fining " a few broken hints," as he called them, of what ho 


thought was proper to be done, and concluding- with these words } 
" after all we must fighi." This letter I read to Mr. Henry, who 
listened with great attention ; and as soon as I had pronounced the 
words, " after all we must fight," he raised his head, and with an 
energy and vehemence that I can never forget, broke out with 
" BY G D, i AM OF THAT JUAN S MIND." I put the letter into his 
hand, and when he had read it, he returned it to me, with an 
equally solemn asseveration, that he agreed entirely in opinion 
with the writer. I considered this as a sacred oath, upon a very 
great occasion, and could have sworn it as religiously as he did, 
and by no means inconsistent with what you say, in some part of 
your book, that he never took the sacred name in vain. 

As I knew the sentiments with which Mr. Henry left congress, 
in the autumn of 1774, and knew the chapter and verse from 
which he had borrowed the sublime expression, " we must fight," 
I was not at all surprised at your history, in the 122d page, in the 
note, and in some of the preceding and following pages. Mr. 
Henry only pursued, in March, 1775, the views and vows of No 
vember, 1774. 

The other delegates from Virginia returned to their state in full 
confidence, that all our grievances would be redressed. The last 
words that Mr. Richard Henry Lee said to me, when we parted, 
were, u we shall infallibly carry all our points. You will be com 
pletely relieved ; all the offensive acts will be repealed ; the army and 
fleet will be recalled, and Britain will give up her foolish project" 

Washington only was in doubt. He never spoke in public. In 
private he joined with those who advocated a non-exportation, as 
well as a non-importation agreement. With both he thought we 
should prevail ; without either, he thought it doubtful. Henry 
was clear in one opinion, Richard Henry Lee in an opposite opin 
ion, and Washington doubted between the two. Henry, however, 
appeared in the end to be exactly in the right. 

Oratory, Mr. Wirt, as it consists in expressions of the counte* 
nance, graces of attitude and motion, and intonation of voice, 
although it is altogether superficial and ornamental, will always 
command admiration, yet it deserves little veneration. Flashes 
of wit, coruscations of imagination and gay pictures, what are 
they ? Strict truth, rapid reason and pure integrity are the only 
essential ingredients in sound oratory. I flatter myself, that 
Demosthenes, by his " action ! action ! action !" meant to express 
the same opinion. To speak of American oratory, ancient or 
modern, would lead me too far, and beyond my depth. 

I must conclude with fresh assurances of the high esteem of 
vour humble servant, 



Attorney General of the United States. 




mn/, February 25, 1818. 


As Mr. Wirt has filled my head with James Otis, and as I am 
well informed, that the honourable Mr. ******** ***** ? a ij as 
********, alias *** *****, & c roundly asserts, that Mr. " Otis had 
no patriotism," and that " he acted only from revenge of his father s 
disappointment of a seat at the Superior Bench," I will tell you 
a story which may make you laugh, if it should not happen to melt 
you into tears. 

Otis belonged to a club, who met on evenings, of which club 
William Molineux, whose character you know very well, was a 
member. Molineux had a petition before the legislature, which 
did not succeed to his wishes, and he became for several evenings 
sour, and wearied the company with his complaints of services, 
losses, sacrifices, &c. and said, " that a man who has behaved as 
I have, should be treated as I am, is intolerable," &c. Otis had 
said nothing, but the company were disgusted and out of patience, 
when Otis rose from hi* seat, and said, " come, come. Will, quit 
this subject, and let us enjoy ourselves. I also have a list of griev 
ances, will you hear it ? The club expected some fun, and all 
cried out, u Aye ! Aye ! let us hear your list." 

" Well, then, Will ; in the first place I resigned the office of 
advocate general, which I held from the crown which produced 
me ; how much, do you think ?" " A great deal, no doubt," said 
Molineux. " Shall we say two hundred sterling a year ?" " Aye, 
more I believe," said Molineux. u Well, let it be 200 ; that for 
ten years is two thousand. In the next place, I have been obli 
ged to relinquish the greatest part of my business at the bar. 
Will you set that at 200 more ?" u Oh I believe it much more than 
that. " Well let it be 200. This for ten years makes two thous 
and. You allow, then, I have lost 4000Z. sterling." " Aye, and 
more too," said Molineux. 

u In the next place, I have lost an hundred friends ; among 
whom were the men of the first rank, fortune and power in the 
province. At what price will you estimate them ?" " Damn 
them," said Molineux, " at nothing. You are better without 
them than with them." A loud laugh. " Be it so," said Otis. 

" In the next place, I have made a thousand enemies ; amongst 
whom are the government of the province and the nation. What 
do you think of this item ?" " That is as it may happen," said Mo 

" In the next place, you know I love pleasure. But I have 
renounced all amusement for ten years. What is that worth to a 
man of pleasure ?" " No great matter," said Molineux, " you 
have made politics your amusement." A hearty laugh. 


" In the next place, I have ruined as fine health and as good a 
constitution of body, as nature ever gave to man." " This is mel 
ancholy indeed," said Molineux. "There is nothing to be said 
upon that point." 

" Once more, said Otis, holding his head down before Molineux, 
look upon this head ! (where was a scar in which a man might 
bury his finger.) What do you think of this ? And what is worse, 
my friends think I have a monstrous crack in my scull. This 
made all the company very grave, and look very solemn. But 
Otis setting up a laugh, and with a gay countenance, said to Moli 
neux, " Now, Willy, my advice to you is, to say no more about 
your grievances ; for you and I had better put up our accounts of 
profit and loss in our pockets, and say no more about them, lest 
the world should laugh at us." 

This whimsical dialogue put all the company, and Molineux 
himself into good humour, and they passed the rest of the eve 
ning in joyous conviviality, 

It is provoking, and it is astonishing, and it is mortifying, and it 
is humiliating to see, how calumny sticks, and is transmitted from 
age to age. Mr. ****** is one of the last men I should have expect 
ed to have swallowed that execrable lie, that Otis had no patri 
otism. The father was refused an office worth 1200/. old tenor, 
or about 10/. sterling, and the refusal was no loss, for his practice 
at the bar was worth much more ; for Colonel Otis was a lawyer 
in profitable practice, and his seat in the legislature gave him 
more power and more honour ; for this refusal the son resigned 
an office which he held from the crown, worth twice the sum. 
The son must have been a most dutiful and affectionate child to 
the father. Or rather, most enthusiastically and frenzically affec 

I have been young, and now am old, and I solemnly say, I have 
never known a man whose love of his country was more ardent 
or sincere ; never one, who suffered so much ; never one, whose 
services for any ten years of his life, were so important and essen 
tial to the cause of his country, as those of Mr. Otis from 17GO to 

The truth is, he was an honest man, and a thorough taught 
lawyer. He was called upon in his official capacity as advocate 
general by the custom house officers, to argue their cause in fa 
vour of writs of assistants. These writs he knew to be illegal, 
unconstitutional, destructive of the liberties of his country ; a base 
instrument of arbitrary power, and intended as an entering wedge 
to introduce unlimited taxation and legislation by authority of par 
liament. He therefore scorned to prostitute his honour and his 
conscience, by becoming a tool. And he scorned to hold an office 
which could compel him or tempt him to be one. He therefore 
resigned it. He foresaw as every ocher enlightened man foresaw, 
a tremendous storm coming upon his country, and determined to 
run all risques, and share the fate of the ship, after exerting all 


his energies to save her, if possible. At the solicitation of Boston 
and Salem, he accordingly embarked and accepted the command. 
To attribute to such a character sinister or trivial motives is 
ridiculous. You and Mr. Wirt have " brought the old man out," 
and I fear he will never be driven in again, till he falls into the 
grave. JOHN ADAMS. 


Qwicy, March 29, 1818. 

IS your daughter, Mrs. * * * * * *, who I am credibly informed, 
is one of the most accomplished ladies, a painter ? Are you ac 
quainted with Miss ***** ***** ? w ho 1 am also credibly informed 
is one of the most accomplished ladies, and a painter ? Do you 
know Mr. Sargent ? Do you correspond with your old companion 
in arms, Col. John Trumbull ? Do you think Fisher will be an 
historical painter? 

Whenever you shall find a painter, male or female, I pray you 
to suggest a scene and subject. 

The scene is the council chamber of the old town house in Bos 
ton. The date is the month of February, 1701, nine years before 
you came to me in Cole lane. As this is five years before you 
entered college, you must have been in the second form of master 
Lovell s school. 

That council chamber was as respectable an apartment, and 
more so too, in proportion, than the house of lords or house of 
commons in Great Britain, or that in Philadelphia in which the 
declaration of independence was signed in 1776. 

In this chamber, near the fire, were seated five judges, with 
lieutenant governor Hutchmson at their head, as chief justice ; 
all in their new fresh robes of scarlet English cloth, in their broad 
bands, and immense judicial wigs. In this chamber was seated at 
a long table all the barristers of Boston, and its neighbouring coun 
ty of Middlesex, in their gowns, bands and tye-wigs. They were 
not seated on ivory chairs ; but their dress was more solemn and 
more pompous than that of the Roman Senate, when the Gauls 
broke in upon them. In a corner of the room must be placed wit, 
sense, imagination, genius, pathos, reason, prudence, eloquence, 
learning, science, and immense reading, hung by the shoulders on 
two crutches, covered with a cloth great coat, in the person of 
Mr. Pratt, who had been solicited on both sides but would engage 
on neither, being about to leave Boston forever, as chief justice of 
New York. 

Two portraits, at more than full length, of king Charles the 
second, and king James the second, in splendid goldeo frames. 


were hung up in the most conspicuous side of the apartment. II 
iny young eyes or old memory have riot deceived me, these were 
the finest pictures I have seen. The colours of their long flow 
ing robes and their royal ermine* were the most glowing, the fig 
ures the most noble and graceful, the features the most distinct 
and characteristic : far superior to those of the king and queen of 
France in the senate chamber of congress. 1 believe they were 
Vandyke s. Sure I am there was no painter in England capable 
of them at that time. They had been sent over without frames, 
in governor PownaPs time. But as he was no admirer of Charlses 
or Jameses, they were stowed away in a garret among rubbish, 
till governor Bernard came, had them cleaned, superbly framed, 
and placed in council for the admiration and imitation of all men, 
no doubt with the concurrence of Hutchinsou and all the junto ; 
for there has always been a junto. One circumstance more. 
Samuel Quiricy and John Adams had been admitted barristers at 
that term. John was the youngest. He should be painted, look 
ing like a short thick fat archbishop of Canterbury, seated at the 
table, with a pen in his hand, lost in admiration, now and then min 
uting those despicable notes which you know that ******** 
**< *** stole from my desk, and printed in the Massachusetts 
Spy, with two or three bombastic expressions interpolated by him 
self; and which your pupil, judge Minot, has printed in his history. 

You have now the stage and the scenery. Next follows a nar 
ration of the subject. 1 rather think that we lawyers ought to 
call it a brief of the cause. 

When the British ministry received from general Amherst his 
despatches, announcing his conquest of Montreal, and the conse 
quent annihilation of the French government and power in Amer 
ica, in 1759, they immediately conceived the design and took the 
resolution of conquering the English colonies, and subjecting them 
to the unlimited authority of parliament. With this view and in 
tention, they sent orders and instructions to the collector of the 
custom* in Boston, Mr. Charles Paxton, to apply to the civil author 
ity for writs of assistance, to enable the custom house ollicers, 
tide waiters, land waiters, and all, to command all sheriffs and con 
stables to attend and aid them in breaking open houses, stores, 
shops, cellars, ships, bales, trunks, chests, casks, packages of all 
sorts, to search for goods, wares and merchandizes, which had 
been imported against the prohibitions, or without paying the tax 
es imposed by certain act* of parliament, called u THE ACTS OF 
TRADE," i. e. by certain parliamentary statutes, which had been 
procured to be passed from time to time, for a century before, by a 
combination of selfish intrigues between West India planters and 
North American royal governors. These acts never had been 
executed, and there never had been a time when they would have 
been, or could have been, obeyed. 

Mr. Paxton, no doubt consulting with governor Bernard, lieu 
tenant governor Hutchinson, and all the principal crown officers, 


and all the rest of the Junto, thought it not prudent to commence 
his operations in Boston. For obvious reasons, he instructed his 
deputy collector in Salem, Mr. Cockle, to apply by petition to the 
superior court, in November, 1760, then sitting in that town, for 
writs of assistance. Stephen Sewall was then chief justice of that 
court, an able man, an uncorrupted American, and a sound whig, a 
sincere friend of liberty, civil and religious. He expressed great 
doubts of the legality of such a writ, and of the authority of the 
court to grant it. Not one of his brother judges uttered a word in 
favor of it ; but as it was an application on the part of the crown, 
it must be heard and determined. After consultation, the court 
ordered the question to be argued at the next February term, in 
Boston, i. e. in 1761. 

In the mean time chief justice Sewall died, and lieutenant gov 
ernor Hutchinson was appointed chief justice of that court in his 
stead. Every observing and thinking man knew that this appoint 
ment was made for the direct purpose of deciding this question, in 
favour of the crown, and all others in which it should be inter 

An alarm was spread far and wide. Merchants of Salem and 
Boston applied to Mr. Pratt, who refused, and to Mr. Otis and Mr. 
Thatcher, who accepted, to defend them against this terrible me 
nacing monster, the writ of assistance. Great fees were offered, 
but Otis, and 1 believe Thatcher, would accept of none. " In 
such a cause," said Otis, " I despise all fees." 

I have given you a sketch of the stage and the scenery, and a 
brief of the cause ; or, if you like the phrase better, of the trag 
edy, comedy or farce. 

Now for the actors and performers. Mr. Gridley argued with 
his characteristic learning, ingenuity and dignity, and said every 
thing that could be said in favour of Cockle s petition, all depend 
ing, however, on the " If the parliament of Great Britain is the 
sovereign legislator of all the British empire." 

Mr. Thatcher followed him on the other side, and argued with 
the softness of manners, the ingenuity, the cool reasoning which 
were peculiar to his amiable character. 

But Otis was a flame of Fire ! With a promptitude of classical 
allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events 
and dates, a profusion of legal authorities, a prophetic glare of his 
eyes into futurity, and a rapid torrent of impetuous eloquence he 
hurried away all before him. American independence was then 
and there born. The seeds of patriots and heroes to defend the 
JVVw Sine Diis Animosus Infans ; to defend the vigorous youth were 
then and there sown. Every man of an immense crowded audi 
ence appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms 
against writs of assistance. Then and there was the first scene of 
the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. 
Then and there the child Independence was born. In fifteen 
years, i. e. in 1776, he grew up to manhood and declared himself 


The court adjourned for consideration, and after some days at 
the close of the term, Hutchinson chief justice arose and said, 
" The court has considered the subject of writs of assistance, and 
can see no foundation for such a writ ; but as the practise in Eng 
land is not known, it has been thought best, to continue the ques 
tion to next term, that in the mean time opportunity may be given 
to write to England for information concerning the subject." In 
six months the next term arrived ; but no judgment was pronoun 
ced ; nothing was said about writs of assistance ; no letters from 
England, and nothing more was said in court concerning them. 
But it was generally reported and understood that the court clan 
destinely granted them ; and the custom house officers had them 
in their pockets, though I never knew that they dared to produce 
and execute them in any one instance. 

Mr. Otis s popularity was without bounds. In May, 1701, he 
was elected into the house of representatives, by an almost unani 
mous vote. On that week I happened to be at Worcester attend 
ing a court of common pleas of which, brigadier Ruggles was 
chief justice. When the news arrived from Boston, you can have 
no idea of the consternation among the government people. Chief 
justice Ruggles at dinner at colonel Chandlers on that day, said, 
46 Out of this election will arise a damn d faction, which will shake 
this province to its foundation. 5 

For ten years afterwards Mr. Otis, at the head of his country ? s 
cause, conducted the town of Boston and the people of the prov 
ince with a prudence and fortitude, at every sacrifice of personal 
interest and amidst unceasing persecution, which would have done 
honour to the most virtuous patriot or martyr of antiquity. 

I fear I shall make you repent of bringing out the old gentleman. 



April 5, 1818. 


IN Mr. Wirt s elegant and eloquent panegyrick on Mr. Henry 
1 beg your attention from page 56 to page 67, the end of the 
second section, where you will read a curious specimen of the ag 
onies of patriotism in the early stages of the revolution. " When 
Mr. Henry could carry his resolutions but by one vote, and that 
against the influence of Randolph, Bland, Pendleton, Wythe and 
all the old members whose influence in the house had till then 
been unbroken ; and when Peyton Randolph afterwards president 
of congress swore a round oath, he would have given 500 guineas 
for a single vote ; for one vote would have divided the house, and 
Robinson was in the chair, who be knew would have negatived 
the resolution." 


And you will also see the confused manner in which they were 
first recorded, and how they have since heen garbled in history, 
My remarks at present will be confined to the anecdote in page 65, 
Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the first, his Cromwell, and 
George the third. Treason cried the speaker treason, treason, 
echoed from every part of the house. Henry finished his sentence 
by the words, " may profit by their example." If this be treason 
make the most of it. 

In judge Minot s history of Massachusetts Bay, volume second, 
in page 102 and 103, you will find another agony of patriotism in 
1762, three years before Mr. Henry s. Mr. Otis suffered one of 
equal severity in the house of representatives of Massachusetts, 
-fudge Minot s account of it is this. 

The remonstrance offered to the governor was attended with 
aggravating circumstances. It was passed, after a very warm 
speech, by a member in the house, and at first contained the fol 
lowing offensive observation. 

" For it will be of little consequence to the people whether they 
tvere subject to George or Louis ; the king of Great Britain, or 
the French king ; if both were arbitrary, as both would be, if 
both could levy taxes without parliament." Though judge Minot 
does not say it, the warm speech was from the tongue, and the of 
fensive observation, from the pen of James Otis ; when these 
words of the remonstrance were first read in the house, Timothy 
Pain, Esq. a member from Worcester, in his zeal for royalty, 
though a very worthy and very amiable man, cried out, treason ! 
treason ! the house however were not intimidated, but voted the 
remonstrance with all the treason contained in it, by a large major 
ity ; and it was presented to the governor by a committee of which 
Mr. Otis wns a member. 

Judge Minot proceeds u The governor was so displeased with 
the passage, that he sent a letter to the speaker, returning the 
message to the house ; in which he said, that the king s name, 
dignity and cause, were so improperly treated that he was obliged 
to desire the speaker to recommend earnestly to the house, that 
>t might not be entered upon the minutes in the terms in which it 
then stood. For if it should, he was then satisfied they would 
again and again, wish that some part of it were expunged, espe 
cially if it should appear, as he doubted not it would when he en 
tered upon his vindication, that there was not the least ground for 
the insinuation, under colour of which, that sacred and well belov 
ed name was so disrespectfully brought into question. 

Upon the reading of this letter, the exceptionable clause was 
struck out of the message. 

I have now before me a pamphlet printed in 17G3, by Edes & 
Gill, in Queen street, Boston, entitled a vindication of the conduct 
of the house of representatives of the province of the Massachu 
setts Bay, more particularly in the last session of the general as 
sembly, by James Otis, Esq. a member of said house, with this 


Let such, such only, tread this sacred floor. 
Who dare to love their Country and be poor; 
Or good, tho rich, humane and wise, tho great, 
Jove give but these, we ve nought to fear from fate. 

I wish I could transcribe the whole of this pamphlet, because 
it is a document of importance in the early history of the revolu 
tion, which ought never to be forgotten. It shows in a strong 
light the heaves and throes of the burning mountain, three ye;irs 
at least, before the explosion of the volcano in Massachusetts or 

Had judge Minot ever seen this pamphlet, could he have given 
so superficial an account of this year, 1762? There was more 
than one "warm speech 1 9 made in that session of the legislature ; 
Mr. Otis himself, made many A dark cloud hung over the whole 
continent ; but it was peculiarly black and threatening over Mas 
sachusetts and the town of Boston, against which devoted city the 
first thunderbolts of parliamentary omnipotence were intended and 
expected to be darted. Mr. Otis, from his first appearance in the 
house in 1761, had shewn such a vast superiority of talents, in 
formation and energy to every other member of the house, that 
in 1763 he took the lead as it were of course. He opened the 
session with a speech, a sketch of which he has given us himself. 
It depends upon no man s memory. It is warm ; it is true. But 
it is warm only with loyalty to his king, love to his country, and 
exultations in her exertions in the national cause. 

This pamphlet ought to be reprinted and deported in the cabi 
net of the curious. The preface, is a frank, candid and manly 
page, explaining the motive of the publication, viz : the clamours 
against the house for their proceedings, in which he truly says. 
" The world ever has been, and ever will be pretty equally divi 
ded, between those two great parties, vulgarly called the winners 
and the losers ; or to speak more precisely, between those who 
are discontented that they have no power, and those who think 
they never can have enough." Now it is absolutely impossible 
to please both sides either by temporizing, trimming or retreating ; 
the two former justly incur the censure of a wicked heart ; the 
latter that of cowardice, and fairly and manfully fighting the bat 
tle, and it is in the opinion of many worse than either. On the 
8th of September, A. D. 1762, the war still continuing in North 
America and the West Indies, governor Bernard made his speech 
to both houses, and presented a requisition of sir Jeffery Amherst, 
that the Massachusetts troops should be continued in pay during 
the winter. 

Mr. Otis made a speech, the outlines of which he has recorded 
in the pamphlet, urging a compliance with the governor s recom 
mendation and general Amherst s requisition ; and concluding with 
a motion for a committee to consider of both. 

A committee was appointed, of whom Mr. Otis was one, and 
reported not only a continuance of the troops already in service, 


but an addition of nine hundred men, with an augmented bounty to 
encourage their enlistment. 

If the orators on the 4th of July, really wish to investigate the 
principles and feelings which produced the revolution, they ought 
to study this pamphlet and Dr. Mayhew s sermon on passive obe 
dience and non-resistance, and all the documents of those days. 
The celebrations of independence have departed from the object 
of their institution, as much as the society for the propagation of 
the gospel in foreign parts have from their charter. The insti 
tution had better be wholly abolished, than continued an engine of 
the politics and feelings of the day, instead of a memorial of the 
principles and feelings of the revolution half a century ago, I 
might have said for two centuries before. 

This pamphlet of Mr. Otis exhibits the interesting spectacle of 
a great man glowing with loyalty to his sovereign, proud of his 
connection with the British empire, rejoicing in its prosperity, its 
triumphs and its glory, exulting in the unexampled efforts of his 
own native province to promote them all : but at the same time 
grieving and complaining at the ungenerous treatment that prov 
ince had received from its beginning from the mother country, 
and shuddering under the prospect of still greater ingratitude and 
cruelty from the same source. Hear a few of his words, and read 
all the rest. 

" Mr. Speaker This province has upon all occasions been dis 
tinguished by its loyalty and readiness to contribute its most stren 
uous efforts for his majesty s service. I hope this spirit will ever 
remain as an indelible characteristic of this people," &c. &c. 
" Our own immediate interest therefore, as well as the general 
cause of our king and country requires, that we should contribute 
the last penny and the last drop of blood, rather than by any back 
wardness of ours, his majesty s measures should be embarrassed: 
and thereby any of the enterprises that may be planned for the 
regular troops, miscarry. Some of these considerations 1 pre 
sume, induced the assembly upon his majesty s requisition, signi 
fied last spring by lord Egremont, so cheerfully and unanimously 
to raise thirty three, hundred men for the present campaign ; and 
upon another requisition signified by sir Jeffery Amherstto give a 
handsome bounty for enlisting about nine hundred 1 more into the 
regular service. The colonies, we know, have often been blamed 
without cause ; and we have had some share of it. Witness the 
miscarriage of the pretended expedition against Canada, in queen 
Ann s time, just before the infamous treaty of Utretcht. It is well 
known by some now living in this metropolis, that the officers 
both of the army and navy, expressed their utmost surprise at it 
upon their arrival. To some of them no doubt, it was a disap 
pointment ; for in order to shift the blame of this shameful affair 
from themselves, they endeavoured to lay it upon the New Eng 
land colonies. 

" I am therefore clearly for raising the men," &c. Sac. " This 
province has, since the year 1754, levied for his majesty s service 


as soldiers and seamen, near thirty thousand men, besides what 
hav> been otherwise employed. One year in particular it was 

said that every fifth man was engaged in one shape or another. 

We have raised sums for the support of this war, that the last gen 
eration could hardly have formed any idea of. We are now deep 
ly in debt," &c &c. 

On the 14th of September, the house received a message from 
the governor, containing a somewhat awkward confession of cer 
tain expenditures of public money with advice of council, which 
had not been appropriated by the house. He had fitted out the 
Massachusetts sloop of war, increased her establishment of men, 
&c. Five years before, perhaps this irregularity might have beer, 
connived at or pardoned ; but, since the debate concerning writs 
of assistance, and since it was known that the acts of trade were 
to be enforced, and a revenue collected by authority of parlia 
ment, Mr. Otis s maxim, that " taxation without representation was 
tyranny," and "that expenditures of public money, without appro 
priations by the representatives of the people, were unconstitu 
tional, arbitrary and therefore tyrannical," had become popular 
proverbs. They were common place observations in the streets. 
It was impossible that Otis should not take fire upon this message 
of the governor. He accordingly did take fire, and made that 
flaming speech which judge Minot calls " a warm speech" without 
informing us who made it or what it contained. I wish Mr. Otis 
had given us this warm speech as he has the comparatively cool 
one, at the opening of the session. But this is lost forever. It 
concluded however, with a motion for a committee to consider the 
governor s message and report. The committee was appointed, 
and Otis was the first after the speaker. 

The committee reported the following answer and remon 
strance, every syllable of which is Otis : 
" May it please your Excellency : 

" The house have duly attended to your excellency s message 
of the eleventh inst. relating to the Massachusetts sloop, and are 
humbly of opinion that there is not the least necessity for keeping 
up her present complement of men, and therefore desire that 
your excellency would be pleased to reduce them to six, the old 
establishment made for said sloop by the general court. Justice 
to ourselves, and to our constituents obliges us to remonstrate 
against the method of making or increasing establishments by the 
governor and council. 

" It is in effect, taking from the house their most darling privi 
lege, the right of originating all taxes. 

" It is, in short, annihilating one branch of legislation. And 
when once the representatives of the people give up this privi 
lege, the government will very soon become arbitrary. 

" No necessity therefore, can be sufficient to justify a house of 
representatives in giving up such a privilege ; for it would be of 
little consequence to the people, whether they were subject to 


George or Louis, the king of Great Britain or the French king; if 
both were arbitrary, as both would be, if both could levy taxes 
without parliament. 

" Had this been the first instance of the kind, we might not have 
troubled your excellency about it; but lest the matter should go 
into precedent, we earnestly beseech your excellency, as you re 
gard the peace and welfare of the province, that no measures of 
this nature be taken for the future, let the advice of council be 
what it may." 

This remonstrance being read, was accepted by a large majori 
ty, and sent up and presented to his excellency by a committee of 
vhorn Mr. Otis was one. 

But here, Mr. Tudor, allow me, a digression, an episode* Lord 
Ellenborough in the late trial of Hone, says u the Athanasian 
Creed is the most beautiful composition that ever flowed from the 
pen of man." 

I agree with his lordship, that it is the most consummate mass 
of absurdity, inconsistency and contradiction that ever was put to 
gether. But I appeal to your taste and your conscience, whether 
the foregoing remonstrance of James Otis is not as terse a morsel 
of good sense, as Athanasius s Creed is of nonsense and blas 
phemy ? 

The same day the above remonstrance was delivered, the town 
was alarmed with a report, that the house had sent a message to 
his excellency, reflecting on his majesty s person and government, 
and highly derogatory to his crown and dignity, and therein desir 
ed, that his excellency would in no case take the advice of his 
majesty s council. 

The governor s letter to the speaker, is as judge Minot repre 
sents it. Upon reading it, the same person who had before cried 
out, treason ! treason ! when he first heard the offensive words, 
now cried out, " rase them ! rase them !" They were accord 
ingly expunged. 

In the course of the debate, a new and surprising doctrine was 
advanced. We have seen the times, when the majority of a 
council by their words and actions have seemed to think them 
selves obliged to comply with every thing proposed by the chair, 
and to have no rule of conduct but a governor s will and pleasure. 
But now for the first time it was asserted, that the governor in all 
cases was obliged to act according to the advice of council, and 
consequently would be deemed to have no judgment of his own, 

In page 17, Mr. Otis enters on his apology, excuse or justifica 
tion of the offensive words : which, as it is as facetious as it is edi 
fying, I will transcribe at length in his own words, viz : 

u In order to excuse, if not altogether justify the offensive pas 
sage, and clear it from ambiguity, I beg leave to premise two or 
three data. 1. GOD made all men naturally equal. 2. The ideas 
of earthly superiority, pre-eminence .and grandeur, are educa 
tional, at least acquired, not innate. 3. Kings Were, and plants- 


tion governors should be made for the good of the people, and not 
the people for them. 4. No government has a right to make 
hobby-horses, asses and slaves of the subjects ; nature having made 
sufficient of the former, for all the lawful purposes of man, from 
the harmless peasant in the field, to the most refined politician in 
the cabinet ; but none of the last, which infallibly proves they 
are unnecessary. 5. Though most governments are de facto 
arbitrary, and consequently the curse and scandal of human na 
ture, yet none are de jure arbitrary. 6. The British constitution 
of government, as now established in his majesty s person and 
family, is the wisest and best in the world. 7. The king of Great 
Britain is the best, as well as the most glorious monarch upon 
the globe, and his subjects the happiest in the universe. 8. It is 
most humbly presumed, the king would have all his plantation 
governors follow his royal example, in a wise and strict adher 
ence to the principles of the British constitution, by which in con 
junction with his other royal virtues, he is enabled to reign in the 
hearts of a brave and generous, a free and loyal people. 9. This 
is the summit, the ne plus ultra of human glory and felicity. 
10. The French king is a despotic arbitrary prince, and conse 
quently his subjects are very miserable. 

u Let us now take a more careful review of this passage, which 
by some out of doors has been represented as seditious, rebellious, 
and traitorous. 1 hope none, however, will be so wanting to the 
interest of their country, as to represent the matter in this light 
on the east side of the Atlantic, though recent instances of such a 
conduct might be quoted, wherein the province has, after its most 
strenuous efforts, during this and other wars been painted in all 
the odious colours, that avarice, malice, and the worst passions 
could suggest. 

" The house assert, that it would be of little consequence to 
the people, whether they were subject to George or Louis ; the 
king of Great Britain or the French king, if both were arbitrary 
as both would be. if both could levy taxes without parliament. 
Or in the same words transposed without the least alteration of 
the sense. It would be of little consequence to the people, 
whether they were subject to George the king of Great Britain, 
or Louis the French king, if both were arbitrary, as both would 
be, if both could levy taxes without parliament. 

" The first question that would occur to a philosopher, if any 
question could be made about it, would be, whether it were true ? 
But truth being of little importance, with most modern politicians, 
we shall touch lightly on that topic, and proceed to inquiries of a 
more interesting nature. 

" That arbitrary government implies the worst of temporary 
evils, or at least the continual danger of them, is certain. That 
a man would be pretty equally subject to these evils, under every 
arbitrary government, is clear. That I should die very soon after 
my head should be cut off, whether by a sabre or a broad sword, 


whether chopped off to gratify a tyrant, by the Christian name of 
Tom, Dick, or Harry, is evident. That the name of the tyrant 
would be of no more avail to save my life, than the name of the 
executioner, needs no proof. It is therefore manifestly of no 
importance what a prince s chrisiian name is, if he be arbitrary, 
any more indeed if he were not arbitrary. So the whole 
amount of this dangerons proposition, may at least, in one view 
be reduced to this, viz : It is of little importance what a king^s 
Christian name is. It is, indeed, of importance, that a king, a gov 
ernor, and all other good Christians, should have a Christian 
name, but whether Edward, Francis, or William, is of none, that 
I can discern. It being a rule, to put the most mild and favour 
able construction upon words, that they can possibly bear, it will 
follow, that this proposition i a very harmless one, that cannot by 
any means tend to prejudice his majesty s person, crown, dignity, 
or cause, all which I deem equally sacred with his excellency. 

" If this proposition will bear an hundred different constructions, 
they must all be admitted before any that imports any bad mean 
ing, much more a treasonable one. 

" It is conceived the house intended nothing disrespectful to his 
majesty, his government, or governor, in those words. It would 
be very injurious to insinuate this of a house, that upon all occa 
sions has distinguished itself by a truly loyal spirit, and which 
spirit possesses at least nine hundred and ninety nine in a thousand, 
of their constituents throughout the province. One good natured 
construction at least seems to be implied in the assertion, and that 
pretty strongly, viz : that in the present situation of Great Britain 
and France, it is of vast importance to be a Britain rather than a 
Frenchman, as the French king is an arbitrary, despotic prince, 
but the king of Great Britain is not so de jure, de facto, nor by in 
clination ; a greater difference on this side the grave cannot be 
found, than that which subsists between British subjects and the 
slaves of tyranny. 

u Perhaps it may be objected, that there is some difference even 
between arbitrary princes ; in this respect at least, that some are 
more vigorous than others. It is granted ; but, then, let it be re 
membered, that the life of man is a vapour, that shall soon van 
ish away, and we know not who may come after him, a wise man 
or a fool ; though the chances before and since Solomon have 
ever been in favour of the latter. Therefore it is said of little 
consequence. Had it been no instead of little, the clause upon 
the most rigid stricture might have been found barely exception 

" Some fine gentlemen have charged the expression as indeli 
cate. This is a capital impeachment in politics, and therefore 
demands our most serious attention. The idea of delicacy, in the 
creed of some politcians, implies, that an inferior should, at the 
peril of all that is near and dear to him, i. e. his interest, avoid 
every the least trifle that can offend his superior. Does my su~ 


perior want my estate ? I must give it him, and that with a good 
grace ; which is appearing, and, if possible, being really obliged 
to him, that he will condescend to take it. The reason is evident ; 
it might give him some little pain or uneasiness to see me whim 
pering, much more openly complaining, at the loss of a little glit 
tering dirt. I must according to this system, not only endeavour 
to acquire myself, but impress upon all around me, a reverence 
and passive obedience, to the sentiments of my superior, little 
short of adoration. Is the superior in contemplation a king, I 
must consider him as God s Vicegerent, cloathed with unlimited 
power, his will the supreme law, and not accountable for his 
actions, let them be what they may, to any tribunal upon earth. 
Is the superior a plantation governor? He must be viewed, not 
only as the most excellent representation of majesty, but as a vice 
roy in his department, and quoad provincial administration, to all 
intents and purposes, vested with all the prerogatives that were 
ever exercised by the most absolute prince in Great Britain. 

" The votaries of this sect, are all monopolizers of offices, pec 
ulators, informers, and generally the seekers of all kinds. It is 
tetter, say they, to "give up any thing, and every thing quietly, 
than contend with a superior, who, by his prerogative, can do, and 
as the vulgar express it, right or wrong, will have whatever he 
pleases. For you must know, that according to some of the most 
refined and fashionable systems of modern politics, the ideas of 
right and wrong, and all the moral virtues, are to be considered 
only as the vagaries of a weak and distempered imagination in the 
possessor, and of no use in the world, but for the skilful politician 
to convert to his own purposes of power and profit. With these 

41 The love of country is an empty name ; 

" For gold they hunger, but ne er thirst for fame. 

" It is well known, that the least " patriotic spark" unawares 
"-catched" and discovered, disqualifies a candidate from all further 
preferment in this famous and flourishing order of knights errant, 
It must, however, be confessed, that they are so catholic as to ad 
mit all sorts, from the knights of the post, to a garter and star, 
provided they are thoroughly divested of the fear of God, and the 
love of mankind ; and have concentrated all their views in dear 
self, with them the only " sacred and well beloved name" or thing 
in the universe. See Cardinal Richlieu s Political Testament, and 
the greater Bible of the Sect, Mandeville s Fable of the Bees. 
Richlieu expressly, in solemn earnest, without any sarcasm or 
irony, advises the discarding all honest men from the presence of 
a prince, and from even the purlieus of a court. According to 
Mandeville, " the moral virtues are the political offspring which 
flattery begot upon pride." The most darling principle of the 
great apostle of the order, who has done more than any mortal 
towards diffusing corruption, not only through the three kingdoms, 
but through the remotest dominions, is, that every man has his 
price, and that if you bid high enough you are sure of him< 


" To those who have been taught to bow at the name of a 
Icing, with as much ardor and devotion as a papist at the sight of 
a crucifix, the assertion under examination may appear harsh ; 
but there is an immense difference between the sentiments of a Brit 
ish house of commons remonstrating, and those of a courtier cring 
ing f or a favour. A house of representatives here, at least, bears 
an equal proportion to a governor, with that of a house of commons, 
to the king. There is indeed one difference in favour of a house 
of representatives ; when a house of commons address the king", 
they speak to their sovereign, who is truly the most august per 
sonage upon earth. When a house of representatives remonstrate 
to a governor, they speak to a fellow subject, though a superior 
who is undoubtedly entitled to decency and respect; but I hardly 
think to quite so much reverence as his master. 

" It may not be amiss to observe, that a form of speech maybe 
in no sort improper, when used arguendo, or for illustration, speak 
ing of the king ; which same form may be very harsh, indecent 
and ridiculous, if spoken to the king. 

" The expression under censure has had the approbation of 
divers gentlemen ot sense, who are quite unprejudiced to any 
party. They have taken it to imply a compliment, rather than 
any indecent reflection upon his majesty s wise and gracious ad 
ministration. It seems strange, therefore, that the house should 
be so suddenly charged by his excellency, with impropriety, 
groundless insinuations," &c. 

u What cause of so bitter repentance, " again and again," could 
possibly have taken place, if this clause had been printed in the 
journal, I cannot imagine, ff the case be fairly represented, I 
guess the province can be in no danger from a house of represen 
tatives daring to speak plain English when they are complaining 
of a grievance. I sincerely believe that the house had no dispo 
sition to enter into any contest with the governor or council. 
Sure I am, that the promoter? of this address had no such view. 
On the contrary, there is the highest reason to presume, that the 
house of representatives will at all times rejoice in the prosperity 
of the governor and council, and contribute their utmost assist 
ance in supporting those two branches of the legislature in all 
their just rights and pre-eminence. But the house is, and ought 
to be, jealous and tenacious of its own privileges ; these are a sa* 
cred deposit, entrusted by the people, and the jealousy of them is a 
godly jealousy.^ * 

Allow me now, Mr. Tudor T a few remarks : 1. Why has the 
sublime compliment of "treason ! treason!" made to Mr. Henry, 
in 1765, been so celebrated, when that to Mr, Otis, in 17(32, three 
years before, has been totally forgotten 1 Because the Virginia 
Patriot has had many trumpeters, and very loud ones ; but the 
Massachusetts Patriot none, though false accusers arid vile calum 
niators in abundance. 

2. I know not whether judge Minot was born in 1762. He cer 
tainly never saw, heard, felt, or understood any thing of the prin- 

257 * 

ciples or feelings of that year. If he had, he could not have 
given so frosty an account of it. The " warm speech" he men 
tions, was an abridgment or second edition of Otis s argument in 
1761, against the execution of the acts of trade* It was a flaming 
declaration against taxation without representation. It was a 
warning voice against the calamities that were coming upon his 
country. It was an ardent effort to alarm and arouse his coun 
trymen against the menacing system of parliamentary taxation. 

3. Bernard was no great thing, but he was not a fool. It is 
impossible to believe, that he thought the offensive passage trea 
son or sedition, of such danger and importance as he represented 
it. But his design was to destroy Otis. " There is your enemy," 
said Bernard, (after a Scottish general) "if ye do not kill him, 
he will kill you." 

4 How many volumes are concentrated in this little fugitive 
pamphlet, the production of a few hurried hours, amidst the con 
tinual solicitations of a crowd of clients ; for his business at the 
bar at that time was very extensive and of the first importance ; 
and amidst the host of politicians, suggesting- their plans and 
schemes, claiming his advice and directions ! 

5. Look over the declarations of rights and wrongs issued by 
congress in 1774 Look into the declaration of independence, in 
1776. Look into the writings of Dr. Price and Dr. Priestly, 
Look into all the French constitutions of government ; and to cap 
the climax, look into Mr. Thomas Paine s common sense, crisis, 
and rights of man ; what can you find that is not to be found in sol 
id substance in this u vindication of the house of representatives ?" 

6. Is it not an affront to common sense, an insult to truth, vir 
tue, and patriotism, to represent Patrick Henry, though he was 
my friend as much as Otis^ as the father of the American revolu 
tion, and the founder of American independence ? The gentle 
man who has done this, sincerely believed what he wrote I doubt 
not ; but he ought to be made sensible, that he is of yesterday, 
and knows nothing of the real origin of the American revolution. 

7. If there is any bitterness of spirit discernible in Mr. Otis s 
vindication, this was nnt natural to him. He was generous, can 
did, manly, social, friendly, agreeable, amiable, witty, and gay, by 
nature, and by habit honest, almost to a proverb, though quick 
and passionate against meanness and deceit. But at this time he 
was agitated by anxiety for his country, and irritated by a torrent 
of slander and scurrillity, constantly pouring upon him from all 

Mr. Otis has fortified his vindication, in a long and learned note, 
which, in mercy to my eyes and fingers, I must ^borrow another 
hand to transcribe, in another sheet. 

[Here follow quotations from Locke on government, Part II. 
Ch. IV. Id. Ch. XI. Id. Ch. XIV. B. 1. Ch. II. and B. II. Ch. II.] 

" This other original Mr. Locke has demonstrated to be the 
consent of a free people, It is possible there are a few ; and I 



desire to thank God there is no reason to think there are many 
among us, that cannot hear the names of liberty and property, 
much less, that the things signified by those terms, should be enjoy 
ed by the vulgar. These may be inclined to brand some of the 
principles advanced in the vindication of the house, with the odi 
ous epithets seditious nnd levelling. Had any thing to justify them 
been quoted from colonel Algernon Sydney, or other British mar 
tyrs to the liberty of their country, an outcry of rebellion would 
not be surprising. The authority of Mr. Locke has therefore 
been preferred to all others, for these further reasons. 1st. He 
was not only one of the most vvise as well as most honest, but the 
most impartial man that ever lived. 2d. He professedly wrote his 
discourses on government, as he himself expresses it, u to estab 
lish the throne of the great restorer king William ; to make good 
his title in the consent of the people, which being the only one 
of all lawful governments, he had more fully and clearly than 
any prince in Christendom, and to justify to the world the people 
of England, whose love of liberty, their just and natural rights, 
with their resolution to preserve them, saved the nation when it 
was on the brink of slavery and ruin." By this title, our illustri 
ous sovereign, George 3d, (whom God long preserve) now holds. 
3. Mr. Locke was as great an ornament, under a crowned head, 
as the church of England ever had to boast of. Had all her sons 
been of his wise, moderate, tolerant principles, we should proba 
bly never have heard of those civil dissentions, that have so often 
brought the nation to the borders of perdition. Upon the score of 
his being a churchman, however, his sentiments are less liable to 
those invidious reflections and insinuations, that high flyers. Jaco 
bites, and" other stupid bigots, are apt too liberally to bestow, not 
only upon dissenters of all denominations, but upon the moderate ; 
and therefore infinitely the most valuable part of the church of 
England itself." 

Pardon the trouble of reading the letter, from your habitual 
partiality for your friend. 



Qtdwcy, April 15, 1818. 


1 HAVE received your obliging favour of the 8th, but cannot 
consent to your resolution to ask no more questions. Your ques 
tions revive myluggish memory. Since our national legislature 
have established a national painter a wise measure, for which I 
thank them, my imagination runs upon the art, and has already 
painted, I know not how many, historical pictures. I have sent 
you one, give me leave to send another. The bloody rencontre 


between the citizens and the soldiers, on the Mb of March, 1770, 
produced a tremendous sensation throughout the town and coun 
try. The people assembled first at Fane nil Hal!, and adjourned 
to the old South Church, to the number, as was conjectured, of 
ten or twelve thousand men, among whom were the most virtuous, 
substantial, independent, disinterested and intelligent citizens. 
They formed themselves into a regular deliberative body, chose 
their moderator and secretary, entered into discussions, delib 
erations and debates, adopted resolutions, appointed commit 
tees. What has become of these records, Mr. Tudor? Where 
are they ? Their resolutions in public were conformable to those 
of every man in private, who dared to express his thoughts 01 his 
feelings, u that the regular soldiers should be banished from the 
town, at all hazards." Jonathan Williams, a very pious, inoffen 
sive and conscientious gentleman, was their moderator. A remon 
strance to the governor, or the governor and council, was ordain 
ed, and a demand that the regular troops should be removed from 
the town. A committee was appointed to present this remon 
strance, of which Samuel Jldair\s was the chairman. 

Now for the picture. The theatre and the scenery are the 
same with those at the discussion of writs of assistance. The 
same glorious portraits of king Charles II. and king James II. to 
which might be added, and should be added, little miserable like 
nesses of Gov. Winthrop, Gov. Bradstreet, Go v. Endicott and Gov. 
Belcher, hung up in obscure corners of the room. Lieut. Gov. 
Hutchinson, commander in chief in the absence of the governor, 
must be placed at the head of the council table. Lieut. Col. Dul- 
rymple, commander in chief of his majesty s military forces, taking 
rank of all his majesty^s counsellors, must be seated by the side 
of the lieutenant governor and commander in chief of the pro 
vince. Eight and twenty counsellors must be painted, all seated 
at the council board. Let me see, what costume ? What was the 
fashion of that day, in the month of March ? Large white wigs, 
English scarlet cloth cloaks, some of them with gold laced hats, 
not on their heads, indeed, in so august a presence, but on a table 
before them. Before these illustrious personages appeared SAM 
UEL ADAMS, a member of the house of representatives and their 
clerk, now at the head of the committee of the great assembly at 
the old South church. Thucidydes, Livy or Sallust would make 
a speech for him, or, perhaps, the Italian Bota, if he had known 
any thing of this transaction, one of the most important of the rev 
olution ; but I am wholly incapable of it ; and, if I had vanity 
enough to think myself capable of it, should not dare to attempt it. 
He represented the state of the town and the country ; the dan 
gerous, ruinous and fatal effects of standing armies in populous 
cities in time of peace, and the determined resolution of the pub 
lic, that the regular troops, at all events, should be removed from 
the town. Lieutenant governor Hutchinson, then commander in 
chief, at the head of a trembling council, said, " he had no author- 


ity over the king s troops, that they had their separate common- 
der and separate orders and instructions, and that he could not 
interfere with them." Mr. Adams instantly appealed to the char 
ter of the province, by which the governor, and in his absence the 
lieutenant governor, was constituted u commander in chief of al! 
the military and naval power within its jurisdiction." So obvi 
ously true and so irrefragable was the reply, that it is astonishing 
that Mr. Hutchinson should have so grossly betrayed the constitu 
tion, and so atrociously have violated the duties of his office by 
asserting the contrary. But either the fears or the ambition of 
this gentleman, upon this and many other occasions, especially in 
his controversy with the two houses, three years afterwards, on 
the supremacy of parliament, appear to have totally disarranged 
his understanding. He certainly asserted in public, in the most 
solemn manner, a multitude of the roundest falshoods, which he 
must have known to be such, and which he must have known 
could be easily and would certainly be detected, if he had not 
wholly lost his memory, even of his own public writing. You, 
Mr. Tudor, knew Mr. Adams from your childhood to his death. 
In his common appearance, he was a plain, simple, decent citizen, 
of middling stature, dress and manners. He had an exquisite ear 
for music, and a charming voice, when he pleased to exert it. - 
jj_Yet his ordinary speeches in town meetings, in the house of rep 
resentatives and in congress, exhibited nothing extraordinary ; but 
upon great occasions, when his deeper feelings were excited, he 
erected himself, or rather nature seemed to erect him, without 
the smallest symptom of affectation, into an upright dignity of fig 
ure and gesture, and gave a harmony to his voice, which made a 
strong impression on spectators and auditors, the more lasting for 
the purity, correctness and nervous elegance of his style\ 

This was a delicate and a dangerous crisis. The question in the 
last resort was, whether the town of Boston should become a 
scene of carnage and desolation or not ? Humanity to the soldiers 
conspired with a regard for the safety of the town, in suggesting 
the wise measure of calling the town together to deliberate. For 
nothing short of the most solemn promises to the people, that the 
soldiers should, at all hazards, be driven from the town, had pre 
served its peace. Not only the immense assemblies of the people, 
from day to day, but military arrangements from night to night,, 
were necessary to keep the people and the soldiers from getting 
together by the ears. The life of a red coat would not have 
been safe in any street or corner of the town. Nor would (he 
lives of the inhabitants have been much more secure. The whole 
militia of the city was in requisition, and military watches and 
guards were every where placed. We were all upon a level no 
man wa& exempted ; our military officers were our only superi 
ors, I had the honor to be summoned in my turn, and attended at 
the state house with my musket and bayonet, my broadsword and 
cartridge box, under the command of the famous Paddock. I 


know you will laugh at my military figure ; but I believe there 
was not a more obedient soldier in the regiment, nor one more im 
partial between the people and the regulars. In this character I 
was upon duty all night in my turn. No man appeared more 
anxious or more deeply impressed with a sense of danger on all 
sides, than our commander Paddock. He called me, common 
soldier as I was, frequently to his councils. I had a great deal of 
conversation with him, and no man appeared more apprehensive 
of a fatal calamity to the town, or more zealous by every prudent 
measure to prevent it. ,Such was the situation of affairs, when 
Samuel Adams was reasoning with lieutenant governor Hutchinson 
and lieutenant colonel Dalrymple. lie had fairly driven them 
from all their outworks, breastworks and entrenchments, to their 
citadel. There they paused and considered and deliberated. The 
heads of Hutchinson and Dalrymple were laid together in whis 
pers for a long time : when the whispering ceased, a long and sol 
emn pause ensued, extremely painful to an impatient and expect 
ing audience. Hutchinson, in time, broke silence ; he had con 
sulted with colonel Dalrymple, and the colonel had authorized 
him to say that he might order one regiment down to the castle, 
if that would satisfy the people. With a self-recollection, a self- 
possession, a self-command, a presence of mind that was admired 
by every man present, Samuel Adams arose with an air of dignity 
and majesty, of which he was sometimes capable, stretched forth 
his arm, though even then quivering with palsy, and with an har 
monious voice and decisive tone, said, u if the lieutenant governor 
or colonel Dalrymple, or both together, have authority to remove 
one regiment, they have authority to remove two ; and nothing 
short of the total evacuation of the town by all the regular troops, 
will satisfy the public mind or preserve the peace of the province." 

These few words thrilled through the veins of every man in 
the audience, and produced the great result. After a little awk 
ward hesitation, it was agreed that the town should be evacuated 
and both regiments sent to the castle. 

After all this gravity it is merry enough to relate that William 
Molineaux, was obliged to march side by side with the command 
er of some of their troops, to protect them from the indignation 
of the people, in their progress to the wharf of embarcation for 
the castle. Nor is it less amusing that lord North, as I was re 
peatedly and credibly informed in England, with his characteristic 
mixture of good humour and sarcasm, ever after called these 
troops by the title of " Sam Adams s two regiments." 

The painter should seize upon the critical moment when Sam 
uel Adams stretched out his arm, and made his last speech. 

It will be as difficult to do justice, ns to paint an Apollo ; and 
the transaction deserves to be painted as much as the surrender of 
Bureroyne. Whether any artist will ever attempt it, 1 know not, 




Quincy, April 23, 1818. 


YOUR letter of the 5th has been received. Your judgment 
of Mr. Wirt s biography of my friend, Mr. Henry, is in exact uni 
son with my own. I have read it with more delight than Scott s 
romances in verse and prose, or Miss Porter s Scottish Chiefs, and 
other novels. 

I am sorry you have introduced me. I could wish my own name 
forgotten, if I could develope the true causes of the rise and pro 
gress of American revolution and independence. 

Why have Harmodius and Brutus, Coligrii and Brederode, 
Cromwell and Napoleon failed, and a thousand others ? Because 
human nature cannot bear prosperity. Success always intoxicates 
patriots as well as other men ; and because birth and wealth al 
ways, in the end, overcome popular and vulgar envy, more surely 
than public interest. 

The causes of our parties during and since the revolution, would 
lead me too far. 

% You cannot ask me too many questions. I will answer them all 
according as strength shall be allowed to your aged and infirm 
friend, JOHN ADAMS. 


12, 1818. 


IN my letters to you, I regard no order. And I think, I ought 
to make you laugh sometimes : otherwise my letters would be too 
grave, if not too melancholy. To this end, 1 .send you Jemmi- 
bellero, " the song of the drunkard" which was published in 
Fleet s * Boston Evening Post," on the 13th of May. 1 765. It was 
universally agreed to have been written by Samuel Waterhouse, 
who had been the most notorious scribbler, satyrist and libeller, in 
the service of the conspirators, against the liberties of America, 
and against the administration of governor Powmil, and against the 
characters of Mr. Pratt and Mr. Tyng. The rascal had wit. But 
is ridicule the test of truth ? You see the bachanalian ha ! ha! at 
Otis s prosodies Greek and Latin ; and you see the encouragement 
of scholarship in that age. The whole legion, the whole phalanx, 
the whole host of conspirators against the liberties of America, 
could not have produced Mr. Otis s Greek and Latin prosodies. 
Yet they must be made the scorn of fools. Such was the char 
acter of the age, or rather of the day. Such have been and such 
will be the rewards of real patriotism in all ages and all over the 
world.- 1 am, as ever, your old friend and humble servant, 




Qm ncy, June 1, 1818. 


NO man could have written from memory Mr. Otis s argument 
of four or five hours, against the acts of trade, as revenue laws, 
and against writs of assistants, as a tyrannical engine to execute 
them, the next day after it was spoken. How awkward, then, 
would be an attempt to do it after a lapse of fifty seven years ? 
Nevertheless, some of the heads of his discourse are so indelibly 
imprinted on my mind, that I will endeavour to give you some 
very short hints of them. 

1. He began with an exordium, containing an apology for hi. 
resignation of the office of advocate general in the court of ad 
miralty ; and for his appearance in that cause in opposition to the 
crown, and in favour of the town of Boston, and the merchants ot 
Boston and Salem. 

2. A dissertation on the rights of man in a state of nature. He 
asserted, that every man, merely natural, was an independent 
sovereign, subject to no law, but the law written on his heart, and 
revealed to him by his Maker, in the constitution of his nature, 
and the inspiration of his understanding and his conscience. His 
right to his life, his liberty, no created being could rightfully con 
test. Nor was his right to his property less incontestible. The 
club that he had snapped from a tree, for a staff or for defence^ 
was his own. His bow and arrow were his own ; if by a pebble 
he had killed a partridge or a squirrel, it was his own. No crea 
ture, man or beast, had a right to take it from him. If he had 
taken an eel, or a smelt, or a sculpion, it was his property. In 
short, he sported upon this topic with so much wit and humour, 
and at the same time so much indisputable truth and reason, that ho 
was not less entertaining than instructive. He asserted, that these 
rights were inherent and inalienable. That they never could be 
surrendered or alienated but by ideots or madmen, and all the acts 
of ideots and lunatics were void, and not obligatory by all the laws 
of God and man. Nor were the poor negroes forgotten. Not a 
Quaker in Philadelphia, or Mr. Jefferson, of Virginia, ever assert 
ed the rights of negroes in stronger terms. Young as I was, and 
ignorant as 1 was, I shuddered at the doctrine he taught ; and I 
have all my life time shuddered, and still shudder, at the conse 
quences that may be drawn from such premises. Shall we say. 
that the rights of masters and servants clash, and can be decided 
only by force ? I adore the idea of gradual abolitions ! But who 
shall decide how fast or how slowly these abolitions shall be made ? 

3. From individual independence he proceeded to association. 
If it was inconsistent with the dignity of human nature to say, that 
men were gregarious animals, like wild horses and wild geese, it 
surely could ofiend no delicacy to say they were social animals 


by nature ; that they were mutual sympathies ; and, mbove all, the 
sweet attraction of the sexes, which must soon draw them together 
in little groups, and by degrees in larger congregations, for mu 
tual assistance and defence. And this must have happened 
before any formal covenant, by express words or signs, was 
Concluded. When general counsels and deliberations commenced, 
the objects could be no other than the mutual defence and secu 
rity of every individual for his life, his liberty, and his property. 
To suppose them to have surrendered these in any other way 
than by equal rules and general consent, was to suppose them 
ideots or madmen, whose acts were never binding. To suppose 
them surprised by fraud, or compelled by force, into any other 
compact, such fraud and such force could confer no obligation. 
Every man had a right to trample it under foot whenever he 
pleased. In short, he asserted these rights to be derived only 
from nature, and the author of nature ; that they were inherent, 
inalienable, and indefeasible by any laws, pacts, contracts, cove 
nants, or stipulations, which man could devise. 

4. These principles and these rights were wrought into the 
English constitution as fundamental laws. And under this head he 
went back to the old Saxon laws, and to Magna Charta, and the 
fifty confirmations of it in parliament, and the execrations ordained 
against the violators of it, and the national vengeance which had 
been taken on them from time to time, down to the Jameses and 
Charleses ; and to the petition of rights and the bill of rights, and 
the revolution. He asserted, that the security of these rights to 
life, liberty, and property, had been the object of all those strug 
gles against arbitrary power, temporal and spiritual, civil and po 
litical, military and ecclesiastical, in every age. He asserted, that 
our ancestors, as British subjects, and we, their descendants, as 
British subjects, were entitled to all those rights, by the British 
constitution, as well as by the law of nature, and our provincial 
charter, as much as any inhabitant of London or Bristol, or any 
part of England ; and were not to be cheated out of them by any 
phantom of " virtual representation," or any other fiction of law 
or politics, or any monkish trick of deceit and hypocrisy. 

5 He then examined the acts of trade, one by one, and demon 
strated, that if they were considered as revenue laws, they de 
stroyed all our security of property, liberty, and life, every right 
of nature, and the English constitution, and the charter of the pro 
vince. Here he considered the distinction between "external 
and internal taxes," at that time a popular and common-place 
distinction. But he asserted there was no such distinction in the 
ory, or upon any principle but " necessity." The necessity that 
the commerce of the empire should be under one direction, was 
obvious. The Americans had been so sensible of this necessity, 
that they had connived at the distinction between external and in 
ternal taxes, and had submitted to the acts of trade as regulations 
of commerce, but never as taxations, or revenue laws. Nor had 
the British government, till now, ever dared to attempt to enforce 


them as taxations or revenue laws. They had laid dormant in that 
character for a century almost. -The navigation act he allowed to 
be binding upon us, because we had consented to it by onr own 
legislature. Here he gave a history of the navigation act of t!^ 
Jirst of Charles 2d. a plagiarism from Oliver Cromwell. T| vs 
act had laid dormant for fifteen years. In 1675, after repeat,- 4 
letters and orders from the king, governor Winthrop very can 
didly informs his majesty, that the law had not been executed, 
because it was thought unconstitutional; parliament not having 
authority over us. 

I shall pursue this subject in a short series of letters. Provi 
dence pursues its incomprehensible and inscrutable designs in ii3 
own way, and by its own instruments. And as 1 sincerely believe 
Mr Otis to have been the earliest and the principal founder of 
one of the greatest political revolutions, that ever occurred among 
men, it seems tome of some importance, that his name and char 
acter should not be forgotten. Young men should be taught to 
honour merit, but not to adore it. The greatest men have the 
greatest faults. JOHN ADAMS. 


Quincy, June 9, 18J8. 


I HAVE promised you hints of the heads of Mr. Otis s orat-on, 
argument, speech, call it what you will, against the acts of trade, 
as revenue laws, and against writs of assistants, as tyrannical instru 
ments to carry them into execution. 

But 1 enter on the performance of my promise to you, not 
without fear and trembling ; because I am in the situation of a lady, 
whom you knew first as my client, the widow of Dr. Ames, of 
Dedham , and afterwards, as the mother of your pupil, the late 
brilliant orator, Fisher Ames, of Dedham. This lady died last 
year, at 95 or 96 years of age. In one of her last years she said, 
" She was in an awkward" situation ; for if she related any fact 
of an old date, any body might contradict her, for she could find 
no witness to keep her in countenance." 

Mr. Otis, afV* rapidl} running over the history of the contin 
ual terrors, vexations, and irritations, which our ancestors endured 
from the British government, from 1620, under James 1st. and 
Charles 1st. ; and acknowledging the tranquihty under the pa** 
liament and Cromwell, from 1648, to the restoration, in 1660, pr<* 
duced the navigation act, as the first fruit of the blessed restora 
tion of a Stuart s reign. 

This act is in the 12th year of Charles 2d. chapter 18, An 
act for the encouraging and increasing of shipping and navigation. 

"For the increase of shipping, and encouragement ot the nav 
igation of this nation, wherein, under the good providence and 


protection of God, the wealth, safety, and strength of this king 
dom, is so mnch concerned, be it enacted, that from and after the 
first day of December, 1660, and from thence forward, no goods, 
or commodities, whatsoever, shall be imported into, or exported 
out of, any lands, islands, plantations, or territories, to his majesty 
belonging or in his possession, or which may hereafter belong 
unto or be in the possession of his majesty, his heirs and successors, 
in Asia, Africa, or America, in any other ship or ships, vessel or 
vessels, whatsoever, but in such ships or vessels, as do truly and 
without fraud, belong only to the people of England or Ireland, 
dominion of Wales, or town of Berwick upon Tweed, or are of 
the built of, and belonging to, any of the said lands, islands, plan- 
tatiens or territories, as the proprietors and right owners thereof, 
and whereof the master, and three fourths of the mariners, at least, 
are English ; under the penalty of the forfeiture, and loss of all 
the goods and commodities which shall be imported into, or ex 
ported out of any of the aforesaid places, in any other ship or ves 
sel, as also of the ship or vessel, with all its guns, furniture, tackle, 
ammunition, and apparel : one third part thereof to his majesty, 
his heirs and successors: one third part to the governor of such 
land, plantation, island, or territory, where such default shall be 
committed, in case the said ship or goods be there seized ; or oth 
erwise, that third part also to his majesty, his heirs and successors ; 
and the other third part to him or them who shall seize, inform, 
or sue for the same in any court of record, by bill, information, 
plaint, or other action, wherein no essoin, protection, or wager of 
law shall be allowed : and all admirals and other commanders at 
sea, of any of the ships of war or other ships, having commission 
from his majesty, or from his heirs or successors, are hereby au 
thorized, and strictly required to seize and bring in as prize, all 
such ships or vessels as shall have offended, contrary hereunto, 
and deliver them to the court of admiralty, there to be proceeded 
against; and in case of condemnation, one moiety of such forfeit 
ures shall be to the use of such admirals or commanders, and their 
companies, to be divided and proportioned among them, according 
to the rules and orders of the sea, in case of ships taken prize ; 
and the other moiety to the use of his majesty, his heirs and suc 

Section second enacts, all governors shall take a solemn oath 
to do their utmost, that every clause shall be punctually obeyed. 
See the statute at large. 

See also section third of this statute, which I wish I could 

Section fourth enacts, that no goods of foreign growth, produc 
tion or manufacture, shall be brought, even in English shipping, 
from any other countries, but only from those of the said growth, 
production or manufacture, under all the foregoing penalties. 

Mr. Otis commented on this statute in all its parts, especially on 
the foregoing section, with great severity. He expatiated on ite 


narrow, contracted, selfish, and exclusive spirit. Yet he could not 
and would not deny its policy, or controvert the necessity of it, 
for England, in that age, surrounded as she was by France, Spain, 
Holland, and other jealous rivals ; nor would he dispute the pru 
dence of governor Leverett, and the Massachusetts legislature, 
in adopting it, in 1675, after it had laid dormant for fifteen years; 
though the adoption of it was infinitely prejudicial to the interests, 
the growth, the increase, the prosperity of the colonies in gen 
eral, of New England in particular ; and most of all, to the town 
of Boston. It was an immense sacrifice to what was called tha 
mother country. Mr. Otis thought, that this statute ought to have 
been sufficient to satisfy the ambition, the avarice, the cupidity of 
any nation, but especially of one who boasted of being a tender 
mother of her children colonies ; and when those children had 
always been so fondly disposed to acknowledge the condescending- 
tenderness of their dear indulgent mother. 

This statute, however, Mr. Otis said, was wholly prohibitory. 
It abounded, indeed, with penalties and forfeitures, and with bribes 
to governors and informers, and custom house officers, and naval 
officers and commanders ; but it imposed no taxes. Taxes were 
laid in abundance by subsequent acts of trade ; but this act laid 
none. Nevertheless, this was one of the acts that were to be 
carried info strict execution by these writs of assistance. Houses 
were to be broken open, and if a piece of Dutch linen could be 
found, from the cellar to the cock loft, it was to be seized and 
become the prey of governors, informers, and majesty. 

When Mr. Otis had extended his observations on this act of nav 
igation, much farther than I dare to attempt to repeat, he pro 
ceeded to the subsequent acts of trade. These, he contended, 
imposed taxes, and enormous taxes, burthensome taxes, oppres 
sive, ruinous, intolerable taxes. And here he gave the reins to 
his genius, in declamation, invective, philippic, call it which you 
will, against the tyranny of taxation, without representation. 

But Mr. Otis s observations on those acts of trade, must be 
postponed for another letter. 

Let me, however, say, in my own name, if any man wishes to 
investigate thoroughly, the causes, feelings, and principles of the 
revolution, he must study this act of navigation and the acts of 
trade, as a philosopher, a politician, and a philanthropist. 



Qwincy, June 17, 1818. 


THE next statute produced and commented by Mr. Otis was the 
15th of Charles the second, i. . 1663, ch. 7. " An act for the en 
couragement of trade." 


S^C. 6." And in regard his majesty s plantations, beyond (he 
seas are inhabited and peopled by his subjects of this his kingdom 
of England, for the maintaining a greater correspondence and 
kindness between them, and keeping them in a firmer dependance 
upon it, and rendering them yet more beneficial and advantageous 
unto it, in the further employment and increase of English ship 
ping and seamen, vent of English woolen and other manufactures 
and commodities, rendering the navigation to and from the same, 
more cheap and safe, and making this kingdom a staple, not only of 
the commodities of those plantations, but also of the commodities 
of other countries and places, for the supplying of them ; and it be 
ing the usage of other nations to keep their plantations trades to 

Sec. f>. " Be it enacted, &c. that no commodity of the growth, 
production or manufacture of Europe, shall be imported into any 
land, island, plantation, colony, territory or place, to his majesty 
belonging, or which shall hereafter belong unto or be in possession 
of his majesty, his heirs and successors, in Asia, Africa or Ameri 
ca, (Tangier only excepted) but what shall be bona fide, and with 
out fraud, laden and shipped in England, Wales, or the town of 
Berwick upon Tweed, and in English built shipping, or which 
were bonafide bought before the 1st of October, 16G2, and had 
such certificate thereof as is directed in one act passed the last 
session of the present parliament, entitled "An act for preventing 
frauds and regulating abuses in his majesty" s customs ;" and whereof 
the master, and three fourths of the mariners at least are English, 
and which shall be carried directly thence, to the said lands, is 
lands, plantations, colonies, territories or places, and from no other 
place or places whatsoever; any law, statute or usage to the con 
trary notwithstanding ; under the penalty of the loss of all such 
commodities of the growth, production or manufacture of Europe, 
as shall be imported into any of them, from any other place what 
soever, by land or water ; and if by water, of the ship or vessel 
also, in which they were imported, with all her guns, tackle, fur 
niture, ammunition and apparel ; one third part to his majesty, his 
heirs and successors ; one third part to the governor of such land, 
island, plantation, colony, territory or place, into which such 
goods were imported, if the said ship, vessel or goods be there 
seized or informed against and sued for ; or otherwise, that third 
part also to his majesty, his heirs and successors ; and the other 
third part to him or them who shall seize, inform, or sue for the 
same in any of his majesty s courts in such of the said lands, islands, 
colonies, plantations, territories or places where the offence was 
committed, or in any court of record in England, by bill, informa 
tion, plaint, or other action, wherein no essoin protection or wager 
of law shall be allowed." 

Sections 7. 8. 9. and 10. of this odious instrument of mischief 
afid misery to mankind, all calculated to fortify by Oaths and penal- 
the tyrannical ordinances oi the preceding sections. 


Mr. OtisV observations on these statutes were numerous, and 
some of th i m appeared to me at the time, young as 1 was, bitter. 
But as 1 cnmot pretend to recollect those observations with pre 
cision, I will recommend to you and others to make your own re 
marks upo i them. 

You must remember, Mr. Tudor, that you and I had much 
trouble with these statutes after you came into my office, in 1770 ; 
and I had been tormented with them for nine years before, i. e, 
from 1761. 

I have no scruple in making a confession with all the simplicity 
of Jean Jac Rosseau, that I never turned over the leaves of these 
statutes, or any section of them, without pronouncing a hearty 
curse upon them. 

I felt them, as an humiliation, a degradation a disgrace to my 
Country and to myself as a native of it. 

Let me respectfully recommend to the future orators on the 
fourth of July, to peruse these statutes in pursuit of principles and 
feelings that produced the revolution. 

Oh ! Mr. Tudor, when will France, Spain, England and Hol 
land renounce their selfish, contracted, exclusive systems of reli 
gion, government and commerce ? I fear, never. 

But they may depend upon it, their present systems of coloniza 
tion cannot endure. Colonies universally, ardently breathe for 
independence. No man, who has a soul will ever live in a colo 
ny, under the present establishments, one moment longer thau 
necessity compels him. 

But 1 must return to Mr. Otis. The burthen of his song wai 
u Writs of assistance," All these rigorous statutes were now to 
be carried into rigorous execution by the still more vigorous in 
struments of arbitrary power, " Writs of assistance." 

Here arose a number of very important questions. What were 
writs of assistance? Where were they to be found? \Vhen, 
where, and by what authority had they been invented, created, 
and established ? Nobody could answer any of these questions. 
Neither chief justice Hutchinson, nor any one of his four associate 
judges, pretended to have ever read or seen in any book any such 
writ, or to knew any thing about it. The court had ordered or 
requested the bar to search for precedents and authorities for it, 
but none were -found. Otis pronounced boldly, that there were 
none, and neither judge nor lawyer, bench or bar, pretended to 
confute him. He asserted farther, that there was no colour of 
authority for it, but one produced by Mr. Gridiey in a statute of 
the 13th and 14th of Charles the second, which Mr. Otis said was 
neither authority, precedent or colour of either, in America. Mr. 
Thatcher said he had diligently searched all the books, but could 
find no such writ. He had indeed found in (installs Entries, a 
thing which in some of its features resembling this, but so little 
like it in the whole, that it was not worth while to read it. 

Mr. Gridiey, who, no doubt, was furnished, upon this great and 
critical occasion, with all the information possessed by the govern- 


or, lieutenant governor, secretary, custom house officers, and all 
other crown officers, produced, the statute of the thirteenth and 
fourteenth of Charles the second, chapter eleventh, entitled, u An 
Act to prevent frauds, and regulating abuses in his majesty s cus 
toms." Section fifth, which I will quote verbatim. " And be it 
further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that in case, after the 
clearing of any ship or vessel, by the person or persons which are 
or shall be appointed by his majesty for managing the customs or 
any their deputies, and discharging the watchmen and tidesmen 
from attendance thereupon, there shall be found on board such 
ship or vessel, any goods, wares or merchandizes, which have 
been concealed from the knowledge of the said person or persons, 
which are or shall be so appointed to manage the customs, and for 
which the custom, subsidy and other duties due upon the import 
ation thereof have not been paid ; then the master, purser, or 
other person taking charge of said ship or vessel, shall forfeit the 
sum of one hundred pounds ; and it shall be lawful, to or for any 
person or persons authorized by writ of assistance under the seal of 
his mojesttfs court of exchequer, to take a constable, headborough, 
or other public officer, inhabiting near unto the place, and in the 
day time to enter, and go into any house, shop, cellar, warehouse 
or room, or other place ; and in case of resistance, to break open 
doors, chests, trunks, and other package, there to seize, nnd from 
thence to bring any kind of goods or merchandize whatsoe^- 
er prohibited and uncustomed, and to put and secure the same, in 
his majesty s storehouse in the port, next to the place where such 
seizure shall be made." 

Here is all the colour for " Writs of assistance," which the 
officers of the crown aided by the researches of their learned 
counsel, Mr. Gridley, could produce. 

Where, exclaimed Otis, is your seal of his majesty s court of 
exchequer ? And what has the court of exchequer to do here ? 
But my sheet is full, and my patience exhausted for the present. 



Qinwcy, June 24, 1818. 


MR. OTIS said such a u writ of assistance" might become the 
reign of Charles 2d. in England, and he would not dispute the 
taste of the parliament of England, in passing such an act, nor the 
people of England in submitting to it; but it was not calculated 
for the meridian of America. The Court of Exchequer had no 
jurisdiction here. Her warrants and her writs were never seen 
here. Or if they should be, they would be waste paper. He 
insisted however, that these warrants and writs were even in 


England inconsistent with the fundamental laws, the natural and 
constitutional rights of the subjects. If, however, it would pleasf 
the people of England, he might admit, that they were legal there, 
but not here. 

Diligent research had been made by Otis and Thatcher, and 
by Gridley, aided, as may well be supposed, by the officers of tlu> 
customs, and by all the conspirators against American liberty, on 
both sides the water, for precedents and examples of any thine* 
similar to this writ of assistance, even in England. But nothing 
could be found, except the following: An act of the 12th of 
Charles 2d. chapter 22. " An act for the regulating the trade of 
Bay-making, in the Dutch Bay-hall, in Colchester." The fifth 
section of this statute, " for the better discovering, finding out 
and punishing of the frauds and deceits, aforesaid, be it enacted, 
that it shall and may be lawful for the governors of the Dutch 
Bay-hall, or their officers or any of them, from time to time, ia 
the day time, to search any cart, waggon or pack, wherein they 
shall have notice, or suspect any such deceitful Bays to be, and also 
from time to time, with a constable, who are hereby required to 
be aiding and assisting them, to make search in any house, shop, 
or warehouse, where they are informed any such deceitful Bays 
to be, and to secure and seize the same, and to carry them to the 
Dutch Bay-hall ; arid that such Bays so seized and carried to the 
said hall, shall be confiscate and forfeit, to be disposed in such 
manner as the forfeitures herein before mentioned, to be paid by 
the weavers and fullers, are herein before limited and appointed. * 

The Dutch Bay hall made sport for Otis and his audience ; but 
was acknowledged to have no authority here, unless by certain 
distant analogies and constructions, which Mr. Gridley himself did 
not pretend to urge. Another ridiculous statute \vas of the 22d 
and 23d of Charles 2d. chapter 8th, " An act for the regulating 
the making of Kidderminster Stuffs." 

By the eleventh section of this important law, it is enacted, 
" That the said president, wardens, and assistants of the said Kid 
derminster weavers, or any two or more of thorn, shall have, and 
hereby have power and authority, to enter into and search the 
houses and workhouses of any artificer under the regulation of 
the said trade, at all times of the day, and usual time? of opening- 
shops and working; and into the shops, houses, and warehouses 
of any common buyer, dealer in, or retailer of any of the said 
cloths or stuffs, and into the houses and workhouses of any dyer, 
sheerman, and all other workmen s houses and places of sale, or 
dressing of the said cloths, or stuffs and yarns ; and may there 
view the said cloths, stuffs and yarns respectively ; and if any 
cloth, stuff or yarns shall be found defective, to seize and carry 
away the same to be tried by a jury." 

The wit, the humour, the irony, the satire, played off, by Mr. 
Otis, in his observations on these acts of navigation, Dutch bays 
and Kidderminster stuffs, it would be madness in me to pretend t<* 


pemember with any accuracy. But this I do say. that Horace** 
k< Irritat, mulcet, veris terroribus implet^ was never exemplified 
in my hearing with so great effect. With all his drollery, he in 
termixed solid and sober observations upon the acts of navigation, 
by Sir Joshua Child, and other English writers upon trade, which 
I shall produce together in another letter. 

It is hard to be called upon, at my age, to such a service as 
this. But it is the duty of 



Quincy,July9, 1818. 


IN the search for something, in the history and statutes of 
England, in any degree resembling this monstrum horrendum ingens, 
the writ of assistance, the following examples were found. 

In the statute of the first year of king James the second, chap 
ter third, " An act for granting to his majesty an imposition upon 
all wines and vinegar," &c. Section 8^ it is enacted, "That the 
officers of his majesty s customs &,c. shall have power and author 
ity to enter on board ships and vessels and make searches, and to 
do all other matters and things, which may tend to secure tiie 
true payment of the duties by this act imposed, and the due and 
orderly collection thereof, which any customers, collectors or oth 
er officers of any of his majesty s ports can or may do, touching 
the securing his majesty s customs of tonnage and poundage," &c. 
&,c. &c. I must refer to the statute for the rest. 

In the statute of king James the second, chapter four, " An act 
for granting to his majesty an imposition upon all tobacco and su 
gar imported," &c. Section fifth, in certain cases, " The commis 
sioners may appoint one or more officer or officers to enter into 
all the cellars, warehouses, store cellars, or other places whatso 
ever, belonging to such importer, to search, see and try," &c. &c. 
&LC. I must again refer to the statute for the rest, which is indeed 
nothing to the present purpose. 

Though the portraits of Charles the second and James the 
second were blazing before his eyes, their characters and reigns 
were sufficiently odious to all but the conspirators against human. 
liberty, to excite the highest applauses of Otis s philippics against 
them and all the foregoing acts of their reigns, which writs of as 
sistance were now intended to enforce. Otis asserted and pro.ved, 
that none of these statutes extended to America, or were obliga 
tory here by any rule of law, ever acknowledged here, or ever 
before pretended in England. 

Another species of statutes were introduced by the counsel for 
the crown, w iik: h 1 snail state as they occur tome without an.y 


regard to the order of time. 1. of James the second, chapter 17. 
a An act for the revival and continuance of several acts of parlia 
ment therein mentioned," in which the tobacco law among others 
is revived and continued. 

13th and 14th of Charles 2nd, chapter 13. " An act for prohibit 
ing the importation of foreign bone-lace, cutwork, embroidery, 
fringe, band-strings, buttons and needle work." Pray sir, do not 
laugh ! for something very serious comes in section third. " Be 
it further enacted, that for the preventing of the importing of the 
said manufactures as aforesaid, upon complaint and information 
given, Co the justices of the peace or any or either of them within 
their respective counties, cities and towns corporate, at times 
reasonable, he or they are hereby authorized and required to issue 
forth his or their warrants to the constables of their respective 
counties, cities and towns, corporate, to enter and search for such 
manufactures in the shops being open, or warehouses and dwel 
ling houses of such person or persons, as shall be suspected, to 
have any such foreign bone-laces, embroideries, cut-work, fringe, 
band-strings, buttons or needle work within their respective coun 
ties, cities, and towns corporate, and to seize the same, any act, 
statute or ordinance to the contrary thereof in any wise notwith 

Another curious act was produced, to prove the legality of writs 
of assistance, though it was no more to the purpose than all the 
others. I mean the statute of the 12th of Charles the second, 
chapter third, " An act for the continuance of process and judicial 
proceedings continued." In which it is enacted, section first, 
" That no pleas, writs, bills, actions, suits, plaints, process, pre 
cepts, or other thing or things, &c. shall be in any wise 9ontinu- 
ed," &c. 

But I must refer to the act. I cannot transcribe. If any anti 
quarian should hereafter ever wish to review this period, he will 
see with compassion how such a genuis as Otis was compelled to 
delve among the rubbish of such statutes, to defend the country 
against the gross sophistry of the crown and its officers. 

Another act of 12 C. 2d, ch. 12, " An act for confirmation of 
judicial proceedings," in which it is enacted, &c. " that nor any 
writs, or actions on, or returns of any writs, orders or other pro 
ceedings in law or equity, had made, given, taken or done, or de 
pending in the courts of chancery, king s bench, upper bench, 
common pleas, and court of exchequer, and court of exchequer 
chamber, or any of them, &e. in the kingdom of England, &c. 
shall be avoided, &c." I must refer to the statute. 

In short, wherever the custom house officers could find in any 
statute the word " writs", the word " continued" and the words 
44 court of exchequer," they had instructed their counsel to pro 
duce it, though in express " words restricted to the realm." Mr. 
Gridley was incapable of prevaricating or duplicity. 


It was a moral spectacle, more affecting to me than any I have 
since seen upon any stage, to see a pupil treating his master with 
all the deference, respect, esteem and affection of a son to a fath 
er, and that without the least affectation ; while he baffled and 
confounded all his authorities, and confuted all his arguments and 
reduced him to silence. 

Indeed, upon the principle of construction, inference, analogy, 
or corollary, by which they extended these acts to America, they 
might have extended the jurisdiction of the court of king s bench, 
and court of common pleas, and all the sanguinary statutes against 
crimes and midemeanors, and all their church establishment of 
archbishops and bishops, priests, deacons, deans and chapters ; 
and all their acts of uniformity, and all their acts against conven 

I have no hesitation or scruple to say that the commencement of 
the reign of George the third was the commencement of another 
Stuart s reign : and if it had not been checked by James Otis and 
others first, and by the great Chatham and others afterwards, it 
would have been as arbitrary as any of the four. I will not say 
it would have extinguished civil and religious liberty upon earth j 
but it would have gone great lengths towards it, and would have 
cost mankind even more than the French revolution to preserve 
it. The most sublime, profound and prophetic expression of 
Chatham s oratory that he ever uttered was, " I rejoice that 
America has resisted ; two millions of people reduced to servi 
tude, would be fit instruments to make slaves of the rest." 

Another statute was produced, 12 C. 2. cap. 19, " An act to 
prevent frauds and concealments of his majesty s customs and sub 
sidies." " Be it enacted," &c. " that if any person or persons &c. 
shall cause any goods, for which custom, subsidy, or other duties 
are due or payable, &c. to be landed or conveyed away, without 
due entry thereof first made and the customer or collector, or his 
deputy agreed with ; that then and in such case, upon oath thereof 
made before the lord treasurer, or any of the barons of the exche 
quer, or chief magistrate of the port or place where the offence 
shall be committed, or the next adjoining thereto, it shall be law- 
full, to and for the lord treasurer, or any of the barons of the ex 
chequer, or the chief magistrate of the port or place, &c. to issue 
out a warrant to any person or persons, thereby enabling him or 
them, with the assistance of a sheriff, justice of the peace or con 
stable, to enter into any house in the day time where such goods 
are suspected to be concealed, and in case of resistance, to break 
open such houses, and to seize and secure the same goods so con 
cealed ; and all officers and ministers of justice are hereby requir 
ed to be aiding and assisting thereunto." 

Such was the sophistry ; such the chicanery of the officers of 
the crown, and such their power of face, as to apply these stat 
utes to America and to the petition for writs of assistance from 
the superior court. JOHN ADAMS, 



Qw ncy, July 14, 1818. 


MR. OTIS, to show the spirit of the acts of trade, those 1 
have already quoted, as well as of those I shall hereafter quote, 
and as the best commentaries upon them, produced a number of 
authors upon trade, and read passages from them, which I shall 
recite, without pretending to remember the order in which he 
read them. 

1. Sir Josiah Child, " A new discourse of trade." Let me 
recommend this old hook to the perusal of my inquisitive fellow 
citizens. A discerning mind will find useful observations on the 
interest of money, the price of labour, &c. &c. &c. I would 
quote them all, if I had time. But I will select one. In page 
15. of his preface, he says, " I understand not the world so little, 
as not to know, that he that will faithfully serve his country, must 
be content to pass through good report, and evil report." I can 
not agree to that word, " content. 1 I would substitute instead of 
it, the words, " as patient as he can." Sir Josiah adds$ " neither 
regard I, which I meet with." This is too cavalierly spoken. It 
is not sound philosophy. Sir Joshua proceeds : " Truth I am 
sure at last will vindicate itself, and be found by my countrymen." 
Amen ! So be it ! I wish I could believe it. 

But it is high time for me to return from this ramble to Mr. 
Otis s quotations from Sir Joshua Child, whose chapter four, page 
105, is u concerning the act of navigation." Probably this knight 
was one of the most active and able inflamers of the national pride 
in their navy and their commerce, and one of the principal pro 
moters of that enthusiasm for the act of navigation, which has 
prevailed to this day. For this work was written about the year 
1677, near the period when the court of Charles 2d. began to 
urge and insist on the strict execution of the act of navigation. 
Such pride in that statute did not become Charles, his court or his 
nation of royalists and loyalists, at that time. For shall I blush, 
or shall I boast, when I remember, that this act was not the in 
vention of a Briton, but of an American. George Downing, a 
native of New England, educated at Harvard College, whose 
name, office, and title appear in their catalogue, went to Eng 
land in the time of lord Clarendon s civil wars, and became such 
a favourite of Cromwell and the ruling powers, that he was sent 
ambassador to Holland. He was not only not received, but ill 
treated, which he resented on his return to England, by proposing 
an act of navigation, which was adopted, and has ruined Holland, 
and would have ruined America, if she had not resisted- 

To borrow the language of the great Dr. Johnson, this " Dog" 
Downing must have had a head and brains, or in other word?, 
genius and address : but if we may believe history, he was a scour- 


drel. To ingratiate himself with Charles 2d. he probably not 
only pleaded his merit in inventing the navigation act, but he be 
trayed to the block some of his old republican and revolutionary 

George Downing! Far from boasting of thee as my countryman, 
or of thy statute as an American invention ; if it were lawful to 
wish for any thing past, that has not happened, 1 should wish that 
thou hadst been hanged, drawn, and quartered, instead of Hugh 
Peters, and Sir Henry Vane. But no I- This is too cruel for my 
nature ! I rather wish, that thou hadst been obliged to fly with thy 
project, and report among the rocks and caves of the mountains in. 
New England. 

But where is Do wiring s statute ? British policy has suppress 
ed all the laws of England, from 1648 to 1660. The statute 
book contains not one line. Such are records, and such is history. 

The nation, it seems, was not unanimous in its approbation of 
this statute. The great knight himself informs us, page 105, 
" that some wise and honest gentlemen and merchants doubted 
whether the inconveniences it has brought with it be not greater 
than the conveniences." This chapter was, therefore, written to 
answer all objections ; and vindicate and justify Downing s statute. 

Mr. Otis cast an eye over this chapter, and adverted to such 
observations in it, as tended to show the spirit of the writer, and 
of the statute ; which might be summed up in this comprehen 
sive Machiavelian principle, that earth, air, and seas, all colonies 
and all nations were to be made subservient to the growth, grandeur 
and power of the British navy. 

And thus, truly, it happened. The two great knights, Sir 
George Downing, and Sir Josiah Child, must be acknowledged to 
have been great politicians ! 

Mr. Otis proceeded to chapter 10, of this work, page 166, 
" concerning plantations." And he paused at the 6th proposition, 
in page 1G7, " That all colonies and plantations, do endamage 
their mother kingdoms, whereof the trades of such plantations 
are not confined by severe laws, and good executions of those 
laws, to the mother kingdom." 

Mr. Otis then proceeded to seize the key to the whole riddle, 
in page 168, proposition eleventh, u that New England is the most 
prejudicial plantation to the kingdom of England." Sir George 
Downing, no doubt, said the same to Charles 2d. 

Otis proceeded to page 170^ near the bottom, " we must consider 
what kind of people they were and are that have and do transport 
themselves to our foreign plantations." New England, as every one 
knows, was originally inhabited, and hath since been successively 
replenished by a sort of people called Puritans, who could not 
conform to the ecclesiastical laws of England ; but being wearied 
with church censures and persecutions, were forced to quit their 
fathers land, to find out new habitations, as many of them did m 
Germany and Holland y as well as at New England ; and had there 


net beeu a New England found for sortie of them, Germany and 
Holland probably had received the rest : but Old England, to be 
sure, would have lost them all. 

" Virginia and Barbadoes were first peopled by a sort of loose, 
vagrant people, vicious, and destitute of the means to live at home, 
(being either unfit for labour, or such as could find none to em 
ploy themselves about, or had so misbehaved themselves by whor 
ing, thieving, or other debauchery, that none would set them ai 
work) which merchants and masters of ships, by their agents, 
(or spirits, as they were called) gathered up about the streets of 
London, and other places, clothed and transported, to he employ 
ed upon plantations ; and these I say, were such as, had there been 
no English foreign plantation in the world, could probably nevei* 
have lived at home, to do service for their country, but must have 
come to be hanged, or starved, or died untimely of some of those 
miserable diseases, that proceed from want and vice ; or else havr 
sold themselves for soldiers, to be knocked on the head, or star v 
ed in the quarrels of ov.r neighbours, as many thousands of brave 
Englishmen were in the low countries, as also in the wars of Ger 
many, France, and Sweden, &c. or else, if they could by begging- 
or otherwise, arrive to the stock of 2s. 6d. to waft them over t" 
Holland, become servants to the Dutch, who refuse none. 

u But the principal growth and increase of the aforesaid plan 
tations of Virginia and Barbadoes, happened in, or immediately 
after, our late civil wars, when the worsted party, by the fate of 
war, being deprived of their estates, and having, some of them, 
never been bred to labour, and others of them made unfit for it by 
the lazy habit of a soldier s life, their wanting means to maintain 
them all abroad, with his majesty, many of them betook them 
selves to the aforesaid plantations ; and great numbers of Scotch 
soldhers of his majesty s army, after Worcester fight, were by the 
then prevailing powers voluntarily sent thither. 

" Another great swarm or accession of the new inhabitants to 
the aforesaid plantations, as also to New England, Jamaica, and 
all othep his majesty s plantations in the West Indies, ensued upon 
his majesty s restoration, when the former prevailing party beinp; 
by a divine hand of providence brought under, the army disbanded, 
many officers displaced, and all the new purchasers of public titles 
dispossessed of their pretended lands, estates, &c. many became 
impoverished, and destitute of employment ; and therefore such 
as could find no way of living at home, and some who feared the 
re-establishment of the ecclesiastical laws, under which they could 
not live, were forced to transport themselves, or sell themselves 
for a few years, to be transported by others, to the foreign Eng 
lish plantations. The constant supply, that the said plantations 
have since had, hath been such vagrant, loose people, as 1 have 
before mentioned, picked up especially about the streets of Lon 
don and Westminster, and malefactors condemned for crimes, for 
which by law they deserved to die. ; and some of those people 


called quakers, banished for meeting on pretence of religious 

" Now, if from the premises it be duly considered, what kind of 
persons those have been, by whom our plantations have at all 
limes been replenished, I suppose it will appear, that such they 
have been, and under such circumstances, that if his majesty had 
had no foreign plantations to which they might have resorted, 
England, however, must have lost them " 

Any man, who will consider with attention these passages from 
Sir Josiah Child, may conjecture what Mr. Otis s observations up 
on them were. As 1 cannot pretend to remember them verbatim, 
and with precision, 1 can only say, that they struck me very for 
cibly. They were short, rapid { he had not time to be long : but 
Tacitus himself could not express more in fewer words. My only 
fear is, that I cannot do him justice. 

In the first place, there is a great deal of true history in this 
passage, which manifestly proves, that the emigrants to America, 
in general, were not only as good as the people in general, 
whom they left in England, but much better, more courageous, 
more enterprizing, more temperate, more discreet, and more in 
dustrious, frugal, and conscientious : I mean the royalists as well 
as the republicans. 

In the second place, there is a great deal of uncandid, ungen 
erous misrepresentations, and scurrilous exaggeration, in this pa3- 
sage of the great knight, which prove him to have been a fit tool 
of Charles 2d. and a suitable companion, associate and friend of 
the great knight, Sir George Downing, the second scholar in Har 
vard College catalogue. 

But 1 will leave you, Mr. Tudor, to make your own observa- 
aons and reflections upon these pages of Sir Josiah Child. 

Mr. Otis read them with great reluctance ; but he felt it his 
duty to read them, in order to show the spirit of the author, and 
the spirit of Sir George Downing s navigation act. 

But, my friend, I am weary. I have not done with Mr. Otis or 
Sir Josiah Child. I must postpone, to another letter from your 
friend, JOHN ADAMS. 


Quirtcy, July 17,1818. 


MR. OTIS proceeded to page 198, of this great work of the 
great knight, sir Josiah Child. 

Proposition eleventh, " That New England is the most preju 
dicial plantation in this kingdom." 

" I am now to write of a people whose frugality, industry and 
temperance, and the happiness of whose laws and institutions do 


promise to themselves long life, with a wonderful increase of peo 
ple, riches and power : and although no men ought to envy that 
virtue and wisdom in others, which themselves either cannot or 
will not practice, but rather to command and admire it ; yet I 
think it the duty of every good man primarily to respect the wel 
fare of his native country ; and therefore, though 1 may offend 
some whom I would not willingly displease, 1 cannot omit, in the 
progress of this discourse, to take notice of some particulars, 
wherein Old England suffers diminution by the growth of those 
colonies settled in New England, and how that plantation differs 
from those more southerly, with respect to the gain or loss of this 
kingdom, viz. 

" All our American plantations, except that of New England, 
produce commodities of different natures from those of this king 
dom, as sugar, tobacco, cocoa, wool, ginger, sundry sorts of dying 
woods, &c. Whereas, New England produces generally the same 
we have here, viz : corn and cattle : some quantity of fish they 
do likewise kill, but that is taken and saved altogether by their 
inhabitants, which prejudiceth our Newfoundland trade ; whereas, 
as hath been said, very few are or ought, according to prudence, 
be employed in those fisheries but the inhabitants of Old England. 
The other commodities we have from them are some few great 
masts, furs, and train oil, whereof the yearly value amounts to very 
little, the much greater value of returns from thence being made 
in sugar, cotton, wool, tobacco, and such like commodities, which 
they first receive from some other of his majesty s plantations in 
barter for dry cod fish, salt mackerel, beef, pork, bread, beer, 
flour, peas, &c. which they supply Barbadoes, Jamaica, &c. with, 
to the diminution of the vent of those commodities from this king 
dom ; the greatest expense whereof in our West India plantations 
would soon be found in the advance of the value of our lands in 
England, were it not for the vast and almost incredible supplies 
those colonies have from New England. 

" 2. The people of New England, by virtue of their primitive 
charters, being not so strictly tied to the observation of the laws 
of this kingdom, do sometimes assume a liberty of trading, contra 
ry to the act of navigation, by reason whereof many of our Amer 
ican commodities, especially tobacco and sugar, are transported in 
New England shipping directly into Spain and other foreign coun 
tries, without being landed in England, or paying any duty to his 
majesty, which is not only loss to the king, and a prejudice to t he- 
navigation of Old England, but also a total exclusion of the old 
English merchants from the vent of those commodities in those 
ports where the new English vessels trade ; because there being 
no custom paid on those commodities in New England, and a great 
custom paid upon them in Old England, it must necessarily follow 
that the New English merchant will be able to afford his commo 
dities much cheaper at the market, than the Old English merchant : 
and those that can sell cheapest, will infallibly engross the whole 
trade, sooner or later* 


" S. Of all the American plantations, bis majesty hath none, so 
npt for the building of shipping as New England, nor none so com 
parably qualified for breeding of seamen, not only by reason of the 
natural industry of that people, but principally by reason of their 
cod and mackerel fisheries : and in my poor opinion, there is noth 
ing more prejudicial, and in prospect more dangerous to any moth 
er kingdom, than the increase of shipping in her colonies, planta 
tions and provinces." 

" 4. The people that evacuate from us to Barbadoes, and the 
other West India plantations, as was hinted, do commonly work 
one Englishman to ten blacks; and if we kept the trade of our 
said plantation entirely to England, England would have no less 
inhabitants, but rather an increase of people by such evacuation ; 
because that one Englishman, with the ten blacks that work with 
him, accounting what they eat, use, and wear, would make em 
ployment for four men in England, as was said before ; whereas, 
peradventure, of ten men that issue from us to New England. 

" To conclude this chapter, and to do right to that most indus 
trious English colony ; I must confess, that though we lose by 
their unlimited trade with our foreign plantations, yet we are very 
great gainers by their direct trade to and from Old England : our 
yearly exportations of English manufactures, malt, and other goods, 
from hence thither, amounting in my opinion to ten times the value 
of what is imported from thence ; which calculation I do not make 
at random, but upon mature consideration, and peradventure up 
on as much experience in this very trade as any other person 
will pretend to : and therefore, whenever a reformation of our 
correspondency in trade with that people shall be thought on, 
it will in my poor judgment require great tenderness and very- 
serious circumspection." 

Mr. Otis s humour and satire were not idle upon this occasion, 
but his wit served only to increase the effect of a subsequent, very 
grave and serious remonstrance and invective against the detesta 
ble principles of the foregoing passages, which he read with re 
gret, but which it was his duty to read, in order to shew the tem 
per, the views and the objects of the knight, which were the same 
with those of all the acts of trade anterior and posterior, to the 
writing 1 of this book : and those views, designs and objects were, to 
annul all the New England charters, and they were but three, 
Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Gonnnectieut ; to reduce all the 
colonies to royal governments, to subject them all to the supreme 
domination of parliament, who were to tax us, without limitation, 
who would tax us whenever the crown would recommend it,which 
crown would recommend it, whenever the ministry for the time 
being should please, and which ministry would please as often as 
the West India planters and North American governors, crown 
officers and naval commanders should solicit more fees, salaries, 
penalties and forfeitures. 

Mr. Otis had no thanks for the knight for his pharisaical com 
pliment to New England, at the expense of Virginia and other colo- 


nies who for any thing he knew were equally meritorious. It 
was certain the first settlers of New England were not all godly. 
But he reprot-ated in the strongest terms that language can com 
mand, the machiavilian, the Jesuitical, the diabolical and infernal 
principle that men, colonies and nations were to be sacrificed, be 
cause they were industrious and frugal, wise and virtuous, while 
others were to be encouraged, fostered and cherished, because 
they we re pretended to be profligate, vicious and lazy. 

But, my friend, I must quit Josiah Child, and look for others of 
Mr. Otis s authorities. 



Qwncy, July 27, 1818. 


ANOTHER author produced by Mr. Otis was, " The trade 
and navigation of Great Britain considered," by Joshua Gee. u A 
new edition, with many interesting notes and additions by a mer 
chant," printed in 1767. This new edition, which was printed no 
doubt to justify the ministry in the system they were then pursu 
ing, could not be the edition that Mr. Otis produced in 1761. The 
advertisement of the editor informs us that u This valuable trea 
tise has for many years been very scarce, though strongly recom 
mended by the best judges and writers on trade, and universally 
allowed to be one of the most interesting books on that subject." 
" The principles upon which it was written continue, with little 
variation." But I am fatigued with quotations, and must refer 
you to the advertisement in the book, which will shew,past a doubt, 
that this way a ministerial republication. The " feelings, the 
manners and principles," which produced the revolution, will be 
excited and renovated by the perusal of this book, as much as by 
that of sir Josiah Child. I wish 1 could fill sheets of paper with 
quotations from it ; but this is impossible. If I recommend it to 
the research, and perusal, and patient thinking of the present gen 
eration, it is in despair of being regarded. For who will engage 
in this dry, dull study ? Yet Mr. Otis laboured in it. He asserted 
and proved, that it was only a reinforcement of the system of sir 
Josiah Child, which Gee approved in all things, and even quoted 
with approbation the most offensive passage in his book, the scur 
rilous reflections on Virginia and Barbadoes. 

Another writer produced by Mr. Otis was " Memoirs and consid 
erations, concerning the trade and revenues of the British colo 
nies in America ; with proposals for rendering those colonies more 
beneficial to Great Britain. By John Ashley, Esq." 

This book is in the same spirit and system of Josiah Child and 

Joshua Gee. 



Mr. Otis also quoted Postlethwait. But I can quote no more. 

If any man of the present age can read these authors and not 
feel his " feelings, manners and principles," shocked and insulted, 
I know not of what stuff he is made. All I can say is. that I read 
them all in my youth, and that I never read them without being 
set on fire. 

I will, however, transcribe one passage from Ashley, painful as 
it is. In page 41, he says, " The laws now in being, for the reg 
ulation of the plantation trade, viz. the 14 of Charles the second, 
ch. II. sec. 2, 3, 9, 10 ; 7 and 8 William III. ch. 22. sec, 5, 6 ; 6 
George II. ch. 13, are very well calculated, and were they put in 
execution as they ought to be, would in a great measure put an 
end to the mischiefs here complained of. If the several officers of 
the customs would see that all entries of sugar, rum and molasses, 
were made conformable to the directions of those laws ; and let 
every entry of such goods distinguish expressly, what are of Brit 
ish growth and produce, and what are of foreign growth and pro 
duce ; and let the whole cargo of sugar, penneles, rum, spirits, 
molasses and syrup, be inserted at large in the manifest and clear 
ance of every ship or vessel, under office seal, or be liable to the 
same duties and penalties as such goods of foreign growth are lia 
ble to. 

" This would very much baulk the progress of those who carry 
on this illicit trade, and be agreeable and advantageous to all fair 

" And all masters and skippers of boats in all the plantations, 
should give some reasonable security, not to take in any such goods 
of foreign growth, from any vessel not duly entered at the custom 
house, in order to land the same, or put the same on board any 
other ship or vessel, without a warrant or sufferance from a prop 
er officer." 

But you will be fatigued with quotations, and so teyour friend, 



/, July 30, 1818. 


ANOTHER passage which Mr. Otis read from Ashley gave 
occasion, as 1 suppose, to another memorable and very curious 
event, which your esteemed pupil and my beloved friend judge 
Minot has recorded. 

The passage is in the 42d page. " In fine, I would humbly pro 
pose that the duties on foreign sugar and rum imposed by the be 
fore mentioned act of the 6th of king George the second, remain as 
they are, and also the duty on molasses, so far as concerns the im 
portations into the sugar colonies ; but that there be an abatement 


of the duty on molasses imported into the northern colonies, so 
far as to give the British planters a reasonable advantage over 
foreigners, and what may bear some proportion to the charge, 
risque and inconvenience of running it, in the manner they now do 
or after the proposed regulation shall be put in execution : wheth 
er this duty shall be one, two or three pence, sterling money of 
Great Britain per gallon, may be matter of consideration." Gra 
cious and merciful indeed ! The tax might be reduced and made 
supportable, but not abolished. Oh ! No ! by no means. 

Mr. Hutchinson, however, seized this idea of Ashley, of redu 
cing the tax on molasses, from six pence to three pence or two 
pence or a penny, and the use he made of it you shall learn from 
your own pupil and my amiable friend judge Minot. 

Volume 2d. page 142. " About this time there was a pause in 
the opposition to the measures of the crowa and parliament, which 
might have given some appearance of the conciliation of parties, 
but which was more probably owing to the uncertainty of the 
eventual plan of the ministry, and the proper ground for counter 
acting it. The suppressing of the proposed instructions to the 
agent by a committee of the house of representatives, indicated 
that this balance of power there was unsettled. Several circum 
stances shewed a less inflexible spirit, than had existed among the 

"The governor appointed the elder Mr. Otis a justice of the 
court of common pleas, and judge of probate for the county of 
Barnstable. The younger wrote a pamphlet on the rights of the 
British colonies, in which he acknowledged the sovereignty of the 
British parliament, as well as the obligations of the colonies to 
submit to such burdens as it might lay upon them, until it should 
be pleased to relieve them ; and put the question of taxing Amer 
ica upon the footing of the common good." 

I beg your attention to Mr. Minot s history, vol. 2, from page 
140 to the end of the chapter in page 152. Mr. Minot has en 
deavoured to preserve the dignity, the impartiality and the deli 
cacy of history. But it was a period of mingled glory and disgrace. 
But as it is a digression from the subject of Mr. Otis s speech 
against writs of assistance, 1 can pursue it no further at present. 
Mr. Hutchinson seized the idea of reducing the duties. Mr. Otis 
and his associates seemed to despair of any thing more. Hutch 
inson was chosen agent, to the utter astonishment of every Amer 
ican out of doors. This was committing the lamb to the kind guar 
dianship of the wolf. The public opinion of all the friends of their 
country was decided. The public voice was pronounced in ac 
cents so terrible that Mr. Otis fell into a disgrace from which 
nothing but Jemmibullero* saved him. Mr. Hutchinson was polite 
ly excused from his embassy, and the storm blew over. Otis, upon 

* JemmibuUero This was a silly and abusive song, written by a Mr. S. Wa- 
terhouse, a stanch try ; but with so little wit, that it only exposed the writer 
to contempt. 


whose zeal, energy, and exertions the whole great cause seemed 
to depend, returned to his duty, and gave entire satisfaction to the 
end of his political career. 

Thus ended the piddling project of reducing the duty on molas 
ses from six pence a gallon, to five pence, four pence, three pence, 
two pence or a penny. And one half penny a gallon, would have 
abandoned the great principle, as much as one pound. 

This is another digression from the account of Mr. Otis s argu 
ment against writs of assistance and the acts of trade. I have 
heretofore written you on this subject. The truth, the whole 
truth, must and will and ought to come out ; and nothing but the 
truth shall appear, with the consent of your humble servant, 



Quincy, August 6, 1818. 

" Mid the low murmurs of submission, fear and mingled rage, my 
Hampden raised his voice, and to the laws appealed." 


MR. OTIS had reasoned like a philosopher upon the navigation 
acts, and all the tyrannical acts of Charles 2d. ; but when he 
came to the revenue laws, the orator blazed out. Poor king 
William ! If thy spirit, whether in heaven or elsewhere, heard 
James Otis, it must have blushed. A stadtholder of Holland, by 
accident, or by miracle, vested with a little brief authority, in Eng 
land, cordially adopting the system of George Downing, Josiah 
Child, and Charles 3d. for the total destruction of that country to 
which he owed his existence, and all his power and importance 
in the world. And, what was still worse, joining in the conspi 
racy, with such worthy characters to enslave all the colonies in 
Europe, Asia, and America ; and indeed all nations, to the omnip 
otence of the British parliament, and its Royal navy. 

The act of parliament of the seventh and eighth of king Wil 
liam 3d. was produced, chapter 22d. u An act for preventing 
frauds, and regulating abuses in the plantation trade." I wish I 
could transcribe this whole statute, and that which precedes it : 
"An act for the encouragement of seamen," but who would read 
them ? Yet it behoves our young and old yeomen, mechanics, 
and labourers, philosophers, politicians, legislators, and merchants 
to read them. However tedious and painful it may be for you 
to read, or me to transcribe, any part of these dull statutes, we 
must endure the task, or we shall never understand the American 
revolution. Recollect and listen to the preamble of this statutes, 
of the 7th and 8th of William 3d. chapter 22d. 


i; Whereas, notwithstanding diverse acts made for the encourage 
ment of the navigation of this kingdom, and for the better securing 
and regulating the plantation trade, more especially one act of 
parliament made in the 12th year of the reign of the late king- 
Charles d. intituled, an act for the increasing of shipping and 
navigation. Another act made in the 15th year of the reign of 
his said late majesty, intituled an act for the encouragement of 
trade. Another act made in the 22d and 23d years of his said 
late majesty s reign, intituled, an act to prevent the planting of 
tobacco in England, and for regulation of the plantation trade. 
Another act, made in the 25th year of the reign of his said late 
majesty, intituled, an act for the encouragement of the Greenland 
and Eastland fisheries, and for the better securing the plantation 
trade, great abuses are daily committed, to the prejudice of the 
English navigation, and the loss of a great part of the plantation 
trade to this kingdom, by the artifice and cunning of ill disposed 
persons ; for remedy whereof for the future," &c. 

Will you be so good, sir, as to pause a moment on this pream 
ble ? To what will you liken it ? Does it resemble a great, rich, 
powerful West India planter ; Alderman Beckford, for example, 
preparing and calculating and writing instructions for his over 
seers? " You are to have no regard to the health, strength, com 
fort, natural affections, or moral feelings, or intellectual endow 
ments of my negroes. You are only to consider what subsistence 
to allow them, and what labour to exact of them, will subserve 
iny interest. According to the most accurate calculation I can 
make, the proportion of subsistence and labour which will work 
them up, in six years upon an average, is the most profitable to 
the planter." And this allowance, surely, is very humane ; for 
we estimate here, the lives of our coal-heavers upon an average 
at only two years, and our fifty thousand girls of the town at three 
years at most. u And our soldiers and seamen no matter what." 

Is there, Mr. Tudor, in this preamble, or in any statute of Great 
Britain, in the whole book, the smallest consideration of the health, 
the comfort, the happiness, the wealth, the growth, the popula 
tion, the agriculture, the manufactures, the commerce, the fishe 
ries of the American people ? All these things are to be sacri 
ficed to British wealth, British commerce, British domination, and 
the British navy, as the great engine and instrument to accomplish 
all. To be sure, they were apt scholars of their master, Tacitus, 
whose fundamental and universal principle of philosophy, reli 
gion, morality, and policy, was, that all nations and all things were 
to be sacrificed to the grandeur of Rome. Oh! my fellow citi 
zens, that I had the voice of an archangel to warn you against 
these detestable principles. The world was not made for you, 
you were made for the world. Be content with your own rights. 
Never usurp those of others. What wuld be the merit, and the 
fortunes of a nation, that should never do or suffer wrong ? 

The purview of this statute, was in the same spirit with the 
preamble ; pray read it ! Old as you are ; you an 5 not so old as 


I am ; and I assure you I have conquered my natural impatience 
so far as to read it again, after almost sixty years acquaintance 
with it. in all its horrid deformity. 

Every artifice is employed to ensure a rigorous, a severe, a 
cruel execution of this system of tyranny. The religion, the 
morality, of all plantation governors, of all naval commanders, 
of all custom house officers, if they had any, and all men have 
some were put in requisition by the most solemn oaths. Their 
ambition was inlisted by the forfeiture of their officers ; their ava 
rice was secured by the most tempting penalties and forfeitures, 
to be divided among them. Fine picking to be sure ! Even the 
lowest, the basest informers were to be made gentlemen of 
fortune ! 

I must transcribe one section of this detestable statute, and 
leave you to read the rest; I can transcribe no more. 

The sixth section of this benign law, of our glorious deliverer 
king William, is as follows : 

Section 6. " And for the more effectual preventing of frauds, 
and regulating abuses in the plantation trade, in America, be it 
further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all ships coming 
into, or going out of any of the said plantations, and lading, or un 
lading any goods or commodities, whether the same be his majes 
ty s ships of war, or merchant ships, and the masters and com 
manders thereof, and their ladings, shall be subject and liable to 
the same rules, visitations, searches, penalties, and forfeitures, as 
to the entering, landing, and discharging their respective ships 
and ladings, as ships and their ladings, and the commanders and 
masters of ships, are subject and liable unto in this kingdom, by 
virtue of an act of parliament made in the fourteenth year of the 
reign of king Charles 2d. intituled, an act for preventing frauds, 
and regulating abuses in his majesty s customs. And that the 
officers for collecting and managing his majesty s revenue, and in 
specting the plantation trade, and in any of the said plantations, 
shall have the same powers and authorities, for visiting and 
searching of ships, and taking their entries, and for seizing and 
securing, or bringing on shore any of the goods prohibited to be 
imported or exported into or out of any the said plantations, or for 
which any duties are payable, or ought to have been paid, by any 
of the before mentioned acts, as are provided for the officers of 
the customs in England by the said last mentioned act, made in the 
fourteenth year of the reign of king Charles 2d. ; and also to 
enter houses or warehouses, to search for and seize any such 
goods ; and that all the wharfingers, and owners of keys and 
wharves, or any lightermen, bargemen, watermen, porters, or 
other persons assisting in the conveyance, concealment, or rescue 
of any of the said goods, or in the hindering or resistance of any 
of the said officers in the performance of their duty, and the boats, 
barges, lighters, or other vessels employed in the conveyance of 
such goods, shall be subject to the like pains and penalties as are 


provided by the same act made in the fourteenth year of the 
reign of king Charles 2d. in relation to prohibited or unaccustom 
ed goods in this kingdom ; and that " the like assistance" shall be 
given to the said officers in the execution of their office, as by the 
said last mentioned act is provided for the officers in England ; and 
also, that the said officers shall be subject to the same penalties 
and forfeitures, for any corruptions, frauds, connivances, or con 
cealments, in violation of any the before mentioned laws, as any 
officers of the customs in England are liable to, by virtue of the 
last mentioned act ; and also, that in case any officer or officers in 
the plantations shall be seized or molested for any thing done in 
the execution of their office, the said officer shall and may plead 
the general issue, and shall give this or other custom acts in evi 
dence, and the judge to allow thereof, have and enjoy the like priv 
ileges and advantages, as are allowed by law to the officers of his 
majesty s customs in England." 

Could it be pretended, that the superior court of judicature, 
court of assize, and general goal delivery in the province of Mas 
sachusetts bay had all the powers of the court of exchequer in 
England, and consequently could issue warrants like his majesty s 
court of exchequer in England ? No custom house officer dared 
to say this, or to instruct his counsel to say it. It is true, this 
court was invested with all the powers of the courts of king s 
bench, common pleas and exchequer in England. But this was a 
law of the province, made by the provincial legislature, by virtue 
of the powers vested in them by the charter. 

Otis called and called in vain for their warrant from u his ma 
jesty s court of exchequer." They had none, and they could 
have none from England, and they dared not say, that Hutchinson s 
court was " his majesty s court of exchequer." Hutchinson himself 
dared not say it. The principle would have been fatal to parlia 
mentary prentensions. 

This is the second and the last time, I believe, that the word 
" assistance" is employed in any of these statutes. But the words 
u writs of assistance" were no where to be found ; in no statute, 
no law book, no volume of entries ; neither in Rastall, Coke, or 
Fitzherbert, nor even in Instructor Clericalis, or Burns s Justice. 
Where, then, was it to be found ? No where, but in the imagi 
nation or invention of Boston custom house officers, royal govern 
ors, West India planters, or naval commanders. 

It was indeed a farce. The crown, by its agents, accumulated 
construction upon construction, and inference upon inference, as 
the giants heaped Pelion upon Ossa. I hope it is not impious or 
profane to compare Otis to Ovid s Jupiter. But " misso fulmint 
perfregit Olympum, et excussit Subjecto Pelio Ossam." He dashed 
this whole building to pieces, and scattered the pulverized atoms 
to the four winds ; and no judge, lawyer, or crown officer dared 
to say, why do you so ? They were all reduced to total silence. 
In plain English, by cool, patient comparison of phraseology of 
these statutes, their several provisions, the dates of their enact- 


ments, the privileges of our charters, the merits of the colonists, 
&c. he shewed the pretensions to introduce the revenue acts, and 
these arbitrary and mechanical writs of assistance, as an instru 
ment for the execution of them to be so irrational ; by his wit he 
represented the attempt as so ludicrous and ridiculous ; and by his 
dignified reprobation of an impudent attempt to impose on the peo 
ple of America ; he raised such a storm of indignation, that even 
Hutchinson, who had been appointed on purpose to sanction this 
writ, dared not utter a word in its favour ; and Mr. Gridley himself 
seemed to me to exult inwardly at the glory and triumph of his 

This, I am sure, must be enough, at this time, and from this 
text to fatigue you, as it is more than enough to satisfy your most 
obedient, &c. JOHN ADAMS. 


Q?rnic?/, August 11, 1818. 


THE " Defence of the New England charters by Jer. Dum- 
mer," is, both for style and matter, one of our most classical 
American productions. " The feelings, the manners and princi 
ples which produced the revolution," appear in as vast abundance 
in this work, as in any, that I have read. This beautiful compo 
sition ought to be reprinted and read by every American who has 
learned to read. In pages 30 and 31, this statute of 7th and 8th of 
king William, ch. 22. sec. 9th, is quoted, u All laws, by-laws, usa 
ges or customs, at this time, or which hereafter shall be in prac 
tice, or endeavoured or pretended to be in force or practice in 
any of the plantations, which are in any wise repugnant to this 
present act, or any other law hereafter to be made in this king 
dom, so far as such law shall relate to and mention the plantations, 
are illegal, null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever." 
This passage Mr. Otis quoted, with a very handsome eulogium of 
the author and his book. He quoted it for the sake of the rule es 
tablished in it by parliament itself for the construction of its own 
statutes. And he contended that by this rule there could be no 
pretence for extending writs of assistance to this country. He al 
so alluded to many other passages in this work, very applicable to 
his purpose, which any man who reads it must perceive, but which 
I have not time to transcribe. 

If you, or your inquisitive and ingenious son, or either of my 
sons or grandsons or great grand sons, should ever think of these 
things, it may not be improper to transcribe from a marginal note 
at the end of this statute, an enumeration of the "Further pro 
visions concerning plnntations." II. W. 3, c. 12 ; 3, 4 of An. c. 5 
and 10; 6 of An. c. 30 ; 8 of An. c. 13; 9th of An. c. 17; 10 An, 


c, 22 and 26; 4Geo. 1, c. 11; 5 Geo. 1, c. 12 and 15; 13 Geo L 
c* 5 ; 3 Geo. 2, c. 12 and 28 ; 4 Geo. 2, c. 15 ; 5 Geo. 2, c 7 and 
9 ; 6 Geo. 2, c. 16 ; 8 Geo. 2, c. 13 ; 8 Geo. 2, c. 19 ; 12 Geo 2 
c. 30 ; 15 Geo. 2, c. 31 and 33 ; 24 Geo. 2, c. 51 and 53 ; 29 Geo. 
2, c. 5 and 35 ; and 30 Geo. 2, 9. 

The vigilance of the crown officers and their learned counsel 
on one side, and that of merchants, patriots and their counsel on 
the other, produced every thing in any of these statutes which 
could favor their respective arguments. It would not only be ri 
diculous in me, but culpable to pretend to recollect all that were 
produced. Such as I distinctly remember 1 will endeavour to in 
troduce to your remembrance and reflections. 

Molasses or melasses or molosses, for by all these names, they 
are designated in the statutes. By the statute of the second year 
of our glorious deliverers, king William and queen Mary, session 
second, chapter four, section 35. " For every hundred weight of 
molosses, containing 112 pounds, imported from any other place 
than the English plantations in America, eight shillings over and 
above what the same is charged within the book Qf rates." 

The next statute that I recollect, at present, to have been intro 
duced upon that occasion, was the sixth of George the second, ch. 
thirteen, " An act for the better securing and encouraging the 
trade of his majesty s sugar colonies in America." 

Cost what it will, I must transcribe the first section of this statute, 
with all its parliamentary verbiage* 1 hope some of my fellow 
citizens of the present or some future age will ponder it. 

" Whereas, the welfare and prosperity of your majesty s sugar 
colonies in America, are of the greatest consequence and impor 
tance, to the trade, navigation and strength of this kingdom ; and 
whereas, the planters of the said sugar colonies have of late years, 
fallen under such great discouragements, that they are unable to 
improve or carry on the sugar trade, upon an equal footing with 
the foreign sugar colonies, without some advantage and relief be 
given to them from G.Britain : For remedy whereof, and for the 
good and welfare of your majesty s subjects, we your majesty s 
most dutiful and loyal subjects, the commons of Great Britain, as j 
sembled in parliament, have given and granted unto your majesty, 
the several and respective rates and duties hereinafter mentioned* 
and in such manner and form as is hereinafter expressed ; and do 
most humbly beseech your majesty, that it may be enacted, and be 
it enacted by the king s most excellent majesty, by and with the 
consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons in this 
present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, 
that from and after the twenty fifth day of December, one thou 
sand seven hundred and thirty-three, there shall be raised, levied, 
collected, and paid, unto and for the use of his majesty, his heirs- 
and successors, upon all rum or spirits of the produce or manufac 
ture of any of the colonies or plantations in America, not in the 
possession or under the dominion of his majesty, his heirS aud suc- 


cessors, which at any time or times, within or during the continu 
ance of this act, shall be imported or brought into any of the colo 
nies or plantations in America, which now are, or hereafter may 
be, in the possession or under the dominion of his majesty, his 
heirs or successors, the sum of nine pence, money of Great Britain, 
to be paid according to the proportion and value of five shillings 
and six pence the ounce in silver, for every gallon thereof, and 
after that rate for any greater or lesser quantity ; and upon all 
molassts or syrups of such foreign produce or manufacture, as 
aforesaid, which shall be imported or brought into any of the said 
colonies of or belonging to his majesty, the sum of six pence of 
like money for every gallon thereof, and after that rate for any 
greater or lesser quantity ; and upon all sugars and pancles of 
such foreign growth, produce or manufacture as aforesaid, which 
shall be imported into any of the said colonies or plantations of or 
belonging to his majesty, a duty after the rate of five shillings of 
like money for every hundred weight avoirdupois of the said su 
gar and pancles, and after that rate for a greater or lesser quan 

Now, sir, will you be pleased to read judge Minot s history, vol. 
2d, from page 137 to 140, ending with these words : " But the 
strongest apprehensions arose from the publication of the orders 
for the strict execution of the molasses act, which is said to have 
caused a greater alarm in the country, than the taking of fort Wil 
liam Henry did in the year 1757." This I fully believe, and cer 
tainly know to be true ; for I was an eye and an ear witness to 
both of these alarms. Wits may laugh at our fondness for molas 
ses, and we ought all to join in the laugh with as much good hu 
mor as general Lincoln did. General Washington, however al 
ways asserted and proved, that Virginians loved molasses as well 
as New Englandmen did. I know not why we should blush to 
confess that molasses was an essential ingredient in American in 
dependence. Many great events have proceeded from much 
smaller causes. 

Mr. Otis demonstrated how these articles of molasses and sugar, 
especially the former, entered into all and every branch of our 
commerce, fisheries, even manufactures and agriculture. He as 
serted this act to be a revenue law, a taxation law, made by a for 
eign legislature without our consent, and by a legislature who had 
no feeling for us, and whose interest prompted them to tax us to 
the quick. Pray, Mr. Tudor, calculate the amount of these duties 
upon molasses and sugar. What an enormous revenue for that 
age ! Mr. Otis made a calculation and shewed it to be more than 
sufficient to support all the crown officers. 




Q*mict/, August 16, 1818. 


WE cannot yet dismiss this precious statute of the 6th of 
George 2d. chapter 13. 

The second section I must abridge, for I cannot transcribe much 
more. It enacts, that all the duties imposed by the first section, 
shall be paid down in ready money by the importer, before 

The third section must be transcribed by me or some other 
person, because it is the most arbitrary among statutes, that were 
all arbitrary, the most unconstitutional among laws, which were 
all unconstitutional. 

Section 3d. " And be it further enacted, that in case any of 
the said commodities shall be landed, or put on shore in any of 
his majesty s said colonies or plantations in America, out of any 
ship or vessel, before due entry be made thereof, at the port or 
place where the same shall be imported, and before the duties by 
this act charged or chargeable thereupon, shall be duly paid, or 
without a warrant for the landing and delivering the same, first 
signed by the collector, or impost officer, or other proper officer 
or officers of the custom or excise, belonging to such port or place 
respectively, all such goods as shall be so landed or put on shore, 
or the value of the same, shall be forfeited ; and all and every 
such goods as shall be so landed or put on shore, contrary to the 
true intent and meaning of this act, shall, and may be seized by 
the governor or commander in chief, for the time being, of the 
colonies or plantations, where the same shall be so landed or put 
on shore, or any person or persons, by them authorized in that 
behalf, or by warrant of any Justice of the peace or other magis 
trate, (which warrant such justice or magistrate is hereby empow 
ered and required to give upon request) or by any custom house 
officer, impost, or excise officer, or any person or persons, him 
or them accompanying, aiding and assisting, and all and every 
such offence and forfeitures shall, and may be prosecuted for and 
recovered in any court oj admiralty in his majesty s colonies or plan 
tations in America, (which court of admiralty is hereby authorized, 
empowered and required to proceed to hear ,and fatally determine the 
sained or in any court of record in the said colonies or plantations, 
where such offence is committed, at the election of the informer or 
prosecutor, according to the course and method used and practised 
there in prosecutions for offences against penal laws relating to cus 
toms or excise ; and such penalties and forfeitures so recovered 
there, shall be divided as follows, viz : one third part for the use 
of his majesty, his heirs and successors, to be applied for the sup 
port of the government of the colony or plantation, where the 
same shall be recovered, one third part to the governor or com- 


mander in chief, of the said colony or plantation, and the other 
third part to the informer or prosecutor, who shall sue for the 

" Section five contains the penalties on persons assisting in such 
unlawful importation. 

Section 6th. " Fifty pound penalty on molesting an officer OH 
his duty. Officer, if sued, may plead the general issue. Fifty 
pound penalty, on officer conniving at such fraudulent importation. 

Section 7th. " One hundred pound penalty, on master of ship, 
&c. permitting such importation. 

Section 8th. " The onus probandi in suits to lie on the owners, 

Section 12. u Charge of prosecution to be borne out of the 
king s part of seizures, forfeitures and penalties." 

George 2d. was represented and believed in America to be an 
honest, well meaning man ; and although he consented to this 
statute and others which he thought sanctioned by his predeces 
sors, especially king William, yet it was reported and understood, 
that he had uniformly resisted the importunities of ministers, gov 
ernors, planters, and projectors, to induce him to extend the sys 
tem of taxation and revenue in America, by saying, that u he did 
not understand the colonies ; he wished their prosperity. They 
appeared to be happy at present ; and he would not consent to any 
innovations ; the consequences of which he could not foresee." 

Solomon, in all his glory, could not have said a wiser thing. If 
George 3d. had adopted this sentiment, what would now be the 
state of the world ? Who can tell ? or who can conjecture ? 

The question now was concerning the designs of a new reign, 
and of a young prince. This young king had now adopted the 
whole system of his predecessors, Stuarts, Oranges, and Hano 
verians, and determined to crfrry it into execution, right or wrong ; 
and that, by the most tyrannical instruments, that ever were in 
vented ; writs of assistance. What hope remained for an Amer 
ican, who knew, or imagined he knew, the character of the Eng 
lish nation, and the character of the American people ? To bor 
row a French vyord, so many reminiscences rush upon me, that I 
know not vyhich to select, and must return for the present to Mr. 
Otis. By what means this young inexperienced king was first 
tempted by his ministers, to enter with so much spirit into this sys 
tem, may be hereafter explained. 

Mr. Otis analyzed this statute, 6. Qeorge 3d. c. 13, with great 
accuracy. t[is calculations may be made by any modern mathe 
matician who will take the pains, How mucl} molasses, for exam 
ple, was then subject to this tax ; suppose a million gallons, which 
is far less than the truth. Six pence a gallon was full one half of 
the value of the article. It was sold at market for one shilling ; 
and I have known a cargo purchased at a pistareen. The duties 
on a million gallons, would then be twenty five thousand pounds 
sterling a year ; a fund amply sufficient, with the duties on sugars, 
&c. and more than sufficient, at that time, to pay all the salaries of 


all the governors upon the continent, and all judges of admiralty 

Mr. King, formerly of Massachusetts, now of New-York, in a 
late, luminous and masterly speech, in senate, page 18, informs 
us, from sure sources, that " we import annually upwards of six 
million gallons of West India rum." The Lord have merc> on us ! 
" More than half of which comes from the English colonies. We 
also import every year, nearly seven millions of gallons of molas 
ses ; and as every gallon of molasses yields, by distillation, a gal 
lon of rum, the rum imported, added to that distilled from molas 
ses, is probably equal to twelve millions of gallons, which enor 
mous quantity is chiefly consumed, besides whiskey, by citizens of 
the United States." Again, I devoutly pray, the Lord have mercy 
on us ! 

But calculate the revenue, at this day, from this single act of 
George 2d. It would be sufficient to bribe any nation, less know 
ing and less virtuous, than the people of America, to the voluntary 
surrender of all their liberties. 

Mr. Otis asserted this to be a revenue hut ; a taxation law ; an 
unconstitutional law; a law subversive of every end of society 
and government ; it was null and void. It was a violation of all 
the rights of nature, of the English constitution, and of all the 
charters and compacts with the colonies ; and if carried into exe 
cution by writs of assistance, and courts of admiralty, would de 
stroy all security of life, liberty, and property. Subjecting ail 
these laws to the jurisdiction of judges of admiralty, poor depen 
dent creatures ; to the forms and course of the civil law, without 
juries, or any of the open, noble examination of witnesses, or pub 
licity of proceedings, of the common law, was capping the climax, 
it was clenching the nail of American slavery. 

Mr. Otis roundly asserted, that this statute, and the preceding 
statutes, never could be executed. The whole power of Great 
Britain would be ineffectual ; and by a bold figure, which will now 
be thought exaggeration, he declared, that if the king of Great 
Britain in person were encamped on Boston common, at the head 
of twenty thousand men, with all his navy on our coast, he would 
not be able to execute these laws. They would be resisted or 
eluded. JOHN ADAMS. 


Qwincy, August 21, 1818. 


MR. OTIS quoted another author, " The political and com- 
mercial works of Charles D Avenant, L.L. D. vol. 2. discourse 3. 
On the plantation trade." I cannot transcribe seventy six pages. 


but wish that Americans of all classes would read them. They 
are in the same strain with Downing, Child, Gee, Ashley, Charles 
2, James 2, William and Mary, William 3, Ann, George 2, and 
George 3 ; all conspiring to make the people of North America 
hewers of wood and drawers of water, to plantation governors, 
custom house officers, judges of admiralty, common informers, 
West India planters, nava! commanders, in the first place ; and, 
after all these worthy people should be amply supported, nour 
ished, encouraged and pampered, if any thing more could be 
squeezed from the hard earnings of the farmers, the merchants, 
the tradesmen and labourers in America, it was to be drawn into 
the exchequer in England, to aggrandize the British navy. 

Mr. Otis proceeded to another species of statutes, relative to 
our internal policy, even our domestic manufactures and fireside 
comforts ; I might say, our homespun blankets and woollen sheets, 
so necessary to cover some of us, if not all of us, in our slumbers 
in the long nights of our frozen winters. I shall refer to these 
statutes as they occur, without any regard to order, arid shall not 
pretend to transcribe any of them. 

" Furs of the plantations to be brought to Great Britain. 8 Geo. 
I.e. 15. ss. 24." 

" Hats, not to be exported from one plantation to another. 5 
Geo. 2. c. 22." 

" Hatters in America, not to have more than two apprentices. 
5 Geo. 2. c. 22. ss. 7." 

" Slitting mills, steel furnaces, &c. not to be erected in the plan 
tations. 23 Geo. 2. c. 29. ss. 9." 

" No wool, or woollen manufacture of the plantations shall be 
exported. 10 & 11 Wm. 3. c. 10. ss. 19." 

" Exporting wool, contrary to the regulations, forfeiture of the 
ship,&c. 12 Geo. 2. c. 21. ss. 11." 

I cannot search for any more of these mincing laws. Mr. Otis 
alternately laughed and raged against them all. He said one mem 
ber of parliament had said, that a hobnail should not be manufac 
tured in America ; and another had moved that Americans should 
be compelled by act of parliament, to send their horses to Eng 
land to be shod. He believed, however, that this last was a man 
of sense, and meant, by this admirable irony, to cast a ridicule on 
the whole selfish, partial, arbitrary and contracted system of par 
liamentary regulations in America. 

Another statute there is, and was quoted by Mr. Otis, by which 
wool was prohibited to be water-borne in America ; in consequence 
of which, a fleece of wool could not be conveyed in a canoe across 
a river or brook, without seizure and forfeiture. 

But I am wearied to death by digging in this mud ; with search 
ing among this trash, chaff, rubbish of acts of parliament ; of that 
parliament which declared it had a right to legislate for us, as 
sovereign, absolute and supreme, in all cases whatsoever. But I 
deny that they ever had any right to legislate for us, in any case 


whatsoever. And on this point we are and were at issue, hefore 
God and the world. These righteous judges have decided the 
question ; and it is melancholy that any Americans should still 
doubt the equity and wisdom of the decision. 

Such were the bowels of compassion, such the tender mercies 
of our pious, virtuous, our moral and religious mother country, to 
wards her most dutiful and affectionate children ! Such they are 
still ; and such they will be, till the United States shall compel 
that country to respect this. To this end, poor and destitute as I 
am, I would cheerfully contribute double my proportion of the 
expense of building and equipping thirty ships of the line, before 
the year 1820. 

Mr. Otis asserted all these acts to be null and void by the law of 
nature, by the English constitution, and by the American charters ; 
because America was not represented in parliament. He entered 
into the history of the charters. James the first and Charles the 
first, could not be supposed to have ever intended that parliament, 
more hated by them both than the pope or the French king, 
should share with them in the government of colonies and corpo 
rations which they had instituted by their royal prerogatives 
" Tom, Dick, and Harry were not to censure them and their coun 
cil." Pym, Hambden, sir Harry Vane and Oliver Cromwell did 
not surely wish to subject a country, which they sought as an asy 
lum, to the arbitrary jurisdiction of a country from which they 
wished to fly. Charles the second had learned by dismal, doleful 
experience, that parliaments were not to be wholly despised. He, 
therefore, endeavoured to associate parliament with himself, in 
his navigation act, and many others of his despotic projects, even 
in that of destroying, by his unlimited licentiousness and debauch 
ery, the moral character of the nation. Charles the second court 
ed parliament as a mistress ; his successors embraced her as a 
wife, at least for the purpose of enslaving America. 

Mr. Otis roundly asserted this whole system of parliamentary 
regulations, and every act of parliament before quoted, to be ille 
gal, unconstitutional, tyrannical, null and void. Nevertheless, with 
all my admiration of Mr. Otis, and enthusiasm for his character, I 
must acknowledge he was not always consistent in drawing or ad 
mitting the necessary consequences from his principles, one of 
which comprehended them all, to wit, that Parliament had no au 
thority over America in any case whatsoever. 

But at present we must confine ourselves to his principles and 
authorities in opposition to the acts of trade and writs of assistance. 
These principles I perfectly remember. The authorities In de 
tail I could not be supposed to retain ; though with recollecting 
the names, Vattel, Coke and Holt, I might have found them again 
by a diligent search. But Mr. Otis himself has saved that trouble, 
by a publication of his own, which must be the subject of another 
letter from your humble servant, 




" Quincy, August 31, 


I HAVE before mentioned the instructions of the city of Bos* 
ton to their representatives, in May 1764, printed in an appendix 
to Mr. Otis s " Rights of the colonies." In obedience to those in 
structions, or at least in consequence of them Mr. Otis prepared a 
memorial to the house of representatives, which was by them vo 
ted to be transmitted to Jasper Mauduit, Esq. agent for the prov 
ince, only as a statement drawn up by one of the house, to be 
improved as he may judge proper." 

In this memorial Mr. Otis has preserved and immortalized his 
own arguments and authorities to prove the acts of trade null an4 
void, which he had advanced and produced three yearg before in 
his oration against those acts and their formidable instrument, 
writs of assistance. This is a fortunate circumstance for me, be 
cause it relieves me from the trouble of recollection, and the more 
painful task of research in old books. 

u The public transactions 1 , says Mr. Otis, u from William the 
tirst, to the revolution, may be considered as one continued strug 
gle, between the prince and the people, all tending to that happy 
eitablishment, which Great Britain has since enjoyed. 

" The absolute rights of Englishmen, as frequently declared in 
parliament, from Magna Charta, to this time, are the rights of per 
sonal security, personal liberty and of private property. 

" The allegiance of British subjects being natural, perpetual 
and inseparable from their persons, let them be in what country 
they may ; their rights are also natural, inherent and perpetual. 

i; By the laws of nature and of nations ; by the voice of univer 
sal reason, and of God, when a nation takes possession of a desart, 
uncultivated, uninhabited country, or purchases of savages, as was 
the case with far the greatest part of the British settlements ; the 
colonists .transplanting themselves and their posterity, though sep 
arated from the principal establishment, or mother country, nat 
urally become part of the state with its ancient possessions, and 
entitled to all the essential rights of the mother country. This is 
not only confirmed by the practice of the ancients, but by the mod 
erns ever since the discovery of America. Frenchmen, Spaniards, 
and Portuguese are no greater slaves abroad than at home ; and 
hitherto Britons have been as free on one side of the Atlantic as on 
the other : and it is humbly hoped that his majesty and the par 
liament will in their wisdom be graciously pleased to continue the 
colonies in this happy state." 

* It is presumed, that upon these principles, the colonists have 
been by their several charters declared natural subjects, and en 
trusted with the power of making their own local laws, not re 
pugnant to the laws of England, and with the power of taxing 


" This legislative power is subject to the same charter to the 
king s negative as in Ireland. This effectually secures the depen 
dence of the colonies on Great Britain. By the 13th of George 
2. ch. 9. even foreigners having lived seven years in any of the 
colonies are deemed natives on taking the oaths of allegiance, &c. 
and are declared by the said act to be his majesty s natural born 
subjects of the kingdoms of Great Britain, to all intents, construc 
tions and purposes, as if any of them had been born within the 
kingdom. The reasons given for this naturalization in the pre 
amble of the act are, that the increase of the people is the means 
of advancing the wealth of any nation or country. And many for 
eigners and strangers, from the lenity of our government, the pu 
rity of our religion, the benefit of our laws, the advantages of our 
trade, and the security of our property, might be induced to come 
and settle in some of his majesty s colonies in America, if they were 
partakers of the advantages and privileges, which the native born 
subjects there enjoy. 

" The several acts of parliament and charters, declaratory of 
the rights and liberties of the colonies, are but in affirmance of 
the common law and law of nature in this point. There are, says 
my lord Coke, regularly three incidents to subjects born ; 1. Pa 
rents under the actual obedience of the king ; 2, That the place 
of his birth be within the king s dominions ; 3. The time of his 
birth to be chiefly considered. 

u For he cannot be a subject born of one kingdom, that was born 
under the allegiance of a king of another kingdom. See Calvin s 
case and the several acts and decisions on naturalization, from Ed 
ward the third to this day. The common law is received and 
practised upon here and in the rest of the colonies ; and all an 
cient and modern acts of parliament, that can be considered as part 
of or in amendment of the common law, together with such acts 
of parliament, as expressly name the plantations, so that the pow 
er of the British parliament is held sacred and as uncontroulable 
in the colonies, as in England. The question is not upon the gen 
eral power or right of the parliament ; but whether it is not cir 
cumscribed within some equitable and reasonable bounds ? It is 
hoped it will not be considered as a new doctrine, that even the 
authority of the parliament of Great Britain is circumscribed by 
certain bounds, which, if exceeded, their acts become those of 
mere power without right, and consequently void. The judges 
of England have declared in favour of these sentiments, when they 
expressly declare, that acts of parliament against natural equity 
are void. That acts against the fundamental principles of the 
British constitution are void. A very important question here 
presents itself. It essentially belongs to the society, both in rela 
tion to the manner, in which it desires to be governed, and to the 
conduct of the citizens. This is called the legislative power. 
The nation may entrust the exercise of it to the prince or to an 
assembly ; or to an assembly and the prince jointly ; who have 


then a right of making new and abrogating old laws. It is here 
demanded whether, if their power extends so far, as to the funda 
mental laws, they may change the constitution of the state ? The 
principles we have laid down lead us to decide this point with cer 
tainty, that the authority of these legislators does not extend so far, 
and that they ought to consider the fundamental laws as sacred, if 
the nation has not in very express terms given them the power to 
change them. For the constitution of the state ought to be fixed ; 
and since that was first established by the nation, which afterwards 
trusted certain persons with the legislative power, the fundamen 
tal laws are excepted from their commission. It appears that the 
society had only resolved to make provision for the state s being 
always furnished with laws, suited to particular conjunctures, and 
gave the legislature for that purpose, the power of abrogating the 
ancient civil and political laws, that were not fundamental, and of 
making new ones. But nothing leads us to think that it was wil 
ling to submit the constitution itself to their pleasure. 

" When a nation takes possession of a distant country and settles a 
colony there, that country though separated from the principle 
establishment or mother country, naturally becomes a part of the 
state equally with its ancient possessions. Whenever the political 
laws or treaties make no distinction between them every thing 
said of the territory of a nation ought also to extend to its colo 
nies. An act of parliament made against natural equity, as to make 
a man judge in his own cause, would be void, Hob. 87. Trin. 12. 
Jac. Day v. Savage, S. C. & P. cited Arg. 10. Mod. 115. Hill 11. 
Ann C. B. in case of Thornby & Fleetwood, " but says that this 
must be a clear case, and judges will strain hard rather than inter 
pret an act void, & initio." This is granted, but still their author 
ity is not boundless, if subject to the controul of the judges in any 
case. Holt, chief justice, thought what lord Coke says in Dr. 
Bonham s case a very reasonable and true saying, that if an act of 
parliament should ordain the same person both party and judge, 
in his own case, it would be a void act of parliament, and an act of 
parliament can do no wrong, though it may do several things that 
look pretty odd ; for it may discharge one from the allegiance he 
lives under, and restore to the state of nature, but it cannot make 
one that lives under a government both party and judge, per Holt 
C. J. 12 Mod. 687. 688. Hill 13. W. 3. B. R. in the case of the 
city of London v. Wood. It appears in our books, that in several 
cases, the common law should controul acts of parliament, and 
sometimes adjudge them to be utterly void ; for when an act of 
parliament is against common right and reason, or repugnant and 
impossible to be performed, the common law shall controul it, and 
adjudge it to be void, and therefore, 8 E. 3., 30. Thomas Tregor s 
case upon the statute of W. 2. cap. 38. and Art. Chart. 9. Herle 
said that sometimes statutes are made contrary to law and right, 
which the maker of them perceiving will not put them into execu 
tion. This doctrine is agreeable to the law of nature and nations. 


and to the divine dictates of natural and revealed religion. It is 
contrary to reason that the supreme power should have a right to 
alter the constitution. This would imply that those who are in 
trusted with sovereignty by the people, have a right to do as they 
please. In other words, that those, who are invested with power 
to protect the people and support their rights and liberties, have a 
right to make slaves of them. This is not very remote from a 
flat contradiction. Should the parliament of Great Britain follow 
the example of some other foreign states, Sweden, Denmark, 
France, &c. and vote the king absolute and despotic; would such 
an act of parliament make him so ? Would any minister in his sen 
ses advise a prince to accept of such an offer of power ? It would 
be unsafe to accept of such a donation because the parliament or 
donors would grant more than it was in their power lawfully to 
give, the law of nature never invested them with a power of sur 
rendering their own liberty, and the people certainly never intrus 
ted any body of men with a power to surrender theirs in exchange 
for slavery. But if the whole state be conquered if the nation be 
subdued, in what manner can a victor treat it without transgressing 
the bounds of justice ? What are his rights over the. conquesj; ? 
Some have dared to advance this monstrous principle, that the con 
queror is absolute master over this conquest, that he may dispose 
of it as his property, treat it as he pleases, according to the com 
mon expression of treating a state as a conquered country, and 
hence they derive one of the sources of despotic government. 
But enough of those that reduce men to the state of transferable 
goods, or use them like beasts of burden, who deliver them up as 
the property or patrimony of another man. Let us argue upon 
principles countenanced by reason, and becoming humanity The 
whole right of the conqueror proceeds from the just defence of 
himself, which contains the support and prosecution of his rights. 
Thus when he has totally subdued a nation with whom he had 
been at war, he may without dispute cause justice to be done him, 
with regard to what gave rise to the war, and require payment for 
the expense and damage he has sustained ; he may, according to 
the exigency of the place, impose penalties on it as an example ; 
he may, should prudence so dictate, disable it from undertaking 
any pernicious design for the future. But in securing all these 
views the mildest means are to be preferred. We are always to 
remember, that the law of nature permits no injury to be done to 
an enemy, unless in taking measures necessary for a just defence 
and a reasonable security. Some princes have only imposed a 
tribute on it ; others have been satisfied in stripping it of some of 
its privileges, dismembering it of a province, or keeping it in awe 
by fortresses ; others, as their quarrel was only with the sovereign 
in person, have left a nation in the full enjoyment of its rights, on 
ly setting a sovereign over it. But if the conqueror thinks prop- 
er to retain the sovereignty of the vanquished state, and has such 
a right ; the manner in which he is to treat the state still flows 


from the same principles. If the sovereign be only the just object 
of his complaint, reason declares, that by his conquest he acquires 
only such rights as actually belonged to the dethroned sovereign ; 
and on the submission of his people he is to govern it according to 
the laws of the state. If the people do not voluntarily submit, the 
state of war subsists. When a sovereign, as pretending to have 
the absolute disposal of a people whom he has conquered, is for 
enslaving them, he causes the state of war to subsist between this 
people and him. M. De Vattel, B. 3, c. 10. sec. 201. 

" It is now near three hundred years since the continent of North 
America was first discovered, and that by British subjects ; the 
Cabots discovered the continent before the Spaniards. Ten gen 
erations have passed away, through infinite toils and bloody con 
flicts, in settling this country. None of those ever dreamed, but 
that they were entitled at least to equal privileges with those of 
the same rank born within the realm. 

" British America has been hitherto distinguished from the slavish 
colonies round about it, as the fortunate Britons have been from 
most of their neighbours on the continent of Europe. It is for 
the interest of Great-Britain that her Colonies be ever thus dis 
tinguished. Every man must wilfully blind himself that does 
not see the immense value of our acquisitions in the late war ; and 
that though we did not retain all at the conclusion of peace, that 
\ve obtained by the sword, yet our gracious sovereign, at the same 
time that he has given a divine lesson of equitable moderation to 
the princes of the earth, has retained sufficient to make the British 
arms the dread of the universe, and his name dear to all posteriy. 

" To the freedom of the British constitution, and to their increase 
of commerce, it is owing, that our colonies have flourished with 
out diminishing the inhabitants of our mother country, quite con 
trary to the effects of plantations, made by most other nations 
which have suffered at home, in order to aggrandize themselves 
abroad. This is remarkably the case of Spain. The subjects of 
a free and happy constitution of government, have a thousand ad 
vantages to colonize above those who live under despotic princes. 

" We see how the British colonies on the continent have out 
grown those of the French ; notwithstanding, they have ever 
engaged the savages to keep us back. Their advantages over us 
in the West Indies, are, 1st. A capital neglect in former reigns, in 
suffering them to have a firm possession of so many valuable isl 
ands, that we had a better title to than they. 2. The French, una 
ble to push their settlements effectually on the continent, have bent 
their views to islands, and poured vast numbers into them. 3. The 
climate and business of these islands is by nature much better 
adapted to Frenchmen and to Negroes, than to Britons. 4. The 
labour of slaves, black or white, will be ever cheaper than that 
of freemen, because that of individuals among the former, will 
never be worth so much as with the latter; but this difference is 
more than supplied, by numbers under the advantages above men- 


}ioned. The French will ever be able to sell their West India 
produce cheaper, than our own islanders ; and yet, while our own 
islanders can have such a price for theirs, as to grow much richer 
than the French, or any other of the king s subjects in America, 
as is the case ; and what the northern colonies take from the 
French, and other foreign islands, centers finally in return to 
Great Britain for her manufactures, to an immense value, and with 
a vast profit to her. It is contrary to the first principles of policy 
to cloy such a trade with duties; much more to prohibit it, to the 
risque, if not certain destruction of the fishery. 

" It is allowed by the most accurate British writers on commerce, 
Mr. Postlethwait in particular, who seems to favour the cause of 
the sugar islands, that one half of the immense commerce of Great 
Britain is with her colonies. It is very certain, that without the 
fishery, seven eighths of this commerce would cease. The fish 
ery is the centre of motion, upon which the wheel of all the Brit 
ish commerce in America turns. Without the American trade, 
would Britain, as a commercial state, make any great figure at 
this day in Europe ? 

u Her trade in woollen and other manufactures is said to be less 
ening, in all parts of the world, but America, where it is increas 
ing, and capable of infinite increase, from a concurrence of every 
circumstance in its favour. Here is an extensive territory of dif 
ferent climates, which, in time, will consume, and be able to pav 
for as much manufactures as Great Britain and Ireland can make, 
if true maxims are pursued. The French, for reasons already 
mentioned, can underwork., and consequently undersell the English 
manufactures of Great Britain, in every market in Europe. But 
they can send none of their manufactures here ; and it is the wish 
of every honest British American, that they never may ; it is best 
they never should. We can do better without the manufactures 
of Europe, save those of Great Britain, than with them. But 
without the West India produce we cannot ; without it our fish 
ery must infallibly be ruined. When that is gone, our own isl 
ands will very poorly subsist. No British manufactures can be 
paid for by the colonists. What will follow ? One of these two 
things, both of which it is the interest of Great Britain to prevent 
1st. The northern colonists must be content to go naked, and turn 
savages.. Or 2d. become manufacturers of linnens and woollens, 
to clothe themselves ; which, if they cannot carry to the perfec 
tion of Europe, will be very destructive to the interests of Great 
Britain. The computation has been made, and that within bounds ; 
and it can be demonstrated, that if North America is only driven 
to the fatal necessity of manufacturing a suit of the most ordinary 
linnen or woollen, for each inhabitant, annually, which may be 
soon done, when necessity, the mother of invention shall operate, 
Great Britain and Ireland will lose two millions per annum, besides 
a diminution of the revenue to nearly the same amount. This 
may appear paradoxical ; but a few years experience of the cxe- 


cution of the sugar act, will sufficiently convince the parliament, 
not only of the inutility, but destructive tendency of it, while cal 
culations may be little attended to. That the trade with the colo 
nies has been of a surprising advantage to Great Britain, notwith 
standing the want of a good regulation, is past all doubt. Great 
Britain is well known to have increased prodigiously, both in num 
bers and in wealth, since she began to colonize. To the growth 
of the plantations, Britain is, in a great measure, indebted for her 
present riches and strength. As the wild wastes of America have 
been turned into pleasant habitations and flourishing trading towns ; 
so many of the little villages and obscure boroughs in Great Brit 
ain, have put on anew face, and all suddenly started up and become 
fair markets and manufacturing towns, and opulent cities. Lon 
don itself, which bids fair to be the metropolis of the world, 
is five times more populous than it was in the days of queen Eliz 
abeth. Such are the fruits of the spirit of commerce and liberty. 
Hence it is manifested how much we all owe to that beautiful form 
of civil government, under which we have the happiness to live. 

" It is evidently the interest, and ought to be the care of all those 
entrusted with the administration of government, to see that every 
part of the British empire enjoys to the full, the rights they are 
entitled to by the laws, and the advantages which result from their 
being maintained with impartiality and vigour. This we have 
seen reduced to practice in the present and preceding reigns; and 
have the highest reason, from the paternal care and goodness that 
his majesty, and the British parliament, have hitherto been gra 
ciously pleased to discover to all his majesty s dutiful and loyal 
subjects, and to the colonists in particular, to rest satisfied, that 
our privileges will remain sacred and inviolate. The connection 
between Great Britain and her colonies is so natural and strong, 
as to make their mutual happiness depend upon their mutual sup 
port. Nothing can tend more to the destruction of both, and to 
forward the measures of their enemies, than sowing the seeds of 
jealousy, animosity, and dissention, between the mother country 
and the colonies. 

" A conviction of the truth and importance of these principles, 
induced Great Britain, during the late war, to carry on so many 
glorious enterprises for the defence of the colonies ; and those on 
their part to exert themselves beyond their ability to pay, as is 
evident, from the parliamentary reimbursements. 

" If the spirit of commerce was attended to, perhaps duties would 
be every where decreased, if not annihilated, and prohibitions 
multiplied. Every branch of trade, that hurts a community, 
should be prohibited for the same reason, that a private gentle 
man would break off commerce with a sharper, or an extensive 
usurer. It is to no purpose to higgle with such people ; you are 
sure to loose by them. It is exactly so with a nation, if the bal 
ance is against them ; -and they can possibly subsist without the 
commodities as they generally can in such cases, a prohibition i 


the only remedy ; for a duty in such a case, is like a composition 
with a thief, that for five shillings in the pound returned, he shall 
rob you at pleasure ; when, if the thing is examined to the bottom, 
you are at five shillings expense in travelling to get back your 
five shillings; and he is at the same expense in coming to pay it. 
So he robs you of but ten shillings in the pound, that you thus 
wisely compound for. To apply this to trade, 1 believe every du 
ty, that was ever imposed on commerce, or in the nature of things 
can be, will be found to be divided between the state imposing the 
duty, and the country exported from. This, if between the sev 
eral parts of the same kingdom or dominions of the same prince, 
can only tend to embarrass trade, and raise the price of labour 
above other states, which is of very pernicious consequence to 
the husbandman, manufacturer, mariner and merchant, the four 
tribes that support the whole hive. If your duty is upon a com 
modity of a foreign state, it is either upon the whole useful and 
gainful ; and therefore necessary for the husbandman, manufac 
turer, mariner or merchant, as finally bringing a profit to the state, 
by a balance against your state. There is no medium that we 
know of. If the commodity is of the former kind, it should be 
prohibited ; but if the fatter, imported duty free, unless you would 
raise the price of labour by a duty on necessaries, or make the 
above wise composition for the importation of commodities, you 
are sure to lose by it. 

" The only test of a useful commodity is the gain upon the whole 
to the state ; such should be free ; the only test of a pernicious 
trade is the loss upon the whole or to the community ; this should be 
prohibited. If therefore it can be demonstrated, that the sugar 
and molasses trade from the northern colonies to the foreign plan 
tations, is, upon the whole, a loss to the community, by which 
term is here meant, the three kingdoms and the British dominions 
taken collectively, then, and not till then, should this trade be 
prohibited. This never has been proved, nor can be ; the con 
trary being certain, to wit : that the nation upon the whole hath 
been a vast gainer by this trade, in the vend of and pay for its 
manufactures ; and a great loss by a study upon this trade will finally 
fall on the British husbandman, manufacturer, mariner and mer 
chant ; and consequently the trade of the nation be wounded, and 
in constant danger of being eat out by those who can undersell her. 

" The art of underselling, or rather of finding means to undersell, 
is the grand secret of thrift among commercial states?, as well as 
among individuals of the same state. Should the British sugar 
islands ever be able to supply Great Britain, and her northern col 
onies with those articles, it will be time enough to think of a total 
prohibition ; but until that time, both prohibition and duty will be 
found to be diametrically opposite to the first principles of policy. 
Such is the extent of this continent, and the increase of its inhab 
itants, that if every inch of the British sugar islands was as well 
cultivated as any part of Jamaica or Barbadoes, they would not 


now be able to supply Great Britain, and the colonies on this con- 
tinsnt. But before such further improvements can be supposed 
lo take place in our islands, the demands will be proportionably 
increased by the increase of the inhabitants on the continent. 
Hence the reason is plain t why the British sugar planters are 
growing rich, and demands on them, ever will be greater than 
they can possibly supply, so long as the English hold this continent, 
and are unrivalled in the fishery. 

" We have every thing good and great to hope from our gracious 
sovereign, his ministry and his parliament ; and trust, that when 
the services and sufferings of the British American colonies are 
fully known to the mother country, and the nature and importance 
of the plantation trade more perfectly understood at home, that 
the most effectual measures will be taken for perpetuating the 
British empire in all parts of the world. An empire built upon 
the principles of justice, moderation and equity, the only princi 
ples that can make a state flourishing, and enable it to elude the 
machinations of its secret and inveterate enemies." 

Excuse errors, for I cannot revise and correct. I hope your 
patience will never be put to the trial of another letter so long 
and dry. One or two more, much shorter, will close the subject 
of writs of assistance, and relieve you from ennui, as well as your 
friend, JOHN ADAMS. 


Qiuntt/, September 10, 1818, 


THE charters were quoted or alluded to by Mr. Otis fre 
quently in the whole course of his argument : but he made them 
also a more destined and more solemn head of his discourse. And 
here, these charters ought to be copied verbatim. But an immense 
verbiage renders it impossible. Bishop Butler somewhere com 
plains of this enormous abuse of words in public transactions, and 
John Reed and Theophilus Parsons of Massachusetts have at 
tempted to reform it. So did James Otis ; all with little success. 
I hope, however, that their examples will be followed, and that 
common sense in common language will, in time, become fashion 
able. But the hope must be faint as long as clerks are paid by 
the line and the number of syllables in a line. 

Some passages of these charters must however, be quoted ; and 
1 will endeavour to strip them as well as I can, of their useless 
words. They are recited in the charter of king William and 
queen Mary, dated the seventh day of October, in the third year 
of their reign, i. e. in 1691. 

" Whereas king James the first, in the 18th year of his reign, 
did grant to the council at Plymouth, for the planting and govern* 


ing New England, all that part of America, from the 40th to the 
48th degree of latitude, and from sea to sea, together with all 
sands, waters, fishings, and all and singular other commodities, 
jurisdictions, royalties, privileges, franchises and pre-eminences, 
both within the said tract of land upon the main, and also within 
the islands and seas adjoining : to have and hold, all, unto the said 
council, their heirs and successors and assigns forever : to be hoi- 
den of his said majesty as of his manor of East Greenwich, in free 
and common socage, and not in capite, or by knights service. 
Yielding to the king a fifth part of the ore of gold and silver. For 
and in respect of all and all manner of duties, demands and service! 

But I cannot pursue to the end this infinite series of words. 
You must read the charter again. For although you and I have read 
it fifty times, I believe you will find it. as I do, much stronger in 
favour of Mr. Otis^s argument than I expected or you will expect. 
1 doubt whether you will take the pains to read it again ; but your 
son will, and to him I recommend it. 

The council of Plymouth, on the 19th of March, in the 3d year 
of the reign of Charles the first, granted to sir Henry Roswell and 
others, part of New England by certain boundaries, with all the 
prerogatives and privileges. 

King Charles the first, on the 4th of March, in the fourth year 
of his reign confirmed to sir Henry Roswell and others, all those 
lands before granted to them by the council of Plymouth. King 
Charles the first, created sir Henry Roswell and others, a body 
corporate and politick. And said body politick, did settle a colo* 
ny which became very populous. 

In 1684, in the 36th year of king William and queen Mary s 
dearest uncle, Charles the second, a judgment was given in the court 
of chancery, that the letters patent of Charles the first, should be 
cancelled, vacated and annihilated. 

The agents petitioned to be re-incorporated ; I can easily con 
ceive their perplexity, their timidity, their uncertainty, their 
choice of difficulties, their necessary preference of the least of a 
multitude of evils : for I have felt them all, as keenly as they did. 

William and Mary unite Massachusetts, New Plymouth, the 
Province of Maine and Nova Scotia, into one province, to be hoi- 
den in fee of the manor of East Greenwich, paying one fifth of 
gold and silver ore. 

Liberty of conscience to be granted to all Christians, except pa 
pists. Good God ! A grant from a king of liberty of conscience ! 
Is it not a grant of the King of Kings, which no puppet or royalist 
upon earth can give or take away ? 

The general court impowered to erect judicatories and courts 
of record. The general court impowered to make laws, " not re 
pugnant to the laws of England." Here was an unfathomable 
gulf of controversy. The grant itself, of liberty oj conscience, was 
repugnant to the laws of England. Every tbin^ was repugnant to 


the laws of England. The whole system of colonization was be 
yond the limits of the laws of England, and beyond the jurisdiction 
of their national legislature. The general court is authorized to 
impose fines, &c. and taxes. 

But the fell paragraph of all, is the proviso in these words : 
" Provided always, and it is hereby declared that nothing herein 
shall extend or be taken to erect or grant, or allow the exercise 
of any admiralty court jurisdiction, power, or authority, but that 
the same shall be, and is hereby reserved to us and our successors, 
and shall from time to time, be erected, granted and exercised by 
virtue of commissions to be issued under the great seal of England, 
or under the seal of the high admiral, or the commissioners for 
executing the office of high admiral of England." 

The history of this court of admiralty would require volumes. 
Where are its records and its files ? Its libels and answers ? Its in 
terrogatories and cross interrogatories ? All hurried away to Eng 
land, as I suppose never to be seen again in America, nor proba 
bly to be inspected in Europe. 

The records and files of the court of probate in Boston were 
transported to Halifax. Judge Foster Hutchinson had the honour 
to return them after the peace of 1783. But admiralty records 
have never been restored as I have heard. 

The subject may be pursued hereafter by your servant, 



Quincy, September 13, 1818. 


IT is some consolation to find in the paragraph of the charter, 
next following the court of admiralty, that nothing in it " shall in 
any manner enure, or be taken to abridge, bar, or hinder any of 
our loving subjects whatsoever, to use and exercise the trade of 
fishing upon the coasts of New England, but that they and every 
of them shall have full and free power and liberty to continue and 
use their said trade of fishing upon the said coast, in any of the seas 
thereunto adjoining, or any arms of the said seas, or salt water 
rivers, where they have been wont to fish ; and to build and sett, 
upon the lands within our said province or colony, lying waste, 
and not then possessed by particular proprietors, such wharfs, sta 
ges, and work-houses, as shall be necessary for the salting, drying, 
keeping and packing of their fish, to be taken and gotten upon 
that coast ; and to cut down and take such trees and other mate 
rial? there growing or being upon any parts or places lying waste, 
and not then in possession of particular proprietors, as shi-ll be 
needful for that purpose, and for all other necessary easments, 
helps and advantages, concerning the trade of fishing there, in 
such manner and form, as they have been heretofore at any time 


accustomed to do, without making any willful waste or spoil, any 
thing in these presents to the contrary notwithstanding." 

Fellow citizens ! Recollect that " This our province or colony" 
contained the whole of Nova Scotia as well as the " Province of 
Maine, Massachusetts bay and New Plymouth." Will you ever 
surrender one particle, one iota of this sacred charter right, and 
still more sacred right of nature, purchase, acquisition, possession, 
usage, habit and conquest ? Let the thunder of British cannon say 
what it will, I know you will not. I know you cannot. And if 
you could be base enough to surrender it, which I know you can 
not and never will he, your sons will reclaim it, and redemand it, 
at the price of whatever blood or treasure it may cost, and will 
obtain it, secure it, and command it, forever. This pretended 
grant is but an acknowledgment of your antecedent right by na 
ture, and by English liberty. You have no power or authority to 
alienate it. It was granted, or rather acknowledged to your suc 
cessors and posterity as well as to you, and any cessions you could 
make would be null and void in the sight of God and all reasonable 

Mr. Otis descanted largely on these charters. His observations 
carried irresistible conviction to the minds and hearts of many 
others as well as to mine, that every one of those statutes from the 
navigation act, to the last act of trade, was a violation of all the 
charters and compacts between the two countries, was a funda 
mental invasion of our essential rights, and was consequently null 
and void ; that the legislatures of the colonies, and especially of 
Massachusetts, had the sole and exclusive authority of legislation 
and especially of taxation in America. 

The indecision and inconsistency which appear in some of Mr. 
Otis s subsequent writings is greatly to be regretted and lamented. 
They resemble those of colonel Bland, as represented by Mr. Wirt. 
I wish I had Col. BlandsY pamphlet, that I might compare it with 
some of Mr. Otis s. 

I have too many daily proofs of the infirmity of my memory to 
pretend to recollect Mr. Otis s reasoning in detail. If, indeed, I 
had a general recollection of any of his positions, 1 could not ex 
press them in that close, concise, nervous and energetic language, 
which was peculiar to him, and which I never possessed. 

I must leave you, sir, to make your own observations and re 
flections upon these charters. But you may indulge me in throw 
ing out a few hints, rather as queries or topicks of speculation, 
than as positive opinions. And here, though 1 see a wide field, 
I must make it narrow. 

1. Mr. Bollan was a kind of learned man, and of indefatigable 
research, and a faithful friend to America ; though he lost all 
his influence when his father-in-law governor and general Shirley 
went out of circulation. This Mr. Bollan, printed a book very 
early on the " rights of the colonies." 1 scarcely ever knew a 
book so deeply despised. The English reviews would not allow 
it to be the production of a rational creature. In America itself 


it was held in no esteem. Otis himself, expressed in the house of 
rapresentatives, in a public speech, his contempt of it in these 
words : " Mr. Bollan s book is the strangest thing I ever read ; 
under the title of Rights of Colonies, he has employed one third 
of his work to prove that the world is round ; and another, that it 
turns round ; and the last, that the pope was a devil for pretending 
to give it to whom he pleased." 

All this* I regretted. I wished that Bollan had not only been 
permitted, but encouraged to proceed. There was no doubt he 
would have produced much in illustration of the ecclesiastical and 
political superstition and despotism of the ages when colonization 
commenced and proceeded. But Bollan was discouraged and 
ceased from his labours. 

What is the idea, Mr. Tudor, of British allegiance ? And of Eu 
ropean allegiance ? Can you, or rather will you analize it ? At 
present, I have demands upon me, which compel me to close ab 
ruptly, with the usual regard of your friend, 



QtJMicy, September 18, 1818. 


THE English doctrine of allegiance is so mysterious, fabulous 
and enigmatical, that it is difficult to decompose the elements of 
which it is compounded. The priests, under the Hebrew econ 
omy, especially the sovereign pontiffs, were anointed with conse 
crated oil, which was poured upon their heads in such profusion, 
that it ran down their beards, and they were thence called " the 
Lord s anointed." When kings were permitted to be introduced, 
they were anointed in the same manner by the sovereign pon 
tiff; and they too were called "the Lord s anointed." When 
the pontiffs of Rome assumed the customs, pomps and cere 
monies of the Jewish priesthood, they assumed the power of 
consecrating things, by the same ceremony of " holy oil." The 
pope, who, as vicar of God, possessed the whole globe of earth 
in supreme dominion and absolute property, possessed also the 
power of sending the holy ghost wherever he pleased. To 
France it pleased his holiness to send him in a phial of oil ; 
to Rheims in the beak of a dove. I have not heard, that my 
my friend, Louis 18th. has been consecrated at Rheims by the 
pouring on of this holy oil ; but his worthy elder brother, Louis 
16th. was so consecrated at a vast expense of treasure and ridicule. 
How the holy bottle was conveyed to England, is worth inquiry. 
But there it is, and is used at every coronation ; and is demurely, 
if not devoutly shewn to every traveller who visits the tower. 
These ideas were once as firmly established in England, as they 
were in Rome ; and no small quantity of the relicks of them remain 
to this day. Hence the doctrines of the divine right of kings, and 

i 309 

the duties in subjects of unlimited submission, passive obcdienbe 
and non-resistance, on pain (Oh, how can I write it) ol eternal dam 
nation. These doctrines have been openly and boldly assorted 
and defended, since my memory, in the town of Bostou, and in the 
town of Quincy, by persons of no small consideration in the world^ 
whom I could name, but I will not, because their posterity are 
much softened from this severity. 

This indelible character of sovereignty in king s, and obedience 
in subjects, still remains. The rights and duties are inherent, un- 
alienable, indefeasible, indestructible and immortal. Hence the 
right of a lieutenant or midshipman of a British man of war, to 
search all American ships, impress every seaman his judgeship 
shall decree by law, and in fact to be a subject of his king, and 
compel him to fight, though it may be against his father, brother 
or son. My countrymen ! wil} you submit to these miserable 
remnants of priestcraft and despotism ? 

There is no principle of law or government, that has been more 
deliberately or more solemnly adjudged in Great Britain, than 
that allegiance is not due to the king in his official capacity ar 
political capacity, but merely to his personal capacity. Allegiance 
to parliament is no where found in English, Scottish or British 
laws. What, then, had our ancestors to do with parliament? 
Nothing more than with the Jewish Sanhedrim, or Napoleon s 
literary and scientific Institute at Grand Cairo. They owed no 
allegiance to parliament as a whole, or in part. None to the 
house of lords, as a branch of the legislature, nor to any individ 
ual peer or number of individuals. None to the house of com 
mons, as another branch, nor to any individual commoner or group 
of commoners. They owed no allegiance to the nation, any more 
than the nation owed to them ; and they had as good and clear 
a right to make laws for England, as the people of England had 
to make laws for them. 

What right, then, had king James 1st. to the sovereignty, do- 
minion, or property of North America ? No more than king 
George 3d. has to the Georgium Sidus, because Mr. Herschell 
discovered that planet in his reign. His only colour, pretension 
or pretext is this. The pope, as head of the church, was sove 
reign of the world. Henry 8th. deposed him, became head of 
the church in England ; and consequently became sovereign mas 
ter and proprietor of as much of the globe as he could grasp. A 
group of his nobles hungered for immense landed estates in Amer 
ica, and obtained from his quasi holiness a large tract. But it was 
useless and unprofitable to them. They must have planters and 
settlers. The sincere and conscientious protestants had been driven 
from England into Holland, Germany, Switzerland, &c. by the 
terrors of stocks, pillories, crbppings, scourges, imprisonments, 
roastings and burnings, under Henry 8th. Elizabeth, Mary, James 
Jst. and Charles 1st. The noblemen and gentlemen of the council 
of Plymouth wanted settlers for their lands in America, and set on 
foot a negotiation with the persecuted fugitive religionists abroad, 


promised them liberty of conscience, exemption from all jurisdic 
tion, ecclesiastical, civil and political, except allegiance to the 
king, and the tribute, moderate surely, of one fifth of gold and 
silver ore. This charter was procured by the council at Plymouth, 
and displayed off as a lure to the persecuted, fugitive Englishmen 
abroad ; and they were completely taken into the snare, as Charles 
2d. convinced them in the first year of his actual, and the twelfth 
of his imaginary reign. Sir Josiah Child, enemy as he was, has 
stated, in the paragraphs quoted from him in a former letter fairly 
and candidly the substance of these facts. 

Our ancestors had been so long abroad, that they had acquired 
comfortable establishments, especially in Holland, that singular 
region of toleration, that glorious asylum for persecuted Hugunots 
and Puritans ; that country where priests have been enternally 
worrying one another ; and alternately teazing the government 
to persecute their antagonists, but where enlightened statesmen 
have constantly and intrepidly resisted their wild fanaticism. 

The first charter, the charter of James 1st. is more like a treaty 
between independent sovereigns, than like a charter of grant of 
privileges from a sovereign to his subjects. Our ancestors were 
tempted by the prospect and promise of a government of their 
own, independent in religion, government, commerce, manufac 
tures, and every thing else, excepting one or two articles of tri 
fling importance. 

Independence of English church and state, was the fundamental 
principle of the first colonization, has been its general principle 
for two hundred years, and now I hope is past dispute. 

Who then was the author, inventor, discoverer of independence ? 
The only true answer must be the first emigrants ; and the proof 
of it is the charter of James 1st. When we say, that Otis, Adams, 
Blayhew, Henry, Lee, Jefferson, &c. were authors of indepen 
dence, we ought to say they were only awakeners and revivers of 
the original fundamental principle of colonization. 

I hope soon to relieve you from the trouble of this tedious cor 
respondence with your humble servant, JOHN ADAMS. 


Qwinc^, September 23, 1818. 


IF, in our search of principles, we have not been able to in 
vestigate any moral, philosophical or rational foundation for any 
claim of dominion or property in America, in the English nation, 
their parliament or even of their king ; if the whole appears a 
mere usurpation of fiction, fancy and superstition ; what was the 
right to dominion or property in the native Indians ? 

Shall we say, that a few handfulls of scattering tribes of savages 
have a right to dominion and property over a quarter of the globe, 


capable of nourishing hundreds of happy human beings ? \Vhv 
had not Europeans a right to come and hunt and fish with them ? 

The Indians had a right to life, liberty and property in common 
with all men ; but what right to dominion or property beyond these ? 
Every Indian had a right to his wigwam, his armour, his utensils : 
when he had burned the woods about him, and planted his corn 
and beans, his squashes and pompions, all these were his undoubt 
ed right: but will you infer from this, that he had right of exclu 
sive dominion and property, over immense regions of uncultivated 
wilderness, that he never saw, that he might have the exclusive 
privilege of hunting and fishing in them, which he himself nevoi 
expected or hoped to enjoy ? 

These reflections appear to have occurred to our ancestors ; 
end their general conduct was regulated by them. They do not 
seem to have had any confidence in their charter, as conveying 
any right, except against the king, who signed it. They consid 
ered the right to be in the native Indians. And in truth all the 
right there was in the case, lay there. They accordingly respect 
ed the Indian wigwams and poor plantations ; their clambanks and 
musclebanks and oysterbanks, and all their property. 

Property in land, antecedent to civil society, or the social com 
pact, seems to have been confined to actual possession and power 
of commanding it. It is the creature of convention ; of social 
laws and artificial order. Our ancestors, however, did not amuse 
themselves, nor puzzle themselves with these refinements. They 
considered the Indians as having rights ; and they entered into ne 
gotiations with them, purchased and paid for their rights and 
claims, whatever they were, and procured deeds, grants, and 
quit claims of all their lands, leaving them their habitations, arms, 
utensils, fishings, huntings and plantations. There is scarcely a 
litigation at law concerning a title to land, that may not be traced 
to an Indian deed, I have in my possession, somewhere, a parch 
ment copy of a deed of Massasoit of the township of Braintree, 
incorporated by the legislature in one thousand six hundred and 
thirty nine. And this was the general practice through the coun 
try, and has been to this day through the continent. In short, I 
8ee not how the Indians could have been treated with more equity 
or humanity, than they have been in general in North America. 
The histories of Indian wars have not been sufficiently regarded. 

When Mr. Hutchinson s history of Massachusetts bay first ap 
peared, one of the most common criticisms upon it, was the sli^ .: 
cold and unfeeling manner in which he passed over the Indian 
wars. I have heard gentlemen the best informed in the history of 
the country, say, " he had no sympathy for the sufferings of his 
ancestors," " otherwise he could not have winked out of sight, 
one of the most important, most affecting, afflicting and distressing 
branches of the history of his country." 

There is somewhere in existence, as I hope and believe, a man 
uscript history of Indian wars, written by the Rev. Samuel Niles of 
Braintree. Almost sixty years ago, I was an humble acquaintance 


of this venerable clergyman, then, as 1 believe more than four 
score years of age. He asked me many questions, and informed 
me, in his own house, that he was endeavouring to recollect and 
commit to writing an history of Indian wars, in his own time, and 
before it, as far as he could collect information. This history he 
completed and prepared for the press : but no printer would un 
dertake it, or venture to propose a subscription for its publication. 
Since my return from Europe, I enquired of his oldest son, the 
Hon. Samuel Niles of Braintree, on a visit he made me at my owa 
house, what was become of that manuscript ? He laughed, and 
said it was still safe in the till of a certain trunk ; but no encour 
agement had ever appeared for its publication. Ye liberal chris- 
tians ! Laugh not at me, nor frown upon me, for thus reviving the 
memory of your once formidable enemy. I was then no more of 
a disciple of his theological science than ye are now. But I then 
revered and still revere the honest, virtuous and pious man. Fas 
est et ab hoste doceri. And his memorial of facts might be of great 
value to this country. 

What infinite pains have been taken and expenses incurred in 
treaties, presents, stipulated sums of money, instruments of agricul 
ture, education? What dangerous and unwearied labours to con 
vert the poor ignorant savages to Christianity ? And alas ! with 
how little success ? The Indians are as bigotted to their religion as 
the Mahometans are to their Koran, the Hindoos to their Shaster, 
the Chinese to Confucius, the Romans to their Saints and Angels, 
or the Jews to Moses and the Prophets. It is a principle of reli 
gion, at bottom, which inspires the Indians with such an invincible 
aversion both to civilization and Christianity. The same principle 
has excited their perpetual hostilities against the colonists and the 
independent Americans. 

If the English nation, their parliaments and all their kings have 
appeared to bo totally ignorant of all these things, or at least to 
have vouchsafed no consideration upon them ; if we, good patri 
otic Americans have forgotten them, Mr. Otis had not. He enlar 
ged on the merit of our ancestors in undertaking so perilous, ar 
duous, and almost desperate an enterprize, in disforresting bare 
creation ; in conciliating and- necessarily contending with Indian 
natives ; in purchasing rather than conquering a quarter of the 
globe at their own expense, at the sweat of their own brows ; at 
the hazard and sacrifice of their own lives ; without the smallest 
aid, assistance or comfort from the government of England, or 
from England itself as a nation. On the contrary, constant jeal 
ousy, envy, intrigue against their charter, their religion and all 
their privileges. Laud, the pious tyrant dreaded them, as he fore 
saw they would overthrow his religion. 

Mr. Otis reproached the nation, parliaments and kings with in 
justice, ungenerosity, ingratitude, cruelty and perfidy in all their 
conduct towards this country, in a style of oratory that I never 
heard equalled in this or any other country. 



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