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

Part 4 out of 7

- The lucrative commission which he obtain'd while in England, in
consequence of the passing of the act of parliament, whereby he
was appointed one of the principal managers of this very revenue,
affords but little room to doubt what his intention was in his
voyage to London, notwithstanding his warm professions of concern
for his native country - It is not always a security against a
man's sacrificing a country, that he was born and educated in it.
The Tyrants of Rome were Natives of Rome. Such men indeed incur a
guilt of a much deeper dye, than Strangers, who commit no such
violation of duty and of feeling. - There was another of the cabal
who embark'd about the same time, but he was call'd out of this
life before he reach'd London, and de mortuis nil dico - Of the
living I shall speak, as occasion shall call for it, with a
becoming freedom.

The whole continent was justly alarmed at the parliament's
resuming the measure of raising a revenue in America without their
consent, which had so nearly operated the ruin of the whole
British empire but a few months before; & that this odious measure
should be taken, so soon after the happy coalition between Britain
and the colonies which the repeal of the stamp-act had occasion'd
for if one may judge by the most likely appearances, the
affections of her colonists, were upon this great event, more
strongly attached to the mother country if possible, than ever
they had been. But the great men there had been made to believe
otherwise - Nay the governor of this province had gone such a
length as to assure them, that the design of the Americans in
their opposition to the stamp-act, was to bring the authority of
parliament into contempt - Many of his adherents privately wrote
to the same purpose - All which had a tendency to break that
harmony, which after the only interruption that had ever taken
place and that of short continuance, had been renewed, and
doubtless would have been confirmed to mutual advantage for ages,
had it not been for that pestilent few, who first to aggrandize
themselves and their families, interrupted the harmony, and then
to preserve their own importance, took every step their malice
could invent, with the advantage they had gain'd of a confidence
with the ministry, to prevent it's ever being restored.

Upon the fatal news (fatal, I call it, for I very much fear it will
prove so in its consequences, how remote I will not take upon me to
predict) upon the news of the passing of another revenue act, the
colonies immediately took such measures as were dictated to them, not
by passion and rude clamour, but by the voice of reason and a just
regard to the safety of themselves and their posterity. The assembly
of this province, being the first I suppose who had the opportunity of
meeting, prepared and forwarded a humble, dutiful & loyal petition to
the King1 and wrote letters to such of the British nobility2 and
gentry as had before discovered themselves friends to the rights of
America & of mankind, beseeching their interposition and influence on
their behalf. At the same time they wrote a circular letter to each of
the other colonies3, letting them know the steps they had taken and
desiring their advice & joint Assistance - This letter had its
different effects; on the one hand, in the deep resentment of my Lord
of Hillsborough, who was pleased to call it "a measure of an
inflamatory nature - Evidently tending to create unwarrantable
combinations, to excite an unjustifiable opposition to the
constitutional authority of parliament and to revive unhappy divisions
and distractions," &c. While on the other hand, the colonies, as
appears by their respective polite answers, receiv'd it with the
highest marks of approbation, as a token of sincere affection to them,
& a regard to the common safety; and they severally proceeded to take
concurrent measures. No one step I believe, united the colonies
more than this letter; excepting his lordship's endeavors by his
own circular letter to the colonies, to give it a different turn -
But however decent and loyal -However warrantable by or rather
conformable to the spirit and the written rules of the British
constitution, the petitions of right and other applications of the
distressed Americans were, they shared the same fate which those
of London, Westminster, Middlesex, & other great cities & counties
have since met with! No redress of grievances ensued: Not even the
least disposition in administration to listen to our petitions;
which is not so much to be wondered at, when we consider the
temper of the ministry, which was incessantly acted upon by
Governor Bernard in such kind of language as this "The authority
of the King, the supremacy of parliament, the superiority of
government are the real objects of the attack"; while nothing is
more certain, than that the house of representatives of this
province in their petition to the king, and in all their letters,
that in particular which was address'd to the other colonies, the
sentiment of which was recogniz'd by them, expressly declare,
"that his Majesty's high court of parliament is the supreme
legislative power over the whole empire, in all cases which can
consist with the fundamental rights of the constitution," and that
"it was never questioned in this province, nor as they conceive in
any other." They indeed in all their letters insist upon the right
of granting their own money, as a right founded in nature, the
exercise of which no man ever relinquished to another & remain'd
free - A right therefore which no power on earth, not even the
acknowledged supreme legislative power over the whole empire hath
any authority to divest them of - "The supreme power says Mr.
Locke, is not, nor can possibly be absolutely arbitrary, over the
lives and fortunes of the people - The supreme power cannot take
from any man any part of his property without his own consent. For
the preservation of property being the end of government, and that
for which men enter into society; it necessarily supposes and
requires that the people should have property, without which they
must be supposed to lose that by entering into society, which was
the end for which they entered into it. Men therefore in society
having property, they have such a right to the goods which by the
law of the community are theirs, that no body hath a right to take
their substance or any part of it from them without their consent.
Without this, they have no property at all: For I have truly no
property in that, which another can by right take from me when he
pleases, against my consent" - These are the principles upon which
alone, the Americans founded their opposition to the late acts of
parliament. How then could governor Bernard with any colour of
truth declare to a minister of state in general terms, that "the
authority of the King, the supremacy of parliament, the
superiority of government, were the objects of the attack?" Upon
the principles of reason and nature, their opposition is
justifiable: For by those acts the property of the Colonists is
taken from them without their consent. It is by no means
sufficient to console us, that the duty is reduced to the single
article of Tea, which by the way is not a fact; but if it should
be admitted, it is because the parliament for the present are
pleased to demand no more of us: Should we acquiesce in their
taking three pence only because they please, we at least tacitly
consent that they should have the sovereign controul of our
purses; and when they please they will claim an equal right, and
perhaps plead a precedent for it, to take a shilling or a pound -
At present we have the remedy in our own hands; we can easily
avoid paying the TRIBUTE, by abstaining from the use of those
articles by which it is extorted from us: - and further, we can
look upon our haughty imperious taskmasters, and all those who are
sent here to aid and abet them, together with those sons of
servility, who from very false notions of politeness, can seek and
court opportunities of cringing and fawning at their feet, of
whom, thro' favor, there are but few among us: we may look down
upon all these, with that sovereign contempt and indignation, with
which those who feel their own dignity and freedom, will for ever
view the men, who would attempt to reduce them to the disgraceful
state of SLAVERY.

I shall continue to send you an account of facts, as my leisure
will admit. In the mean time,

I am yours,

1 Vol. I., page 162.
2 Vol. I., pages 152, i66, 169, 173, 180.
3 Vol. I., page 184.


[Boston Gazette, September 16, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

1 have already mentioned the circular letter written by the house
of representatives of this province to the other colonies, dated
the 11th of February, 1768; and the very different treatment it
met with from the Earl of Hillsborough and the respectable bodies
to whom it was addressed. And also the circular letter which his
lordship himself was pleased to send to those colonies, wherein he
recommended to them "to treat it with the contempt it deserved " -
But as the sentiments contained in the letter of the house were so
exactly similar to those of the other colonies, and the subject of
it was of equal importance to them all, it was not in the power of
his lordship to efface the impressions it made, or to disturb that
harmony which was the happy effect of it - Vis unita fortior -
That union of the colonies in their common danger, by which they
became powerful, was the occasion of the greatest perplexity to
their enemies on both sides the atlantick; and it has been ever
since their constant endeavor by all manner of arts to destroy it.
In this, it must be confess'd, they have discovered an unanimity, zeal
and perseverance, worthy to be imitated by those who are embark'd in
the cause of American freedom. - It is by united councils, a
steady zeal, and a manly fortitude, that this continent must
expect to recover its violated rights and liberties.

Such was the resentment which the circular letter enkindled in the
breasts of administration, that it was immediately followed by a
Mandate from lord Hillsborough to governor Bernard, to require the
succeeding house to rescind the resolution which had given birth to
it, upon pain of a dissolution of the assembly in case of a refusal. -
Governor Bernard added to the severity of this mandate by assuring the
house in a message to them, that "if he should be obliged to dissolve
the general court, he should not think himself at liberty to call
another, till he should receive his Majesty's command for that
purpose." - It appeared that administration had been greatly
misinformed with regard to the circumstances of this resolution of the
house, particularly in a representation that it was brought on when
the members present were few, and at the end of the session; and that
it was therefore a very unfair proceeding procured by surprize and
contrary to the real sense of the house - But the house made it
evident in their letter to his lordship afterwards, from their own
minutes and journals, that it was the declared sense of a large
majority when the house was full - It was the constant practice of
governor Bernard and his adherents, to represent the opposition of the
house to the pernicious designs of the enemies of the colonies,
which generally consisted of full three quarters of the members
and sometimes more, as the feeble efforts of an expiring faction.

This direct and peremptory requisition, of a new and strange
constructure, and so strenuously urg'd by the governor, was taken
into consideration by the house, on the next day after it was laid
before them; and as is usual in all matters of importance, was
then referred to a large committee further to consider it, and
report their opinion of what was expedient to be done: As the
governor had assured the house in his message, that "their
resolution thereon would have the most important consequences to
the province," the committee were the more deliberate in their
consultations; very reasonably expecting, that after such an
assurance given to the house, the governor would indulge them with
sufficient time thoroughly to digest it.However sanguine the
expectation of lord Hills-borough might be, through the artful
insinuation of governor Bernard that, the "attempts of a desperate
faction (as his lordship expressed it) would be discountenanced,
and that the execution of the measure recommended would not meet with
any difficulty;" the governor himself, who was fully acquainted with
the sentiments of the house, as well as of the generality of the
people without doors, had no "grounds to hope" that the requisition
would be comply'd with; and therefore as a dissolution was to be the
immediate consequence of a refusal, and as his lordship had directed
the governor to "transmit to him an account of their proceedings to be
laid before his Majesty, to the end that his Majesty might, if he
tho't proper, lay the whole matter before his parliament," it might
have been well supposed that a longer time was necessary for them to
state the reasons of their own conduct, and to set the transactions of
the former house, which had been grossly misrepresented, in a true
point of light, in order to vindicate themselves, when their whole
proceedings should be laid before his Majesty and the parliament.

But before the committee were ready to make their report, the
governor sent down a message to the house, signifying that it was
full a week since he had laid his Majesty's requisition before
them, and that he could not admit of a much longer delay, without
considering it as an answer in the negative - Upon which the
house, being desirous that the sense of the people concerning this
important matter might be known as explicitly as possible, which
would also have determined beyond all doubt, their sense of the
revenue acts, and the opposition made to them by the American
assemblies, requested a recess of the general court, that they
might have the opportunity of taking the instructions of their
constituents. But though his lordship in his letter to the
governor, express'd a satisfaction in "that spirit of decency and
love of order which has discovered itself in the conduct of the
most considerable of the inhabitants of the province;" and the
governor himself in his speech at the close of the preceeding
assembly, insinuated that matters had been conducted by a party in
the house; and declared that "the evils which threatened this
injured country, arose from the machinations of a few, very few
discontented men" - "false patriots who were sacrificing their
country to the gratification of their own passions," and that it
was "by no means to be charged upon the generality of the people,"
yet he did not think it proper to comply with the request of the
house for a recess, that the sentiment of the generality of" this
good people," as he calls them in this same speech, might be
taken. Had he not the fairest opportunity upon this motion of the
house, if there had been any grounds for his representations that
the opposition to the revenue acts was confined to a few, very few
discontented men, to have made it evident beyond all contradiction?
But he dared not rest the matter upon this issue: He knew very well
that it would put an end to his darling topic; and that the
determination of the generality of the people, would put it out of his
power any longer to hold up an expiring faction to administration with
success - A low piece of cunning, of which he was a perfect master,
and which he had constantly practiced to induce them to a perseverance
in their measures.

On the 30th June 1768, the committee, having maturely considered
the requisition made to the house in its nature and consequences
reported a letter to the Earl of Hillsborough1 his Majesty's
secretary of state for the American department, and laid it on the
table; wherein they observe to his lordship, that a requisition of
such a nature, to a British house of commons had been very unusual
and perhaps altogether unprecedented since the revolution: That
some very aggravated representations must have been made to his
Majesty of the resolution of the former house, to induce him to
require this house to rescind it, upon pain of forfeiting their
existence - That the people in this province had attended with anxiety
to the acts of the British parliament for raising a revenue in America
- That this concern was not limited within the circle of a few
inconsiderate persons; the most respectable for fortune, rank and
station, as well as probity and understanding in the province,
with very few exceptions, being alarm'd with apprehensions of the
fatal consequences, of a power exercised in any part of the
British empire, to command and apply the property of their fellow
subjects at discretion: That as all his Majesty's North American
subjects were alike affected by those revenue acts, the former
house very justly supposed that each of the assemblies on the
continent would take such methods of obtaining redress as should
be thought by them respectively to be regular and proper; and
being desirous that the several applications should harmonize with
each other, they resolved on their circular letter; wherein they
only acquainted their sister colonies with the measures they had
taken, without calling upon them to adopt those measures or any
other - That this was perfectly consistent with the constitution, and
that, so far from being criminal, or a measure "of an inflammatory
nature,' it had a natural tendency to compose his majesty's subjects
in the colonies, till they should obtain relief; at a time when it
seem'd to be the evident design of a party, they might have said a
faction, to prevent calm, deliberate, rational and constitutional
measures being pursued, or to stop the distresses of the people
from reaching his Majesty's ear, and consequently to precipitate
them into a state of desperation. They therefore leave it to his
lordship's impartial judgment, whether the representations that
had been made of this resolution, were not injurious to the house,
and an affront to his Majesty himself. And after proceeding to
give his lordship a full detail of all the circumstances relating
to the resolution which gave birth to the circular letter, and
which they were required to rescind, they add, that they rely upon
it that to petition his Majesty will not be deemed by him to be
inconsistent with the British constitution; that to acquaint their
fellow subjects, involved in the same distress, even if they had
invited the union of all America in one joint supplication, would not
be discountenanced by his Majesty as a "measure of an inflammatory
nature;" and that "when his lordship shall injustice lay a true state
of those matters before his Majesty, he will no longer consider them
as tending to create unwarrantable combinations, or to excitte an
unjustifiable opposition to the constitutional authority of
parliament." This is the substance of the letter; which being
twice read in the house, was accepted by a large majority of
ninety-two out of one hundred and five members, and ordered to be
transmitted by the speaker to his lordship as soon as might be.
After which it was immediately mov'd, that the question be put,
Whether the house would rescind the resolution of the last house
which gave birth to the circular letter; and the question being
accordingly put, it pass'd in the negative, there appearing on a
division upon the question to be seventeen yeas and ninety-two nays.
Thus the house determined upon as extraordinary a mandate as
perhaps was ever laid before a free assembly. - It is to us, said
the house in their message to the governor, altogether
incomprehensible, that we should be required on the peril of a
dissolution of the great and general court or assembly of this
province, to rescind a resolution of a former house of
representatives, when it is evident that such resolution has no
existence, but as a mere historical fact. Your excellency must
know, that the resolution referred to, is, to speak in the language of
the common law, not now "executory," but to all intents and purposes
"executed." The circular letter has been sent and answered by many of
the colonies: These answers are now in the public papers; the public
will judge of the proposals, purposes and answers. We could as well
rescind those letters as the resolves; and both would be equally
fruitless, if by rescinding, as the word properly imports, is meant a
repeal and nullifying of the resolution referred to. But if, as is
most probable, by the word, rescinding, is intended the passing a vote
of this house, in direct and express disapprobation of the measure
above mentioned, as "illegal, inflammatory and tending to promote
unjustifiable combinations" against his Majesty's peace, crown and
dignity, we take the liberty to testify and publickly to declare, that
it is the native, inherent and indefeasible right of the subject,
jointly or severally, to petition the King for the redress of
grievances. - And we are clearly and very firmly of Opinion that the
petition of the late dutiful and loyal house, and the other very
orderly applications for the redress of grievances, have had the most
desirable tendencies and effects - In another part they say, "we
cannot but express our deep concern, that a measure of the late house
in all respects so innocent, in most so virtuous and laudable, and as
we conceive, so truly patriotic, should be represented to
administration in the odious light of a party and factious
measure," and finally they say, that in refusing to comply with
the requisition, "they have been actuated by a conscientious and a
clear and determined sense of duty to God, their King, their
country, and their latest posterity." This determination of the
house gave general satisfaction, not only to the people of this
province, but of the other colonies also; as well as the friends
of liberty in Britain. It was spoken of by all except the
disappointed few, with great applause. Indeed the essential rights
of all were involved in the question: A different determination
would therefore have been to the last degree infamous and attended
with fatal consequences. Not only the right of the subjects
jointly to petition for the redress of grievances which all alike
suffer, but also that of communicating their sentiments freely to
each other upon the subject of grievances, and the means of
redress, which was the sole purport of the circular letter, would
in effect have been given up. I have often thought that in this
time of common distress, it would be the wisdom of the colonists,
more frequently to correspond with, and to be more attentive to
the particular circumstances of each other. It seems of late to
have been the policy of the enemies of America to point their
artillery against one province only; and artfully to draw off the
attention of the other colonies, and if possible to render that
single province odious to them, while it is suffering ministerial
vengeance for the sake of the common cause. But it is hoped that
the colonies will be aware of this artifice. At this juncture an
attempt to subdue one province to despotic power, is justly to be
considered as an attempt to enslave the whole. The colonies "form
one political body, of which each is a member." -The liberties of
the whole are invaded - It is therefore the interest of the whole
to support each individual with all their weight and influence.
When the legislative of the colony of New-York was suspended, the
house of representatives of this province consider'd it "as
alarming to all the colonies;" and bore their testimony against
it, in a letter to their agent, the sentiments of which they
directed him to make known to his Majesty's ministers. - That
suspension, says the patriotic Pennsylvania Farmer, is a
parliamentary assertion of the supreme authority of the British
legislature over these colonies in point of taxation; and is
intended to COMPEL New-York into a submission to that authority.
It seems therefore to me as much a violation of the liberty of the
people of that province, and consequently of all these Colonies,
as if the Parliament had sent a number of regiments (which has
since been the fate of this province) to be quartered upon them
till they should comply. - Whoever, says he, seriously considers
the matter, must perceive, that a dreadful stroke is aimed at the
liberty of these Colonies: For the cause of one is the cause of
all. If the parliament may lawfully deprive New-York of any of its
Rights, it may deprive any or all the other Colonies of their
Rights; and nothing can so much encourage such attempts, as a
mutual inattention to the interests of each other. To divide and
thus to destroy, is the first political maxim in attacking those
who are powerful by their union. - When Mr. Hampden's ship money
cause for three shillings and four pence was tried, all the people
of England, with anxious expectation, interested themselves in the
important decision: And when the slightest point touching the
freedom of a single Colony is agitated, I earnestly wish, that all
the rest may with equal ardour support their sister. - These are
the generous sentiments of that celebrated writer, whom several
have made feeble attempts to answer, but no one has yet done it.
May the British American Colonies be upon their guard; and take
care lest by a mutual inattention to the interest of each other,
they at length become supine and careless of the grand cause of
American Liberty, and finally fall a prey to the MERCILESS HAND OF

I am,

1Vol. I., page 219.


[Boston Gazette, September 23, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

The consequence of the determination of the house of
Representatives not to rescind the resolution of the former house,
of which I gave you a particular account in my last, was an
immediate prorogation of the general assembly, and the next day a
dissolution, agreeable to the orders of a minister of state! -
Governor Bernard in a subsequent letter to lord Hillsborough,
pressed his lordship for further orders respecting the calling a
new assembly; and acquainted him that "when the usual time should
come, it would be quite necessary that the governor should be able
to vouch positive orders for his not calling the assembly, if he
was not to do it," and he adds that, "with regard to calling the
new assembly in May, it would require much consideration." By the
Charter of this province, which is a Compact between the Crown and
the People, it is ordained that a General Assembly shall be called
on every last Wednesday in May yearly: Did gov. Bernard then think
that his lordship, to whom in one instance at least, he had
surrendered the power of the governor of the province, could by
another order rescind that effectual Right of the Charter? It
would in truth require much consideration with one, even of his
lordship's peculiar turn of mind, before he would assume an
authority to put an end to the constitution of the province: He
had gone far enough already. - The Charter further ordains, that
the assembly shall be held "at all such other times as the
governor shall think fit." Not as lord Hillsborough shall think
fit, for he is not the governor. Could the governor think that the
people were so stupid as to be satisfied with his vouching -
orders for neglecting that which it was his indispensable duty to
do as governor of the province; and by neglecting which, either
with or without his lordship's orders, there would be an end to
the supreme legislative power; the establishing of which, as Mr.
Locke says, is the first and fundamental positive law of the
commonwealth. The general assembly is constituted by the charter,
the legislative of the province; having full power and authority
to make all such orders, laws, statutes, &c. not repugnant to the
laws of England, as they shall judge to be for the good and
welfare of the province. - "The first framers of the government,
not being able by any foresight to prefix so just periods of
return and duration to the assemblies of the legislative, in all
times to come, that might exactly answer all the emergencies of
the commonwealth, the best method that could be found, was to
trust this to the prudence of one, who was always to be present,
and whose business it should be to watch over the commonwealth."
Hence the charter provides, that the governor who is to reside in
the province, and who, being always present, must be acquainted
with the state and exigences of the public affairs, shall have
full power and authority to adjourn or dissolve the assembly, and
call a new one from time to time as he shall judge necessary: But
our governors have of late given up this power of judging - to a
minister of state; residing at a thousand leagues distance, and
therefore utterly unable to determine, if it was lawful for him to
do it, at what time the necessities of the state might require the
immediate exertion of legislative power. This ministerial
manoeuvre, to speak in modern language, which threatens the
destruction of the constitution, will, it is hoped, be the subject
of national enquiry, when the present confusion in Britain and
America shall, as it must soon, be brought to a happy issue. "The
legislative is sacred and unalterable in the hands where the
community has fixed it." In this province it is fixed by the
community, in the hands of the Governor, Council and House of
Representatives: In their hands therefore, it ought to rest sacred
and unalterable; to be sure as long as the express conditions of
the compact are fulfilled. - Lord Stafford, and many lords and
great men before him, suffered death for attempting to overthrow
the constitution of the state. - Their crime was called, and I
supposed justly called, Treason: It surely could not have been
treason therefore, to have disturbed and resisted them in their
mad attempts, even though they might have produced the orders of a
king - What punishment awaits those who have manifestly attempted
to overthrow the constitution of the American colonies, the time
which we hope for, and is hastening on, will determine. If the
very being of the legislative of this province is for the future
to depend upon the mere will and pleasure of an arbitrary minister
- if he may take it upon him to dictate such measures as he pleases,
and to dissolve them, or which is the same thing, order an obsequious
governor to do it, upon their non-compliance with his will and
pleasure, surely we have little to boast of in such an assembly. The
charter may be taken away in tarts as well as in the whole: And it
seems by some later ministerial mandates and measures, as if there was
a design to deprive us of our Charter-Rights by degrees. An attempt
upon the whole by one stroke would perhaps be thought too bold an
undertaking. His lordship could not indeed have chosen a more
effectual step to deprive us of the whole benefit of a free
constitution, than by attempting to controul the debates and
determinations of the House of Representatives, which ought forever to
be free, and suspending the legislative power of the province, for
their refusing to obey any mandate, especially when it is not only
contrary to their judgments and consciences, but, as it appeared to
them, absurd. It is a pitiful constitution indeed, which so far from
being fixed and permanent as it should be - sacred and unalterable in
the hands of those where the community has placed it, depends entirely
upon the breath of a minister, or of any man: But it is to be feared
from this as well as other more recent instances, that there is a
design to rase the foundations of the constitutions of these colonies,
and place them upon this precarious and sandy foundation. - I have
seen a letter from the agent of this province to the government here,
dated so long ago as March the 7th, 1750; wherein he says, "I am
afraid there is at bottom in the minds of some, a fixed design of
getting a parliamentary sanction of some kind or other, if possible,
to the King's instructions on this occasion;" which was the redressing
the inconveniencies proceeding from the paper bills. And in another
letter of the 12th of April following, he writes, "Since my last, I
have found too great reason to confirm my apprehensions, that some
persons of consequence here, are determined, if possible, to put the
future use of the credit of the several governments of New England,
wholly under the power of an instruction; and what tendency that
may have to introduce the King's instructions into the government
of the other colonies, in other instances, I need not observe
This design seems to be conducted with great art." The fears of
that watchful agent, there is reason to apprehend, from the
perfect good understanding that now exists between the ruling men
in the American department, on both sides the atlantic, may very
soon be far from appearing groundless. Instructions have of late
been so frequent, and in every instance so punctiliously obeyed,
that there is reason to fear, unless greater attention is had to
them, they soon will be established as rules of administration, not
only to governors as servants of the crown, but to legislatures. The
enforcing them seems to be conducted with equal art on this side of
the water at present, to that with which the original design of
introducing them was conducted on the other side, when that agent
wrote. They may soon therefore be regarded as fixed laws in the
colonies, even without the sanction or intervention of parliament
Principiis obsta, is a maxim worth regarding in politics as well as
morals, and it is more especially to be observed, when those who are
the most assiduous in their endeavours to alter the civil
Constitution, are not less so in persuading us to go to sleep and
dream that we are in a state of perfect security. - What benefit
is it to us to have a governor residing in the province, invested
with certain powers of judging -, and acting according to his own
judgment, for the good of the people, if he submit to be made a
man of wire, & for the sake of preserving the emolument of a
governor, with the name only, is turned this way or that, as the
minister directs, without any judgment of his own? And of what use
can a legislative be to us, without the free exercise of the
powers of legislation? Liable to be thrown out of existence for
not acting in conformity to the will of another? Can there be any
material difference between such a legislative and none at all?
The original constitution of this province, the charter, required
the convening of a new general assembly in May: The public
exigencies might have required it sooner: But governor Bernard was
determined in neither of these cases to convene an assembly, if he
could but vouch the positive orders of the minister, who had no
right or legal authority at all to interpose in the matter. "The
using of force upon the people without authority, and contrary to
the trust reposed in him that does so, is a state of war with the
people;" This is the judgment of one of the greatest men that ever
wrote. "If the executive power, being possessed of the power of
the commonwealth, shall make use of that force to hinder the
meeting and acting of the legislative, when the original
constitution or the public exigencies shall require it, the people
have a right to reinstate their legislative in the exercise of
their power: For having erected a legislative, with an intent they
should exercise the power of making laws, either at certain set
times or when there is need of it, if they are hindered by any
force from what is so necessary to the society, and wherein the
safety and preservation of the people consists, they have a right
to remove it by force." From this instance of the dissolution of
the assembly of this province, as well as that of the suspension
of the legislative of New York, for refusing to execute an act of
parliament, requiring them to give and grant away their own and
their constituents money for the support of a standing army,
posterity will form a judgment of the temper of the British
administration at that time: Whether a different disposition has
since prevailed, will appear from the measures they have taken in
general; and particularly from the answers to the addresses,
petitions and remonstrances which we have lately seen. One would
have thought that the American legislative assemblies had become
too harmless bodies to have been the object of ministerial rage,
since the passing of acts of parliament for the sole purpose of
raising revenues at the expence of the colonists, without their
consent, and for appropriating those revenues as they should think
proper. The most essential Rights of American legislation, are
those of raising and applying their own monies for the support of
their own government, and for their own defence: By the late
revenue acts, these rights are in effect superseded; the
parliament having already granted, such sums as they please, out
of the purses of the colonists, for the same purposes. Thus the
shadow of legislation only remains to them: Their importance is at
an end. They may indeed, as the Pennsylvania farmer observes,
whose works I wish every American would read over again, "They may
perhaps be allowed to make laws for yoking of hogs or pounding of
stray cattle: Their influence will hardly be permitted to extend
so high as the keeping roads in repair; as that business may more
properly be executed by those who receive the public cash." Their
substantial rights and powers, lord Hillsborough himself should know,
are as really annihilated by these acts, as they would be, if they
were deprived of all existence. "Upon what occasion, says that elegant
writer, will the crown ever call our assemblies together, when, the
charges of the administration of justice, the support of civil
government, and the expences of protecting, defending and securing us,
are provided for" by the parliament? "Some few of them may meet of
their own accord, by virtue of their several charters: But what will
they have to do when they are met? To what shadows will they be
reduced? The men, whose deliberations heretofore, had an influence on
every matter relating to the liberty and happiness of themselves and
their constituents, and whose authority in domestic affairs at least,
might well be compared to that of Roman senators, will find their
determinations to be of no more consequence than that of constables."
- And this will not be the utmost extent of our misery and infamy



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations, is
in R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 177-183.]

BOSTON Sept 27 1771


I am greatly indebted to you for your several Letters of [the 10th
and 14th of June].

To let you know that I am far from being inattentive to the favors
you have done me I inclose you a Letter I wrote you some time past,
but was prevented putting it in the Bag by an Accident. I have since
been confind to my house by Sickness & by a late Excursion into the
Country I have fully recoverd my Health.

I take particular Notice of the Reasons you assign for a whole
Session of parliamt being spent without one offensive Measure to
America. You account for our being flatterd that all Designs against
the Charter of the Colony are laid aside, in a manner perfectly
corresponding with the Sentiments I had preconceivd of it. The
opinion you have formd of the ruling men on both sides the Atlantick,
is exactly mine and as I have the most unfavorable Idea of the Heads
or the Hearts of the present Administration, I cannot hope for much
Good from the Services of any man who can submit to be dependent on

I was pleasd with the petition & remonstrance of the City of London -
but are not the Ministry lost to all Sensibility to the peoples
Complaints, & like the Egyptian Tyrant, do they not harden their
Hearts against their repeated Demands for a redress of Grievances.
Does it not fully appear not only that they neither fear God nor
regard Man, but that they are not even to be wearied, as one of their
ancient predecessors was, by frequent Applications. What do you
conceive to be the Step next to be taken by an abused people? For
another must be taken either by the ministry or the people or in my
opinion the nation will fall into that ruin of which they seem to me
to be now at the very precipice. May God afford them that Prudence,
Strength & fortitude by which they may be animated to maintain their
own Liberties at all Events. By your last letter you appear to resolve
well; if ever the Spirit of impeaching should rise in Britain. But how
is it possible such a Spirit should rise. In all former Struggles the
House of Commons has naturally taken Sides with the people against
oppressing Ministers & Favorites. But whether that is the Case at
present or not, is no secret to the World. We have indeed heard little
of the Business of impeaching since the Revolution. A corrupt
ministerial Influence has been gradually & too insensibly increasing
from that OEra, & is at length become so powerful (for which I think
the Nation is particularly beholden to Sir R. Walpole) as to render it
impracticable to have even one capital Object of the peoples just
Vengeance impeachd. The proposals you were so kind as [to] favor me
with, I cannot but highly approve of. I communicated them to two or
three intimate & judicious friends who equally approvd of them. But
they cannot be carried into Execution till the present parliamt is at
an End. And if it is not to be dissolvd before the End of its
septennial Duration, is it not to be feard that before its Expiration
there will be an End of Liberty. If I mistake not there is an Act of
parliamt whereby the Seats of placemen and pensioners in the House of
Commons (who were not such at the time of their Election) shall be
vacated, & their Electors have a right to the Choice of another if
they see proper. Perhaps there never was a time when the Advantages of
this Law were more apparent. Would it not then be doing the most
important Service to the Cause of Liberty if the Gentlemen of the Bill
of Rights, who I pray God may be united in their Councils, would exert
their utmost Influence to prevail upon the Constituents of such rotten
Members to claim that privilege & make a good Use of it? If there is
any Virtue among the people, I should think this might easily be done.
If it be impracticable, I fear another general Election wd only serve
to convince all of what many are apprehensive, that there is a total
Depravation of principles & manners in the Nation, or in other Words
that it is already irrecoverably undone.

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Boston Gazette, September 30, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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


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


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

BOSTON, Oct. 2d, 1771.


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


[Boston Gazette, October 7, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,
Instead of voted Aid,

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

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

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



[Boston Gazette, October 14, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

1 See above, page 230.


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

Nov 7 1771


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


[Boston Gazette, November 11, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

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

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



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

BOSTON Novr 13 1771.

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

Your Friend


[Boston Gazette, November 25, 1771.]


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

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

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



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