430 | To John Pownall

    Boston Jany 11. 1766.

    Dear Sr,

    I intended before this to have wrote to you1 further Accounts of the proceedings here: but not having time to do it by this Ship, I must supply the Deficiency by News papers. I have only to say that the Town is quiet at present, & free from actual mischief: but the Government is continually given to understand that the power is in the Hands of the People, of which there appears to be two Houses or boards; the Town Meeting which assembles publickly, & is kept up by adjournment; and the Sons of Liberty,2 as the Two Companies (which have been formed for the execution of Justice upon Stamp Officers & other obnoxious Officers of the King) are called. You will find, in Boston Gazette Decr 30, pa 3, both these acting in separate Bodies, & the latter confirming the resolutions of the former, “to assist & support civil Magistrates & Officers according to the Laws & usage of this Land.3 As the Leaders of this Town are so well supported by what may be called a regular force,4 you may Imagine that the Governor & Council can do nothing but what the People will allow of; as Mr Otis (in Gazette Jan 6, pa 1 Col 3) properly expresses it, “when a Governor has made proclamations & Speeches to enforce the Act, & cannot prevail, he has delivered his own Soul, & must be excused risking his poor body.”5 And therefore whatever is in Council is rejudged by the Town & generally condemned: as for example, the Resolves of the Council upon the Town Memorial for opening the Courts of Justice, altho’ voted unanimously by 15 Councellors, a considerable Majority of the whole Body, was at the Town Meeting unanimously voted unsatisfactory.6 And in the next Town Meeting, the Town Members, upon the Motion of one of them, Otis, were ordered to wait on the Governor & desire him not to prorogue the Assembly beyond the 15th Jany, to which it stood prorogued.7 I had intended to have prorogued it for a fortnight to have more time for the Novr. mail to come in; but did not think it worth while to give occasion for a disturbance by persisting in my Intention.

    But this is all above board & can be guard[ed]8 against: whereas the Anonymous threats against me, which the news paper frequently ushers in, are not to be guarded against, & not precisely to be understood. In the Gazette Jan 6, pa 3. col 2, is “a Laconic letter to Wolsey” “Great Sr, Retreat or you are ruined. Cromwell.” This is understood to be a Hint to me, that if I do not in the next Assembly retract what I have hitherto urged for the execution of the Stamp Act, I must expect to be ruined some way or other. It can’t mean political ruin; for that is not in their power; therefore it must mean Ruin either of Body or Goods or both.9 Whilst I remain here in this Situation, I receive Orders from the Lords of the Treasury “to see that the Stamps be distributed.”10 I have answered that it is impossible for me to execute their Commands: I may have my House pulled down, or myself knocked on the Head; but as these Events will not contribute to the distributing the Stamps, I shall not court them. But I shall in some way or other communicate these Orders to the assembly, or at least to the Council, when the General Court meets.

    But bad as these things are here, the Colony of Connecticut outdoes even these outdoings. They have formally declared all power to be devolved to the People & excercised it accordingly. They hold County meetings, which are continued by adjournment: Last Wednesday the States general,11 by the whole Body of the People, were to meet at Hartford. I have not heard what has been done there;12 but I inclose you another Sett of the resolutions of a County meeting; from which you will learn that the people of Connecticut were not subject to England, untill they entered into a compact for that purpose; and that their Charter is not a beneficial Grant, but a Charter party or Contract, which being broken by Great Britain, they are freed from their Subjection.13 I have before considered Connecticut as a pure Republick; but now they are discharged from their Subjection to Great Britain, It is undeniably such.

    I am obliged to seal this Letter to night, & therefore will close it here.

    I am Sr. &c.

    J Pownall Esqr.

    AL, LbC      BP, 5: 69-72.