469 | To John Pownall

    Boston May 30 1766

    Dear Sr

    Since my writing to you my Letter dated the 16th inst, by which I acknowledged the receipt of yours May 29th by Capt Miller,1 There has been a considerable Change in this Town & Country in my favour. I informed you in my last that I had communicated some of the principal of my public letters on the trade of this Country to the Merchants of this Town. This had an Extraordinary Effect; and at once conciliated the favor of the whole body of Gentleman & Merchants of this Town, and ^at^ the same time made them loud in their Execrations of Otis for having so wickedly belied & abused me in direct Opposition to Truth.

    Scarce had this been well propagated thro’ the Town, before private letters began to arrive, which gave accounts of the great credit, which my public letters read in parliament had done me; & the service they were in of obtaining a repeal of the Stamp Act: Some of these letters were in the high terms, particularly two which repeated in express words, what the Writers say they heard Lord Camden speak of me in the House of Lords. Extracts of these letters were published in the Newspapers for near 3 Weeks together;2 which being circulated round the Country, produced a great alteration in the popular opinion of me and my conduct. In regard to which I stand so fair now, that I am not affraid of the Lords protest which has not as yet arrived here; as a proper account of Lord Camdens Speech will easily Vindicate me from the intimation contained in the protest.3

    But tho’ these advices came time enough to set right my character; they had little Effect on the Elections of Representatives. The most considerable Men of the Province, almost to a Man, had been proscribed in the Newspapers as Enemies to their Country; only for being in general friends to Goverment,4 & having at times recommended moderate & decent terms in the Representations against the Stamp Act. It is surprising what Effect this had[;] several Gentlemen of respectable Characters, considerable property, & heretofore of uninterupted Authority [in] their Towns,5 were flung out & ignorant & low men elected in their stead.6 It was expected that the Influence of Goverment would have no chance in this Assembly: And Otis’s party gave out that they should take possession of both House & Council; the latter of which they should quite new modell.7

    But when the assembly met, the friends of Goverment appeared to be more numerous than was expected; & among them were some of the ablest Men in the House. The first Tryal was the Election of a Speaker; when Otis was Elected Speaker by a Majority of 7 in an house of 112. I negatived him: they proceeded to another Election, when Mr Cushing a Colleague of Otis was chose by a Majority of one only. As he had given no notorious Offence to Goverment, altho’ of Otis’s party; and I did not care to carry my negativing a Speaker, being quite a new thing, to a great length, I approved of him. They then proceeded to the Election of Councellors; when after a long struggle, & in some instances Majorities of 1 or 2 only, The Lieut Governor, The Secretary, the Attorney General8 & Mr Oliver,9 the only Judge of the Superiour Court sitting in Council, were flung out and in their room were elected 4 Members having nothing to recommend them but a constant and uniform Opposition to Goverment at all times & in all cases.10 The list being laid before me, I negatived the 4 new Councellors11 & two of the old (Col Otis the father and Col Sparhawk)12 who had been most active in this dislocating Scheme.

    This was a bold Stroke; but nicely critical: it was no sooner known than the whole Town rang with approbation of my Spirit & Resolution; and the negatived persons were presently Sunk down part of them in their own insignificance, & the others in the effect of their own Machinations. So general has been the applause that Several Persons who have been not known before to Speak well of me, are as loud in my commendations as my best friends. And so much is Otis himself humbled, that having been appointed of the Committee to prepare an answer to my speech, he declined being concerned in drawing it; but recommended that it should be done in decent & Moderate terms.13 It is now said that my conduct is approved by a Majority of the House, & will probably have exceeding good effects there. In short to use the expression of a councellor to me to day, my Physick though a little rough works very Kindly.

    I enclose with this some coppies of my Speech, which you will communicate as you see Occasion. I shall write to their Lordships as soon as I can find a little time for it.14 At present I am obliged to close this for a Ship which is to sail to morrow Morning.

    I am &c __

    J Pownal Esqr

    L, LbC      BP, 5: 114-117.