470 | To Richard Jackson

    Boston, May 31, 1766.

    Dear Sir,

    I have recd Letters from you lately of the followg dates; Mar 3, 1[3], 15, 18 & Apl. 1[8],1 the Letter contg the protested Bill is not come to hand, tho’ advice of its being noted is in one of the forementioned Letters. The Drawer is supposed to be very responsible.2 There are two Ships still to come in, which sailed before the Ship which last arrived here. So I may expect the wanted Letter from one of them. At present I must lay aside all other business to give you an Account of the proceedings in the New Assembly, which met on Wednesday last.3

    The Faction was resolved to make the best use of the ill Temper of the People occasioned by the unhappy Stamp Act. Accordingly all the principal men of the Province, who had been Advocates for using decent & temperate Terms in the Representations against the Stamp Act, & disapproved of the violent Measures which were lately put in use, were pro[s]cribed in the public News papers by Name as friends to the Stamp Act. This was done with so much Success, that many of the most Respectable members of the House lost their Elections, & in many places ignorant & low men were chosen in their Room. The Alterations of the House amounted to upwards of 40 members; but they were not all to the disfavour of Governmt. This so elevated Otis that he declared that they intended to remove 15 Councellors: however he at last came down to 4 only being the principal Officers of the Crown. I said only that if the Council purged the Faction4 at one End, I should purge it at the other; & reserved myself for the Event.

    It happened that about six weeks before the meeting of the Assembly, I had communicated to the merchants of this Town the principal of my Letters in favour of the Trade of this Province: which brought the whole Body of merchants, & all the Gentleman in Town into public declarations in my favour, & execrations of Otis for his infamous & false Abuse of me. Also for above 3 weeks before the meeting, the News papers were full of Extracts of Letters, givings Accounts5 of the Credit which my Letters had met with in Parliament, & the Service they had done in the Repeal of the Stamp Act. Some of these Letters were in high Terms, in particularly two, which reported in express Terms what Lord Cambden had said of me in the House of Lords.6 So that the Opinion of People concerning my Conduct, in about a months Time, was allmost totally changed. Add to this, that all danger of mobbing was over; the press was opened on the side of Government; Otis had been severely lashed for some mad pranks at a Town Meeting, & was declining in Credit daily.7 All these concurred to strenghthen my power & Resolution to strike a bold Stroke at the Opening the Assembly, which I found would be absolutely necessary for the preservation of the Government from total Confusion.

    When the New House met, the friends of Government were more numerous than was expected; yet were the minority. The first Tryal was the Election of a Speaker: when Otis was chose by a majority of 7 in an House of 112. Upon his being presented to me I negatived him: the House proceeded to another Choice, which fell upon Mr Cushing, he gaining it but by one Vote. I assented to him, perhaps as much to the mortification of Otis as My former negative was, Cushing being a fellow Labourer & a Colleague of Otis. After this, preaching & dining being over, they went to electing Councellors. Otis had some time ago declared that they should fling out 15 Councellors; but for the last week had reduced the Number to 4, the principal Officers of the Crown. This intention was pursued with Success, tho’ effected with some difficulty. In the End, the Lt Govr, the Secry, the Attorney Genl, & Judge Oliver ^lost their Election^. The first of these lost his Election for the 18 by 2 only, & for Sagadehock by one only: in which last he would have succeeded, if he had not declared himself disqualified by having no property in that Territory, & refused to accept of an occasional Qualification, which was offered him by one of the Council.8 In the room of these 4 worthy persons, were elected 4 insignificant men, without pretence to any merit, but a constant attachment to the Faction which brought them in.

    The List of Election being laid before me, I negatived the 4 new chosen before mentioned, & 2 of the old Council, Mr Otis Senr, & Coll Sparahawk, being concerned as principals in the rejection of the 4 former Councellors. This was a bold Stroke, but very well timed; & it gave the most universal Satisfaction to the principal people of this Town, & I suppose as much to the generality of the Country. The Consequences of this spirited measure d’ont yet appear: but it is supposed it will have very good Effects. A Councellor told me, that tho’ my Physick was good rough, it worked very kindly: I am not without hopes it will give a good Turn to public business here. At least it has broke the ice, & restored me to the Excercise of a power, which I shall hereafter make freer use of than I have done.

    I inclose you my Speech & must conclude as the Ship is to sail to morrow.

    I am, Dr Sr. &c

    R Jackson Esqr.

    P.S. (the same to Mr Pownall’s)

    Before I sent away this, I have recd a Letter from the Secy of State, with general instructions & Requisitions: This I shall lay before the House on Tuesday next & enforce it with a speech of my own.9 I hope it will have its full Effect, but will promise nothing but that no Endeavours of mine will be wanted to improve it to the best purposes.

    AL, LbC      BP, 5: 117-122.