16. To Israel Williams, 5 June 1758

    17. To Israel Williams, 17 July 1758

    18. To Israel Williams, 11 August 1758

    19. To Israel Williams, 10 February 1759

    Thomas Hutchinson first encountered Thomas Pownall at the Albany Conference in 1754. A well-connected and ambitious young man, Pownall was the brother of John Pownall, the secretary of the Board of Trade. Thomas Pownall accompanied Sir Danvers Osborn to New York in 1753 as his private secretary when Osborn was appointed governor, but Osborn committed suicide within days of his arrival. Trading on his connections with his brother, Pownall attended the Albany Conference the following year where he was widely perceived as an informal representative of the Board of Trade. At the conference, Pownall advocated the development of a naval force on the Great Lakes and thus began his role as a military strategist. He was appointed governor of New Jersey in 1755 and then secretary extraordinary to Lord Loudoun. Having intrigued in the removal of William Shirley as governor of Massachusetts, Pownall was himself appointed to that post in 1757, arriving in Boston on 2 August.

    Shortly after Pownall’s arrival in Boston a quarrel emerged between Loudoun and the Massachusetts General Court over whether Parliament’s annual Mutiny Act—specifically, its provisions regarding the quartering of troops—extended to the colonies. When Massachusetts insisted on passing new enabling legislation to allow for quartering troops outside Castle William, Loudoun announced he was dispatching three regiments to Boston to enforce the Mutiny Act. A deftly worded message from the General Court (written by Hutchinson) forestalled the crisis and seemed to satisfy all parties.

    Initially, Pownall attempted to reconcile the political factions of the province, as evidenced by his nomination of Hutchinson, a leading supporter of Shirley, as lieutenant governor. Pownall and Hutchinson soon found that their differences prevented them from forming any true political alliance, although each maintained a facade of cooperation with the other. Pownall particularly courted those merchants in the province who were discontented with imperial regulation of North American trade, a position that Hutchinson could not endorse on principle or in fact. Increasingly marginalized from Pownall’s administration, Hutchinson walked a delicate line with Pownall from June 1758 to June 1760, solicitous of his favor but generally opposed to his policies.

    16. To Israel Williams

    Milton 5 June 1758

    Dear Colonel, I read the inclosed two or three times over before I could determine whether Hale was serious or not.1 The passage relating to Sr Wm. if it had been wrote three years ago would have determined me he was not serious, but they are upon so very different terms now that ^upon the whole^ I make no doubt he is in earnest. I have really been at a loss how to conduct my self. Immediately upon publishing my Comission the Council sent me to the head of the Table.2 I know the same distinction had been Shewn to all former Lt. Governors. However when Sr William came to town I avoided my Seat & at the middle of the Table I moved to the Board to consider the point anew; that I had no fondness for precedence, that Sr William’s Honours gave him an undoubted Right to take place of me any where out of the Government, and if the Board were of opinion that no exception would be taken to my Conduct for giving up any Rights belonging to the Kings Commission I chose to give place. Sr. Wm. said he was not fond of the place neither if the Board determined he was not to preside but must take a new Chair he Should acquiesce. He had Received such & Such marks of distinction from the Crown & he was not willing to do any thing to dishonour himself.

    Cap Osborne Wendell & Watts thought Sir William should take his place as usual I don’t remember that any body else spake ^for it^.3 Chandler was very blunt in giving a contrary opinion.4 Mr. Oliver asked whether if Sr Harry Franklin had been chose into the Council they would give place to him, they all said No and yet Sir Harry as a Baronet takes place of Sr William.5 They puzzled themselves and said it was none of their business to settle the point. I ask’d what I should do then. Some of them said I had taken a place the beginning of the Session & that until there was an order to the contrary I ought to keep it. I told them I would withdraw until the next day & I hoped they would consider of it. But they would not & so the matter has stood ever since. I am satisfied Sr William when he went home stopped at Hale’s & that the visit produced this Letter. Now I wish you would tell me how I had best behave my self for I am making Enemies & destroying the means of being useful to my Country if I lose my interest with the Members of the Court, & so for a Shadow am parting with the substance. I assure you I have a good many times wished the Comission in some other hands but its too Late & I must make the best of it, and as you will be able impartially to view this point tell me how I ought to proceed & I will follow your advice, for really if it can be done fairly & in character I had rather conform to Hale’s opinion than the contrary, I am only afraid that it will be said I had not spirit enough to assert the Right the Kings Commission gave me although I had the practice of my predecessors to govern my self by. You can judge which way of proceeding will be generally approved of; that I should incline to follow, for its a most trifling affair in it self & I never was apprehensive of any but trifling consequences until now. Does not the Stroke about keeping my Commission private ’till after Election look a little sarcastical. You know that I made no scruple to own I had it before the choice came on & I suppose there was not a Member of the House but what believed it & all I proposed by publishing it the day after rather than the day before was to avoid parade imagining it was sufficient if it was read to the two Houses.6

    Sir William Pepperell. Pepperell is depicted here at the height of his achievements, the successful siege of Louisbourg. His victory was rewarded with a baronetcy, which caused Pepperell to believe he ought to be given precedence over Hutchinson at the Council table. By John Smibert. Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum.

    The account in the news papers of the landing the Troops on Cape Breton & the good prospect of Success being published by order is to be depended on.7 Hollowell has sent a prize in said to be more valuable than both the others. The Governor intends further to prorogue the Court.8 I am Sir Your affectionate Humble Servant,     Tho Hutchinson

    RC (Massachusetts Historical Society, Israel Williams Papers); at foot of letter, “Colo Williams.”

    17. To Israel Williams

    Milton 17. July 1758

    Dear Sir, I wish the good prospect our Successes afford you may continue. I own I am not so much encouraged as you are. I have seen some accounts which look as if the Army would be very glad of Success far short of your hopes. I really fear the whole force of Canada being upon them before they gain this one post. The Year advances fast & the Siege of Louisburgh goes on slowly and I think we may every day expect the utmost that France can do with its Fleet & have reason to fear the junction of Spain with them so that if Louisburgh surrenders sooner than at present we expect I think it would be very imprudent for the Fleet to go up St Lawrence & leave the Colonies at mercy of the Enemy I mean the Seaports. The security of the British Interest is more than ever, the Navy. Since the affair of Byng a new Spirit seems to prevail there.1 But in the Army ——.

    The other point you mention must be touched very tenderly.2 No body can appear more indifferent about it than I do. I never have begun any conversation about it, but it has often been mentioned to me. The Secretary has been acquainted with the design & Mr Pratt, who I am told heartily fell in with it.3 T__g has been sounded but discovered his disaffection to me & I was told that no more would be said to him upon it.4 I hear that the S—y to the B—rd of T—e has been wrote to that it may be known how far it will be acceptable there.5 So much is in favour of it. At other times a new Agent instead of Mr. Bollan is proposed for the Business of the next Session & one Mr Barons now at New York has been mentioned to divers Gentlemen. This looks quite another way. I have no Schemes in Politicks but am of the same Principles in Civil Affairs that the Quietists are in Religious matters I wait.

    Can you tell the reason why you have an Answer to your Letter so soon when I used to be very remiss in this regard? I really am of less consequence than I have been these twenty years not that I have any reason to imagine any alteration in Sentiment concerning me in those who have the direction, but many things which use to fall to me go into other hands & I am often times wholly at leisure. This seems to be the natural consequence of my new ____ Shadow. It does not suit me. Its pity any body interposed to prevent Royall’s measures.6 However I am altered in other respects I am not in my regard & esteem for my friends & in a particular manner I remain as much as ever Dear Sir Your affectionate Humble Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (Massachusetts Historical Society, Israel Williams Papers); at foot of letter, “Colonel Williams.”

    18. To Israel Williams

    Milton 11. August 1758

    Dear Sir, What lies uppermost naturally comes out first. I intreat you to cloath your Sentiments with such a dress that no body besides you & I can understand them. Letters are liable to miscarry, sometimes they are opened before they come where they are directed. Don’t you know that every thing published by Order is by Order of the first Magistrate. By and by you will be found guilty of Treason & I of misprision of Treason, and neither of us will be able to do much service afterwards.1 When I have said this I do not wonder that you are raised, but it is neither in your power nor mine to take any one step that can have any influence on future measures. As Members of the Legislature it would have been possible, but you know before this time that the Court is further prorogued & I fancy will be again. I am just come from another ramble down to the Cape where I have picked up & sent back the rest of the Deserters.2 I had rather play at small Game than stand out. This is the reason why I have not seen the Governor these 8 days, but I hear he is to sail to morrow with Capt. Hollowell & Sander’s Sloop for Georges upon an apprehension that an Attack is designed there3 advice of which it is said is come from the Lt Governor of Halifax.4 You know as he does not leave the Province this will not alter my situation. And yet I fancy it will necessarily bring me under an inconvenience if any thing of importance should occur in his absence, for if I concern my self I shall be thought officious by some & if I do not I shall be charged with neglect of duty by others.5

    Thomas Pownall, 1777. Although Pownall appointed Hutchinson lieutenant governor, the two soon fell out over political differences. Hutchinson continued to treat Pownall warily after the latter’s return to England in 1760, but enmity between the two may have proved the cause of Hutchinson’s ultimate undoing with the publication of his letters in 1773. Mezzotint by Richard Earlom after Francis Cotes. Courtesy of the Emmet Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

    I wish I could cheer up your spirits a little. Our particular Affairs its true look gloomy.6 But let us view the Affairs of the Nation in general they certainly have a better aspect than they had last year. We have had great success against the Enemy’s Ships. The Accounts from Guinea I think may be depended on, four Capital Ships are certainly burnt & one fallen into our hands at Louisburgh & we have the highest reason to suppose the place itself surrendred. Senegall & the settlements in Africa are more valued by the French than Ticonderogoe & Crown Point and if upon the whole the British Interest advances it is not very material in what particular quarter, and perhaps upon a peace as good terms may be made for America as if we had succeeded in our Attempts & those in Africa had failed.

    I am satisfied the Govr has offered his Service more than once but it has not been accepted. I can’t think it would do any good to force himself there. There seems to be no correspondence between the Governors. Governor Fitch has never wrote since last winter.7 As to what you say of retirement I would have hinted it but I know it would have no good effect from me & nothing is so likely to produce an alteration as his discovering that in general it is not agreeable which I hope he will do before any ill consequence arise from it.

    I have had one settled opinion from the beginning. The Affairs of America are become very extensive & the several parts of them great & important. What we want is one great Genius to direct & conduct them. This like the Sun in the Heavens would spread its influences. But they at home either do not see the necessity of it, or they have it not to send us. I am sure we have not had such an one yet. The first was an obstinate fool.8 The second acted more by others judgments than his own.9 The third seemed to lay so much stress upon little matters the uniform of his Regiments providing Quarters &c that he did not leave room enough in his thoughts for things of most importance.10 The fourth I leave until his Successors time which according to custom can’t be a great way off, for you know a Man in a fever is always turning though one place is not a whit easier than another.11

    Pray make my Compliments to Colo Partridge.12 I am Sir Your affectionate Friend and Humble Servant,     Tho Hutchinson

    Aequam memento, rebus in arduis, Servare mentem: non secus in bonis Ab insolenti temperatum Latitia, moriture Deh.13

    RC (Massachusetts Historical Society, John Davis Papers); at foot of letter, “Colo Williams.”

    19. To Israel Williams

    Boston 10 Feb. 1759

    Dear Sir, We have compleated six weeks. If any thing of importance was transacted the first five weeks you will find it in the Journals, it has slip’d me.1 The last week we have made a present to Lord Howe of 250£ sterling for erecting a Statue for his brother,2 have ordered the raising 400 men for a Guard to His Excellency while building a fort at Penobscot & the Ship & Sloop to be employed on the Same design, the fort it self the General is to pay for & we are to garrison it with 100 men.3 We have also desired the Governor to use his good Offices in solliciting a Reimbursement & have in the same vote desired the mony may be shipped in a Man of War but no directions are given to any body in England concerning it. The two first Affairs I voted for, the last I should have been glad to have voted for, likewise, for peace sake, but the Interest of the Province appeared to me to be disserved by it & I was obliged to give my voice against it while His Excellency was present which I am sensible was construed unkind & ungrateful & I really wish that I could fairly have steered clear of it.

    The proposal you made to the Governor the last year respecting the Agency he has lately made himself to me & divers of my Friends.4 I gave him this answer that I thought it would show inconsistency in the Conduct of any Gentleman who voted against the present Agent meerly because of the Expence to vote for another who would be under the same circumstances.5 He asked me not to refuse it. I told him it was difficult for me to do any thing that would have any tendency to strengthen the Interest against the present Gentleman, I chose to forego any private interest rather than do it, had the place been vacant my conduct would have been different. To others he mentions Mr Bowdoin, & Mr Flucker[,] Tyng & I make an interest for him. I am sure it will be for the interest of the Province that the Gentleman now in place should continue in it & if I thought a peremptory refusal to succeed him would keep him in I know I ought to make such an one.

    We stand adjourned to Monday occasioned by a report of a Man of War arrived at New York. If we should have no further intelligence the Governor intends then to adjourn the Court for about three Weeks. I am Sir Your very Humble Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    Its said the Man of War at New York is from Halifax.

    RC (Massachusetts Historical Society, Israel Williams Papers); at foot of letter, “Colo Williams.”