Boston learned in late May that Parliament had enacted the Revenue Act of 1764 and was considering a stamp duty as well. As opposition to the new legislation mounted throughout the colonies, several extended examinations of the subject appeared in Boston, most notably, James Otis Jr.’s The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved (written in May and June and published on 23 July) and Oxenbridge Thacher’s Sentiments of a British American (published on 3 September). Governor Francis Bernard also produced his own pamphlet on the topic, The Principles of Law and Polity (published in early July [Papers of Francis Bernard, 2: Appendix 2]). Only a handful of copies were printed, though, limiting its circulation to just a few of Bernard’s closest associates in Britain. It is not known if Hutchinson ever read Bernard’s essay. Although it was never published, Thomas Hutchinson wrote his own overview of the question: [A Brief State of the Claim of the Colonies and the Interest of the Nation with Respect to Them], first written in July and intended as an enclosure to his letter to Richard Jackson of 23 July. It was finally dispatched to Jackson sometime around 4 September and was widely circulated in England, where it was viewed as thoughts conveyed in a private letter rather than a work intended for publication. Only an incomplete copy preserved in Hutchinson’s letterbook, but not written in his own hand, has been found.
Boston 11 July 1764
Sir, I should have answered your obliging Letter of 27th of [blank space in MS] if I had not pleased myself with the prospect of a free conversation with you upon the Subject of it, but since the receipt of your last Letter of the 14th of April the prospect is over.1 I have reason to think exception would be taken if I should quit my Station without leave especially as I have wrote for it & received no Answer.2 I have no Interest to support me unless near thirty years endeavours to promote such measures as should most recommend the Province should have given me any. When the change of the paper money by which so many people in England had been sufferers was effected & which I think never would have been if I had not first projected it & then with infinite difficulty carried it through the Court.3 I had the thanks of many persons for it but I know such things are soon forgot & when the Royal Commissions were renewed Mr Bollan wrote me he was some time in doubt whether mine would be among them so that I consider myself to stand wholly upon my good behavior.4 Indeed I never expect to receive any great profit from my post & have sometimes been tempted to write for leave to resign it when I have been made the butt of a malicious party in this town, but I would not give any just grounds for taking it from me, therefore without express Liberty I shall never think of leaving the Province. Besides my engaging in the service of the Province is rendered more difficult by the most injudicious conduct I ever knew the House of Representatives guilty of. As I had received no Letters from England my friends made no motion about the Agency and it was supposed nothing would be done that Session. When it was thought to be near the close I left the Court to go upon the Eastern which is the longest Circuit & several of the best Members went with me & others of like disposition went home.5 A member of the Town of Boston who has always been inimical to me & I think to the Country took this Opportunity to propose a Letter to the Agent as a Report of a Committee of which he was Chairman, and although the Agent has always been considered as an Officer of the Court yet this Letter was never sent to the Council for their Concurrence but being accepted by the House was I suppose signed by their Speaker & they have been so infatuated as to print it in their Journal.6 It is very certain I should never have engaged in their Service with such Instructions. I think if I had been at Liberty to engage my friends could have prevented such from being given. I never was of opinion that any good could come from a Sturdy & Sullen behaviour of the Colonies. The only ways in which I thought they could be served were by an humble representation of their Claim submitted to the wisdom & Justice of a British Parliament in whose determinations British Colonies must always acquiesce. If their Claim of natural rights or to an equitable consideration of their Case should be overruled Arguments may be used to shew that taxes & duties will lessen the Advantages which the nation has for so long time received by having the Colonies for their Customers & greater benefit must accrue by diverting rather than restraining them from manufactures & branches of Commerce interfering with the national interest than can arise from taxes & duties & finally if monies must be raised a more easy equitable & effectual way may be found for doing it than what has been hitherto projected. My principles were known to the Members of the Court when I had so general a vote for their Agent & I am well assured there were not above six or eight Members who would have desired to clogg me with Instructions inconsistent with them. I fear this rash step will be of great prejudice to the Country, that the same temper will prevail if not in the assemblies yet among the people of the other Colonies in some of which very rude things have been thrown out in print which I fancy caused some of the members here more easily to agree to this Letter. No good can come from such a Spirit but the individuals who are most active in Stirring it up care not for the Consequences to the publick, provided they can make themselves popular & Conspicuous.
I have a vacation of 3 or 4 weeks from public business. If my private affairs do not unexpectedly take up my time I will send a few thoughts together upon the subject of the colonies to be corrected by you. I am with very great esteem Sir Your most obliged humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:87–89); in EH’s hand; unaddressed.
Boston 23 July 17641
Sir, Soon after the date of my last I received a further favor from you your letter of 16 April by Cap Hallowell. The postcript to it is no more than I expected after I found by your first letter it could be thought of much consequence where a Lt Govr was whilst the Governor was in the Province.2 It was extremely kind in you to offer to advance the fees.3 If you have been at any expence please to send to Mr Robert Wilsonn Stationer in Birchin lane in whose hands I have money. I have given orders to Reimburse you.4 I have found a day or two of leisure & drawn up a brief state of the claim of the colonies & the interest of the nation with Respect to them.5 I am sure there is little if anything relative to the colonies which I am capable of mentioning that you was not before acquainted with but I have done this because you desired it. If I have any where expressed my self with too great freedom I know you will not suffer it to do me any prejudice. Perhaps there are some sentiments which might serve us in a magazine or news paper but if there be any thing which would give offence I desire to avoid it & to do nothing out of character. If that was out of the question yet I could wish it so disguised as to be supposed to come from some other colony rather than the Massa which might prevent fixing upon the author & if there be no prospect of service it will certainly be best to conceal & destroy it.
I send under this cover a pamphlet wrote by one of the Representatives of Boston who has been a great incendiary.6 Upon my coming into the place of ch. Just. & encouraging the due execution of the laws of trade he set up in opposition made himself the head of a party & has been scattering fuel thro the Province ever since. This is a loose unconnected performance. He boasts of his moderation. I did not know but that the reference to it in the letter to the Agent might have occasioned an inclination to see it otherwise it is not worth sending to you.7 I have not been able to read Mr Harriss pieces with that attention which the subject requires.8 ^I hope^ I shall soon have leisure to do it. I am obliged to you for them. I wish it was more in my power than it is to convince you how much I esteem your friendship. I am Sir Your obliged and most obedient Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:99–100); unaddressed. Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 17 March 1777.
[circa 4 September 1764]
Sir, I missed the opportunity by which I intended to send the foregoing which gave me time to put what I had wrote upon the subject of the colonies in another guise but still I imagine it will be suspected to come from the colonies unless some stroke or other could be inserted having reference to some very late transaction with you of which there could not be time for advice in the colonies.1 If you think there are any thought sentiments which can be of publick service I know you will use them for that purpose if you wholly suppress & conceal them I am sure it will be for the best for I can Rely upon your judgment more than my own, and I know whatever you do you will not let it be known that they come from me. I shall give the pacquet to Cap Jarvis to be delivered with his own hand. I will add to the pamphlet mentioned in my former a little piece which I never saw until yesterday wrote by another Representative Mr Th. a lawyer of good parts & a good deal of fancy; and the last news paper.2 The governor expects to be absent 5 or 6 weeks at his Island.3 When he Returns he intends the assembly shall sit. I am with great truth Sir Your faithful humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:100); unaddressed; undated; marked “By Jarvis” for ship transport.
[11–23 July 1764]
Sir, The Oftner I read your remarks upon the rights of the Colonists & the late proceedings in parliament with respect to them the more I am pleased with your Candor as well as good Sense and if I carry some points a little further in their favour than you do perhaps it is owing to an insensible bias which I am under from being a Colonist myself.2 Before I enter upon the Subject give me leave to observe to you that the Colonists like all the rest of his Majesties subjects ^the human race^ are of different Spirits & dispositions some more calm & moderate others more violent & extravagant, and if now & then some rude & indecent things are thrown out in print in one place & another I hope such things will not be considered as coming from the Colonists in general but from particular persons warmed by the ^intemperate^ zeal shall I say of Englishmen in support of what upon a sudden appears to them to be their rights. I intirely agree with you & I think the body of the people in the several Colonies do so likewise. That3 it is reasonable British Colonies should ever remain subject to the controul of Britain & consequently must be bound by the determinations of the supreme authority there the British parliament. You allow that it is possible for such a parliament to pass Acts which may abridge British Subjects of what are generally called natural rights and I am willing to go farther & will suppose that in some cases it is reasonable & necessary even though such rights should have been strengthned & confirmed by the most solemn Sanctions & engagements. The rights of parts & individuals must be given up when the safety of the whole ^shall^ depen[d upon]4 it. If the Kentish privileges of Gavelkind5 shall be found prejudicial to th[e pub]lick the parliament may very justly take them away and shall I go too far [if I all]ow6 that even the Charter of London7 may be vacated or which is ^supposed to be^ still far[ther] that any Article of the union with Scotland8 may be repealed not for sm[all re]asons9 but for the sake of the publick safety. On the other hand such is the [wis]dom & justice of a British Parliament that in all Acts a tender rega[rd w]ill be had to all rights natural & acquired of every Subject. Now I sub[mit i]t to10 your Consideration whether the Case of the Colonists is not somewh[at sim]ilar to that of the Inhabitants of Scotland. The Scotch would not agr[ee to] the Union without certain Stipulations one of which was that they [shou]ld be taxed ever after in such manner & such proportion as was agree[d and n]o other; the Colonists would not leave their native Country unt[il it] was stipulated & agreed either by Charter or Commissions for I consi[der] them both as a perpetual rule of Government for the respective Colo[nie]s that they should have Assemblies of their own chusing to ma[ke] laws for their government to raise monies by taxes &c besides this [gen]eral Clause in all Charters & Commissions that the Inhabitants should enjoy all the privileges ^&^ immunities of free & natural Subjects. I do not say that the proportion of Taxes which Scotland shall pay shall never be altered, nor that the parliament shall never tax the ^Inhabitants of the^ Colonies but I think they never will do the one or the other without some manifest special Reason which did not subsist nor was foreseen at the time of the respective Stipulations. If it should occurr to you that the agreement with Scotland was by the parliament that with the Colonists by the prince only I have no idea of an Act of parliament which it will not be in the power of a subsequent parliament to alter or repeal & if the agreement made by the prince was no more than what he had a right to make the parliament will always be equally tender of violating such agreement as they would the Acts of any former parliaments. Now I conceive these engagements made by the Prince were no more than what by his prerogative as it was then understood he had good right to make & that the Subject has just the same security from it as he would have from an Act of parlt. The right to new acquired Countreys according to the Constitution of England two hundred years ago for the Constitution alters, ^I take it^ was allowed to be in the Crown, & how far can that proof be ^If it should be said that this^ is a Subject perhaps ^which^ has never been fully discussed & I am not anxious ^do not know^ that it ever should be ^has been however^ it seems enough for my purpose that the Crown from time to time disposed of these Countries not only to their own Subjects but to foreign princes particularly Acadie & Nova Scotia began to be settled by British Subjects were ceded to France although France had no better claim to them than to New England, & Surinam was sold to or exchanged with the Dutch.11 The agreements made with the Subjects who went into the Colonies were known to all the world, the parliament from time to time instead of discouraging have shewn all countenance to the proceeding & at the Revolution the House of Commons resolved that the prosecution of quo warrantos12 against the Colonies & the surrender of their Charters to the violation of their ancient Rights & Privileges grievances.13 Will it not be then accounted an unfair proceeding with the Colonists after above an hundred years more than tacit approbation of such Contracts to call in question the right of the Crown to make itself a party to them—Let us then consider what this Privilege is which the Colonists claim & how far it is reasonable it should be continued to them. They claim a power of making Law & a privilege of exemption from taxes except by their own Representatives. This power & privilege they say is granted in express Terms in the Commissions & Charters & it is implied in the general term the privileges of natural born English Subjects. Here I readily acknowledge that in the very nature of a Colony they are ^it is^ to remain the Appendage of the Mother State, any Laws therefore of the Colonies that should ^may^ have a tendency to break off this Connection it cannot be supposed should have any force, but it is highly reasonable that by the Laws of the mother Country a restraint should be laid as from time to time shall be necessary, nor it cannot be supposed that a Colony should be tolerated either in any branch of Trade or in any other matter or thing which shall cause advantage to a foreign State & prejudice to the mother Country & although this restraint deprives them of privileges which their fellow Subjects in the mother Country enjoy yet as you very justly observe it is no more than is reasonable to part with in return for the protection received against foreign Enemies. I am therefore far from imagining the Colonists to be independent of the parliament but I consider the parliament as suspending the exercise of certain powers over the Colonists which would ha[ve] been in constant exercise if they had remained in the mother Count[ry.] I am mistaken if Rome did not treat her Colonies in this manner. You know the Territories dependent on ancient Rome were distinguished by Provinciæ Municipiæ & Coloniæ. The first being conquered Countries were subject to such Magistrates & such Regulations as the Senate thought fit to appoint & determine. Such were Sicily Sardinia &c. From these whilst the Lands were suffered to remain to the Conquered arose the vestigalia the Genus of which there were many Species as Stipendium Tribatum Decuma, Scriptura Portorium &c.14 The Municipiæ are said to be Cities not originally part of the Roman State but such as had voluntarily or otherwise been annexed to it & were allowed to use their old form of Magistracy & to be governed by their own Laws unless the Inhabitants were admitted to a Suffrage at Rome & then they were obliged wholly to submit to Roman Laws & renounce their own. The Coloniæ which are to my purpose were formed out of Roman Citizens or inhabitants of Latium & led forth to take possession of & inhabit Countries acquired by the Roman People & one reason given for settling Colonies was to increase the Roman [blank space in MS]. Those that were not too remote from the City retained the Privileges of Citizens to all intents & purposes. Cicero was a native of Appinium & that part of Gaul had a voice in Elections appears from one of his Epistles to Atticus Quoniam videtur in Suffragiis multum posse Gallia.15 The distant Colonies could not exercise the Privileges of Citizens in Rome. They were therefore allowed them within themselves, they retained the same form of Government a Colony was called the Effigies Parva16 of the mother State. The Duumviratus was a magistracy with much the same power as that of the Consuls or perhaps with both Consular & prætorian power for it is said Prætors are not mentioned by ancient Authors among Colony Officers. The Decuriones were the Senators & every Colony had an Assembly of the people. They had Censors Ædiles & Questors of their own electing. Indeed When Cæsar deprived Rome itself of her Liberties no wonder he did her Colonies also. I remember mention of his appointing an Officer in one of the Colonies, somewhere in Ciceros Epistles. Not only the Coloniæ when first planted but also the provinciæ when changed into Coloniæ as was sometimes the case were freed from the vestigal of every sort. The Campanian fields paid large tribute to Rome and Rullus attempted a popular measure to turn them into a Colony but was prevented by Cicero.17 A passage in his Oration against Rullus setts this matter in a clear light. I know Plutarch says that before the time of the Grachi the Colonies contributed to the support of the State & that Livius Drusus a Tribune of the people decreed the planting twelve Colonies to consist of 3000 ^men^ to be free from all payments,18 & that this was contrary to what before had been the practice, and this seems to have been reasonable in the early days of Rome when the inhabitants of the Colonies retained all the Privileges of Citizens not being remote from the City. By the removal of their Persons & Estates there was a deficiency in the census & yet they received protection in common with the Inhabitants of Rome. The deficiency therefore was made good by a pension from the Colony to which they removed; but all Authors agree that in after times when Colonies were sent to a greater distance and supported a magistracy & government within themselves they were free from every kind of tribute. It can be to no purpose to mention the modern Colonies. The French Spaniards & Danes are content with their Chains they use to wear them at home & are not intitled to greater privileges abroad. The Dutch & Genoese some may say are free States & yet they govern their Colonies as arbitrarily as the French or Spaniards. The Subjects of the States in Europe under the name of a Commonwealth & of Genoa under that of an Aristocracy are perhaps as great Slaves as those of France or Spain. If I must have an absolute master I had rather have but one especially if he be a wise one than a great number. A Dutchman therefore is as content to have his Life & Liberty at the mercy of a Governor at Surinam or Curasoe as of Deputies & Burg[o]masters in Holland for he has no more concern in the Election or rem[ova]l of one than of the other. The Inhabitants of Britain only are free in Europe & the Inhabitants of Bri[tish] Colonies only feel the loss of freedom, they feel it the more sensibly because they never expected it they thought it doubly secured as their natural rights & by virtue of the most solemn engagements. I will only add that it does not seem to be an unreasonable proposition, that the inhabitants of Colony are intitled to all the privileges they enjoyed in their mother Country which will consist with their dependance upon it. I expect you are ready to ask me what I am afraid of. The Parliament you will say as I acknowledge have a right to regulate & restrain the trade of the Colonies & even absolutely to prohibit certain branches by laing Duties then surely you have less reason to complain than if you were altogether restrained from trading in such Articles upon which the Duties are laid. When the Parliament touches your interior parts by excises Stamp Duties poll taxes & it may be quitrents you will have some reason to complain.19 I cannot help wondering at this distinction which I have often heard made by men every way superior to myself.20 Is it for the sake of regulating trade or to raise money from the Colonies that the Duties are laid by the late Act of Parliament? If the former why should not the money arising by such duties be paid into the Treasuries of the Colonies respectively where it is raised rather than into the Exchequer besides what need was there of any Regulation of the Trade to Madera or the Western Islands?21 It must therefore be for the sake of the money arising from the Duties & if so how are the privileges of the people less affected than by an internal tax. Is it any difference to me whether I pay three pounds ten shillings duty for a pipe of wine to an officer of Impost or whether I pay the same Sum by an excise of ninepence per Gall to an excise Officer or would an old Roman have thought his Privileges less affected by the Portorium than by the Stipendium or Decumæ. However if there appears to the parliament to be an esssential difference & it be a favour to us that we have no interior taxes laid I acquiesce & if I can not have all I would am willing to obtain as much of it as may be. ^But are we sure of Retaining even this.^ You have sufficiently answered the objection made to our claim of freedom from taxes unless represented in parliament vizt. that the people of England cannot be said one tenth part of them to be represented as no greater proportion have a Voice in Elections & therefore the Colonies can have no claim to it, but besides your observation that every man of property in England has his influence in Elections & may have his voice if he will. I begg leave to add that Acts of Parliament do not generally respect individuals. I am ^either^ a landed man in trade of this or that part of the Kingdom, whatever my interest is it is represented & the concern of particular Members or set of Members in Parliament but what Member can be said to be the representative of the Colonies more than all the rest. Are not the Colonies considered as detached & having a distinct interest from the Interest of the Nation. Is not the Parliament Party & Judge.22 Is it not a general question what can be done to make the Colonies further beneficial to the Nation? Nobody adds consistent with their Rights. In short do you not consider us as your property to improve in the best way you can for your Advantage. One of my Neighbours a poor man in the Country has ten or twelve Sons, as soon as they came to be capable of Labour he seemed to have less Affection for them than he had for his Cattle, some he sent upon Wages to Sea some he sold as Soldiers to relieve men who had been impressed. I asked him how he could be so unnatural to his own flesh & Blood he replied the boys had been a Charge to him until they were eight or ten years Old & he thought it reasonable they should reimburse what they had cost him. I could not help thinking of the Nation & her Colonies & they were in danger of being treated in the same manner but without the same reason most of them having been settled without any expence to the Mother Country. [I h]ave not forgot the Concession I made that whatever opinion we have of our Rights the parliament must be the final Judges & it is possible that it may be determined that the natural right of a Colonist is not the same with the natural right of an Inhabitant of Britain & that the Colonists have no sufficient Plea from their Charters or Commissions for exemption from parliamentary taxes &c the Authority of Parliament not being liable to controul from such Charters or Commissions. I would humbly hope notwithstanding that we shall be considered in equity & if we have not ^strictly^ a claim of right we have of favour. I know of none of the Colonies except the two last settled Georgia & Halifax which occasioned any Charge to the Crown or Kingdom in the Settlement of them. Virginia indeed was a long time burdensome to particular undertakers & great Sums of money were expended for there was no Spirit for Colonizing, everybody who could do it chose to stay at home. Sir Ferdinando Gorges who was a principal adventurer in settling Colonies in the beginning of the last Century says in a History of some of the Colonies published by his grandson after his death that he could not get people for money to reside there.23 A new Cause arose or else you would have had no Colonies at this day. Arbitrary measures in the reigns of King James & King Charles drove such as were & who expected an entire change of the Constitution in England to seek an Asylum in America. The people of the Massachusetts were the first who fled for the sake of civil & Religious Liberty, from them all the other Colonies in New England Sprang. This was about the year 1630 & between that & 1640 multides left England & flocked over to America but with this expectation & assur^depend^ance24 that what^ever^ changes ^should^ come upon England their Liberties should be safe. After 1640 we hear of no great Embarkations from England for America. The bare charge of transporting themselves Families Stock of Cattle & necessary houshold stuff amounted to Two hundred thousand pounds Sterling. They had most of them Estates in England which they Sold & laid out the produce of them in improving the Lands in America which were of no value without, & they & their posterity for 130 years together have been continually spending their strength & their Acquisitions of every sort in rendering the Country more & more valuable. They have enjoyed their civil & Religious ^Liberties^ to their content which has caused them with greater chearfulness to endure all the hardships of settling new Countries. No ill use has been made of these privileges unless now & then a mistaken apprehension of their Rights soon corrected may be called such. Some of the Colonies have been engaged in wars for their defence against the natives & the neighbouring French in which for an hundred years together they received no Assistance from England. The New England Colonies unhappily undertook an expedition against Cape Breton & succeeded & you know of what importance it was at the peace of Aix la Chapelle,25 but still I say unhappily for the Colonies because it made them the object of French resentment and caused a great national Expence in the last war which is now given as a reason for new measures with respect to them. Give me leave to ask whether it is not equitable when such an amazing addition is made to the Dominion & wealth of Britain that the persons who procured & have been the Instruments of it & their posterity should continue in the enjoyment of as great Liberties & privileges as if they had continued themselves in Britain? As great I say but still with this reserve as far as will consist with their dependance upon Britain and we desire no greater. Give us an equivalent for all this Labour & expence & remove us where our Ancestors came from & we shall think ourselves very happy. Settle such Inhabitants in America & under such Government as you think proper. Surely the Services we have rendered the Nation have not subjected us to any forfeitures. If it should be said the Lands we are upon belonged to the Crown or if you will to the Nation, I answer the Crown had granted them to particular Subjects of whom the Colonists many of them at least purchased before they left England & afterwards purchased them again of the Indian princes who had the best if not the sole right to them besides it is well known American Lands in their natural State are of no value there is not any Colony which has not cost more to make it capable of rendering profit than it is now worth. If America was now a wilderness & an offer was to be made of the best tracts of Lands we would stay at home & it might remain a wilderness forever. I know it is said the Colonies are a charge to the Nation & it is reasonable they should contribute to their own defence & protection. It must be allowed that great part of the Charge of the last war was for the defence of the Colonies & a dispute about boundaries was the Occasion of the war. But it must be remembred that during the war the Colonies annually contributed to the charge of it & some of them so largely that the parliament was convinced that the burden would be insupportable & from year to year made them compensations notwithstanding which they shall remain in Debt & must continue so some of them many years. It is certain several of the Colonies raised a greater number of men for several years together in proportion to their Inhabitants then were in the pay of the Nation in proportion to its Inhabitants although Land & Sea Service both be considered as well in Europe as in America. In the trading Towns in some of the Colonies one fourth part of the profit of the trade was annually paid to the support of the War & other publick charges. In the Country Towns a farm which would not Rent for twenty pounds a year paid ten pounds taxes. I must observe to you that but few farms in the Colonies are in the hands of Tenants & the owner being the occupier by estimating the whole produce of the farm or what you call the three Rents in England pleases himself that he pays only between three & four shillings in the pound when you would call it ten. If we add the impost & excises so large a proportion of the Estates of the Inhabitants of some of the Colonies has been annually paid during the war that if the Inhabitants of Britain had paid in the same proportion there would have been no great increase of the national Debt. But let me ask whether it was from a parental Affection to the Colonists & to save them from french Vassalage that Britain was at this Expence or was it from fear of losing that advantageous trade she had so long carried on with her Colonies? And pray will the Nation or will the Colonies reap the benefit of the successes obtained by this expence. I know of no advantage which can arise to the northern Colonies. If you should tell me their fishery will be increased I am not sure of that but I am sure if it should Britain will reap the benefit & any extraordinary profit will center there for an extraordinary purchase of her Manufactures & I may say the same of any other extraordinary profit in trade if any such should be. An additional Country has been acquired and our Inhabitants among others are permitted to settle there.26 Why this will damage to us that remain & in fact the improved Lands of most of the Colonies have sunk 25 per Ct. in their from the advance upon Labour whereas every new farm makes a new demand for British Manufactures. But a further charge will be necessary for our protection & it will be reasonable we should contribute to that. I am very sensible that if in any future wars any Nation in Europe should make the Colonies their object a British Navy must protect or they will become a prey and in case of such a war I cannot doubt the Colonies would contribute as liberally to their own protection as they have done in the last. But when there is peace in Europe what occasion is there for any national expence in America. For one hundred years together the New England Colonies were from time to time engaged in war with the Indians encouraged & assisted by the French & yet received no aid f[rom] Britain nor from the neighbouring Colonies. New York, Pensilvania, Maryland Virginia and the Carolinas are as able to defend their respect[tive] frontiers as the New England Colonies were to defend theirs & if they [had]27 no aid from the Crown, they would do it. The Indians may har[rass] them for a Short time but as soon as the Inhabitants have learned to [hunt]28 the Indians as the New England Men did in their own territories [and] lay waste their Corn fields & break up their Settlements they will grow tired & sue for peace. And as the Governments who have been molested heretofore have born the charge of their own defence it seems reasonable that those Governments who are now molested should bear their Charges and no doubt they had rather do the whole of it by a tax of their own raising than pay their proportion in any other way. If a Garrison is necessary to keep the new acquired Subjects of Canada to their duty they are a Conquered people & cannot complain of the charge if it is laid upon them. If a cover be necessary for new Settlers in the new Countries moderate quitrents will bear the expence of it. It may after all be the determination of Parliament that the Colonists have neither a legal nor equitable claim to exemption from parliamentary Taxes but if it should they have another Argument in their favour vizt. that it cannot be good policy & must be prejudicial to the national interest to impose such taxes. The Advantages proposed by an increase of the revenue are fallacious & delusive you will lose more than you will gain. And here I shall observe what I might have done with propriety when I was considering the equity of claim made by the Colonists, vizt. that Britain reaps the profit of all their Trade and of the increase of their Substance for they are enabled thereby to take off so much more of British manufactures. And experience must have shewn to the nation that in proportion to the increase of the numbers & Estates of the Colonists in like proportion the exports from Britian have continually increased. How have your own writers boasted & with how much reason of the amazing wealth arising from the trade with the Colonies? Every trading Colonist is perpetually contriving to make every branch of his trade produce him Silver & Gold or some commodity that will serve for returns to discharge the debt always due to Britain. Is this the Case with most other Branches of your trade? Is not the balance of ^with^ most other Countries against you? and the Specie you receive from your Colonies going from you to discharge it? Are not the other commercial States able to afford their manufactures cheaper than you can? Does not France every day pour in their woollen goods among the Spaniards your old Customers & do not your Supplies decrease in proportion. The prospect is that in a short time you will have only your Colonies with whom you can carry on any advantageous commerce. That indeed will be enough if you encourage them to increase the consumption of your manufactures for fifty years to come as they have done for fifty years past and with no more than reasonable encouragement they infallibly will do it & in much greater proportion. For your own sake therefore as well as out of regard to the Colonists let me give you a little Sketch of their present turn of mind & leave you to judge whether it is a wise measure to check or change it & whether by humouring & cherishing it you will not serve your own interest to a much greater degree than by your present Schemes. In all the Colonies upon the Continent but the northermost more especially the Inhabitants are generally freeholders where there is one farm in the hands of a Tenant. I suppose there are fifty occupied by him who has the fee of it. [Th]is is the ruling passion to be a Freeholder. Most men as soon as their [Sons] grow up endeavour to procure tracts in some new Townships where [all e]xcept the eldest go out one after another with a wife a yoke of Oxen [a ho]rse a Cow or two & maybe a few Goats & husbandry Tools [a sm]all hut is built the man & his family fare hard for a few29
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:90–96); in EH’s hand with some corrections in TH’s hand; untitled; the MS has deteriorated badly over the years, and on one page a strip of paper approximately an inch wide and five inches long has been lost; before this large tear occurred, Bernhard Knollenberg secured a photocopy of the MS, although it was not found in his papers at Yale University; Malcolm Freiberg had a photocopy of the partially torn MS, presumably made shortly after Knollenberg’s; Edmund S. Morgan’s work on the essay apparently relied on a slightly later photocopy of the document, made after the MS had been torn, a rendition of which he published in NEQ 21 (December 1948): 480–92; Knollenberg made a few corrections to Morgan’s work in the following issue, NEQ 22 (March 1949): 98. To produce the current text, the editors relied on Freiberg’s photocopy, compared it to Morgan’s published essay (which is substantially the same, barring some differences in punctuation, capitalization, and editorial style), and accepted Knollenberg’s corrections, the latter of which have been indicated by footnotes if the editors could not confirm them in a review of the now-incomplete MS in the Massachusetts Archives.
Boston 4 Octr 1764
Dear Sir, Your Letter of the 14 April so different from any I ever recieved from you before gave me a good deal of pain, which has been increased by your neglecting to write to me from Lisbon.1 I am not conscious of my neglecting to write to you when I had anything worth communicating to you, nor have I ever in any degree deserted your interest. I did everything in my power more I am sure than any other member of the Court to prevent your dismission and when I failed in my endeavours I intimated to you the true Cause of it.2 I have never seen an opening since for doing you any Service in the general Court. Some who I believe to be your real friends, & who I thought knew most of your mind supposed that after the treatment you had received you would not have accepted the Agency again. Notwithstanding what Mr Pownall has insinuated, I should never have had any difference with him if I had complied with his repeated importunate Sollicitations to forsake you and after he was gone I was urged to suspend the Choice of an Agent until Mr Bernards arrival with an assurance of a general vote for my self but my friendship for you as well as regard to the interest of the Province made me push the affair with more zeal than I should have done if such a proposal had not been made.3 When the choice of an Agent came on last year it was moved by your friends.4 I urged them to try what could be done in your favour but they assured me it could then have no other effect than to strengthen the party who were for Isreal Mauduit. I do not know whether you will think me extremely political in it but I will venture to assure you the choice gave me more anxiety of mind than I could have felt if the vote had been against me, and I am quite easy in not obtaining leave to engage in the Service. Your Accounts have always been kept in the hands of half a dozen of the house nor could I ever learn what their objections were nor do I know what has been wrote to you.5 They keep it to themselves and would as soon trust you with any designs they have to your prejudice as they would me. I am utterly at a loss what are the designs of the leading men of the house when they meet the 18th. of the month. The best men seem not so sensible of the dangerous state of our Constitution as others who have but little real concern about it. A general discontent & murmuring prevails in this Town. Some that have been greatly attached to the present Agent are cooled, but I have no great reason to hope they will be for a better.6 Some late forfeitures for illicit trade near £3000 sterlg have raised a prejudice against the governor.7 Upon such Occasions false rumors generally prevail but easily obtain Credit. I shall be absent the first of the Court. The Governor expects he can keep off any publick measure of importance but the party have sometimes been too cunning. I will take care you shall have no reason to complain of want of intelligence. We were several weeks looking out for you. The Governor being then absent I had ordered the Castle barge upon the first appearance of the Ship to attend you & it would have been a pleasure to me to have shewn you respect upon your arrival. I am Sir Your Affectionate humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:101–02); in EH’s hand; unaddressed, but the volume index lists “Wm Bollan” as the recipient.
Boston 15 October 1764
Sir, You lay me under very great obligations by your frequent letters & by your interesting your self in what concerns me more than I could Reasonably have hoped for. Your last letter of the 13 of Aug. did not come to my hands until this minute having been some time absent & to morrow morning I must attend the court at Salem.1 Upon my return I intend to sit down & consider that part of your letter which Relates to the exchange of the Province of Main & Sagadehoc for N Hampshire & write you fully upon it. It is what has been in my thoughts ever since I was in England as it will be much more convenient for this Province to ly in one intire tract & the eastern country will certainly be more valuable to the crown than New Hampshire. The great opposition will be from the inhabitants of the Province of Main &c. who have for many years seen the difference between the two governments & are attached to their own constitution. Perhaps the late appointments of such a number of young gentlemen to the council in N H. several of whom were in doubtful circumstances in trade has not lessened this attachment, but still I hope it maybe effected & without any injustice to the inhabitants of the Province of Main who when a royal government will enjoy more liberty than if their original constitution under Ferdinando Gorges had continued, and for the people of New Hampshire the body of them will rejoice at it. I will be more particular upon this subject but can hardly now Refrain for it has many advantages attending it both to the nation & the colonies. As for my leave of absence I acquiesce in what my superiors think most proper.2 I had no views of personal advantage no thoughts of ever seeking any advancement & if I had lost the small emoluments of the posts I sustain I have sufficient income from my own estate to free me from anxiety.
Some late forfeitures for illicit trade to the amount of near 3000£ sterl. raise a clamor among the merchants of this & the other maritime towns & the governor has a great many squibs thrown at him. A misunderstanding has been caused by these forfeitures between the governor & the surveyor general of the customs which I have no other business with than to wish Removed.3 It is impossible for a governor who does his duty to avoid offending particular persons & sets of men. In general no man has avoided it more than Mr Bernard & the people of the province are well pleased with his administration & I think a change would be very disagreeable & neither for the interest of the crown nor the province. I am with very great esteem,
I am in some pain for the manuscript sent you by Cap Hatch lest some things have dropped from me in my zeal out of character. I have no copy of it.4 My hopes are that you will have discovered any thing of that sort & will have suppressed it to prevent any prejudice to me.
My history I mentioned to you, the 11 Feb. I have put into the Press here & it will be finished in about two months when shall immediately send you one of them.5 The two first lines of Ovid Trist. come to my mind Parve nec invideo——the criticks say it should be sed instead of nec.6 I had no other view in inscribing it to Lord Halifax but to testify to the world the great Respect I bear to his character but your silence on that head tho’ the most genteel yet is an effectual way of preventing me from doing it.
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:103–04); at head of letter, “R Jackson Esq”; the postscript is preceded by “On a separate paper.”
Boston 29. Oct. 1764
Sir, I intend now in compliance with your desire to give you my thoughts upon the exchange of the eastern country for New Hampshire. Whilst the Masst & N Hampshire were under one gov[illegible]1 the latter province was supposed to extend no more than 60 miles from the sea the people there having no knowledge of any boundary but from a supposed grant to Mason there being no limits in the comissions to the several governors.2 Since Mr Wentworths appointment he has supposed I know not for what reason that NH. extended as far westward as the Mass. extended.3 Whether he had reason or not the people of N Eng. supposed he had & a great many town ships have been granted to Mass. & Connecticut men many miles west of Conn. River.4 All within 60 miles of the sea which had not been granted by NH. in 1737 when the Mass. line was the last time settled is claimed by the persons who call themselves Proprietors under Mason having purchased for some small consideration the right of one John Tufton then a seafaring copper now a Lt. Col in the army & who upon the purchase took the name of Mason.5 He was probably the male heir to the devisee of Mason but what sort of title Mason had & if he had any whether it had not been legally conveyed to one Allin is disputed.6 When persons in power in the colonies have but a bare [notice?]7 of title they will often take & hold possession against all other persons whatsoever. I question whether any of the Lands beyond the 60 miles between the sea & Connect. river remain ungranted. I don’t know that there are any beyond the river within what is [illegible] NH. In the summer they told me in that province that 190 townships had been granted. At first the price of a patent was about 5£ sterl. Of late it has been 200 dolls. & a very good township would [be as] more. Few or none comply with the conditions & every 3 or 4 years they renew the patent for the like sums first given.8 The multiplying these grants has turned many people from labour to land jobbing & has proved a publick mischief. A share or 60 part of a common township may be bought for 4 or 5 dolls. A share is about 350 acres. If the quitrent of one shilling for every 9 acres should ever be paid it will amount to but an inconsiderable sum for the whole province not 2000£ a year & if confined to Connecticut river—not half the sum as I apprehend. The Province of Main which extends from the head of Newickewanock or Piscat. River to Kenebec is about 30 leagues in length upon a strait course & extends 120 miles from the sea. By a blunder one side of this province is not described in the Mass. charter. Berwick is the uppermost town upon the River then Kittery which runs down below the mouth of the river 3 or 4 miles then York Wells Arundel Biddeford Scarboro & Falmouth. These ly upon the sea & extend some 6 some 8 or 9 miles into the country. Upon the back ly another range of townships Lebanon Philson town Narag. No. [blank space in MS]10 Goram town & New Marblehead and another called Pearson town which lies partly between Narag. N. [blank space in MS]11 & Goram town & partly upon the back of Goram town. I do not Remember any other settlement began or grants made except one to Col Fry & some of his men who were at fort Wm. Henry when Moncalm besieged & took it.12 This is upon Saco River 40 miles or more from the mouth there being a large tract of interval land. A project is on foot to grant away great part of this province to the men who have been in service the last war & a vote would have passed last year but I stopped it by opposition made in council being sensible it would be little or no benefit to the soldiers (indeed they have been sufficiently paid without it) & that it was designed as a jobb.13 I expect notwithstanding that first or last it will be carried through. Between Falmo. & Kenebec River is one valuable town North Yarmo. besides 3 or 4 townships which within these few years have increased in their settlements but are impeded by controverted titles to the lands. At present I suppose not more than 1/5 part of the province is private property.
All the lands from Kennebec to Penobscot upon the sea coast & 30 or 40 miles into the land are claimed as private property. In 1629 the C. of Plimo. granted to Wm. Bradford & associated the colony of New Plimouth & in the same patent included a tract on each side Kenebec River where the people of that colony designed to carry on trade with the Abenakis or eastern Indians.14 The colony sold the right to the soil & to the trade to 4 persons who held them a few years & then neglected both. After the title had been unthought of for 70 years & more some of the descendants of these 4 persons about the year 1750 or perhaps a year or two before found out that their ancestors had some claim to land in Kennebec & the fame of it being broached abroad several wealthy merchants members of the general court & others bought the title & what a few years ago would not have sold for 100£ sterl. is now blown up to 30 or 40 thousd. pounds but stocks have often rose & fallen & some of the purchasers who were necessitated to sell again have been almost ruined. They pitch upon what part of the river they please, bring their actions against such as are in possession some they have compounded with & receive them as tenants under them others who have had more courage have hitherto held possession & when the same company have met with such upon some pretence or other they drop their actions so that no one judgment has ever been rendered upon their titles. That the Plimo. men had a grant & took possession is certain but very uncertain on what part of the river & it is acknowledged that there was a total neglect of the interest for more than 70 years which it is said was owing to Indian wars. How far this will justify the neglect must be considered. The company go on & enter upon every part of the river from the mouth of it & have assigned to each one shares & divisions from time to time & are continually extending their claim by a very liberal construction of their grant. There was another grant of about 30 miles square according to the construction of it [illegible] Beauchamp & Leveret.15 This was in 1629 also & is supposed to extend from Penobscot westward so as, upon the Land side to intersect with the Kenebec claimers but not upon the sea. This tract is claimed by the heirs of the late Mr. Waldo.16 The bounds of it being extremely uncertain & the claimers being members of the gen. court in 1762 their title came under consideration of a comittee who Reported that upon Mr. Waldo’s heirs relinquishing these claims to a part of this tract a grant should be made of a certain number of miles more on the other side which Report was approved by the gen. court which I suppose appears by the Records in the plantation office March 1762 but as this & the other grants which have been made of this country without the royal confirmation are of no validity I suppose the whole transaction is of no effect.17
All the lands upon the sea coast from Kenebec to Penob not contained in these grants is claimed as [illegible] arising from Indian [illegible] besides which the ancestor of the present Lord Edgecumb claims a large tract which I suppose is included in Waldos grant or the bounds, if the bounds of either could be ascertained interfere. I know you are acquainted with most of the facts I have mentioned but it is possible some of them may have escaped you.
Falmouth seems to be the best place for the capital of a new province. I suppose there is not a finer harbour in America nor of more safe access. You cannot well conceive how inconvenient it is to have the capital of a province at the extreme part of it as would be the case if either Portsmouth should be Retaind for that purpose or St. Johns River pitched upon. Besides in a very few years Falmo. will be more populous than Portsm. It increases surprisingly. The whole township runs into the country 7 or 8 miles & contains 6 or 700 families but upon the peninsula at the harbour there are 120 to 130 good houses & a number of new houses building every year. The land back from the sea is as good pasture land as any I have seen in any part of America.
I will now take the liberty to mention to you where I apprehend the difficulties will ly in bringing about an exchange that you may consider whether it will be possible to Remove them. With respect to N Hamp. all the opposition will be from the powers immediately concernd in the administration of government. There has been a rumor for 2 or 3 years past that some alteration was proposed in the boundary of some of the colonies & amongst others that Piscat. river would be the boundary of the Mass. province. This Rumor spread among the people of N H. One of the most sensible men in that province & of great influence there assured me that the whole body of the people would Rejoice at it & might upon proper occasion easily be brought to signify their desires for it. All the difficulty will be from this province as a government & from the inhabitants of the eastern country as individuals. The Representatives of the western part of the province I think might be brought to approve of it. Whether a majority of the court could be brought to it I am not sure. The objections will be that there is a valuable interest in lands yet to be granted in the eastern country & no equivalent in N H.
The step lately taken in putting a stop to the growth on Penobscot river will take away some of the weight of that objection & I think the advantage of being a compact well settled province is sufficient to take away the Remainder of it & will endeavour to persuade other people to think so but I cannot be sure of success. The only difficulty I apprehend with the inhabitants of the eastern country will be the loss of the privileges of the Mass. charter. There Really is very little difference between the Rule of government by this charter & by the Royal comission except in the appointment of councillors.
I am sensible a prejudice has obtained in Eng. against the Mass. government principally for the behavior of the assembly from the year 1720 to 1730 which can by no means be justified but did not Barbados behave worse at the same time & Jamaica still worse some years after not to mention the powers assumed by New York assembly beyond anything pretended to here.18 I have always thought the fear of losing the charter was a curb upon the people here so useful upon occasion that it more than countervailed all the distinction between this & what are called the Royal governments. I know the choice of councillors here is very exceptionable. One of our demagogues used to say they were turnips squeezed between two trenchers but on the other hand the council appointed by the King Removeable at pleasure & liable to suspension by the governor causes in such governments only two branches of legislature. I can form no judgment of the sentiments of the ministry but I doubt whether that part of the province would consent to a separation without Retaining those privileges or whether the general assembly could be brought to agree to an exchange if the inhabitants there should upon this principle be averse to it and yet I think it possible altho’ improbable. A proposal by the ministry for such an exchange would cause the people here to set a greater value upon the eastern country than otherwise they would do. If I may be allowed to suggest I think a way may be found to make trial of the disposition of the assembly & people which if it should fail of success yet would be liable to no great inconvenience. The inhabitants of NH perhaps of every town could be brought to sign a petition to His Majesty to annex them to the Mass. province & this might be done without any complaint of the present administration. The Reasons assigned may be their poverty & inability to suppose a separate government & the burdens they ly under from the charge of it the Remoteness of great part of the province from the capital many persons being obliged to travel 150 miles to attend a court to prove a will to [illegible] administration or guardianship &c. the inconvenience from the form of the province of dividing it into counties & the convenient situation of the Massa. province for annexing the several parts of New H. to some or other of the Massa. counties. Upon such petition being presented & referred to the board of trade the Massa. might be notified of it & inquired of what equivalent they woud give or whether they would Resign the jurisdiction of the country eastward & directed to impower their agent to treat upon the subject upon information that it would not be disagreeable. I have no doubt of procuring such a Petition from NH.
If such an exchange should be affected it would be a convenient time to make some further provision for the preservation of pine trees. The gentleman of NH has several times when I have been upon the eastern circuit lamented the havock made & the necessity of some alteration in the Acts of Parl. & more effective care in the execution of them.19 Had I gone to England I should have made some proposals for that purpose but it may perhaps be thought assuring & officious to write to any of the ministry upon that or any other subject. I am
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:104–09); unaddressed but TH wrote in his letter to Jackson, No. 73, above, that he was going to write such a letter to Jackson shortly; marked “By Stutson” for ship transport. Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 24 March 1777 (in which the recipient was listed as unknown and only a portion of the letter was printed: “There really is very little difference . . . two branches of the legislature.”).