616 | To the Earl of Hillsborough


    No 4.

    Boston May 30 1768

    My Lord

    If your Lordship has informed yourself of my proceedings in negativing several Councellors elect at every Election since the Repeal of the Stamp Act, you must know that it took its Rise from the Party which got uppermost by Means of the Troubles arising from the Stamp Act, excluding from the Council at the Election in 1766 the Lieut. Governor the Secretary the Judges and the Attorney general merely & professedly for their being Officers of the Crown. This was done immediately after they had received Advice of the Repeal of the Stamp Act, and therefore it appeared to me such a notorious Instance of undutifullness and Insolence, that I thought myself obliged to resent it on Behalf of the Crown. I therefore negatived 6 of the new elected Council, whom I thought most instrumental in turning out the Lieut Govr &c; 2 of whom were councellors the former Year1 & the other 4 Members of the House distinguished by nothing more than an Attachment to the Party which set them up.2

    At the Election in 1767, I caused it to be understood, that if the Party would join in electing the Lieut Governor & Secretary I would accept at least as many of the negatived, & probably should be induced to fill up the Board.3 This was treated with Contempt, & it was given out by the Faction that I had been reprimanded for what I had done before and durst not use my Negative again. As soon as the Election was over, some of the principal Members of the House, supporters of Government waited on me & desired that I would keep to my Purpose of negativing these Men, while they persisted in their repeating this Affront to the King.4 This Request perfectly agreeing with my own Opinion, I negatived 5 of the Persons before negatived, the other being one of the two former Councellors having conciliated himself by a very decent Behaviour.5— I have thought proper to prefix this Detail to what I have now to write, to save your Lordship the Trouble of going back to my Letters wrote upon these Occasions.

    I did not expect myself that this new Assembly would be much better disposed to Government than the former. Such infinite Pains had been taken by the Faction to keep up the Jealousy against the Government of Great Britain and such continual Improvement was made of every accidental & incidental Matter for the Purpose of Contention, that I had little Hopes that the Occasional Change of Men which a new Election produces would make a Change of the Measures, especially whilst the Spirit of Opposition to the Acts of Parliament was kept up & remained unchecked. It was generally beleived that the Lieut Governor would be chosen; on the other Hand 4 or 5 Councellors for promoting the Address to me last Session testifying the Councils Abhorrence of the Libell against me,6 and assured themselves of turning them out. Both these Purposes were very near accomplished.

    Your Lordship must understand that in New England a different Mode of Election prevails from what is used in Britain. Here it is not sufficient for a Man to have a greater Number of Votes than the Rest of the Candidates; but he must also have a Majority of the whole Number of Electors. By this Rule the Lieut Governor has twice out of 3 Times lost his Election. In the present Case in the Choice of the first 18 he was the 18th in the Order of Election; but wanting 3 of a Majority of the whole Electors, he was to be put up again.7 In this Interval the two Cheif Heads of the Faction (Otis and Adams) told the House that the Lieut Governor was a pensioner of Great Britain & averred that he had a Warrant from the Lords of the Treasury for £200 a year out of the new Duties which they were then opposing.8 This being urged in a Manner which left no Opportunity or Time for Refutation or Explanation, gave a Turn against him so that upon the second polling he had 10 Votes less than before: This obliged his Freinds to give up his Cause. I must observe to your Lordship that this £200 a year has been ordered as an Addition to his Salary as cheif Justice: which Addition will make the whole Income clear of Expences, scarce more than £300 a year; a scanty Appointment for a cheif Justice of a Province so populous & extensive as this & scarce an equivalent for the Abuse his Fidelity to the Crown has subjected him to.9

    At this Election the Malice of the Enemies of the Lieut Governor was more apparent than usual. Otis the Father,10 whose Enmity to the Lieut Governor is known to arise from personal Resentment, declared in publick, that he had rather be turned out of his Offices (which are the first in his County & given by me) & reduced to the lowest of the People, than that the Lieut Govr should be elected into the Council: so much does private Malice prevail over public Considerations. This Declaration was made upon its being asserted that if the Lieut Governor was elected, the Governor would probably readmit Mr Otis senr into the Council to lay a Foundation for a general Reconciliation. As to the rest of the Election The Party turned out but 2 Councellors, the one a Friend of Government,11 who will be as serviceable in the House; the other a Gentleman of no Consequence,12 who happening to be Registrar of the Admiralty, was proscribed for holding an Office immediately from Great Britain. The other Councellors who were pushed at were saved only by 3 or 4 Votes;13 the Opponent Party upon this Occasion appearing to have in other Cases 3 Majority of the whole Council & House; & in forming that Majority Six Councellors out of 22 joined.

    As soon as the Election was over, some of the principal Members of the House waited on me to desire that I would continue to act as Governor; for it would not do to give up the Cause now. I readily assented to their Opinion and negatived 6 of the new List, 4 of which had been negatived before,14 the other two new ones;15 and I accepted one whom I had negatived before,16 having Reason to think he was tired of his Party. I have thought proper to be particular in this narrative that your Lordship may see that I have no Choice in this Business. If I could be so indifferent to the Honour of the Crown as to admit into that Body called the Kings Council those Men who publickly profess an Intention of excluding all persons bearing the Kings Commission and would at present come in treading upon the Necks of the Kings Lieut Governor Secretary &c, yet the safety of the Kings Government would not suffer me to submit to a Compliance so dangerous & disgraceful. I have hitherto kept up the Authority of Government by supporting an Interest and maintaining a good Understanding with the Council. The Harmony which subsists between me and the Board has lately been evidenced by very full Testimonials, some of which have been unanimous, altho’ I do not pretend to an equal Interest in every one of them. But if I had admitted all that have been elected to that Board, I should have had no Authority at it; and the Government would in Effect have been in the Hands of the Faction, who are now disputing the Authority of Parliament, & endeavouring to seperate themselves from great Britain in Regard to all real civil Power. I have therefore thought proper to keep still upon the defensive, untill the Effects of their late Remonstrances are known: I can at any Time make my own Terms by Concessions which I don’t think myself at Liberty to submit to at present.

    I hereby enclose my Speech at the opening of the Session. I have long ago left off making Speeches, unless upon some Occasion where an Expostulation is unavoidable, as at the End of last Session. As the Form of a Speech at the opening a Session must be kept up, I have some Time past, pitched upon some uncontroverted subject to turn 3 or 4 inoffensive Sentences upon.17 By this Means I prevent their opening the Session with a Dispute, which they are fond of doing. In the present Instance Otis said it was the most exceptionable Speech I ever made; how so? why there is nothing in it to find fault with. I also enclose the Answer of the Council:18 the House has as yet presented none;19 as it is not determined what shall be done for their Defence in Regard to the Boundary Line with New York. I shall further inform your Lordship of what passes in the general Court as Occasion shall require.

    I am with great Respect, My Lord your Lordships most obedient and most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The Right honble The Earl of Hillsborough


    To give your Lordship a Specimen of the unfair Means used to prejudice the Electors of the Council against the Lieut Governor & Secretary I send you a hand Bill circulated by the Faction about a fortnight before the Election and sent round the Country. It is printed with the same Letter with their newspaper20 and appears to have been designed to be published in it; tho’ afterwards a private Circulation might be thought better. The whole Artifice of it consists in setting the Lieut Governor the Secretary Mr Belcher Register of the Admiralty Court one of the Council for the last year, & Mr Auchmuty Judge of the same Court a fit Person for the Council and Mr Sewall Attorney general who ought allways to be of the Council, in the same List with the Commissioners of the Custom and the Officers of the Customs as low as Waiters; and by these Means to make the Crown Officers under the Charter as obnoxious to the People as the Custom House Officers sent from home. This Paper was sent to Mr Belcher in a Cover and he has accordingly been left out of the Council.21

    The whole Purpose of these Proceedings is to divest the Crown of all its natural and constitutional Power in this government and fling all real Power into the Hands of the People. In some former Letters I gave my Opinion that the Lieut Governor and the Secretary were by Charter intitled to a Seat & Voice in the Council without being elected; and the obliging them to submit to an Election was an Usurpation.22 I am now confirmed in that Opinion and shall be glad to give my Reasons for it when it shall be proper.

    dupLS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 109-112.

    In handwriting of Thomas Bernard. Endorsed: Boston May 30th: 1768. Governor Bernard (No. 4 R 13. July. Dupcle. Original not reced) A.18. Enld. Enclosed several newspaper extracts: a report on the election day procession and celebrations of 26 May 1768 and FB’s speech to the Council and House of Representatives delivered the same day (taken from the Massachusetts Gazette, 26 May 1768); the address of the Council of 28 May and FB’s reply of the same date (from the Massachusetts Gazette, 2 Jun. 1768); a letter “To The Public” concerning councilors proposed for election. CO 5/757, ff 113-114. Variants of letter: CO 5/766, ff 180-191 (L, RLbC); BP, 6: 304-311 (L, LbC).