629 | Petition of the Boston Town Meeting

    Province of the Massachusetts Bay — [14 Jun. 1768]

    To His Excellency Francis Bernard the Esq. Governour and Commander in Chief, in and over said Province and Vice Admiral the same.1

    The Inhabitants of the Town of Boston in Town Meeting legally Assembled —

    Humbly Shew

    That your Petitioners consider the British Constitution as the Basis of their safety and happiness; By that is established no Man shall be govern’d nor taxed but by himself or Representative legally and fairly chosen; and in which he does not give his own consent. In open violation of these fundamental Rights of Britons, Laws & Taxes are imposed on us to which we have not only not given our consent but against which we have most firmly Remonstrated — Dutiful Petitions have been preferred to our most gracious Sovereign, which (though to the great consternation of the People, we now learn, have been cruelly and insiduously prevented reaching the Royal Presence)2 we have waited to receive a Gracious answer to, with the greatest attention to the publick peace, untill we find ourselves invaded with an armed force, Siezing, impressing the Persons of our fellow Subjects contrary to express Acts of Parliament.3 Menaces have been thrown out, fit only for Barbarians which already effect us in the most sensible manner, and threaten us with Famine & Desolation, as all Navigation is obstructed, upon which alone our whole support depends, and the Town is at this Crisis in a Situation nearly such, as if War was formally declared against it. To contend with our Parent State is in our Idea the most shocking and dreadful Extremity; but tamely to relinquish the only security we and our Posterity retain of the enjoyment of our Lives & Properties, without one struggle is so humiliating and base, that we cannot support the Reflection; we apprehend Sir, That it is at your option, in your power, and we would hope in your inclination, to prevent this distressed and Justly incensed People, from effecting too much, and from the shame and reproach of attempting too little.

    As the Board of Customs have thought fit, of their own motion to relinquish the exercise of their Commission here, and as we cannot but hope, that being convinced of the impropriety and injustice of the appointment of a Board, with such enormous power, and the inevitable distruction4 which would ensue from the exercise of their office, will never reasume it. We flatter ourselves your Excellency will in tenderness to this People, use the best means in your power, to remove the other grieveance, we so Justly complain of, and issue your immediate Order to the Commander of his Majestys Ship Romney, to remove from this Harbour, ’till we shall be ascertained of the Success of our Applications. —

    transcript, PC     Reports of the Record Commissioners of Boston,16: 254-255.

    Variants: CO 5/757, ff 143-145 (Ms, Copy), which FB had sent under cover of No. 632; this was copied into CO 5/766, ff 223-227 (Ms, Copy); there is an extract in ADM 1/483, f 96. The town meeting published a copy in the Boston Gazette, 20 Jun. 1768 and other newspapers along with FB’s reply of 15 Jun. It was also printed in the Public Advertiser, 29 Jul. 1768 (a British newspaper). FB replied with No. 631. The petition was laid before both houses of Parliament on 28 Nov. 1768.