660 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 14

    Boston July 30 1768

    My Lord

    Since the first beginning of the troubles of this Town to the present time I have frequently represented to your Lordship’s office the impracticability of my applying for Troops either for the support of the Authority of the Government or the power of the Magistracy; both of which have been continually insulted and made contemptible for near 3 years past. The great Difficulty which has attended this Measure has been that I could by no means get the Council to advise or concur in it: and neither by the due consideration of my instructions & the rules of other Governments nor by the forms of this Government where the Governor is more connected with & restrained by the Council than in the Governments which are meerly royal, did I think my^self^ authorised to introduce troops into a Town not used to them upon my own opinion only & contrary to that of the Council, whom I am directed to consult & advise with in all matters of importance. And I have never imagined that It would be expected of me, that I should separate myself from the Council upon this occasion & make myself solely answerable for the consequences of the introducing troops here or the not introducing them: especially as I have allways understood that, since the repeal of the stamp act, the intention of the Administration was that all Appearance of forcible & compulsive Measures should be avoided. And as I have constantly sent home accounts of all occurrences which could influence this question I have concluded that a change of Measures must originate at Westminster & that the first orders for quartering troops in Boston would come from thence.

    In my letter to the Earl of Shelburne, No 8 of this year par 6, I treat this subject particularly, as it relates to the Commissioners of the Customs.1 In my letter to your Lordship No 6,2 which gives an account of the riot on June 10 & the Commissioners leaving the Town; I inform of what passed between me & the Council concerning sending for troops, from which it will appear to what little purpose it is to put a question upon that subject to the Council. However this Business is now brought to such a crisis, that I could no longer avoid putting such question in form: It has become necessary to my own justification & the acquitting me of the consequences, if any bad should arise, of this Town remaining destitute of troops: & to give an account of this transaction is the business of this letter.

    On the 2d of July I received a letter from Genl Gage, with two packets for Col Dalrymple at Halifax inclosed, informing me that He had received an Account of the tumults at Boston, & had sent an order to the commanding Officer at Halifax for Troops, if they were wanted at Boston.3 I sent both Letters away, & wrote to the general4 setting forth the reasons why I could not apply for troops: but that I had sent both the letters forward; for tho’ I thought it improper for me to require troops, It was full as improper for me to prevent them coming if they were otherwise orderd. In answer to this the Genl has sent me a Copy of the Letter to Col Dalrymple,5 by which I am informed that the orders to him are only to collect the troops together, but not to embark them untill they are required by me. I have thereupon wrote to the General,6 that if the troops are not to move from Halifax ^till I require them,^ they are like to continue there. For I cannot think it proper for me to make such a requisition without the advice of Council; & there was no probability of my Obtaining such advice: However I would lay it before the Council. I have been less explicit on these letters as I shall enclose Copies of them.

    On Saturday July 23 I held a Council7 when having in part opened the Matters I had for their consideration, they advised tha[t] in regard to the importance of the business I would order all of the Council who lived within a days journey of Boston to be summoned to meet on the Wednesday following & the Council to be adjourned till then. On Wednesday the 27th, there were 14 met;8 & We proceeded to business that day & fryday following. As the Minutes of the Council are extended more than ordinarily, they will be sufficient to explain what was done.9 There was some Altercation which is scarce worth remembring:10 but I am obliged to take notice, that I observed with concern that the Popular Spirit upon this occasion showed itself higher in the Council, than I have known it heretofore; & my endeavouring to moderate it subjected me to treatment different from what I have been used of late to receive from that board. But these Considerations are more proper for another subject & place.

    I shall inform Genl Gage of the result of this Council,11 by which all expectation of troops coming to Boston, untill orders arrive from England is over. Perhaps, if no great Mischeif is done in the mean time, it may be much better for them to be ordered from England than to be brought here by the order or requisition of any one in America; as they will be introduced in a manner Much more Authoritative. For my own part I have acted herein for the best, according to my judgement. I could not require troops, against the Opinion of the Council, without making myself an object of popular resentment, which would probably, if it had produced no worse effects, have obliged me to quit the Government. Now, my Lord, as I have no leave of absence to justify my departure I must have staid till I was drove out by force or apparent danger. And if such an Event had happened, how could I have justified myself in doing an Act, with a doubt of the regularity of it, & a foresight of its ill consequences, which should produce such a convulsion in the state as obliging a Governor to quit his post?

    I am with great respect, My Lord, Your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra. Bernard

    The Right honble The Earl of Hillsborough.

    P.S. Your Lordship will observe that in the Answer of the Council12 there is nothing proposed or provided for the return of the Commissioners to Boston & their protection in the execution of their office there. It seemed to be the general Opinion, that it was quite impracticable for them to return & be protected in the execution of their Office. One Gentleman13 said that He was convinced that they never would return to Boston & resume their functions; & gave for reason that Great Britain had too much employment at home in keeping her own unruly people ^in order^, & ballancing the parties which harasst the Government & weakened the Administration, to think of meddling with America or endeavouring to enforce the Execution of an Act of parliament which the Americans had declared against.

    ALS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 349-351.

    Endorsed: Boston July 30th. 1768. Governor Bernard. (No. 14.) R 19th: Septber A.39. Encld Variants: CO 5/767, ff 56-61 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 12-17 (L, LbC); Letters to the Ministry (1st ed.), 35-38; Letters to the Ministry (repr.), 46-50.14 Enclosures to the RC: a copy of Gage to Hillsborough, 26 Jul. 1768 (not found, for which see the RC in CO 5/86, ff 128-130); copies of Nos. 637, 641, and 643 in CO 5/757, ff 352-354; [Observations of the Council on the Liberty riot, extracted from the Council minutes], 29 Jul. 1768, ibid., 358-362, and FB’s commentary upon this document, “Observations upon the Answer of the Council,” c.29 Jul. 1768, ibid., ff 366-367; minutes of the Massachusetts Council of 27 Jul. 1768, ibid., ff 363-365. Copies of the letter and the enclosures were laid before both houses of Parliament on 28 Nov. 1768. HLL: American Colonies Box 3.