664 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 17.

    Boston Aug. 9 1768

    My Lord

    I think it proper to inform your Lordship that for above a week past there has been agitated among the Merchants of this Town a Subscription against importing English Goods. It was begun by two principal Merchants1 who have all along abetted the purposes of the faction: at first they met with Very little success but persevering ^in^ it & ways & means being used to push it on, It was last night reported ^at their third meeting^ that there was a sufficient Number ^of subscribers^ to carry the Matter into execution; that there were 40 who would not Subscribe but would observe the restriction; & 35 who would neither Subscribe nor observe. The latter I suppose are to be brought to reason by Mob Law; otherwise 35 importers only will defeat the Scheme.

    There was the like Subscription set about at the beginning of March last, of which I gave an Account in my Letter to my Lord Shelburne No 9.2 That was defeated by the Merchants of Philadelphia refusing to concur in the Measure, & the Merchants of New York thereupon declining it also: Upon which those of Boston were obliged to give it up. But now I suppose they assure themselves of better success at those places & expect to raise a combination formidable enough to alarm Great Britain at the meeting of the Parliament. But, My Lord, the Futility of this threat will be exposed by an Enquiry into the quantity of goods which have been lately ordered from Great Britain, which has exceeded & anticipated the usual quantities & times, in order to provide for an abstinence from importation for a year. This is professed by some & is undoubtedly true of others who are too attentive to their own interest to desist from importation without taking care not to have occasion for it. But the non subscribers, among which are Some of the principal importers of the Town,3 will effectually defeat this Scheme, if they are Sufficiently secured from Mobs, which it is supposed they & all others will be before the first of Janry next.

    I am, with great respect, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    the right honorable the Earl of Hillsborough

    See my letter No 9 before mentioned par last but one

    ALS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 375-236.

    Endorsed: Boston August 9th. 1768. Governor Bernard (No. 17). R 27th. Septber. A.42 Enclosed a copy of the Boston Gazette, 15 Aug. 1768, CO 5/757, ff 377-378. Variants of letter in: CO 5/767, ff 69-71 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 23-24 (L, LbC); Letters to the Ministry (1st ed.), 49-50; Letters to the Ministry (repr.), 66-67. Copies were laid before both houses of Parliament on 28 Nov. 1768. HLL: American Colonies Box 3. Hillsborough replied with No. 702.4

    John Hancock. By John Singleton Copley, 1765. Photograph © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.