Appendix 9


    Province of the Massachusetts Bay June 30th. 1768.

    My Lord,

    His Excellency the Governor of this Province, has been pleased to communicate to the House of Representatives, Extracts of a Letter he had received from your Lordship, dated Whitehall the 22nd: of April 1768;1 wherein it is declared to be the Royal Pleasure, that he should require of them, in his Majesty’s Name, to rescind the Resolution which gave Birth, to a circular Letter from the Speaker of the last House,2 and to declare their Disapprobation of and Dissent to that rash and hasty Proceeding.

    The House are humbly of Opinion, that a Requisition from the Throne of this nature to a British House of Commons has been very unusual: Perhaps there has been no such Precedent since the Revolution:3 If this be the Case, some very aggravated Representations of this Measure must have been made to his Majesty, to induce him to require of this House to rescind a Resolution of a former House, upon Pain of forfeiting their Existence: For, my Lord, the House of Representatives, duly elected, are constituted by the royal Charter the representative Body of his Majesty’s faithful Commons of this Province in the General Assembly.

    Your Lordship is pleased to say, that his Majesty considers this Step “has evidently tending to create unwarrantable Combinations, and to excite an unjustifiable Opposition to the constitutional Authority of Parliament.”4 The House therefore thought it their indispensable Duty immediately to revise the Letter referred to; and carefully to recollect as far as they were able, the Sentiments which prevailed in that House, to induce them to revert to, and resolve on the Measure.

    It may be necessary to observe, that the People in this Province have attended with a deep Concern, to the several Acts of the British Parliament, which impose Duties and Taxes on the Colonies, not for the Purpose of regulating the Trade, but as the sole Intention of raising a Revenue. This Concern, my Lord, so far from being limited within the Circle of a few inconsiderate Persons, is become universal: The most respectable for Fortune, Rank and Station, as well as Probity and Understanding in the Province, with very few Exceptions, are alarmed with Apprehensions of the fatal Consequences, of a Power, exercised in any one Part of the British Empire, to commend and apply the Property of their Fellow Subjects at Discretion! This Consideration prevailed on the last House of Representatives, to resolve on an humble, dutiful and loyal Petition to the King,5 the common Head and Father of all his People, for his gracious Interposition, in Favor of his Subjects of this Province.— If your Lordship, whom his Majesty has honored with the American Department, has been instrumental in presenting a Petition, so interesting to the well being of his loyal Subjects here, this House beg Leave to make their most grateful Acknowledgements, and to implore your continued Aid and Patronage.

    As all his Majesty’s North American Subjects, are alike affected by these Parliamentary Revenue Acts, the former House very justly supposed, that each of the Assemblies on the Continent would take such Methods of obtaining Redress, as should be thought by them respectively to be regular and proper: and being desirous that the several Applications should harmonize with each other, they resolved on their circular Letter; wherein their only View seems to be, to advertise their Sister Colonies of the Measures they had taken, upon a common and important Concern, without once calling upon them, to adopt those Measures or any other.

    Your Lordship surely will not think it a Crime in that House, to have taken a Step, which was perfectly consistent with the Constitution, and had a natural Tendency to compose the minds of his Majesty’s Subjects of this and his other Colonies, until in his royal Clemency He should afford them Relief; after a Time when it seemed to be the evident Design of the Party to prevent calm, deliberate, rational and constitutional measures from being pursued, or to stop the Distresses of the People from reaching his Majesty’s Ear; and consequently to precipitate them into a State of Desperation and melancholy Extremity! Thus my Lord, it appears to this House: and your Lordship will impartially judge, whether a Representation of it to his Majesty, as a Measure “of an inflammatory Nature” — as a Step evidently tending “to create unwarrantable Combinations”, and to excite an unjustifiable Opposition to the constitutional Authority of the Parliament”, be not injurious to the Representatives of this People, and an Affront to his Majesty himself.

    An Attempt, my Lord, to impress the Royal Mind with a Jealousy of his faithful Subjects, for which there is no just Grounds, is a Crime of the most malignant nature; as it tends to disturb and destroy that mutual Confidence between the Prince and the Subjects, which is the only true Basis of publick Happiness and Security: Your Lordship, upon Inquiry may find that such base and wicked Attempts have been made.

    It is an inexpressible Grief to the People of this Province, to find repeated Censures falling upon them, not from Ministers of State alone, but from Majesty itself! Grounded on Letters and Accusations from the Governor,6 a Sight of which, though repeatedly requested of his Excellency, is refused. There is no Evil of this Life which they so sensibly feel, as the Displeasure of their Sovereign: It is a Punishment which they are assured his Majesty would never inflict, but upon a Representation of the Justice of it from his Servants whom he confides in. Your Lordship will allow the House to appeal to your own Candor, upon the grievous Hardship of their being made to suffer so severe a Misfortune, without ever being called to answer for themselves, or even made acquainted with the matters of Charge alledged against them: A Right, which by the common Rules of Society, founded in the eternal Laws of Reason and Equity they are justly intitled to. The House is not willing to trespass upon your Patience: They could recite numbers of Instances, since Governor Bernard has been honored by his Majesty to preside over this Province, of their suffering the King’s Displeasure, through the Instrumentality of the Governor, intimated by the Secretary of State, without the least previous notice, that they had ever deviated from the Path of their Duty. This they humbly conceive is just Matter of Complaint: and it may serve to convince your Lordship, that his Excellency has not that tender Feeling for his Majesty’s Subjects, which is characteristick of a good Governor, and of which the Sovereign affords an illustrious Example.

    It is the good fortune of the House to be able to shew that, the Measure of the last House referred to in your Lordship’s Letter to the Governor has been grossly misrepresented, in all its Circumstances: and it is [a] Matter of Astonishment, that the Transaction of the House, the Business of which is constantly done in the open View of the World, could be then coloured; a Transaction, which by special Order of the House was laid before his Excellency, whose Duty to his Majesty, is, at least, not to misinform him.

    His Excellency could not but acknowledge in Justice to that House, that Moderation took Place in the Begining of the Session: This is a Truth, my Lord; It was a Principle with the House to conduct the Affairs of Government in their Department, so as to avoid the least Occasion of Offence: As an Instance of their pacifick Disposition, they granted a further Establishment for one of his Majesty’s Garrisons in the Province, rather to gratify his Excellency who had requested it, than from a full Conviction of its Necessity.7 But your Lordship is informed, but this Moderation “did not continue”; and that “instead of a Spirit of Prudence and Respect to the Constitution, which seemed at that Time to influence the Conduct of a large Majority of the Members, a thin House at the End of the Session presumed to revert to, and resolve on a Measure of an inflammatory nature” — that it was an “unfair Proceeding”, — “contrary to the real Sense of the House”, — and — procured by Surprize. — My Lord, The Journal and Minutes of the House will prove the contrary of all this: and to convince your Lordship, the House beg Leave to lay before you, the several Resolutions, relating to these Matters as they stand recorded.

    The House having their Petition to the King, and their Letters to divers of his Majesty’s Ministers, a Motion was regularly made on 21st January, which was the Middle of the Session, and a Resolution was then taken to appoint a Time to consider the Expediency of writing to the Assemblies of the other Colonies on this Continent, with Respect to the Importance of their joining with them in petitioning his Majesty at this Time. Accordingly on the Day assigned, there being eighty ^two^ members present, a number always allowed to be sufficient to make a full House, the Question was debated; in Consequence of which a Motion took Place, That Letters be wrote to the several Assemblies of the Provinces and Colonies on the Continent, acquainting them that the House had taken into Consideration, the Difficulties to which they are and must be reduced, by the Operation of the late Acts of Parliament, for levying Duties and Taxes on the Colonies; and have resolved on a humble, dutiful and loyal Petition to his Majesty for Redress; and also upon proper Representations to his Majesty’s Ministers on the Subject: and to desire that they would severally take such constitutional Measures thereupon as they should judge most proper. And the Question upon the Motion passed in the negative. On Thursday the 4th. of February, it was moved in the House that the foregoing Question be recommitted so far as to leave it at-large and conformable to a standing Rule of the House, that no Vote or Order shall be reconsidered at any Time, unless the House be as full as when such Vote or Order was passed; the number in the House was called for, and it appearing about eighty two members were present,8 the Question was put, and passed in the Affirmative by a large Majority. And by an immediately subsequent Resolve the first Vote was ordered to be erased. — The same Day the Resolution which gave Birth to the circular Letter took Place; a Question being regularly moved and fairly debated, Whether the House would appoint a Committee to prepare a Letter to be sent to each of the Houses of Representatives and Burgesses on the Continent, to inform them of the Measures which this House has taken with Regard to the Difficulties arising from the Acts of Parliament for levying Duties and Taxes on the American Colonies, and report to the House, which passed in the Affirmative; and a Committee was appointed accordingly. This Committee after Deliberation a Week, reported the Letter, which was read in the House, and accepted almost unanimously;9 and fair Copies of the same were ordered to be taken for the Speaker to sign and forward as soon as might be: and this Day there were eighty three members in the House.

    The Day following an Order passed that a fair Copy of the Letter be transmitted to Dennys Deberdt Esqr. in London;10 The Design of which was, that he might be able to produce it as necessity might require, to prevent any Misrepresentation of its true Spirit and Design.

    On Saturday, 13th. of February,11 in Order that no possible Occasion might be taken by the Governor to think that the Debates and Resolutions were designed to be kept a Secret from his Excellency, the House came into the following Resolution, Vizt: Whereas this House hath directed, that a Letter be sent to the several Houses of Representatives and Burgesses of the British Colonies on the Continent, setting forth the Sentiments of the House, with Regard to the great Difficulties that must accrue, by the Operation of divers Acts of Parliament, for levying Duties and Taxes on the Colonies, with the sole and express Purpose of raising a Revenue; and there Proceedings thereon, in a humble, dutiful and loyal Petition to the King, and such Representations to his Majesty’s Ministers, as they apprehend may have a Tendency to obtain Redress: And whereas it is the Opinion of this House, at all effectual Methods should be taken to cultivate an Harmony between the several Branches of this Government, as being necessary to promote the Prosperity of his Majesty’s Government in the Province. Resolved, That a Committee wait on his Excellency the Governor, and acquaint him that a Copy of the Letter aforesaid, will be laid before him, as soon as it can be drafted; as well as of all the Proceedings of this House relative to said Affair, if he shall desire it. And a Committee was appointed, who waited on his Excellency accordingly. — On Monday following, the House resolved on the Establishment already mentioned; which is observed only to shew your Lordship, that there was at this Time no Disposition in the House “to revive unhappy Divisions and Distractions so prejudicial to the true Interest of Great Britain and the Colonies”. —

    The House beg Leave to apologize to your Lordship, for the Trouble given you in so particular a Narration of Facts, which they thought necessary to satisfy your Lordship, that the Resolutions of the last House, referred to by your Lordship, was not an unfair Proceeding, procured by Surprize in a thin House, as his Majesty has been informed, but the declared Sense of a large Majority when the House was full; That the Governor of the Province was made fully acquainted with the Measure, and never signified his Disapprobation of it to the House; which it is presumed he would have done, in Duty to his Majesty, if he had thought it was of evil Tendency: and that therefore that House had abundant Reason to be confirmed in their own Opinion of the Measure, as being the Production of Moderation and Prudence. And the House humbly rely on the ^royal^ Clemency; That to petition his Majesty will not be deemed by him to be inconsistent with a Respect to the British Constitution as settled at the Revolution by William the Third: That to acquaint their Fellow Subjects, involved in the same Distress, of their having so done, in full Hopes of Success, even if they had invited the Union of all America in one joint Supplication, would not be discountenanced by our gracious Sovereign, as a Measure of an inflammatory Nature: That when your Lordship shall in Justice lay a true State of these Matters before his Majesty, he will no longer consider them as tending to create unwarrantable Combinations, or excite an unjustifiable Opposition to the constitutional Authority of the Parliament: That he will then clearly discern, who, are of that desperate Faction, which is continually disturbing the publick Tranquility; and that while his arm is extended for the Protection of his distressed and injured Subjects, he will frown upon all those, who to gratify their own Passions, have dared even to attempt to deceive him.

    The House of Representatives of this Province, have more than once, during the administration of Governor Bernard been under a Necessity of intreating his Majesty’s ministers to suspend their further Judgment, upon such Representations of the Temper of the People, and the Conduct of the assembly, as they were able to make appear to be injurious. The same Indulgence this House now beg of your Lordship: and they beseech your ^Lordship^ to patronize them so far as to make a favorable Representation of their Conduct to the King our Sovereign. It being the highest ambition of this House, and the People whom they represent, to stand before his Majesty in their just Character of affectionate and loyal Subjects. In the Name and Behalf of the House of Representatives;

    I am, My Lord, Your Lordship’s devoted, and most humble Servant,

    Thomas Cushing Spkr.

    The Right Honble: Wills Earl of Hillsborough.

    ALS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 310-315.

    Minor emendations not shown. Endorsed: Province of the Massachusets Bay. June 30th. 1768. Speaker of the House of Assembly. R. 25th: August. A.33. Encld. In handwriting of Thomas Cushing, Speaker of the House of Representatives. No enclosures have been found. The letter was drafted by a House committee;12 it was read and approved on 30 Jun. and printed in the newspapers a week afterward and later as an appendix to the House journals. JHRM, 45: 89, 99-104; Boston Weekly News-Letter, 7 Jul. 1768; Boston Gazette, 18 Jul. 1768. Hillsborough did not reply.13