775 | To the Earl of Hillsborough


    (No 10)

    Boston May 15 1769

    My Lord

    Yesterday Morning being Sunday, at my Country house 4 Miles from Boston, I received from the Doorkeeper of the Council-chamber a Letter signed by Mr Bowdoin and Mr Pitts two of the Council,1 signifying that they were desired to wait upon me with an Address, which was signed by ten of the Council and contains a Desire that I would write to General Gage to order the troops to be removed out of Boston upon the Day of the Election of Councellors; and adding that I being out of Town, they begged Leave to inclose it to me that I might have it as soon as may be on Account of writing to the General by the Post.2

    This Address was prepared, as Business of this Kind has usually been done of late, at a Meeting of the Council appointed by themselves without my Privity or knowledge; and from thence handed about to others not present, to be signed. So that I am by no means acquainted with any of the Reasons upon which this extraordinary Request is founded: however I have sent a Copy of this Address to the General as desired. I hereby inclose a Copy of the Address & also of my Letter to the General inclosing a Copy of it:3 and I shall now make a few Observations upon this uncommon Transaction.

    This is, as far as I can learn, quite a new Motion; the like never having been made by any other Assembly upon the Continent. And yet New York has never been without Troops since the End of the War; Philadelphia has seldom been without them, has a Regiment now and has lately built Barracks for their Accommodation;4 Charlestown has also generally had Troops in the Town; & yet none of the Assemblys of those Provinces ever suggested that Troops being in their Towns had a tendency to interrupt the Quiet & Peace of their Proceedings or that the Removal of the Troops would make them more quiet or uninterrupted than they would be otherwise. As for the General Election of Councellors, it is a Proceeding transacted within the Walls of the general Court and differs in Noways from the passing a Bill or any other Business which requires the Concurrence of the three Bodies.5 It is plain therefore that this Transaction is an Echo to the Proceedings of the Select-men & the Town Meeting; with whom the Leaders of the Council have a more intimate Connection than is suitable with their own honor or the Wellfare of the Province.6

    Let us now ask for what Purpose is this Application made; certainly not for that which is expressed in it. They cannot expect that the Troops will be removed, or that such Removal would promote peace and quiet. They cannot suppose that General Gage having stationed the Troops here by order of the King can remove them from hence without the like Order; or that, if he had a discretionary Power, he would make himself answerable for the Mischeifs which might be done in 24 hours Absence of the Troops only. But where are they to be quartered if they are to be removed out of Boston for a Day and a Night only?7 in public houses near Boston? I suppose it would require a Circle of 40 Miles diameter to quarter 1500 Men in the public houses out of Boston. But who shall quarter them? the Justices in the Country certainly would not. they would say that they had no Right to demand Quarters in public Houses, when they had Barracks fitted up in the Town where they were stationed: and with much more Reason than the Town Justices refused Quarters in the Town where the Troops were ordered because there were Barracks in another Place where they were not ordered. If it should be said that the Troops might go out of Town in the Morning and return in the Evening, that wont answer the Purpose; for the Election of Councellors is seldom over till after it is dark. What then is the Intent of this Proposal? It must be one of these: either to create an Uneasiness in the General Court, because the General has not done what is impracticable; or Disorders in the Country by his attempting to do it. I acquit them of the latter, because they have not the least Expectation that the General will comply with their Request. The first therefore is the true Intent, the very contrary to their professed Purpose of preventing the Interruption of the Peace and Quiet of the General Court.

    I now repent that I did not call the General Court at Cambridge;8 & am now considering whether I cannot yet order their Meeting there. I know I can by Law but yet is quite without a Precedent in this Province, it would probably create a Dispute of which I would avoid the Trouble, tho’ I should be ever so much in the right. But if the Seeds of Discord, which the Councellors are now sowing, should take Root in the General Court & produce Disorder I will remove the Court to Cambridge.9 I am very desirous that no Cause of Offence should proceed from me: but if they will not submit to let me pursue my pacifick Intention, I must submit to the Necessity.

    I have the honor to be with great Respect, My Lord, Your Lordships most obedient and Most humble Servt:

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Earl of Hillsborough.

    dupLS, RC     CO 5/758, ff 122-124.

    Interlineations in FB’s hand. Endorsed: Boston May 15th. 1769 Govr: Bernard. (No. 10) R 30 June (Duple._ origl. not reced). B.28. Enclosed copies of the address of the Massachusetts Council, 14 May 1769, CO 5/758, f 125; No. 774 at ibid., ff. 126-127. FB’s original letter to Hillsborough must have arrived after the duplicate and is filed in CO 5/893, ff 130-131 (ALS, RC); other variants in CO 5/767, ff 320-325 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 163-166 (L, LbC). The duplicate letter and enclosures were considered by the Board of Trade on 1 Dec. 1769. JBT, 13: 125.