779 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 11

    Boston June 1 1769

    My Lord

    Yesterday the General Court in Assembly met in the Court house here according to his Majesty’s Writs. Upon perusing the returns It appeared that ^there were^ Very few of the friends of Government in this Assembly. Of the 17 rescinders only 5 were chose1 & but 2 of them attended; Of other friends to Government, who voted against rescinding very few were chosen; the greatest part declined standing a poll, some refused serving after they were elected, & some others lost their Election. By these Means out of that party which ^heretofore^ used to keep the Opposition to Government under, there were reckoned to be not above 10 Men in an House consisting of above 120. So general is now become the Despondency of those who have endeavoured to maintain the Authority of the King & Parliament in this province.

    As the Faction was so apparently possessed of the House, evry Violent Measure that could be devised was to be expected. In the Morning, before they had chose a Speaker, they sent me a Message, as inclosed,2 the insolent Terms of which will speak for themselves. I asked the Messengers if they had chose a Speaker; they answered that they had not. I told them that I could take no notice of any Message from them untill they had chose a Speaker. However, if they would choose a Speaker to save time I would consider the Message as coming from the House & give an Answer to it. Upon this being reported they passed the resolves as inclosed & chose a Speaker, who being presented & consented to,3 I sent them an Answer as inclosed.

    In the afternoon they proceeded to the Election of Councellors. The Faction had previously declared that they would clear the Council of Tories: by this denomination they signify all those who are disposed to support the Kings Government, to acknowledge the Authority of parliament, & to preserve the people from a democratical despotism. Accordingly they turned out Mr Flucker, Mr Ropes, Mr Paine & Mr Worthington,4 4 Gentlemen so distinguished by their integrity ability & other qualities which form a respectable Character, that I could scarce add a fifth to them out of what is left. These Gentlemen were flung out by such large Majorities & the others, excepting the new ones & 1 or 2 more, elected so nearly unanimously, that it afforded a strong instance of the absoluteness of the Faction as well as of ^their^ disposition to abuse their power.

    Before the meeting of the Assembly I had formed a great desire to lay a foundation for conciliatory Measures; it was for this purpose that I called the Assembly at Boston against my own Judgement, that all Cause of ill temper might be avoided. I was desirous, if any means could be found to justify it, to contract my negatives, or, if possible, to remove them entirely. But this could not be done without some concession from the faction, which upon their late Elevation was not likely to be obtained. I could indeed with propriety have given up the exercise of the Negative; as no longer of any use: but I did not care to give so public a testimony of despondency. But when I saw the Faction pick & cull out evry Man of the Council that pretended to any independency of them, It appeared to me that My Duty to the King, my Regard for his honour, my Concern for the Gentlemen who were thus injured for their fidelity to him, & many other Motives required of me to resent this proceeding by a retaliation. I therefore negatived the 6 negatived last year,5 3 of those who came in the room of those who were turned out ^now^,6 (the 4th having desired my leave to refuse a seat at the board)7 and 2 of the old Councellors, being the cheif Managers in the Unnatural part which the Council has acted of late.8 Upon a reflexion upon what I have done, I can only blame myself for not having carried my negative a little farther, tho’ I could not well carry it so far as it deserved.

    When I had qualified the Council, I sent up for the House & made the Speech which is inclosed. Your Lordship may have observed that for some time past my Speeches have been meer Matter of form, & have had nothing in them that could afford a Subject for disputation. I cant allways avoid Altercation; but I take care to avoid giving Cause for it. The House resolved to do no Business, till the Committee appointed to take into consideration their Message to me9 concerning removing the Troops & my Answer. As I understand that they are greatly puzzled about this business & are resolved not to give up this pretension, altho’ it is really insupportable, I expect that these Debates will take up some time and must therefore suspend my Letter for a full Account of them.10

    June 8

    It is now a Week since the date of the first part of this Letter; during which The House has done nothing but debate about ^their^ requisition for removing the troops without coming to a conclusion, and another business which I shall mention hereafter not to interrupt the present Narrative.__ To explain the following Detail, I must premise that one of Otis’s cheif Allies (Mr Hawley who refused to take his Seat in the Council) is gone off from him & opposes him in evry thing. This Gentleman who is of great ability & has hitherto been of the popular side is well heard in the House & has had power to controll Otis in evry thing he has undertaken; so that he has not been able to this time to get another Message to me concerning the removing the troops through the House; & yet all other Business stands still.11

    June 10

    The Debate concerning the Reply to my Answer has still continued to be the only Business of the House: yesterday it was debated for the whole day; at the close of which it was thought to be finished, the whole having been transcribed & a Committee appointed to present it. But then the Faction found out something else that was wanting, & the Business was postponed to this Morning; when a New Clause was added; & then it was referred to next Tuesday.12 Thus the first fortnight has been entirely consumed in this fruitless dispute, & no real Business has been done. I should upon this occasion have removed them to Cambridge where their Difficulty would cease. But upon consulting the Lieut Governor upon this, He was of opinion, that as the House in general was tired of these proceedings & began to complain of the despotism of the Faction which they had set over themselves, which the Secession of those Gentlemen who on the part of Government had heretofore combated that Faction had made to be ^more^ severely felt, It would be better to let them alone & leave them to themselves till their Eyes were throughly open. And this proceeding could do no harm, as there was no prospect of any business being done, whilst the Faction continues in their present triumphant state.

    And indeed there appears to be a Disposition in the Faction to put a stop to all business in order to bring difficulties upon the people & from thence raise a clamour against the Government. They have now spent near a fortnight in disputes concerning Troops being in the Town without coming to any conclusion. When this Obstacle is removed, they have another ready, which is the Salary bill; this they have declared against passing, at least in such a way as I can consent to it. The pretence is that I am going away, as they say, to quit the Government; Whereas my orders are so far from signifying an intention of superseding me, that they intimate the very contrary. I am ordered to attend his Majesty, as Governor, to report to him the state of the province; and I am directed to advise with the Lieut Govr concerning the Administration of the Government in my absence.13 Upon applying these circumstances to the instruction concerning the Salary Act,14 & the instruction for the distribution of the Salary when the Governor is absent,15 I have no doubt but that it is as much my Duty to insist upon the Salary Act being the first that is passed at this time, as it has been at any other Time; & the Lieut Govr is of the same Opinion. I consider this only in regard to his Majesty’s Service; without any respect to my own intrest, which is not concerned in the question; as I doubt not but that I shall be paid whilst I continue in his Majesty’s Service by some means or other. But It is absolutely expedient that the ruling party should be obliged to grant or refuse the usual Salary according to the Stipulation entered into by their predecessors 37 years ago & observed ever since.16 Besides, It would be hard upon the Lieut Govr to leave him at the mercy of these people; which he must be, unless a moiety of the usual Salary is secured to him by these means.17

    The other Business which may break up the Assembly suddenly is in their own hands: The Speaker has just now received a Letter from the Speaker of Virginia inclosing a Copy of their late resolutions & desiring the Concurrence of this House. I make no doubt but that they will concur: but they must be sensible that when they do declare their concurrence, I must immediately, at least, put an End to the Session, if not to the Assembly. If therefore they should really desire that the Business of the province should be done, they will after the late Example at New York, pass all the necessary business first, and then enter upon the resolves.18 But if they desire to break up the Assembly without doing any business, & should fail in making the Salary Act subservient to this purpose, they will then enter upon the Virginia resolves & do it that way. There was another Business which if carried to extremity was likely to break up the Assembly, which is what I just mentioned at the bottom of the fourth page of this Letter.19 But as this has been defeated by a large Majority in a full house, & this present Letter is allready got to a great length, I shall postpone the report of it untill there shall be more occasion for it than there appears to be at present.20

    June 17

    On Tuesday last June 13 The House sent me a Message a printed Copy whereof is herewith inclosed: on the next ^day^ I sent them the Answer as inclosed; but the House having adjourned themselves to the next day immediately upon their Meeting, the Secretary could not deliver the answer; and as by means of this early adjournment the House & Council were not sitting at the same time. He could not according to the usual form adjourn the general Court: But both these were done effectually the next Morning. When the Court met at Cambridge they both soon adjourned to the Monday following; the Council being now entirely under the Direction of the Boston party. Before this adjournment The House appointed a Committee to prepare an Answer to My Message: this will afford Matter of dispute for another Week. This is the indirect Way of stopping Business; but the Heads of the Faction declare publickly that they will do no business untill the Troops are removed out of the Province. All I want is a public declaration of such an intention ^from the House^, and then It seems to me that all Business should stand still till his Majesty can signify his Commands on this great Emergency after which It will deserve consideration how far their refusing to do the business of the province, of which there is a large arrear, when they are called together by the Kings Writs is consistent with their Charter. Your Lordship will observe that in these Messages they make the King & the Governor of Mass Bay so distinct in Authority that the latter can controll the Appointments & Orders of the former.

    In this time of inactivity of the general Court The Council has not been idle: they have passed a letter to your Lordship,21 which is generally beleived to be the Manufacture of Mr Bowdoin, as he has been known to be hard at work with the Council books before him. This Business has been carried on by the Council, notwithstanding their public legislative Character, in a private manner, without the admission of the Secretary, who is by the Kings appointment the official Clerk & Registrar of all their proceedings. Nevertheless, I am told, their whole Business was kept from him, until it was finished & a Copy of the letter to your Lordship was ^ready to be^ sent away; after which they gave him the papers containing little more than a Copy of the present letter, but without the former letter which they have referred to by a Vote of approbation, but which they have not thought proper to leave in the Secretarys office tho’ they were reminded by him, that it ought to be filed in the office as it was referred to by a Vote of their House. I have not had time to peruse this Letter &c having been for some days past by an accidental concurrence of unavoidable ^business^ worked above my strength. I shall at a proper time make my observations upon this letter,22 which I am told is nothing but an asseveration23 against undoubted faith without any proof to invalidate them & amounts in the whole only to a complaint that I have not joined with them in the part which they have thought proper to take.24

    As there is a Ship ready to take this I must conclude this journal by assuring Your Lordship that I am with the greatest respect,

    My Lord Your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The right honorable The Earl of Hillsborough.

    ALS, RC     CO 5/758, ff 128-133.

    Minor emendations not shown. Endorsed: Boston June 1st: 8th: 10th: 17th: 1769 Governor Bernard. (No. 11). R 24 July. B.29. Enld Enclosed a copy of the Massachusetts Gazette, 1 Jun. 1769, containing the message from the House of Representatives to FB, 31 May 1769, and FB’s answer of the same date; FB’s speech to the Council and the House of Representatives, Council Chamber, 1 Jun. This item was marked as enclosure “1”, CO 5/758, f 135. Also enclosed a newspaper extract containing FB’s message to the House of Representatives of 14 Jun., and the message composed in reply by the House of Representatives on 15 Jun., marked as enclosure “2”; the resolutions of the House of Representatives, 31 May, marked as “3”. CO 5/758, f 135. Variants of the letter in: CO 5/893, ff 136-141 (dupLS, RC); CO 5/767, ff 328-340 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 166-175 (L, LbC). The autograph original was considered by the Board of Trade on 1 Dec. 1769, JBT 13: 126.