MEMBERS OF THE MASSACHUSETTS COUNCIL TO THE EARL OF HILLSBOROUGH
Boston April 15th: 1769
The Council having received from Mr: Bollan authenticated Copies of six Letters from Governor Bernard to your Lordship,1 containing many unjust reflections upon the Council, and divers misrepresentations of their Conduct, and also manifesting his earnest wish and Endeavours to bring about an alteration in the civil Government of the Province,2 We are obliged in justice to ourselves and the Province, to address your Lordship on the Subject matter of those Letters, and pray your candid attention to what we have now the honor to write to your Lordship.
In the first of the said Letters dated Novr: 1: 1768,3 Governor Bernard informs your Lordship “he now proceeds to conclude his narrative of his endeavours to get quarters for the King’s Troops.”
The preceeding part of this narrative we have not seen;4 but if there be in it the same want of candor as is discoverable in the concluding part, contained in the said Letter, it is necessary for your Lordship’s right information to give you our narrative on the same subject, which we shall do as summarily as may be.
On the 19th: of September, the Governor called the Council, and communicated to them a part of your Lordships Letter of the 30th: of July,5 informing of two Regiments being ordered to Boston, from Ireland; and also communicated a Letter from General Gage, of the 12th: of September,6 informing of two other Regiments being ordered from Halifax, one of them to Castle William, and the other to the Town; both Letters requiring that quarters be prepared for their reception.
The Halifax Regiments being first expected, the Council immediately Advised, that the Barracks at Castle William should be prepared for the Regiment ordered there. And with regard to the other, as it was an affair that more immediately concerned the Town of Boston, they thought it advisable to appoint a Committee to confer on it with the Selectmen;7 who on the Conference very justly observed, that by Act of Parliament8 it was made unlawful to take any measures for Quartering troops till the said Barracks provided by the Province were full: and they said they could do nothing in the Affair.9 This being reported to the Governor in Council, on the 22d:10 he proposed to the Council that a house in the Town, called the Manufactory house, should be fitted up for the reception of the Troops: but it was objected that the Act of Parliament had in a very particular manner directed the process in Quartering; and that it was not in the Power of the Council to do any thing contrary to that direction.__ The Governor however strongly urged them to it; and was very angry because they declined acting contrary to Act of Parliament:11 The Council desired an adjournment, that they might give him a written answer to his proposal; which, after repeated refusals, he at length granted.__ On the 24th: they waited on the Governor, and delivered to him their Answer.__ He proposed an alteration in it, which they were then for considering; but he said, they might do it on Monday Morning the 26th: and without the formality of another meeting with him, deliver the answer to the Secretary.__ It was done accordingly, and the answer delivered at that time to the Deputy Secretary, the Secretary himself not being at his Office.12
These Circumstances are so minutely mentioned because the Governor took great offence at the Council’s ordering their said answer to be published in one of the News Papers of that day; and said he should represent to your Lordship the indignity offered him, by the Councils publishing their answer before it was presented to him. But your Lordship will perceive from the foregoing account, which contains the true state of the fact, that the answer was presented to the Governor, two days before the Publishing of it; and that the Circumstances posterior to it’s being presented were quite immaterial, even in the Estimation of the Governor himself.13
In the debate on the forementioned proposal it was said by one Gentleman, that Castle William being part of the Town of Boston, it would comport with the requisition for Quartering, to quarter both the Regiments at the Castle. Tho’: this was casually said, and no stress laid upon it, and was not adopted by the Council, the Governor notwithstanding represented it to the Commanding Officer of the Regiments as the reason of the Councils not agreeing to his proposal: and it is possible he may have made the same representation to your Lordship. But your Lordship will please to judge of the reasons the Council proceeded upon, by what is contained in their answer aforesaid, and by nothing else; which answer it appears by the printed Votes of the House of Commons14 was, with other papers, laid before that house the 27th: of November last;15 it being there called “minutes of Council the 26th: September 1768, extracted from the Boston Gazette”, and was inclosed in Governor Bernards Letter to your Lordship of that date;16 as may be seen in the Votes page 79. No: 54 of the said papers. __
These minutes are mentioned as extracted from the Boston Gazette: by which it seems the Governor represented to your Lordship that the said answer was published before it was presented to him: and it being said to be extracted from the Boston Gazette, which the Governor stiles a most infamous paper, seems intended to reflect some Infamy on the answer. But the truth is, it was first published in the Massachusetts Gazette (authorized by the Governor and Council) and from thence taken into all the other Boston news Papers.17
On the 29th: of September a Council was held at Castle William,18 Captain Smith Commanding Officer of the Sea Armament, and Lieut: Colo: Dalrimple of the Troops, being desired by the Governor to attend.__ The Governor informed those Gentlemen what had been the Resolutions of the Council with regard to Quartering the said Troops, and what he was pleased to call the reason of the resolutions, vizt; that the Castle being in the Town of Boston, the Council declined providing quarters for the Troops, before the Barracks at the Castle were full. __
It appears above that the Governor had no foundation for saying the proceeding of the Council was grounded on the reason he mentioned:19 and he had not the Candor and Justice to inform the said Gentlemen of the written answer aforesaid, containing the true reason of the Proceeding, and of which the Council informed them.
Colo: Dalrimple acquainted the Board that his orders from the Commander in Chief were, that one of the Regiments now arrived should be quartered in the Town of Boston, and that he could not consider Castle Island to be in the Town of Boston, within the intention of his orders, that he could not himself depart from the said orders, and that he now made a requisition for quarters accordingly. Whereupon (after the said Gentlemen had retired) his Excellency desired that the Board would reconsider the proposal he had before made to them of fitting up the Manufactory House as a Barracks for the reception of Colo: Dalrimple’s Regiment, which is the Regiment destined for the Town, in case it can be done at the expence of the Crown; and in Case they should adhere to their former resolution, that they would assign their Reasons therefor.
The Governor was immediately told the Act of Parliament obliged them to adhere to their former resolutions. Whereupon, with such as spoke on the occasion, he entered into an angry dispute, and began to take minutes of what they said in answer to him, in order that he might represent it to administration at home.__20
This was objected to as an unfair way of proceeding, and he was told if he wanted a fuller answer than what had already been given, He should have it in writing, if he would give opportunity for it. But this was refused, and he insisted on our immediate Answer. Accordingly an Answer was agreed on, and given to him, and was inclosed in the Governors Letter to your Lordship dated October 1.1768,21 as your Lordship may see in the printed Votes No: 56 of the said Papers. __
We are very sorry to have reason to complain that in the whole of this affair the Conduct of the Governor was arbitrary and unbecoming the dignity of his Station. __
October 3. Colo: Dalrimple being admitted with Capt: Smith before the Board,22 took occasion to explain the intention of his requisition by Letter vizt: That as the Board could not think themselves authorized to provide Barracks in the Town, inasmuch as Barracks had already been provided by the Government at Castle William, he had encamped some of his Troops, and was providing Barracks for the rest in the Town; so that he considered all as in Barracks, and demanded Barrack provisions, agreeable to Act of Parliament. Whereupon his Excellency moved to the Board that they would appoint some suitable Person to make such provision. __
The Council desired time to consider, and give an Answer to his motion; but the Governor refused it, insisting on the Answer immediately. __
However after repeated solicitations, and much altercation, the Governor adjourned the Board to Wednesday October 5th,23 when they gave him an answer; Copy whereof (as appears by the forementioned printed Votes) was inclosed to your Lordship in the Governors Letter of that date.24
Part of the said Answer runs thus, “Advised that agreeable to his Excellency’s motion, one or more person or Persons be authorized and appointed, to furnish and supply the Officers and Soldiers, put and placed in the Barracks, with Fire, Candles &ca: as particularly mentioned in the Act of Parliament:25 Provided the Person or Persons so to be authorized and appointed, will take the risk of the Province’s paying to him or them, all such sum or sums of money so by them paid, laid out or expended for the purpose aforesaid”.
The Governor said that this Proviso defeated the purpose of the Advice, and was intended to defeat it, as every one must be well assured that no person would undertake to advance money at such a risk. His Excellency was told, that without such a Proviso, an undertaker would have an equitable, if not a legal demand, on the Council, to make good all damages, in Case the General Court should refuse to repay him the money advanced. That it would be unreasonable to expect the Council would subject themselves to such a demand; and that in Case they were not subjected by Law, it would be deceiving the undertaker, and be a manifest Act of injustice not to inform him of the Risk: for a risk it must be, as it was impossible for any one to determine what the General Court would do, either in this, or in any other case whatsoever. Whereupon the Governor proposed, in a manner very dictatorial, that the proviso should stand thus, That such Person should undertake this business, upon the Credit of the General Assembly of the Province, according to the intent and meaning of the said Act of Parliament, and not upon the Credit of the particular Persons of the Governor and Council. But this proposed alteration not taking off the risk from the undertaker but in words, and it not being in the power of the Council to pledge the Credit of the General Assembly, it was rejected. It was very unfortunate to the Province, and to his Majesty’s Service in general, that the General Court could not be sitting at a time when their aid was so essentially necessary.26
On the 12th: of October a full Council was advised to be called on the 26th: in order to consider divers matters of importance which the Governor said he had to lay before the Council.27 In the mean time General Gage came to Town from New York vizt: on Saturday October 15th; and on Monday the 17th: the Governor called a Council,28 and introduced the General, and here begins the concluding part of the Governor’s narrative of his Endeavours to get quarters for the Kings troops, as appears by a Copy of his Letter to your Lordship, dated November 1st: 1768,29 on which Letter we beg leave to make a few remarks.
It appears by the said Letter the General demanded quarters in Town for the two Regiments then here; and that he should reserve the Barracks at the Castle for the two Irish Regiments expected, or such part of them as they would contain.
The Council represented to the Governor that they had already given their sentiments fully on this subject, in their Answer delivered to him on the 24th: of September, and referred him to that: but this being not satisfactory, they desired him to postpone the Affair to the 26th: when a full Council was expected, agreeable to his appointment. This was refused. Whereupon the Governor proceeded, as he observes, in a Course of Questions, which finally issued in a vote of six against five, that the Governor be desired to order the Manufactory house to be cleared of it’s present inhabitants, that it might be fitted up for the reception of such part of the Irish Regiments as could not be accommodated at the Castle Barracks.__ On this affair the Governor observes that the whole was a Scene of perversion, to avoid our doing any thing towards quartering the Troops, unworthy such a Body.30 We deny that any thing was done to avoid quartering the Troops; on the contrary every thing was done, in the power of the Council, consistent with their ideas of the Act of Parliament; and consistent with what seemed to be the Governors Idea of it on the 19th: of September, when the affair of quartering was moved: for when the Act was produced, and some of the Council had expressed their opinion that, according to the Act, quarters could not be demanded before the Barracks at the Castle were full, the Governor afterwards, in the course of the debate upon it, implicitly acknowledged the propriety of that opinion, by urging it as the Council’s duty in the case they were considering, to pay no regard to the Act:31 which if they had done, he might have justly charged them with perversion unworthy such a Body. __ The Governor having charged the Council with perversion, proceeds immediately to charge them with lying. He says, “that in the course of the Questions he put to them, they denied that they knew of any building belonging to the Province, in the Town of Boston, that was proper for Barracks, and they denied that the manufactory house was such a Building.”32 This was ^so^ notoriously contrary to truth he says, that some Gentlemen expressed their concern that it should remain upon the minutes, and to induce him to consent to its being expunged a motion was made and agreed to relative to the manufactory house: Whereupon he ordered the former answers to be expunged.33 It was to very little purpose to make this Bargain with the Governor, which it seems was done to save our Char^ac^ter,34 as he has been the means of spreading the knowledge of it to the whole British Legislature, and with that knowledge the Infamy his representation tends to fix upon us. ‘Tis true the Council denied and still ^deny^ that the Manufactory house was proper to be statedly used for Barracks, tho’ in that Exigency they consented it should be improved for that purpose, It is capable of being improved in that manner, and so is any other house: but it is not proper that it should be so improved, for many reasons, which it would be impertinent to offer to your Lordship. The concern therefore did not arise from our answer to the Governors Questions being notoriously contrary to truth, but from the Impropriety of the Questions, and the dishonor they would reflect on the Questioner, if entered upon the Records.__ We should not have troubled your Lordship with any observations on a Business so trifling in itself, but it is rendered important to us by the Governors introducing it to traduce our moral character.
“The next thing to be done, says the Governor, was to clear the manufactory house, the preventing of which was a great object of the Sons of Liberty.” But of this matter we shall take no farther notice than as it concerns a member of the Council, who is an Overseer of the Poor, and as such with the other Overseers, had the oversight and direction of the Workhouse. “For this purpose (of preventing the clearing the manufactory house) when the report of the Troops coming here was first confirmed, all kinds of People, says the Governor, were thrust into this Building; and the Workhouse itself was opened; and the People confined there were permitted to go into the manufactory house. This was admitted (continues the Governor) to be true in Council, by one of the Board; who is an Overseer of the Poor, and a principal therein.” __
This representation is wholly without foundation, and was so far from being admitted to be true by the Gentleman refered to vizt; Mr. Tyler, that he told the Governor when he mentioned it in Council, there was no truth in it; and that he had been greatly imposed on by his informers, Therefore the Governor had no reason to say, in the winding up of his story about the manufactory house “35thus this building belonging to the Government and assigned by the Governor and Council for his Majesty’s use, is kept filled with the Outcast of the Workhouse, and the Scum of the Town, to prevent it’s being used for the accommodation of the King’s Troops.”36 We beg leave to refer your Lordship to the Deposition of Mr: Tyler and the other Overseers on this Subject, herewith enclosed.
The Governor next proceeds to narrate his negotiation with the Justices on the Subject of Billeting; But their Conduct it is their own Business to justify, if they think proper. We shall only observe on this part of his Letter, that he has thrown out several censures upon the Council without Foundation, on some of which we shall presently remark.
The Governor concludes this Letter by saying he has already shewn to your Lordship how the order of Council for the purpose of Providing for the two Regiments at Boston, according to act of Parliament, was annulled and avoided in the origination of it; and that the Council have refused to make such an order for providing for the Troops at Boston, as has been made by them for the Troops intended to be stationed at Castle William. __ We have already given your Lordship an account of our Proceedings in this matter, by which we persuade ourselves it will appear to your Lordship, that the Council have done all that was in their power to do, without the aid of the General Assembly, which, from a Clause in the Governors Letter dated November 5, it appears probable he was at liberty to call. Supposing this to be the case, and whether it was so in fact is well known to your Lordship, he ought rather to censure himself than the Council, for neglecting this measure of affecting the thing which measure he has been often solicited to go into.
The Governor’s Letter of the 5th: of November37 is wholly taken up censuring the Conduct of the Council with regard to the Commissioners of the Customs, At a General Council held the 26th: of October38 he says he “put a very embarrassing Question to them, vizt: whether the Commissioners might return to the Town and resume their functions with Safety to themselves and their Officers? If they answered yea, they would be chargeable with advising the return of the Commissioners: if they said No, they would contradict all their assertions, that there was no occasion for Troops to support the Civil Power.”
This very embarrassing Question my Lord, had no embarrassment in it: for even on the Supposition that what the Governor in one of his Letters has said be true, that the Council are always for humouring the People, they were however no way apprehensive of being charged by them with advising the return of the Commissioners, if they answered the question in the affirmative. Nor have we any reason to think the Council have been so charged, notwithstanding they did answer so.
The Council did not apprehend themselves obliged to give opinions, and their answer to such a question could be nothing more than an opinion, which the Governor implicitly acknowledges they were not held to give; and tho’: he altered the form of the question,39 and it might be put as he says vizt; Whether they would advise him to assure the Commissioners that they might return with Safety? the Answer to it, which was given in the Affirmative, amounts only to this, that he himself, should give his opinion to the Commissioners that they might return with safety for his assuring them that they might return tho’: done in consequence of our advice, and our assurance (if it had been added to it) would still be only a matter of opinion: But the principal reason why so much time was spent in this Affair, and in the other proceedings of that Council, the Governor might have found in himself—in his own austerity and incivility.
The Governor has found great fault with the Conduct of the Council towards the Commissioners. “The virulence with which they have been treated seems, he says, to be too violent to be the effect of public zeal only, without the interference of private animosity”. The Council, my Lord, even if they had been influenced by meer motives of Resentment, could justify all they have either said or done with regard to the Commissioners, who in divers of their Letters to the Governor, which he laid before the Council, have treated the Council in a very unbecoming manner: one of which Letters,40 in the time of it, the Council would have animadverted on, but to prevent their doing themselves justice, the Governor withdrew it. They have not however been actuated by resentment or private animosity, but by a regard for the Town and Province: both which the Commissioners, whatever they may have done by their Letters and memorials to Administration, have greatly abused by their retiring (under the pretence of Safety) on board one of his Majestys Ships and afterwards to the Castle: intending hereby that their memorials should have the stronger effect. __ But my Lord, their retiring was voluntary they were not compelled to it — they had never been attacked, and ’tis highly probable never would have been, unless they themselves had first concerted the plan of the attack; and that they had concerted such a plan seems probable, from their ordering the Seizure of the Sloop liberty on the 10th: of June, with such circumstances of violence, and at such a time of the day, as indicated a design to create a disturbance, which accordingly happened; tho:’ trifling in comparison to what it has been represented, they improved as a plausible reason, on which to justify their voluntary flight.41
If this has been the Conduct of the Commissioners, which there is too much reason to believe, is it wonderful my Lord, the Council should animadvert upon it? or that they should endeavour to prevent the evil consequences to the Town and Province, which it had a tendency to bring upon them, and which in fact it has brought.
This is the reason my Lord, on which the proceedings of the Council with regard to the Commissioners are grounded, and not any private animosity, which is basely suggested by Governor Bernard.
These proceedings of the Council which first gave offence to the Governor were on the 27th: and 29th: of July last at which times the Behaviour of the Governor to the Council was so extraordinary,42 that we beg your Lordship’s indulgence to give some account of it. __
On the 27th: of July the governor laid before the Council, with an injunction of Secrecy, a Paper relative to riot43 in Boston on the 10th: of June, to the proceedings in consequence of it, and to an offer of troops from General Gage: in which paper were a very imperfect account of those proceedings, and some unjust Censures upon the Council.
The Council thought it reasonable they should have time to place those proceedings in a true light; and by so doing, show that they were unjustly censured. But notwithstanding the reasonableness of it, he refused it; and kept them the whole day (saving a short interval for dinner) treating them in a most abusive manner, and worrying them for an immediate answer. But as he could not prevail he adjourned the Council to the 29th: when he had the answer: which by the Votes of the house of Commons it appears the Governor has communicated to your Lordship.
With regard to the injunction of Secrecy it was objected, that from the tenor of the Councellors Oath, and from the nature of the thing, the Governor had no right (exclusive of the Council) to lay any such injunction; and besides, as it was apprehended by people in general, that the calling of that Council was for the purpose of bringing Troops into the Province, it could answer no good end to keep the proceedings (which were against that measure) secret. But the Governor in a manner inconsistent with decency, insisted on the injunction, and the affair was kept Secret to the great and unnecessary uneasiness of the Community. __ The Conduct of the Governor, as it is manifest there was a concerted plan between him and the Commissioners to introduce Troops here, can be accounted for no other way than this, that he apprehended the Publishing those proceedings might possibly retard or prevent the sending of the Troops, which we humbly conceive it probably might, if those proceedings, without the Governors Comments, could have reached your Lordship before his Majesty’s orders had been issued.44
The sending for Troops has long been a favorite measure with the Governor, who has however appeared desirous it should be thought he has not sent for Troops, and has repeatedly said so: but if he has taken care that the measures of others should be effectual for that purpose, which we have reason to believe, the effect is still the same; and he becomes chargeable with an unmanly dissimulation.
The Governor, not content with censuring the Council for their Conduct in Council, steps beyond his line to bestow his Censures upon them: which he does in a very illiberal manner for their addressing General Gage. __
There are several very exceptionable things previous to his observations on the address; which was unanimous notwithstanding the Governor informs your Lordship that four refused to sign it: for these four were not present when it was settled; and three of them who lived in the country and whose business called them home had never seen it. But with your Lordship’s leave we will pass over these things and come to the observations. “It is well known to your Lordship (says the Governor) that this kind of writing is designed for the People and this is notorious in the present Case”. __ We acknowledge my Lord, that this address was designed for the people — the people of this Province in general, and of the Town of Boston in particular, who we had reason to think had been grossly vilified and abused by certain memorials and Representations sent from hence to Administration at home, particularly with regard to what have been called the Riots in Boston, on the 18th: of March and 10th: of June 1768:45 and for the good of this people it was our indispensable duty to endeavor to place those proceedings, with the Cause of them, in a just light; and in this way to abate the resentment such memorials and representations had a tendency to excite against the Town and Province: and with this View, and to prevent a further accession of Troops the address to the General was undertaken and determined on: and with no . . . .46 design to abuse the Commissioners (who are mentioned but incidentally) notwithstanding Governor Bernard assures your Lordship this was our principal design. His other observations therefore, which are built upon this supposition, are like the baseless Fabrick of a Vision;47 and which, that we may avoid retorting his unjust reflections, and especially that we may not give your Lordship any unnecessary trouble, we shall take no notice of. __
Now we have had occasion to mention the Riot of the 10th: of June, we cannot refrain mentioning one circumstance concerning it, which is, that the morning after it happened being Saturday, the Governor with advice of the Council appointed a Committee, of such members of the Board as were qualified to act as justices of the Peace in the County of Suffolk, to make enquiry into the particular facts as soon as may be, and report to the Governor in Council, that so they might take proper measures on so interesting an occasion and the Governor desired the Committee to meet him on Monday morning, in order with him to proceed on the Enquiry: but on that morning instead of proceeding on the enquiry he postponed it, as appears by the Council minute48 and never after resumed it. This seemed strange in the time of it, but the reason appears more clearly since our seeing the printed votes of the House of Commons, where among the Papers on American affairs, laid before the House, there are mentioned Depositions relative to said Riot: enclosed to your Lordship in Governor Bernards Letter dated 14 June 176849 and mentioned in the said Votes.
Now my Lord, is it any way uncharitable to suppose the Governor postponed the Enquiry with the said Justices, in order that there might be no contradiction between the Depositions that might have been thus jointly taken, and such as he had enclosed to your Lordship? was it not more likely my Lord, that a true State of the Facts might have been brought forth by such a joint enquiry, than by a seperate one? On the one hand, it might be said the Justices without the Governor would be most inquisitive after Facts and circumstances that would place the delinquents in the most favorable Light; and on the other hand, that the Governor might run into the Contrary extreme, which would place them in the worst light: and if this should be thought probable on both hands, from both of them conjunctly the exact State of Facts might have been expected. It is therefore greatly to be regretted, and argues a disposition and design in the Governor to represent things in the worst light, that he postponed, and never after resumed the enquiry: And the Representations, contained in Authenticated Copies of his six Letters transmitted to us, are a demonstration of such a disposition; and of a disposition, under the pretence of magnifying the Kings power, to make his own arbitrary and uncontrolable.
In the Governors’ Letter of the 12th: of November50 he reports to your Lordship how he proceeded in admonishing the justices: and expresses his displeasure,”51 that the Council would not act with him in this Business; nor advise to any method of enforcing the order contained in your Lordship’s in your Lordships Letter; and that he could make nothing of them but passive associates.” The Council my Lord, apprehended it highly proper, that before the justices were censured, they should be informed of the charges against them, and heard in their defence. And because the Council desired to be excused acting in this business before such information and hearing, they are thus most grossly abused, and misrepresented by the Governor. He insinuates that the Council impeached the truth and justice of your Lordships Letter, both of which, he says, he observed to them were founded on notorious facts. This charge they deny. They might doubt and had great reason ^to doubt^ the facts on which your Lordship’s letter was founded, and which were represented by the Governor, without impeaching your Lordships truth or Justice.
In the Course of the two last Conferences with the Council,52 “he had an opportunity he says, to Observe upon and lament the Servility, in regard to the people, with which the Business of Council was now done in Comparison to what used to be.”
Whatever character former Councils may have been of, the present Council humbly trust my Lord, that such an unworthy one as this does not belong to them; but if it should they will not add to the indignity of it by any Act of servility to his Excellency. The Governor would prove the Servility of the Council by saying that one Gentleman said, he did not enter the Council Chamber with that free mind he used to have; but as he liked to be concerned in public business, he must be content to hold his place upon such terms as he could. A Gentleman of the Council has divers times said that he did not enter the Council chamber with the same pleasure he used to, and the reason he assigned was, the angry disputes which had subsisted for some time between the Governor and the Council: he has likewise said he liked to be concerned in in53 Public Business but he absolutely denies his saying and there’s no one of the Council remembers he ever said, that he must be content to hold his place upon such Terms as he could; or anything tending to convey such an Idea. This is the whole matter upon which the Governor builds the infamous Character he has given of the Council to your Lordship. The anecdotes will ^which^ the Governor calls trifling are really so in themselves; and not only trifling but untrue, and discover great malignity towards the Council, not only as a Body, but as individuals. Tho:’ the anecdotes are trifling in themselves, they are not so with regard to the purpose he intended they should answer: for if the Council be such Servile wretches as he has represented them to your Lordship if they would be content to hold their places upon such terms as they can — it is high time my Lord, they should be removed: and if a Seat at the Council Board, under the present form of Government, can be held by no other tenure, it is become quite necessary (as the Governor observes) “that the King should have the Council Chamber in his own hands.”
The Governors next letter to your Lordship is dated November 14th:54 in which he considers that part of his orders which he relates to the reforming the Bench of Justices: in which letter, as in all the rest, he is very liberal in his abuses of the Council — “They make he says the humouring of the People their chief object — the majority of the Council has avowed (indirectly at least) the same principles and now appear to Act in concert with that party from whence the opposition to Parliament originated.”__ “They are the Creatures of the People and will never join with the Governor in censuring the overflowings of liberty, &c”. But we shall pass them as undeserving further notice. __ There are several other things in this letter worthy of remark, which we beg leave here to mention.
It is a great defect he says in this Government, that the King has no Power over the Commissions, which are granted in his name and under his Seal. __
But if this be a defect, there’s a similar defect in the Government of England, with regard to similar Commissions, But your Lordship is sensible, this is so far from being a defect with respect to some Commissions, particularly those of the Judges in England, that the King having no power over them is esteemed the strongest security to the Liberties and property of the subject. The removal of the pretended defect here would put all the Judges justices and other Civil Officers under the Power of a Governor, whose power already, if a good Governor, is apprehended to be sufficiently extensive; and if an arbitrary and oppressive one, much too extensive.55
The Governor next attempts to prove that there is such a defect in this Government: but his argument is cloudy and wholly inconclusive.
He observes in it, “the Council of this Province is as much out of the controul of the King, as the House of Representatives is”.56 But this is a very great mistake, as his Majesty’s Governor has a negative annually upon the Choice of every Member of the Council; and has none at all upon the Representatives. It is also a mistake in him to say, “that when the Governor has once set the King’s Seal to a Commission, it is forever out of the hands of the Crown; and the person who has obtained it may thenceforth defy the King, oppose his Laws and insult his Government, and be in no danger of losing his Commission for as the Governor himself adds the Governor with the Advice of the Council can Supercede him. But if he acts in a popular cause the Council, who are themselves the Creatures of the People will never join with the Governor in censuring the overflowing of Liberty”.
The Council my Lord are no more the Creatures of the People than of the Governor, as his approbation of the election is necessary to their existence; and they are much more likely to be under the influence of a Governor than of the People; and therefore much more likely to join with him in censuring the overflowings of Liberty,57 than the contrary. But my Lord, at the worst, supposing such a magistrate should escape censure thro’: the fault of the Council, would it not be better that an instance of that sort should now and then happen, than that a Governor a thousand leagues distant from the throne, should be entrusted with a power so exorbitant and uncontrolable, as Governor Bernard is endeavouring to acquire; but which we humbly hope our gracious Sovereign will never entrust either with him or any of his Successors.
This exorbitant power Mr: Bernard is for extending to all the Governors in his Majesty’s Colonies, and proposes or rather dictates, that it should be done by a general act of Parliament, vesting such a power in the Crown. But “it will not be necessary he says, that such an act should be general. it is more wanted in this Government than in all the other together: and even here the defect will be cured by a Royal Council”.
This is the least my Lord, that will content him. But we humbly trust in his Majesty’s Goodness that the Charter of the Province with all the rights and Priviledges, granted by it to this People, will be continued to them, notwithstanding the machinations of Governor Bernard and all other enemies of the Constitution.
The Governors letter of the 30th: of November58 being wholly relative to the Conversation between the Governor and Mr: Bowdoin on the prayer of the Councils petition to his Majesty, Mr: Bowdoin will have the honor of writing to your Lordship on that Subject. __59
The Governors Letter of the 5th: of December60 Relative to the Councils’ Petitions to the two Houses of Parliament61 is principally designed to frustrate them; to give your Lordship a wrong idea of many of the circumstances attending the agreeing on them; and to let you know that the Council is brought under such awe of their Constituents by the frequent removal of the friends of Government, as that there is very little exercise for private judgment in popular Questions. __ We thought till the Receipt of this Letter of his, that the whole of your Conduct in this matter at least was in no instance excepted to by him: But we have found ourselves mistaken.__ There is nothing in this Letter very material and therefore without taking further notice of it, we beg leave to give your Lordship some Account of the origination of these Petitions. __ Your Lordship will therefore please to be informed, That at the last Sitting of the General Court, the Council thought it necessary to petition his Majesty, and both Houses of Parliament, on the Subject of the Acts of Parliament for raising a revenue from the Colonies, and divers times considered it. As it was apprehended the Session would be a long one on account of the Settlement of the valuation of Estates through the Province, the Council did not appoint a Committee to prepare the petitions, before the Governor Communicated on the 24th: of June, the latter part of your Lordship’s letter62 Signifying his Majesty’s pleasure relative to the dissolution of the General Court. The Committee reported the draft of the petition to the King on the 29th: when it seems the Governor had determined to Prorogue the Court.
The Petition had been read, and was under consideration when the Message to the Governor from the House in Answer to the requisition for rescinding certain Resolves, interrupted the proceeding in it: But after receiving the said message the Governor would not suffer it to be resumed thô: earnestly requested, and without any necessity immediately Prorogued the Court, which prevented the Council petitioning in their legislative Capacity: in which capacity the Governor could not dispute the Council’s right to petition independent of him. __ They thought it very unkind and very unjust, that he would not suffer them to compleat their petitions, which might have been done the next day; and they cannot account for that very hasty and abrupt prorogation but by supposing it proceeded from an intention to prevent or frustrate the said Petitions, and to stop a remonstrance to his Majesty against him, which was then debating in the House of Representatives.__ With regard to the said Petition immediately after the Prorogation it was moved in Council to proceed upon them, but the Governor interposed and insisted that the Council had no right to do it without him. __ A Committee after much Altercation was finally with his Consent appointed to prepare a Petition to the King and the King only, the Governor insisting that the Committee should not be Authorized to prepare Petitions to the Lords and Commons: which shewed his intention to prevent the Petitions to the two Houses of Parliament: and in regard to the Petition to his Majesty it has been apprehended he designed to frustrate that. __ This last mentioned Petition, at the Council’s desire, was by the Governor, in whom they then thought they could place some confidence, transmitted to your Lordship,63 with their humble request, that your Lordship would lay it before his Majesty. In the Prayer of it a word is used which the Governor is apprehended to have laid hold of to draw a sense very different from what he knew the Council intended; and that accordingly in writing to your Lordship he introduced the prayer of it in such a manner, as to make it seem that the Council intended to petition against the Revenue money being drawn, or sent from America, rather than for the Repeal of the Revenue Acts.64 But however this may be (about which we are not yet Satisfied, notwithstanding the Governor is pleased to say we are) it occasioned our petitions to the two houses of Parliament, in which, that we might not be misapprehended from any reasonings of the Governor on the Prayer of our Petition to his Majesty, we have prayed for the repeal of those Acts in the most explicit manner. __ With regard to the Councils Petition transmitted to your Lordship by the Governor, we take this occasion to thank your Lordship for laying it before his Majesty.65
And now my Lord, having given your Lordship a general Account of the Councils Proceedings, in which they have acted (in a manner his Majesty expects they should act) agreeable to their Oaths and Consciences, and with an unremitting regard to his Service honor and Government, they humbly beg leave to express their deep sorrow and distress on account of his Majesty’s displeasure, which the Town and Province at present experience.
The Dissolution of the General Court — the Ships of War stationed here — Troops in possession of the Town — the precautions taken to prevent any intelligence coming hither of the embarking of the Troops from Halifax, and the circumstances attending their landing here, as if in an Enemy’s Country — all indicate the frowns and displeasure of his Majesty. __ We do not yet certainly know all the means by which this has happened: nor do we yet certainly know all our accusers. But we apprehend the representations and memorials, that have been made by Governor Bernard, the Commissioners of the Customs, and some other Persons, concerning the disorders and riotous proceedings, which happened in the Town of Boston in March and June 1768, have brought upon them that misfortune. What happened in March was of no consideration, and it must indicate a great degree of malevolence to represent it to the disadvantage of the Town.__ What happened on the 10th: of June, thô: highly unwarrantable and unjustifiable, was attended with circumstances, that make it probable a riot was planned, and hoped for, by some of those persons, who most exclaimed against it, and have made it the Subject of those Memorials and representations.__ But for a fuller detail of those disorders and the apprehended occasion of them, we beg leave to refer your Lordship to the proceedings of Council on the 29th: of July last,66 and to their Address to General Gage of the 27th: of October67 both which have been communicated to your Lordship by the Governor,68 and which we humbly hope, notwithstanding they were accompanied with his animadversions, have induced his Majesty to look upon the Town of Boston, in a more favourable light than the Authors of the aforesaid memorials and representations are desirous he should.
Upon the whole my Lord we are constrained to say that Governor Bernards great aim (as evidently appears by his Letters) is the destruction of our Constitution derived to us by Charter, and as Englishmen; and that in his Letters to your Lordship he hath stuck at nothing to affect this purpose. A Constitution dearly purchased by our ancestors, and dear to us, and which we persuade ourselves will be continued to us notwithstanding the Representations in his Letters; the Truth of which depends solely upon his own averment.69 The most material things charged upon the Council are, their not doing their duty with respect to the providing Quarters for the Kings Troops posted at Boston: and a general omission of duty arising from their Servility to the Populace, the pleasing of whom hath according to his Representation been the rule of their conduct — both without foundation, or even a colour of Truth. In addition to what has been already observed, we beg leave further to remark that such hath been the zeal of his Majesty’s Council for his Majesty’s Service that they have done every thing within their power or rather have exceeded the Authority given them by the Act for Punishing Mutiny and Desertion to promote it.70__ About the Beginning of the late War, when there arrived a number of his Majesty’s Troops in the Harbour of Boston, immediately and without the least hesitation the Barracks at Castle William within the Territory’s of Boston and but three miles from the Center of the Town were built by the Province for the accommodation of the King’s Troops and were the best and most commodious of any in North America in the Judgment of Sir Jeffry Amherst when he was here.__71 These were by the Council provided for those Troops, and furnished with every thing that by the Act aforesaid was required, and even beyond its demands, and the like provision has been made divers times since as Troops have occasionally arrived here. And now again, upon the news that his Majesty had ordered Troops hither,72 the Council directed the Provincial Commissary General, that the Barracks aforesaid should be put into proper order for their reception, and that Barrack Utensils &c should be provided with the utmost expedition, which was done accordingly.__ These are facts that no one can deny. But it has been said that the Council did not exert themselves for the provision of the Troops in Boston__ to which it is answered that if they did every thing that by the act of Parliament they were obliged to or might do, surely they did their duty; and are not to be blamed, this was the Case, nor did they omit anything within their department. __
By the preamble of the Act it appears plain that the public Houses and Barracks are first to be filled. By the first enacting clause the Constables, Tithing men &c are required to quarter and Billet the Soldiers and in their absence or default a Justice of the Peace is to do it, they and no others: consequently if the Council had quartered any Soldiers at any place even in Inns or Livery Stables against the mind of the owner, he could maintain Trespass and no order of Governor and Council could have defeated the Action. But in case there should not be sufficient room for the Officers and Soldiers in such Barracks Inns &c; that in such and no other case, and upon no other Account it shall and may be lawfull for the Governor and Council to order quarters: from whence it clearly appears the Council exceeded their Authority in Favor of his Majesty’s Troops rather than otherwise. Is it not manifest my Lord that the Governor and Council had no right to meddle in the quartering aforesaid, excepting it was for the residue of such Officers and Soldiers for whom there might not be room in such Barracks, Inns and public places? Then, and in that case, upon that Account, and in no other case, had the Governor and Council any right power or Authority to give Orders touching the quartering the said residue: but this never took place, none were quartered as directed by said Act Saving those at the Barracks at Castle William: this is the Act of Parliament, which is a penal Statute, and every penal Statute, is to be construed strictly. It never was in the intention of the Council to evade the Act in the least measure, or give it such a construction as would render it of no effect in this Province, notwithstanding what the Governor hath most injuriously suggested to the contrary.___ This act respects his Majesty’s Troops either when at Winter Quarters, or when upon their March or both; it is not to be imagined that the Parliament of Great Britain when they made this Act, had in contemplation, that there would be a great number of the Kings troops sent to the Plantations to keep the Kings peace there which the Troops have no Authority to do, simply considered as the Kings troops, but only as part of Posse Coramitatus73 under the direction of the Civil Majestrate; but whether this was the intention of Parliament or not, the King has a right to send his Troops where he in his great wisdom shall think best, and to resist the Kings troops in their landing, on their march or at quarters is Rebellion and High Treason; and it would be very unbecoming his Majesty’s Council not to give them all that assistance they were Commanded by Law to give them. __ The sentiment of the Council is this, that when the Troops are at quarters in the same Town where there are good Barracks provided, these must be filled first. But the Council never were so absurd as to construe the Act that when the Kings Troops were upon the march a hundred miles from such Barracks that then no provision should be made for them on their march; in such case my Lord the same Provision ought to be, and would be made for them as if no Barracks had been in the Province.
As to the omission of Duty particularly with regard to the suppressing Riots, Mobs, Disorders, or the like, the Council can with truth say, it is not in the Governors Power to give one instance, wherein they have not exerted themselves to the utmost to suppress them; In proof of their having done so, they can appeal to their Answer to the Governor relative to a libell published against him; to the Proclamation they have advised him to issue; to the orders they have given the Attorney General to prosecute those who have been Rioters, or otherwise, Disturbers of the Peace; and to the Rewards offered to induce persons to bring them to Justice.74 The Governor never laid any thing of this matter before the Council, wherein they were not as fond of having the Transgressors brought to condign Punishment as the Governor himself; and of taking every legal measure to effect it.__ Nor do we know any instance of any majistrate being complained of before the Governor and Council, but what the Council carried their Resentments as high against him as the Governor and some of them much higher: Why then should the Tenure of such Officers commissions depend on the Will of the Governor, which is what he greatly desires and which will be the Case, should he succeed in his desire, such a dependence is quite Contrary to the Tenure by which the Judges in England before the Accession of His present Majesty held their Commissions; and much more so now, since their Commissions continue in force notwithstanding the Demise of the King. If there has been no instance since the Charter of a Difference in Sentiment between the Governor and Council to the present time relative to the displacing or superceeding any Civil Officer (and we don’t know of one) what foundation can there be for the Governors Complaint and the representations he has given, but what arises more from unjust and ungrateful prejudice against the Province than a Real Regard to the Kings Authority? How he cou’d write to your Lordship that his Informations to you were founded on the strictest truth and Candour is truly Surprizing; and to declare as he has divers times done that he never wrote to the prejudice of this Country, shews what Credit his Letters deserve, If the Governor knows there are any Persons in the Magistracy that have acted a part unworthy or inconsistent with their Office, was he not in Duty to His Majesty bound to exhibit a complaint against such to the Council, and when he should observe any failure on the part of the Council to Remove such persons, it would have been early enough for the Governor to represent the Council in the unkind and unjust light he hath done. It hath been the Happiness of his Majesty’s Council from the Grant of the Charter till lately to be on the best terms with the Kings Representative; There have indeed be frequent disputes between the Governor and the House of Representatives but never (that we know of) between the Governor and the Council till now. That it is so at this day is our unhappiness not our Crime; Never was there a Council that have born so much from a Governor as the present Council have born from Governor Bernard; How often, have they been threatned by him that in case they would not come into his measures, he would lay their Conduct before the ministry, How often hath he demanded answers to his Questions immediately, purely to insnare them, without allowing them time to consider the Subject, or to assign the Reasons of their Answers? The answer must be given immediately either Yes or No; In how many Instances has He demanded the Advice of the Council on their Oaths, relative to matters of no publick Concern, and altogether foreign to the true Intention of their Oaths as Councellors, and on which they were not obliged by their oath of Office to give their advice or to make any answer? How often hath he upon his asking advice refused receiving it because it did not suit him? And thô: nothing can be more absurd than to ask advice, and tell the person of whom it is asked, that it must be in this or the other manner (in which case it is the Advice of the person asking advice, and not the advice of them from whom it is demanded) yet this has been very much his Practice. __
How kind and just would it have been in Governor Bernard to let the Council have previously known the several articles of his intended Complaint against them75 and of his purpose (as far as in him lay) to bring about such essential and Fundamental Alterations in the Constitution of this Government, as he had endeavoured to do, that they might have had oppertunity of answering for themselves and their Country, and not to be condemned (as he intended they should be) unheard: especially at a Time when there was no House of Representatives to defend the Province. Had he been, what his Station required him to be, the Father of this People, He would have done it; and by so doing have had the applause of the King his Royal master, who delights in nothing so much as in doing Justice himself and seeing all in Authority under him immitating his Royal example. __
It is Plain my Lord that the People of this Province of all Ranks, Orders and Conditions (with but few exceptions) have lost all Confidence in Governor Bernard and He in them: Wherefore, from the Highest sense of Duty to his Majesty (whose Honor and Interest is very near our Hearts) and from a just regard to this Province and to all the Colonies and Provinces on this Continent, we most humbly Submit to your Lordship whether His Majesty’s Service can be carried on with advantage during his Administration.
We have the honor to be with the most perfect regard — My Lord Your Lordship’s most obedient & most humble Servants
Members of his Majesty’s Council76
The Right honble. the Earl of Hillsborough
RC, LS CO 5/758, ff 90-104.
Minor emendations not shown. In handwriting of John Cotton. The document was probably drafted by James Bowdoin.77 The quotations refer to the authentic copies of FB’s six letters that had been sent to Samuel Danforth by William Bollan with a cover dated 30 Jan. 1769 (Appendix 2). The quotations in Appendix 4 are not wholly accurate transcriptions but are generally faithful to the wording and intent of the governor’s letters. Missing quotation marks have been supplied, as indicated. Endorsed: Boston 15 April 1769 Mr: Danforth and Ten others Members of the Council R 29th May from Mr Bollan. B. 22. Enclosed a deposition of the overseers of the poor of Boston, 15 Apr. 1769 (MsS, RC), CO 5/758, ff 106-107. The package was enclosed in Samuel Danforth to William Bollan, 15 Apr. 1769 (not found).78 The letter was later published in Letters to Hillsborough (1st ed.), 23-43; Letters to Hillsborough (repr.), 44-86.