Appendix 5


    Province of the Massachusetts Bay Boston June 12th. 1769.

    My Lord,

    Mr. Danforth, the President of the Council for the last and the present year, having communicated to this Board a Copy of a Letter, dated April the 15th:17691 sent to your Lordship, subscribed by eleven Gentlemen, being the major Part of the members of the Council for the last year in answer to six Letters wrote to your Lordship by Governor Bernard, dated November the 1st. 5th. 12th. 14th. 30th, and December the 5th: 1768.2 They have unanimously resolved, that they approve of the measures taken by the major Part of the members of the last year’s Council &c. Copy of which Resolve, we have the Honor to inclose to your Lordship.

    As the Gentlemen who wrote that Letter, have been so full and explicite in defending themselves and the Province against the Governor’s groundless and injurious Charges, we have the less Reason to enlarge upon such a disagreeable Subject. However my Lord, if it appears to us that there is any Charge against the Council in either of the aforementioned Letters, to which there [has]3 either been no answer, or if mentioned, not so fully dilated upon the nature of the Offence with which the Board were charged does require; Your Lordship will indulge us the Freedom first to address you.

    Permit us then, my Lord, with all due Deference to your Lordship’s high Rank and Station to animadvert with Freedom upon some Part of the Governor’s aforementioned Letters.

    The Governor says in one of his Letters, “The Council is under awe of their Constituents by the frequent Removal of the Friends of Government &c_”4 Aspersions of the like nature are several Times cast upon the Council in some of his other Letters, which for the Sake of avoiding Prolixity we shall not repeat.

    My Lord, if our Fondness for a Seat at the Board could possibly influence us to vote and advise contrary to the real Sentiments of our Hearts, the Governor’s wanton Exercise of Power, in his frequent negatives put upon Councellors of the best abilities, either because they differed from him in their political Sentiments in some Instances, or from Resentment to the House of Representatives for dropping some of his Friends,5 would have a much greater Influence upon us to fall in with his measures; than any Risque we run from the honorable House in what he calls supporting Government. It being more in the Power of a Governor to remove a Councellor, than it is in the House; consequently if we had any great Fondness for a Seat at the Board, we should act inconsistently with our political Interest to oppose the Governor in his measures. But, my Lord, we can with great Truth say, that while we have had the Honor to be members of his Majesty’s Council, we have endeavoured to discharge a good Conscience, and acted our Part with Uprightness and Integrity, having never been awed into undue Conduct, either by the House or the Governor; and the Governor’s Insinuations to the contrary are unkind, and without Foundation, and unless we can act with the same Freedom as usual, we cannot esteem it an Honour to be of that Body.

    That the Council have appeared of late more engaged in defending the Rights of the Province than formerly may be a Fact, which we have no Disposition to controvert: But be that as it may we beg Leave to observe, that it never was so much the incumbent Duty of the Council as it was the last year, to defend the Rights of the People; for upon the Dissolution of the General Court, the Governor and Council are by the Charter to manage the Affairs of the Province; so that the last years Council had double Duty devolved on them; therefore it was justly expected, they should exert themselves in Defence of the civil Rights and Liberties of the People; tho’ at the same Time they did, and we hope we ever shall, treat the Governor with that Respect that is due to the King’s Representative. And your Lordship may depend upon it, that the present Council will be as free to assert and maintain the just Prerogatives of the Crown, as to defend the Rights of the People.

    We beg Leave further to observe, my Lord, that the Governor in his Letter dated November the 5th. speaking of the address to General Gage, says, “It was signed by fifteen of the Council, among whom were five who knew not enough of the Town to vote for the Safety of the Commissioners Returning, but knew enough to join in an Invective against them.”6 This Observation of the Governor’s, was no Doubt made with a Design to ridicule the Conduct of those Gentlemen, and to represent them as having acted an inconsistent Part. But we cannot conceive by what Rules of Logic he can charge them with Inconsistency. For, my Lord, may not the Gentleman say with Great Propriety, as they were not inhabitants of the Town of Boston, but lived at a great Distance from it; that they knew not enough of the Temper and Disposition of the Town to say that it was safe for the Commissioners to return; and at the same Time from the Evidence they had of the Commissioners Behaviour and Conduct ever since they have been in Office, to join in what the Governor is pleased to call an Invective against them? For our Part we can see no Inconsistency in their Conduct, for certainly the Commissioners haughty and insolent Behaviour may be such, as to expose them to the Resentments of the People; and yet it does not necessarily follow, that the People will offer the least Insult or Violence to them. They may, or they may not; and therefore as it was a matter of uncertainty, the five Gentlemen might well be excused from voting in Favour of the Safety of the Commissioners Return. And the Governor’s Remark upon their Conduct, shews rather the Defect of his Reasons than any Inconsistency in them.

    With a View to defeat the good Ends proposed by the major Part of the last year’s Council in their Petitions to the two Houses of Parliament, and for other unjustifiable Reasons, the Governor acquaints your Lordship that he cannot “conceive that all the Persons who met at the several Meetings upon the Occasion of preparing the Petitions put together amount to the number of twelve”; which he tells your Lordship made the majority of the whole and after insinuating that by a majority might only be meant for Persons out of seven, who make a Quorum of the Council; in his Poscript7 he gives your Lordship what he calls a List of the names of those members who passed upon the Petitions; which together make no more than eight. We persuade ourselves, my Lord, that you will not imagine, that the Council of last Year endeavoured to impose on the two Houses of Parliament, by asserting their Petitions to ^have^ been the Doings of a major Part, when in Fact they were not. Who furnished the Governor with the List he mentions, we cannot say, but we can take upon us to assure you, my Lord, that the names of Lincoln, Brattle Gray and Russell ought to have been inserted therein, they having also agreed to the Petitions, who, with the eight Persons in the Governor’s List, made the number twelve, being as he mentions a Majority of the whole.

    This Information, will among a Multitude of other Things, serve to convince your Lordship, that Governor Bernard has spared no Pains to vilify the Council, and prevent the Success of their applications for the Redress of the Grievances which the Colonies labour under; and that he never lost Sight of his favorite Object, the obtaining of a Council by Mandamus8 from the Crown. And the Board are at a Loss how to reconcile his Conduct with what he declares and promises to your Lordship in his Letter of the 30th: of November last, in which he says, “your Lordship may depend upon it that “my Informations have been, and shall be dictated by the Spirit of Truth and Candor”; when there is scarcely any Thing in either of his Letters but is in direct Opposition to both.9

    It gives us the deepest Concern to find by one of the Resolutions, passed by the Lords, and afterwards agreed to by the Commons, that the Council of this Province, have been censured as not exerting themselves in suppressing of Riots.10 And we are firmly persuaded, that the Council would have escaped the Displeasure of the two Houses of Parliament, had it not been for the gross Misrepresentations of Governor Bernard transmitted to your Lordship; which we are constrained to say, we consider not only as extremely cruel with respect to the Council, but a high Imposition on your Lordship, and even on Majesty itself.

    You will allow us to say, my Lord, that no Council on the Continent, not even those appointed by the King, have a greater aversion to Riots and Disorders, nor have any of them exerted themselves more to suppress them than his Majesty’s loyal Subjects the Council of the Massachusetts Bay. Had their Conduct been truly represented, instead of Censure, they would have met with the highest approbation. And if those whose immediate Business it is to suppress Mobs and Riots (against whom no Complaint has been exhibited by the Governor) had done their Duty, some of the Disorders might have been prevented.

    The Council, my Lord, have now done with their Observations on Governor Bernard’s Letters, and they doubt not your Lordship will consider what they have written in Answer to his Charges against the Council as equally applicable to what has been objected against them, of the same Nature, by his Excellency General Gage, in his Letter to your Lordship of the 31st. of October last;11 on which we shall only make this further Remark, that the General being a Stranger in the Province; and but just arrived, could ^not^ possibly speak from his own knowledge, but must have received his Account of the People, and of the Council in particular, from a Quarter, which it is needless to point out to your Lordship.

    We will not further trespass on your Lordship’s Patience. In Truth, my Lord, our own is almost exhausted. The Council have had such repeated Occasions to observe upon and lament the unkind Treatment of Governor Bernard towards this People, that the Subject is become extremely disagreeable to us.

    We have only to add, that we apprehend it needful to acquaint your Lordship, that Samuel White Esqr., one of the last year’s Council, dying12 between the Time of passing on the Petitions above referred to, and the Time of writing the Letter to your Lordship of the 15th. of April last, eleven at the last mentioned Time made a majority of the whole

    We have the Honor to be with great Truth and Regard My Lord, Your Lordship’s most Obedient & most humble Servant

    In the name & by order of the Board;

    Samuel Danforth, President13

    The Right Honble. the Earl of Hillsborough.

    In Council June 12th: 1769.

    The Committee appointed the 8th. Instant to prepare the Draft of a Letter to the Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough on the Subject of six Letters from Governor Bernard to his Lordship, having reported the aforegoing Draft. Which being Read.

    Resolved unanimously That the same be, and hereby is accepted, and that Samuel Danforth Esqr sign the same as President on behalf of the Board and transmit it to his Lordship accordingly

    A Oliver Secy

    LS, RC     CO 5/758, ff 136-141.

    Endorsed: Massachusetts Bay 12[th] June 1769. Mr Danforth President of the Council R 24 July B.30. Marked “Copd.” The loose copy made by the clerk has not survived but there is an entry-book version in CO 5/767, ff 341-352 (L, RLbC). Andrew Oliver was allowed to make a copy for his own files but not to retain the original, which was sent to the Council’s agent William Bollan for transmission to Hillsborough.14 Oliver’s copy is in Prov. Sec. Letterbooks, 2A: 180-183 (L, LbC). The Council’s letter was included in Letters to Hillsborough (1st ed.), 48-52 and Letters to Hillsborough (repr.), 95-103. The RC enclosed a copy of the minutes of the Massachusetts Council of 12 Jun. 1769, at CO 5/758, f 142.