321 | To Richard Jackson

    Boston Novr. 17. 1764

    Dear Sr.

    The enclosed papers will sufficiently explain themselves: nevertheless it may be proper to give you a short account of the last Session, which has been an extraordinary one for Prudence, Moderation & unanimity. I was very much pressed by the Town Members, who you must know are & must be Patriots, to call the assembly sooner than I did, at a time when the Superior Court was Sitting in the Country, & thereby the Judges & Attorney Genl. & some other Members of consequence could not attend. Which I refusing to do was abused in the public Papers for sevral Weeks together: & great pains were taken to incense the People against Government, & to stir them up to assert their rights & priviledges in a spirited manner, that is, to declare war against the Parliament of Great Britain. From the Seditiousness of the popular news papers, a Turbulent Session was expected, & some good men friends to Government were quite alarmed at it. But it turned out the contrary.

    At the opening [of] the Session my short speech had, I am told, considerable effects.1 It refuted in a few weeks words the lies of the News papers;2 It assured the assembly that I should not interfere with their deliberations, which they like to be told of; and it convinced them of the expediency of moderate & united Councils upon this occasion. The Session opened by the Boston Seat, as the Town Members are called, introducing a petition to the King Lords & Commons in Parliament: this passed the House & was sent up to the Council. Besides the impropriety of the address, It was a poor injudicious piece, but more temperate than was expected. The Council noncurred this3, & sent a Vote down for appointing a joint Committee to prepare a petition. The House noncurred this: upon which the Council demanded a conference; A Conference was had; after which the vote for a joint Committee was accepted; & a large & respectable Committee was appointed.4 Into this Committee another Petition was introduced: this was canvassed many days & received so many amendments, that neither the Original Drawer nor the Amenders liked it, & it was unanimously rejected; & the Lieut. Governor with 1 or 2 more was appointed to prepare a new one.5 This is what you have with very little alteration.

    The Grand point which was the chief matter litigated thro’ the whole of this Affair was, whether they should assert their exemption from parliamentary taxes in positive Terms as a right, or only insinuate it in the way of praying a continuance of that favour & indulgence which they had hitherto experienced. You see it is done in the latter way. When the petition was laid before the House, It was moved that the Right of the Province to be exempted from parliamentary taxes should be asserted in positive Terms; this was rejected by putting the previous Question . The same day two seperate paragraphs to the purpose of such assertion were removed by two different Members, to be as^in^serted in the Petition. The House took the shortest & most harmless of them & tacked it to the petition & sent it up to the board. The Board unanimously rejected the paragraph; upon which a conference was held for form sake: after which the House concurred in the rejection;6 & the petition was passed in the form you have it.7

    This is the History of this Transaction, which lasted 16 days. Altho’ I disclaimed taking any public part in this Business, yet I thought myself at liberty to signify my private opinion to particulars as I saw occasion. The Council were very steady & kept closely united thro’ the whole: the Lieut. Governor acted a principal part, & by judiciously giving way to the popular party at first, at lenghth8 got the lead in his hands. The whole affair was conducted with great Judgement & temper, & was carried on with so much good humour, that the party which was defeated seemed not at all displeased with the Event.

    Very different, as I understand, has been the conduct of New York upon this occasion. I have heard of particulars of their Remonstrance to the House of Commons, which exceed all belief, & cannot fail bringing down the resentment of the British Parliament upon them. I hear also, that they have given orders directions that it shall be printed & circulated about England. If this is true, it is an avowal, that it is designed for public inflammation. Indeed I have observed that the New York News papers have treated the Ministry with more personal disrespect than any other American Papers, the Rhode Island not excepted.9 But I thought that their legislative bodies had been more discreet. I hope that the Contrasted View in which this Charter Province will appear when compared with that royal one will remove the prejudices which have heretofore prevailed against it, & will recommend it to a greater degree of favour than it has of late experienced.

    I have sent you a great deal of Paper lately: I shall write to you again next Week upon a fresh business.10 You must bear with me & wish for the time as I most heartily do, when these Voluminous dispatches shall be at an End. I am quite worn out with them; tho’ otherwise in good health. I am Dr Sr. &ca

    R Jackson Esqr.

    AL, LbC BP, 3: 261-264.