396 | To John Pownall

    Boston Sepr. 27th. 1765.

    Dear Sr.

    As I shall not be able to prepare letters to the Secretary of State, or to your board, time enough to go by a ship which is expected to sail tomorrow,1 I sit down by a private letter to you to give an Account of the present State of this province. Since my last2 This Town has kept quiet: nevertheless the resolutions agst. the Stamp Act being executed keep in full force; and I have been again & again Assured that it will be impossible for me to engage the Assembly to take any steps for the execution of the Act. Indeed I am quite single in attempting it: No one person in the province except myself (& ye Lieut Govr. in a charge to a grand Jury as I have heard) has dared to speak or write or publish a single word in support of the necessity of carrying the stamp Act into execution.3 I myself have been cautioned by several persons, who wish me well, against speaking out upon this subject, insinuating the danger of so doing, while the people were thus heated. But I observed that if I held my tongue, upon this occasion, all possible means of bringing the people to their senses & opening their Eyes to their true intrest would be cut off. I therefore could not excuse myself stating to the people the dangers which threatened them whatever were the Consequences of it.

    I accordingly opened the Session with the Speech inclosed; in which I used my best skill to treat the matter tenderly & yet not weaken the force of my Arguments. Of these I have urged every thing that was like to evince the necessity of there obeying this Law; except one of the danger their disobedience would bring on their Charter this I purposely omitted as it is a nice subject4 at all times, but more so when the people are inflamed; it might be considered as a threat at present, and as a Hint for the future: and they are not like to want being reminded of this Consideration. The speech was better received than I expected. The opposers of the Act Owned that I had treated the Affair with Candour & delicacy; the friends of Government extolled my unfeigned & tender concern for the province: and the whole house paid a Great Compliment by ordering their printer to print it directly & lay it upon their Table early the next morning. Nevertheless the House appeared to be unfavourable to the purpose of my speech; Many very good men were absent attending Courts at a distance; a disposition was shown by the Committee, to whom my speech was referred, to give an improper answer to it;5 a motion for an adjournment without entering into consideration of the speech was negatived; many useful members were like to be drawn off by other Courts of Justice soon to come on; peoples passions were not yet subsided enough to argue reasonably. For these & other reasons, I suddenly adjourned them this Afternoon till the 23rd Day of October 9 Days before the 1st of November. This I learn makes the opposers grumble & is well approved by the friends of Government.6

    The tasks I have undertaken of prevailing upon the General Court to Assist the execution of the stamp Act, is the most difficult one that ever was taken in hand. No one imagines, not I my self, that I shall succeed: and yet I will not give it up till the last hour. The only probable means of procuring success must come from the Congress of Representatives at New York. If they should think that a forcible opposition to the execution of the Act will probably defeat the measures which they shall take for the repeal of it, they may recommend to their several Houses a submission to the Act for the present. In such case two of the three of the Committee of our house are of the same way of thinking concerning the Act, as I have expressed in my speech, & will be glad to recommend a Submission to the Act within this province.7 If such a Recommendation should come from the Council of the Congress, I believe our Assembly will comply with it; and this is one of the reasons why I adjourned to so late a day.

    A ship with stamped papers arrived last Saturday & was taken into the protection of the men of war. I applied to the Council for advice concerning the care of the stamped papers It was referred to the General Court: the Council sent my message down to the house; the House answered it was none of their business. So I am left to myself to do what I can: I shall lodge the Stamps at the Castle pursuant to former advice & hope they will be safe there:8 I shall be more particular in my Account of this,9 in my letter to their Lordships. I am &c

    J Pownall Esqr

    P.S An Easterly Wind has enabled me to10 finish a letter to the Secy of State by this Ship: a dupte addressed to their Ldships will go by the next.11 It is to the same purpose as the above written.

    L, LbC BP, 5: 6-7.