423 | To Henry Seymour Conway

    Boston Dec 19. 1765


    In my former letters1 I have made known to your Honour that all real power in this Town is in the hands of the People; that I am Very unwilling to quit my post, if I can avoid it; & should be glad to remain here, if possible, untill I could receive his Majesty’s orders. But I think the Time is come, when even a nominal Governor, ^tho’^ without authority or pretending to any, will not be suffered to reside here.

    For these 3 or 4 weeks past the Town has been engaged in procuring the Custom house to do their business without stamps. The Officers held out as long as they well could do, even till the Ratio ultima,2 the pulling down their houses, was going to be applied: and then they granted only a qualified clearance.3 As soon as this was atchieved4 the Town set about another Work, to oblige the judges & Magistrates to do their business without Stamps. This had been attempted in the Assembly, & had been committed to a Committee of both houses, who reported a resolve (a kind of Act or order) to be passed the general Court .5 This lay before the House all the Session & they could not pass it. If they had passed it & it had passed the Council, I must have quitted the Province; as I have since told the Council, it was then my intention to do in such case. Now this Very thing, which the House, tho’ well disposed to the popular party, could not Venture to originate, in order to its passing the general Court, the Town of Boston are endeavouring to force the Governor & Council to do by their own Authority only.

    For this purpose a Town meeting was called yesterday, and a Memorial was agreed upon to be presented to the Governor in Council; a printed copy of which, it being put to the press before it was presented, I herewith enclose. The  Town-clerk6 waiting upon me to know when I would be attended, I learning that It was addressed to me in Council, appointed this morning in Council. The Committee attended, read their Memorial & pressed for Dispatch.7 The Council, being informed by me that I should leave it entirely to their consid[era]tion,8 for that I should do nothing in this business myself, but allow them to deliberate upon it, found it of importance enough to advise the Calling in all Councellors, who lived within 20 miles of Boston to meet tomorrow in the afternoon: this was accordingly ordered; & thus ended this Day’s Council. As I hope to dispatch this letter this Evning I must conclude it without waiting the Event.

    This Business plainly tends to the dissolution of this Government: I dont mean that it is intended so by the generality of the persons publickly promoting it; but I fear it is the intention of a few the most mischeivous & daring.9 I have been told that the People here will not be at rest till they are in possession of the public offices. But I should not have paid much regard to such a report, if I had not observed the proceedings in a Neighbouring Colony which have brought this purpose nearer to a Conclusion than it is here. Your Honour will observe in the enclosed extract of a Newspaper,10 that the People of Connecticut who are embodied in form, have declared publickly, that All power is from the people; that it is granted with certain bounds, that if those bounds are exceeded, Power devolves to the people; that where there is no other redress, as in the Stamp Act, the people should resume their power: therefore they recommend, with threats against disobedience, that the public officers should proceed in their business without stamps. This is a formal Resumption of Government by the people. I may therefore well presume that, when the People of this Town apply to the Governor & Council to do what they know they should not do & many beleive they will not do, that a Resumption of Government will follow a refusal. I see this at present in the worst light & shall be glad to be mistaken.

    I am, with great respect, Sr, Your honours most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra. Bernard

    The Right Honble H S Conway Esqr


    I think it proper to add to my foregoing conjecture the following instance, being the copy of a paper stuck up in the Town house under the Council chamber

    Open your Courts,

    and let Justice prevail:11

    Open your Offices,

    and let not Trade fail.

    For if those Men in power will not act,

    We’ll get some that will, is Actual Fact

    ALS, RC CO 5/755, ff 425-428.