The Arrival of the Commissioners

    278. To Lord Adam Gordon, 13 November 1767

    279. To Israel Mauduit, 13 November 1767

    280. To Richard Jackson, 19 November 1767

    281. To Edward Hawke, 24 November 1767

    Three of the members of the new American Board of Customs arrived in Boston from London on the inauspicious date of 5 November. Because it was Pope’s Day, as it was known in the North and South Ends of the town, many feared there might be an attack on the new commissioners. Instead, their arrival passed without the much-feared outbreak of violence. Shortly after their arrival, William Burch, Henry Hulton, and Charles Paxton met their colleagues John Robinson and John Temple, who were already in America, and opened their office on 17 November. The board commenced business the next day, and two days after that the Townshend duties went into effect.

    278. To Lord Adam Gordon

    Boston NE. Nov 13. 1767

    My Lord, I have the honour of your Lordship’s letter by Mr Burch who had an agreeable passage & Mrs. Burch & the children are well. I have had the pleasure of being frequently in company with Mr Burch & shall be glad to shew him every civility in my power.1

    Your Lordships humane & benevolent disposition leads you to a more favorable opinion of America than it deserves unless by Liberty your Lordship would have me to understand Licentiousness.

    Our Boulefeus still exert themselves in seditious pieces spread thro the Continent in News Papers & the Town of B by their puffs which they call Acts & Resolves seem to aim at keeping up a spirit of enmity & opposition against GB.2 As far as I can judge the most sensible part of the Province see their Real interest & wish to be quiet yet I dare not depend upon it that even the GA. when they meet will not take some exceptionable steps. As far as is in my power, out of doors I will endeavour to prevent them. They refused to chuse me a Member of the Council alledging I had an undue influence there and when I claimed a Right as LG of being present in Council as my Predecessors used to be they excepted to that and Rather than increase the causes or pretences for contention I submitted to their humour until some directions should be given upon the point by His Majestys order which has not yet been done.3

    I thank your Lordship for contributing to the Resolves of Parl. which I have no doubt were the procuring cause of the compensation made me for my great Loss.4

    I shall make your Lordships compliments where you have directed me. Possibly my Nephew Mr R who I have desired to wait upon you with this Letter may be able to give your Lordship some information of the present state of Affairs in America in general as well of the particular persons & families who had the honour to be known to your Lordship.5 I am with very great esteem & Respect My Lord Your Lordships most humble & most obedient servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:223); at head of letter, “Ld Adam Gordon.”

    279. To Israel Mauduit

    Nov. 13 1767

    Dear Sir, I may not omit thanking you for interesting your self Repeatedly in my concern. I have had more friends unexpectedly engaging in my behalf than I deserve & it does not lessen my sense of my obligation to them when I find their endeavours do not suceed. I am far from being discontented or disposed to think I am neglected by the Ministry. I believe when there shall be an opening for my being employed in publick service that may afford me some emolument I shall not be forgot till then I wait patiently & if this should never happen yet it will afford me some satisfaction that I have so many friends who think me intitled to it. There have been measures used to inflame the minds of the people & to stir up fresh tumults upon the arrival of the Commissioners but we are quiet notwithstanding.1 They seem to be sensible discrete men. The first attempts to suppress the illicit trade which has met with no check for two years past will not be well Relished but they cannot be avoided. If we should have no Mob on this occasion & the G C when they meet take no imprudent Rash step I shall hope we are coming to our senses.2

    I have desired my Nephew Mr R. to wait upon you with this Letter. He has been taught to be inimical to Faction & friendly to Government and Order & I think with good success & he is well acquainted with the state of Affairs in general. I am with esteem Sir Your most Obedient Humble,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:223–24); at head of letter, “I. Mauduit Eq.”

    280. To Richard Jackson

    Bost 19. Nov. 1767

    Dear Sir, Upon the arrival of the Comissioners of the Customs your favours came thick upon me which I answer with Pleasure with much greater pleasure I always Read them. My book I am glad you approve of.1 I know you would not deceive me. I flatter my self it will do some service when the Author is out of the Reach of Envy or Malice. I expected to be attacked for some unpopular strokes but hitherto I have escaped. I intended some Remarks upon a subject which I but just touched in the first volume, the constitution of the several towns & the influence it has upon government, but I considered the times & thought it would do more hurt than good. ^I thank you for your care in conducting the books I sent you especially for directing one to Mr Sec Pownall who I understood from the Gov. was Removed from Plantation but sent to a superior place.^2In the Mass. Con & Rh Isd every town is of course a distinct corporation with powers of making by laws Raising money &c. & hold their meetings when & as often as they please. All matters are determined by the majority of voices and altho the Province Law provides that a man who does not pay a small tax shall not be deemed a qualified voter yet it is not one time in 20 that any scrutiny is made 5 or 6 hundred are upon the floor together upon a level to all intents & purposes one only excepted who pro hac vice only is Raised above the Rest to put to vote such Questions as are called for. The town of Bost. is an absolute Democracy & I am mistaken if some of the Inhabitants dont wish for an Independance upon Provincial Authority as much as they wish to see the Province independent of the authority of Parlt. Every man in the Government being a Legislator in his town thinks it hard to be obliged to submit to Laws which he does not like & which were made by a H of Rep consisting of 100 men for one or two only of which he could give his vote and it is harder that a Council who are still in a more distant Relation to him should have a share in these Laws and harder still that a Governor in whose appointment he has no voice should controul or Restrain both Council & House and it is infinitely unreasonable that this whole Legislative body should have an exterior power or Authority to which it must be subject. In short they are taught by the constant use of this sort of town government to think any other form an unnecessary.

    The Colonies in general seem to be disposed to quiet and I think this Province would be so if it was not for a few wicked people in this town. Altho I have lived all my days here yet you know as much of Our Constitution as I do particularly that every town is a body corporate but without any form of government an absolute Democracy which exists hardly any where else all being upon a level saving that at every meeting of the Inhabitants one pro hac vice is raised above the Rest to put their questions or motions to vote.3 Their Resolves at some of their late meetings have been sent to every town in the Province with an invitation to the Inhabitants to engage to abstain from the use of Goods according to a list of the articles imported from G Brit.4 This measure will not have any great effect towards lessening the importation but it has a certain tendency to alienate the people from their Mother Country. I know what might be said of it if the Law was allowed its course but in these times it is not permitted dicere quid sentis.5

    Soon after these votes a rumor was spread that some Insults would be offered the Comissioners & papers were posted up signifying that this was to be the day because the duties were to take place from this day. It hapned the meeting of the Town stood adjourned to this day also. I had often experienced the unsteady fluctuating temper of the populace and if I had not been pretty certain that ex[ception]6 would be taken at my appearance as not being an Inhabitant from [MS torn] Residing a great part of my time in the Country I would have gone my self and harangued a little upon this important occasion. I prevailed on as many of my friends as I could to appear & declare against the folly & madness of such proceedings and so many exerted themselves with Spirit that they silenced the Sons of Liberty & the Tide seemed to be turning which caused even the Moderator himself who is not noted for a steady uniform behaviour to declaim largely in favour of Order and a Ship arriving at the same time from Bristol with a great quantity of Glass subject to Duty & the Comissioners perhaps discretely enough having signified that they did not conceive the Duties were payable until to morrow the countenances of people of all sorts now appear more placid than they have done for some time past. If I remember Right the authorities do not all agree upon the Construction of from & after but it was not a time to be rigid in Construing the Acts.7

    I expect another Crisis upon the first seizure of contraband goods. Such a state of Affairs is deplorable but not desperate & firmness with discretion may yet save us.

    All my friends write me that first or last something will be done for me. The Gov tells me he has wrote his mind to you upon what Respects himself. I desire nothing at his expence for I am convinced he has the greatest share of merit by far my sphere having been very contracted compared with his. I know of no vacancy unless there be one at Nova Scotia and I do not suppose he would change this government for that if he had the Offer.8 One gentleman I am told proposed to Mr Townshend my being appointed one of the Judges of the Admiralty but that would not have been agreeable having never made the maritime Law my study & it would have been looked upon Rather a degradation than advancement.9 Mr Paxton tells me that Mr Townshend proposed a Salary out of the new Duties annexed to the LG place. Gov. Pownall writes me since Mr T’s death, that the Duke of Grafton designd it for me as Ch Justice as soon as the American Revenue should create a fund which I suppose it has done from Molosses Wine &c. for some time past but it may be he intends means the Revenue from the last Acts.10 I know your love of independance and I pray had Rather be wholly passed by than you should. I cannot desire any of my friends in the least to incumber themselves for my sake. I am very sensible of my obligations to you, I intreat you not to ask any thing for me and am concerned that my cause has given my friends so much trouble and now declare to you with great truth that I had Rather give up all pretences & acquiesce in being passed by than involve you in that difficulty should be subjected to the least inconvenience ^any difficulty^. You ask no favours for your self. It is unreasonable to expect that you should bring your self under any obligations to the ministry by asking them for others. I am not uneasy nor do I intend to abate my endeavours for the publick service.

    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:226–27); heavily revised; at bottom of page, written upside down, “Copy to Mr. Jackson.”

    281. To Edward Hawke1

    Boston 24 Nov 1767

    Sir, Mr Paxton has informed me of your frequent kind Remembrance of me to which I had no claim and consider it as the meer effect of your goodness, but I may not omit praying you to accept my most hearty thanks and that you would consider this my acknowledgment as the meer effect of Gratitude.

    I cannot say that America is in a settled quiet state but I hope it is Returning to order and a due submission to Government. A few bad men upon the arrival of the Comissioners of the Customs scattered their seditious papers with a view to inflame the minds of the people & to excite tumults but failing of success the supposed authors or favorers of this wicked attempt have turned about and condemned it & are declaiming against mobs Riots & all violent measures and are for doing nothing more than discouraging the importation of Goods from England & Scotland.2 They can do but little in this way. I am with very great Respect Sir Your most humble & most Obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:221); at head of letter, “Sr Edwd Hawke.”