Instructions to Agent Dennys DeBerdt

    290. To Unknown, 5 January 1768

    291. To [Thomas Pownall], 10 January 1768

    292. To [Richard Jackson], 2 February 1768

    Soon after reconvening for its winter session, the House of Representatives drafted letters opposing the Townshend reforms. The members began on 12 January with a letter to the House’s agent Dennys DeBerdt describing their goals. In the letter, they denied any desire for independence and asserted the natural right of British subjects to the free disposition of their own property. While acknowledging the supremacy of Parliament, they suggested any taxes designed solely to raise a revenue were incompatible with the spirit of the British constitution. They continued with objections to the newly appointed American Board of Customs as needlessly multiplying the number of officers enforcing the acts of trade and end with a warning that the Quartering Act of 1765 raised for them the threat of a standing army. The House then drafted a petition for DeBerdt to present to the king and followed with letters to Lords Shelburne, Rockingham, Camden, and Chatham, as well as Henry Seymour Conway, whom they hoped would support the goals of their petition.

    290. To Unknown

    Boston 5 Jany 1768

    Dear Sir, The Gen. Court has been sitting about a week. The first two or three days were spent in harangues upon the state of the Province or rather the Colonies, the new Duties imposed by Act of P. the new Board of Commissioners & the swarms of Officers attending them the danger of a Bishops coming over to America &c. The great Boulefeu was the chief Speaker & when he had exhausted himself he moved that if the H inclined to do any thing to purpose they would appoint a Comittee to prepare matters but if they designed to do no more than former Hs had done he moved that all might drop for he would not be of such Comittee if chosen. A Committee was appointed of which he is Chairman & the Rest of them were of the same stamp.1 I expect by one of the next Vessels to send you advice of their Report which probably will be as high as any thing you have had.2

    I know not what is best. If they will drive matters to extremities I dont know but the sooner the better. I flattered my self the neighbouring Colonies would be quiet but the 3 or 4 last Philad. papers are calculated to raise as great Tumults as we had in the time of the Stamp Act.3 I will annex part of a Letter I received from one of the Council of New York.4

    I am of no manner of consequence at present. The total neglect of the injury offered me in not suffering me to be present in Council has strengthened the party & causes them to triumph especially as they were told by one of their Members Ruggles that in 3 months time they would know from the Ministry the sense His Maj. would have of this affront to the Comission.5 I am not more certain of any thing than that it was the construction of the Charter at the time it was granted that both L G & Secretary were to belong to the Council & they both acted in that capacity the first years without being elected. I shall not wonder if the H. take encouragement to resolve that the H have no right to join in the Election. They have more colour for it from the Charter than for their Votes which Respected the L G.

    We have been between 2 & 3 months without any Vessel from England. Possibly some intelligence may be Received before the Court Rises which may have some influence upon our Affairs. I am with the most sincere Regard Sir Your most humble & most obedient Servant,

    What I have wrote Relative to a Bishop I am told is a false Report nothing having been said upon that Subject.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:284–85); unaddressed. Enclosure not found.

    291. To [Thomas Pownall]

    Boston 10 Jan 1768

    My dear Sir, I have let many of our Patriots know your disposition to serve the Province & your sentiments upon the success of their applications to Parl. but I have no great hopes of any good effect. The H have spent 10 days preparing Instructions to their Agent which it is said they intend he shall lay before the ministry as a representation of the Grievances the Colonies are under & among the Rest in the present draught the suspension of the Legislative power of the Assembly of N York is one.1 They must be cocks of the game. New York I suspect are making them as well as Pensilvania their tools & dupes. A constant correspondence is kept up between the Junto here & there. I have no great doubt some of the most inflammatory pieces published here in Edes & Gills paper about 3 weeks ^months^ ago as sent from N York & that the late extraordinary pieces in the Philad. paper signed a Farmer went from the same quarter.2 They were sent to this town in manuscript before they were printed at Philadelphia but the person who Received them will not tell where they were wrote. I thought at first they were Dulaneys stile & language ^sentiments^ but I Rather think now they were wrote at N Y.3 As soon as I can get a copy of the Instructions I will send them to you. I am not sure I shall be able to procure them unless they should print them which is not improbable. At New York they are silent. I see nothing in their papers until after they have been in others. Their Assembly have put a sum of money into the hands of a Committee said to be named by the Gov. to be applied to the charge of quarters &c. This they say is complying with the spirit though not with the Letter of the Mutiny act. We have no Vessel from England since Paxton arrived the Winter having been Rather more severe than usual & we are told when any arrives we are not to expect news that as this is the last Session nothing will pass Relative to the Colonies until a new Parl meets. But this you know best. I am with very great Regard,

    18 Jan

    PS to Gov P. This Vessel being delayed I am now informed the H have ordered their Clerk to give no copies of their Letter. I suppose it goes by this Ship & that their Agent is directed to communicate the substance of it to the Sec of State. They have wrote another Letter to Ld S.4 Its quite a modern thing for Hs of Ass. to take upon them to write to Sec. of St. I wonder they have not been told that if they desire to have any thing communicated the proper way is by a Request to the G. By one step after another if no notice is taken in Engd. they may & will advance until they have the whole power of Government.

    I would not have them abridged an iota of what was designd them by the constitution but I would not have them go beyond it.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:285–86); unaddressed but the postscript identifies Pownall as the recipient.

    292. To [Richard Jackson]

    Boston 2. Feb 1768

    Dear Sir, After our directors of all affairs of government had finished their instructions to their agent & their letters to their correspondents in England their leader proposed their sending to all the other governments copies of their proceedings which no doubt would have been accompanied with an invitation to join in the measure but to his great mortification he has failed in the attempt and I hope he will be capable of no further mischief this session.1

    The House have given another instance of a better disposition than they have sometimes been in & have made a grant to you of 600£ Sterl. & when it was proposed by some that it should be expressed in full opposition was made to the motion and it did not obtain. I have no doubt some were induced to vote for this grant because they saw no prospect of obtaining the Gov.’s consent to a grant to their own agent without it but I am assured by some from among themselves that many upon hearing the extracts from some of your letters could not Resist conviction of their past disingenuous behaviours & were ashamed to continue it.2 I am Sir Your faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:287); unaddressed; note at the head of letter in another hand, “Jackson (see 1768 Resolves).”