Quartering the Troops

    333. To Richard Jackson, 5 October [1768]

    334. To Thomas Whately, 5 October 1768

    335. To Thomas Whately, 17 October 1768

    336. To Richard Jackson, 19 October [1768]

    Although the impending arrival of troops set off much loose talk of armed opposition, the most effective resistance came from the Council (acting in their executive capacity since the General Court was prorogued). It fell to the councilors to make provision for the accommodation of the troops. The Council seized on a loosely written amendment (sponsored by Thomas Pownall) to the Quartering Act of 1765 that seemed to imply troops must first fill public barracks before other arrangements could be made for their accommodation. Since the barracks at Castle William in the harbor (three miles distant from town) were sufficient to house the first two regiments arriving from Halifax, the Council insisted that they be stationed there and that no one could be billeted within the town itself for the preservation of public order as Secretary of State Lord Hillsborough had intended and General Thomas Gage had ordered. Neither Lieutenant Colonel William Dalrymple nor Gage himself, once he arrived in Boston in mid-October, could convince the Council to back down. When Gage, on his own authority, began to rent private accommodations for his men, the Council warned that any landlords renting buildings to the army would need to take upon themselves the risk of whether or not the House of Representatives would eventually pay the bill once the General Court was summoned back in session. One regiment, despite the Council’s objections, was quartered in town, split between tents on the Common and temporary residence in the Town House. With winter approaching, though, this solution was short-term at best. When the Council, in a moment of temporary weakness, seemed to admit that the Manufactory House (no longer in use for its specified purpose) might be occupied by the troops, persons already occupying the building physically resisted any efforts to dislodge them. Before Gage left Boston on 24 November, the Council petitioned him to reduce or remove all troops, based on what they believed to be the good behavior of the citizenry.

    333. To Richard Jackson

    5 Octo [1768]

    Dear Sir, I was absent from Town when your kind favour of 3 June arrived. Our news papers give a full detail of our late proceedings. When I came home the 30 Sep I found 2 Regiments lying off the Castle waiting the Result of the Council whether they would provide Barracks or not. One of the Regiments was orderd to the Town. The C thought that by the Act of Parl. they were obliged to Remain at the Castle where Barracks were provided notwithstanding the Generals orders that they should be posted in Boston. They printed their advice to the G. which altho it be an extreme weak performance yet it has prejudiced him more than any thing else in the minds of the people in general thro out the Province.1 Upon their construction of the Act the Colonies have it in their power wherever they build Barracks there to confine the K’s Troops.

    Whilst the G was endeavouring to persuade his C to comply with the Spirit of the Act the Commanding Officer landed his men the 1st. Instant about noon & one of the Regiments which was provided with Tents encampd upon the Common the other about Dusk marched to the F Hall & Market place & stood 2 or 3 Hours before admission could be obtained altho assurances had been given that they should Remove. The 3d being Monday Empty houses are taken up by the Commanding Officer but the C now make a difficulty about furnishing the Articles Requird by the Act because the Men are not in the Province Barracks. I hope they will not persist in it. The G I fancy will not determine whether to go home or not until Lord Bote arrives.2 I Rather think he will go but it is far from certain.

    Mr Pepp a young gentleman of a fair character grandson to the late Sir W P desired that if I wrote to you he might be the bearer.3 I could not Refuse him. I hope we are in a state of more security but whether people will be more content is a matter of doubt. I am with the most sincere Regard Sir Your obliged & most Obedient,

    [We] have had a mock Assembly, called by the T of Boston who have made a Ridiculous figure but not so in the eyes of the body of the people.4

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:282); at foot of letter, “Mr Jackson.”

    334. To Thomas Whately

    Boston 51 Oct 1768

    Dear Sir, I was absent upon one of our Circuits when Mr Byles arrived.2 Since my Return I have Received from him your obliging Letter of 31 July. I never dared to think what the resentment of the Nation would be upon Hallowells arrival.3 It is not strange if measures should be immediately taken to reduce the Colonies to their former state of government & order but that the national funds should be affected by it is to me a little mysterious & surprizing. Principles of government absurd enough spread through all the Colonies but I cannot think that in any Colony People of any consideration have ever been so mad as to think of a Revolt. Many of the common people have been in a frenzy & talked of dying in defence of their Liberties & have spoke & printed what is highly criminal & too many of Rank above the vulgar have countenancd & encouragd them4 until they increasd so much in their numbers & in their opinion of their importance as to submit to government no farther than they thought proper. The Legislative powers have been influenced by them & the executive powers entirely lost their force. There has been continual danger of Mobs & Insurrections but they have spent all their force within ourselves. The Officers of the Crown & some of the few friends who dared to stand by them possibly might have been knocked in the head & some such fatal event would probably have brought the people to their senses. For four or five weeks past the Distemper has been growing & I confess I have not been without some apprehensions for my self but my friends have had ^more^ for me & I have had frequent & Repeated notices from these from different quarters, one of the last I will inclose to you.5 In this state of things there was no security but quitting my posts which nothing but the last extremity would justify. As Chief Justice for two years after our first disorders I kept the Grand Juries tolerably well to their duty. The last Spring there had been several Riots & a most infamous Libel had been published in one of the Papers which I enlarged upon & the G Jury had determind to make presentments but the Att. Gen. not attending them the first day Otis & his creatures who were alarmed & frightned exerted them selves the next day & prevaild upon so many of the Jury to change their voices that there was not a sufficient number left to find a Bill.6 They have been ever since more enragd against me than ever. At the desire of the G I committed to writing the charge while it lay in my memory and as I have no further use for it I will inclose it as it may give you some Idea of our Judicatories.7

    Whilst we were in this state news came of a Regiment being ordered from Halifax & soon after of 2 more from Ireld.8 The minds of the people were more & more agitated. Broad hints were given that the Troops should never land a barrel of Tarr was placed upon the Beacon in the night to be fird to bring in the Country when the Troops appeard & all the authority of the Government was not strong eno’ to Remove it.9 The Town of Boston met & passd a number of weak but very criminal votes & as the G declined calling an Assembly they sent circular Letters to all the Towns & Districts to send a person each that there might be a general consultation at so extraordinary a crisis.10 They met & spent a week made themselves Ridiculous & then dissolved themselves after a message or two to the G which he Refusd to Receive a petition to the K which I dare say their Agent will never be allowd to present & a Result which they have published illnaturd & impotent.11

    In this confusion the Troops from Hal. arrivd. I never was much afraid of the peoples taking arms but I was apprehensive of violence from the Mob it being their last chance before the Troops could land. As the prospect of Revenge became more certain their courage abated in proportion.

    Two Regiments are landed but a new Grievance is now Raised. The Troops are by Act of Parlt. to be quarterd no where else but in the Barracks until they are full.12 There are Barracks eno at the Castle to hold both Regiments. It is therefore against the Act to bring any of them into Town. This was started by the C in their answer to the G which to make themselves popular they in an unprecedented way publishd & have alarmed all the Province for altho none but the most contracted minds could put such a construction upon the Act yet after this declaration of the C nine tenths of the people suppose it just.13 I wish the Act had been better expressed but it is absurd to suppose the Parliament intended to take from the K the direction of his Forces by confining them to a place where [any of the]14 Colonies might think fit to build Barracks. It is besides ungrateful for it is known to many that this provision was brot into the Bill after it had been framd without it from meer favor to the Colonies. I hear the Comander in chief has provided Barracks or Quarters but a doubt still Remains with some of the Counc. whether they are to furnish the Articles Requird unless the Men are in the Province Barracks & they are to determine upon it to day. The Government has been so long in the hands of the populace that it must come out of them by degrees at least it will be a work of time to bring the people back to just notions of the nature of Government.

    Mr Pepperell a young Gentleman of good character & grandson & principal heir to the late Sir W Pep. being bound to Lond I shall deliver this Letter to him as it will be too bulkey for postage & desire him to wait upon you with it.15 I am with very great esteem Sir Your most humble & most obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:281–82); at foot of letter, “Tho Whately Esq.” Enclosures not found. Contemporary printing: Letters Sent to Great-Britain, pp. 9–12, dated 4 October 1768.

    335. To Thomas Whately

    Boston 17. Octo 1768

    Dear Sir, Gen. Gage came to town the 15 in the Evening. An opinion prevails among the populace that he will order the Troops to the Castle & they are in great joy at his arrival. His Real business is to settle the dispute about quartering the Regiments already arrivd & those expected from Ireland. He tells our sagacious C that he shall enter into no dispute about the construction of the Act of Parl.1 He desires them to say Yes or No. If the latter he must provide Barracks be the Expence what it may & he shall demand payment of the Assembly and if they Refuse he shall make his Representation to the Ministry. This may be the means of lengthening out our Controversy & increasing the charge but finally he tells them in one way or another it will fall upon the Province.

    These Redcoats make a formidable appearance & there is a profound silence among our Sons of Liberty in the Town. It is said some of the heads of them have great expectations from the desertion of the Troops near 20 of them having already gone off. I ventured to apprehend a Country man for attempting to seduce 2 or 3 & bound him over to the Assizes, but upon examining the Mutiny Act for the Colonies I think it is very doubtful whether ^the penalty for^ this Offence in the general Mutiny Act viz. £40.—which is confined to G Britain Guernsy Jersey &c. is by the other Act so explicitly extended to the Colonies as that it would be safe to bring an Information upon it.2 By the Preamble it looks as if all the penalties were to be extended but I find no enacting Clause conformable to it. However it is undoubtedly an Offence at Common law but great dependence will be placed upon the lenity of the Court in imposing a fine & when this doubt upon the Act is generally known there will be danger of this pernicious practice increasing.

    The Cavil about Barracks makes it worth considering whether the Act may not be expressed in much clearer words. The design undoubtedly was to make provision that where Barracks are provided in such place or places as the Troops may march thro or be posted at there such Barracks shall be first filled before other Quarters are Required or may be taken up; & no man of a tolerable share of honest understanding would put any other Construction upon it, but where people are disposd to cavil there is too much Room for it as the Act is now expressed.

    In a short time the G will make publick Instructions he has Received which will greatly mortify the Town of Boston.3 I wish they may see their folly & become wise before they are utterly Ruined. I am with great esteem Sir Your most humble & most obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:283); at foot of letter, “Mr Whately.”

    336. To Richard Jackson

    Boston 19. Octo [1768]

    Dear Sir, The difficulty of obtaining Quarters for the Troops & the rumours of the peoples taking Arms brot Gen. Gage to town the 15 Instant. He informd the C that he intended to post one of the Irish Regiments when they arrived at the Castle. With great difficulty the G. obtaind the advice of C. for ordering what is called the Manufactory House which belongs to the Province to be cleared for the Reception of such forces as it will contain which it is said will not exceed 200 but they take care to save their construction of the Act of Parl having supposed the Barracks at the Castle to be first filled. The Tenants in the Manufactory house Refuse to quit it & have shut their doors & are advised by the Incendiaries to stand upon their defence. I went to day with the Sheriff to demand entrance & was Refused & told by the principal Tenant that without a vote of the whole Gen. Court he would never deliver it up & that he Received his advice from the best Lawyer in the Country.1 I have advised to delay force [illegible] short time until the other Regiments arrive in hopes that the Civil Magistracy will come to some sense of their duty for at present I know of none I could depend upon who would give any countenance to the Troops if a Mob should be Raised & the leaders of the Mob tell them nobody will dare to give orders to the Mob fire upon them & that without orders they are safe.2 The Commissioners are so sensible of this that they dare not yet venture to town & the G tells me the C. are of opinion they would not be safe. The 5 Just. of the Sup. Court are all hearty friends to Government but all, except my self live at a distance from town & never are here except when the Court is sitting twice a year.3

    His Majesty expects & that very justly that such Officers as neglect their duty should be Removed & others put in their places. This cant be done without the advice of C. The G. intends soon to propose this to the C but he has not the least room to hope for Success. Other matters which he has to lay before them will be disagreeable to them & increase the Breach which at present is not small.

    I know some of the Officers have blamed the G that he has not provided Quarters but they blame him without cause. While the Province is in this state a step taken without law to support it would give great advantage to the Enemies of Government. In some points I think he has stretched his authority tho’ the necessity of the service justifies him particularly in ordering the Town house, all except the C. Chamber to be opened. O[blank space in MS] [illegible] as well as the Room for holding Courts of Judicature are now occupied by the Kings troops. The incorrectness of the Act of Parl. where it Relates to Barracks & the ill use the C has made of it has hurt us very much. If you make an additional or explanatory Act it will be with [illegible] and shall otherwise we shall be told the C. were right & the few who condemn their proceedings in the wrong. The Mutiny Act for the Colonies is as insufficient as the other. I caused one person to be apprehended for attempting to seduce several Soldiers to desert & he is under Recognizance to appear & answer at the Assizes next month but I think it unsafe that an Information should be brought upon the Mutiny Act for altho by the general Mutiny Act there is a penalty of 40£ for this Offence & by the preamble to the Colony Act it looks as if the penalties in general were to be extended yet I can find no enacting clause which extends all the penalties nor any clause which extends this particular penalty. It is a matter of some consequence for altho it be undoubtedly an Offence at Common Law yet I suspect we shall be very moderate in fines if we can prevail on a Jury to convict.

    I will keep you advised of all material occurrences. I am with the most sincere Regard Sir Your most Obedient humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:283–84); at foot of letter, “Mr Jackson”; partially dated. Contemporary printings: Boston Gazette, 17 July 1775; Massachusetts Spy, 26 July 1775 (only the passage reading, “I know some of the officers . . . the Council Chamber to be opened.”).

    337. To Israel Williams

    Boston 28. Octo. 1768

    Dear Sir, I hope no inconvenience will arise from the settlement of your County on Wednesday last.1 The Council are every day more & more out of humour with the Governor and possibly before another General Council something might have hapned to have clogged the Affair.2

    The Governor has no thoughts now of leaving us this Winter. I assure you I am not sorry. I believe it is for the best.3

    We have news from London to the beginning of September. Nothing yet said in favour of calling another Assembly, and probably will not be until the Parliament meets and our whole conduct is laid before them. The Resolves of the Town of Boston will arrive just in time to add to the rest and heap up the measure.4 I am Your’s affectionately,

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (Massachusetts Historical Society, Israel Williams Papers); unaddressed; endorsed “28. October 1768.”

    338. To the Commissioners of the Customs (Charles Paxton, Henry Hulton, William Burch, and John Robinson)

    Boston 29. Octo 1768

    Gentlemen, As Mr Sewall has not given you the Information which in my last Letter to you I acquainted you he would give in a day or two & which I suppose he has been prevented from doing by his close attendance upon the Sup. Court & as you are of opinion that the Publick Service will be prejudiced by any further delay I can no longer refuse or forbear to communicate to you the names of the persons mentioned to me by Mr Sewall as the Authors of the Reports to him.1 The first notice given him he informed me was by Mr Venner the Secretary of your board & he afterwards Received a further account from Mr Venner & Mr Lyle together but what part of the Reports was from one & what from the other I cannot Remember. I am very certain he mentioned no other persons name. I am with great Regard Gentlemen Your most obedient humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:278a); endorsed, “Copy of my Letter to the Commissioners of the Customs CP. HH WB & JR [Sig] Sept. 1768.” SC (Massachusetts Historical Society, Winthrop Papers, 27:236); in an unknown hand; at head of letter, “Copy of a Letter from Lieut. Governor Hutchinson to four of the Commissioners of the Customs dated Boston 29th. Octor. 1768”; at foot of letter, “Honble John Robinson Henry Hulton William Burch & Chas Paxton Esqrs.”; additional note at the foot of letter, “The ^former of these^ Letters was never Read at the Board nor did Mr. Temple ever see it till the 1st: Decemr. 1769 when he desired to have a Copy of it.”

    James Bowdoin. By Robert Feke. Courtesy of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine.

    339. To Unknown

    Boston [blank space in MS] November 1768

    Dear Sir, I promised to acquaint you with all material occurrences. The C. or rather a Quorum who reside in or near the Town would fain have undone what had been done by a larger number relative to the quartering the Troops & they desired the Gov. to summon a C. that they might have opportunity of explaining the Advice which had been given.1 He summoned a C. but would not suffer them to alter what had been advised. A few days after he summoned the whole C. & all except 2 or 3 were present. He then laid before them those parts of Ld H’s Letter which had not been communicated Reserving only that part which Relates to holding the Assembly in some other place than Boston.2 Upon consulting with me I thot it unnecessary to let them know any thing of the design of Removing the Assembly at present and they have behaved in such a manner that I think I should let them know it at the same time I did the other Inhabitants, when the Writs for calling the Assembly were issued & made publick & not before for he may do it without their advice. The C. seemd to think all the proposals for strengthening the Authority of Government unnecessary that the state of the province had been grossly misrepresented & that the Sheriff with his Posse might preserve the peace of the Government without the aid of the Kings Troop. They knew he had never been able to do it in any one instance since Aug. 1765 & they had no Reason to suppose a better disposition in the people now than there had been at any time since 1765 but as they desired at all Events to hinder the Troops being quartered at Boston they seem not to scruple advancing any thing to shew there is no occasion for them. After the G had dismissed the C. 15 of them Remained a day or two in Town & agreed upon an Address to the General which they presented to him & have since printed.3 I am at a loss to determine whether they expected the General should believe them or whether it was for the sake of having it appear in print in England that they assure him the Town is quite peaceable & appeal to his own Observation for the truth of their Assertion. I know they do not believe themselves that if the Troops should be withdrawn the Town would continue many days in a peaceable state.

    The opposition of the C. to the wholesome & necessary proposals of the G. and their eccentrick motions by votes & Resolves addresses &c. have done infinite mischief. Several of them are men of whose influence I have no opinion but I believe the majority are honest men led into these wrong measures by the artful management of one of the C. whose general conduct has been not unfriendly to Government but having engaged with a party who are extremely prejudiced against the new Commission for the Customs he makes the rest of the C. subservient to his particular views without their being sensible of it.4 All the late opposition in the C. springs from this source & he is continually instilling prejudices against the 4 Commissioners at the Castle & the minds of the other Members of the C are thus prepared to be in favour of the Votes Addresses &c. of which he is the draughtsman & which discover his resentment against those Commissioners. Besides these doings of the C. every other method is taken to impede their Return to Town. The prosecution of several persons for breaches of the Acts of Trade has ^been improved to^ blown up a new flame among many dissolute people who have been so long used to live without law. It is said that more than a dozen libels are filed in the C. of Admiralty ^one^ against the Owner of a Vessel which was lately condemned for importing a Cargo of Wine without paying the Duties the value of which is alledgd to be 3000£ Sterl. & the forfeiture being treble the value Rises very high & also ^others^ for the like sum against each of the persons aiding & assisting none of whom I dare say knew they were liable to this or any other considerable penalty there never having been a prosecution upon this Act except in one instance in my memory & that was against the Owners only.5 It is high time it should be known & that the Acts of Trade should be more generally observed. The Reduction of the Duty upon Tea has not the proposed Effect. They who have been used to smuggling still continue it tho with less profit & large quantities of Tea are brought from St. Eustatia & other ports to which it is shipped from Holld. in hhd.6 in order to its being sent hither. We have been so long habituated to illicit Trade that people in general see no evil in it. Justices & Grand Juries whose business it is to suppress Riots & Tumultuous Assemblies have sufferd Mobs against Informers & to Rescue seized Goods to pass unnoticed. Breach of Law in one Instance leads to others and a breach of Oaths at the Custom house is the ^one^ cause of so frequent perjuries in judical proceedings that Temper which for many years has been too prevalent of dislike to all government is very much encouraged as well as a disregard to the Rules of Morality in general.

    We have as yet but few Magistrates disposed to carry into execution any unpopular Laws. With great difficulty I prevailed upon the G. J. in Essex two days ago to find Bills against a number of Rioters in Newbury Port & another sett in Glocester but they Returned Ignoramus upon Bills against several equally criminal & where the charge was as fully evidenced in Salem.7 By my advice the Att. Gen. filed Informations against them.8 I hope this will be the beginning or revival of the Regular course of Law to be continued with steadiness accompanied with moderation that the people may be convinced we are aiming at their future peace & prosperity & are not influenced by an undue Resentment of past faults. If we can discourage the seditious Libellers in one or two of our infamous News papers I shall think our cure in a great degree effected. Two or three good Pens on the other side of the Question would be an Antidote for the [poison] but it is difficult engaging persons to undertake anything unpopular. The [illegible] would stop the further progress but our Juries will not do their parts to prepare the way for it. I am,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/45X, 26:324–25); unaddressed; partially dated.

    340. To [Thomas Pownall]

    8 Nov. [1768]

    Dear Sir, I did not Receive your Letter of the 25 July until this Evning. Two of the Regiments you then had an imperfect account of have been several weeks in this Town & sevral more are daily expected. If this be a desperate Remedy it must be allowed the disease was desperate also. Every friend to Government is charged with misrepresentation. I will avoid them. You have too much good sense to need any other Representations to discover our true state than what appears in the printed proceedings of the Town of Boston the other Towns who have joind them in a Convention the C. who meet & agree upon Votes Addresses &c. without the Gov. at their head not to mention the swarms of [illegible] plans of Government in our News papers laid by particular persons or Juntoes of our sons of Liberty nor the swarms of contemptuous Libels upon all in authority which we have not internal strength to suppress.

    I [ever] dreaded military government but I know of no Law yet in force which gives the military Government greater authority independent of the civil in America than it has in Britain & I have not yet discovered any disposition in the General or any of his Officers to usurp it. If any other way can be found to preserve the connection between Britain & her Colonies I hope you will agree upon it. I foresee nothing from the Military so much to be dreaded as the loss of this Connection.

    The Gov. expects orders Relative to the ^calling a^ new Assembly. Without special direction he has no thoughts of calling one till May. We could do better without an Assembly if the C had not fell in with the popular part and declined affording their advice & assistance in some important points. Their Construction of that part of the Mutiny Act, which you proposed in favour to the Colonies is very different from what you intended & would take the destination of the forces from His Majesty & give it to the Colonies.1 I tell them it is ungrateful as well as absurd.

    I hear that Robinson one of the Commissioners is come up to Town & has been this Evning at the Coffee house. It is said the Rest will be up in a day or two. Poor Paxton is very obnoxious. The late Act is laid upon him.2 I do not think he could be safe in Town before the Troops arrived.

    My Nephew writes me he has Received great favours from you for which I thank you & my Son has still a grateful Resentment of your civility to him.3

    I will comply with your desire in communicating every Occurrence worth your Notice & am with great Regard,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:326); unaddressed; partially dated. TH’s reference to “that part of the Mutiny Act, which you proposed in favour to the Colonies” indicates the letter was addressed to Thomas Pownall.