The Opening of Parliament

    356. To Richard Jackson, [mid January 1769]

    357. To Thomas Whately, 20 January 1769

    358. To Israel Williams, 26 January 1769

    359. To Richard Jackson, 28 January 1769

    360. To Thomas Pownall, 29 January [1769]

    Thomas Hutchinson and other supporters of government long anticipated Parliament’s response to the Liberty riot, the failure to rescind the Circular Letter, the resolutions of the town of Boston, and the summoning of the convention of the towns. Their first hint of what might be forthcoming came in the king’s speech on 8 November at the opening of Parliament, the text of which was printed in the Boston newspapers on 16 January. The king declared Boston to be in “a state of disobedience to all law and government” and called on Parliament to take measures to help him defeat “the mischievous Designs of those turbulent and seditious people” who had “deluded” so many of his North American subjects.

    356. To Richard Jackson

    [mid January 1769]

    Dear Sir, I sent you under blank covers by way of Bristol & Glasgow the account of proceedings in NYork Assembly which you will find equal those of the Massachusets.1 Perhaps if they had no Troops the people too would have run riot as we did. The Vessels were detained here many days by foul weather & I shall have given you unnecessary trouble for they will have been sent you before direct from NYork. The Kings speech came to us this day seven night by way of NYork.2 Last evning Captain Scott arrived with an account of proceedings in Parliam to 19 Nov. Our liberty men flatter themselves that they shall be supposed to have had a very good intent in their late Convention & that this will cover a little irregularity & a meer laugh is made when they are told that there have been proposals to send for some of them to England3 & I hear a news paper extraordinary is to be published to day with Articles of Intelligence to remove the fears the Country has been under of the Resentment of Parliament.4 I think our next Advices will convince them their Intelligence is premature. If it was not for our expectations from Eng our politicians & news mongers would be at a loss how to employ their Tongues & their Wits. Five or 6 Men of War & 3 or 4 Regiments disturb no body but some of our graver people who do not love Assemblies & Concerts & can’t bear the noise of Drums upon a Sunday. I know I have not slept in Town any 3 months these 2 years in so much tranquility as I have done the 3 months since the Troops came & one of the Clergy told me a few days ago he doubted whether it would ever do for the Town to be without one Regiment at least. I expected a murmuring about this time from the old members of the House no Winter having passed for above 70 years without Session & I believe they are kept quiet least a new disturbance should add to the old score which they have not yet discharged. I am sure the province is in a more quiet state than it would be if the assembly was sitting. It happens that the only Sufferers are those who least deserve it, the Judges & other Officers who used to have their Salaries granted by the Court at the end of the year some of whom if they were paid seasonably would have reason enough to complain of their short allowances.

    Looking back upon my Letter I find I might as well have told you in 2 or 3 words that we had no Occurrence worth your Notice. Give me leave to add that I am with very great esteem & regard Sir Your most Obliged Servant,

    Some of our sons of liberty flatter themselves ^& they say from good authority^5 that the Comissioners of [MS torn] be recalled or if not that 4 of them will be removed.

    If either one or the other should be the case the Enemies of Government will gain great advantage. Nothing would be more agreeable to them than to see the Customs under the same direction as they were before this Board was constituted & the friends of Government would be discouraged from adhering to the Servants of the Crown in the discharge of their Duty for the future.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:337–38); undated; at head of letter, “Mr Jackson.” Contemporary printings: Boston Gazette, dated 10 July 1775; Massachusetts Spy, 19 July 1775; Norwich Packet, 24 July 1775; Remembrancer for the Year 1776, Part 2, p. 62.

    357. To Thomas Whately

    Boston 20 Jan 1769

    Dear Sir, You have laid me under great obligations by the very full & clear account of proceedings in Parlt. which I received from you by Cap Scott. You have also done much service to the people of the province. For a day or two after this Ship arrived the Enemies to Government gave out that their friends in Parl. were increasing & all things would soon be on the old footing in other words that all Acts imposing Duties would be repealed the Comission board dissolved the Customs put on the old footing & illicit trade be carried on with little or no hazard.1

    It was very fortunate that I had it in my power to prevent such a false representation from spreading thro the province. I have been very cautious of using your name but I have been very free in publishing abroad the substance of your Letter & declaring that I had my Intelligence from the best Authority & have in a great measure defeated the ill designs in raising & attempting to spread so groundless a report. What marks of resentment the Parlt. will shew whether they will be upon the province in general or particular persons is extremely uncertain but that they will be placed somewhere is most certain & I add, because I think it ought to be so2 that those who have been most steady in preserving the Constitution and opposing the Licentiousness of such as call themselves sons of Liberty will certainly meet with favour & encouragement.

    This is most certainly a Crisis. I really wish that there may not have been the least degree of Severity beyond what is absolutely necessary for maintaining I think I may say to you the dependance which a Colony ought to have upon the Parent State but if no measures shall have been taken to secure this dependance or nothing more than some Declaratory Acts or Resolves it is all over with us.3 The friends of Government will be utterly disheartned & the friends of Anarchy will be afraid of nothing be it ever so extravagant.

    The last Vessel from London had a very quick passage. We expect to be in suspense for 3 or 4 Weeks & then to hear our fate.

    I never think of the measures necessary for the peace & good order of the Colonies without pain. There must be an abridgment of what is called ^English^4 Liberty.5 I relieve myself by considering that in a remove from the state of nature to the most perfect state of Government there must be a great restraint of natural liberty. I doubt whether it is possible to project a System of Government in which a Colony 3000 miles distant from the Parent State shall enjoy all the Liberties6 of the Parent State. I am certain I have never yet seen the projection. I wish to see the good of the Colony when I wish to see some restraint of Liberty rather than the Connexion with the Parent State should be broken for I am sure such a breach must prove the ruin of the Colony. Pardon me this excursion it really proceeds from the state of mind into which our perplexed Affairs often throws me. I have the honour to be with very great esteem Sir Your most humble


    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:338–39); unaddressed. Contemporary printings: Letters Sent to Great-Britain, pp. 15–16, where it is addressed to Thomas Whately.

    358. To Israel Williams

    Boston 26 January 1769

    Dear Sir, I did not know but that Colo Partridge was in Commission for the peace as several other Sheriffs are. You said nothing of his being appointed when you mentioned the other Offices. There certainly was no design in omitting the nomination. There will be a general Council next Wednesday and I will desire the Governor that it may be done in the manner you propose and endeavour to forward the Commission &c.1

    Our Affairs have a dark aspect and yet no darker than we had reason to expect from our Patriotism I had like to have said Quixotism. The account of the Debates in Parliamt. in to day’s Paper is genuine from a Member of Parliament.2 The King had ordered his Servants of the Law (Ld. Hilsboro’s expression) to consider all the proceedings, & give their opinion, which with the papers would be laid before Parliament and the Event be known in a fortnight from the 19. of November. It is generally believed in England that we shall never have another Election of Counsellors. It is certainly a part of Ld. H[blank in MS]’s plan that we should not.3 I am afraid they will make sad work in a new nomination. The difficulty in that respect makes me think there is some chance the matter may be delayed but the G— does not think so. Indeed I think it is but small. I had no thought of this step. I rather expected a Quo Warranto or a Bill brought into Parlt. to disannull the Charter4 & an opportunity given to the province to consider & repent but the Council this Fall have forced on the other measure and are really Felones de se,5 and I hear have the name of the upper House of Convention.

    Many believe the Judges will give their opinion that some of our proceedings amount to Treason and that the principal Actors will be call to account. I own, now it comes near, I cannot help pitying them and I could wish they might escape upon this condition, that they would never meddle with Politicks again.

    Nine tenths of what you read of the Journal of Occurrences in Boston is either absolutely false or grossly misrepresented. The Govr. may take his patent for a Baronet just when he pleases without any expence & they are looking out for a place for him of less trouble & more profit than what he has at present.6 I am Dear Sir Your Sincere friend & Servant, Tho Hutchinson

    RC (Massachusetts Historical Society, Israel Williams Papers); unaddressed.

    359. To Richard Jackson

    With lengthy and substantial differences between the unsent version of this letter and the redraft, the editors elected to present both versions. In the unsent version, Hutchinson speculates freely on different ways to heal the breach between the colonies and Parliament, including sending American representatives to Westminster. When discussing the impact of the Townshend duties on the tea trade, Hutchinson also alludes to continuing imports of Dutch tea into the province, indicating that the reform of the tea duty was not effective in discouraging smuggling. Upon reflection, Hutchinson may have decided both topics were dangerous territory and deleted them from the second version.

    Version 1: To Richard Jackson

    Boston 24 Jan 1769

    Dear Sir, Tho’ I have persecuted you with Letters yet I am in pain, if I receive one from you until I acknowledge it. Cap Barnard arrived yesterday with your favour of 21st of October.1 I should be tempted to leave America myself if you & the other friends of America should relinquish all concern with it. I am sure you are right in your principles relative to it and it makes me a little vain that before I knew yours my own were the same. I never was in doubt of any of them but that of Representation and there it was rather upon the practicability of it than the expediency if it could be effected. The more I think of the Subject of the Disputes in general the more I am convinced there are but two methods of putting an end to them, the one by dropping all further controversy about the Right or rather the Colonies submitting to the exercise of it to the present degree which after all that can be said is in a manner insensible and the Parliaments forbearing further instances of the exercise at least for some time; the other by admitting Representatives. The great difficulty in the first would be to do it in such a manner as that the Colonies may not have it to urge against the Parlt. that they have given up the Right. It is past my skill to project a way. I hope we should return to a more calm temper if the people could be persuaded that it was the general voice of the nation not to multiply Taxes and I am of opinion that the Advocates in England for the Colonies who feed them with vain hopes that by a perseverance in opposition to the Right they will finally gain their point are the great cause of keeping up the high spirit which still prevails among us. It appears to me that we have not the least grounds to hope suppose Parliament will ever make the concession and it seems to be a necessary precedent of our peace that there should be a general & absolute despair of it. The repealing the late Act would only have strengthened the Enemies of Government here not quieted them in any degree. They would immediately have demanded the Repeal of the Molasses Act and then the other Acts laying restraint upon Trade. Indeed if you had repealed it because it was a boon to the Colonies perhaps it might not have had that effect. It certainly was a great favour to the Colonies. What they have saved by the abatement of the duty upon Teas vastly exceeds all the other duties imposed by the Act and it has rather increased than lessened the Importation of Dutch Tea. I never knew so much imported as there has been this fall. My sons have 100 Chests of Tea by them lawfully imported & are not able to sell a Chest. The Dutch Importers sell it here at a lower price than English Tea can be bought in London with all the drawback and discount for prompt pay deducted and save besides the 3d. per pound which the fair Trader pays here. I discourage every body from flattering themselves that the Parlt can ever be brought to relinquish their Right. I encourage them to hope that they will not multiply Instances of the exercise of it. The best and most sensible part of the province think we can expect no more. The remaining part must in time be convinced they can hope for no more. A Plan of Represention must be intirely from Parlt.

    It will be below their dignity to treat with the Colonies upon it. If it was not I know no way of doing it but by proposing to each Colony separately which could answer little or no purpose. Is there any hopes that a majority in Parliamt will ever be reconciled to it? We have some who think favourably of it more who disapprove it. It is not possible to determine how it would be received if it should become a serious affair. If the Colonies should refuse to comply with it they will have less to say than they have now when it is not in their power to be represented if they would.

    I am much obliged to you for your concern at the ill success of my pension. If I had thought my Enemies would have considered it in that light I should have chose to have been without it tho’ it had been double what it is. It has incapacitated me for doing some service which I should have been capable of without it particularly in the Council. I had no expectation of it when it was granted. I knew the D. of Grafton was disposed to serve me his Grace having condescended to write to me a letter before & that he intended to appoint me a Commissioner of the Customs. This would have rendered me still more obnoxious than the other & I wrote to his Grace to that purpose which together with Lord Norths kind disposition I suppose forwarded the business just at that time, and perhaps as Parl. was just upon sitting something of this sort mentioned at the opening the Session might prevent a motion for an enquiry whether any notice had been taken of the Address in the former session on behalf of the Sufferers. I thanked my friends but I have never yet received any part of it. I wish to see whether the H will make me any Grant as Ch. Just. Some of them threaten they will not tho’ half a years grant was due from the Crown before any grant took place. I have been so unsuccessful as well in regard of the public as my own private Interest that I grow every day more and more weary of my political life. All I can expect will fall short of the additional expence I must be at in public life to keep up a tolerable reputation especially as we are so full of officers and my own private fortune will support me in a reduced way which will be as agreeable to my turn of mind. This makes me wait without any raised expectations the Event of the late intentions of the Ministry & be it what it may I shall think it for the best. In public or in private life I hope you will always allow me to retain a place in your friendship being with the most sincere regard & esteem

    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:339–40); marked “not sent”; at head of letter, “Mr Jackson.”

    Version 2: To [Richard Jackson]

    Boston 28 Jan 1769

    Dear Sir, Tho I have persecuted you with Letters yet I am in pain if I receive one from you until I have acknowledgd it. Your favour of 20 of Octo. is just come to hand. As things then were you did not love to think of America. You must have been more averse than ever after you heard the news from Boston which arrived in a few days from the date of your Letter. Our friends if it had not been for this news would have tried for the repeal of the late Act & perhaps carried it. We should not have been easy with the Molasses Act should have complained of all the Acts of trade & been every day more & more explicit in denying the Authority of Parliament. I do not know but that it is for the best Parliamt should take us in hand now. The longer you delayed the more we should have incensed you. You never will give up the Right & yet many of your people are encouraging the Colonies to dispute it. The most sensible people in the Colonies despair of Success. When this is the case with the body of them we may hope for an orderly state of Government again, for you have found so much trouble from the plans for raising any considerable Revenue here that I think you will not soon lay further Taxes and when there are no fears of that I hope our Liberty men will lose their Influence. Nothing can be weaker than what they are now attempting, to break off all Commerce with you and yet some of your first rate merchants write to them that this is the way to carry their point. If the Spirit should remain & all our expectations fail you have made me a Convert to a Representation. Is there any hopes that a Majority in Parlt will ever be reconciled to it. We have some here who think favourably of it more at present who disapprove of it. But it is not possible to determine how it would be received if it should become a serious Affair. One thing is certain. If the Colonies should refuse it they will have less to say than they now have because it is not now in their power to be represented if they would.

    No body less deserves to be called a Pensioner than I do. I never desire to receive more wages than is equivalent to my work. One payment is due but I have not received it nor have I received any Salary as Chief Ju[stice] from the province. I wait till the Court sits to see whether they will make any Grant. Some say they will not. If they should not I shall be worse off for the last years service than if no Grant had been made by the Crown for altho it was so small compared with other Chief Justices who do not do half the business yet it was not to commence until mid summer past.

    We are expecting something extraordinary from Parlt but are at a loss what it will be. If we have a new Council as some suppose we shall the Character of men cannot be known in England. Our future peace will very much depend on proper persons in that Station. A larger number will be necessary than in the other Colonies 8 or 10 in Boston & a number in the Country towns which will more easily reconcile people to the change.

    I wish I had no more reason to be anxious for the fate of the province than I am for my own political life. Whatever may have been determind with respect to that I shall think for the best. In public or private life I hope you will always allow me to retain a share in your friend ship. I am with the most sincere regard & esteem

    The Ship is being detained until the 20. Feb. I inclose you the paper of this day.1 You find an Account of an Address to the Governor from the Selectmen of Boston which he called a [very] impudent thing and [consulted?] me upon his Answer [to them] which is very short but so disagreeable to them that I have no doubt to avoid printing it they have declined printing the Address itself though I think their chief view in making the Address was the publication o[f it]. I tell him as they have not printed their Address which never I knew [them to] omit before I would print it if I was in his case with the Answer. I suppose he sends copies of both to Ld Hillsborough.

    I have markd with X the names of 9 who have been the most steady. L. tho last is the eldest.2 Besides these the 5 Judges of the S C were left out or resignd to prevent it. The S & T W were left out & both for the same reason.3 The G mentiond to me the J of the A & [blank space in MS] a good man of a good estate.4 There must be 4 or 5 besides these in Boston. It will not be known that these hints come from me.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:349); unaddressed.

    360. To Thomas Pownall

    Jan 29 [1769]

    Dear Sir, We never were in greater suspence than we are now. We have the Kings Speech & the Addresses of Lords & Commons & private Letters intimate that some change is to be made in our constitution but what none could tell.1 Be it what it may our troubles will continue. Altering our constitution will not alter the principles of the people & I fear it will not alter their temper for the better. It will convince them that Parlt is not afraid to run the risque of offending us. Some have been so foolish as to assert they are. I think we have never given so great occasion to Parlt to resent our Conduct as we have done the last fall the Council who ought to have been the support of Government having in too many instances countenanced the Disturbers of it and if an end is put to their Existence I shall always consider them as Felones de se.

    I am almost a Convert to the scheme of Representation as the only way to remove the main Objection of the Colonists to the Authority of Parlt. Until that can be carried into execution we must labour to quiet the minds of the people by persuading them Taxes will not be multiplied unless they provoke Parlt to it & that a due regard to the Acts of Trade now in force is the most likely way to prevent further Acts for raising a Revenue. The late Act has not in any degree lessend the Importation of Dutch Tea. As much has been imported this Fall as I have known at any time & not a Chest seized. It comes by the way of St. Eustatias as well as direct. The 3d. duty which they save here & the lower price in Holland than in England makes 25 per cent difference and is profit enough to induce Owners to suborn & Masters to perjure themselves. Until we have further news from Engd I do not expect we shall have anything here worth communicating to you. I am with very great Regard

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:340); partially dated; at foot of letter, “Pownall.”

    361. From Peter Oliver

    Middleborough Feb. 1. 1769

    Dear Brother! What harder Task can you imagine can be imposed on a Person than to be obliged to Epistolize When he has nothing to say, especially to a Personage of your Rank. If I could imagine myself to see you pruning Trees & directing how the Furrow should be turned, as I have seen formerly, I could furnish a Letter or a Volume. I could then inform you that one Ox had run a Stick into his Foot & another had strained his Ankle & could apply to you for Advice to assure; but when I consider you in the Character of a State Physician I am lost: the Distempers there are so various that I have no Idea for Remedies; The Itch of Scribbling, the febrile Heats, the paralytick Convulsions, the cutaneous Eruptions, the violent Concussions of the Intestines, all Judicate that some desperate Remedy is to be applyed. If the natural Body was so disordered I cannot think of any Thing more effectual than some drastick Cathartick, for altho’ it might not suit some of the particular Disorders, yet as the Case is desperate, a desperate Remedy must be applyed. However, as you’re the Esculapius of the State I leave the Matter to you.1

    You told me that there was not a Word of Truth in my News; yes, it is all true to a Tittle, & I expect a Confirmation from your own Mouth by this Conveyance.

    We Sons of Liberty now hang out our Flag of Defiance; our Motto is, veni, vidi, vici & a good Motto too.2 They told us we should be paid off, but they are baulk’d. Our Friend B—ke’s Speech hath set all Right, no Matter for Inconsistencies, he is a fine Fellow;3 & we have 7000 yet who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Pray when do the C—rs leave Boston?4 Are the Transports yet arrived to carry off the Troops? We hear they were spoke with off Hallifax.

    Tell Sewall he must burn his Commission; or we Liberty Boys will down with his House as we did once with somebody elses.5 The Days are own now. I am glad we have Rocks in Middleborough to hide us. Come as soon as you can: or I have Carpenters at Work to bore Augur Holes to run Heads into. You & your Friends may be supplied at a moderate Price. All this I have seen in a Vision. Farewell dear Brother

    Peter Oliver

    P.S. I shall expect a very long Letter. I hope it is wrote, for it is a thousand to one if you see the Beaver.6

    RC (New York Public Library, Samuel Adams Papers); addressed “To his Honour Thomas Hutchinson Boston”; endorsed “Peter Oliver 1 Feb 1769.”

    362. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 3 Febr. 1769

    My Lord, Mr Hulton & Mr Burch, two of the Commissioners of the Customs inform me they have certain advice that, whilst they have been exposed to innumerable difficulties in doing the duty of their Office, representations have been making against four of the Board, by some person or persons from hence, in order to set them in a very unfavourable light1 with His Majesty and his Ministers of State, and they are very pressing with me to write to your Lordship & to acquaint you with my Sentiments of their behaviour from their first arrival until this time.

    Concern for Gentlemen who I really believe are greatly injured, and a regard for the publick service will, I hope, be an excuse2 with your Lordship for the freedom I take in complying3 with their desire.

    Your Lordship has been fully acquainted with the prejudice against this new Board of Customs as soon as it was appointed.4 I never could see any reason for it and therefore, as I was a Servant of the Crown, I thought myself obliged to take more notice of the Commissioners, upon their first arrival, than if there had been no prejudice against them. A few Gentlemen besides have acted from the same principle; but people in general, have treated them with uncommon neglect and contempt5 and have rendered it impracticable for them to acquire6 such acquaintance as otherwise they might have done and yet unreasonably charge them with pride and haughtiness in shunning that Company & Correspondence which would have been refused them if they had sought it.

    One of the Commissioners has not displeased the people,7 but the other four from the time of their arrival until they withdrew to the Castle were the Objects of popular odium.8

    I have joined with the Governour Secretary & Judge of the Admiralty in an Opinion in writing that the four Commissioners were in great danger at the time of their withdraw, and that they could not with safety have returned to Town until the Troops arrived.9 This, I doubt not, the Commissioners will transmit to the Lords of the Treasury, and I know your Lordship has been informed, by the Governor, of all circumstances relative to this withdraw.

    I never heard of any illegal or injurious act in the exercise of their Commission.10 They have often advised with me when any difficulty has arose and always appeared to be very cautious of giving colour for complaint to the people; as far as could consist with fidelity to their Trust.

    The removal of a Sloop, which they had caused to be seized, was pronounced by some, who call themselves Lawyers, to be contrary to Law.11 This must be attributed either to their Ignorance of the Law, or, which is worse, to a wicked design to inflame the minds of the people by false suggestions.12

    The popular clamour against four of the Commissioners and not the fifth is easily accounted for. It was said the Commissioners would cause new charges and new and heavy burdens upon Trade. The people wished therefore that the Surveyor General might not be superseded. The Commissioners exerted themselves to restore the Acts of Trade which for two or three years together no Officer dared to carry into execution. Penal Laws which have been disused, from opposition made by the people, are considered as more grievous when revived than when first enacted: The people, therefore, have always wished to see the new Board abolished and Surveyors General restored.

    As I know of no kind of hardship by the late change in the direction of the Customs, except upon illicit Traders, I can with greater satisfaction appear as an Advocate for the Commissioners and I am fully of opinion that the abolishing the Board and returning to the old Direction cannot have the least salutary effect but will be an encouragement to the Enemies of Government to attempt other changes just as mere humour or some more unjustifiable motive may induce them.

    I must renew my Apology to your Lordship for this freedom. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord Your Lordships most humble and most obedient Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    My Lord, Having kept my Letter open until the 19. of February, I have had an opportunity, since the date, of perusing the Journal of one Captain Carver, a passenger in this Ship, from the Detroit to the Northern & Western parts of Lake Superior.13 I suppose no European before him has been so far to the Westward. I believe he would have gone on to the South Sea if he had been furnished with Presents for the Indians. He has no doubt, himself, that six or seven hundred miles further travel would have carried him to it. If such a Discovery deserves national attention, of which your Lordship is the best Judge, I do not know a more proper person to be employed in it he having acquired a good acquaintance with the inland Indians and habituated himself to their way of living. He was several years a Captain in the Provincial Service, the last war, and I never heard any thing to the disadvantage of his Character.

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/758, ff. 66–67); docketed, “Boston 3 Febry 1769 Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson Rx 1st April.” Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:343, 348); substantially revised; unaddressed; partially dated; lacking signature and postscript. SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/767, ff. 112–15); in an unknown hand; docketed, “Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson Boston. February 3d. 1769. Rx 1st. April.”