The Troublesome Mr. Temple

    365. To Unknown, 16 February 1769

    366. To [William Bollan], 18 February 1769

    367. To [the Duke of Grafton], 27 February 1769

    One of the most regrettable political developments of 1768, as Thomas Hutchinson saw it, was the defection of the Council to the patriot camp. The concurrence of the Council with measures proposed by the House, once the subject of vigorous debate, now became automatic. Hutchinson attributed this change to the influence of James Bowdoin and his relations, who shared John Temple’s resentment against his fellow commissioners of customs. Temple (Bowdoin’s son-in-law), once the surveyor general of customs in the northern district, now shared that authority with the board and resented the diminution of his importance. Since the arrival of the full board in October 1768, Temple repeatedly tried to sow dissension between his fellow commissioners and the rest of the customs establishment, as well as attempting to have his rivals dismissed. Temple also had a long-standing feud with Governor Francis Bernard dating from the James Cockle affair in 1764, which predisposed him to oppose any measure advocated by the governor. See TH Correspondence, 1: Nos. 72, 73, and 97.

    365. To Unknown

    February 16. 1769

    Dear Sir, A spell of cold weather has detained the shipping and I have kept my letter open expecting further news from England to occasion further Subject to write upon, but nothing arrives, and not withstanding the general expectation of some material change in the Constitution it is possible we may have a space allowed for repentance.

    I have been very cautious of writing any thing to the disadvantage of particular persons even of such as I had good reason to think have not been so tender with respect to me. I suspect now that I have been over cautious and that a greater prejudice lyes in the mind of the Ministry against one of the Branches of the Legislature than there would do if the spring of all the late measures of the Council had been fully represented.1 I know that the manner of electing Councellors is exceptionable that they have not that freedom & independance which they ought to have, but, notwithstanding, for seventy or eighty years together they have in general behaved well and have answered the true design of the second branch in preventing undue advances of the other two as well perhaps as the Council in any one of the King’s Governments as they are called by way of distinction. Ever since the grand controversy, between the Nation & the Colonies, they have, until this present year, disapproved of the most exceptionable parts of the proceedings of the House, and this year although I am sensible many acts of Council are not to be vindicated, particularly their construction of the Act of Parliamt for quartering, than which nothing can be more puerile,2 and all the irregular doings consequent upon it yet I do not attribute this to the Constitution of the Council so much as to the influence of a particular family of large property and high resentment. I must further explain my self. Mr Temple you know married Mr Bowdoin’s daughter. Capt. Erving is her grand father Mr. Pitts her Uncle.3 The Board of Commissioners not only lessened Temple’s importance but it is generally supposed his income also.4 The Board must therefore be dissolved and Temple restored. The populace very soon clamoured against the other four Commissioners and applauded the fifth, though I never once heard any reason assigned for the distinction which would be thought a good one by persons in power or out of power in England. From the opinion of the populace here much, therefore, could not be expected, but if the Council & House could be engaged against the four Commissioners this would probably have great weight. Both one & the other have ever since the Commissioners arrived either excused the Mobs and Tumults as small Stirs among the people or else have attributed them to unwarrantable proceedings on the part of the Commissioners, particularly the great Mob in June when Hancock’s Sloop was seized has been repeatedly said by the Council to be caused by unnecessary & I think illegal orders of the Commissioners in removing her from her moorings under the guns of the Romney at a small distance. And when the Commissioners withdrew to the Castle the Council pronounced it unnecessary but did not think it adviseable for them to return. Mr. B. who has always till this year been rather a friend to Government has been at the head of these measures and by the aid of his connexions every proposal against the Commissioners has been carried in Council5 and the Enemies to Government being of course Enemies to the Commissioners those who intended at first to be Enemies to the Commissioners only very easily united with the Enemies of Government. I do not mention this to you to give you an ill opinion of the Authors of these measures, I think Mr Temple extremely out in his Politicks and that his friends have hurt the cause of the Colonies, but I do it to shew that from this particular instance of the behaviour of the Council it does not follow that there is a necessity of changing the Constitution and making it the same with the Royal Governments. It will be said that upon such an instance of opposition in the Royal Governments the Governor may suspend a Councellor. In this Government once a year he may refuse his consent to the Election of a Councellor.

    I do not write this to exculpate the Council. I have often condemned their conduct & I do not think the people in Boston would have run into those extravagancies if the Council had expressed their disapprobation but I have never proposed an alteration of the Constitution; I rather wished for something to shew them the danger of it and to effect a Reformation. I have given you the true state of the case to serve for your government with respect to your self as well as the publick. The papers are full of misrepresentations and I doubt not private letters are so also. I have not wrote with this freedom to any body else. I would not have done it, even to you, if I had not thought you might make some good use of it and perhaps without mentioning my name. I am Your’s Sincerely

    Tho Hutchinson

    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:345–47); marked, “not sent”; unaddressed; dateline appears at end of letter.

    366. To [William Bollan]

    Boston 18 Janu^Febr^uary 17691

    Dear Sir, I have received your Letter and a box of Books by Capt. Scott. I have distributed only half a dozen of them as yet, in hopes of making sale of good part of them. I have left it to Fleet to do the best he can with them.2 I will acquaint you with his Success. Had the work been embellished with Ribaldry and Slander it would have sold quick. A rational sensible performance sells slow but like what you have published before will be durable and esteemed by posterity.

    I do not wonder at your indignation. And yet the one half of the madness of our Politicians has not been told you. They put a gloss upon all their Actions which they give an Account of in print. To avoid the charge of misrepresentation I have very much avoided any misrepresentation at all. Had our Heroes conducted with tolerable prudence after the Repeal of the Stamp Act we should now have been a happy people, but instead of prudence they took the most likely ^measures^ to irritate the parliament and to bring upon us the Calamities we are now under. It is easily accounted for. The moment tranquility shall be restored the Importance of these people is at an end and the Country returns to its natural friends. I have had but little influence for the last three years. Its happy for me I have not been in Council. I must have opposed their measures, perhaps I should have prevented them or many of them, but it is very likely I should have been sacrificed, for notwithstanding all the Representations which have been made to the contrary the real truth is that there has been no time between August 1765 and the arrival of the Troops when the Mob might not have shewn their full resentment against any person in the Province whenever ^as often as^ they thought proper to do it. I am very sure I do not materially differ from you in principles. If we have ever differed in Sentiments upon the expediency of measures it has been owing to difference of place and our different conceptions of facts, which it is easy to imagine may appear very different to you, at a thousand leagues distance, from what they do to me upon the spot.3

    It’s to no purpose to think of any thing for the Publick at present. We are upon the Eve of important news from England and we are in great uncertainty what it will be and we form conjectures about it as different as our political principles are different one from another.

    When this Event is known I will write you more fully. In the mean time I remain with real affection and esteem Your most Obedient humble Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:344–45); unaddressed. Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 4 March 1776.

    367. To [the Duke of Grafton]1

    Boston 27 February 1769

    My Lord Duke, Mr Hulton & Mr Burch two of the Commissioners of the Customs were ^called^ at my house2 today & signified ^to me^ that they had received Letters ^had been received^3 from England advising that the conduct of the Board had been Represented there in a most unfavourable light and this, as they conceive, ^by letters from hence wrote by^ persons here very much prejudiced against the constitution of the Board and desirous of restoring the Customs to the state ^they^ were in before the late Act of Parliament; and they were extremely urgent with me to transmit to your Grace my Sentiments upon their behaviour from their first arrival to this time. I let them know that ^I had but a^ very small pretence to write to your Grace upon any subject. They replied that the publick service would be my excuse and I hope your Grace will consider that as my sole ^principal^ motive to comply with their desire.

    Four of the Comissioners From At the first arrival of the Commissioner ^upon their first arrival^ were looked upon by the people in general in a very odious light, the fifth was thought ^supposed^ to have had no hand in promoting the new establishment ^and rather to be a^ sufferer rather ^than a gainer^ in point of Interest4 and ^there were none of^ the prejudices which ^have^ prevailed against the other four. The Merchants and other principal Inhabitants who generally are fond of entertaining & shewing respect to Strangers took no notice of the 4 Comissioners & it was thought [illegible] in their Company. A few servants of the Crown consulted & agreed, in spight of popular prejudice; to support as far as they were able their fellow Servants. The steps ^of the Comissioners^ were exactly watched. They were sensible of it and ^therefore^5 acted with the more caution in the discharge of their Trust, so that their Enemies, for the first half year, finding nothing more material to charge them with, pretended that they took too great state upon them, that there was a hauteur in all their behaviour which Americans had never been used to,^and^ that they were ^meer^ Bashaws ^in their Office^6 and kept the Officers of their Board at an awful distance and they were even charged with ^disdaining^ all society or converse with those Inhabitants who from the beginning had refused to associate or have any sort of communion with them. ^Publick & private Affronts had been offered them and^ this prejudice ^against them^ had been continually increasing from November until June when the Officers of the Customs seized the Sloop Liberty for illicit ^breach of the Acts of^ trade and ordered her from the Wharffe ^where she lay^, under the Guns of the Romney. This caused a Mob, upon the pretence being that it was illegal to move her from her Moorings and this opinion was countenanced by some in Authority as well as some who call themselves Lawyers and ought to have known better.7 The Officers who made the seizure were certainly in imminent hazard in the hands of the Mob. ^The Seizure being on a friday, the next day^ there was a report spread & believed that the next ^on^ Monday night there would be a much greater mob, than the former and the Owner of the Sloop sent a message to the four Commissioners by a principal Merchant of the Town to acquaint them that unless they ordered the Sloop back to the Wharffe upon his giving his word that she should be forthcoming he would not answer for the dreadful consequences.8 They thought it advisable on Sunday to go aboard the Romney for their security. The Inhabitants of the Town assembled on the Monday & ^in a message to the Governor^ expressed their sense of this removal as a desertion of the Office and they ^added that it was^ expected the Commissioners should not return to Town to reassume it. These proceedings probably prevented the intended mob. The four Commissioners have ever since from time to time been charged with unnecessarily quitting their Office. If they had staid, they might or might not ^there is no certainty that they would not^ have been knocked in the head, but I think the least they could expect must have been to be carried to the Tree of Liberty and there compelled to swear nevermore to act as Commissioners. This was the case with the very worthy Secretary when he was appointed Distributor of the Stamps.9 ^It was proposed to treat me in the same manner, if I would not as a Judge do business without Stamps. I refused to comply and had determined as matters came near to an extremity to have retired to the Castle rather than submit to the Indignity.^

    ^Your Grace will certainly be of opinion that^ the resignation of the Commissioners would certainly might must have been attended with infinitely worse consequences than their retiring and doing ^the same^ business at Castle William which had been before done in the body of the Town. I think it not impossible that such [illegible] would have been followed with proceedings against the Collectors & other Officers of the Customs in several parts of the [illegible] Not only particular Inhabitants but the Town of Boston, the House of Representatives & a Majority of the Council have by their public proceedings declared the departure of the Commissioners to have been unnecessary. Such a declaration would have had more weight with your Grace if it had been accompanied with ^an invitation to the Commissioners to return & a^ promise of protection to the Commissioners if they would return but instead of it they ^declare they^ do not think safe for them to return. No possible reason can be given why the same any persons who would have made it ^should think it^ unsafe for them to return ^to Town^ would not have made it as un ^& yet think it^ safe for them to have staid there.

    They have frequently advised with me upon points of Law and I have ever found them disposed whilst they were doing their Duty to the Crown to avoid ^shun^ every thing grievous to the Subject. I know that for several months they have been dissatisfied with the behaviour of some of the Officers of the Board and have been taking pains to [illegible] extremitys until they were concerned ^that without it^ the service could not go on without them.

    Endeavours have been used & not without success to engage some of the Officers under the Board in an [Interest] [illegible] from that of the four Commissioners ^measures prejudicial to the Service^ and for several months they have been [illegible] of it & [illegible] it ^past the four Commissioners have expressed^ to me ^that they were very sensible of it.^ I know and should be under a necessity of & [am open] [illegible] with any Officers under them. If the party formed against them should succeed it will certainly strength. I [illegible] to your Grace with great truth that those who endeavoured to support the Commissioners are ^in general^10 friends to Government and that those who are the [illegible] to ^I know of none of the [illegible]^11 government have been the greatest ^the Commissioners but who are [illegible]^12 Enemies to the ^four^ Commissioners. ^proceeding to extremities^ against some one or more unless they altered their Conduct.13

    A Scheme has been on foot ever since the Commissioners arrived to effect their recall & this scheme has brot about a degree of union between such as have been always inimical to Government & such as only wish to see the Customs upon their old footing.

    I have given your Grace as fair and impartial account of the state of this affair as I am capable of & I have the honour to be with the greatest Respect your Grace’s most faithful & obedient Servant,

    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:341–43); substantially revised; unaddressed.