Publishing the Governor’s Letters

    368. To Richard Jackson, 16 April 1769

    369. To Israel Mauduit, 16 April 1769

    370. To Thomas Pownall, 17 April 1769

    371. From Israel Williams, 3 May 1769

    Since the Stamp Act crisis in 1765, Governor Francis Bernard repeatedly wrote Whitehall with letters that presented a somewhat skewed account of what was happening in Boston in order to prompt the ministry to send troops without Bernard needing to incur the patriots’ wrath by formally requesting them himself. Ultimately, the strategy worked. Lord Hillsborough agreed and dispatched troops to Boston, but almost as soon as the soldiers arrived, the patriots began to suspect the veracity of Bernard’s reports and attempted to gain sight of them. Bernard refused them access, but the patriots nevertheless obtained copies of six letters and published them in the Boston Gazette for 23 January. William Bollan, now serving as the agent of the Council, was able to obtain attested copies of the same six letters after they were laid before the House of Commons on 20 January prior to its debate. These copies arrived in Boston on 8 April, and soon after, printed versions circulated among members of the General Court. Copies of additional letters continued to arrive via Bollan, and James Bowdoin, on behalf of the Council, began to prepare a rebuttal to Bernard’s criticisms. See Papers of Francis Bernard, 5:20–26.

    368. To Richard Jackson

    16 Ap. 1769

    Dear Sir, Several of Mr Bernards Letters & one of Gen Gages having been sent to the Council they caused them to be printed & they are hawked about the Streets & the Clamor against the Gov is louder & more universal than ever I knew it. The Council for a week past have been closely engaged in preparing Remarks upon the Letters & the Owner of this Ship Mr Hancock has detained her 3 or 4 days for the sake of the Council. Certainly their Remarks will have no credit given to them in England until the G has an opportunity of answering them. Indeed the great secrecy in preparing them carries with it strong marks of suspicion that they ought not to have credit.

    I do not know that there has been an instance since the Charter until now of the Councils combining against the G. I think I wrote to you, if their conduct was passed over in England with little notice they would be apt to triumph & it is now as I conjectured it would be & they have the general voice of the people to support them. I am with great Regard Dear Sir Your Obliged & most Obedient Servant,

    Postscript to Jacksons Letter. By a Letter the S. has received from Eng I find he has less grounds for his expectations which I hinted to you the 23 Nov than he imagined.1 I wish he had said nothing about it. I hope it will give no offence. He is a worthy Servant of the Crown & if it was not for that would be a favourite of the people.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:350); at head of letter, “Mr Jackson.”

    369. To Israel Mauduit

    Boston 16. Ap. 1769

    Dear Sir, Your favour of 10 Feb by Davis came to hand to day about noon. I thank you for the Review.1 The subject has never been treated in so masterly a way & I am at a loss to conceive how we shall answer it. I could not leave it after I first opened it until I had gone through it. I fancy the first Charter to the Mass. is no where in print. I design to publish it in a collection of Miscellanies I am preparing for the press which I shall send you as soon as it is out.2 The C have published a sheet of Extracts from Gov. Bernards Letters & one of Gen. Gages Letters which their Agent has sent over attested by a Clerk of the papers of the House Parlt.3 I am astonished at your Politicks. I know the Ministry could not avoid laying all papers before the H but if ever a secret Committee was necessary it seems to have been in this case.

    I hope Mr Bernard is in no danger but I never knew so universal a clamour. I will write you more at large by another opportunity. I am with very great regard Sir Your most Obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:350); at head of letter, “Mr Mauduit.”

    370. To Thomas Pownall

    Boston 17 April 1769

    Dear Sir, I thank you for your letter of 30 Jan.1 No Letters have been received for some time from the Ministry no doubt because they waited for the issue of matters in Parliament. Mr Bernards Enemies triumph in the possession of his Letters. The Council have for ten days past been preparing their Answers Addresses &c. which I am told are to be transmitted to their Agent Mr Bollan.2 They leave Flucker out of their Secrets3 but all the rest in & near the Town combine together. A Government thus divided cannot long subsist. The Ministry I know could not refuse papers called for by the House but could no way be found to keep them from being published? Do not such publications tend to discourage the Kings Servants from making transmitting true accounts of the state of the Colonies lest they should expose themselves to the rage & fury of the people. The threatning prospect at the opening the Session of Parliament is now changed to a more pleasing one and ^which causes^ the sons of Liberty may be said to [illegible] rather than to [illegible] & [illegible] [affect] [illegible] to make ^him less^ the Object of their ^rage than they would have done if anything more severe had been the consequence of his representations.^

    I see but little prospect of Tranquility. I am Sir Your most faithful humble

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:351); at foot of letter, “Gov Pownall.”

    371. From Israel Williams

    Hatfield 3d May 1769.

    Sir, We have a great deal of News, but when examin’d, turns out cheifly noise, and much Clamour against Gov. Bernard, perhaps, especially owing, at this time, to his Letters lately publish’d, which I take to be genuine, and not quite full of kindness, if the facts are true. We are told also there is a great misunderstanding between his Excellency and the L. Gov. That your honor has said, his Conduct deserves the Severest punishment and nothing Short of what is Inflicted on an Infernal Spirit is adequate thereto.

    By a Letter in Town from the Gov There are expressions to the following purpose, viz. That hadn’t been for Some considerable Persons in the Province, things he apprehended woud have Soon been quiet; That they coud not hurt him, They might hurt the Province, and woud hurt themselves, from whence I suspect there is some foundation for the Stories, and that he is nettled.

    It wou’d give me much Satisfaction to know, our Situation and what is like to be our fate; from your honors last I have been fill’d with apprehensions; The plan for Appointment of civil officers, will bring us into a State of Servile dependance. Heaven has till now, appeard for us in our Straits. I fear the Sons of Liberty will ruin all.

    If Sir you Shall think proper to communicate any thing it will find a safe conveyance by my Son, the bearer of this. I am with greatest esteem and respect Your honours most Oblig’d & Obedient Servant,

    Isl Williams

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:308); addressed, “To the honorable Thomas Hutchinson Esqr Lieutenant Governor &c. Boston”; endorsed, “Colo Williams 3d May 1769.”

    372. To [William Bollan]

    Boston 5 May 1769

    Dear Sir, By Colman I received 6 copies more of the pamphlet lately published.1 I intend immediately upon the meeting of the Assembly to present one to each Member of the H. From the best accounts I can obtain of the dispositions of persons most likely to be elected they are very favorable to you & unless there should be a contest about your Salary or some other Subject to put an end to the Session soon after it begins I think you will have the voice of the 3 branches. The G tells me he shall not interest himself in the affair of the Agency & will consent to your appointment or to G Pownals who has recomended himself by his espousing the cause of the Colonies in Parlt. If he should be appointed to the G. which you think he is aiming at or if any other person should be appointed it will be so great a slight of me after the repeated intimations given that I will succeed GB. that I think I shall be excused for quitting the place of LG which has exposd me to so many inconveniences for 10 or a dozen years past. Indeed our publick Affairs afford so gloomy a prospect that I never knew a time when it would give me less pain to be excluded from any share in the management of them.

    The G has orders to return to E to make report to His M. of the state of the province.2 He talks of going in the course of the Summer but has not mentiond to me any particular time.

    I think the Colony by a prudent demeanor have now a happy opportunity of conciliating with their parent State. Such a demeanor I do not expect but will continue to press. I mentiond to one of our warm men that I would not urge him to any concession I only begged of him to be silent & cease provokings but I had poor encouragement to hope for that. May G pity us we have no pity on ourselves. I am Yours Sincerely,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:352); unaddressed. Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 18 December 1775.

    373. To Israel Williams

    Boston 6 May 1769

    Dear Sir, I received your’s of the 3d just as I was setting out from Town for Barnstable, but can’t help stopping to write you a line or two. Nothing can be more injurious than the Report of my expressions of the Governor. Possibly it might take its rise from a charge made against me when the Governors letters arrived, by some of the Council, as having advised to both the Governor’s and the General’s Letters and the latter was said to be my dictating and one Gentleman said there was one Expression in it he was sure could come from no body else. I thought it prudent to declare what was strictly true that I never saw a Line of any of the Letters until I saw them in print nor did I know such Letters had been wrote unless perhaps some mention might have been made in Company by the Governor of his having wrote to such purpose which he is sometimes apt to do though I had no particular Remembrance of it.

    I am not desirous of a change in the Constitution. I have not been so much provoked as the Governor has been. It is natural to suppose I have attachments to old modes and customs, civil and religious which are not to be expected in him. I know the Ministry when I wrote you last had determined to push it in parliament. They laid aside the thought a little while. The latter end of February they took it up again. I have reason to think it is laid aside a second time from some expectations, I know not how raised, that the Assembly in their next Sessions would take some measures if not submissive yet not assuming and to avoid every thing irritating on the part of the nation the Instruction for carrying the Court out of Boston has been withdrawn advice whereof arrived two or three days before the Writs issued.1 If we could be prudent, I think I may say only silent we might save the Country and retain the Rights we contend for or which is the same thing might rest assured that the parliament would not exercise the Right of Taxing which they claim and we may be assured will not give up, but if we will go on denying the Right & asserting our Independence the Nation will by force compell us to acknowledge it. I wish this force may be kept off as long as you and I live.

    The Governor has certain advice of the Patents passing the Seals for creating him a Baronet; has orders to go to England and make Report to His Majesty of the State of the Province, but designs to tarry the next Sessions of the Court.2

    I wish the flame may not increase. If it Shall ever be in my power I am sure it will be my inclination and desire to assuage and extinguish it and if I can accomplish it I Shall think it the happiest circumstance in my whole life. I am Dear Sir Yours Sincerely,

    Tho Hutchinson

    Be assured there never has been the least misunderstanding between the Governor & Lieut Governor but a perfect harmony does and is likely to subsist.

    RC (Massachusetts Historical Society, Israel Williams Papers); unaddressed; endorsed “6th. May 1769.”