The Acting Governor Seeks Advice

    384. To Thomas Pownall, 24 July 1769

    385. To Richard Jackson, 25 July 1769

    386. To John Pownall, 25 July [1769]

    387. To Benjamin Franklin, 29 July 1769

    388. To Thomas Whately, 29 July [1769]

    Although Thomas Hutchinson and Francis Bernard worked in close concert for nine years, Hutchinson may have entertained a private belief that someone with local ties could succeed better at reconciling the political differences that split Massachusetts. As 1 August, when Bernard would step aboard the Rippon to return to England, drew closer Hutchinson wrote a round of letters seeking advice from old friends and new acquaintances.

    384. To Thomas Pownall

    Boston 24 July 1769

    Dear Sir, I am much obliged to you for a few lines by young Mr Hallowell.1 Jacobson by whom you had wrote more particularly is not arrivd. The G. will tell you evry circumstance relative to men & things which makes it unnecessary for me to mention them. Some late occurrences exceed any which have gone before them. The proceedings of the Merchants tho how many there was of them or who they were I know not are to the last degree imprudent.2 We seem all determined to put it out of the power of our friends to serve us.

    The Secretary is now at NYork as one of the Comissioners for settling the Controversy between that Province & the Jersies.3 If he was at home I am certain you would hear from him.

    I thank you for your advice & caution. I know I have a very difficult task. There is such a disposition to distress Government that I am attacked before I have any share in it in a weak & illnatured publication in the form of a Dialogue which Flucker says he can prove was wrote by Mr Temple & which if he can I think he ought to do.4 They have had a sort of fight about it upon Change & matters between them are not yet issued.

    I beg you would favour me with your Sentiments upon every occurrence which relates to us or has any aspect upon our affairs. I am with very great esteem,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:357); at head of letter, “Gov Pownall.”

    385. To Richard Jackson

    Hutchinson apparently wrestled with the contents of this letter to Richard Jackson quite a bit. Draft 1 was originally intended to be a receiver’s copy, as evidenced by the large, clear script Hutchinson used to write it and the presence of an unabbreviated salutation and closing. But then he revised it rather thoroughly and wrote out another version in his letterbook, which he almost certainly intended to be the author’s copy of the letter. He ended up revising that version quite a bit as well. Another author’s copy of the letter appears two pages on in his letterbook. Because the receiver’s copy has not been found, it is impossible to tell if he made more changes in the final version that were not recorded in the copy he retained.

    Version 1: To [Richard Jackson]

    Boston 25 July 1769

    My Dear Sir, You have laid me under so many obligations I shall never be able to balance accounts with you. I always value your letters. Your last by young Mr Hallowell I valued the more because it was unexpected having received one not long before [illegible] ^was very welcome to me^.1

    My fears of consequences from the repeal of the revenue Act arose from the declared behaviour of people here, ^for^ upon any intimation given that ^such repeal may^ might be expected the next Session of Parliament [illegible] the Leaders immediately ^gave out^ that this ^Act is^ was scarcely an Object, they ^will^ would not be easy until all the Acts laying restraint upon our Trade should be repealed also.

    ^The most extraordinary resolutions of our Merchants a few days ago is at best proof of this Disposition^.2 It is dangerous for a Minister of State or the3 Parliament to promise or threaten any thing relative to America which they do not perform or execute. Be frequent changes of Administration & measures the people in America seem neither to hope nor fear any thing which can pass concerning them in England as they used to do. I remember thirty years ago how cautious the House of Representatives was at doing any thing at which the Parliament might have any room to take exception. At this day, not only the substance of their Resolves is derogatory from the authority of parliament but the language is contemptuous and insolent.4 It is with concern that I see this evil every day increasing and so little attention paid to it by Parliament it self. How shall it be remedied? Familiarize the Colonies to Acts of Parliament evidently calculated for their benefit and which will execute themselves. Many of this sort are necessary. I will take the liberty to mention one. In this and several other Colonies there is no court of Chancery nor any way of compelling Executors to give security duely to administer the Estate of their Testator. I suppose, in a few years, for want of such provision I have known 50 Estates wasted in one County in this province and many Creditors in England have been very great Sufferers. Now its highly reasonable that ^any^ Executor should give bond to perform or fulfill the will of his Testator with sureties in like manner as Administrators are obliged to do and the Objection that it would prevent a person from having such Executors as he should chuse by laying this burden upon them has no weight compared with the mischief of defrauding Creditors & Legatees. If Executors were restrained from acting or their acts declared null and void until such security was given people would not injure their property by doing any thing contrary ^or from opposition^ to such an Act of parliament. I mention this only as one instance among many others. The writ has not found its way into our Judicatories, but it will if much longer neglected.

    Grand Juries I have reason to think have dispensed with their Oaths because they have judged some of the Acts of trade unconstitutional and therefore the opposition to the execution of them not criminal, but this doctrine has never had the least countenance given to it by the Judges, I mean in the Superior Court, nor have the Bar been allowed to mention it though too many of them give in to all popular prejudices. Such Acts respecting the Colonies frequently repeated would tend to preserve this spirit in the Courts & destroy a contrary one in the people. The particular instance which I mention is of more importance because in many of the Colonies where a Testator proves insolvent the Executor becomes the Assignee of the Creditors & during, oftentimes, a long process for setling the Debts & Credit no judgment can be given in favour of any Creditor who may bring his Action and in the mean time the Estate is wasted. There is another case which would well deserve consideration. In most if not all the Colonies upon a persons absconding from his Creditors or being upon any occasion absent from the Province all his Effects whether Real Estate Chattels or Credits are liable to be attached by any one or more Creditors who often in this manner secure their whole debt & leave the rest without any part of theirs, and I have known in many instances all the Creditors been fully secured and the Creditors for ten times the Sums in England lose every farthing. Why surely this deserves the attention of Parliament. Should not all ^Creditors^ people in England come in for a share of an Insolvent Debtor’s Effects in America as well as Creditors in America come in for a share of such a Debtor’s Effects in England? I may perhaps lay more stress upon such a measure than it deserves. I think I have suggested something of this sort to you formerly, if I have you will forgive my repeating it.

    We know nothing in this Province of Sir Wm Johnson’s transactions with the Indians. I should think that measures for encouraging a large & extensive trade with them were to be favoured rather than for extending settlements into their Country. I think British America seems large & populous enough for their own benefit as well as the benefit of Britain.5

    I shall want & value your friendship and correspondence more than ever I did. A knowledge of the disposition of Parliament and what measures will probably be taken there will be extremely necessary for me. And your advice and counsel in every affair of moment I shall highly esteem. I say no more upon the present state of our Affairs because the Governor will tell you every circumstance. I am with the most sincere regard Your faithful and obedient Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    Dft 1 (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:317–20); unaddressed; the manuscript has been covered in its entirety with tape, making the text difficult to read.

    Version 2: To [Richard Jackson]

    My Dear Sir, You have laid me under so many obligrations I shall never be able to balance accounts with you. I have received any ^no^ Letters from you which I have not highly valued. ^Your last by young Mr Hallowell was more than I expected having received one but a little while before.^ I do not know wherein I differ in principle from you in matters of Government. My fears of the consequences of repealing the late Revenue Act arose from what I discovered observed in the opposers of parliamentary authority in this province some of them ^as soon as they heard of the intention^ not scrupling to declare that this particular Act was not the principal grievance. If this should be repealed they would not be easy until all the Acts restraining the Trade of the Plantations should be repealed also. Such unwarrantable designs made me doubt the expediency of shewing any favour until there should be a better prospect of our making a good use of it, but now that encouragement has been given by a circular letter to all the governments I do not see how a compliance with it can well be avoided.

    ^I never was for violent measures. Steady and uniform measures & moderate which the people here might see were taken up and persisted in meerly for the sake of preserving the Authority of Parliament always appeared to me to be most eligble. That Assembly stopped close from denying that they were held to obey every m[easure?]1 which might appear to them derogatory to their Rights as Englishmen because such dependence is incompatible with their being Subjects of Britain.2 I hoped to see effected.^3 To require an explicit acknowledgment of the Right ^I never proposed.^ I ^feared^ it would set all the people in America into a perfect Phrenzy. ^Nothing has weakned Government more than proposals for vigorous measures alarming to the opposers of Government here.^4 In this Province a due sense of government and of our obligation to submit to Acts of Parliament ^is continually lessening among the people in general.^ It has been preserved in our Courts of Judicature especially in the Supreme Court where I do not know that a doubt has ^ever^ arisen in the minds of the Judges or that it has been suffered in any instance ^to be made a^ question of by any of the barr though too many of them are disposed to encourage the people in their strong principles.

    Dft 2 (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:356); substantially revised; unaddressed; undated; MS is partially obscured by tape.

    Version 3: To Richard Jackson

    25 July [1769]

    My Dear Sir, You have laid me under so many obligations I shall never be able to balance accounts with you. I always value your Letters the last by young Mr Hallowell I valued the more because it was unexpected having received one not long before.

    My fear of consequences from the repeal of the Revenue Act arose from the behaviors of people here upon an intimation given which such repeal might be expected the next session of P. [illegible] immediately declared there was scarcely an Object they would not be easy until all the Acts laying restraint upon our trade see it Repealed also.

    Dear Sir, Your Letter by young Mr Hallowell I received with great pleasure. It is the behaviour of people in America which has made me doubt of favorable consequences from the repeal of the late Revenue Act for upon any intimation that such repeal may be expected the Leaders immediately give out that this Act is scarcely an Object. They do not intend to be easy until all the Acts laying restraint upon Trade shall be repealed. The late resolutions of the Merchants in Boston upon the receipt of a circular letter from Lord Hillsboro is one instance.1 However I have been rather of opinion that such repeal will not answer all the ends proposed than that it ought not to be prosecuted for if as you observe the Act is built on principles which must destroy all confidence between the Colonies & the Mother Country it ought not to be continued. If the Colonies misdemean & discover a disposition to resist the supreme authority perhaps laying taxes upon them is not the most natural nor constitutional way of preventing or punishing such misdemeanors. All who wish well both to the nation & the colonies agree that Parlt. ought not to suffer its authority to be lost but there really is danger of it and people grow more & more open every day.

    The third Resolve of our H of R expresses in relation to Taxes the Idea which the persons who drew it profess to have of all other Acts of Parliamt. as well as those for imposing taxes & the H first passed the Resolve in this form & the Clerk sufferd it to be published to try. I have no doubt how it wou[ld be] received but finding it rather too early many people being ala[rmed with] it the H disowned it & it was given out that tho it had [been voted] yet it was intended to ly upon the Table for a revisal and, some days after, it was revised & altered as we now see it.2

    I believe you are convinced that mere declaratory Resolutions tho of the L & C have no great effect.3 Sooner or later some thing more must be done to bring the people of the Colonies to submit to and acquiesce in the authority of Parl. so far as they shall judge proper to exercise it. I wish they may exercise it no farther than you have always declared yourself willing they should.

    We know nothing in this Province of Sir W Johnsons transactions with the Indians. I should think that measures for encouraging a large and extensive trade with them were to be favoured rather than those for extending settlements into their Country. I think British America large & populous enough for its own benefit as well as the benefit of Britain.

    I shall want & value your friendship & correspondence more than ever. A knowledge of the disposition of Parlt will be extremely necessary for me, your advice & council I shall highly esteem. I am with the most Sincere Regard Dear Sir Your faithful & obliged servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:358); partially dated; at head of letter, “Mr Jackson”; crossed out opening paragraphs are heavily abbreviated.

    386. To John Pownall

    25 July [1769]

    Sir, I have wished for sevral years past for an opportunity of making my self known to you. I flatter myself that having lived so long in perfect harmony with [Gov] Bernard he will when he arrives in England give you a favourable opinion of me and induce you to think me not altogether unworthy of your correspondence. I am sure it will always give me private & personal satisfaction & so long as His Majesty shall think it proper for me to continue Comander in chief here the publick will receive advantage from it for your information of the state of Amer. Affairs in England. Your opinion & advice upon measures to be taken here will always have great influence upon my conduct. I never knew a time [when] the Servants of the Crown stood more in need of advice. New [principles] are adopted in every Colony which a few years [ago] would have been thought to tend to mutiny & a revolt. Perhaps they are not carried to a greater length in any Colony than in this. It would be criminal to encourage or countenance them. They are so repugnant to the fundamental principles of government that I cannot but hope when people have the free use of their reason they will be convinced of the absurdity of them. I am with very great esteem Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:357); partially dated; at head of letter, “Jn Pownall Esq.”

    387. To Benjamin Franklin

    Boston 29 July 1769

    Dear Sir, I cannot omit my complements to you by Sir Francis Bernard who embarks on the Rippon to report to His M the state of the province which he is able to do in the fullest manner & is disposed to do in the most just & candid manner. I know his esteem for you & that he will be ready to acquaint you with all our late occurrences which renders it quite needless for me to do it. Only give me leave to remark upon them that the air of indecency & contempt which our publick proceedings carry with them can have no other tendency than further to provoke a power we cannot resist. And yet I hope some allowances will be made for them. They are the artful performances of one or two designing men whose political existence depends upon keeping up a flame & the greatest part of the men who vote for them see neither the design nor tendency of them. I shall be much obliged to you if you will communicate any occurrences relative to the Colonies which may be of use to me in my critical situation. I am with the utmost ^sincere^ regard and esteem,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:360); at head of letter, “Dr Franklin.” The editors of the Franklin Papers, citing this same copy (Franklin Papers, 16:182), state that Governor Francis Bernard carried this letter with him when he left Massachusetts on 2 August.

    388. To Thomas Whately

    29 July [1769]

    Dear Sir, As Gov Bernard embarks in this ship I will desire him to take the trouble of my Letters. I have often heard him speak of you with esteem & I know he will with pleasure give you a very just account of the present state of Am affairs of the great influence which a few men in this Colony who at any other time would be of no consequence have over all the rest & of the methods used to gain this influence viz by the most infamous falshoods raised every week & published in one of the papers of this town & in a paper at New York transmitted from hence as a Journal of Occurrences in the Town of Boston.1 Thus the credulous people thro’ the Country are prejudiced against every Servant of the Crown & against evry measure proposed by them. In this state of things my administration must be very burdensome & the success of it very precarious. It will excite in me the more caution & circumspection. If my friends in England will continue to favour me with advice of occurrences there relative to the Colonies it may be of great use to me. The S being at N York upon publick business will probably write to you from thence.2 I am with very great esteem Sir Your most Obedient humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:359); partially dated; at head of letter, “Mr Whately.”

    389. From Sir Francis Bernard1

    Boston July 29th 1769

    Sir, As I am going to leave the Province I think it proper to inform you that after the Death of the late King, the Council advised me to appoint Mr John Cotton & Mr William Cooper to be joint Registrars of the Court of Probates in the County of Suffolk they being then in the same Office: but that upon some Doubts of the form of such Appointment it was deferred for some time.2 In this Interval I discovered ^that^ Mr Cooper was so unfit to bear any Commission under the King, that I determined not to compleat this Appointment in Regard to him: but having no Objection to the Nomination of Mr Cotton, I should have made out a Commission to him, if I had not doubted of the Propriety of separating Persons named by a Joint Vote of Approbation: but I intended to have settled this Matter with the Council by the first Opportunity. In the mean Time the Faction which has harrast this Country by setting them in Opposition to the King & Parliament (in which Faction Mr Cooper was known to bear a principal Part) had gained so much Ground and created a general Intimidation amongst good Men who desired to be quiet, that I could not find a proper Opportunity to propose this Matter to the Council. I therefore left the Office to be executed under the former Commission, which appointment must be understood to continue while it was acquiesced in by the Judge. But being now leaving the Province I think it necessary to inform your ^Honour^ that there is no Commission of the Office of Registrar of the Court of Probates for the County of Suffolk granted by me since the Death of the late King; and therefore the Place, as I understand, is still vacant and remains to be filled up; and I must add that Mr William Cooper is (in my Opinion) a most unfit Man to serve the King in any Office whatsoever. I am with great Regard Sir Your most obedient humble Servant,

    Fr Bernard

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:321–22); in Thomas Bernard’s hand; at foot of letter, “The Honorable Lieut Govr Hutchinson”; endorsed, “Gov. Bernard 29 July 1769.”

    390. To Alexander Mackay1

    Boston 1 August 1769

    Sir, I have just now received information of an Affray at Cambridge on Sunday last and that there is the greatest reason to presume that one or both of the Gentlemen concerned in it are determined to seek their satisfaction in a way which probably will be attended with tragical consequences.2 The friends of both are interposing to obtain an accomodation. In the mean time I have thought it necessary to give my orders to the Sheriff of Middlesex to take every lawful method for preserving the peace and preventing any further Effects of this fray and I have also desired the Attorney General to be advising and aiding to the Sheriff for the purpose aforesaid. As Mr. Fenton one of the Gentlemen concerned is as I conceive under your direction and influence as Commander in chief of his Majesty’s regular forces within this Province, I take the liberty to ask your assistance in preserving the peace and to pray your interposition with regard to him that he may be restraned by such means as you think proper from taking or seeking satisfaction in an unlawful way. And I the rather ask it of you at this time because I have good reason to think our party disputes may be at the bottom of this private quarrel and that pursuing it any farther will tend to increas those Animosities which from a regard to his Majestys Service I know you are very desirous should wholly subside. I am with very great regard and esteem Sir Your most humble and most Obedient Servant,

    Thomas Hutchinson

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:323–24); at foot of letter, “Alexander Mackay.”

    391. From Andrew Oliver

    New York 7 August 1769

    Honourable & Dear Sir, I have duly receivd two of your Letters since my being in this City, the last of the 31 July, by which I find the Govr. was not then saild: I wish there may be a disposition in the people to make things quiet and render your situation easy, when he is gone: but I fear otherwise unless they are allowed to have their way. The Gentlemen in the highest Stations in Government here do not scruple to declare against the Revenue Acts & to avow the combinations of the People as the only means for obtaining their Repeal. The Governor seems to be quite easy about the matter, and would have been glad if the Repeals had taken place the last Session of Parliament.1 Perhaps you will neither think fit to adopt his System of politics, or Govr Bernards: it will require great adress to keep well with the People without going into some measures that would reflect on the Administration of your predecessor. I wish you Success.

    It looks by the tenor of some Letters from Engld. referred to by you & Mr R______ as well as my Son Billy, as tho’ the plan of Links, as it was once called, was like to take place: if so that Gentleman should give some Security for the proposed Annuity during my Life; but how would that operate in case his Life should fall first?2 If your time would allow, I should be extremely obliged to you, if as a Friend to both you could settle a Form for him to execute. There is a packet & another Ship to sail from hence about Sunday next, by which I intend to write. I am told by Mr. P. V. Livingston that one Dr Parker of this place informd him that Govr. Franklyn was to be appointed for the Massachusetts who was to be succeeded by one Mr Wharton of Philadelphia, a Quaker, and late Partner in a house stiled Baynton, Wharton & Morgan: they have faild for a large Sum, & it is said their Creditors in Engd. are pushing for the place in favour of Wharton; but this may be all random talk.3

    I know not whether Mr Seabury will go on with what I mentiond in my last without the explicit consent of the Parties concernd: if they think it a matter of any importance, I imagine a slight intimation of their minds would be sufficient.4

    We did not receive till Saturday last the joint proposals of the Agents of the two Colonies for a Survey; they have made it much shorter than their separate proposals did, & to day we are to have the Surveyors with Us in order to settle the Instructions under which they are to act; so that We shall now soon know what time they shall judge it will take for the purpose.5

    By an intimation in the last Boston Gazette, I am to expect to see my name in the black List of Importers, for I find that I have 2 Bales of Blankets for the Indians,6 & it looks by my Son Billys letter as if I had 3 Trunks consigned me per Jacobson; if so, they are Goods I did not order, I would be obliged to you for your Advice to my Son concerning them. I hear nothing from Engd. concerning the Board of Commissioners or of either of them separately. I could wish to hear of any particular matters, worth notice.

    I hope Mr. Flucker will be able to vindicate his character, and that he will do it with proper Spirit.7 I shall always esteem my Friends Letters while I remain in this ^place,^ and shall leave directions for taking up such as may arrive after I quit it, but the time I fear is not very near at hand; We shall know better when we have conversd with the Surveyors and agreed upon their Instructions. I am Honourable & Dear Sir Your affectionate Brother and most humble Servant,

    And Oliver

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:325–27); at foot of letter, “Honl Thos. Hutchinsons Esqr.”; addressed, “To the honle Thomas Hutchinson Esqr Lieutenant Governor &c of the Massachusetts Bay Boston”; endorsed, “AOliver’s Letter from NYork 7 Aug. 1769”; markings for postage.