Trusting in Parliament

    399. To Thomas Whately, 24 August 1769

    400. To Sir Francis Bernard, 26 August 1769

    401. To Samuel Hood, 30 August 1769

    402. To Unknown, [late August 1769]

    By late August 1769, Thomas Hutchinson was fully aware of how little he could do on his own, even in his position as acting governor, to protect those merchants who opposed nonimportation, and he looked to Parliament to enact a new law that would suppress unlawful combinations to restrain the trade of others. Hutchinson had concerns, though, that even if such a law was passed it was doubtful whether Massachusetts courts and juries would enforce it.

    399. To Thomas Whately

    Boston 24 Aug 1769

    My Dear Sir, I was straitned in time when Gen Mackay sailed or I would have wrote you by him.1 He will be able to give the H. a full information of the views of the people of this province or rather of the party who at present have the government in their hands for I cannot yet believe that if the people were left to act their free judgment the major part of them would ever consent to the schemes of this party. The absurd notion of an independent Legislature in each Colony consisting of the K by his G. the C & H of R really leaves us in no nearer relation to you than the Electorate of Hanover & yet this notion prevails in many places,2 and I am surprized to see it adopted in some of the late political pamphlets published in Engld. [This is]3 the natural consequence of setting bounds to the Supreme Authority of any Government be the form what it may.

    It seems therefore high time for all parties in Engd. to unite at least for this single purpose of preserving the connexion between the Nation & the Colonies. A thousand declaratory Acts will have no Effect. Penal Acts without some further provision for carrying them into execution will be but little better. Tests are very disagreeable things. I fear that if an explicit acknowledgment of all persons in publick office of the Right of Parliamt. to legislate for the Colonies should be required there would be such a general clamor that no body would think it safe to make such acknowledgment & government would be at an end. Military forces at present are of little service for maintaining civil government as they can never be employed except when the civil Magistrate calls them to his aid. If they are at liberty to act without the civil Magistrate this will be changing civil government into military, which ought to be the last remedy & never continue a moment longer than a cure is effectd. What can be done then you will say. I can think of nothing but what will produce as great an evil as that which it may remove or will be of a very uncertain event. The uncertainty of the event is not however an objection sufficient against an experiment for if nothing is done ruin & destruction are certainly coming upon us with a swift pace. I am sometimes in a state of despair when I see measures taken in England which have the most direct tendency to strengthen the Ameris. in their opposition to Pt. The Cargo of Letters lately imported attested by the H. of C. must have this tendency & I think it fortunate for Gov Bernard that he is out of the reach of the people who are so much incensed at the contents of them.4

    ^The Effect of express penalties for unlawful combinations in the Colonies against the Authority of Parlt. is one of the uncertain Events I intend. Whether Grand Juries would find a Bill or Petty Juries convict for any offence I am not sure. They may take it into their head that an Act of Parl. is not Law for them or that it is an unconstitutional Act or some such absurdity. But such an Act would at least have this effect. It would be a Trial how far the Authority of Parlt. is ownd in the Colonies & if in defiance of the Act Offences against it were openly tolerated it would make the necessity of some extra measures still more evident.^5

    There is a general expectation of the repeal of the Duties upon paper Glass & painters colours. The people of this town say that will not satisfy them & that they will cease importing goods until all other Duties are taken off. How the late menacing Resolves of the Merchants will be resented by Parlt I may not guess. Former Resolves & Confederacies of the same sort tho’ not quite so high have been passed over with little or no notice. Can it be supposed that the authority of any Government can be maintained when so flagrant a defiance of it is passed by with impunity? For particular persons to forbear importing cannot be deemed criminal, but it is quite another thing for numbers to confederate together & compel others to join them & all with an avowed design to force the Legislature to repeal their Acts. I think these combinations are more dangerous than the Riots & Tumults which have been so justly condemned. In Carolina Virginia Pensilv. NY & Massa. they are said to be constitutional. One would think that evry man of comon sence must be convinced they are utterly incompatible with a state of government. Mr. Oliver writes me from NYork the 17 Instant.6 “I find by my brother Randolph7 that the Virginians approve of the combinations against importing from G. Britain, as constitutional & the only effectual measures for repealing the Revenue Acts but they disclaim all Acts of Violence & the illiberal resolutions & publications in our Government are generally disgusting to the people in the So Governments.8 I am very sure that until some thing is done by Parlt to suppress them they will continue, there not being internal authority in either of those Colonies to punish the offenders. I beg you to favour me with your opinion as soon as you can form it what Parlt will do to strengthen its authority. I am with the most sincere regard and esteem Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:367–68); at head of letter, “Mr Whately.”

    400. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 26 Aug. 1769

    No. 3

    Dear Sir, If something is not done the next Session of Parlt to suppress combinations against their Acts all other measures will be to no purpose. The Merchants have a Committee who are continually employed in examining where every person buys his goods and if any are suspected of purchasing them from an Importer they are examined and brot upon trial and if convicted must either enter into the confederacy or be proscribed. Mr. R.Clark came to me and made an the Apology for his joining them.1 He said his refusal must have hurt him and his sons so much in their business that he could by no means bear the loss and submitted when his judgment was as much against the measure as ever. He added that if the Ringleaders had been rendered incapable of bringing an Action in any of the Kings Courts when these combinations were first set on foot he should not have been compelled to join them now. However severe this punishment may seem it is not greater than what they inflict upon all who will not comply with what they require. My sons tell me they do what little business they are able to do by stealth like smugglers and are forced to sell everything under the market price as no body will run the risque of trading with them unless they can make considerable profit. I advise your son and them however to persevere until they see what is done in Parliament.2 If nothing is done they must either quit business or do as every body else does.

    The Act of Parlt for suppressing what was called the Land bank in 1741 subjected all who continued that scheme to the penalties of the Statute of premunire.3 I remember some of them appeard very stout & said they would not submit but Choate & Hale & others who were most sensible among them prevailed on the rest by a publick Instrument to declare their resolution to cease from any further prosecution of their scheme & to dissolve their combination.4 At that time, indeed, Acts of Parlt had not been questioned I mean their authority. I think even at this day few people would run the risque of incurring the penalty whatever principles they profess. I am so short sighted that I cannot see it to be less criminal to conspire to dispossess all the 3 branches of the Legislature of their authority than one of them only and yet the first is done every day with impunity and the last is a capital & the highest offence. I hope to know from you what will probably be done in Parlt & I shall rely very much upon your judgment.

    My late Letters from several of my friends suppose you will be provided for upon your arrival & that I am destined for your Successor. One Gentleman congratulates me on the certain prospect of my being appointed to the Government of this or some other province. If it should be another province and I should decline it yet I should retire with more honour than if I should resign my place of Ch Just Lieut. Gov. upon the appointment of a new Governor without any mark of Royal favour conferred upon me and my time of life would with my family connexions excuse my not removing out of the province which I shall never willingly do unless it be for some special service & a short time only. It cannot be expected I should continue LG. As Ch Just I should be of more service without the Commission than with it.

    I will inclose Thursdays paper, Edes & Gills, which I have not sent, by the next.5 I am Sir Your faithful and most Obedient Servant,

    Lady Bernard is at Stafford.6 I have not heard of Mr. Logans return.7 Your son Frank is gone with Goldthwate to Fort Pownall.8

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:368–69); large sections obscured by tape; at head of letter, “Sr Fr Bernard”; marked, “By [illegible] of Leith” for ship transport. Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 18 December 1775.

    401. To Samuel Hood

    Boston 30 Aug 1769

    My Dear Sir, I thank you for your favour of the 21st by the Deal Castle Cap Jacobs.1 I think we are in at least such a state as when you left us.2 I have given my [illegible] to let Captain Jacobs know that there is no special occasion for detaining the Rose and I suppose Colonel Dalrymple and the Comissioners are of the same opinion. We have not a word of news from England since Captain Scott.3 If any thing remarkable arrives I will transmit it to you the 1 opportunity and I shall be obliged to you if upon any fresh intelligence you will do me the like favour. The proceedings in America of the past summer have been so alarming that I cant help telling myself that the heads of the several parties in England will see the necessity of uniting for the single purpose of restoring Government in the Colonies for the avowed opposition affects all parties and the whole body of the nation ought to resent it. If we had no partisans there we should soon return to [the] condition we were in before the Stamp act. I hope to see the day. I am with sincere regard Dear Sir Your most Obedient humble Servant,

    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:369); substantially revised; much of the MS is obscured by tape; at head of letter, “Commodore Hood.”

    402. To Unknown

    [late August 1769]1

    I had a great dependance on Mr Clark but when Simpson went over the faction triumphed & threatned the few that stood out with the ruin of their business and it was purely from an apprehension that a fear of this that he was induced to comply:2 He came to me afterwards and made this Apology for himself, lamented that the Parliament had taken no notice of these criminal confederacies when they first began & observed that if the Ring Leaders had been punished by being rendered for ever incapable of bringing an Action in any of the Kings Courts it would have effectually put a stop to the mischief and though such a punishment may appear severe it is really not a thing more th greater evil than what they are now resolutely bent to bring on a few innocent persons who will not comply with ^join in^ their unlawful combination. My sons tell me that but very few people who used to deal with them dare do it now and what those few do is by stealth and they are forced to submit to the loss of 3 or 4 per Cent to tempt them to continue their trade with them. What has been sometimes mentiond in conversation between us I mean advisability of sustaining any Office as mush as if they were naturally dead would have the same effect with many persons. This I remember is the penalty in the Act of Geo. 2d. against Bribery & Corruption in Elections.3 But there must first be a conviction and I am told that Molineux said at the last Merchants meeting they would always be sure of Eleven jury men in Twelve, ^however sanguine he may be^ I am not sure of it myself.4 An Act may be made so plain that no Jury man could find a hole to creep out and I think if I sat as Chief Justice I should ^be able^ sometimes to keep them from giving a Verdict directly against their Oaths. But who will prosecute. Nobody unless ^would as things now stand. But if^ provision be made that the Attorney General shall when he enter upon his Office be under Oath to be faithful in his Office the discharge of his Trust and the Act expressly oblige him to bring informations in all such cases as come to his knowledge ^he could not avoid prosecuting.^ But who would be Attorney General? No body as that Office now stands. But if 300 a year was annexed to it a good man may be found and Putnam I am very certain would engage in it.5 I remember what your opinion was of the Salaries of the Judges of the Admiralty ^that^6 if they had been one or two hundred a year less and this ^saving^ distributed to other Officers it would have been more for the services. We are in the case of a man who is under a Distemper which will infallibly kill him ^if let alone^ unless his cure should be effected by some violent medicine. Until these combinations in Merchants meetings which have no colour of Law & in town meeting when under pretence of Law they assume powers the Law never intended them which aggravates the Offence are suppressed Government cannot be restored. That effect would ^Some have proposed^ an Instruction under the Kings Sign Manual ^or by an Order in Council^ to the Governors of those Colonies where those Combinations have prevailed never to appoint certain persons ^three or four perhaps^7 who had been most active to any Office nor consent to any Elections made them. This would make them more popular. In answer it ^may be^ said ^that^ some of them are very ambitious of Title & Rank & ^that^ it would be a great mortification ^to 2 or 3 in this Province in particular^ to know they are forever excluded from ^coming into the Council^ and ^as^ this is [illegible] away may be done from time to time when once a precedent

    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 27:280–81); unaddressed; undated; MS fragment (bottom of the page is torn off).

    403. To Unknown1

    Boston 1. September 1769

    Dear Sir, I am very glad to hear you have recovered a good state of health and are in a capacity of doing service for your Country as well as advancing your private Interest in both which I sincerely wish you success. I hope the Governor is by this time in England. Good Policy as well as Common Justice must secure to him a reward for his fidelity to his Royal Master & a compensation for the most illiberal inhuman treatment he has received in his Government. In a late Grubstreet Dialogue and in every Edes & Gill I am attacked tho’ not with the same Brutality.2 We may know without the least doubt who is the Author of slanders scattered about in loose printed pieces and news papers ^and yet it may be^ impossible to ^procure evidence to convict the reputed Author of the Dialogue.^ I never had any personal difference with him, and I am sure his ^prejudice against^ me must proceed meerly from Envy. ^He eases himself in some degree of the torment the passage gives him^ for in these times the most improbable insinuations to the disadvantage of a person in publick station are believed ^at least for a time^ and there is no Remedy but patience.

    I tremble for my Country. I wished to leave its Constitution at my death in the same state it was in at my birth. They that have done most to endanger it are least concerned about it. Indeed some of them have ^are very^ little ^interested in it.^ The proceedings of the House of Representatives, of the Town of Boston and, to crown ^above^ all, the late Tyranny of the Merchants will fill a large Budget which no doubt will be opened as soon as Parliament meets. They are all in print and the Language of them ^I am sorry to say is^ too plain to need any comment. ^Several other Colonies who are Kings Governments have gone near the same length & the Council of New York are as much sons of Liberty as our Council.^ It is a great misfortune that no way could be found to prevent the copies of all publick ^the^ Letters ^laid before the H of Commons ^from being sent over to America.3 The spirit which had been raised against you had pretty well subsided. It does not now rise again equal to that against Mr Harrison for they looked upon him as rather friendly, & therefore are the [more enraged to]4 be thus disappointed. I am really [glad they] did not arrive before the Governor sailed.

    We have had a general calm for a month past except now & then a little flurry ^among the Merchants^ about importations. [To carry on] the metaphor which is familiar to you I aim [at nothing] more than with an easy sail to keep the Ship [in her c]ourse until a better Helmsman comes and takes [charge] of her.

    I should be glad to hear from my friends ^as early as may be^ what is like to be done in [MS torn] and what is the gen[eral sense of the Nation] upon the late ^confederacy^ of the M[erchants. I am Sir Your most obedient humble] Servant,

    I am told that M[r. Waldo] Mr. Pa[pneur] & you live under one roof.5 Please to make my Compliments to them.

    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:370–71); TH originally wrote out this version cleanly as if he intended to send it but then revised it and kept it as his AC instead; substantially revised with sections cut or torn; unaddressed.