Three important non-epistolary documents appear to belong to the period 1767–1769, but where within that period they should be placed is much less certain. Bernard Bailyn published the best known of them, “A Dialogue between an American and a European Englishman,” in 1975 in Perspectives in American History 9:343–410. Internal evidence clearly indicates that another document, begun as a letter, became a draft for the “Dialogue,” since significant parts of it were subsequently incorporated into the larger document. The third document, just a few fragmentary pages, argues that increased taxes on American trade will result in diminished consumption of British manufactures and logically pertains to the debate over the Townshend duties. The three documents are contained in either Massachusetts Archives volumes 25 or 28, which were gathered together from loose papers well after Hutchinson’s death and are not necessarily arranged in chronological order. Therefore, we can glean little information about the documents in question from their placement in these volumes.

    Malcolm Freiberg, working with Hutchinson’s papers in the 1950s, initially hypothesized that Hutchinson wrote the “Dialogue” sometime between 9 August and 28 September 1768. Though inclined to be less precise, Bailyn also agreed that the “Dialogue” and the “Draft Treatise” belong to the spring and summer of 1768, a time of year when Hutchinson often retired to his country house in Milton and had more leisure to write. In his introduction in Perspectives, Bailyn cited a letter Hutchinson wrote in April 1768 to William Bollan, mentioning the need for “an ingenious writer” who “would keep the mean between a slavish subjection on the one hand and absolute independence on the other” (No. 312, above). The previous winter John Dickinson in his Letters from a Farmer essays achieved widespread popularity, and perhaps Hutchinson himself felt stimulated to take up the polemical challenge of Dickinson’s powerful arguments.

    Bailyn also theorized that another reason Hutchinson began to write in a more extensive format at that time was that he had just begun corresponding with Thomas Whately in May 1768, (No. 315, above). Writing to Whately always called forth Hutchinson’s deepest thinking and broadest perspective. The most explicit link between the “Dialogue” and letters written to Whately occurs in what is perhaps Hutchinson’s most famous letter (No. 357, above), written on 20 January 1769, in which he comments, “There must be an abridgment of what is called English Liberty,” a phrase he would rue once his letters were published by his patriot enemies in 1773. The idea does seem to have echoes of a passage in the “Dialogue,” where Hutchinson observes that by removing from one part of the empire to another where they could no longer be represented in Parliament, the colonists “must be abridged of some of the rights of Englishmen.”

    Eric Nelson’s The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2014) called for a reconsideration of the dating of the “Dialogue” because of the way in which it systematically reexamines the charters of the American colonies and briefly considers, if only to refute, what Nelson calls “dominion” theory. That idea maintains that the colonies were founded solely by the monarch as new, self-governing political entities within the empire. Therefore, new colonies were not part of the realm of England and Parliament held no sway over them. Hence, colonists could still be loyal subjects of the king while refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of Parliament.

    The publication in London in early 1769 by William Knox of The Controversy between Great Britain and Her Colonies Reviewed: The Several Pleas of the Colonies in Support of All Their Liberties and Privileges as British Subjects, Stated and Considered; and the Nature of Their Connection with, and Dependence on, Great Britain, Shewn, upon the Evidence of Historical Facts and Authentic Records raised the question of the constitutional status of the colonies. Knox argued that if their inhabitants were not subject to the Acts of Parliament, they could not be part of the empire. Knox’s pamphlet drew forth an answer later in the year from Edward Bancroft, an American living in Britain, in his Remarks on the Review of the Controversy between Great Britain and Her Colonies. Since Bancroft lays out the “dominion” theory in its fullest form, Eric Nelson believes his pamphlet to be “the most influential patriot text of the early 1770s.”

    So did Hutchinson write the “Dialogue” as a response to Bancroft, or did his ideas simply anticipate later developments in the imperial debate? We know that Israel Mauduit sent Hutchinson a copy of Knox’s Controversy in February 1769 (No. 363, above), which he did not receive until the following April, and that he read and approved enthusiastically of what Knox had written (See Nos. 369 and 375, both above). We do not know that Hutchinson ever read Bancroft’s reply to Knox, which was not published in the colonies until 1772. It is not impossible that the “Dialogue” could have been written as late as 1769, but several internal clues point to 1768 as the likely date.

    The “Draft Treatise” includes at least several explicit quotations from Dickinson, and therefore, it could not have been written before 21 December 1767 when Dickinson’s first letters were published in Boston. Three topical references within the “Dialogue” also suggest 1768 (although they do not preclude later composition). First, Hutchinson alludes in the “Dialogue” to plans to establish an Anglican bishop in America, a topic that agitated the Massachusetts General Court in its winter session in 1768 (No. 290, above). Second, Hutchinson mentions rioting in England. News of severe rioting following the massacre in St. George’s Field, when on 10 May British Regulars shot down eleven supporters of John Wilkes, would have reached Boston in late summer 1768. Last, Hutchinson comments on violent treatment of customs informants, a topic that was on his mind in November 1768 (No. 339, above). Thus, although a later date cannot be categorically denied, these three bits of internal evidence taken together with the fact that Hutchinson does not appear to quote or paraphrase Knox or Bancroft, seem to suggest he wrote the “Dialogue” sometime between the late spring and fall of 1768.

    Bernard Bailyn and Harvard University have graciously agreed to the reprinting of his transcription of the “Dialogue” together with the notes he produced in 1975. The “[Statement Relative to the Effect upon Trade of the Imposition of Custom Duties]” and the “Draft Treatise” precede the “Dialogue” so that readers may perceive the relationship among the three.