Renewed Efforts at Enforcing Nonimportation
504. To John Pownall, 14 January 1770
505. From Thomas Gage, 14 January 1770
506. From Richard Jackson, 15 January 1770
507. From Lord Hillsborough, 18 January 1770
508. From Nathaniel Rogers, 19 January 1770
509. To William Phillips and the People Assembled at Faneuil Hall, 23 January 1770
510. From Israel Williams, 23 January 1770
512. To Thomas Gage, 24 January 1770
513. To Lord Hillsborough, 24 January 1770
514. To Sir Francis Bernard, 27 January 1770
515. To Samuel Hood, 29 January 1770
When the news arrived that Philadelphia and New York did not concur with the proposal to extend the nonimportation agreement until all the Revenue Acts were repealed, some merchants assumed that they could once again sell imported goods after 1 January 1770, the original expiration date of the agreement. Fearing that those merchants who had imported in contravention of the agreement would gain an advantage by being first on the market with much-sought-after imports, the nonimporters decided at their meeting on 17 January that sales could not begin again until after the arrival of spring goods, thus giving an equal opportunity for all to take advantage of pent-up demand. Committees of inspection began to call on those who had already recommenced sales, among whom were, most notably, the acting governor’s two sons, Thomas Jr. and Elisha Hutchinson. Derisively described in the patriot press as “The Children,” Thomas and Elisha had been in trouble with the merchants’ committee before. William Phillips, the chairman of the merchants’ meeting, showed Hutchinson a “minute” of his sons’ agreement with the committee of inspection; the meeting was later presented in such a way as to suggest that Hutchinson had somehow agreed to the arrangement. Freed at last from charges of parental self-interest, Hutchinson decided to act. Failing to persuade either the Council or the justices of the peace to proceed against the merchants, he himself sent a message to their 23 January meeting warning them of the illegality of their proceedings and suggesting that the wealthier participants might find themselves liable for damages caused by any action of the group. Unconvinced, the merchants reasserted the legality of their meeting and disregarded his message, though Hutchinson congratulated himself that he had perhaps frightened some of their number and hastened the meeting’s adjournment.
Boston 14 January 1770
Dear Sir, By the Paoli James Hall I sent to England to be delivered to the Lords of the Admiralty one Thomas Austin who appears to have been a principal Actor in the late inhuman piratical action on board the Ship Black Prince. This person was apprehended & committed by one Mr Quincy a Justice of Peace upon information made to him and the Justice made a report of his doings to me to give orders concerning him.1
By the London Packet Robert Caleb I sent in like manner one William Marshall another of the same crew.2 Upon a rumor & representation to me of such a rumor that there was such a suspicious person at Marthas Vineyard I examined several persons who came from Hispaniola in the same Vessel with him. I thereupon issued my own Warrant sent a person express & caused Marshall to be apprehended & brought before me and it appears by his own confession that he was one of the Company whether a principal or not will appear upon his trial or further examination in England.
What I have done in ^both^ these trials ^cases^ was meerly in the course of my Duty nor did I then know that any reward was offered but am since informed that 100£ is promised by the King’s Proclamation for the discovery of each of the Principal Offenders. Whether both or either of these cases will come within the Proclamation or whether it would be in character for me to appear in any claim of this sort I am uncertain and therefore shall suspend taking any step and beg the favour of you to inform me what or whether anything may be done with propriety.
This Vessel tarrying until the 27 Jan I am to mention to you an Attempt made by the Non Importers to compel 8 or 9 Importers who had agreed not to sell as they understood it until the 1st of Jan. to refrain a month or two longer until others sold.3 Nothing could be more arbitrary but I could not get the C______ to take one step to discourage the Attempt. They thought the agreement ought to be complied with & upbraided me with two of my sons being Parties. After two days I thought I should be much better able to support the rest without them & they conceded to keep their goods.4 The others having Assurance of every thing I could do for their support withstood all the demands & menaces of the Combination & I think this will be the last attempt. I hope I shall receive such Instructions by the next Packet as may induce the Council to join with me in some measures to break up the Confederacy. If they should be induced it will be from fear of the consequences which may follow upon their refusal. I beg leave to refer you to a more particular account I have wrote to Gov Bernard. I am with great regard Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:433–34). Contemporary printings: Remembrancer for the Year 1775, 1st ed., p. 121 (only part of the last paragraph); Boston Gazette, 19 June 1775; New England Chronicle, 22 June 1775; Norwich Packet, 26 June 1775; Massachusetts Spy, 28 June 1775.
New York January 14th: 1770
Sir, The proroguing of your Assembly, which you are pleased to acquaint me with, in your Favor of the 4th: Instant, is not a Matter of Surprize to me;1 for certainly the Extraordinary Resolves at their last Session, deserve a due Deliberation and some Determination, on the part of Government, before they are permitted to Sit again.
I am pleased that you approved of my Opinion about the Main Guard, and assure you my Opinion respecting it, was the same last Year, which I communicated to General Mackay, and wished it had then been removed: Notwithstanding, I was sensible, it would have had no good Effect at that time, further than to shew in ourselves, a Readiness to comply with every thing, that had the least Appearance of Reason.2 I am with great Regard, Sir, &ca
AC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); marked, “Copy”; at foot of letter, “Honble: Lieut: Govr: Hutchinson.”
Southampton Buildings 15 Jany 1770
Dear Sir, Since my last I have received two of your Letters of the 4th & 20 Oct.1 I have also received the 2d Parcel of Books, of which I shall endeavour to dispose of according to your Orders, as far as they ^your orders^ go & according to the best of my Judgments for the rest. I shall add Lord North & some others to your last list. I have already disposed of the 2 Supernumerays of the former volumes.2 I believe one was for Ld Dupplin now Ld Kinnoul who has been many years in Scotland. I do not apprehend there is any occasion for the Caution, you understand me to have given, I cannot now call to mind the Expression I might use, nor even the Occasion or view of it but am sure I never thought Prudence required, you should confine your Marks of Respect to any Body, Party, or Description of Men.3 There are Respectable Men of every Party & Denomination; & I am not so far attached myself to any Party, but that I treat every man myself with the Regard due to his Character, even when it is lessened or sullied by foibles less excusable than those of Party, [because?] less common. I think I may say I am [illegible] you think as I do on this head, & Prudence does not require that a man should conceal this Disposition, though it is true a Party seldom forgives essential aid given to the Opposite Party against themselves.
But as it requires no man to treat with personal Respect the individuals of all Parties, so it will be of his to every man to enjoy the good opinion of all Parties, & this is possible; & I assure you, that I believe you do so, in England. How far it may be possible to [prove?] it, I dare not say, for a Reason I mentioned a little while ago. Unfortunately the Affairs of America are become Party Objects in England, had they never come into Parliament, they could not have been so, the Mischief that has followed their being brought thither I have many times foretold & lamented. I shall only say that I most sincerely believe that if the unhappy Disorders not occasioned simply by these Measures be to be remedied no Man in the World can do it, in your Province better than yourself.
I am therefore sincerely happy in hearing you are to be appointed Governor. I hope it will be agreeable to yourself & believe it might be more so in time, because though I well know that a spirit of tumult & discontent do not subside at once (especially where the discontent of honest men, has long supported the licentiousness of the bad) yet I cannot but think that a Repeal of the last Revenue Act could finally break the Combinations & by degrees cool the Province. But perhaps this measure will not be taken, & if it is, I believe, will be accompanied with some Parliamentary censure of the Combinations.4 I am glad you seem to approve the last measures, because nothing but your Approbation, gives it any degree of favor in my eyes. Because though I condemn the Associations, & am inclined to think them illegal, I do not like impotent condemnation, of any kind, nor do I approve the involving multitudes, some of those might otherwise friends of Government, if they were not thus, so politically united. [illegible] I am free to own those Mischiefs may be avoided for ought I [illegible], & heartily wish they may. I have no Communication with Ministry on the Subject, at least have not yet had.
The Situation of Ministry here is not like to be more easy than it has been, Lord Camden is out, which will not probably contribute to our Quiet here on American Subjects.5 Had he continued in, I think, I may say & know he would have moderated the heat of some others in Administration on those Subjects; Whereas his situation in Opposition, will not have that Effect. I wish I may be mistaken, but I wish the Councils of those he has left behind him, are so wise as his would have been. We have a melancholy prospect here, not likely to impart the Authority wanting in America. But I trust to Providence. I am dear sir with great sincerity of Regard your most obedient & most humble Servant.
I take the Liberty of inclosing a Line to Mr Oliver.
RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 22:554–55a); at foot of letter, “To the Honble Thos Hutchinson Eq Lt Gov of his Majtys Province of the Massachusetts Bay.”; endorsed, “W Jackson 15 Jany 1770.”
Whitehall, Jan. 18th. 1770
Sir, Inclosed I send you the King’s Speech to His Parliament at the opening of the Session on the 9th instant, together with the Addresses of both Houses, and His Majesty’s gracious Answers thereto.1
The Notice which is taken in the King’s Speech of the Associations to obstruct & distress the Commerce of Great Britain with her Colonies, and what is expressed in the Addresses of both Houses of their Resolution to take such Steps as shall discountenance and make effectual Provision against these unwarrantable Measures, render it unnecessary for me to trouble you with any Observations of my own upon what you state in your Letters Ns. 9 & 10, respecting such Associations, and the violent Acts and Proceedings of those who countenance them.2
I trust that the Measures of Parliament will be such as will be effectual to suppress these Confederacies, to give Support to lawful Authority, and that Relief and Protection to the honest Subject, which he is justly entitled to from the Government under which he lives.
The Step His Majesty has thought fit to take in recommending the State of His Colonies to the Consideration of Parliament, necessarily suspends all further Determination upon it in any other way; it is therefore His Majesty’s Pleasure that the sitting of the Assembly should not be postponed beyond the Time of its usual Meeting, or to which you may have prorogued it in consequence of my Letter to you of the 4th. of November;3 and His Majesty is not without hope, from the Reliance He has on your Prudence and Discretion, that the public Business of the Colony may be carried on with Temper and Moderation, and a due Respect to the Laws and Constitution.
It has given the King great Concern to find by Dispatches from Major General Gage, that notwithstanding the decent and exemplary Behaviour of the Troops at Boston, they have been exposed to very great Insult and Indignity from the Populace, without any Protection from the Civil Magistrate.
The Reports of the commanding Officer at Boston contain many Facts & Apprehensions, relative to these Insults ^that are very alarming,^ and therefore, though none of your Letters to me contain any Intelligence of this Nature, yet His Majesty has thought fit, in consequence of those Reports, to command me to recommend to Major General Gage a careful Attention to what passes at Boston, and to re-inforce Col. Dalrymple in case it shall appear to be necessary; and though the King is sensible of the weak State of His Government in the Massachuset’s Bay, His Majesty nevertheless expects that you should, in both your Capacities, exert the utmost Activity in supporting the Constitution, and in giving to all His Subjects that Protection, which the Authority of the Chief Magistrate may be able to afford them.
The King having thought fit to take the Great Seal out of the hands of Lord Camden, it was yesterday delivered to Mr. Chas. Yorke, and it is His Majesty’s Intention that he should be immediately called up to the House of Lords. I am &c:
SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 21–22); at head of letter, “Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/765, ff. 71–74); at head of letter, “Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 31).” SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 43, 1:115); partial copy beginning with the third paragraph; at head of letter, “Lord Hillsborough to Lieute Governor Hutchinson Whitehall Jany 18st. 1770.”
Boston Friday 9 o’Clock Jan 19, 1770
Sir, A great number of men came in a body and assembled before my House Yesterday at half past three in the afternoon & William Mollineux their Spokesman, knocked at the front door & asked if I was at home,1 the Servant said I dined abroad he then asked for Mrs Rogers and he was told that she dined abroad. He then asked if I was at the Warehouse, the servant said he could not tell, he then turned about & said to the multitude, that Mr Rogers was not at home, & they might disperse, which they did, but attempting to Huzza he said aloud that they had behaved like Gentlemen hitherto & desired them to desist from Huzzaing which they did accordingly leaving word by Mr Molineux that they should come to me at 10 o’Clock this morning. I think it my duty to lay this transaction before your Honor, that you may take such steps as necessity shall require. I am with the greatest respect Sir Your Honors Most Obedient Servant,
RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:351–51a); at foot of letter, “His Honor The Lieut Govr. & Commander in Chief.”
509. To William Phillips and the People Assembled at Faneuil Hall
Boston 23d. Jany. 1770
Sir, As you act in the Capacity of a Moderator of an Assembly of people at Faneuil Hall, I send you a paper herewith, and I expect from you, that you forthwith cause it to be read to them.
By the Lieutenant Governor
To the People assembled at Faneuil Hall
Boston 23d. Jany. 17701
I should be culpable if I should any longer omit to signify to you my sentiments upon your Proceedings. Your assembling together for the purposes for which you profess to be assembled cannot be justified by any authority or Colour of Law. Your going from house to house, and making demands of the delivery of Property, must strike the people with terror from your great numbers, even if it be admitted that it is not done in a tumultuous manner, and is of a very dangerous tendency.
Such of you as are Persons of Character, Reputation and Property expose yourselves to the Consequences of the irregular Actions of any of your number, who have been assembled together, although you may not approve of them, and although it may be out of your Power to restrain them.
Therefore as the Representative of his Majesty who is the Father of his people, I must from a tender regard to your Interest caution you; and as cloathed with Authority derived from his Majesty, I must enjoin & require you without delay to separate and disperse, and to forbear all such unlawful Assemblies for the future, as you would avoid those Evils to which you may otherwise expose yourselves, and your Country.2
SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, f. 44); at foot of letter, “To Wm. Phillips Esqr.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, f. 12); at foot of letter, “To William Phillips Esqr.” SC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers, enclosed in No. 512, below); at foot of letter, “To William Phillips Esqr. a true Copy Attest: Jno. Cotton Secry.”
Hatfield 23d January 1770
Sir, I set out for Court with a view to reward my friends and others who had Served the Province, and prevent as much as in my power their being ill treated and abused; I had not the least expectation of being further Serviceable at this day. The Sword is drawn, the longest will carry it. I expected a dissolution of the Assembly, coud orders been got here timely: but it is otherwise.1
Is it ever, Sir, to meet or only to hear their doom. I dont see any probabilty of the Determinations of Parliament reaching us by the 14th of March. If patience and condescension was not likely to be misinterpreted and abused, I Shoud wish for a further tryall; but alas what can be hop’d for, from a deluded People, under the influence of some mad distracted Persons here and at home.
Pride Ambition and self Will has ruined Republicks formerly, it may be so again, and the Colonists too late have to lament their unhappy fate. The contentions and clamours at home and here, were a very threatning aspect, and forebode a Revolution. Deus avertat omen.2
I know not fully your honors sentiments, but every Step almost that has been taken by the Americans, appear to me calculated to defeat the end they are professedly pursuing. I am as much for liberty, for supporting the rights of the Colonys and for taking every prudent reasonable measure to maintain and defend them, as any of my Countrymen. But I differ widely from the generality, as to what they are, wherein they have been invaded, and also as to the methods for redress.
I wish the Board of Commissioners were dissolvd, coud the duty be duly collected without ’em: I cant see why they may’nt.3 If the Revenue Act be repeal’d, I suppose there will be an end of them. As to anything else; question whether we Shall be much the better: can We expect to be excus’d from the Duties and Taxes we complain of? or rather Shall we not be oblig’d to pay ’em and probably greater, only in a more imperceptible way. I see no way of avoding it, but by setting up Independency and in that dispute and Struggle the mother Country, will be, (at this day) too hard for the Colonys; and the Brittish Legislature will not only assert their Supreme Authority but carry their Acts and orders into Execution; how easy it is for them to distress us in a variety of ways, and if consistent with their Interest undoe us finally. The provocations are great, but may we not hope the Parliament will be tender of us; and the King exercise Clemency and forbearance, in imitation of that glorious Being, by whom he reigns. We have nothing now but to wait the events.
The Merchants, are acting an Arbitrary imperious part, which is a recent proof, that neither Character or Property will be long secure, with the Assistance that Government can afford. If the Grand Seignior wants Bashaws, America, can fully Supply him.4
Will Governor Bernard return, may we not be permitted to enjoy one, in whom the major part can and will confide. I fear your honor will have a troublsome time for a while. Prudence and Resolution will Surmount all. You have some bad neighbours; its likely their influence will fail, the People see their mistake in hearkening to ’em and after a few more efforts, matters will come to rights. Envy and malice have not been permitted to Injure your Person Character nor property except in once instance, which has been in some measure repaird.5 A kind Providence I trust watches over you Still for good.
It has been often in my mind to propose to your honor, the appointing Mr. Jonathan Ashley jr. and Mr. Jonathan Bliss Justices for the County of Hampshire, they were two of the Rescinders, have been cruelly treated, are both friends to Government.6 Also Mr. Samuel Todd and Mr. Woodbridge Little ^also Joseph Bennet Esqr, who was a Justice in the Colony of Rhode Island, has been some years time settled near [Lanesborough], is a Gentleman of fortune has the Character of a virtuous person, and so far as I am Judge of a Superiour understanding. I had like to have forgot him^ to be Justices for the County of Berkshire, they are worthy men, and much wanted in their Court of Sessions.7 I dont mean to urge it but humbly Submit it to your honor. I am most respected Sir our faithful friend and most Obedient Servant,
RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:352–53); at foot of letter, “Honble Thos Hutchinson Esqr Lieut Govr”; addressed, “To the Honourable Thomas Hutchinson Esqr Lieutenant Governor & Comander in chief at Boston”; endorsed, “Colo Williams Hatfield 23 Jan 1770.”
[. . .] I let the Moderator who is rich, know in private but in the plainest terms my sense of their proceedings. I told him that if any Acts of Violence should be done by the Mob which mixed with them as in Town meetings he & the other Men of property would answer for it with their Lives & Estates. The Law sooner or later would have its course again. He was frightned as well as angry & said if they went upon any such thing he would leave them but I told him it would then be too late.
There being nothing else which I could do without the Council I determined to send the Sheriff with a declaration into the Meeting but he thought he should not be safe if he attempted to read it. I therefore gave it to him in a Letter directed to the Moderator & they required him to read it & they gave in writing directed to the Sheriff what they voted for an Answer.
The paper is Hancocks writing which I keep by me but copies of both I send you inclosed. I doubt not it had a good Effect. After spending the rest of the day in their harangues they broke up or dissolved that Evening. The rest of the obnoxious persons who considered themselves better able to stand out than when my Sons were with them met with no further molestation.
Does any body conceive the situation of a Massachusetts Governor? By the Charter his power is joined with Counsellors or Assistants. What shall he do when they differ in Sentiment from him and when the body of the people join with the Council in the point [blank space in MS] indifference. If it be said Let the Law have its course against Offenders. What if the Ministers of the Law refuse to execute it either from wrong principles or because the general bent of the people will not admit of its being done?
Some Gentlemen among us say it must come to a Trial & its no matter if this had been the time. I do not wish to see the Military first employed in a dispute upon this business of Non Importation in which the whole Continent are engaged especially as there is room to hope that the eyes of people will be opened upon this point by finding that the Tradesmen &c in England disregard it. Had this appeared only as the Act of my sons nothing could be said. Upon an intimation to me that Phillips was desirous of seeing me and to bring the minutes made of their agreement to shew they were as much held to the whole as to what they had conceded. I made no objection and his coming to my House for that purpose is an Interview as these infamous fellows in their usual way call it. If after all it should be thot that I ought to have run the hazard of any consequences & prevented as far as I could any concessions in my sons still I humbly hope a single error in Judgment will not be thought to cancel more than 30 years laborious & disinterested services in the support of Government Some of which you can testify to it not to mention sufferings without a parallel in America and that it will be remembered that such an Error sometimes [. . .]
Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:373).
Boston 24 January 1770
Sir, Several of the Importers of Goods, thinking their promises to keep them extended no farther than to the first of January, refused to submit their goods any longer to the controul of the new created and tyrannical Imperium of the Merchants and began to sell their goods. The Merchants determined to prevent them and gave out hand bills for a meeting of the Merchants and all connected with trade, which takes in the whole Town and on the 17 Instant a body of people much like a large Town Meeting assembled together1 and carried on their Affairs in course as they have related, though their Writers have talents beyond any other persons on the Globe at misrepresentation and have exercised them in several instances upon this occasion to the injury of particular persons. Such an Assembly being without any authority of Law and of a very dangerous tendency, a mixed multitude, inflamed all day by the harangues of one Doctor Y____ng,2 as bad a man as any we have among us, and others little better, all let loose in the Evening; I pressed my Council to bear testimony against them but without any success, most of the Council being favourers of Non Importation and some of them having very imperfect notions of the nature of Government and even disposed to think such a method of requiring the performance of Contracts was admissible. I was sorry my Sons were any way concerned in the dispute and as they had made some concessions I was willing they should be out of the question, that if such should follow as I feared I might with greater advantage do my duty.3 At the same time I assured the rest of all the Protection in my Power and they resolved to Persevere. The Council, after this, gave me their opinion that some measures were necessary but I could bring them to advise to none in particular and the utmost I could bring any civil Officer to do in bearing testimony against them was the delivery of a Letter from me inclosing a Declaration against them which I required him to read, the Sheriff not thinking it advisable to do it himself. They sent me an Answer by the Sheriff4 [illegible] of both. I Shall inclose. I am told some of them thought seriously upon what they received from me and that they were extremely anxious to prevent disorders after their session which was upon the same day the 23d. As I had occasion to call the Justices of peace together two of them came from the Meeting and others had been there and also one of the Council three of the Representatives [illegible] number of Merchants though the most noted disavowed the proceedings. Indeed more or less of all orders were there [illegible] the Clergy most of whom were wishing good Success [illegible] Design at home. It can scarce be called a state of Government where any numbers of Men can take these tactics with Impunity. By the Charter I have no sort of authority without the Council further than to call upon civil Officers to do their duty, except in what relates to the general power of commanding the Militia. [illegible] they are favourers of a measure which I disapprove very little can be done by me to discourage it.
I have the honour to be very respectfully, Sr. Your most obedient Servant,
RC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.”
Boston January 24. 1770
My Lord, I have formerly observed to your Lordship that after the Agreement made by the Merchants not to send for or import any Goods from Great Britain until the first of January 1770 many persons who did not approve of the measure and had imported goods in the course of the last Summer acceded so far as to promise not to sell them until the agreement of the Merchants expired. The Intent no doubt was that they who first agreed and they who afterwards acceded should all be upon the same footing. Six or eight of those who acceded really thought they were at liberty to begin the Sale of their goods the first of January and did so, but a far greater number under the same circumstances were contented to wait until those who had first agreed could have time sufficient to send for and import goods after the first of January.1 The Merchants Committee called a meeting, last week, in the Town of Boston of Merchants and others connected with Trade which included the Inhabitants in general. This meeting was as numerous as a Town meeting and consisted of much the same sort of people, hath no foundation in Law and their Proceedings, though without any degree of Tumult, in going in great bodies to two or three persons and among the rest to two of my Sons who were of the number of Merchants who had sold, and who live in my family, and demanding of them a compliance with their agreement was altogether unwarrantable. My sons, at the first of the meeting, upon being applied to, thought it best to give up the point they had contended for, to prevent a Tumult, and without my privity, conceded to keep their goods as long as the rest who had been under the same circumstances with them but as some had agreed their goods should be in the hands of the Committee and others in their own hands a new misunderstanding arose. I found that whilst my family was interested in this dispute I should be under much greater difficulty both from the Council and every other Quarter than I should be if they were out of the question and upon inquiry into the agreement I found it taken in different senses, and as it could make no material difference whether they complied in whole or in part I was not unwilling to be rid of any incumbrance on their account.2 The others who were in the contention3 saw the reason of it and I assured them of all the protection in my power & they persevered to the end. After assembling three or four days the Meeting suffered it self to dissolve a great part of the proceedings having been illiberal puerile and very dishonorary among other instances much time was spent in debating whether Colonel Dalrymple who with great discretion avoids all unnecessary irritating, did not deserve to be cashiered for quartering the Troops in the Town when Barracks were provided at the Castle and whether he had not exceeded his authority when some of the Corps were allowed to be in the house of one of the obnoxious persons. They dropped this debate without a question.
I thought it of great importance that due testimony should be borne against these Innovations. By the minutes of the Council, which I shall transmit, your Lordship will see I could have no aid from them. They differed from me in sentiment. I have no doubt of their doing what appears to them to be right. Without the aid of Council, I am so restrained by the Charter and Constitution, I can do nothing, except in what relates to military authority. I sent to the Justices of the County to attend me and shewed them that the continuance of this Assembly from day to day was the continuance of a breach of Law & desired them to consider by themselves the Duty which the Law required of them and act accordingly but they were of opinion that it was not advisable to interpose unless there should be something more disorderly than yet had been.
I warned the Moderator and some others, in private, of the danger to which they were exposed, that their professed design was to reform the Law by effecting the Repeal of the Revenue Acts, that any violences from any of the inferior people who were among them would, in my opinion, involve them all in the Guilt of High Treason and I sent by the Sheriff to the Moderator in the meeting4 a declaration which I required him to read and which was done accordingly and notwithstanding it did not convince them of the illegality of their measures, it made them more anxious to restrain all disorders at their breaking up.5
I dare say the affair of Non Importation cannot hold another year; the Merchants who are engaged in it nevertheless obstinately persist until the first agreement expires and I am told that6 by this Vessel near 50 Tons of Goods are reshipped to Bristol having been imported contrary to the agreement. And so infatuated are the Tradesmen that although they are destitute of work yet when a Scotch Merchant offered to build 4 or 5 Ships in the Town provided he might be at liberty to sell his goods they chose he should contract for his ships somewhere else rather than the agreement entred into here7 should be infringed8
My situation, My Lord, has been peculiarly difficult. If the Council had been in sentiment with me I think this Assembly might have been prevented or soon dispersed. Left alone, I had to consider the danger from such Meeting from day to day which I knew to be against Law and yet it consisted of several Justices of the peace who ought to execute Law, several professed Lawyers and a great number of Inhabitants of property together with three of the Representatives of the Town and a mixed multitude warmed with a persuasion that what they were doing was right and that they were struggling for the Liberty of America. I considered also the uncertain consequence of any thing Tragical from the Troops in suppressing Acts of Violence, if the Temper of the people should rise to it, occasioned by a dispute upon a point in which so many Colonies warmly interest themselves and I have acted upon the whole according to the best of my ability. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord Your Lordships most humble & most obedient Servant,
RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 36–37); at foot of letter, “Rt. Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston Jany 24th. 1770. Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 3) Rx 7th March.” DupRC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, ff. 6–7); marked, “Duplicate”; at foot of letter, “Rt Hon Earl of Hillsborough.” Dft (Massachusetts Archives SC1/series 45X, 27:304a); partial draft. Dft (Massachusetts Archives SC1/series 45X, 25:373); partial draft. SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 71–75); docketed, “Boston January 24th 1770 Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (no. 3) R. 7th. March.” SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 43, 1:116); addressed, “Thos Hutchinson to the Earl of Hillsborough”; excerpt beginning at the second paragraph. SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 10, 3:64–65); docketed, “Govr. Hutchinson to Lord Hillsbro. 24 Janry 1770.” Enclosures to RC: Copy of Council minutes, 18–23 January 1770 (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 38–41); Copy of testimony of William Jackson, 22 January 1770 (ff. 42–43); Copy of Hutchinson to the People Assembled at Faneuil Hall, 23 January 1770 (f. 44); Copy of Hutchinson to William Phillips, 23 January 1770 (f. 44); Copy of Town Meeting to Sheriff Greenleaf, n.d. (f. 45).
Boston 27 January 1770
My Dear Sir, We have had something of a Commotion for a week or ten days past from an attempt to prevent all who had acceded to the agreement of the Merchants from selling theregoods until the time expird which in the general understanding of it is in about two months. Eight or nine who understood it to expire the 1 of January began to sell. Upon this a new sort of meeting of the Merchants was called being everyway a Town Meeting except in the mode of calling it. My sons who were among the obnoxious upon the first demand made by a Committee from the Merchants conceded to refrain until the time expired & differd only upon the place where their goods should be lodged as a security against their selling. The Rest except one resolved to stand out.1
I called the Council together & pressed them from day to day to bear their Testimony against this Assembly but to no purpose for the major part saw nothing illegal in it and upbraided me with my sons being parties & my being moved by that consideration I should have thought it best for my sons to have made no concession at all but they are at their own disposition and I did not know what they intended to do. After I heard what they had done I wished they had conceded the whole rather than part as what they had done would have the same effect as giving up to there whole demand & yet involvd me in greater Difficulty in protecting the rest & therefore I wished them wholly out of the question. Mr Phillips, who is a reputable man except in these party Affairs, being one who made the agreement with my sons desired to see me & shew me the minutes of it. This these infamous fellows in their account call an Interview & represent me as telling him what my sons told him they would finally concede to.2
I assured the rest I would do every thing in my power to protect them even to the calling for the Troops if necessary & they resolved to stand out & have carried their point.
I could do nothing with the Council. I tried for Justices summoning all within 15 miles of the Town but they did not care to interpose. At length being all I could do my self I sent the Sheriff to the meeting with a declaration and required the Moderator to read it which he did &after the most illiberal scurrilous and puerile debates & votes they dissolved.3
Justices of Peace Selectmen Representatives Constables & other Officers who ought to have discountenanced this Meeting made a part of it. Some of your friends and mine wish matters had gone to extremities this being as good a time as any to have called out the Troops. I cannot think with them. I consider the flame in the minds of the people in almost every Colony & the feebleness of civil government in this province & in this Town which I wish to see strengthned before a Trial be made especially upon the subject which causes the present dispute and I knew they were not so well acquainted with the disposition of people in general as I am.
This foolish proceeding has opened the eyes of a great many of the most sensible men in Town & I think we shall have no more like it for the future. I am very respectfully Sir Your faithful humble
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:434–35); at foot of letter, “Sir Fr Bernard.”
Boston 29 January 1770
My Dear Sir, Our Bostoniers have been playing a foolish part in assembling together from day to day to prevent a number of Importers from selling their Goods until the time expired according to agreement which it is said is in about two months. Two of my sons who were of the Importers when they saw the Spirit and considered there connexions resolved to forbear selling but not yielding at first to the whole of there unreasonable demand made the case as difficult for me as if they had not yielded at all & I found my self embarrassed with the Council refusing to give me any advice and insinuating that my sons being parties was the motive with me to urge them. Upon the Chairman of the Committee of Merchants signifying that he desired to see me I consented to it and he shewed me the minutes of the agreement and this there infamous compilers of the account in Edes & Gills paper call an Interview & my sons telling him that they would give up the point they represent as told by me.
I assured the rest of all the protection in my power and they have carried the point. The minds of the people were excessively inflamed and whilst they were caballing they were continually encouraged from day to day by my ineffectual endeavours to bring the Council to join with me in bearing testimony against them and as they had Justices of Peace Representatives Select men and all other Town Officers at the meeting the multitude mixed with them thought all was legal and they were ripe for anything against all Opposers.
Several of the Board of Commissioners thought there could not be a better time for trying the strength of Government even to the calling for Troops if the Spirit should increase.1 They did not consider the Constitution and that by the Charter I can do nothing without the Council the major part of whom were against me and the civil Magistrates many of them made part of this body which was to be suppressed so that there could not have been a worse occasion and I think anything Tragical would have set the whole Province in a flame and maybe spread farther.
I had besides in my thoughts the probable plan of Administration of which my sentiments are not very different from yours in your obliging Letter of the 16 Instant.2 and therefore avoided as much as possible every thing which should increase the Distemper the people are under but judged it necessary to bear Testimony against them myself though the Council would not advise me to it. Upon sending the inclosed Declaration they gave their Answer by the Sheriff who tells me two or three of the principal left the Meeting with him and they all dissolved the same day.
When not only the people but all the branches of Government except one are united in a subordinate state against the measures of the Supreme Authority it is a very deplorable case but it is a case we are in at present. I shall have the honour to be very respectfully Sir Your most Humble and most Obedient
I have sent with my own dispatches by Captain Hood per Bristol five of your Letters and five of Major Flemings which Capt. Caldwell has deposited with me.
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:436); at head of letter, “Sam Hood.”
Boston 31 January 1770
Sir, Having caused the Province Seal to be affixed to a Vote of Council of July 14 last in order to its being sent to England and the Council being now sitting under the name of a Committee to prepare Instructions for Mr Bollan their Agent, I send under this cover copy of the Vote which is indeed a very extraordinary one for it makes the whole Council a Committee to sit and do business after the General Court is prorogued, and even dissolved as such Votes are construed here.1
This is done to avoid the charge which has formerly been made against them of sitting as a Council without the Governor and they have by avoiding a lesser gone into a greater irregularity. I am with great esteem Sir Your most obedient humble Servant,
RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 47–48); at foot of letter, “John Pownall Eq.”; docketed, “Boston 31st. Jany. 1770. Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson JP. Rx 15 March.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:437); at head of letter, “Jno Pownall Eq.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, f. 79); docketed, “Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson Boston 31st: Janry 1770. J.P. Rx 15th. March.” Enclosures to RC: Copy of a vote passed by the Council, 14 July 1769 (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 49–50); Newspaper clipping reading, “To the Printer . . . A.B.” (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, f. 51).
[1 February 1770]
My Dear Sir, Ackworth tarrying a few hours longer than expected I have just time enough to acknowledge your obliging letters Nos. 6 7 8 and 9 by Cazneau.1 The Letters to Lady Bernard &c. were immediately delivered. I am not sorry that your Comission was not vacated.2 I shall write to you not only with pleasure but with the utmost confidence whilst you continue Governor for I can have no Interest but what is common to you and to me and that is the Interest of G B and her Colonies which our madmen are doing all in their power to disserve. As I have no doubt of receiving Instructions by the Mail I could wish the Administration of this Province might remain without alteration until the next Session of the General Court is over. Perhaps before Parliament rises the principles of the prevailing party there may appear in a stronger light than they have yet done. I shall be glad if by the attendance of some good men others who have been misled may see their Error but I think after that a better judgment can be made in the appointment of a Governor than at present.3 I shall have so much more quiet in my Chief Justices place that if I can go to it without the appearance of slight or disaprobation I will not complain. I cannot think the Charter is attended to when the doings of a Massachusetts Governor are considered.4 He is very little more with out his C than a Con. or Rh. Isl. Governor and the C who are the Representatives of the people are sensible of it and watch every step he takes that they may be able to charge him with exceeding.
It did not use to be so. In internal Disputes the Council would stand by the Governor. In a dispute between the Kingdom and the Colony the Council forsake the Governor and cleave to the people.
I have often said to you that I should not think my self neglected by being continued Lt. Governor whilst you remained my Governor and I never wrote any thing to you with an intent to hurry a new appointment. I shall always write to you with the utmost confidence for in my public character I can have no interest but what is common to you and to me upon which we have always thought alike and that is the interest of the Kingdom and the Colonies which are inseparable.5
I wish to try a Session or two of the G Court but I wish that in judging of my conduct attention may be given to the Charter or Constitution which except in giving his Assent to Acts of Legislation restrains a Governor from acting without 7 Assistants & makes him but little more than a Con or Rhod Island Governor. If after that an appointment of a person of superior rank and Importance shall be thot advisable the alternative in your Letter of 4th November will be satisfactory and I will do all in my power for supporting Government in a subordinate station.6 I have only time to add that I am Dear Sir Your obliged and faithful humble
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:438); at head of letter, “Sr F B.” Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 1 January 1776.