Second Thoughts on a Letter to Sir Francis Bernard

    The first letter below, though unaddressed and marked “not sent,” bears so close a resemblance to Hutchinson’s letter to Francis Bernard dated 18 February that it can safely be called a preliminary draft, reviewing many of the same topics: Hutchinson’s disappointment with Parliament’s inaction; his thoughts on a proposal, originating in New York, for a general government in the colonies; and various ways Parliament might assert its supremacy without enacting further duties on trade. The language of the sent version is more tentative and circumspect. In the revised version, he also appends three concluding paragraphs on recent political developments in Boston that would certainly interest Bernard.

    525. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Version 1

    Boston February 1770

    Not sent

    My Dear Sir, Your last Letters look as if nothing more would be done this Session of Parliament than a repeal of more or less of the Acts complained of and that if the Combinations continued afterwards effectual measures would be taken to suppress them. This must mean in a future Session. In this Province there is no probability that a partial repeal of the last Act will give content. If the Act should be wholly repealed the Mutiny Act will be deemed as grievous here the other Government[s] conform to it and the Commissioners must be recalled as bringing unnecessary burdens upon Trade.1

    The principle of Independence is increasing every day and it is openly said even in Council that no Acts of Parliament bind any farther than they are constitutional and we are to judge which are constitutional & which not. The H of R are influenced by men who you know declare they shall not be satisfied until all restraints upon our Trade are taken off. Under the Massachusts Constitution what can a Governor do? If he refuse his assent to Councellors because they are of this principle he must have no Council at all for I dare say next Election there will not be seven Councillors, Perhaps not one chose, who are of a different Principle and yet there is nothing he can do without his Council. The same Principle is spreading among the people and will influence the executive powers of Government and in a short time no Juries will be found but such as will be governed by it in all their Verdicts. It is not much better in the Royal Governments. One of the Council of N Y writes by the last post that nothing can restore America but a Lord Lieutenant and an American Parliament and however jealous they may be of it in England yet they will find the Spirit of Democracy to be so persevering that they will be obliged at last to come into it.2

    What is to be done to restore America to a state of Government and Order? The Colonies are so united, they have so strong a party in England that I think it must appear impracticable to make them easy whilst they are apprehensive of an intention to raise a revenue from them. If the plan then be as it seems to be to make America easy what great matter more will be given up if the Duty should be taken off from Tea as well as the other articles? I dont mean as you seem to suppose it that Tea should be put in the same state it was before the Act passed & so subject to the 12d duty for that would encourage Smugglers but let so much of that duty remain upon Tea & payable in England as shall be equivalent to the 3d now paid in America.3 I propose this 3d to remain because E____g assures me and he and his family know as well as any body that it is not worth while to run Tea from Holland though it cost this 3d extraordinary in England.4 This may give a temporary quiet in all the Colonys. It may possibly in most of them then produce quiet for some length of time. Any thing short will not. But then something more seems necessary to preserve or rather restore the force of Acts of Parliament in general in America.5

    In what way Parliament will do this I cannot tell. I know it would have been less difficult to have done it last year than it is this and I think it will be in proportion more difficult if it be delayed another year. Can any thing be thought of which would answer the purpose of a Test or [illegible] owning the power of Parliament without limitation?6 At present it is or until very lately it has been the general profession of the Americans that we ought to submit to all Acts for regulation of Trade. What if upon the Repeal of the last Act called the Revenue Act another providing that all the members of the Council and of the House in each colony at the same time they take the Oaths of allegiance &c. should take the same oath that the Governors of the several colonies are required to take before they take upon them the administration that they will conform to acts of trade and endeavour the execution of them? I suggest this as matter for consideration and what is less likely to make a general convulsion in the colonies and yet may tend to establish parliamentary authority in the colonies.

    I cant help thinking that this authority might have been preserved intire if more attention had been given to the Colonies. They ought to have been used to Acts of Parliament every Session, some to respect the Colonies in general, others particular colonies. The Act relative to Wills extended to America in general.7 The Land Bank Act to this Colony only but such Acts have been rare.8 The Act restraining paper currency I think extended to the New England Colonies only.9 Perhaps it is not too late to recover what has been lost by going into this practice now and if at the beginning of every Session a Committee was appointed for America at the same time the Committees for Grievances &c. used to be appointed it would have a good effect.

    The New York Scheme of a general Government I gave you my opinion upon in a former letter.10 Besides the objection then made the vast extent of Country from South to North makes the Scheme of one Government impracticable. If any thing of this nature should ever be thought advisable three distinct Governments would be the least which could be erected. Canada Nova Scotia and New England for one New York to Virginia inclusive another and the Carolinas and the rest of the Continent Southward a third. If we open a road from Kennebeck, Canada will have much easier communication with Boston than New York. Possibly such provision might be made in an Act of Parliament which shall constitute these Governments for securing Parliamentary authority (and indeed a submission to the Act would be the strongest acknowledgment of this authority,) as might countervail all the disadvantages arising from the union of the several governments comprehended in each general government and by having a nobleman with Talents for it for each of the general Governors, never to remain above 3 years, as I think is the case in New Spain, in a short time a good part of the Nobility would have a perfect acquaintance with America and Parliament be better able from time to time to make such provision as shall be necessary.

    Penal Acts alone would answer the purpose if the principle could once be established that America is subject to Acts of Parliament.11 I do not say that the contrary principle is yet established but there is a growing tendency to it and the powers of Government are so enfeebled that it will be extremely difficult to carry such Acts into execution. Such Acts nevertheless would be better than no provision at all.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:439, 440–42). Contemporary printings: Remembrancer for the Year 1775, 1st ed., pp. 121–22 (except the first paragraph); Boston Gazette, 19 June 1775; New England Chronicle, 19 June 1775; Norwich Packet, 26 June 1775; Massachusetts Spy, 28 June 1775; Connecticut Courant, 3 July 1775.

    Version 2

    Boston 18 February 1770

    No. 5

    My Dear Sir, Upon a revisal of your Letters and comparing them with other Intelligence I think little or nothing more was intended to be done this Session of Parliament than the Repeal of the late Act in whole or in part. What alteration of measures may have been made by subsequent advices from Boston is uncertain. If it be the plan as it seems to be to make America easy why maynt the duty upon Tea be taken off as well as upon other Articles? I dont mean that the Act should be wholly Repealed and the old 12d duty remain but the 3d duty now paid in America may be taken off and so much of the old duty remain payable in England as shall be equivalent to the 3d now paid here. This would do as well as leaving it without any duty at all for E[blank space in MS]g who is a good judge assures me that it is not worth while now for the Smugglers to run the risqs of bringing it from Holland. If it be said this is a meer piece of humour to be willing to pay it in England and refuse to pay it in America why it is all humour and the submission to a restraint upon Trade which deprives them of a large Profit they might make & a refusal to submit to an insignificant duty because it is called a Revenue can be attributed to nothing else but if this humour is indulged to keep them quiet is it not better to indulge it so as to answer the purpose than to do it in part and perhaps answer no purpose at all?

    Even in this Colony this total Repeal may quiet us a little while. In most of the other Colonies it may produce a lasting quiet. We shall attempt to make new contention upon other Subjects and endeavour to draw New York & the rest to join with us but I think means may be used to prevent their joining especially as they have made a precedent by complying with the Mutiny Act which I suppose we shall refuse to do.1 They are besides in favour of a general Government. There is nothing our people are more afraid of. They suppose N York being near the center and having other natural advantages would be the Capital. Could not some advantage be made by shewing some countenance to the Scheme so far as to give the Colonies an opportunity and pretence for signifying their minds? It might afford an opening for other regulations and for settling points which must be settled before Government and Order can be restored in America. I know a strong party in N York are in earnest about it. I saw a Letter by the last post from Mr Smith of the Council which says that although they are jealous of the Scheme in England yet they will find the Spirit of Democracy to be so persevering as that they will be made a necessity of coming into it. Besides the Objection I mentiond in a former letter it would not be practicable to have a Parliament from all parts of the Continent of 1500 miles extent. Possibly three general Governments might be formed and in settling the several parts of the plan occasion may be taken to reform the Constitutions of the several Governments of which the general Governments shall consist and to ascertain the general authority of Parliament over the whole. There is one visible advantage from such a plan.

    If the general Governors shall be persons of Rank and of the Nobility who have the best talents for Government and they continue only two or at most three years by their knowledge after their return of the state of America Parliament would be better able to make such provision from time to time as shall be necessary. Be this as it may it is certainly best to make some stir. To lye still only gives time for the Principles of Independence to succeed and to be confirmed. Every year they gain strength & in a short time they will be universally avowed. What a noise it made when Hawley said in the H that he doubted the authority of Parliament to legislate for America.2 But now we see every News paper asserting we are not subject to Act of Parliament further than we consent to receive them. Nay I am frequently told in Council that unconstitutional Acts are not obligatory. When this new Doctrine was first advanced it might easily have been suppressed. The good rule of venienti occurrite morbo was neglected and I am not without fears that it will be so until the Distemper grows to the heighth which in a year or two more it probably will do.3 A great part of the Colonists still keep up Lord Chathams distinction.4 If Parliament gives up Taxation let it assert Legislation and support it before this part of the people find out that it is the Right of English men to be governd by Laws in general as well as Laws for Taxation to which they have given their consent in person orby their Representative. Not that I think Parliament may not keep up its general Right of Legislation and yet forbear the exercise of the Right of Taxation and possibly America for many years to come may be made easy & quiet by this distinction. But then Acts of Parliament extending to the Colonies in general and sometimes to particular Colonies ought to be frequent. The Act which relates to Witnesses to Wills was general. I think there is another Act which regulates the paper currency of the N England Governments only and then the Land Bank Act in 1740 respects this Province only. A Committee for American Affairs might very well be one of the standing Committees during every Session of Parliament.

    I know you will forgive me these Suggestions if they appear to you insignificant or impracticable, and will consider the sincerity of my Intention for the Publick good.

    For the state of the Town at present Molineux to whom the Sons of Liberty have given the name of Paoli, and some others are restless5 but there seems to be no disposition to any general muster of the people again, and many of my friends are now satisfied that the last meeting could not have been separated or brought to an end in any better way than it was, tho’ for want of an acquaintance with the Constitution they would have had me attempted things without the advice of Council which woud have made me the ridicule of the Faction and strengthened their cause. The C have met and agreed upon some Instructions which they have sent to Mr Bollan.6 I have not seen them but I am told they are nothing more than an exculpation of themselves for not advising me to measures for suppressing the late Meeting it not appearing to them to be an illegal Assembly. Indeed Erving said to me in C that it would be time eno’ for them to advise against such Meetings when they had Intelligence that the Supporters of the Bill of Rights were suppressed in England.7

    I never knew until lately of the extraordinary vote which the Council passed just before you prorogued the Court, making the whole Board a Comittee in the Recess of the Court to give Instructions from time to time to their Agent &c. I sent a copy of it to Mr. Secy Pownall.8 It is in effect defeating so far as respects one branch of the Legislature the power which the Charter gives the G of proroguing the Gen Court.9 It is with colour of authority from this Vote that they held their last Meeting.

    A Vessel which sailed from Falmouth ten days after the sailing of the December Packet has been arrived a fortnight. If the packet should not arrive until the Session of the General Court draws near I shall be perplexed as I have no orders for a further prorogation and yet could wish not to meet the Court until I am instructed what to say to them. We are anxious about the State of Affairs in England. The Letter to the King tho applauded by the heads of the opposition here yet is detested by every good Man and our hopes are that the Resentment of the Nation will be raised against a Writer whose Heart is filled with the most Hellish Malice and that Government will be supported in bringing him and all his Abettors to condign Punishment.10 I am with greatest Respect Sir Your most faithful humble servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:442–44).

    526. From Sir Francis Bernard

    Pall Mall Feb 20 1770

    No. 19

    Confidential and partly Secret

    Dr. Sr., I have just received your Letter No. 1 and the Duplicate of No. 2 the original of which last I received some days ago.1 I have wrote you word before of the occasion of ordering a prorogation; it was intended that if the Ministry should advise any orders to be communicated to the Assembly there might be time enough for it; as no such orders have been issued You are left to call it at the time prorogued to. There can not any great Inconvenience happen from the prorogation; as there will be time enough to do all the business before there will be occasion to issue new writs. I heartily wish you may think fit to obey the order for carrying the Assembly to Cambridge; as I am fully persuaded it will have Very good effects.2 Tho my Lord Hillsborough thought that the Intrest you have in the Event intitled you to a discretionary Power in this Business; yet you may vouch his Letter as an Order if you should approve of the Expediency. The Alteration which has been made in the Ministry, and the great Altercations which have happened in Parliament, have greatly contributed to postpone the American Business, however it will now soon be brought on. The Ministry I beleive is desirous to repeal the three Articles;3 but some of their best Friends oppose it; the Repeal of the whole Act seems not to be thought of by any one. There will be something done, to prevent Combinations against the Trade of Great Britain for the future; but I beleive this Mode is not yet settled. It is also said that some Measures will be taken to discourage the American Manufacturers; but what they will be is I beleive not yet determined. In short there seems to be no Intention to give Way to America; but probably Assurances will be given, of showing them all possible Favour, when they shall return to their Duty; but no Bargain will be made with them for Indulgences.

    The new Minister seems like to stand his Ground:4 On Tuesday Night last they met to receive the Report of the Resolution which I mentioned in my last to be carried by 75 Majority;5 but instead of going upon that Business they got into a Quarrel with the Speaker who, it is said, was illtreated by some of the most violent of the Opposition:6 however it was quieted without a Division by some of the most prudent Men of the same Side. The Report was put off till Yesterday, when I beleive the House sat late, but have not as yet heard what was the Result. The Supplies have gone on without Interruption, but what is called the Budget has not been opened.

    I am obliged to dictate this Letter by my Secretary whilst I am dressing, otherwise I could not have wrote to you by this Ship. Mr De Berdt has delivered in a Petition, praying seven Months Time to produce Proofs; but he has received a peremptory Summons, to attend the hearing of the Complaint, the last day of this Month,7 &, it is generally beleived, he will be allowed no longer Time. Let Mr Oliver know I have just now received his Letter dated Jan. 10. The Anecdote inclosed in it, has allready been thoroughly canvassed; I beleive some Use will be made of it.8 Excuse me to such of my Friends as have Letters due from me. I am &c.,


    P.S. I have just heard the Majority’s Numbers last Night on the 1st. Division 69 Majority. 2nd. 78.

    SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:65–67); at foot of letter, “Lt Govr Hutchinson.”

    527. From Arthur Savage1

    Falmouth 20th February 1770

    Sir, I wrote your Honor of the 5 ultimo by the post,2 Since which on the 2 Currant a Seazure was made by Mr Child the land Waiter here, of a Schooner, with nine hogsheads Rum (supposed french) a perule Corva3 &c. which I should have perticalarly informed you of at the time had not the Cargoe on board the Vessell been Illegaly taken away, and there was the greatest reeson to immagine the Vessell would have gone the Same way, but as she yett remains in the possesion of the Custom house possably they may leave her (as she is of little value,) which from the Sentiments of the people here I am in doubt of.

    As in this Case the Officers have thought themselves under a necessity of useing the Writts of Assistance, granted by the Honerable the Superior Court, and as Some doubt has arose what assistance the Sherrif is legally oblidged to afford us in Such cases, I beg leeve to ask the faver of your Honors opinion of the matter.4 The facts are these.

    The Vessell was Seazed in the Afternoon of the 2 currant, in the morning of the next day Mr. Child informed us he had made Such Seazure, Immediately upon which the Collector and Comptroller Issued an Order to the Tide Serveyer and Waiter to gett hands and strip the Vessell, and remove the Cergoe on board to the Kings Store. Hands sufficient were several times procured, but a number of people had collected on the wharf, at which the Vessell lay, and Intimidated them. They declined, and we found it Impossable to Effect, it, upon which we with a Writt of Assistance applied to the Sherrif, who readily went with his deputy and Some others procured by him, upon our getting to the wharf where the Vessell lay, the Waiter went on board of her, and declared he had made Seazure of the Same, upon which the Sherrif ordered his deputy and the persons he had brought to unbend the Sails, which was began, but many of the people of the most distinction in this Town by threatning words Intimidated every person who was employed, and the Sherrif after repeated unsuccessfull trials gave it over, at that time there might be about Twenty persons on the wharf, and the course of the Law was as much Impeeded as if Thousands armed had forceably prevented us from doing our duty. Your Honor will please to observe that the united force of the Custom House was not Sufficient to hoist one Hogshead out of the Vessell, as there is belonging to this whole district a Collector, a Comptroller, Mr Wyer the Tide Serveyer, Mr Child the Waiter and Mr Prout a Tidesman only this being the fact, it appears to me cleerly to be the Intention of such Writts that the laws should have their free course, and as it was Impossable for the united Strength of the Officers here to effect it, we were bound I think in duty to apply to the Sherrif for his Assistance, and if the Sherrif has not Authority in Such cases to command persons to assist in removing Such goods, your Honor will see we have little support from the Same. As I am sorry to Say a Spirritt of Opposition to the Acts of Trade is too prevelent in this people, and not being able to carry a Seazure to trial, weekens in a verry Sensable manner our hands, I ask your Honors Opinion as I differ in Sentiment from Mr Tyng as to the Spirritt of your letter to him by the last post. Your Honor will give me leave to assure you no great difficulty will arise in Searching any house or Store, but our weakness lies in not having Support to hold a Seazure when made, and as the consequences of Such failures will be apparent to your Honor the Necessity of Support Somewhere is needed in Such a place and in such Times as these, when common prudence and a Safety to a mans Self oblidges most to Speak cautiously, and to follow a more cautious conduct in order to enable them to do there duty even in the most temporate manner.

    Altho this Seazure has been an Inflammatory measure to the people here, and great Clamour and abuse has arose in consequence of it, our duty yett remains the Same, and I hope I shall be attentive to walk on the line of it however disagreable the Consequences may be, yett it must Sir be a Consideration verry dejecting to the Officers (that in this extensive port only) with every other Inconvenience that we are exposed to the ludicrous Jests of the base and unthinking for not being able to do our duty, when on the other hand a Strict adherence to it is expected from us, Your Honor will pardon my being troublesome to you, as I think it my duty to apply to your Honor for a determination which in my Opinion will be of great consequence to the Revenue here. I am with the greatest Respect Sir Your most Obedient and most Humble Servant,

    Arthur Savage

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:355–60); at foot of letter, “His Honor The Leutt Governor.”