The Revolt of Harvard College

    589. To Sir Francis Bernard, 3 May 1770

    590. To Lord Hillsborough, 3 May 1770

    591. To Richard Jackson, 3 May 1770

    592. To Sir Francis Bernard, [after 3] May 1770

    Following the emphatic advice of Bernard and Lord Hillsborough, Hutchinson ordered the General Court to reconvene in Cambridge on 15 April. The only buildings in Cambridge large enough to accommodate such a group belonged to Harvard College. Not only did the General Court vociferously protest the relocation from Boston and refuse to proceed to business, but hostile voices on Harvard’s two governing bodies, the Board of Overseers and the Corporation, sought to promote an official remonstrance against the appropriation of their facilities for noneducational purposes.

    589. To Sir Francis Bernard

    3 May 1770

    No. 16

    My Dear Sir, I have wrote you very fully by this Ship & given my Letter to Mr. Bridgham a young Gentleman who goes passenger.1 The first of this month was one of the stated days for the Overseers of the College to meet. Dr. Chauncy with Cooper & 2 or 3 more had determind that my calling the Court at H College was an infringement of their Rights & they moved that the Corporation should be desired to present a Remonstrance against it.2 They supposed the House would not sit there against the Will of the Society & the consequence would be that there would be no Election & all would be thrown into confusion. Chauncy was warm & rather boisterous & Cooper with a very sanctified air declared he was not in the least moved by any party views. I dare say no body present believed him. I took great pains to convince them of the madness of their scheme & finally prevailed upon just one half the ministers & the same proportion of the Council to stand by me & proposing to them that the previous Question should be put I turnd the vote against it by my own voice.

    Danforth Erving and [Tyler?] were for the Question Hubbard Gray and Royall against.3 I had notice given me of their design which they supposed to be managed with great secrecy otherwise I should not have attended and they would have carried the point. I promised them to write to My Lord Hillsborough that the Overseers of the College were of opinion that it was a precedent to hold the General Court there and I added that I did not doubt I should have leave to call it in some other place but I gave no intimation that it would be Boston. Yesterday Captain Cumings brot me your favour No. 22.4 We have a report that Parliament will continue to sit until June if so something will certainly be done for America unless the Confusions in England prevent.

    I had wrote to Commodore Hood desiring him to accomodate Lady Bernard with a passage to England.5 Afterwards she received your Letter acquainting her that orders would go from the Admiralty so that my application was unnecessary. I am upon every occasion Dear Sir

    P.S. The well affected Merchants were at length persuaded to attempt an Anti Association and a number of them met at the Coffee House and Doctor Young came among them.6 Somebody asked him if he was a Merchant. He replied that he was one that the Merchants had called in to their assistance & he would not leave them & intimation was given that hand bills were then printing by Edes & Gill to call the Mob meeting to oppose them. I do not find these Merchants did any thing to purpose. They helped raise the Devil & now they cannot lay him. I must observe to you that in the last Mob meeting Hancock told them they need not be concernd Parliament would be over before any news of what they were doing could reach England & before the next Session all would be forgot.7

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:401); docketed, “Copy to [illegible] 1770 Whately [illegible] recd No 16 3 May.”

    Charles Chauncy, c. 1786–87. By Mackay. Little is known of the artist but his surname. Charles Chauncy was the minister of the First Church in Boston and “dean” of the Congregational clergy, as well as a staunch patriot. Charles Chauncy (1705–1787), Harvard University Portrait Collection, H5

    590. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 3 May 1770

    No. 10

    My Lord, At a Meeting of the Overseers of Harvard College on the 1st. Instant it was moved by one of the Ministers of Boston that, in as much as I had issued Writs for calling an Assembly to meet at the College which he looked upon to be an Invasion of their Rights therefore; measures should be taken by a Remonstrance or in some other way, to assert their Rights, and to prevent the Court from being held there.1 This was seconded by another of the Ministers, and after some debate, I represented to them the Imprudence & indecency of this motion, that whatever the pretence might be of maintaining their Right the construction woud be that they were engaging in the Dispute between the Kingdom, from which they had receivd such great Benefactions, and the Colonies and were obstructing measures which were judged proper for me to take; that, indeed, there was no other place in Cambridge where the Assembly could so conveniently meet as in the Publick rooms of the College but at all events they should meet in Cambridge because I knew it was His Majesty’s Pleasure they should meet there. Before another Session I would represent to His Majesty’s Secretary of State that it was not agreeable to the Overseers of the College that the Assembly should meet there, for they had generally expressed themselves to be of that mind, and I doubted not I should have orders to prorogue it to some other Town, seeing without the use of the College Buildings they could not conveniently sit at Cambridge. I advised them not to insist upon the Questions, being put but, it being pressed by the Movers, I proposed the previous. The Board of Overseers consists of the Governor Lieutenant Governor & Council and Ministers of Boston & 5 other Towns together with the President of the College. One half of the Council & one half of the Ministers present were for the Question and it lay with me to give my voice against it. It plainly appeared that this was a piece of management of the Representatives of Boston to embarrass the Publick Business one of their Ministers in the debate having inadvertently mentiond that they had let him know their Opinion upon the Point.

    I gave them no room to expect I should be at liberty to carry the Court to Boston.

    I have troubled your Lordship with this detail in compliance with my promise & because I humbly apprehend that it may be convenient to have liberty, to meet the Court or Assembly at Salem Concord, or other place than Cambridge, until it shall be thought proper for it to be held at Boston again, and that directions may be given on this head; for, notwithstanding the frivolous exception taken by the Assembly to the Governor’s being held to follow his Instructions, it makes a great odds in any unpopular matter when he is able to say that he knows what he does is agreeable to His Majestys Pleasure, or that he is pursuing his instructions or orders which he has received; and the clamour would have been ten times as great upon the late removal of the Court if I had done it meerly from my own opinion of the utility of the measure. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord Your Lordships most humble & most Obedient Servant

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, ff. 39–40); at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Massachusetts. Duplicate of a Letter No. 10 from Lt. Govr. Hutchinson to the Earl of Hillsborough, dated May 3. 1770, relative to the difficulties raised against the Assembly’s sitting at Cambridge.” DupRC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 162–63), at foot of letter, “[Ri]ght Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 3rd. May 1770. Lieut: Govr. Hutchinson (No 10) Rx 13th June (Dup—origl. not reced)”; notations, “C:19” and “Ent.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 124–27); docketed, “Boston 3d. May 1770 Lt. Govr: Hutchinson (No. 10) Rx June 13th (Dup—Origl not received).” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:476–77).

    591. To Richard Jackson

    Boston 3 May 1770

    Dear Sir, I must begin with that part of your last favour of Feby 3d which respects your own concerns.1 I wish I was able to give you more satisfaction as to the quality of the land you refer to & the probability of the increasing value than I really am. My own moderate fortune & my disposition to impart from that to my children as they come into the World have prevented me from any thoughts of purchases of unimproved lands & I am not so capable of informing you as those who have had more experience. I have always considered of that part of the Province as incapable of producing Indian Corn except in some warm spots up the Rivers improved by the Indians. English Grain there has been scarce any Experiment to try whether it will or will not. We know that in Canada further northward they grow wheat but it is of very ordinary quality. Nature designed it for pasture. The length of Winter must take away much of what was gained by pasture. It is certain that the Country round is peopling very fast & an Estate there is more valued than it was ten years ago. Mr Flucker tells me that he sells land of the same quality with Mr Waldos for two Dollars or 9/ Sterling per acre but this is in small quantities & the Land mortgaged as a collateral Security for the pay.2 I do not imagine any person would give any thing like that price for a large Tract of land together. Nothing is more uncertain than the price of land it seems to be regulated neither by the quality natural situation nor also by the distance from other settlements but rather by a Caprice & a prevailing fancy sometimes for one part of the County & sometimes for another.

    I have a friendship for Mr Waldo & wish I could be instrumental in serving him & serving you at the same time but as you seem to place confidence in my opinion I cannot dispence with letting you know that I do not think you can at the distance you are from the spot bring forward the settlement of a Tract of Country without great hazard of loss by your Agents or by bad Tenants besides an hundred unforeseen casualties. You may purchase tracts of Land sometimes & perhaps this may be one at a very moderate price and by means of the adjacent settlements or improvements made for 20 years together they may rise & often have done more in value than the Interest of the monies but as I observed before this is precarious.

    I did not receive your favour of Janr until some time after I had that of Feby.3 I thank you for your trouble in the delivery of my Books. I agree with you intirely that it would have been happy if the Affairs of America had never come into Parliament but we must take things as they are & make the best of them. I have gone thro a session of the G Court and kept them from any thing extravagant until they came to the close when by the artful management of the Boston members the H was drawn into a Message which does them great dishonour and which I have sent to the Secretary of State. In short the whole of our Disorders have their source from this Town & I am fully of opinion that if it had not been for the influence from hence the rest of the Province would have been as peaceable & regular as any Colony in America.

    It was necessary for me to prorogue the Court to Cambridge. This was deemed a great Grievance. Whilst it was sitting there one of the C Mr Pitts asked me if I intended to call the next Assembly there.4 I avoided a direct answer it being an improper Question to ask me in Council & replied that I had been informed a very good friend to the Colonies was of opinion it would be best if the Assemblies in all the Colonies were held at some distance from the Capital as the members would without any bias and with greater diligence apply themselves to the business of the Session and I added every one of them would agree with me that Mr Jackson who was the Gentleman I intended was a friend to the Colony. In the next News paper it was represented that I had said in Council I had received a letter from Mr Jackson in which he declared that he thought the Court never ought to sit in Boston. The next time I came to Council I enquired of them how they understood me. To a man except Mr Pitts they understood me as I have represented to you, he said he understood me as it appeared in print & had spoke of it to his friends of whom Mr T____e is one, and the preceding Article in the same paper has generally been attributed to him.5 Who ever he was that published it he did it with a design to lessen me in your esteem for which I have so great value that I cannot omit this explanation. I wish I had not mentiond your name to men who abuse the confidence put in them but my intention was good imagining that your Sentiments upon the measure for the Colonies in general might tend to reconcile them to it for this Colony in particular. I long to send you more agreeable accounts. I am with great truth Dear Sir Your obliged & most obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:475–76); at head of letter, “Mr Jackson.”

    592. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston [after 3] May 1770

    No. 17

    My Dear Sir, That I may let you know as much as I can of the restlessness of the Faction I must add to my last that the disappointment with the Board of Overseers put them upon trying what they could do with the Corporation. Winthrop is a high son of Liberty intimate with Temple & Bowdoin as well as with Hancock. I hear to day they have passed a Vote & appointed a Committee to wait upon me with it signifying their disapprobation of my calling the General Court to meet at Harvard College.1 As I have not yet received it I cannot tell you what answer I shall give to it. I do not intend to remove the Court from Cambridge. If the College refuse the use of there Building I can find a private House for the Council & the Representatives must make use of the Meetinghouse unless they find a way to have that refused also. As the weather at that season will not require a room with a Chimney I think they can throw no difficulties in the way which will be insurmountable, but in Winter I know of no place out of Boston except in the College where the House can sit with any tolerable convenience. You remember in 1764 after the College was burnt they sat a few days in a Tavern but the room would not hold 100 men if they all stood up one close to another.2 I must pray you to represent this difficulty to Lord Hillsborough that some expedient may be found for the plan is to gain the Victory for Boston & these Patriots would make no scruple of sacrificing the College. As soon as I receive the Vote of the Corporation I will transmit it in a publick Letter. I have already acquainted his Lordship with the Transactions of the Overseers.3 I have a Letter from General Gage dated April 30th in which is the follow Paragraph “You will permit ——— to ——— not be mentioned.”4

    You know I have been too charitable to these people but I think such Informations ought not to be neglected. I was so fatigued with the Affairs of the G Court & of the Town together that it was absolutely necessary for me to spend a few days in the Country. I intend to go to Town to morrow & get what light I can into the Affair. I have very lately been applied to for the establishment of a Company of Grenadiers in Charlestown.5

    I make no doubt the General has wrote the same thing to My Lord Hillsborough but it may not be amiss to mention it.

    By the same post the Gen writes me that he has ordered the 29th Regiment to N York.6 He is the judge where the Troops are most wanted. Facts I have constantly acquainted him with. I am Dear Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:478–79).