Another Difficult Assembly

    617. To Sir Francis Bernard, 1 June 1770

    618. To Thomas Gage, 1 June 1770

    619. To Cadwallader Colden, 2 June 1770

    620. To Sir Francis Bernard, [June 1770]

    621. To Sir Francis Bernard, 8 June 1770

    622. To Lord Hillsborough, 8 June 1770

    623. To Samuel Hood, 8 June 1770

    624. To John Pownall, 8 June 1770

    The newly elected assembly convened in Cambridge on 30 May but proved no more disposed to proceed to business there than the last. It immediately announced that they were meeting under protest and complained that according to the charter they could only meet in Boston. Hutchinson the historian could not resist refuting this claim, thereby establishing an unfortunate pattern of angry messages back and forth between the governor and the House and Council.

    617. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 1 June 1770

    (No. 21)

    My Dear Sir, The day before yesterday the General Court met at Cambridge. They would have part of the usual Boston Ceremonial. Chauncy preached it is said at the desire of Doctor Young and all the Country Clergy as well as the Town were invited to a grand entertainment at Faneuil Hall.1 We had a considerable shew at Cambridge and very decent. The House before they proceeded to Election, agreed upon a Remonstrance against sitting there which is only the old story over again.2 I have let both them & the Council know I should not remove the Court. The Councellors are better than I expected. They chose indeed those which you negatived but then they added three or four very moderate men. Young Colonel Leonard of Norton Gowen of Kittery Humphreys of Weymouth Hall of Medford who have kept but just enough in with the Enemies to Government to save their places.3 I determined immediately I could not assent Hancock for the share he has had in the combinations Bowers for his general character4 and I had marked Ward and Saunders and had one or two more of your negatives in my mind5 Gerrish refuses to serve,6 but after the choice Ruggles and Worthington who are both in the house came to me and though they used to be fond of Negatives they were now for avoiding them.7 I told them several of these people were chosen in the room of others who were excluded meerly for being friends to Government. They said it was true and the resentment you shewed at first was extremely proper but several years had now passed with some of them and there was no possibility of restoring others who had been left out. Worthington refused to suffer any Votes for him. Oliver Goffe Flucker and some others had declared they would not accept if chose,8 there was a chance now for preventing a great deal of mischief by getting rid of several of the new elected out of the House and the Council would not be a whit worse with them than without them. I had mentioned, before the Election, that if there could be any compromise I would make the matter easy. They said it was impossible to have elected the old Counsellors but the choice of these new moderate men was considered as a Compromise. The Secretary Mr. Goffe Mr. Lee and such friends as I could consult were fully of the same mind9 & added that I should strengthen the Faction in the House by a general Negative & weaken it much by suffering several of the new elected to come to the Council. They wished I could have accepted Hancock but that I told them was impossible. Phillips another of the Merchants Committee did not want many votes.10 I wished they had chose him and two or three more that by negativing them I might have made the resentment appear stronger. Upon the whole I thought it most advisable to extend my Negative no farther than Hancock and Bowers and as far as I can yet judge it will be for the best.

    Cushing as Speaker I considered as you used to do as in Office & the reelection no advancement to him but when chose into any new Office I must negative him till he mends his manners by separating from the Confederates.11

    By means of constant attention to the improvement of every circumstance since the affair of the Troops and the Inhabitants of Boston in the most favorable manner I have kept off the Trial of Preston & the Soldiers & have done it in such a manner as to prevent a general disturbance & it now stands continued to the next Term the last Week in August before which time I hope to receive the necessary Instructions what I must have done, at all Events, if the Trial had gone on and there had been a Sentence against Preston you will easily conjecture tho’ I have never given the least hint of my Intention.12 I am with the greatest sincerity Dear Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    There has been a suspicion of a Fortress upon Fort hill.13 I am informed that a Comittee of the Town offer it to sale supposing that when it is private property it will be out of danger. I have no doubt of my information. My Lord Hillsboro ought to be acquainted with it.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:496–97); at head of letter, “Gov. Bernard.”

    618. To Thomas Gage

    Boston 1 June 1770

    Sir, I have given constant attention to the case of Captain Preston and the Soldiers & by taking the advantage of a number of accidental occurrences have procured without any Tumult a continuance of the Trial to the next Term, which begins the last Tuesday in August, before which time I hope for some express orders from the Ministry.1 I never could be reconciled to the Trial’s being brought on in this term but the Temper of the people was such that it was necessary to keep them in expectation of it until they were somewhat, and could be diverted by some other Subject for their attention. The Court took the opportunity of the time for the Election of Councellors when the minds of the people had been much engaged in a jovial celebration of the Festival at Boston in opposition to me for carrying the General Court to Cambridge, and adjourned without day. I expect some inflammatory Remarks in the News Papers and, it may be, from the Pulpits but I hope it will end there. We have no later news than the 7th of April. I have the honour to be Sir Your most humble & most Obedient Servant,

    Please send inclosed by the Packet. I have the honoour of your Letter of the 21st last.2

    RC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:497); at foot of letter, “His Excelly Gen Gage.”

    619. To Cadwallader Colden

    Boston 2 June 1770

    Sir, The Combinations in the several Colonies against the Importation of Goods from Great Britain must appear to all unprejudiced persons to be unwarrantable & subversive of Government. In this Province they have been the source of most of our disorders. I can have no aid from any part of the authority established by the Constitution in suppressing them. I now despair of any thing from Parliament the present Session. So wild a Scheme has brought great distress upon the labouring people as well as the Traders in this town & I am well informed that a major part of the Merchants wish to see the Trade free from restraint but having in the heighth of there zeal called in the populace as there servants are forced now to submit to them as Masters. By a vote of the populace last week near 50 merchants who had agred to a general importation in the Fall were compelled to desist from any steps to carry there agreement into execution & about 30 more who are of the same sentiments with the 50 are deterred from making them publick.1 Six or eight persons who have the command of the populace & who are not Merchants nor persons of property take upon themselves to publish to the World in print & to convey by Letters to there Correspondents in the other Colonies from time to time very false accounts of the state of Affairs in this Colony. I have no doubt that they receive & publish here as false accounts from other Governments. They have sometimes from some of the Colonies & they had particularly last week from Philadelphia such accounts from the Merchants there, as do not tend to promote their plan. These they suppress.2 I wrote to Governor Penn & gave him a just account of our Affairs in hopes some use might be made of it to undeceive the people there.3 It is with the same view with respect to New York that I give you this trouble.

    The Merchants at Newport are much offended with the people of this Town and Gov Wanton writes favorably of the prospect of a total breach.

    There is a greater appearance of jealousies of each other in the combind parties in the several Colony than I have known since they began. If any thing occurs to you which can be done by the Servants of the Crown to dissolve these Confederacies I shall be extremely obliged to you to communicate it. The continuance of them must be of the most fatal consequence. In the present state of Affairs the less such a Correspondence is known the more success will probably attend it. I am very respectfully Sir Your most obedient humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:498).

    620. To Sir Francis Bernard

    [June 1770]1

    (No. 22)

    My Dear Sir, I am now to thank you for your favours No. 23, 24 & 25 by Jenkins.2 What you mention of my counter orders from Mr. Jackson must I imagine have been occasioned by your not observing in my letter to you of the 8 September which inclosed those Orders that I desired you not to deliver them unless my proposal to you in that Letter was approvd of.3 I never sent any other orders to him nor did I ever countermand my orders to Mr. Palmer who I desired to furnish Mr. Jackson with the money but they still remain in force & if you shall have hapned upon seeing Mr. Jacksons letter from me to have discovered the mistake and applied to Mr. Palmer I am sure he will have supplied the money.4 I could not have justified giving such counter orders without acquainting you with it & I had rather lose the whole fees of the Comission than my Reputation should be affected as you seem to fear it will be. If the business was not perfected until my Letters to you & to My Lord Hillsboro [arrived wherein]5 I represented the necessity of some person of superior powers [both of body and mind] being appointed. I imagine there has at least been a [suspension of] any further proceeding as to me.6

    [By close applic]ation and want of exercise to which for many years I have [been accust]med my health had been much affected & I was very doubtful whether the burden would not prove greater than my constitution [could support. By] constant exercise and frequent change of air and objects for [several week]s together I recoverd my former state of health7 but not fully [until] it was too late to recall what I had wrote & as I cannot judge in what state the affair now is I must leave to you to act for me as you shall judge most for my honour and advantage. If mony should be wanting it may still be had where I desired Mr. Jackson to apply. I have received His Majesty’s Order in Council upon the Complaint of the [house] of the last year. I think it most for your honour & therefore intend to direct the Secretary to record it before I say any thing to the Council about it. A few days more will bring us an account of Mr. Robinsons arrival & the measures consequent upon the Intelligence he carried.8

    The Heads of the ———’s tell them they have nothing to fear from England. Their friends there encourage them still to persevere & I am just now informed that late Letters to Philadelphia from a Gentleman on whom they place great dependence have stirred up the populace there & that they give out they must interpose & prevent an Importation as the Merchants had determind, but this I mention so far as respects that Gentleman in confidence. Rogers tells me has it from the Gentlem[e]n of New York. This I intend for the first packet. Vessels which are loading here may perhaps arrive sooner. I am most sincerely Dear Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:498–99). Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 8 January 1776.

    621. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 8 June 1770

    (No. 23)

    My Dear Sir, Since my two last by the Packet from New York Captain Jacobson is arrived with your favour of 9th of April. I have also a letter from Mr. Palmer of the 12th advising that he paid Mr. Tutte four hundred pounds.1 Your letter by Jacobson to Commodore Hood I forwarded by the Senegal which sailed I suppose two or three days since. Yesterday Lady Bernard acquainted me that the Ship which is to bring out Lord Dunmore is to carry her home. I have since wrote to Mr. Hood to inform him of it & my Letter shall go by the first opportunity.2

    I like your proposal about the Superior Court & will write you upon that & other Subjects as soon as I can be a little more disengaged from the Affairs of the General Court & the Town of Boston. The House acknowledge I have worsted them as to the legality & they are more sulky than if they had got the victory & refuse to do business at Cambridge now from perverseness only. Worthington tells me that before the question was put by what he could judge in conversation with the Members the majority was for doing business but when the Faction had according to their old Artifice insisted upon Yeas & Nays all fell off but six.3 I shall go on steadily with calmness & moderation but I cannot now give up this point. I suspect they will employ their Agents to procure a copy of My Lord Hillsboro’s letter to me upon the Subject but this ought to be guarded against.4

    I have mentioned to Mr. Pownall what I had from General Gage about the caps &c. for 4000 men and also the vote of the Town to sell Fort Hill.5 Some inquiry should be made into the former affair from Mr. Rawle in the Strand for some of these fellows are capable of any thing & it is not impossible that they may have engaged in a deeper plot than we have ever imagined. I am most sincerely Dear Sir Your most faithful Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:504). Contemporary printings (final paragraph only): Boston Gazette, 31 July 1775; Newport Mercury, 7 August 1775; Massachusetts Spy, 9 August 1775.

    622. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 8 June 1770

    (No. 16)

    My Lord, The Towns thro’ the Province, in general, chose the same Members for the new Assembly which had represented them in the last, and the Assembly chose the same Councellors which had been negatived the last year but they added four Gentlemen of very moderate principles. Mr. Hancock is the only person among the new elected who can be considered as an active party in the late confederacies. I refused my consent to his election and to that of one other person who has for many years been very inimical to Government and whose general character is very indifferent.1 To the rest I gave my consent. I had determined to refuse two or three more but I found my principal friends in the Court who thought the resentment shewn by Governor Bernard extremely proper to be now of opinion that continuing the negative would increase their importance in the House and disserve the cause of Government, for the reason of their being negatived at first now in a great measure ceases, several of the Gentlemen who had been excluded declaring they would not serve if Chose and there being not a vote for most of the rest their reelection was become absolutely desperate.2 Besides, the choice of several very moderate men was considered as a sort of compromise and my acceptance of them and refusal of the others would have increased the bad spirit in the House and through the Province. I should have hurt my Interest with the few friends of Government if I had given my negative against their opinion and upon the whole I gave my consent. The Speaker I considered as having been many years in Office and his reelection no advancement and if I had refused my consent to his election I found there would have been a succession of more exceptionable persons who would have been chosen & I must have refused one after another.

    The House have been sitting ten days & refuse to do any business unless I will remove them to Boston. I shall send to your Lordship under cover with this Letter their several messages to me with my Answers.3 I think they are silenced upon the point of legality and rest wholly upon the inexpediency of the measure. Their leaders give themselves no concern about the bad consequences of leaving the publick business undone. It will certainly increase our confusions but it is now much more difficult for me to meet them at Boston than it would have been if I had never removed them. If they finally refuse to go to business I must prorogue them for some time to meet at Cambridge again and I humbly pray your Lordship’s further directions for my future conduct.

    By constant attention and by improving every favorable occurrence I have obtained a continuance of the Trial of Captain Preston and the Soldiers &c. charged with Murder until the next Term the last Tuesday in August and without any Tumult which I had great reason to expect.4 By this delay I hope His Majestys pleasure concerning this unhappy affair will be known in season.

    I have the honour of your Lordships letter No. 34 inclosing an Order of His Majesty in Council containing a very honorable and full acquittal of Sir Francis Bernard and in obedience to His Majesty’s commands I have caused the same to be recorded in the Secretarys Office in the Book for recording all Comissions from the Crown and all Orders of His Majesty in Council.5 I have given no publick notice of it to the House of Representatives because it can have no effect except affording a new Subject to expatiate upon in Messages Remonstrances &c. which would be very pleasing to them.

    I humbly thank your Lordship for your favorable intention in the Arrangements to be made in consequence of Sir Francis Bernard’s resignation. My diffidence of my abilities both of body and mind to discharge the Trust caused me in my Letter of the 27 March humbly to pray your Lordship that a person of superior power might be appointed to the Government. If this should prevent the carrying His Majestys intention to effect my zeal for his service will be the same in whatsoever Station I shall be. If it should not I will to the utmost of my ability do my Duty to the King and to the people tho’ there never was a time when it was so difficult for a Governor to avoid on the one hand concessions to the encroachments meditating against the prerogative and the supreme Authority and on the other to restrain the people from direct and the most open opposition to this Authority. I should be unfaithful if I did not mention this to your Lordship and yet notwithstanding there is such apparent danger of it if it should be known that such suggestions came from me I should be stigmatized as a Slanderer and called upon for the evidence of the [truth or] grounds of my suggestion.

    The Irregularities in the Town of Boston continue. Great part of the Merchants wish them at an end but they were the first movers in measures which have impoverished and distressed the people of the lowest class they called this part of the people to their assistance and now they are become their masters under the influence of a few of the Merchants who still adhere to the first plan. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord, Your Lordships most humble and most Obedient Servant,

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 217–18); at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 8th. June 1770 Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 16) Rx 21: July.”; notation, “C. 26.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 140–44); docketed, “Boston 8th June 1770. Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 16) Rx 21. July”; at foot of letter, “Inclosures 3 Printed Papers.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:500–01); at head of letter, “New York & Jarvis.” Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 8 January 1776. Enclosure to RC: Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, 4 June 1770 (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 219–21).

    623. To Samuel Hood

    Boston 8 June 1770

    Dear Sir, I forwarded to you by the Senegal a Letter from Sir Francis Bernard which Lady Bernard supposes to relate to her passage to England. She tells me she has since received advice that the Ship which is to bring over Lord Dunmore to New York is to come from thence to Boston & to take her & her family aboard & carry them to England.1 Perhaps this intelligence may come to you before you receive it from the Admiralty.

    Our latest advices are of the 23 April from Bristol. No material alterations. By a Passenger from Newfoundland we hear a Vessel arrivd in a short Passage from England the master whereof gave an account of the action between the Troops & the Inhabitants the 5 of March which he read in an English News Paper of the 23 of April.

    Surely it must be very alarming to them. I hope we shall soon hear their determination upon it.

    The Assembly are sitting at Cambridge. They are silenced as to the illegality of there not sitting in Boston but out of mear humor now they refuse to do business. I must not give way to them in such a case. I have the honour to be My Dear Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:504); at head of letter, “Comadore Hood.”

    624. To John Pownall

    Boston 8 June 1770

    My Dear Sir, I have mentioned to My Lord Hillsboro the danger of an open opposition to the Authority of Government. I would not be understood that I believe there is at present a general disposition in the people to separate themselves from Great Britain but it is certain that the present leaders of the people of Boston wish for a general convulsion & not only by their own harangues but by the prayers & preachings of many of the Clergy under their influence inflame the minds of the people & instill principles repugnant to the fundamental principles of government. Upon what is called the Artillery Election a Sermon is preachd before the Governor & Council. The Minister in his prayer after deploring the Tragedy in the Town of Boston by the Troops & praying that the Guilty Blood might not remain upon the land further prayed that the people might have a martial spirit that they might be instructed & expert in military discipline & able to defend them selves against there proud oppressors and the men whose feet are swift to shed innocent blood.1 Our pulpits are filled with such dark covered expressions and the people are led to think they may as lawfully resist the Kings Troops as any foreign Enemies. I will inclose Extracts of two Letters from Gen. Gage. I sent the first to Sir F B. I am at a loss what to make of the intelligence because I can discover no other facts than that in one or two Regiments there is a fondness for a company of Grenadiers and that in general thro the Province there is a desire to have the Militia put upon a more respectable footing & many make no secret of giving this reason that we may defend ourselves against the Kings Troops if they should attempt to land but if there had been a formed design to provide for 4000 men I cannot think but that I should be able to make some discovery. If there is such a Scheme I have no doubt it will be said that it is only for the encouragement of the Militia tho’ if that be the motive there is no need of privacy. I should think it deserves some inquiry. If I could come at the names of any of the Correspondents here I could make a better judgment. Mr. Rawle may make some pretence for desiring to be informd.2

    It is certain that the Town of Boston at a late Meeting impowered a Committee to sell the Land upon Fort hill where the Fort stood in the time of Sir Edmund Andros and which having lain vacant many years is considered as part of the Town’s common land & no body doubts that it is ordered to be sold to prevent the Kings taking it into his possession for a fort or citadel, & I am informed purchases are already made & that the whole will be soon inclosed.3

    I cannot help repeating to you what I have often observed that the longer the nature of our Subjection to the Supreme authority is left uncertain the nearer we approach to an absolute denial of any sort of subjection to this authority & if neglected much longer it must be recovered by force. I once suggested to Sir F B a Royal Comission to persons distinguished by their rank and abilities to visit every Colony the Assemblies to be sitting upon due notice and an answer required to such Queries as may be proposed.4 How far it maybe advisable to demand whether each Assembly acknowledges subjection to Parliamentary Authority may deserve consideration, but such a Comission considered as mearly visitational & in order to His Majesties right knowledge of the State of the several Colonies & of their internal police.5 How far the Statute or common law of England takes place in there executive Courts and whether Acts of Parliament make to respect the Colonies are duly observed must I think be unexceptionable. The Comission from K Charles the 2d would not have been deemed grievous if a judiciary power had not been given to the Comissioners.6 Altho no power of superintendency over the Colonies be given by such Comission yet in the execution of it it may be easy for the Comissioners to know the Principles of each Colony and what reforms are necessary & whether any in the several constitutions to secure their dependence. The principal advantage from such a Comission would be this. When the report shall come before Parliament it must silence the Opposers of Parliamentary interposition the principles avowed in the Colonies and the facts consequent upon them will appear to be so directly tending to a separation from the Kingdom that no man will dare to justify them.

    We suppose here that the opposition to every ministerial proposal & the rage of party must have prevented Parliamentary Interposition the last Session. If any thing can be done to prevent the like opposition another Session is it not advisable to do it? This scheme may be impracticable or it may perhaps be thought inexpedient. Be that as it may I rely upon your concealing my name for altho I have suggested it from a real regard to the Kingdom & the Colonies yet another Construction will be put upon it & it will render me, if known, very obnoxious.

    I keep the Assembly sitting at Cambridge doing no business. They give up the point of illegality and are rather sullen but having in their last message to me refused to do business because they are not satisfied with the reason of their removal from Boston if I should carry them there it would be giving up the power to the House of Representatives which by the Charter is expressly reserved to the Governor. If they continue long in this frame I must prorogue them for some time to meet at Cambridge again. I am with the greatest esteem,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:502–03); at foot of letter, “Jno Pownall Esq.” Contemporary printings: Newport Mercury, 7 August 1775; Massachusetts Spy, 9 August 1775; Boston Gazette, 8 January 1776.