Defections at New York and Philadelphia

    662. To Sir Francis Bernard, 26 July 1770

    663. To Lord Hillsborough, 26 July 1770

    664. To Alexander Mackay, 27 July 1770

    665. To John Pownall, 27 July 1770

    New York merchants began importing all goods, except tea, on 11 July. It was widely assumed Philadelphia would soon follow their example. How long could Boston merchants hold out against the pressure of such competition? Meanwhile, the General Court was divided about whether to proceed to business. A majority of the Council were now in favor, and pressing needs to vote both salaries and taxes awaited the House’s decision. But the patriot majority there still insisted that according to the charter, the legislature could only legitimately meet in Boston, a position Hutchinson regarded as a challenge to the royal prerogative.

    662. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 26 July 1770


    No. 29

    My Dear Sir, I hardly know what to say to you about the Combinations. They have carried it for Importation at N York but it is said the lower Class are much enraged & they make our mobility believe they shall try which party is strongest. This keeps up the spirit here and altho 9 in 10 of the Merchants wish to import they dare not appear, altho scarce any Merchants except Hancock & Phillips appear with the populace. I received this morning a letter of an old date from Governor Penn. You see he is in the same state with Colden.1 In short all the Colonies are alike feeble & New Hampshire & Rhode Island import, not because Government has more authority but because the People taste the sweets of Trade which they draw from the other Colonies. Our people are in a perfect rage against New York. I wish it may continue & increase. If Philadelphia falls of[f] our people must follow, I doubt whether they will set the example.

    The Council would go to business but the House have unanimously voted this afternoon that it is not expedient.2 I will keep them together a few days & if they persist in their perverseness I will prorogue them to Cambridge again, for I do not see I can carry them to Boston without special leave since they have declared they have a right to be the Judges when the Prerogative shall be exercised. In the Winter I must meet them at Boston or not meet them at all. I have desired directions from my Lord Hillsborough.3 I must beg you to represent the expediency & necessity of them. I know of no disadvantage except to their own Constituents if they should continue sullen this half year. The Salaries to all Officers except the Governor are not granted until towards Spring. I would forego my Salary for 7 years rather than give up such a point without Orders. I have hinted in conversation that I thought it not improbable, if they did business now in Cambridge, I could obtain leave for a Winter Session in Boston. I could wish therefore for conditional leave if it shall be thought proper & a general leave judged improper.

    You speak of Preparatory measures for next session. Coming from Cambridge to day with the Secretary I asked him what he thought of a number of persons of rank going through the Colonies as Commissioners upon the plan I have mentioned to you.4 He thought it a very necessary previous step but doubted whether ever it had been proposed to the Ministry. Independence is more & more the aim. On Commencement day5 the Major of the Guard came to inform me a Vessel was just arrived which brought certain news of the Repeal of the Tea Duty. Can you believe that E______ was such a fool as to declare before 8 or 10 of the Council and others that we had now nothing to do but to order a good stock of Goods6 & then immediately to enter into a new combination to import no more until the Molosses Act and every other Act we don’t like shall be repealed also and we shall infallibly gain the Point. I have not the least doubt that if Parliament shall fail the next Session as it has done the last this will be the case in every Colony. It is not now a time to grudge at a small Expence to save the whole Colonies for we are strengthning our selves every year against the authority of Parliament & the reduction will grow every year more difficult. I am with the most sincere respect & esteem Dear Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:523–24).

    663. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 26 July 1770


    (No. 20)

    My Lord, The New Yorkers having agreed to an Importation of all Goods except Teas, which they have no occasion for from England their Dutch trade being under no restraint, our combiners seem to be distressed. If the Town was a Corporation as New York is, I have no doubt the Magistrates would know the minds of the Inhabitants in the same way as the Mayor & Aldermen of that city discovered the minds of the people there, but the Selectmen of Boston are the creatures of the Populace and would be deterred from any measure contrary to the minds of the populace if they were of different Sentiments them selves. It is owing to this that the lowest Class of the people still have the Rule in Boston a few Merchants countenancing and encouraging them. If Philadelphia should follow the Example of New York I think Boston will hold out no longer. If it should not I doubt whether there is firmness enough in the Merchants to oppose the Populace. Tea will be excepted. There will not be a pound less imported but it will come from Holland instead of England.

    I met the Assembly yesterday at Cambridge. I shall inclose the Speech I made to them.1 If they will not go to business I must prorogue them further and give my self no concern about them. Their Constituents are the only Sufferers and when they feel their sufferings to a little degree beyond what they do at present I think they will in many Towns express their dissatisfaction with the behaviour of their Representatives. In the mean time I shall treat them with moderation but firmness. I am very sure if the Members of Boston were out of the House I should have a Majority in favour of Government. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord your Lords most humble and obedient servant,

    Thomas Hutchinson

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, ff. 60–61); at foot of letter, “Honb. the Earl of Hillsborough.” DupRC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 251–52); in WSH’s hand (except closing and signature); at head of letter, “Duplicate”; docketed, “Boston 20. July 1770. Lieut. Govr: Hutchinson. Rx 14th. Septr. (No. 20.) Dupte: Origl. not recd.”; notation, “C:33.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:522). SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 154–55); docketed, “Boston 26 July 1770 Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson Rx 14 Sepr. No (20)”; notation, “Inclosure. The Governor’s Speech printed.” SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 10, 4:8). SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, f. 60); docketed, “Massachusetts Duplicate of a Letter No. 20. from Govr. Hutchinson to the Earl of Hillsborough, dated July 26, 1770, relative to the Inhabitants of Boston & the Assembly of the Province.” Enclosure to RC: Printed copy of TH’s speech to the General Court, 26 July 1770 (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, f. 62).

    664. To Alexander Mackay

    Boston 27 July 1770


    My Dear Sir, I have delayed answering your most obliging Letter of the 6th April expecting the Resolutions of Parliament after the news from Boston,1 which I flattered myself would be such as would tend to restore Government in this & the other Colonies, but we have fresh advice that Parliament is prorogued and all American matters continued to the next Sessions. This altho’ it leaves the Servants of the Crown in America in a deplorable state I doubt not was necessary and we are now to set out anew & place our prospect at a greater distance. In the mean time the opposition to Parliamentary authority certainly is gaining ground and it will be more difficult to subdue it, but it must be done, or we shall go on, one Step after another, until we have wholly seperated our selves from you.

    Until Parliament determines upon measures, as lenient as you please but effectual and such as at all events you will execute or carry to effect, we Shall be in confusion. With great difficulty I have kept of the Trial of poor Preston & the Soldiers until the latter end of next month. I fear they stand a poor chance with one of our Juries, notwithstanding there are many very favorable Witnesses but my great concern is least the madness of the People should carry them to some Outrage so shocking that I dare not mention it and yet, in our disolved state, know not how to guard against it.

    I have often thought of a conversation with you when you undertook to suppress any Riot without firing a gun. I do not beleive Preston intended his men should fire. I do not know that he is not to be justified in ordering his men to charge, but they are in general, such bad fellows, in that Regiment, that it seems impossible to restrain them from firing upon an insult or provacation given them.

    At New York the non Importation confederacy seems to be over. Our People say they will continue theirs notwithstanding and, unless Philadelphia follow New York, I fear they will, for though it is perfect madness to do it and they are destroying them selves, Yet it is not the less probable, for the whole scheme from the beginning is the Product of political frenzy. I have sometimes thought that if the nation was in a state to support a foreign War nothing would be more likely to restore America to its senses but this is a desperate remedy. I have the honour to be with the greatest esteem Your most humble and most Obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:525–26); in WSH’s hand; at foot of letter, “Hon Major Gen Mackay.”

    665. To John Pownall

    Boston 27 July 1770

    Dear Sir, After I had finishd my Letter to My Lord Hillsboro the H of Rep voted they say, unanimously that it was not expedient to do business or to that purpose.1 The vote is not yet brought to me. I find many of the Council dislike it & I am not without prospect of a majority there in favour of proceeding.2

    There cannot be a stronger evidence of a determind design to wrest from the Crown every power which the people do not think convenent should remain there for nothing can be more plane than that the place of holding the Court is in the appointment of the Crown & yet these people must insist upon it that they will judge when the power shall be exercised.

    Parliament’s rising without any notice of us is discouraging to the Servants of the Crown but we are never to despair & if in the next Session they make thorough work it will be a happy delay. I am with perfect esteem & regard Sir Your most humble and obedient Servant,

    SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 156–57); docketed, “Lt. Govr. Hutchinson. Boston 27th July 1770. Rx 17 Sept.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:524); at foot of letter, “Jno Pownall Esq.”

    Harrison Gray, c. 1767. By John Singleton Copley. Harrison Gray was the widely respected treasurer of the province until he was dropped as a councilor in 1772 and, subsequently, as treasurer in 1774 for his too open support of Hutchinson. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

    666. From Sir Francis Bernard

    Hampstead July 27. 1770

    No. 37

    Dear Sir, Since I made up my Packet to you I have enquired in what State your Commission Stands, & I find it rests at the Kings Warrant to the Attorney general to prepare a Commission: It therefore cannot be perfected till My Lord H’s return from Ireland: but he assures me that it shall make no Alteration in the Commencement of your Salary.1

    My Lord is very much alarmed at the Practices to divest the King of Fort hill;2 & depends upon your taking all proper Measures to counterwork this Intention. My Lord would have wrote to you himself upon this Subject; but he is in a great Hurry, & Mr. Pownall is out of Town: He therefore desired me to write to you. I don’t see that you can do any more than to protest continually against the buying selling occupying and improving this Ground on Behalf of the King, that the Purchasers may have no Pretence to complain hereafter of being divested of it. The King’s Title is very plain under the Charter & an Occupation in pursuance thereof. But how is the Town who is not a Corporation capable of being seized of Lands & conveying them to Purchasers? This is a Mystery to me, unless there is a Title deduced to Trustees for the Use of the Town. And I suppose there is no such thing in regard to this Land at Least. I am &c.

    SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:111); at foot of letter, “The Hon: Govr Hutchinson.”

    667. To Ebenezer Silliman1

    Boston 28 July 1770

    Dear Sir, Your letter of the 10th of June was longer than usual in travelling to me and, since its arival, a multiplicity of business has prevented my answer to it in season. I thank you for your kind congratulations upon the honour intended me. Soon after I knew of this intention, I wrote to some of my freinds in England desiring them to signify to the Ministry, that it was not possible for me to bear the weight of such a charge and the 27th March I excused myself in a Letter to Ld Hillsborough. The Business went on sooner than expected, and my Commission had passed the Royal Signature the 27th April and the fees were paid, but it was not issued the 2d May when my Letters to my friends arrived and were immediately laid before the Ministry and of course suspended the issuing the Commission and I am told that I am the best Judge how far I shall be in a better situation as Lieutenant Gvr than as Gvr in cheif. Wether the Commission has been since issued upon the receipt of subsequent Letters is uncertain; if it has not I am determined not to hold my L G’s place, for I have the same burden with less emolument and, indeed, my intention which does not seem to be fully understood was to quit all and concern my self in no shape with the administration, for the people, the other parts of the government countenancing them, have assumed all power into their hands and the immediate Servants of the Crown are treated with contempt and insolences & the administration in England are embarrassed and at a loss how to support them.

    For this Province the faction is headed by the lowest dirtiest & most abject part of the whole Community and so absurdly do the Council and House of R reason that they justify this Anarchy. The word of Tyranny is necessary to remove a single instance of what they call Oppression.

    The Combinations which are absolutely incompatible with a state of Government, be the form what it may, are winked at and our Combiners think they have the ball at their feet. They have persecuted my Sons with peculiar pleasure. After compelling them to deliver 50 Chests of Tea and keeping them 4 or 5 months longer than they understood was intended they obliged them to deliver 50 Chests more which they have no sort of certainty when they shall receive again.2 The first 50 are all sold. The last are out of their power or they would be very ready to comply with your proposal.3

    If it should be at any time in my power to render you any service here, or by mentioning your name in England it would give me pleasure being with much esteem Sir Your Most humble Most Obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:527–28); in WSH’s hand; at foot of letter, “Mr Silliman.”

    668. To Thomas Gage

    Boston 29 July 1770

    Sir, By Thursday’s post from Philadelphia Mr Bowdoin who is Chairman of what is called the Town’s Committee received a letter from Mr Trecothick which, he says, he wrote at the special desire of the Duke of Richmond to advise the Town, in case Capt Preston and the Soldiers should be convicted, to intercede for a respite that they might be recommended to the King for mercy and, Mr Trecothick adds, that it is the opinion of the Opposition that this would be a very likely measure to do the Town service and to remove the Imputation of thirsting after the Blood of the Troops. That there is a letter to this purpose is certain and I have pretty good authority to believe it is exactly as I have related.1

    If these people have any degree of ingenuity or discretion they would follow this advice, but they have none. The letter however may have a good effect. It may keep them under restraint as they will be more inexcusable after this recommendation if any Outrage should be committed. Although it does not occur to me that any thing can be done by you in consequence of this intelligence yet I think it proper to communicate it. I have the honour to be Sir Your most humble & obedient Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:526); at foot of letter, “Gen Gage.”

    669. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 30 July 1770


    No. 30

    My Dear Sir, I sent you a card this morning expecting I should not have time to write any thing more before the Vessel sailed. I have since been to the Castle where I find the Comissioners much discouraged. Burch says there is no possibility of their returning to Town in the present state of things and he thinks it will not be possible for them to remain at the Castle over the Winter. We talked of several places where the Board might be held Salem Camb. New York Amboy. The main thing was protection. It is certain they are of no use at present. I told them I should write upon the Subject. The desired to consider a little & to see me again after which I shall write freely to Mr. Pownall. I do not think the present Members would be admitted in any other Province. What at present appears to me most likely to effect a quiet settlement is a removal to N York & NN an appointment of two Members there in the room of two of the present Members.1 Family connexions carry almost any point there. But I leave settling any opinion until I see them again. I am most sincerely Dear Sir Your most obedient humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:529).