In the wake of the 6 July Order in Council transferring Castle William to royal control, Francis Bernard returned to contemplation of what reforms would be necessary in the Massachusetts constitution to effect a return of law and order to the province. Should the charter be vacated on the grounds of the General Court’s persistent refusal to proceed to business, or could an act of Parliament make sufficient alterations without a quo warranto proceeding? Bernard first asked Hutchinson’s opinion on the subject in a letter written the day after the Order in Council. Two weeks later, Bernard addressed the subject more fully, adding that he now had “higher authority” to request Hutchinson’s opinion on constitutional reform. Bernard’s second letter must have arrived in the midst of delicate measures involving the transfer of Castle William, and Hutchinson put off addressing such a complex issue until mid-October. Hutchinson carefully considered his response to both men, producing two versions of his letter to each.
The two versions of this letter suggest that Hutchinson felt considerable hesitation about how to respond to Lord Hillsborough’s request for suggestions for revisions to the Massachusetts charter. TH crossed out each page of the first draft with his characteristic broad, wavy “X,” indicating he did not intend to send it. The second version did preserve much of the language of the first, but in reviewing it he chose to be even more circumspect, cancelling passages that were copied (with relatively few revisions) from the first. In seeking to be even more cautious, he also cancelled much of the first paragraph on widening constitutional differences between the colonies and Great Britain. After discussing the composition of the Council, he then added new material on Massachusetts courts, town government, and juries, as well as justices of the peace and other civil officers, before concluding with a review of recent developments in the province. The second version of the letter bears no indication that it was not sent, yet no receiver’s copy has been found.
Boston 9 October 1770
My Lord, The day before yesterday I had the honour of receiving your Lordship’s private Letter of the 3d of August which I shall keep to my self without letting it be known to any person whomsoever.1 Nothing can be more just than your Lordships observation upon the effective cause of the Calamities of America. Seven years ago the resentment of Parliament was dreaded in every Colony where the least danger of it was apprehended. By degrees it has lost its terror & it seems to be a general opinion that no Acts will pass for regulating the Colonies & if any should pass that they will not be carried into execution. Seven years ago the authority of an Act of Parliament would have been questioned by no body in this Province. The Authority of Parliament to impose Taxes or Duties for a Revenue is now almost universally denied. The Leaders of the People deny the Authority of all Acts & when they find occasion for it will make the people follow them. When the seeds of these Principles were first sown they might easily have been stifled they are now very difficult to be eradicated.
When your Lordships Letter came to my hand I was preparing some Remarks to be forwarded to Mr. Pownall in answer to a Letter which I had received from him.2 They are loose unconnected thoughts just as they occurrd to me the pressure of publick business not admitting of my digesting them or putting them into order. There can be nothing new in them to your Lordship but they may possibly bring to your mind something which might otherwise have escaped it. The particular Articles upon which your Lordship has been pleased to desire my Opinion I will observe in their order. The number of Councillors in the Colonies which have no Charters especially in the larger Colonies which I think is generally twelve appears to me too small for, to have a sufficient number for business they must all live near the Capital Town or Seat of Government whereas it would be much more agreeable to the people to have the Council distributed through the several parts of the Colony a sufficient number in or near the Capital to transact common business of less moment & a general attendance to be made necessary upon extraordinary occasions & perhaps at some stated fixed seasons. If the present number should be continued I should not think it too many if they might all be included in one Commission or Authority but if they must be by seprate mandamus or if upon the Supply of a Vacancy a new Mandamus will always be necessary the number may be too large for tho 30 or 40£ Sterling appears in England a sum not worth regarding yet many of our people who are most proper for the place & who have competent Estates in Land would not pay that Sum.3 If an alteration in the form & charge attending the appointment be not advisable I think 20 or 18 with the L G & Secretary for the time being to be better than 12. I will transmit under this cover lists of the Councillors since 1765 distinguishing such as were removed for their attachment to Government & distinguishing such among them as I have reason to think from age or other reasons would decline serving if the principal Obstacle Parliamentary regulation was out of the question. With this obstacle or rather from fear of the rage of the people it is difficult to say who would have firmness to accept & afterwards to persevere. As it is the subject of conversation from the News paper & private Letters from England that a reform will be made in the Constitution I asked a Gentleman a few days ago who is desirous of the reforms & who is well acquainted with the disposition of the people how the change would be receivd he answered that he thought it probable the new Councillors would be as obnoxious & as unsafe as the Comissioners of the Customs but he added that he thought it must come to a Trial one time or other & he saw no prospect of better times. If it could be effected as was the change of the Garrison at the Castle suddenly & without any persons knowledge until it was done and the people had it not in their power to undo it, altho they might be able to shew their resentment against the person Instruments concernd in it there would be less difficulty.
The House I think will refuse to act with the new Council. The change will happen at a time when the people will not feel their refusal to do business for a year or two together, because I have brought the present House to go upon business & I doubt not they will do all that is necessary. Whenever this change is made it will facilitate it if there be a clause in the Act to establish all Officers appointed by the former Council for a certain time even if it shall be judged necessary to vacate all Offices afterwards or after such time shall be expired as there will be less danger of interruption in all judicial proceedings which would increase the Confusion & bring on a general Anarchy. That your Lordships may have the fullest Information of our present state which I am capable of giving I must observe that there are many among the Opposers of Government who speak of the loss of the Charter as a matter of no Consequence & say the fear of losing it has kept the people from further exertions & that when we are once clear of it they will be able to do no more in England & the people will be more firm than ever.
Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 27:13–14). The entire letter was cancelled by TH.
Boston 9 October 1770
My Lord, The day before yesterday I had the honour of receiving your Lordship’s private Letter of the 3rd of August, which I shall not make known to any persons whom ever.1 Nothing can be more just than your Lordship’s Observation upon the efficient cause of the Calamities of America. Seven years ago the Resentment of Parliament was dreaded, in every Colony, where the least danger of it was apprehended. By degrees, it has lost it’s Terror and it seems to be a general Opinion that no Acts will pass for regulating the Colonies, and if any should pass that they will not be carried into execution. Seven years ago the authority of an Act of Parliament would have been questioned by no body in this Province. The authority of Parliament to impose Taxes or Duties for a Revenue is now almost universally denied. The Leaders of the people deny the authority of all Acts and, when they find occasion for it, will make the people follow them. When the seeds of these principles were first sown they might have been easily stifled, they are now very difficult to be eradicated.
When your Lordships Letters came to my hands I was ^then^ preparing some Remarks ^just as they occurrd to my thoughts & as the pressure of publick Business would permit^ to be forwarded to Mr. Pownall in answer to a Letter which I had received from him. ^I hope your Lordship will pardon my putting them under this cover loose unconnected & unfinished as they be for altho^ there will be nothing new in them they may possibly bring to your Lordships mind what might otherwise have escaped it.
With respect to the number of Councillors proper for this province I must say that I never observed any Inconvenience from the present number as being too large it being very agreeable to the people to have the Council distributed thro the several parts of the Province & in such case if the number be small we could not suddenly have a Quorum Seven being the present number of the Quorum for the ordinary business of the Province. Extraordinary business to require a full Council has not often hapned. I think notwithstanding that it will be too large unless they may be included in one Comission or Authority for it a separate mandamus is necessary to each many of the most proper persons will refuse to be at the Expence even of 30 or 40£ sterling. Twelve I am humbly of opinion is too small. Eighteen was the number under the first Charter. That was for a part only of the present Province the old Colony of Massachusetts Bay. I will prepare a list of the Council in each year distinguishing such as have been left out for their attachment to Government & seem most proper to be restored.
It is the opinion of many who wish well to Government that there will be violent opposition & that the new Council if they accept will be as obnoxious as the Commissioners of the Customs. Some of the more factious people however give out that the Charter is of no worth & it will be no damage to us if it should be taken away the imaginary value set upon it having kept the Assembly from a more free assertion of their natural & constitutional Rights from a fear of losing the Charter. If a change of the Constitution could be effected as the Garrison of the Castle was changed by a sudden stroke which when done the people would not have it in their power to undo I could make a better judgment. As it cannot be it appears very doubtful whether there would be a peaceable submission to a new form of Government & if there should not whether a new Council would have firmness enough to accept the Trust & pressures.
Our Courts of common Law have by the Laws of the Province in divers instances the power of a Court of Chancery.2 Cases have frequently hapned particularly when it has been necessary to compel the performance of a Trust where there has been a failure of Justice for want of this Court. The people have been taught to have very formidable apprehensions of a Court of Chancery where the Governor is to be Chancellor there having been a number of Instances in the Colony where the Governors have not been equal to such a Trust & great complaints of long experience & very violent [illegible] Sentiments in some of the Colonies. The Judges of the Supreme Court of Common Law are likewise a Court of Equity by the Constitution of Scotland & one or more very learned Writers have held that it is liable to as free Exceptions as the Court of Chancery in England where it is altogether distinct from the Courts of Comon Law.
The powers given to Towns were never intended by Law to extend farther than for the management of the immediate concerns of each Town such as chusing their Officers raising money for their necessary charges & the like, and if the Law had its course I think every Meeting for any other Purpose would be an unlawful assembly and it would be an aggravation of the Offence that Law is made a pretence for it. Their Meetings introduced the Mob Meetings to support the Non importation scheme which have weakned Government beyond every thing else having convincd the people that whenever they think fit to assemble there is no interior power to disperse them or to punish them for any thing they do when assembled.
There is at present no chance for suppressing such illegal meetings by any power within the Province. My hopes have been from an Act of Parliament subjecting all persons concerned in any such confederacies to incapacities for civil privileges & such penalties of the Statute of Premunire as may be judged proper. This in the beginning would have had much greater effect than at present. As conviction will be necessary before any person offending can be deemed to be disqualified to bring an Action in the Courts or to sustain any civil Office. The times are now so much alterd that I am doubtful whether there will be many prosecutions upon such an Act but am not certain that it would have no Effect. There has been great abuse in the choice of Jurors more especially G Jurors. About 30 years ago a reform was made in the appointment of Petit Jurors by a Law which has been expird since the 1st of July and which will probably be revived this Session & if I can procure some amendments I imagine there will be no occasion for any other regulation but G Jurors are often sent for particular & sinister purposes especially from the T of Boston. In many Counties the most fit persons have been and still are usually returned. I know of no other way of reforming this abuse than by a Clause in an Act of Parliament requiring that G Jurors should be appointed as they are in England & repealing those Laws which make other provision.
The appointing civil Officers by the Gov. & removing them at pleasure will tend to assure the Judges will be deemd a Grievance & I believe will give advantage to the Disturbers of the peace of Government in the Kingdom as well as those in the Colonies. Some person in the Office of Justices of the Peace & one Sheriff have behaved extremely ill in the late times & a Council acting with freedom would have advised the Governor to dismiss them. Sheriffs continue but one year in England. New Comissions to Justices, I suppose frequently supersede old Comissions. If it should be determind by a Clause in the Act that no Comission to a Sheriff nor no Comission to Justices of the Peace should be of longer duration than one two or three years perhaps the same end woud be answerd in a less exceptionable way than by leaving these appointments and removal to the Gov. alone.
The Civil Officers annually elected are the Treasurer Impost Officer & Commissary Gen. Of late years the latter has slipd into the Court but is rather a Military Officers and a Royal Instruction requiring the Governor for that reason not to consent to the choice but to grant Comission to such person as he thinks fit would be sufficient. The other two I believe are elected by the House without the Gov. consent being necessary at New York. There is besides a Truckmaster and a number of Public positions of no significance.
It was very fortunate for me that I had your Lordships permission to make such use of the Order in Council of the 6 of July as I should think would best promote his Majesty’s Service without making it publick or communicating it by Message or Speech to the General Court.3 By letting the Council know of it I was able to prevent the fury of the people from falling upon me at the removal of the Garrison from the Castle which even upon a demand from the General in consequence of any Orders he might have had I doubt whether I should have been able to have done. This naturally led me to mention to the two House[s] in general terms affairs of a very interesting nature to them which causd the House to desire me to explain my meaning. I let them know I was not at liberty to communicate to them this Order by Message or Speech but I had no doubt the State of the Province would come under the consideration of Parliament & if they apply further I shall point out to a Committee such exceptionable parts of their Conduct as I think they must naturally expect would cause an Enquiry but any particular measure that may probably be taken I shall not hint to them. I thot this most agreeable to your Lordship’s intention & I had this farther occurrence that if the case of that Province should come before the Parliament they might not say they had no intimation of it or no reason to expect it.
There is such a general expectation from many private Letters as well as News papers of Parliament’s taking cognizance of the proceedings in this Province that if they should now pass without notice there would be danger of our treating Parliament with still greater contempt & insolence. I shoud not however discover to your Lordship the whole of my mind if I did not observe that on the other hand some advantage may arise if a final determination may be deferred until another Session provided it may appear to be done in favour to the Province either upon their solliciting to be heard which I do not know that the House will think of or from its being thot proper to give notice to the Province by a Copy of the Bill. I am sensible matters are not regularly referrd from one Session of Parliament to another but I suppose bills brot in at one Session are sometimes printed for consideration and with intent [to] reassume them another Session as much as if they had been referred.
A Breach is began with New York which with a little management may be increased.4 I think this must be justified because it keeps both Colonies from measures which must be their destruction. The other Colonies have a bad Opinion of this and the more this Opinion is promoted the less likely we shall be to persevere in our irregularities as to resist the measures for reforming them. Should there be a War with France or a probability of it we shall look about us and see our dependence upon the Kingdom to save us from the Enemy and be less disposed to such wanton provocations. A Bill being passed some amendments or alterations may be suggested which may be very material in order to its having the disigned Effect.
The placing a Garrison of the Kings Troops in the Castle and the Rendez vous of His Majesty’s Ships in the Harbour is deemed only the beginning of the execution of a Plan which will be carried on sooner or later until the Province is brot to a due sence of their subjection to the Supreme Authority & this will keep us under some awe. As your Lordship desires me to make any general Observations which may be of use I beg leave to suggest what has frequently occurd to me. In most of the Colonies that I am acquainted with altho the Common Law is professed to be the foundation of their Judicial proceedings to be departd from only in cases where the Colony Law has made special provision yet in every Colony they do depart from it some by establishing Customs & all by adopting some late Statutes made for reforming the Law & omitting others which renders the Judgments in similar cases different in one Colony from those in another & in every Colony causes the Law to be more or less vague and uncertain.5 An Act or Clause in an Act determining that in every Colony the Common Law as reformd by Statutes except in cases where other provision is or shall be made by the Acts or Laws of any Colony shall be the Rule of Law in the Colonies & I humbly conceive it worthy of consideration whether in cases exceeding a certain value it might not be convenient to determine that Writs of Error should lye to the Court of K’s Bench.6 Such an Act would be a Trial of the Authority of Parliament and we should be loth to depart from it when our Titles to our Estates might be affected by it. I mention this as one among other Acts proper to keep up a sense of the Authority of Parliament & I know it to be an Act which Gentlemen of the Law in other Colonies have wishd for.
I cannot sufficiently express my Gratitude for the honor done me in the continuance of his Majesty’s favorable intention with respect to my appointment to the chief command of the Province. My friends in general are of opinion that I should have more weight with the people of the Province than in my present Character and I own I am not without desiring evry mark of His Majestys approbation, but I may not conceal from your Lordship my apprehension that this burden will be greater than my Constitution will support for any length of time. I could therefore wish that I might be permitted to appoint one of the Present Judges Chief Justice who would Willingly resign upon my return to it which if I should do I should chuse to do it without any other place or character nor should I be anxious about the quantum of the Salary rather disiring to pass the remainder of my life usefully and to preserve my health by less anxious business and by exercise to which I have always been accustomed than to make any great increase of my Fortune.7
As your Lordship has been pleasd to signify to me that my Salary shall comence from the date of His Majesty’s Warrant in April last I shall not contend with the Assembly about any further Grant & if they should make any I shall let it ly until I have acquainted your Lordship with it & taken your direction how to proceed.
It occurs to me that if it shall appear to your Lordship to be regular it may be of Service if some Resolves should pass anticeedent to the bringing a Bill into the House expressing the groundless and unwarrantable attempt of the House to confine the Court to the Town of Boston and the Doctrine advanced by them to which they still adhere tending to deprive the King of every part of his prerogative.
I have obeyed your Lordship’s commands as well as I could and as the time will admit & if any thing further shall occurr to me I will take the liberty to mention it by another opportunity. I am with the greatest respect & gratitude
P.S. I venture to send to your Lordship a rough incorrect Letter which I have not time to transcribe rather than to omit writing by the Romney especially as your Lordships Letter to me was longer than usual upon its passage to me and you desired an Answer as soon as possible I [MS torn] till the next Vessel.8
Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:441–47).
Boston 9 October 1770
My Lord, the General Assembly have at length voted to proceed to Business by a majority in the House of 59 to 29.1 The Council, in general, were in favour of it. The House are preparing a Protest or Remonstrance or some thing of that sort which will be opposed by many of the Members but I can scarce hope that they will be able to prevent its passing. I am very glad that this point is carried. It makes the heads of the Opposition to Government very wroth but I think the body of the people in the Province will be more quiet in their minds than they were whilst the Controversy was subsisting. 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. 290–91); at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 9 Octobr 1770 Lieut. Governor Hutchinson (No 27) Rx 7th Novembr”; notation, “C:42.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 169–70); docketed, “Lieut. Governor Hutchinson. Boston 9 Octr. 1770. (No 27) Rx 7th November”; notation, “Inclosure. Massachusetts Gazette of Thursday 11 October.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 27:22); at foot of letter, “Rt Hon the Earl of Hillsborough.”
Hampstead October 9th. 1770
Dear Sir, I this morning received from Mr. Pownall your Letters No. 33 & 34 with the inclosed, & opening them in his Room he had immediately a Communication of them.1 I at the same time gave to Mr. Hallowell a Packet of Letters for you which I had made up that morning.2
I heartily wish that the Gentlemen of your Town may be releived from the Tyranny of the Faction which governs them as soon as possible. But I see no Prospect of it till after Parlt. meets; & not even then, if they will not exert themselves: quis invitum servare laboret?3 to what Purpose will the Carter call upon Hercules to get his Cart out of the slough, if he will not put his Shoulders to the Wheels himself? The Parliament can do no more than remove the Obstructions which have prevented the Activity of Government & Magistracy. But if, after all, the principal Gentlemen with all their Connections & dependencies don’t dare to take upon them the Conduct of the Magistracy & with the Laws of their Side & the King to support them, will stand in awe of a Mob, they must be content to be the Slaves of the Leaders of the Mob & deserve to be so. Did ever any People who deserved to be free, submit to the Despotism of such Fellows as Adams Cooper Molineux & Young? Let never Freedom be mentioned in a Place where such Men govern.
I doubt much whether there is any Intention in the next Session to meddle with any of the New England Govts except yours; or to do any more in that than what is necessary to render Govt active & effective. The Charter is undoubtedly forfeited: but it is another Question whether Advantage will be taken of the Forfeiture.4 For my Part I am not for vacating the Charter but for reforming it; & not to ground such Reformation upon a Suggestion of Forfeiture, but upon the Supreme Authority of Parliament, which never was and never can be bound by a Charter in a Matter of so great Importance as the Govt of the British Dominions. I think that for the Parliament to take Advantage of a Forfeiture would be a great Degradation of its Authority. And in Case there is no Occasion for it: for The Charter in general is not exceptionable, but only a very small Part of it. And if the Parliament should correct this, they would remind the People, that if they should abuse their Charter in other Instances it will remain with Parlt. to correct such Abuses; & so toties quoties.5 This is my Idea of what ought to be done in Parlt with your Province, but whether it will be so or how otherwise I know not.
It signifies nothing to write about Preston: the die is cast before now. I had not time to condole with you upon Rogers Death. It is a common Consolation that the deceast would have died some time or other; but to you I may say, he was dead allready: for I think before I left Boston, his Faculties were gone. And yet I kept it to myself, & never objected to his Appointment at Boston excepting once mentioning an Appointment in L H’s power, which would have been greatly more for his Ease & Advantage than what was intended for him. At present my great Desire is that the three Appointments may appear in the Gazzette together, that by their Combination they may have a greater Effect. I have had very little Opportunity to talk fully with L H upon these Subjects; but I shall see him tomorrow morning & shall dine with him at a Turtle Feast, where I shall have the Honor to set down with the first Ministers of State. I am Sir &c., &c.
This day Lord H told me that yesterday he proposed Mr. Oliver to the King to be Lieut Govr with a Salary of 300 a year, having previously obtained Lord North’s Approbation of it. Tomorrow he intends to name Mr. Flucker to the King as Secretary: and these Promotions with yours will be in the Gazette together as I proposed; but perhaps not time enough before Mr. Hallowell to bring it. Your salary is fixed at 1500 pds. & I believe will commence from the Time the King first named you I have some Merit in getting it to this.
SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:132–35); at foot of letter, before postscript on f. 135, “The Honble Govr Hutchinson.”
Boston October 17701
My Lord, I shall now cover the lists of Councillors which I could not compleat before I was obliged to close my letter of the 9th. I beg leave further to suggest to your Lordship that if it should be thought expedient not to proceed to a final determination this Session but to give opportunity for the Province to be heard a Bill for the vacating or disanulling the Charter in all its parts & leaving it to the King to settle the Government by Royal Comission might be more proper than to settle any plan of Government in the Bill which may well be taken up when the objection to the Bill shall come to be considered. Besides the unfitness of the present Constitution for so large a Colony so remote from the Kingdom & the Conduct of the Assembly for so many years past particularly that when the Governor had negative[d] any Councellors we have always neglected and often expressly refused to choose others in their stead the Doctrines held both the last and present year concerning the prerogative by the Council & House seem to be sufficient to ground such a Bill upon.
Whensoever it shall be determined to make the change the grand difficulty will be to carry it to effect against the general bent of the people. This has caused me to turn in my thoughts a variety of plans in order to find one which might be executed their opposition notwithstanding. The great thing proposed is a Council that are less under the restraint of the House. Instead of an annual election let it be once in three years & if any of the Council are negatived let the Court be held to proceed to the choice of others until the number is compleat & nothing done in Court to be valid without it. Let the Governor annually select 12 out of the 28 who with the Lt Governor & Secretary shall be the privy Council or His Majestys Council for the Province for that year and shall have all the powers except that of Legislation which the Councilor Assistants have by Charter. If the Election should still continue annual the alteration would be almost insensible & yet the Effect would be very considerable from the Governor’s having it in his power to select 12 of the best men besides rendring the 28 more dependent upon him. If the Governor should not be confined to the 28 but might select the 12 from the Inhabitants at large tho caeteris paribus2 he should give the preference to the 28 there would be some advantages but it would be a greater departure from the present form. The Council meerly in their legislative capacity would be like Cromwells other House3 of no great consequence tho they woud be rather serviceable to the Governor who might often make an advantage of their negative upon the House & yet they could not hurt him by their concurrence. I hope your Lordship will pardon these Suggestions which I am sensible are liable to exceptions as every plan is which I have yet heard of & I have no other view than to offer every thing I am capable of for your Lordships consideration who I am sure will make a better judgment and more just determination upon the whole than I am capable of. I have the honor to be most respectfully Your Lordships most respectful and very humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 27:22–23). Contemporary printings: Boston Gazette, 14 August 1775; Remembrancer for the Year 1776, pp. 158–59.
London Octo. 13, 1770
Dear Sir, The din of war grows more and more faint, the alarm will soon be over, and I think I may venture to assure you, in conscience, that the affair of the Falkland’s Islands will not only end now in peace and honour, but have consequences of lasting credit and security to the kingdom. Our enemies, do not want inclination to quarrel, but those circumstances of debility which prevents their wishes will increase more and more every day. I hope further that I may venture to assure you that the resolution to reform the constitution of Massachusetts-Bay, in those parts at least which regard the absurd mode of electing councellors and returning jurors stands fixed and decided, and if I do not mistake the spirit and wishes of its best inhabitants, it is a reform they will be glad to see take place. A great deal will depend on the issue of Capt. Preston’s affair, of which I have some painful apprehensions, though better hopes than I had.
The arrangement in which you have so considerable an interest was settled this day with our royal master—yourself chief governor, Mr. Oliver Lieut. Governor with 300 l. per ann. Mr. Flucker, secretary. If you think public communication of this before your commissions are received, will have any public advantage, there can be no objection to your making that communication in such manner as you think proper, upon the authority of Dear Sir, Your most obedient and faithful humble servant,
No MS found. Contemporary printings: Boston Gazette, 28 August 1775; Massachusetts Spy, 6 September 1775; Essex Journal, 15 September 1775.
Boston 15 October 1770
Sir, I omitted answering your favour by last week’s post having nothing material to acquaint you with. I am glad to find by your favour this week that you approve of my proposal about the Storekeeper.1 I did not know you had mentioned it to Lt Colo Dalrymple. I saw him friday last. Probably he forgot to say any thing to me about it. Your letter is wrote with so much candor that I will take the liberty to shew it to the Council as I think it may be of Publick Service. I have an intimation from pretty good authority that there are more grounds to expect a French War than we can collect from publick appearances, that there has been a discovery of the French Schemes the last year to bring on a War and altho’ then they failed it was supposed they would be prosecuted this year & that probably a stroke had been struck in India at the time of this intimation. You will please to receive this without mentioning it as from me. Perhaps you know more of it than I do. The Platforms at the Castle and many of the Carriages are in bad order. The materials for the former should be provided immediately that they may be seasoning against the Spring. It may be of some service in my Administration if I could have the recommending of persons employed in the work if they will do it upon as good a lay as others. I should think only of strengthening government by it. Mr. Montresor has been very obliging in that way upon the same principle.
My Lord Hillsborough received my answer to his Letters acquainting me with my appointment to the Government a day or two before he set out for Ireland and he has been so condescending as to write me that he shall consider me as Governor of the Province from some time in April when the King signed the Warrant for my Comission.2
The papers I coverd relative to Captain Preston I was not consulted about until they were brot to me to authenticate with the Province Seal when it was too late to make any alteration.3 Some passages in some of the depositions I wishd had been omitted. I shall have a small Vessel of Commodore Gambiers Squadron ready to sail immediately after the trial. I am very respectfully Sir Your most Obedient humble Servant,
RC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 27:19–20).
Boston 15 October 1770
By the Aurora from Plimouth to Liverpool
Dear Sir, When I receive a Letter from you I am impatient to answer it and I must own that I have selfish views, that I may sooner obtain another. I thank you for your last favour without dates which came to hand about a week ago.1 I shall be more upon my guard in mentioning your opinion upon any Subject and avoid doing it where I have not your licence. I was under some concern after I had done it but I[t] had no consequences and is intirely forgot.
The Affair of the Commission was puzzled by a mistake of Sir F B. I wrote to him in September 1769 that if he agreed with me in sentiment that it would be best for me to decline the place then to deliver to you the Letter which I inclosed to him for you otherwise to suppress it. He did not determine & yet delivered the Letter & I suppose forgot it.2 I had wrote to Palmer to furnish you with what money you called for that I might have the honour of your appearing for me, to take out the Commission and I never countermanded the Order to Palmer or hinted what I had wrote to Sir F B but the money always lay ready.3 If I had used the freedom to desire you to advance the money, which I never expected[,] I could not have taken amiss your declining it after the delivery of my Letter to you.
You have obliged me greatly by the hint of the disposition of Parliament. I shall be still more obliged when I have your Sentiments more at large. I have been backward in telling you how much I value them lest it should make you more cautious in communicating them.
You think I must see some Ray of light which induced me to alter my mind. When I desired to be excused, I saw no chance of doing any Service. My Lord H afterwards in a most obliging manner acquainted me with his Majestys approbation of my Services & his intention as to the appointment. This made great impression upon me and my Friends who agreed with me that I should do right in excusing myself now urged my acceptance, not with any great prospect of bringing affairs to their former state but they flattered me that I should be as likely as any body to keep them from growing worse and they supposed that I should have more weight as Gov. in Cheif then as Lieut Governor.
I have had a constant succession of difficulties from the Governor’s leaving the Province. I cannot help taking some satisfaction in looking back upon the issue of most of them as more favorable than I could expect, The two latest the controversy about the place of holding the Gen Court and the Garrisoning the Castle with the Kings Troops could not have been so well surmounted by a Governor less acquainted with the constitution of the Government and the temper of the People. As to the first I agree with you that the general inclination of the Inhabitants of a Colony ought to be consulted in determining the place of holding the Assembly and I have no doubt that if the People had acted with Freedom they would not have opposed sitting at Cambridge. But the Council & House, soon put the controversy or stress of their arguments, upon such points that if I had yielded to them I must have given up, for just the same reasons every other part of the Prerogative.
The Afair of the Castle I conducted so as to preserve the appearance, at least, of a superior command and that I had only placed another Garrison there, which by the Charter I had a right to do, and by my Commission was obliged to obey the Kings orders in doing of it.
I know not what reason may make it necessary to continue the Duty on Tea, but I think the repeal of it or making the same Duty payable in England, is necessary to prevent disorders in the Colonies for in spite of all the votes of the Trade, some will import it and that will bring on those unlawful riotous meetings in order to restrain or punish them, which have almost destroyed all sense of subordination in the people of Boston and other Commercial Towns. I should have but little trouble with all this Province except one Town.
I will do the best I can and make myself as easy as I can. My temper does not incline to Enthusiasm but I firmly believe a superintending Providence over all human Affairs and be the Event what it may I know it will be right. I am with sincere regard and esteem Dear Sir Your faithful Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 27:23–24); in WSH’s hand. Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 15 January 1776.
Just as he did when responding to Hillsborough, Hutchinson produced two versions of his answer to Francis Bernard’s queries concerning the reform of the Massachusetts government. The first version not only contained an additional section dealing with some private concerns of Bernard’s, the transfer of the Castle, and the decision of the Massachusetts House finally to proceed to business, but in the more substantive part of the letter, Hutchinson wrote far more extensively and speculatively about measures that would return order to the province. He lamented that what he believed to be the unconstitutional doctrines advanced in Massachusetts were not addressed earlier by Parliament and added the observation that when some of the colonies’ supporters in Great Britain actually encouraged such statements, it only compounded his difficulties. He also reflected on the need to bring parliamentary statute and colonial law into greater conformity, before he finally addressed Bernard’s concerns about the way the Massachusetts Council was chosen. Bernard always favored making the Council appointed by the Crown, instead of elected by the lower house of the legislature. Hutchinson advocated less sweeping changes. In conclusion, he reasoned there were only three solutions to the problem: bear with the situation and hope jealousies among the various colonies caused them to break apart, enact sufficient burdens on trade that would cause the colonies to give up their unconstitutional pretensions, or resort to force.
Hutchinson’s second version was much shorter and more circumspect. He proceeded immediately to the question of the Council, suggesting triennial elections and the creation of a “privy council” selected from the larger group that would take on the Council’s executive functions. He rejected the idea that judges should serve at the governor’s pleasure and raised once again the idea that the statute of praemunire might provide more moderate, yet effective, punishment of government opponents than prosecuting them for treason. Hutchinson then included a shorter version of his three-part analysis of how the colonies might be made to return to order, before finishing with remarks intended to calm Bernard’s fears that the town of Boston’s efforts to sell land on Fort Hill would preclude its use by the military.
Boston 20 October 1770
My Dear Sir, I had not time to write to any body but My Lord Hillsborough after I had notice of Commodore Hoods sailing and an aditional Letter to his Lordshipfailed by Dalrymples absence from the Castle to whom I sent it in the Evening and the Ship sailed before sunrise the next morning. Since my last I have your favours 38 & 39.1 The first I have answered in a seperate Letter as it relates meerly to your private concerns, which by the way, Mr. Logan seems to manage with great faithfulness.2 What you mention in the other, about Machias, as proper for me to do I had done & received my Lord Hillsborough[’s] answer & directions and have laid the matter before the House, which I do not find they have taken any notice of.3 You forgot to leave me your Letters or Extracts from them, some of which were as necessary for me as the King’s Instructions. I do not remember or rather I think I never knew what directions you had about those Lands. I shall consent to no more Grants.
You will have heard that the House are brought to do business. The Boston Representatives try to plague me all they can but have not that full command of the House which they had though in most points they have a majority. That deposition of the Secretary’s has hurt us both and though I take it all to my self & justify yet they bend their force against him and he says he must ask for the Lieut Governor’s place now if for no other reason than because he expects they will curtail his grant as Secretary.4 I hope the L Grs place will be made equal to the other you know nothing comes from the Castle. I shall send you their Message & my answer about the Castle.5 I have been upon my guard for I knew their plan, and I knew it to be a plan by some in England to bring this Affair of the Castle into publick view as an invasion of the Charter. I have therefore from the beginning considered the whole as nothing more than changing one Garrison for another the Fort still remaining under my direction. The General has aided me much to keep up this appearance. I have caused an Inventory to be taken of all the Stores and intend to give to Burbank a Commission or Warrant for Store keeper to issue none but by my Order and to be accountable to me.6 I shall appoint Salisbury to receive all passes and to make due return to me of all Vessels inward & outward which you know was the work of all the Quarter Gunners but it was totally neglected at first by the new Garrison being unacquainted with it.7 You know the necessity of it. I shall represent it to Lord Hillsborough and I hope you will explain it that some allowance or establishment may be made if the Assembly should refuse, as I believe they will, otherwise it must come out of my own purse. The Winter will drive the Commissioners out of their Appartments which I intend to reserve as the Governor’s, the State Room being enough for the Commanding Officer and Phillips rooms for the Officer on guard. The Chapple may be turned into lodging rooms for any other use I see likely to be made of it. Inter nos8 I think the good effect of this measure is visible, as it shews the people the King will not leave them to themselves and as I have steered it, they are nonplusd as you see by their Message and dont know what exception to make. The House at present, decline the usual provision in the Impost bill for passes at the Castle & say they will establish no fee, the Acts for fees being expired. I think the late Act of Parliament provides for the fees and if I can manage it with the Custom House not to clear Vessels until they have taken their passes from the Naval Office I shall give myself but little concern whether the Court make provision or not but if they finally refuse, I shall transmit the advice of it that other provision may be made if it shall be thought necessary.9
I must now make some answer to the Queries in your Letter No. 34 though I can say but little or nothing which you and I have not repeatedly talked over between us. The more I think of the Subjects the more I am perplexed. The misfortune is that these disorders these unconstitutional principles from whence they spring were not nipped in the Bud. Had every man who openly asserted that Parliament was not the supreme authority of the whole Empire been subjected to part of the penalties of the Statute of praemunire and every man concerned in any combination to resist the execution of an Act of Parliament been subjected to the whole penalties five years ago I think but few people would have run the risque of them.10 Even Otis in his ravings stopped when any thing was said like denying the authority of an Act of Parliament & pronounced it High Treason. But as soon as it was known that their principles were justified by some of the first Men in the Nation you know what a turn it gave. From that time Government has been wholly upon the defensive against the attacks of the People, who universally profess this Tenet that the resistance of unconstitutional Laws is to be justified and they not only hold it in Theory but upon every occasion carry it into practice. These are the Disorders & the first Question is what immediate tho’ temporary Remedy can be given. I am still of opinion that nothing can be done to purpose without a Law determining the Offence and affixing to it severe penalties for you have by justifying it, at least by a strong party in England made Courts & Juries here doubt or appear to doubt wether there is any Offence in it or not. You will ask whether this Law will be executed under the present Constitution of Government and if no[t] what must be done to give it force. Altho’ I think it probable that it would have been four or five years ago yet I doubt it now if the offence must be tried where it is committed. Can any provision be made for trying it in England? That I do not know. The Parliament has declared that Treason in the Colonies by a Statute now in force may be tried in England but great opposition was made to this Doctrine and Parliament itself seems to have dropped it. I think any person who in consequence of such confederacies had been injured in his person or property might very well be entitled to his Action for damages in England and the Effects in England of any person concerned in such Injury might be make liabel to respond the damages. This would do some service. Would an alteration in the form of Government do it or any reform which may be made in the Laws? All the answer I can give is that when the Administration is in persons who are disposed to support the authority of Government there is a better chance for bringing the People to see the necessity of a due subordination than when it is in such persons as are elected by the People in order to support them in principles opposite to Government and who are removeable at Pleasure if they do not answer the purpose for which they are elected but whilst this principle of opposition remains in force, I do not think that any form would be able to compel to such subordination. A reform of the Laws is to be considered in the same light whilst the general spirit of the people continues the same. In the Massachusets Province, the Council, dependant upon & elected by the people, declined any act to shew their disapprobation of the disorders & would not have consented to the removal of any Officers who neglected their Duty by suffering the disorder to prevail & to pass unpunished. Had they exerted themselves in the beginning, its probable that such exertion would have excited the Officers of the Government to do their Duty and that the people would have been awed into a submission to Law but this erroneous, & absurd Tenet and the spirit of opposition has been ever since growing and spreading and its doubtful whether the same exertion would have the same Effect and, if not it is not very material what is the disposition of the Council or how they are appointed seeing their power in each case would be the same. I thought I could have done much if I had been able to remove Dana & Ruddock who justified the Riots to my face.11 I afterwards demanded of Auchmuty & Murray if I should call upon them and, if necessary order the Troops to fire upon a mob which were committing violence & refused to disperse; the first declared he would not as the Laws not of this province but of England now stood & as the people in both were disposed, for he was sure of being brought to the Bar, as Justice Gillam was, and he should have less chance with a Jury here than Gillam had in England, the other made an immaterial distinction and said he would upon a mob who were committing violence upon the persons of the Subjects but not upon their property.12
I am willing to give you the best Idea I can of our present state not to prevent any reform of our Constitution which may be judged necessary but to prevent a dependance upon that alone to restore Order and a submission to Government. Whether it will be judged most proper that the appointment of the Council should be the same as at N York &c. or Whether the Council as now appointed should remain a distinct branch of the Legislature and a privy Council taken out of them with all the executive powers which the whole Council now hath I submit. The Council as a branch of the Legislature may be of Service. When they concur with the House, in any thing improper they will not add much weight and they will sometimes use their negative and save the Governor trouble. I wish, be it one or the other, the form of Mandamus might be avoided and some other way of authorizing be pitched upon which may be done; and a larger number than in the other Colonies will certainly be necessary. It will be less exceptionable for the Commissions of Sheriff & Justices to be made temporary than to have them removable at pleasure.
Your next question seems to puzzle the wisest heads in the Kingdom and yet you ask my poor opinion upon it. I have always determined with myself until very lately that if the Colonists could once be convinced that the Kingdom was united in Sentiment and resolved at all Events to maintain its Authority over the Colonies we should be as tame as Lambs and I have still but very little doubt of it. The greatest difficulty now will be to make us believe the Nation is in earnest, measures began or threatned having so often been left without prosecution. I wish you would read the story of the 30 Colonies in the 27th and 29th books of Livy. The 12 Colonies which refused to submit to the Senate seem to have been in much the same Case with the Colonies upon the Continent and there is as near a parallel between this case & that of the British Colonies upon the Continent as in any History. When I had more leisure I was attempting to become Author & had translated these passages & have often wondered that in this Controversy I have never seen them quoted.13 The West India Colonies may be compared to the 18 and if measures can be taken to increase the number (N York & Pensilvania bid fair to join) the Massachusets Virginia & South Carolina which seem the most refractory, especially the first & the last, must Submit as the 12 did.
There seems to be three ways in which the Kingdom can deal with the Colonies in order to reduce them to their former state. Either bear with their Insolence until they have distressed themselves to that degree as to be able to bear it themselves no longer & to increase the distress, encourage a division among them by distinguishing one from another acording to their behaviour but yielding to none in any point the Authority of Parliament over them, tho’ the exercise of this authority in some Points, particularly that of Taxation may be suspended. Upon this plan the People may come to their Senses and their present factious leaders lose their Influence over them and in the mean time, they can [d]o but little hurt to the Kingdom; The Servants of the Crown in the Colonies as they have been for some years past will be the principle Sufferers.
The next way is to lay such Burdens upon them by confining their Trade to Great Britain only & making all their Vessels liable to be seized bound to or from any other ports excluding them from the fishery and the like, as shall compel them to submit to the Supreme authority. Their dependance upon Trade is such that they cannot long subsist without it. At worst, they will never unite, some it may be at present are not to be considered as maintening of mutinous principles, others may & will join with them, these may be favoured & they who stand out may alone be subjected to these Burdens.
The only way which remains is that which must be the dernier resort in every Government be the form what it may, they must be considered as Revolters and must be reduced by force but they must be pronounced such by the supreme authority in order to vindicate those who have the direction of this force and the actual execution of it. Previous to the two last methods something further seems necessary to be done than has yet been done. My proposal about Commissioners I knew was liable to exceptions and they are such as to give you an unfavorable opinion of it or you would have taken some notice of it.14 Would not some Act or Acts of Parliament to extend to all the Colonies be proper and a conformity to them be made a Test of the submission of every Colony to the supreme Authority? You may remember I have mentioned to you more than once in Conversation the uncertainty of the Rule of Law in Judicial proceedings in this and every other Colony. An Act of Parliament determining what the Common Law as amended by Statutes should be the Rule of Law in every Colony except where alteration has been or shall be made by the Colonies Laws is what is much desired in some Colonies and is necessary in all.15 In most if not all the Colonies they have an Act for enabling Creditors of absconding or insolvent Debtors to attach the Goods and the debts due to such Debtors and to call the trustees & Debtors to answer upon oath. This Act is the cause of great injustice. When a Man fails in the Colonies all his effects are immediately attached by his Creditors upon the Spot and the Creditors in England and other distant parts to not get a shilling. So if a Merchant breaks in England and has Effects in the Colonies his Creditors there immediately attach them and they have not been subjected with his other Estate to the Bankrupt Laws, nevertheless when a person is declared a Bankrupt in England the Claims of the Colonists are admitted and they receive a dividend if they have not made attachments in the Colonies in common with other Creditors. All these Colony Acts ought to be made null by an Act of Parliament and when any persons becomes Bankrupt in England all his Effects in the Colonies ought to be subject as those in England & his Creditors in the Colonies allowed their Claims & be intitled to distribution in Common with Creditors in England and for persons who become Bankrupts in the Colonies, let every Colony provide a Bankrupt Act which they would do if it was not for the chance they have of more than their equal share of a Bankrupts Estate by means of these absconding Acts as they are called.16 If these & such like Acts of Parliament are duly conformed to it is a good precedent for others; further to secure the depandance of the Colonies on Parliament many of which may be made with great propriety and so as that they cannot be evaded. If there should be a direct refusal to conform to such Acts as they should be totally disregarded it would be tantamount to an express disowning the general Authority of Parliament for no acts can be less exceptionable.
Until it shall more fully appear that Acts of Parliament in general are not observed by the executive powers in the Colonies or that the Legislative powers more explicitly deny the Authority of such Acts than they have yet done it may perhaps be difficult to justify laying any heavy Burdens upon the Colonies in order to induce a compliance or using direct or open force in order to compel it. The Stamp Act only has failed hitherto. You very justly observe that your second question would open a large field, not to determine what ought to be done but what can be done. Only go back to the first Emigration of the Colonists and consider that in all its Circumstances, & the difficult[y] is over as to the first point what ought to be done. We may imagine the Atlantick to be Land instead of Sea, Which would not be of greater extent than the English Empire in America bids fair to be in a Century or two, or than Russia is at present and all English Territory. A number of Subjects at one end of the Territory desire to remove to the other & petition the King to grant the Soil & to make them a Corporation with some peculiar powers adapted to the remote Situation from the seat of Government. Would it ever have been imagined that they were mad[e] free from Subjection to the Supreme Authority of the Empire the bounds of rather settlement thereof they were extending, it can make no difference whether the Travel be by Land or Sea, and yet great stress is always laid upon our having crossed a vast Ocean of more than 900 Leagues into a New World. But then it is added we cannot enjoy the rights of Englishmen by means of our remote situation. I think there is a plain answer, if you do not like your Situation come back to the place your Ancestry went from, it was a voluntary act in them to leave it and you are under no restraint from returning to it, although if our return should be prejudicial to the general Interest, even this concession need not be made, it may be enough to say that we have brought it upon ourselves and must take the consequences. Every attempt to make us a new sort of Subject has failed from the absurdity of it and every man who has but a moderate share of Reason, after all the twistings & turnings which bias to party excites, is forced to admit that we are Subjects to all Inten[t]s & purposes or to no purpose whatsoever.17 This we ought to be made to know and acknowledge. Which of the methods I have mentioned will be taken or whether any other more salutary and more practicable shall be devised the Wisdom of Parliament must determine. Be it which it may the late Order of his Majesty in Council respecting this Province was wisely framed as preparatory to it.18 It has caused no additional Expence to the Crown except something inconsiderable in additional Works at the Castle, is perfectly constitutional being what his Majesty had an undoubted right to Order it is a proper mark of resentment against the insolence of the Town and the Faction, under its influence, and will facilitate any further measure which shall be judged necessary. I have heard nothing of any treaty about Fort Hill since the news of this Order except that the Committee, who were planning it out some time before were seen upon the Hill a day or two after. There is no doubt of the Towns having power by force of a Law of the province of making sale of their commons and this Hill was part of the Commons first destined to be the place for a Fort by the Town under the old Charter when they received no orders from the Crown concerning the Forts.19 It was taken possession of by Sir Edmund Andros by virtue of his Commission. Upon the Revolution the people demanded the surrender of it and held it until the present Charter when Sir William Phips as Capt General took it into possession with the Battery below.20 The Fort upon the Hill soon went to decay and the Ruins were all removed many years ago. I remember some of the Out houses standing within these forty years. The Battery you know such as it is still remains and has a Company belonging to it and I think the Hill may be considered as an appendage to the Battery and in possession of the Crown. If there should be any further I must lay in a Caveat and assert the right of the Crown but it would give weight if I had an Instruction to prevent all encroachments upon any places which are or have been in possession of the Crown as Forts or appendages to them.
I have wrote you a long Epistle which I must pray you to excuse me from transcribing an[d] correcting as I should do if I had less business upon my hands. I am with Sincere respect & esteem Your Servant,
Boston 20 October 1770
My Dear Sir, I can say little or nothing, in Answer to the Queries you propose, more than what has often passed in Conversation between us. You know we have both wished for a second branch of the Legislature, more analagous to the House of Lords than that in the Royal Governments or that in the Massachusets, but have found invincible difficulty attending every projection. I think it would be an improvement upon our Constitution if the Council was elected once in three years instead of the annual Election and twelve to be appointed from among them annually who with the Governor should have all the powers given to the Governor & Council by Charter. The Lt Govr & Secretary to be added to the privy Council. As the House has refused to fill up the places of those, who have been negatived the Assembly should be restrained from proceeding to business until the Council is compleat.
I doubt not some of the Faction wish to see an attempt to alter the Constitution. If they should be found to submit to it, which they give out they would not, at least they say they shall, be better able to unite in opposition when they have nothing to lose.
It may be difficult to compel to a compliance. If an amendment of the Charter only be thought best the Act should provide that in Case the province should not conform to it the Charter should be forfeited and upon such refusal or neglect the King should be impowered to settle the Government by Royal Commissions. I suspect you will think I am too much attached to the old Mainsprings but I am not and if, when a bill is brought in, opportunity should be given to the Assembly to make their defense I should be pleased with it because it is possible the People may be alarmed & see their Error & if they should not they will be left without excuse.
I dont know that the Judges have, ever behaved so as to give sufficient cause for their removal if it had been in the Govr’s power and I cannot think it advisable to give him power to remove them at pleasure and for Justices & Sheriffs it would be less exceptionable, if the continuance of their Commissions should be limited than to leave it to the Governor to remove them when he pleases.
Then for a general provision which is your second Query you ask my poor opinion upon a point which has always left us perplexed when we have talked upon it and which seems to puzzle the wisest heads in Europe.
I can see three ways only by which the Colonies can be brought to that dependance upon Great Britain which is necessary to their continuing part of the same Government. You will think of a fourth representation, which I acknowledge, to be in Theory, the most eligible but I do not see how it can ever be carried into practice.
The first is to bear with their disorderly behaviour until they have distressed themselves so as to bear their distresses no longer. Encourage the animosities already begun between the Colonies and distinguish one Colony from another by favour for good behaviour & frowns for the contrary. Lay aside Taxation not upon the principle that it is to be distinguished from Legislation in general but because it is inexpedient. I have often thought since the Stamp Act of a saying of Henry Cromwells to Thurloe, Errors in raising Money are the compendious ways to raise a general discontent, for whereas other things are but the concernment of some this is of all, wherefore I hope God in his Mercy will not lead us into temptation.1 Keep up every other part of Legislation and familiarize every Colony to Acts of parliament. This may in time bring the Colonies to their Old state and whilst the Trial is making the Kingdom will suffer least, the Servants of the Crown in the Colonies will be the principal Sufferers. If this be thought not advisable, or should prove ineffectual, I must confess I see no way of supporting the authority of parliament whilst there is a general disposition of the Inhabitants to resist it but such as may be justified upon this principle, viz. that they are in a state of Revolt. How far that is the case & what evidence may be required to ascertain it must be left to the Wisdom of Parliament. Whenever it shall be determined to be the case, I think the second way and what is to be preferr’d to Military Government would be to confine their trade, to Great Britain only make all their Vessels liable to a forfeiture or confiscation bound to or from any other ports, exclude them from the fishery & the like which would compel a submission to the supreme authority their dependance upon trade being such that they cannot long subsist without it. If this also should fail the third way which must be the dernier resort in every Government be the form what it may of force but as I before observed they must first be declared in a state of Revolt in order to vindicate the direction & execution of this force & it would be laying any subordinate authority under the greatest hardship to make that the judge when any illegal unwarrantable Acts of the Colonies shall amount to a Revolt.
The two last are desperate Remedies & such as I have wished the principles & practices of the people of the Colonies may never make necessary in my day and I cannot beleive the body of the People would risque their being forced to submit to them as the final effect of their opposition, but they are made to beleive by the leaders of the Faction here that they are in no danger of them and I know not which way they can be convinced of the contrary until the mischief is actually coming upon them. Meer declarations that they are and ought to be, subject we see has no Effect. Looking back upon what I have wrote it occurs to me that if there be a Triennial Election of Councillors perhaps a triennial appointment of the privy Council would be less exceptionable than an annual appointment it would not be so great a security against the popular bias they are under.
You speak of opening a large field and I might fill a Quire of papers but I can write you nothing new, the subject is exhausted.
As to what you mention about Machias I had wrote to my Ld Hillsborough at the time when the Grant was made and I have received his answer. I shall consent to no more of those Grants although it makes no difference people settle there as freely without Grants as with them.
I do not yet hear of the sale of any part of Fort Hill. The Committee of the Town were upon the Hill staking or measuring for some purpose or other about the time the Garrison was withdrawn from the Castle. I know of no motion since. It would give weight to my Opposition if I had a Royal Instruction to take care that no Incroachment be made upon the Kings Forts or any appendages to them or any Tracts or parcels of Land which have been possessed and Improved by the King for fortresses.
I expect to write again before any Vessel sails. I am with respect and Esteem
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 27:40–42); in WSH’s hand. Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 21 August 1775 (excerpts); the Gazette introduced his letter with the following statement: “In a copy of the same date and No. entred before the above, Mr. H______ was more diffuse and mention’d several things not contain’d in what was sent. Quotations from it will shew his sentiments; I shall therefore add them.”