Fighting to Continue Nonimportation

    582. To Sir Francis Bernard, 28 April 1770

    583. To Samuel Hood, 28 April 1770

    584. From Sir Francis Bernard, 28 April 1770

    585. From Thomas Gage, 28 April 1770

    586. To Thomas Gage, 29 April 1770

    587. To Thomas Whately, 30 April 1770

    588. From Thomas Gage, 30 April 1770

    Popular dissatisfaction that the ministry chose to repeal the duties on paper, glass, and painters colors but not tea prompted the Body of the Trade to reconvene in a series of meetings on 27–30 April. There they reaffirmed Boston’s commitment to nonimportation until total repeal occurred and ordered all spring shipments of goods to be returned. But the Body of the Trade, whose membership was unrestricted, was much larger than the actual community of merchants, and a substantial minority of the latter met separately on 1 May to discuss possible modifications in the agreement. As soon as the patriot leadership learned of the breakaway meeting, the Body was summoned back into existence, and the merchants’ meeting dispersed without taking any action.

    Merchants outside Massachusetts, however, particularly those in New York and Philadelphia, were less certain they wanted to continue the boycott, but it was the smaller ports of Newport, Rhode Island, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that were the first to break the agreement, prompting some of the larger towns to cut off trade with them.

    582. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 28 April 1770

    No. 15 Private

    My Dear Sir, I am extemely obligd to you for your Letters as far as No. 21 which are now all come to hand.1 The particular account of occurrences & especially of what passd in Parliament has given me great entertainment but must have given you a great deal of trouble. Your answer to the Remonstrance is absolutely perfect. All your friends say never any thing was better done. We now are impatient to hear the Terms of the Report.2 The partial repeal makes the mad people of the Town more distracted than if there had been a total refusal & incredeble as it is they have forcd the Debloises and other Importers to send their Goods back & Hancock has consented his ship Scot shall carry them freight free.3 To what length may they go before Ld ______ Mr ______ & other Members of the two Houses of Parliament will allow these Confederacies to be illegal.4 I think the Nation has lost all Spirit or they could not bear the Insult & high Contempt. If Parliament rises & provision is not made for punishing these people I never will depend on any measure again in consequence of the Speech & Addresses.5 Most people suppose this will be the case. Your last Letter being silent upon the Subject I imagine you expected nothing. Boston populace must of consequence govern this Province another year unless their Tyranny causes a Rebellion aginst them. I cannot make any Impression upon Green & Boylstone Bethune &c.6 I tell them there are enough if they would exert themselves. They answer it must be done by a severe Act of Parliament & nothing else will do it. I have pretty well got rid of the General Court. They were the whole Session seeking occasion to quarrel with me but I would give them none. They at last rather than rise without doing something made themselves ridiculous by sounding a Remonstrance upon a very innocent Message I sent them concerning a riot at Glocester. They had nothing worse to charge upon me than the Affair of the Manufactory House.7 The rest is Rant and inflammatory harangues upon Troops Tyranny &c. They are enraged at my negativing Cushing as Comissary & Hancock as Speaker pro Temp & having mentioned in Council that I could not consistently with my Instructions consent to Hancock’s Election a general opinion has Spread that he is [not] to be admitted into any Office whatsoever. Mr. Goldthwait could obtain but about 20 Votes for Truckmaster. If negativing the person chosed in his stead would have given him a new chance I should have done it but he would not have had 5 votes on a second Trial. Hubbard having sunk much in his Votes after my negativing Cushing tho he was about the first choice & presently the last.8 In short they determined no person called a Tory should have any Office & they chose Bowers who can scarcely write his name to be a Notary Publick in the room of a Tory otherwise well qualified.9 They declined passing a Bill for a Grant to me until they had sat [illegible] week had passed their foolish remonstrance & could sit but a few days longer and made this pretence that they expected as soon as they had made a Grant to me and other Civil Officers I would dissolve them in consequence of private Instructions. This is reviving an unwarrantable practice which brought on the dispute about a fixed Salary & every Assembly for 40 years past has carefully avoided any pretence for the renewal of it until the Assembly of the present year. After all let the Assembly do their worst it would give me no trouble compared with what I meet with from the state of the Town of Boston. To see Molineux Young Hancock Phillips Cooper Adams and half a dozen more determining upon measures & then assembling the populace by ringing of Bells to carry them in to execution threatning all who oppose them with ruin in their trade & estates & intimating even something worse and to be obliged to sit still because every motion without power to carry it to effect only makes matters worse gives me infinite uneasiness & anxiety of mind.10 Every person who wishes for a Reformation has placed his whole dependance upon Parliament and sinks into despair when he hears it is said in Parliament that these proceedings are legal. If the meeting in the Winter of which you had received an account [illegible] does not excite some high resentment I am sure I have nothing more to do than to keep the peace by the most prudent means within as narrow bounds as possible for they can exceed them just when they please and whilst the pretence is that all is done to save the Constitution nobody will afford me any assistance in opposing them.

    If all persons concerned in these compulsory measures had been laid under incapacities themselves and their Estates in any part of the Kings Dominions made liable to attachments to [respond?] the damages which any person had suffered by the delivery of their Goods or by restraint upon their Trade or perhaps double damages I do not believe Rowe & Hancock would have run the venture of breaking such an Act but a Constitution which admits of Assemblies of the people to conspire against it as legal must always be in disorder and its better to be in a state of nature than to live under it.11 If from the advantages you enjoy from your reputation & character as well as from your being on the spot and having an opportunity by conference to urge and to demonstrate the necessity of it you are nevertheless unable to succeed I am sure it will be in vain for me any longer to attempt the same thing in writing. I shall therefore for the time to come only represent facts as they occur with such observations upon them as my situation may give me a peculiar advantage to make. I suspect one argument against any measure to suppress these Assemblies in the Colonies receives its weight by corresponding them with the Assemblies of people so frequent of late in England.12 Why, your Assemblies are against the Persons in Administration and to effect a change their own are against the Constitution & to effect a change in that [illegible] surely this is one of the first things to be guarded against in a state of [anarchy?] be the form what it may. Besides in a Colony so remote whatever claim we may make to every Privilege the people in the mother Country enjoy it is most certain that there must be some restraint laid upon the Colonists which may not be necessary upon the Subjects in the Mother Country or they will infallibly shew that they are of age and independent of their Parents. But I have tired you with this Subject.

    Mr Paxton has kept chiefly at Cambridge now & then in Town. Mr Hulton and Mr Burch returnd from Portsmouth to Brookline last night. I am going out to morrow to Auchmutys to meet & consult with them there.13 I shall commit this Letter to the care of Mr. Bridgham going to England I suppose upon mercantile affairs. He is son to the Minister of Brimfieled who professes an attachment to Sir Francis Bernard & speaks in terms of the highest respect of Lady Bernard.14 The son, as far as I can inform myself bears a fair character & the father is very urgent with me to mention him to you. I am with the greatest regard and respect Sir Your faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:396–97).

    583. To Samuel Hood

    Boston 28 April 1770

    My Dear Sir, I am extreamly oblig’d to you for the Interest you take in our Troubles. I have had such a Succession of Opportunities of acquainting administration with ev’ry Occurence that I think the Service does not require my embracing your very kind Offer.1 The Skirmishes and little Quarrels between the Troops and Inhabitants were alarming as My Lord Hillsborough writes me;2 what will they feel when the News arrives of the Inhabitants compelling the Troops to Leave the Town? The Repeal of part of the Late Act will have worse Consequences than if the whole had Remained in force. A Refusal, in whole, might have caused the Faction to despair of ever carrying the point. The obtaining part makes them Resolve to persevere in order to obtain the Rest, and can you believe it, they have compelled the Late importers, who belong to the Town, to Send their Goods back again. Scott the Master gave me notice to day that he is to sail the 3d or 4th of Next Month:3 They suffer the Piscataqua, Rhode Island, & Salem Goods to be sent to their Owners & Sold. This is absolutely Infatuation & the Town is Losing all its Trade, only for want of Spirit in the Merchants who disapprove of their measures. I have Repeatedly pressed it upon them to unite & make a stand but to no purpose. I fear parliament will Leave us in this State. I have got Rid of my Assembly pretty well considering the times and have determined to call the next at Cambridge again the 30th May. Poor Prestons Trial is to come on about that time. I hope God in mercy to us will ere Long put an End to American Anarchy & Restore us to a State of Government and order. I have the honour to be very Respectfully, Dear Sir, Your faithfull humble Servant,

    April 30. I have just now a Message from Lady Bernard to let me know she intends with her children to go to England as soon as she can. Her tender constitution makes our Merchant Vessels especially as they carry Oil extremely inconvenient and she thinks dangerous to her health. If any of the Kings Ships are intended to England she would think herself happy to be favourd with a passage and as I must consider myself the Patron of the Governor’s family it would be peculiarly obliging to me.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:395).

    Admiral Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood, 1784. By James Northcote. Samuel Hood served as commander of the North American Station from 1767 through 1770. © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

    584. From Sir Francis Bernard

    Pall Mall, April 28. 1770

    No. 28

    Dear Sir, I wrote to you yesterday a short Letter to go by the Packet Boat, which is sent directly to Boston. I had very short Notice of its going & could write no more. And indeed now I am a little more at Leisure I can say Nothing certain. The Consideration of the Boston Business is referred to Wednesday next, something must be done, tho it is not easy to say what. The Opposition who affect to resent the Indignity put upon Great Britain call upon the Ministry to act with Spirit and upon a System or to resign their Offices as unequal to them. It is put out of all Doubt that the attacking the Soldiers was preconcerted in Order to oblige them to fire and then make it necessary to quit the Town, in Consequence of their doing what they were forced to do. It is considered by thinking Men wholly as a Manoeuvre to support the Cause of Non-Importation. L B was the only Man in the House who approved of the Soldiers retiring to the Castle.1 He said that where there was no Magistracy there should be no Soldiers; & if they intended to have Soldiers sent there again, they should provide for a Magistracy, which could not be done but by appointing a royal Council instead of the present Democratical one. It is generally expected that General Gage will, without waiting for Orders, send a Reinforcement to Boston & order the whole into the Town. Everyone, without Exception, sayes it must be immediately done; those in Opposition are as loud as any; Lord Sh______ told a Gentleman who reported it to me, that it was now high time for Great Britain to act with Spirit.2 It is expected there will be a Parliamentary Enquiry into the Causes & Authors of the Disturbances at Boston for some time past & that the Subject will be thoro’ly canvassed. As this will not be easily reconcileable to the common Forms of Parliament, it is expected that it will be done by a Commission strengthened by an Act of Parliament & supported by proper Powers. Upon the whole this is considered as an happy Event which will be productive of good Consequences which will abundantly make Amends for the Mischeif which has been done: so that the Machinations of the Faction are like to fall upon their own heads.

    The lying Legend of the Boston Gazette which was not beleived while it remained uncontradicted, is now thoroughly exposed by subsequent Publications;3 & the Practices of the Faction to fling an Odium on the Custom house by suborning an ignorant boy to swear to Facts which were easily proved to be impossible, are laid open to the World.4 People differ much in their Opinion about withdrawing the Troops; but in general they acquit you; as all who consider the Situation of the Troops dispersed over the Town in separate defenceless Barracks [do?] the commanding Officer. But they who don’t enter into the Difficulties the Troops laboured under can’t reconcile themselves to 600 Regular Troops giving Way to 2 or 3000 Common People, who they say would not have dared to attack them if they had stood their Ground: they treat it as a successful Bully, & it may be so; but surely the Event was not quite certain. However if it is a Disgrace it may be easily retrieved, & it certainly will.

    I was very desirous of getting your Commission so as to have sent it by this Ship; but it was impossible. However I have the pleasure to tell you that it has passed the King’s Signature. Mr Olivers accompanys it: I intended to have wrote to him, but have not time. I am &c.,


    SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:88–90); at foot of letter, “The Honble Govr Hutchinson.”

    585. From Thomas Gage

    New York 28th April 1770

    Sir Having given Orders for the march of His Majesty’s 29th Regiment, from their present Quarters at Castle William to Providence, where they will Embark on board Vessels, that will be provided for them by the Deputy Quarter Master Genl.; I am to beg the favor of you to give Directions to the Civil Magistrates, that they may be provided with Quarters & Carriages on their Route. Lieut Colol. Dalrymple will inform you of the Day on which the above Regiment will begin their March, and the number of Carriages required, which will be paid for by the Regiment as by Law directed.1 Regular Quarters cannot be Expected in the Straggling Places the Regiment will pass, they will therefore Shift with such as can be provided for them. I have the Honor to be, with perfect Regard and Esteem, Sir, &ca.

    AC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of page, “[Gov]r Hutchinson.”

    586. To Thomas Gage

    Boston 29. April 1770

    Sir, I have the honour of your Letter of the 23d. I have not a word relative to the Troops more than what I sent you the 26t. by the Hartford Post.1 A Vessel, has been spoke with which left London some days after the News arrived of our ^first^ great disorder. I wish to know how that was received. A ship that sailed for London the same day with Mr Robinson one of the Commissioners of the Customs has been spoke with off the Western Islands the 2d or 3d of this month & probably arrived in ten days after. By both those Vessells viz. the Ship spoke with and that Mr Robinson went in, I wrote to the secretary of state and gave the fullest account of the expulsion of the Troops.2 I think something more will be done, as soon as that Intelligence arrives, for the security of America than has ever been done before. I judge only from the nature of the case having only represented facts and the Impotence of the Civil Government without proposing any measure. I should not wonder if an Express should be immediately sent to America.

    You are the proper and best judge of the expediency of the removal of either of the Regiments. The men seem to me to be in better condition since they have been at the Castle than they were in town.

    The Commanding Officer there assures me they are not suffered to have any Rum from the Sutler for the Garrison and if any person attempts to bring any upon the Island the Officers of the Troops may prevent it.

    I have met with but little trouble from the Assembly compared with what I met with from the town of Boston. I have dissolved them, it being near the time when they must have been dissolved by the Constitution, and I have issued Writs for a new Assembly to meet at Cambridge.

    This will be deemed a Grievance, but I cannot help it.3 If I recede from my Instructions in one Point, it will be like the Concessions made by Parliament, and cause them to be more restless until they have gained every other Point. I am &c.

    RC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:398–99); at foot of letter, “His Excy Genl. Gage.”

    587. To Thomas Whately

    Boston 30 April 1770

    Dear Sir, We have very lately heard of the Vote of the House of Commons to take off the Duty laid by the last Act upon paper Glass & colour & to leave the Duty upon Tea. If this Intelligence is received in the other Colonies as it is here the Event will shew that it was necessary to repeal the whole Act if it was to repeal part of it for I know no reason for repealing any part except to quiet America and our people are more turbulent from part only being left than if the whole had remained. They say by our firmness & resolution we obtained part in the same way we may obtain the whole & they are making the Trial. All the Importers belonging to the Town have submitted to send their goods back to England and the leaders of the people say it is done voluntarily. When any measure is thought necessary to keep up the plan of Non Importation a number of persons who call themselves a Committee of Merchants give notice by printed hand bills that a meeting is necessary & they invite all Merchants & all connected with Trade the Bells are rung & the whole Town is assembled. The Importers are sent to and given to understand that the Trade expects they should send back their goods. If they refuse or propose any answer a second Committee is sent to inform them their answer is not satisfactory and the Trade will not be satisfied with any thing short of a full compliance. Five or six who refused some months ago have been so harassed & kept under such Terror of their property & they say of their lives that they wish they had complied & have since offered to submit but have been once prosecuted it is urged that if they should once obtain a pardon it would encourage others to offend. Several of the last Importers begd with Tears they might be allowed to house their Goods and they would give security not to sell any until there should be a free Importation. This was refused because, as they give out, their friends in England write them that 10000£ sterling shipd back will be more servicable than 100,000£ housd & restraind from sale.1 To an Importer who was at first pretty steady they sent a Comittee of Tradesmen with an Answer a Carpenter at their head who let him know that there were 1000 men waiting for his Answer if he refused there was no saying what the consequences might be. This was a strong argument & induced him to comply & a day or two after they published in the News papers that he had complied voluntarily.2 You will naturally ask where is the authority of Government? By the Charter the Governor with 7 Assistants are to manage the Affairs of the Province. I have represented to the Council repeatedly their great unfaithfulness in not assisting me in suppressing these Assemblies but it is to no purpose the Representatives are elected by the people the Council by the Representatives. The body of the people join in these measures. Such of the Council as are not of the same principle with them are afraid to own they are not merely refuse to appear in opposition to them. In short the Government and people combine together to distress the nation and force a repeal. They distress themselves in a greater degree. They persist nevertheless and many of them are quite frantick and say they had better die once than die always and in this temper regard not the consequence of their Actions. The principal Demagogues are men of desperate fortune, they wish for nothing more than some grand convulsion. An unfortunate Action of the Troops in firing upon the Inhabitants was to them the most fortunatethat could be. Many of the people took to their arms and with the utmost difficulty a general rising was prevented. Though a Governor in such times is necessarily obnoxious I could not avoid exposing my self in the midst of them and prevaild on them to dispers until morning but the next day they appeard in such a body most of the civil and military Officers with them & made such explicit declarations of their being determind to drive the Troops out of Town that the Comanding Officer offerd to remove one of the Regiments to the Castle but this not being satisfactory he let some of the Council know that if they would advise me & I would desire it he would remove both. I had declined concerning my self in the affair but it now became necessary for me to comply or become responsible for all the consequences of their remaining in Town as every Member of the Council & all other Orders of men pressed it upon me as the only means of appeasing the rage the people were in. Nothing could be more against my grain and my intention was rather to have withdrawn to the Castle my self than to submit to it until Such of the Servants of the Crown as I could consult thot of the two Evils that would be the greatest.

    There is not the least doubt that the body of the people in this and the neighbouring Towns would have taken to their Arms. What numbers would have come in to their aid from the remote parts of this province & from the neighbouring Governments is uncertain. The General considering the certainty of such an Insurrection and the small force Colonel Dalrymple had to oppose it approvd of his conduct but however necessary this step may have been it cannot be denied that it has given great advantage to the Enemies of Government. You may judge from the spirit of the people in London upon young Allens death what it was here when 5 or 6 as unconcerned all but one as he is reported to have been were slain & a greater number wounded.3 Every thing against the Troops was exaggerated but very easily believed. I had to meet the General Assembly a few days after at Cambridge instead of Boston which, altho a very proper measure, yet by them was deemed a Grievance. From my long experience I have gone thro the Session with less difficulty than was expectd and have calld a new Assembly to meet the 30 June at the same place. All I can hope for is to preserve the form or appearance of Government until Parliamentary measures shall restore the spirit and vigor of it or a person of better Talents shall take my place. I am &c.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:399–400); at head of letter, “Mr Whately.”

    588. From Thomas Gage

    New York April 30th. 1770

    Sir, The Fate of Richardson which you mention in your favor of the 22d. Instant shews what is to be expected on the Trials of Capt. Preston and the Soldiers of the 29th. Regiment. In my Accounts of the unhappy Transactions of the 5th. of March, I have not omitted to take the Situation of the Town, and temper of the People, the Efforts to inflame them to a thirst of Revenge, and the Endeavour used to overawe the Judges. That these Circumstances rendered it next to impossible, that those unfortunate People could have a fair and impartial Tryal, or any Chance for their Lives, whether culpable or not. Unless Government should interfere, and postpone Executions, till Reports were made to the King, that His Majesty might be able to judge how far they are real objects of the Royal Mercy. But my Letters unfortunately go home late, and the Tryals will come on, before any Orders can be received relative to them unless they can be postponed to a longer Term. The Cause of Justice demands delay, but I am not able to Judge, how far the Law will admit of it; and therefore may act improperly in entreating you as far as consistent with your Duty and Powers, to get the Tryals delayed, as long as it shall be possible.

    I hear nothing for certain about America, tho’ generaly agreed all the Dutys complained of Tea excepted, will be taken off. The Majority as well as the Minority greatly divided in their opinion about America, some for enforcing Obedience to their Laws at all Events, others, tho’ few in Number, agree with the Americans in their Sentiments about Taxation. A Third Party is between these two Extremes, admits the Right, but would wave the Exercise of it, and Endeavour to heal by Moderate Measures.

    You will permit me to trouble you, on a Subject which perhaps, may be of no Consequence, tho’ I think it deserves some attention when all Circumstances are considered. I have been informed, and have Reason to believe the Information good, that a Person in London, who is employed by the People of Boston, has sent over Patterns of Accoutrements and Caps some Months ago, and if approved of was to bespeak a Number of each, sufficient for 4000 Foot Soldiers. The Motto on the Caps, vim vi repellere licet. It is not easy to find out for what good Purpose so particular a Commission has been given, and on that Account I would beg the favour of you to make some Inquiry into the origin and Occasion of it. And tho’ it may be done with as much Caution and Secrecy as possible; that it may not appear any evil Designs are Suspected or from whom the Information comes.1 The Person who gave me the Intelligence desired his Name might not be mentioned. I have the honour to be with perfect Regard & Esteem, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant.

    Tho. Gage

    RC (Massachusetts Historical Society, Miscellaneous Bound Papers); at foot of letter, “Honble. Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson”; docketed, “General Gage 30 April 1770 Private Copy to Hutchinson.” AC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at head of letter, “Copy”; at foot of letter, “Honble: Lieut: Govr. Hutchinson.”