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District Clerk's Office.

BE IT REMEMBERED, that on tlie twelfth day of August, A. P. 1822, in the forty-
seventh year of the Independence of the United States of America, /JicAarrfson (J- iord,
of the said District, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they
claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit :

" History of Massachusetts, from 1764, to July, 1775; When General Washington took
command of the American army. By Alden Bradford, Secretary of the Commonwealth."

In conformity to the Act of the Congress I'f the United States, entitled, " An Act for the
Encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the
Authors and Proprietors of such Copies, during the times therein mentioned :" and also to
an Act entitled, " An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled, An Act for the encouragement
of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the Authors and Pro-,
prletors of such Copies during the times therein mentioned; and extending the Benefits
thereof to the Arts of Designing, Engraving and Etching Historical and other Prints."

Clerk oftht District of Massachusetts.













Judge Minot continued the history of Massachusetts to the
close of the year 1764, when the dispute hegan between
Great Britain and the American colonies ; which, after ten
years, issued in an appeal to arms, in defence of civil liberty.
And the great events of the revolutionary war have been
ably and faithfully narrated. But the patriotic and persever-
ing eftorts of Massachusetts, for several years preceding the
commencement of hostilities, have never been fully noticed.
A correct statement of their zealous services in the cause of
freedom seems necessary, in justice to their precious memory,
and from a due regard to the present and future generations.
They stated the natural rights of man, and the constitutional
privileges of Englishmen, with a clearness and force, which
confounded the apologists of arbitrary power, and silenced
the unprincipled agents of a corrupt court. A new (Era was
established in political science. The foundation of civil liberty
was, indeed, laid long before, in the principles recognized by
Magna Charta. and at the revolution of 1689. But it was
rendered immovable by the arguments and reasonings of Otis,
Adams and others, in their defence of the rights of the British
colonies : And all the political compacts, since framed in
America, whether of this Commonwealth in 1780, or of the
United States in 1788, are in conformity to the sentiments
and maxims then advanced. They contended, that Kings and
civil rulers derived all their right to govern, from the consent


of the peoplo ; and that these were bound to submit and
obey onli/ in so far as the former observed the great principles
of justice and equality, and exercised the power delegated to
them for the public welfare.

It is proper to recollect, that the American colonies, es-
pecially those of New England, were settled by our ancestors,
without any expense to the parent country. They were not
planted at the cost of England for the purposes of wealth :
But by their own labor and toil, with views of a permanent
establishment ; and on a royal promise of the full exercise of
all the powers of native Britons. The British Pm-liament
had no right to give, and no voice in giving them a habitation,
or a form of government. Their only obligation was to the
cro~jim^ for a release of its pretended, but imaginary claim,
founded on early discovery. And in this contract, there was
a guarantee of all the liberties of British subjects. Allegiance
to the King, therefore, was readily and uniformy acknowledg-
ed : But the controling power of Parliament, never. On
several occasions, in the more early days of the colony, the
General Court insisted on their sole right to levy monies on
the people, and to legislate for them ; subject only to the
control or supervision of their Sovereign. What degree of
power was to be exercised by the Colonial Assemblies, and
what the right of Parliament to legislate for the American
subjects, were the important and critical questions agitated,
with great warmth, during the period of our history embraced
by this volume. The British ministry, and their servile agents
in Massachusetts, contended for the absolute svpretnacy of
Parliament, which rendered all the authority claimed by the
American Assemblies entirely null and void : While the pa-
triotic civilians of this province insisted, that, according to
the constitution of England, and express provisions of their
charter, they had the full power of legislation within the
plantation : And, " being erected into a distinct Common-
wealth, might assume the same rights with the State, from
which it had descended."

It is important to remark, that the first settlers of Massa-
chusetts were decidedly religious characters ; and that their


chief object in emigrating from England, was the enjoyment
of the ordinances of the gospel in their purity, and the ex-
tension of Christian knowledge among the heathen in Ame-
rica. They, likewise, early discovered almost an equal love
of civil liberty. These sentiments, we believe, are usually-
cherished in the same breast. The one naturally produces
and strengthens the other. Besides, our ancestors, before
they came to this country, had suffered as much from the
arbitrary conduct of their Kings, as of the Bishops ; and were
induced to examine, as well into '• the divine right of Princes,"
as the ghostly power of lordly prelates : And the effect was
to give them an ardent attachment both to religious and
political freedom.

I have only to observe, that it has been my aim to be cor-
rect rather than elegant ; and faithful rather than amusing.
Nothing has been advanced upon conjecture ; and nothing
asserted without examination, and on proper authority.

From the proceedings of Massachusetts, related in the fol-
lowing pages, and from a volume of " State Papers," which I
collated and gave to the public four years ago, it will be
perceived, how important were her wise counsels, and her
resolute exertions in support of the liberties of America, at
a time when they were openly and systematically assailed
by the ministers and agents of a powerful nation. And if my
humble efforts have contributed, in any degree, to preserve
a recollection of events, honorable to this ancient Common-
wealth, I shall consider myself as having discharged a duty
which I owed to society and to the State.


Peace of 1763 — State of the Province — Heavy debt — Attachment to
Great Britain — Pursuits of tiie People — Policy of the British Ministry
— Plan to raise a revenue from the Colonies — Conduct of Ministers
Indecisive — Minot's History.

EARLY in the year 1763, a definitive treaty oF
peace was concluded between England and France.
For eight years previously to this period, the two
nations had been almost continually at war ; in which
their colonies in North America were deeply en-
gaged. Each of these powers had extensive posses-
sions on this western continent ; and were desirous
of enlarging their respective territories. Their set-
tlements in iVmerica served to increase their com-
merce, and afforded markets for their surplus pro-
duce and manufactures. The western shores of the
Atlantic, and its numerous rivers and harbors, were
also highly beneficial to the parent country, as places
for their naval armaments, at that time employed,
either to be repaired, or to obtain supplies.

The English armies, in this contest, received large
recruits from the colonies : but from none, so many
as from Massachusetts. For almost the whole period
of the war, this Province had 2000 troops ; and some
campaigns, a much greater number ;* acting in con-
cert with the British, and under the direction of
their commanders.

* In ohe, they raised 7000.


The interests of Great Britain and her colonies
were closely connected, in the objects of this long
and expensive war. The prosperity of both was
alike involved in the issue. The local situation of
Massachusetts, and the pursuits of many of her citi-
zens, rendered her particularly desirous of a success-
ful termination of the contest. And her popvdation
and resources^ compared with the other colonies,
were great and respectable. But from a wish to
support the honor of the British government, as well
as from a natural anxiety to secure her own territory ^
this province was prompt in its exertions to check
and humble the power of France. It had always
gloried in making a part of the British empire ; and
the people were desirous of being identified with
those of that great and free nation, in her rights and
interests, her manners and laws. If there had, some-
times, been collisions between the royal governors
and the legislative assembly of the province, yet they
had always acknowledged allegiance to the king, and
readily complied with his requisitions. At the time,
of which we speak, and immediately preceding the
dispute, which led to the revolution and to Indepen-
dence, there was a general satisiaction in their colo-
nial conditioji. And several years afterward, when
the controversy assumed a more serious character,
and great discontent prevailed, respecting the mea-
sures of the British government, the patriots of
Massachusetts declared, that they only wished to be
restored to their former rights and privileges. As
proximate or remote causes of the revolution, we
must look to other influences than those of ambition
or discontent. It must be traced to a departure, in the
policy of Great BHtain towards America, from that
formerly pursued, and to a violation of those rights,
to which the colonies were entitled by their charters,
and tlie gi^eat principles of the English constitution.

A great national debt was incurred by this pro-
tracted war. In England, it was increased seventy-


three millions. The colonial governments were re?
sponsible to their respective troops ; and Massachu-
setts, having raised and kept in the field such large
forces, was oppressed with a heavy debt, due to those
who made a part of the united armies. The admin-
istration in England was so well satisfied of the value
of the services rendered by the colonies, and of their
inability to discharge the debt occasioned by the war,
that, notwithstanding the accumulated amount of their
own, in 1761 they ordered a liberal reimbursement to
Massachusetts and to some of the other colonies, for
the expenses which had then arisen, in the aid
afforded to the British government.

Peace being now restored between Great Britain
and France, the inhal)itants of the colonies were left„A
at leisure to avail themselves of their natioflaTre- r^^
sources ; which, by industry and enterprise, promised
to add greatly to their prosperity and importance.
And no people were more distinguished for these
qualities than the citizens of Massachusetts. They
were a brave and hardy race of men ; regardless of
difliculties, and habituated to labor and fatigue. They
cultivated their rugged soil with success ; and estab-
lished many useful manufactories, though their im-
ports were still great and various. With many,
commerce and the fisheries were the chief objects of
pursuit. Like their adventurous ancestors, and like
their brethren of (Ireat Britain, they engaged in
commercial enterprises to various parts of the world ;
particularly to the West Indies, and to ports in the
south of Europe and within the Mediterranean. A
great portion of the population on the sea coast was
employed in the cod fishery, which proved a source
of extensive trade and wealth. Fish was an article of
exportation, which enterprising men turned to good
account. Spars and lumber were also exported from
the province, and afibrded a very profitable trade.

A new administration in England perceived the
growing prosperity of Massachusetts, and of the colo-


nies in general. The existing debt of the nation, as
before observed, was very great; and new expedi-
ents were to be attempted, to increase the public
revenue. Lidividuals in the province represented its
resources to be very great ; and stated that the peo-
ple were fully able to contribute to the treasury of
the parent country ; when, in truth, the taxes neces-
sary to pay the debt and support the government of
the province were a heavy burden on the people. It
is uncertain, whether this statement was made, on an
inquiry from the British ministry ; or, otherwise, for
the selfish purpose of augmenting their own stipends,
as public officei-s of the crown. It was the misfor-
tune of Massachusetts, from its first settlement, to
have some of its citizens and of those residing in it
as agents of the British government, who were more
attached to the parent state, or to their own personal
aggrandizement, than to the prosperity and freedom
of this ancient and truly loyal province.

Another argument for taxing America, and raising
a revenue to be placed in the British treasury, or to
be at the disposal of ministers in England, was fur-
nished by the pretence, that the war, just then ter-
minated, had been declared and continued chiefly for
the purpose of protecting the colonies. But this was
far from being a correct view of the subject. The
war would never have been waged merely to protect
these distant colonies. It was the object of England
to distress and humble France, her powerful and
natural rival. She had her ov/n glory in view. The
people of Massachusetts had always protected them-
selves from the inroads of the savages, and the pirat-
ical attacks of French and Spanish adventurers, with-
out soliciting aid from England. This was a great
national contest : and to charge the expenses of it on
the colonies, was most unjust. It may well be
doubted, whether the minister who urged this argu-
ment as a justification of the new revenue system^,
was himself convinced of its validity and justice.


This plan of the ministry, however, was approved
and adopted by Parliament : and several acts were
soon passed — not, indeed, withont much opposition,
as to their injustice and impolicy, from several dis-
tinguished statesmen in England — subjecting the in-
habitants of the colonies to heavy taxes, in the form
of imposts, and duties on merchandize. These acts
occasioned great discontent among the people of
Massachusetts,* and excited a spirit of inquiry as to
their charter rights, which they had long enjoyed
and exercised ; and a consequent resolution, adopted,
not without much consideration, to support their
civil liberties, as freemen and as British subjects,
to the last extremity, and at the hazard of life itself.

The commencement of this dispute in 1764, and
the incipient measures of the British administration,
founded on their claims to make laws and levy taxes
on the people in America, without the consent of the
colonial legislatures, are briefly noticed by Minot,
whose history of the province is brought down to
this period. But the controversy was continued,
with very little abatement, and with great ability and
zeal, until the war of the revolution, in 1775. He
has stated the concern and alarm which were occa-
sioned by passing the sugar act, early in 1764, by
which a high duty was levied on that article imported
into the colonies, and provision made for the strict
execution of the law ; and by the proposition for a
stamp act, by wiiich a large amount was to be raised
for the British treasury, from all classes of people ;
as all would need the papers and documents liable to
this duty. These measures were extremely unpopu-
lar : They were openly and explicitly reprobated ;
the stamps were every where refused ;t and the ofli-

*A spirit of dissatisfaction and alarm prevailed also in most of th€
colonies at this time.

t A ream of bail bonds stamped was j£lOO ; of common printed ones
before, £15. A ream of stamped policies of insurance was £190, com-
mon ones, without stamps, £20.


cers, who were to distribute them, were grossly in-
sulted. These overt acts of opposition were, indeed,
condemned by the more intelligent part of the citi-
zens. Yet the most sober and reflecting even, who
were friends to civil liberty, hesitated not to denounce
the revenue laws as oppressive and unjust, as well as
impolitic. Such was the opinion of the citizens of
Boston, solemnly and deliberately adopted in May,
1764 ; and of the legislature in June and November
of the same year.

There was, however, about this period, early in
1765, some evidence of hesitation in the conduct of
the British administration, either from a doubt of the
justice or present expediency of the proposed system
of taxation, from the respectable opposition in Eng-
land to the plan, or because of the irritation produced
in Massachusetts, by some attempts to enforce it.
The ministers proposed, that the colonies, by their
own legislative authority, should raise the sums re-
quired. But as this proposal involved an uncertainty,
whethei- the sums needed, would be raised, it was
abandoned as inefficacious. It would, in effect, be
no more than a recommendation to the colonies.
And tho^ig'^ they had usually complied with the
requisitions oi' the crown, to raise money and men^
for the service of the kingdom, they had, on some
occasions, declined it ; thv.s exercising a right to
judge of the necessity of the requisition, and of their
ability to fulfil it. With a view to obviate the ob-
jection against being tixed by the British Parliament,
it was also suggested by ministers, that the colonies
migjit bo represented in that body. But the people
of Massachusetts believed that a real and just re-
presentation of the feelings and interests of the
colonies would be impracticable. Nor is it probable
that the ministry supposed such a measure could be
easily effected.

It was soon evident, however;, from the conduct of
the British administration, that the plan of taxing


the colonies by Parliament was not relinquished, and
would not long be delayed. The stamp act, which
was passed in 1765, was indeed repealed early in
the following year, in consequence of the great oppo-
sition to it in Massachusetts and some of the other
colonies, and of a conviction in ministers that it
would not prove a productive source of revenue.
But a solemn and express declaration was made by
Parliament, ^^ that they had a right to tax the colo-
nies, and to legislate for them in all cases whatever.''
And thus the discontent, which had been otherwise
removed by the repeal, was increased by this alarm-
ing assumption of power. Nothing could be more
contrary to the views and feelings of intelligent
Americans, who had a just value for civil liberty.
Nothing could be more repugnant, in the estimation
of the patriots of that period, to the powers granted
to Massachusetts by her charter, and always exercised
from the first settlement of the country.

To give a just view of the controversy between
Great Britain and the colonies, which involved the
liberties of America, and eventually produced na-
tional indepedence, it will be necessary to state more
particularly the proceedings of the people and of the
legislature of Massachusetts, in 1764, and the early
part of 1765. Although Minot has brought down
the history of the province to this date, he lias not
stated the arguments advanced by the able patriots
of that period so fully as may be necessary ; especially,
as the dispute then assumed a more serious character,
and the political doctrines and principles then as-
serted laid the foundation of the revolution, which
took place in 1775. Had his life been continued, he
wojild, no doubt, have given a more complete view
of the controversy at this early period. At this date,
his invaluable history of Massachusetts was discon-
tinued by his sudden death, and left unfinished.


Proceedings of Boston — Instructions to their Representatives — Otis* • * ,
Rigiits of the Colonies — Supremacy of Parliament — Some of the Couru- '.' '•
cil under influence of governor Bernard — General Court write theif *_/
agent in England — Services of Massachusetts in former wars^-Ghar-' '• .'
acter of Bernard, Hutchinson, Otis, Bowdoin, Hawley and Dexter—. ^ ,"/
Correspondence with other colonies— People intelligent — Clergy * .••,
learned and patriotic — Governor proposes increase of military force|'^^^
which the House declined — Plan for stationing British troops in the >*-^
colonies — Meeting of Court in November — Petition to Parliament— ^.;,,'J
House more explicit than council — Committee to write other colo- ■•■* T
nies — Council and House unite in petitions — Population, trade arid.,**;
fishery, &c. '" . ''.'•^^'T,

AS the first opposition or denial, which was for- *'• '
mally and deliberately expressed, of the novel claims ',-.,
of the British Parliament to the entire control and .; .*;
government of the colonies, and to an authority to .■•-Y'
impose taxes on and legislate for them in all cases, '• ,■♦•:
without their voice or consent, were the proceedings. . **..
of Boston, at a town meeting for the election of rep-' *j.,
resentatives in May 1764, it will be proper here to*.;,
refer to the opinions and arguments advanced on this^ ''•
occasion. It was the first public measure, adopted "^••*
by a portion of citizens, intelligent, loyal and patri- ; ..
otic, legally assembled, in a series of efforts, for which;.. *•
Massachusetts was distinguished, and which served; ; *
to shew to America and to the world, that the claim& V- ;
of the colonies were reasonable and just. The revo- ; •■.'•
hition, effected eleven years after, was the conse- . ;.
quence of resolutely maintaining the important polite •'
^cal principles expressly asserted at this meeting. . •'


It is true, indeed, that the colonial legislatures had
always claimed the right of self-government, to a
certain extent.* On various occasions, the General
Assemblj^ of Massachusetts had asserted and exercis-
ed such authority. But, in the early days of their
settlement, the people were unable to support their
claims. And, in later times, the British Parliament
liad not attempted to interfere with their internal
concerns, and had not so fully assumed the right to
legislate for them. No occasion, therefore, had oc-
curred, which demanded such an explicit avowal of
colonial rights and privileges. There had been no
formal and direct discussion of the separate power of
Parliament and of the colonies, where it had inter-
fered. The commands of the king were readily
obeyed ; nor was his right to suspend or annul any
law of the province, according to a provision in the
charter, ever disputed. The supremacy of Parlia-
ment even, in the last resort, seems to have been
acknowledged. And yet the government of Massa-
chusetts exercised such a measure of authority, as
shewed they did not consider themselves subject to
the statutes of the British legislature, or to the direc-

* The several charters of the New-England colonies, which were a
grant from the king, of the territory, claimed by him on account of
prior discovery, contained clauses giving legislative powers to the as-
semblies of the people by their representatives: and the practice, under
tliese charters, for a long time, was a perfect exercise of legislative
authority in each colony. The doing? of Commissioners sent over by
Charles II. in 1664, to settle disputes between individuals and the colo-
nies, were not acknowledged in Massachusetts. To the arbitrary gov-

Online LibraryAlden BradfordHistory of Massachusetts ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 34)