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Your Lordship will be pleased to consider that Ire
land and Jamaica were both conquered; which can
not be said of any of the colonies, Canada excepted ;
the argument therefore, is stronger in favor of the

Our ancestors, when oppressed in the unfortunate
reign of James the Second, found relief by the inter
position of the Parliament. But it is the misfortune
of the colonies at present, that by the intervention
of that power they are taxed ; and they can appeal
for relief from their final decision to no power on
earth, for there is no power on earth above them.
Your Lordship will indulge the House in expressing
a deep concern upon this occasion ; for it is the lan
guage of reason, and it is the opinion of the greatest
writers on the law of nature and nations, that if the
parliament should make any considerable change in
the constitution, and the nation should be voluntarily
silent upon it, this would be considered as an appro
bation of the act.

But the House beg leave to represent to your
Lordship, that although the right of the Parliament
to impose taxes on the colonies, without a representa
tion there, was indisputable, we humbly conceive it
may be made fully to appear to be unequal that they
should, at least at present. Your Lordship will be

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 159

pleased to remember, that by an act of Parliament,
the colonists are prohibited from importing commo
dities and manufactures of the growth of Europe,
saving a few articles, except from Great Britain.
This prohibition not only occasions a much greater
demand upon the mother country for her manufac
tures, but gives the manufacturers there the advan
tage of their own price ; and can it be questioned, my
Lord, but the colonists are obliged by means of
this policy, to purchase the British manufactures at a
much dearer rate, than the like manufactures would
be purchased at, if they were allowed to go to foreign
markets ? It is a loss to the colonists, and an equal
gain to Great Britain. The same reasoning holds
good with respect to the many articles of their pro
duce, which the colonies are restrained by act of Par
liament from sending to foreign ports. This is in
reality a tax, though an indirect one, on the colonies ;
besides the duties of excise and customs laid on the
manufactures in Great Britain. A celebrated British
writer on trade, computes the artificial value arising
from these duties, to be no less than fifty per cent.
Your Lordship will then form an estimate of the part
that is paid by the colonies upon the importation
into America, which is generally said to be at least
the value of two millions sterling.

The House is not, at this time, complaining of this
policy of the mother state ; but beg your Lordship s
impartial and candid consideration, whether it is not
grievous to the colonies to be additionally taxed upon
the commodities of Great Britain here, and to be
solely charged with the defending and securing his


Majesty s colonies, after they have cheerfully borne
their full proportion of maintaining his Majesty s
rights in this part of his dominions, and reducing his
enemies to terms of peace.

Your Lordship will allow the House to express their
fears, that the colonies have been misrepresented to
his Majesty s ministers and Parliament, as having an
undutiful disposition towards his Majesty, and a dis
affection to the mother kingdom. It has, till a few
years past, been the usage for his Majesty s requisi
tions to be laid before the Representatives of his
people in America ; and we may venture to appeal
to your Lordship, that the people of this province
have been ready to afford their utmost aid for his
Majesty s service. It would be grievous to his most
faithful subjects, to be called upon for aid in a man
ner which implies a mistrust of a free and cheerful
compliance. And the House intreat your Lordship s
consideration whether our enemies at least, would
not infer a want of duty and loyalty in us, when the
parliament have judged it necessary to compel us by
laws for that purpose ; as by the late acts for raising
a revenue in America, and the act for preventing
mutiny and desertion ; in the latter of which the
Governor and Council are directed to supply the
King s troops with enumerated articles, and the peo
ple are required to pay the expense. But besides
your Lordship will judge whether the execution of
this act can comport with the existence of a free
legislative in America.

It is unnatural to expect, that the supreme execu
tive power can long exist, if the supreme legislative

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 161

should be depressed and destroyed. In order, there
fore, to support the supreme executive of his Maj
esty, at so great a distance, in the person of his
Governor, Judges, and other executive officers, it
seems necessary that there should be a legislative in
America as perfectly free, as can consist with a sub
ordination to the supreme legislative of the whole
empire. Such a legislative is constituted by the
royal charter of this province. In this charter, my
Lord, the King, for himself, his heirs and successors,
grants to the General Assembly full power and author
ity to impose and levy proportionable and reasonable
assessments, rates and taxes, upon the estates and
persons of the inhabitants, to be issued and disposed
of, by warrant under the hand of the Governor, with
the advice and consent of the Council, for the service of
his Majesty, in the necessary defence and support of
his government of the province, and the protection
and preservation of the inhabitants, according to such
acts as are, or shall be, in force in the province. And
the House are humbly of opinion, that the legis
lative powers in the several colonies in America, were
originally erected upon a conviction, that the sub
jects there could not be represented in the supreme
legislative, and consequently that there was a neces
sity that such powers should be erected.

It is, by no means, my Lord, a disposition in the
House to dispute the just authority of the supreme
legislative of the nation, that induces them thus to
address your Lordship ; but a warm sense of loyalty
to their Prince, and, they humbly apprehend, a just
concern for their natural and constitutional rights.



They beg your Lordship will excuse their trespassing
upon your time and attention to the great affairs of
state. They apply to you, as a friend to the rights
of mankind, and of British subjects. As Americans,
they implore your Lordship s patronage, and be
seech you to represent their grievances to the King,
our Sovereign, and employ your happy influence for
their relief.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a slightly modified text is in
Prior Documents, pp. 175-177, and in Massachusetts State Papers, pp.


Your Majestys faithfull Subjects the Representa
tives of the Massachusetts Bay, with the warmest
Sentiments of Loyalty Duty & Affection, beg Leave
to approach the Throne ; & to lay at your Majestys
feet their humble Supplications, in Behalf of your dis-
tressd Subjects the People of the Province.

Our Ancestors, the first Settlers of this Country
having with the Royal Consent, which we humbly
apprehend involves the Consent of the Nation & at
their own great Expence migrated from the mother
kingdom, took the possession of this Land, at that
time a Wilderness, the Right whereof they had pur-
chasd for a valueable Consideration of the Council
establishd at Plymouth, to whom it had been granted

1 This petition was reported by the Speaker from the committee on the state
of the province on the morning of January 20 ; it was then recommitted, and
in the afternoon was read paragraph by paragraph, amended and accepted.

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 163

by your Majestys Royal Predecessor King James the

From the Principles of Loyalty to their Sovereign,
which will ever warm the Breast of a true Subject,
tho remote they ever acknowledgd their Allegiance
to the English Crown, & your Majesty will allow us
with all humility to say that they & their Posterity
even to this time have afforded frequent & signal
Proofs of their Zeal for the Honor & Service of
their Prince & their firm Attachment to the Parent

With Toil & Fatigue, perhaps not to be conceivd
by their Brethren & Fellow Subjects at home, &
with the constant Peril of their Lives, from a numer
ous, savage & warlike Race of Men, they began their
Settlement & God prosperd them.

They obtaind a Charter from King Charles the
first, wherein his Majesty was pleasd to grant to them
& their Heirs & Assigns forever all the Lands therein
describd, to hold of him & his Royal Successors in
free & common Spcage, which we humbly conceive is
as absolute an Estate as the Subject can hold under
the Crown. And in the same Charter were granted
to them & their posterity all the Rights Liberties
Privileges & Immunities of natural Subjects born
within the Realm.

This Charter they enjoyd, having as we most hum
bly conceive punctually complyd with all the Con
ditions of it, till in an unhappy time it was vacated.
But after the Revolution, when King William &
Queen Mary of glorious & blessed Memory were es-
tablishd on the Throne; In that unhappy Reign


when to the Joy of the Nation & its Dependencys,
the Crown was settled in your Majestys illustrious
Family, the Inhabitants of this province shard
in the common Blessing. Then they were indulgd
with another Charter in which their Majestys were
pleasd for themselves, their Heirs & Successors to
grant & confirm to them, as ample Estate in the
Lands or Territorys as was granted by the for
mer Charter, together with other the most essential
Rights & Libertys containd therein : The principal of
which is that which your Majestys Subjects within
the Realm have ever held a most sacred Right, of
being taxed only by Representatives of their own free

Thus blessd with the Rights of Englishmen, thro
the indulgent Smiles of Heaven, & under the auspi
cious Government of your Majesty and your royal
Predecessors, your people of this province have been
happy, and your Majesty has acquired a numerous
Increase of loyal Subjects, a large Extent of Domin
ion & a new & inexhaustible Source of Commerce
Wealth & Glory.

With great Sincerity, permit us to assure your
Majesty that your Subjects of this Province, ever
have & still continue to acknowledge your Majestys
high Court of Parliament, the supreme Legislative
power of the whole Empire. The superintending
authority of which is clearly admitted in all Cases,
that can consist with the fundamental Rights of Na
ture & the Constitution to which your Majestys
happy Subjects in all parts of your Empire conceive
they have a just & equitable Claim.

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 165

It is with the deepest Concern that your humble
Suppliants would represent to your Majesty, that your
Parliament, the Rectitude of whose Intentions is
never to be questiond, has thought proper to pass
divers Acts imposing Taxes on your Majestys Sub
jects in America with the sole & express purpose of
raising a Revenue. If your Majestys Subjects here
shall be deprivd of the Honor & Privilege of volun
tarily contributing their Aid to your Majesty in sup
porting your GovernnV & Authority in the Province
& defending & securing your Rights & Territorys in
America, which they have always hitherto done with
the utmost Cheerfullness ; If these acts of parliament
shall remain in force and your Majestys commons in
Great Britain shall continue to exercise the power of
granting the property of their fellow Subjects in
this province, your People must then regrett their
unhappy fate in having only the name left of free
Subjects. With all humility we conceive that a Rep
resentation of your Majestys Subjects of this Province
in the parliam* considering their local Circumstances
is utterly impracticable. Your Majesty has hereto
fore been graciously pleasd to order your requisitions
to be laid before the Representatives of your People
in the General Assembly who have never faild to af
ford the necessary Aid to the extent of their Ability,
& some times beyond it ; & it w d be ever grievous to
your Majestys faithfull Subjects to be called upon in a
Way that should appear to them to imply a Distrust
of their most ready & willing Compliance.

Under the most sensible Impressions of your Ma
jestys wise & paternal Care for the Remotest of your

1 66 THE WRITINGS OF [1768

faithfull Subjects, & in full Dependence on the royal
Declarations in the Charter of this province, we
most humbly beseech your Majesty to take our pres
ent unhappy Circumstances under your royal Con
sideration, & afford us Reliefe in such Manner as to
your Majestys great Wisdom & Clemency shall seem


[Prior Documents, pp. 197-199.]

My Lord,

His Excellency Governor Bernard has been
pleased to give orders to the secretary of this pro
vince to read to the House of Representatives a
letter he had received from your Lordship, dated
Whitehall the i7th of September, 1767;* which hav
ing done the secretary withdrew, without leaving a
copy as usual.

The House were both grieved and astonished to
find your Lordship under a necessity of expressing
such unfavourable sentiments of the two Houses of the
general assembly, as well as of some particular mem
bers of this House, altogether strangers to you, with
regard to the election of counsellors in May last.
They observed, that your Lordship s letter had a
reference to several of his Excellency s letters, upon
which your sentiments seemed to be formed : and
as his Excellency had intimated to the Speaker of
the House his desire of having a copy of a certain

1 Printed in the Journal of the House, 1767-1768, appendix, pp. 34, 35. In
the same appendix are included the other documents of the series.

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 167

letter which the House had directed to be sent to the
Speakers of the several Houses of Assembly in the
other colonies, a copy of which it is presumed will be
laid before your Lordship ; the House appointed a
committee to wait on his Excellency, and acquaint
him, that they were ready to lay before him the said
letter, and their whole proceedings, relating to an
important affair then before them, if he should desire
it. And the same committee was directed humbly to
request his Excellency to favour the House with a
copy of your Lordship s letter, together with his own
letters to which it referred. Whereupon messages
passed between the Governor and the House, which
the House begs leave to inclose to your Lordship.

As the House think they have just grounds of sus
picion, that his Excellency s letters to your Lordship
contain, at least, an implication of charge and accusa
tion against them, which they are kept in ignorance
of, they rely upon your known candour and justice,
that upon this their humble request, you will be
pleased to give orders, that copies be laid before the
House of Representatives ; that they may have the
opportunity of vindicating themselves and their con
stituents, and of happily removing from your mind
an opinion of them, grounded, as your Lordship
might then reasonably judge, upon good information,
as having behaved in a manner unbecoming the char
acter of loyal subjects. They hope you will be so
favourable as to suspend your farther judgment of
them, till they can be made acquainted with the mat
ters that may have been alledged against them, and
can make their defence. In the mean time they beg


leave just to mention to your Lordship, that the elec
tions of the last May, so far as this House had a part
in them, were made with a freedom and deliberation
suitable to the importance of them : and that they
were influenced by no motives but the prosperity of
his Majesty s government, and the happiness of his
subjects : that the non-election of several gentlemen
of distinguished character and station, was by no
means the effect of party prejudice, private resent
ment, or motives still more blameable ; but the result
of calm reflection upon the danger that might accrue
to our excellent constitution, and the liberties of the
people, from too great an opinion of the legislative,
executive and judiciary powers of government, which,
in the opinion of the greatest writers, ought always
to be kept separate : nor was this a new opinion,
formed at a certain period ; but it has been the pre
vailing sentiment of many of the most sensible and
unexceptionable gentlemen in the province for many
years past ; upon principles, which your Lordship s
thorough knowledge of the constitution, and the just
balance of the several powers of government, this
House is assured, will justify. And although his
Excellency was pleased to exercise his undoubted
right of negativing some of the gentlemen elected,
the House have had no reason to alter their opinion
of them, as being unexceptionable in point of ability,
fortune, and character. They beg pardon for this
further trouble given to your Lordship, which they
could not avoid ; being solicitous to set their conduct
in its true point of light before you ; and they rely
upon your known justice, that you will intercede with

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 169

the throne for this province. They are assured, that
your Lordship will not suffer a province to be mis
represented, even by persons of station here : and if
there be any such, they flatter themselves, that their
removal will render this people happy in the esteem
of the parent country, and much more so in the
smiles of the best of Kings.


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 142-144.]

My Lord,

The House of Representatives of this his Majesty s
province, have had the honor of your letter of the yth
of May last, communicated to them by their Speaker ;
and thank your Lordship for your condescension, in
the kind sentiments you are pleased to express of
his Majesty s good subjects of America, and of this
province. The establishing the harmony between
Great Britain and her colonies, is a subject which
your Lordship had judged worthy of your particular
attention ; and the exertions which you have made
for this very important purpose, claims the most
grateful acknowledgments of this House. Your sen
timents are so nobly extended beyond the most dis
tant partial considerations, as must distinguish you

1 Charles Watson- Wentworth (1730-1782), second marquis of Rockingham ;
appointed to the treasury department, July 10, 1765 ; head of the administra
tion, July, 1765-July, 1766. Cf. Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham, 2 vols.

- Reported from the committee on the state of the province, amended and


as a patron of the colonies, a friend to the British
constitution, and the rights of mankind.

Your Lordship is pleased to say, that you will not
adopt a system of arbitrary rule over the colonies ;
nor do otherwise than strenuously resist, where at
tempts shall be made to throw off that dependence,
to which the colonies ought to submit. And your
Lordship, with great impartiality, adds, " not only
for the advantage of Great Britain, but for their own
real happiness and safety."

This House, my Lord, have the honor heartily to
join with you in sentiment ; and they speak the lan
guage of their constituents. So sensible are they of
their happiness and safety, in their union with, and
dependence upon, the mother country, that they
would by no means be inclined to accept of an inde
pendency, if offered to them. But, my Lord, they
intreat your consideration, whether the colonies have
not reason to fear some danger of arbitrary rule over
them, when the supreme power of the nation have
thought proper to impose taxes on his Majesty s
American subjects, with the sole and express pur
pose of raising a revenue, and without their con

My Lord, the superintending power of that high
court over all his Majesty s subjects in the empire,
and in all cases which can consist with the fundamen
tal rules of the constitution, was never questioned in
this province, nor, as the House conceive, in any
other. But, in all free states, the constitution is
fixed ; it is from thence, that the supreme legislative,
as well as the supreme executive derives its author-

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 171

ity. Neither, then, can break through the funda
mental rules of the constitution, without destroying
their own foundation.

It is humbly conceived, that all his Majesty s
happy subjects, in every part of his wide extended
dominions, have a just and equitable claim to the
rights of that constitution, upon which government
itself is formed, and by which sovereignty and alle
giance are ascertained and limited. Your Lordship
will allow us to say, that it is an essential right of a
British subject, ingrafted into the constitution, or, if
your Lordship will admit the expression, a sacred and
unalienable, natural right, quietly to enjoy and have
the sole disposal of his own property. In conformity
to this, the acts of the British Parliament declare,
that every individual in the realm is present in his
Majesty s high court of Parliament, by himself, or
his representative, of his own free election. But, my
Lord, it is apprehended that a just and equal represen
tation of the subjects, at the distance of a thousand
transmarine leagues from the metropolis, is utterly
impracticable. Upon this opinion, this House hum
bly conceive his Majesty s royal predecessors thought
it equitable to form subordinate legislative powers in
America, as perfectly free as the nature of things
would admit, that so their remote subjects might
enjoy a right, which those within the realm have
ever held sacred, of being taxed only by representa
tives of their own free election.

The House beg leave to observe to your Lordship,
that the monies which shall arise by the act for grant
ing to his Majesty certain duties on paper, glass and


other articles, passed in the last session of Parliament,
are to be applied, in the first place, for the payment
of the necessary charges of the administration of jus
tice, and the support of civil government in such
colonies as shall be judged necessary ; and the resi
due for defending, protecting and securing the colo
nies. They intreat your Lordship s consideration,
what may be the consequences, in some future time,
if the Crown, in addition to its right of appointing
Governors over the colonies, which this House cheer
fully recognize, should appoint them such stipends as
it shall judge fit, without the consent of the people,
and at their expense. And as the Judges of the land
here do not hold their commissions during good be
havior, your Lordship will judge, whether it may not
hereafter happen, that at so great a distance from the
throne, the fountain of justice, for want of an ade
quate check, corrupt and arbitrary rule may take
place, even within the colonies, which may deprive a
bench of justice of its glory, and the people of their,
happiness and safety.

Your Lordship s justice and candor will induce you
to believe, that what our enemies may have taken oc
casion to represent to his Majesty s ministers and the
Parliament, as an undutiful disposition in the colo
nies, is nothing more than a just and firm attachment
to their natural and constitutional rights. It is hum
bly submitted to your Lordship, whether these ideas
are well founded. And while this province and the
colonies shall continue, in your Lordship s judgment,
to be faithful and loyal subjects to his Majesty, they
rely upon it, that your happy influence will ever be

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 173

employed to promote the sentiments of tenderness,
as well as justice, in the parent country.


[Prior Documents, pp. 185-187.]

My Lord,

Your great knowledge of the constitution and laws
of the nation, of the just extent of parliamentary au
thority, and the rights of British subjects, is a pre

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