Copyright
Samuel Adams.

The writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) online

. (page 14 of 31)
Online LibrarySamuel AdamsThe writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


been led to expect.

These are the Sentiments & proceedings of this
House ; & as they have too much reason to believe
that the Enemys of the Colonys have represented
them to his Majestys Ministers & the parl 1 as factious
disloyal & having a disposition to make themselves
independent of the Mother Country, they have taken
occasion in the most humble terms to assure his Maj
esty & his ministers that with regard to the People
of this province & as they doubt not of all the colo
nies the charge is unjust.

The house is fully satisfyd that your Assembly is
too generous and enlargd in sentiment, to believe,
that this Letter proceeds from an Ambition of tak
ing the Lead or dictating to the other Assemblys :
They freely submit their opinions to the Judgment
of others, & shall take it kind in your house to point
out to them any thing further which may be thought
necessary.

This House cannot conclude without expressing
their firm Confidence in the King our common head
& Father, that the united & dutifull Supplications of
his distressd American Subjects will meet with his
royal & favorable Acceptance. 1

1 The Appendix of the Journal of the House for 1768 contains the texts of
the following replies to this letter : February 25, P. Oilman, New Hampshire;
May 9, Peyton Randolph, Virginia; May 9, Cortland Skinner, New Jersey;
June n, Zebulon West, Connecticut; June 16, Alexander Wylly, Georgia;
July 10, P. Manigault, South Carolina; August 5, Metcalfe Bowler, Rhode
Island. Prior Documents, p. 218, contains the reply of Robert Lloyd, Mary
land, June 24. Cf. R. Frothingham, Rise of the Republic, pp. 212-230.



i 7 68] SAMUEL ADAMS. 189

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS TO
HENRY SEYMOUR CONWAY. 1 FEBRUARY 13, 1768.

[Prior Documents, pp. 181-183.]

SIR,

The House of Representatives of this his Maj
esty s province have still the sensible impressions of
gratitude upon their minds, for the signal and suc
cessful exertions you were pleased to make for them
when the liberties of the colonies were in danger.
And although they do not fall immediately under
your care in that department, to which his Majesty
has been graciously pleased to appoint you ; yet your
known attachment to the rights of subjects, in their
just extent, the constitutional authority of the su
preme legislative and the prerogative of the sover
eign, is a strong inducement to the House, when
new grievances happen, to implore your repeated aid.
Conscious of their own disposition, they rely upon
that candour which is a distinguished mark of your
character. And however they may have been repre
sented to his Majesty s ministers as undutiful, turbu
lent and factious, your sentiments are too generous,
to impute the expressions of uneasiness under the
operation of any particular acts of the British par
liament to a peevish or discontented habit, much
less to the want of a due veneration for that august
assembly.

This House is at all times ready to recognize his

1 1721-1795 ; field marshal ; member of Parliament almost continuously,
1741-1784 ; July 8, 1765, secretary of state ; resigned, January 20, 1768. Cf.
Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. xvi., p. 218.

Reported by the committee on the state of the province, read and accepted.



190 THE WRITINGS OF [1768

Majesty s high court of parliament, the supreme
legislative power over the whole empire ; its super
intending authority, in all cases consistent with the
fundamental rules of the constitution, is as clearly
admitted by his Majesty s subjects in this province
as by those within the realm^ince the constitution
of the state, as it ought to be, is fixed ; it is humbly
presumed, that the subjects, in every part of the em
pire, however remote, have an equitable claim to all
the advantages of it.^

It is the glory of tne British Prince, and the happi
ness of all his subjects, that their constitution hath
its foundation in the immutable laws of nature : and
as the supreme legislative as well as the supreme ex
ecutive derives its authority from that constitution,
it should seem that no laws can be made or executed,
that are repugnant to any essential law in nature.
Hence a British subject is happily distinguished
from the subjects of many other states, in a just and
well grounded opinion of his own safety, which is the
perfection of political liberty.

It is acknowledged to be an unalterable law in
nature, that a man should have the free use and sole
disposal of the fruit of his honest industry, subject to
no controul. The equity of this principle seems to
have been too obvious to be misunderstood by those
who framed the constitution ; into which it is ingrafted
as an established law. It is conceived that this prin
ciple gave rise in early time to a representation in
parliament ; where every individual in the realm has
since been, and is still considered by acts of parlia
ment as present by himself, or by his representative



i y68] SAMUEL ADAMS. 191

of his own free election : consequently, the aid af
forded there to the sovereign is not of the nature of
a tribute, but the free and voluntary gift of all.

The House submit to your consideration, whether
his Majesty s subjects of this province, or any of them,
can be considered as having been present in par
liament, when an act of the fourth of his present
Majesty s reign, and another passed the last session,
were made. If not, it seems to be conclusive, that,
as those acts were made with the sole and express
purpose of raising a revenue out of America, the sub
jects here are in those instances unfortunately de
prived of the sole disposal of their property, and the
honour and privilege of contributing to the aid of
their sovereign by a free and voluntary gift.

The people of this province would by no means
be inclined to petition the parliament for a represen
tation. /Separated from the mother-country by a
mighty ocean, and at the distance of three thousand
miles, they apprehend it is, and ever will be, ut
terly impracticable that they should be equally rep
resented there : they have always been considered by
the nation as subjects remote : and his Majesty s
royal predecessors were graciously pleased to con
stitute by charter a subordinate legislative in the pro
vince, as it is conceived, with a view of preserving to
their remote subjects the unalienable right of a repre
sentation. By this charter the lands therein de
scribed are granted to the inhabitants in free and
common soccage \y and the general assembly is in
vested with the power of imposing and levying pro
portionable and reasonable assessments, rates and



1 92 THE WRITINGS OF [1768

taxes, upon the estates and persons of the inhabit
ants, for his Majesty s service, in the necessary de
fence and support of his government of the province,
and the protection and preservation of the inhabit
ants ; and of ordaining and establishing all manner
of wholesome and reasonable orders, laws, statutes
and ordinances, directions and instructions, either
with or without penalties, as they shall judge to be
for the good and welfare of the province : and as a
sufficient check upon this subordinate power, which
secures its dependance on the supreme legislative, no
law can be made repugnant to the laws of England ;
and all laws that are made, are laid before his Maj
esty, who at any time during three years after, dis-
annulls them at his royal pleasure.

All that is desired by the people of this province,
is, that they may be restored to their original stand
ing : they may venture to appeal to the nation, that
they have never failed to afford their utmost aid
to his Majesty whenever he hath required it ; and
they may say it without vanity, that in many in
stances from their settlement, they have given strik
ing proofs of their zeal for the honour of their
sovereign, and their affection for the mother-state.
Must it not then be grievous to free and loyal subjects,
to be called upon in a manner which appears to them,
to divest them of their freedom, and so far to impeach
their loyalty as to imply a mistrust of their chearful
compliance with his Majesty s royal requisitions.

The House also beg leave to submit, whether the
people can continue free, while the crown in addition
to its uncontroverted right of appointing a governor,



1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 193

may appoint him such stipends as it shall judge fit,
at the expence of the people, and without their con
sent : and whether, while the judges of the land, at
so great a distance from the throne, the fountain of

o

justice, may be altogether independent on the people
for their support, it may not probably happen, that
in some future time, the principles of equity may be
subverted even on the bench of justice, and the peo
ple deprived of their happiness and security.

The House could add, that by restraints laid upon
the American trade by acts of parliament, which
operate equally to the advantage of Great-Britain
and the disadvantage of this and the other colonies,
and the taxes which the inhabitants here eventually
pay as the consumers of the British manufactures, it
should seem to be beyond all the rules of equity, that
these additional burdens should be laid on them.
But they would not trespass upon your time and
attention to the great affairs of the nation. They
beg your candid consideration of the unhappy circum
stances of the province, and hope, that your great
interest in the national councils, so far as shall appear
to you to be just, will be employed on their behalf.



THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS

TO THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE TREASURY.

FEBRUARY 17, 1768.

[Prior Documents^ pp. 188-191.]

My Lords,

The House of Representatives of this his Majesty s
province beg leave to lay before your Lordships the

VOL. I. 13.



194 THE WRITINGS OF [1768

great difficulties to which they are reduced, by the
operation of divers acts of Parliament, imposing
duties to be levied on the subjects of the American
colonies, and made with the sole and express pur
pose of raising a revenue : and beg the favour of
your candid judgment and great interest in the na
tional councils for their redress.

As their constituents are not in any manner re
presented in the Parliament, they cannot so much
wonder, that taxes and burdens are laid upon them,
which they humbly apprehend could have been
made to appear to be beyond all bounds of equity
and proportion ; and this consideration they are sure
would have had its due weight in the British house
of commons.

By act of Parliament, your Lordships are sensible,
that the colonies are restrained from importing com
modities, the growth or manufacture of Europe,
saving a few articles, except from Great Britain : by
this policy, the demand of British manufactures from
the colonies is greatly increased ; and the manu
facturers have the advantage of their own price.
Hence it appears, that what is gained by the subjects
in Great Britain, is a loss to those in America ; for
there can be no doubt, as this House conceive, but
that if the colonists were allowed to purchase such
commodities at foreign markets, they might have
them at a cheaper rate ; or, which is the same thing to
them, the British manufacturers would be necessitated
to reduce their price. Thus also, with regard to the
many articles of their produce, which the colonies
are by act of Parliament restrained from sending to



1 7 68] SAMUEL ADAMS. 195

foreign ports : this occasioned a great plenty of
American exports, and oftentimes a glut at the
British markets, which always diminishes the price,
and makes a loss to the American, and an equal gain
to the subject in Britain. This regulation, evidently
designed in favour of those of his Majesty s subjects
inhabiting in Great Britain, the House is not at this
time complaining of : but they beg your Lordships
consideration, whether, in addition to these burdens,
it is not grievous to their constituents, to be obliged to
pay duties on British manufactures here : especially
considering, that, as the consumers of those manu
factures, they pay a great proportion of the duties
and taxes laid upon them in Britain. It is computed
by a late celebrated British writer, that the artificial
value arising from these duties are not less than fifty
per cent. Your Lordships will then form an estimate
of the part that is paid annually upon the importation
into America, which is generally allowed to be at
least two millions sterling. So great are the ad
vantages arising yearly to Great Britain from the
colonies, most of which, it is said, were settled, and
have been maintained and defended, till within a
very few years, solely at their own expence : this
House can affirm for one province only.

But the bearing an unequal share of the public
burthens, though a real grievence, is of but small
consideration, when compared with another, in the
mentioning of which, the House begs your Lordship s
indulgence. The duties levied in America, by virtue
of the aforementioned acts, were imposed with the
sole and express purpose of raising a revenue ; and



196 THE WRITINGS OF [1768

are to be applied, in the first place, for making a
more certain and adequate provision for the charge
of the administration of justice, and the support of
civil government, in such colonies where it shall be
found necessary ; and the residue is from time to time
to be disposed of by Parliament, towards defraying
the necessary expences of defending, protecting, and
securing the colonies. It is humbly submitted,
whether his Majesty s commons in Britain have not,
by these acts, granted the property of their fellow
subjects in America, without their consent in Parlia
ment. Your Lordships will allow, that it is an un
alterable rule in equity, that a man shall have the free
use and the sole disposal of his property. This origi
nal principle, to the lasting honour of our British an
cestors, was in early time ingrafted into the British
constitution, and is the greatest security, as well
.as the brightest ornament of a British subject. It
adds to the real grandeur of the British monarch,
whose happy subjects have an unshaken opinion of
their own safety, which is the perfection of political
liberty : such a constitution shall in future ages be
admired, when the names of tyrants and their vassals
shall be alike forgot. This constitution, my Lords,
is fixed : it is from thence that all power in the state
derives its authority : therefore, no power can exceed
the bounds of it without destroying its own founda
tion. It is conceived, that even the remotest and most
inconsiderable subject hath an equitable claim to the
benefit of the fundamental rules of the constitution ;
for all British subjects are alike free. The blessings
of the British constitution will for ever keep the sub-



1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 197

jects in this province united to the mother state, as
long as the sentiments of liberty are preserved : but
what liberty can remain to them, when their prop
erty, the fruit of their toil and industry, and the
prop of all their future hopes in life, may be taken
from them at the discretion of others ? They have 1
never been backward in affording their aid to his
Majesty, to the extent of their ability : they can say
without vanity, and they may be allowed to boast,
that from the days of their ancestors, no subjects
have given more signal proofs of zeal for the service
and honour of their sovereign, and affection for the
parent country : It has till of late been the invari
able usage for his Majesty s requisitions to be laid
before their own representatives ; and their aid has
not been tributary, but the free and voluntary gift of
all : the change is in its nature delicate and import
ant ; your Lordships will judge whether there be any
necessity or pressing reasons of it : the House are
not insensible that the colonies have their enemies,
who may have represented them to his Majesty s
ministers and the Parliament as seditious, disloyal,
and disposed to set up an independency on Great
Britain : but they rely upon the candour of your Lord
ships judgment : they can affirm, that with regard
to this province, and, they presume, all the colonies,
the charge is injurious and unjust ; the superintending
authority of his Majesty s high court of Parliament,
the supreme legislative over the whole empire, is as
clearly admitted here as in Britain ; so far as is consist
ent with the fundamental rules of the constitution : and,
it is presumed, it is not further admissable there.



198 THE WRITINGS OF [1768

The House are humbly in opinion, that a repre
sentation of their constituents in that high court, by
reason of local circumstances, will for ever be im
practicable : and that his Majesty s royal predecessors
were graciously pleased, by charter, to erect a legis
lative in the province, as perfectly free as a subor
dination would admit, that the subjects here might
enjoy the unalienable right of a representation ; and
further, that the nation hath ever since considered
them as subjects, though remote, and conceded to
the acts of the subordinate legislation. Their charter
is a check upon them, and effectually secures their
dependance on Great Britain ; for no acts can be in
force till the King s governor gives his assent, and
all laws that are made are laid before his Majesty,
who at any time, during three years after they are
made, may disannul them at his royal pleasure : under
this check the House humbly conceive a representa
tion in Parliament cannot be necessary for the nation,
and for many reasons it cannot be eligible to them :
all they desire is, to be placed on their original stand
ing, that they may still be happy in the enjoyment of
their invaluable privileges, and the nation may still
reap the advantage of their growth and prosperity.

The House intreat your Lordships patience one
moment longer, while they just mention the danger
they apprehend to their liberties, if the crown, in
addition to its uncontroverted right of appointing a
governor, should also appoint him a stipend at the
expence of the people, and without their consent.
And also, whether, as the judges and other civil
officers of the province do not hold commissions



1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 199

during good behaviour, there is not a probability that
arbitrary rule may in some time take effect, to the
subversion of the principles of equity and justice,
and the ruin of liberty and virtue.

It is humbly hoped, that your Lordships will con
ceive a favourable opinion of the people of the prov
ince ; and that you will patronize their liberties, so
far as in your great wisdom and candour you shall
judge to be right.



PETITION TO THE FREEHOLDERS OF THE TOWN OF
BOSTON. 1

[L. C. Draper, Essay on Autographic Collections, pp. 47, 48 ; Collections,
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, vol. x., p. 401.]

To the Free-holders and other Inhabitants of the town
of Boston, in Annual Town Meeting assembled,
March i^th, 1768 :

The Memorial of Samuel Adams showeth :
That your Memoralist was chosen by said Town
in the year 1 764, a Collector of Taxes, in which
capacity he had before served the Town for nine
years successively and being duly sworn, had the
Province, Town and County taxes, assessed the same
year, accordingly committed to him to collect ; at
the same time he became bound to the Town Treas
urer, with suretys, in the penal sums of Five thous
and Pounds for the payment of the same into the
respective Treasurys.

1 This petition was "read and largely debated," and the meeting voted
" that the Prayer of the Petition be granted, and that a further Time of Six
Months be allowed him for Collecting his Taxes, and that the Treasurer be
directed to stay Execution untill that Time." See below, page 321.



200 THE WRITINGS OF [1768

That with all possible diligence, and with his best
discretion, he attended his duty ; but was greatly re
tarded by means of the small pox, which then pre
vailed in the Town, and other obstructions : So that
he was unable to make any great Progress, till a new
year came on, when a new Tax was levied, on the same
Persons who remained indebted to him as aforesaid,
which Tax was committed to another person to col
lect. That the Town cannot be unmindful of the
difficulties which the next year ensued, by Reason of
the Stamp Act, and the Confusion consequent there
upon ; which in a great Measure interrupted the
course of Business of every kind. By all which there
became a Burden of three years taxes upon those
Persons, many of them at least, who had not paid
your Memoralist for the said year 1 764.

That the Town, the last year, saw fit to direct their
Treasurer to put the Bond afore d in suit 1 ; which he
accordingly did, and obtained a Judgment thereon :
and altho your Mem st has since been able to lessen
the sum by Payments into the Treasury, yet there
still remains a large balance due, which your Treas
urer, if called on, can ascertain.

Now your Memoralist prays the Town to take the
matter, with all its circumstances, into candid con
sideration, and grant him a further Time to collect
his out-standing Debts, that he may be enabled
thereby to compleat the Obligation of his Bond : Or
otherwise, that the Town will do that which to them
all shall seem good.

With all due respect to the Town.

1 Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. xvi., pp. 202, 203.



1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 201

ARTICLE SIGNED "A PURITAN."
[Boston Gazette, 1 April 4, 1768.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

While the generous Farmer has been employing
his shining Talents, in awakning a Continent to a
sense of the Danger their civil Rights are in from in-
croaching power : While it is grown fashionable, for
men of ingenuity and public spirit, with a noble ar
dour, to warn us against a tame submission to the
iron rods ; and LIBERTY, LIBERTY, is the Cry : I con
fess I am surpriz d to find, that so little attention
is given to the danger we are in, of the utter loss
of those religious Rights, the enjoyment of which
our good forefathers had more especially in their in
tention, when they explored and settled this new
world.

To say the truth, I have from long observation
been apprehensive, that what we have above every
thing else to fear, is POPERY : And I now bespeak
the solemn attention of my beloved Countrymen, to a
course of Letters which I am preparing, and propose
to publish in your paper upon the momentous and
melancholly subject. I expect to be treated with
sneer and ridicule by those art/id men who have
come into our country to spy out our Liberties ; and
who are restless to bring us into Bondage, and can be
successful only when the people are in a sound sleep :
from this consideration I hope my readers will not be
offended, if I now, and then, cry aloud to them with

1 The Boston Gazette and the Country Journal, Edes and Gill [Benj. Edes ;
Benj. Edes and Sons]; Boston [Watertown].



202 THE WRITINGS OF [1768

a great degree of warmth and pathos : This I shall
most certainly do, whether they will hear or whether
they will forbear ; for I cannot even now think on
the subject without feeling my zeal enkindle. I know
full well that it is farthest from the imagination of
some of our solid men and pious Divines, whom I in
tend particularly to address on the occasion, that
ever this enlightned continent should become the wor
shippers of the Beast : But who would have thought
that the oblig d and instructed Israelites would so
soon after they were delivered from the Egyptian
Task-masters, have fallen down before a golden Calf !
There is a variety of ways in which POPERY, the
idolatry of Christians, may be introduced into Amer
ica ; which at present I shall not so much as hint at,
but shall point them out hereafter in their proper
order. Yet, my dear countrymen suffer me at this
time, in the bowels of my compassion to warn you
x all, as you value your precious civil Liberty, and
everything you can call dear to you, to be upon
your guard against POPERY. My fears of POPERY
have induced me to travel thro this great continent
as a spectator, to satisfy myself : And the more I
know of the circumstances of America, I am sorry to
say it, the more reason I find to be apprehensive of
POPERY. Bless me ! could our ancestors look out
of their graves and see so many of their own sons,
deck d with the worst of foreign Superfluities, the
ornaments of the whore of Babylon, how would it
break their sacred Repose ! But amidst my gloomy
apprehensions, it is a consolation to me to observe,



Online LibrarySamuel AdamsThe writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 31)