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proportion to the Extent of it ? But there is another
Consideration of great Weight ; Let the Importa
tions from Britain be ever so large, the Trade of
America is so embarrassd & burthend, that it will
not afford the People the Ability of wearing fine
Cloaths, and paying for them, so that in the Course
of things the Importations must cease thro Necessity.
I pray God, that those who conduct the Affairs of
the Nation may be endowd with true Wisdom that
all measures destructive to the common Interest may
be reservd, that Fomentors of Division on both
sides the Atlantick may be detected & punishd, that
Great Britain & the Colonys may thorowly under
stand their mutual Interest & Dependence, that Har
mony may be cultivated between them, & that they
may long flourish in one undivided Empire.
I am with great Regard

Your most humble Servant

June 6 1768-

The bearer of this Letter, M r John Jeffries is a
young Gentleman of a Liberal Education, & of a good

1 7 68] SAMUEL ADAMS. 219

family here. He is the Son of M r David Jeffries,
a Gentleman highly esteemd by good Men ; whose
anxiety for his only Son leads him to seek the Occa
sional Advice of Men of Religion Age & Experience
in London, where he will be a Stranger. To gratify
the Fathers request I mention him to you in particu
lar. As I am influencd by motives of friendship to
one, sollicitous for his Sons spiritual as well as tem
poral Interest, I hope you will excuse the freedom
taken by Your humble Serv


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 151-156 ; printed in the Boston Gazette,

July 18, 1768.]

My Lord,

His Excellency the Governor of this province, has
been pleased to communicate to the House of Repre
sentatives, extracts of a letter he had received from

1 Wills Hill (1718-1793), first marquis of Downshire ; member of parlia
ment, 1741-1756 ; raised to the peerage as Lord Harwich, 1756 ; appointed
president of the Board of Trade and Foreign Plantations, September 10, 1763 ;
resigned, July, 1765 ; held the same office again for a few months in 1766 ;
appointed secretary of state for the colonies and also president of the Board of
Trade, January 20, 1768 ; resigned both offices in August, 1772, being suc
ceeded by Lord Dartmouth.

2 John Eliot, who as corresponding secretary of the Massachusetts Historical
Society had opportunity for accurate information, wrote as to Adams s author
ship of this letter: " His draft was accepted by the house of representatives :
and, without any alterations, sent to that nobleman ; . . ." Biographical
Dictionary, Boston, 1809, p. 9. See above, page 152, note 2.

This letter was reported to the House June 30, was read twice and accepted
by a vote of 92 to 17. It " was distinctly read to the members several times."
Prior Documents, p. 205. The next act of the House was its refusal, by a
vote of 92 to 17, to rescind the resolutions with reference to the Circular
Letter of February n, 1768.


your Lordship, dated Whitehall, 22d of April, 1768;
wherein it is declared to be the royal pleasure, that he
should require of them, in his Majesty s name, to re
scind the resolution, which gave birth to a circular
letter from the Speaker of the last House, and to de
clare their disapprobation of, and dissent to, that rash
and hasty proceeding.

The House are humbly of opinion, that a requisition
from the throne, of this nature, to a British House of
Commons, has been very unusual ; perhaps there has
been no such precedent since the revolution. If this
be the case, some very aggravated representations of
this measure, must have been made to his Majesty, to
induce him to require of this House, to rescind a res
olution of a former House, upon pain of forfeiting
their existence. For, my Lord, the House of Repre
sentatives, duly elected, are constituted by the royal
charter, the representative body of his Majesty s faith
ful commons of this province, in the General Assem
bly. Your Lordship is pleased to say, that his
Majesty considers this step " as evidently tending to
create unwarrantable combinations, and to excite an
unjustifiable opposition to the constitutional authority
of Parliament." The House, therefore, thought it
their indispensable duty, immediately to revise the
letter referred to ; and carefully to recollect as far as
they were able, the sentiments which prevailed in the
House, to induce them to revert to, and resolve on
the measure.

It may be necessary to observe, that the people in
this province have attended, with a deep concern, to
the several acts of the British Parliament, which im-

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 221

pose duties and taxes on the colonies ; not for the
purpose of regulating the trade, but with the sole in
tention of raising a revenue. This concern, my Lord,
so far from being limited within the circle of a few in
considerate persons, is become universal. The most
respectable for fortune, rank and station, as well as
probity and understanding, in the province, with very
few exceptions, are alarmed with apprehensions of
the fatal consequences of a power exercised in any
one part of the British empire, to command and ap
ply the property of their fellow subjects at discretion.
This consideration prevailed on the last House of
Representatives, to resolve on a humble, dutiful, and
loyal petition to the King, the common head and
father of all his people, for his gracious interposition,
in favor of his subjects of this province. If your
Lordship, whom his Majesty has honored with the
American department, has been instrumental in pre
senting a petition, so interesting to the well being of
his loyal subjects here, this House beg leave to make
their most grateful acknowledgements, and to implore
your continued aid and patronage.

As all his Majesty s North American subjects are I
alike affected by these parliamentary revenue acts, the
former House very justly supposed, that each of the
Assemblies on the continent, would take such meth
ods of obtaining redress, as should be thought by
them respectively, to be regular and proper. And
being desirous, that the several applications should
harmonize with each other, they resolved on their cir
cular letter ; wherein their only view seems to be, to
advertise their sister colonies of the measures they


had taken upon a common and important concern,
without once calling upon them to adopt those meas
ures, or any other.

Your Lordship, surely, will not think it a crime in
that House, to have taken a step, which was per
fectly consistent with the constitution ; and had a nat
ural tendency to compose the minds of his Majesty s
subjects of this and his other colonies, until, in his
royal clemency, he should afford them relief, at a time,
when it seemed to be the evident design of a party,
to prevent calm, deliberate, rational and constitu
tional measures from being pursued ; or to stop the
distresses of the people from reaching his Majesty s
ear, and consequently to precipitate them into a state
of desperation, and melancholy extremity. Thus, my
Lord, it appears to this House ; and your Lordship
will impartially judge, whether a representation of it
to his Majesty as a measure " of an inflammatory
nature "-as a step evidently tending " to create un- j
warrantable combinations," and, " to excite an unjus
tifiable opposition to the constitutional authority of
the Parliament," be not injurious to the representa
tives of this people, and an affront to his Majesty

An attempt, my Lord, to impress your royal mind,
with a jealousy of his faithful subjects, for which there
are no just grounds, is a crime of the most malignant
nature ; as it tends to disturb and destroy that mutual
confidence between the Prince and the subjects,
which is the only true basis of public happiness and
security ; your Lordship, upon inquiry, may find that
such base and wicked attempts have been made.

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 223

It is an inexpressible grief to the people of this
province, to find repeated censures falling upon
them, not from ministers of state alone, but from maj
esty itself, grounded on letters and accusations from
the Governor, a sight of which, though repeatedly
requested of his Excellency, is refused. There is no
evil of this life, which they so sensibly feel, as the
displeasure of their Sovereign. It is a punishment
which they are assured, his Majesty would never in
flict, but upon a representation of the justice of it,
from his servants, whom he confides in. Your Lord
ship will allow the House to appeal to your own
candor, upon the grievous hardship of their being
made to suffer so severe a misfortune, without ever
being called to answer for themselves, or even made
acquainted with the matters of charge alleged against
them : A right, which, by the common rules of so
ciety, founded in the eternal laws of reason and
equity, they are justly entitled to. The House is
not willing to trespass upon your patience. They
could recite numbers of instances, since Governor
Bernard has been honored by his Majesty, to preside
over this province, of their suffering the King s dis
pleasure, through the instrumentality of the Gover
nor, intimated by the Secretary of State, without the
least previous notice, that they had ever deviated
from the path of their duty. This, they humbly con
ceive, is just matter of complaint, and it may serve to
convince your Lordship, that his Excellency has not
that tender feeling for his Majesty s subjects, which is
characteristic of a good Governor, and of which the
Sovereign affords an illustrious example.


It is the good fortune of the House, to be able to
show, that the measure of the last House, referred to
in your Lordship s letter to the Governor, has been
grossly misrepresented, in all its circumstances. And
it is matter of astonishment, that a transaction of the
House, the business of which, is constantly done in
the open view of the world, could be thus colored ; a
transaction which, by special order of the House, was
laid before his Excellency, whose duty to his Majesty
is, at least, not to misinform him.

His Excellency could not but acknowledge, in jus
tice to that House, that moderation took place in the
beginning of the session. This is a truth, my Lord.
It was a principle with the House, to conduct the
affairs of government in this department, so as to
avoid the least occasion of offence. As an instance
of their pacific disposition, they granted a further
establishment for one of his Majesty s garrisons in
the province, rather to gratify his Excellency, who
had requested it, than from a full conviction of its
necessity. But your Lordship is informed, that this
moderation "did not continue;" and that, " instead
of a spirit of prudence and respect for the constitu
tion, which seemed at that time to influence the con
duct of a large majority of the members, a thin House
at the end of the session, presumed to revert to, and
resolve on a measure of an inflammatory nature ; "
that it was an "unfair proceeding " " contrary to
the real sense of the House;" and "procured by sur
prise." My Lord, the journals and minutes of the
House will prove the contrary of all this. And to
convince your Lordship, the House beg leave to lay

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 225

before you, the several resolutions relating to these
matters, as they stand recorded.

The House having finished their petition to the
King, and their letters to divers of his Majesty s
ministers; a motion was regularly made on the 2ist
of January, 1 which was the middle of the session, and
a resolution was then taken, to appoint a time to con
sider the expediency of writing to the Assemblies of
the other colonies on this continent, with respect to
the importance of their joining with them, in petition
ing his Majesty at this time. Accordingly, on the
day assigned, there being eighty-two members pres
ent, a number always allowed to be sufficient to make
a full House, the question was debated ; in conse
quence of which, a motion took place, that letters be
wrote to the several Assemblies of the provinces and
colonies on the continent, acquainting them, that the
House had taken into consideration, the difficulties
to which they are, and must be reduced, by the opera
tion of the late acts of Parliament, for levying duties
and taxes on the colonies ; and have resolved on
a humble, dutiful and loyal petition to his Majesty,
for redress ; and also upon proper representations to
his Majesty s ministers on the subject. And to de
sire, that they would severally take such constitu
tional measures thereupon, as they should judge most
proper. And the question upon the motion, passed
in the negative. On Thursday, the 4th of February,
it was moved in the House, that the foregoing ques
tion be considered, so far as to leave it at large ; and
conformable to a standing rule of the House, that no

1 See above, page 184.

VOL. I. 15.


vote or order shall be reconsidered at any time, unless
the House be as full, as when such vote or order was
passed ; the number in the House was called for, and
it appearing that eighty-two members were present,
the question was put, and passed in the affirmative,
by a large majority ; and by an immediately subse
quent resolve, the first vote was ordered to be erased.
The same day, the resolution which gave birth to the
circular letter, took place, a question being regularly
moved and fairly debated, whether the House would
appoint a committee to prepare a letter, to be sent to
each of the Houses of Representatives and Burgesses
on the continent, to inform them of the measures
which this House has taken, with regard to the diffi
culties arising from the acts of Parliament for levying
duties and taxes on the American colonies, and re
port to the House, which passed in the affirmative ;
and a committee was appointed accordingly. This
committee, after deliberating a week, reported the
letter, which was read in the House, and accepted,
almost unanimously ; and fair copies of the same
were ordered to be taken, for the Speaker to sign, and
forward as soon as might be. And this day, there
were eighty-three members in the House.

The day following, 1 an order passed, that a fair copy
of the letter be transmitted to Dennis De Berdt, Esq.
in London. The design of which was, that he might be
able to produce it, as necessity might require, to pre
vent any misrepresentation of its true spirit and design.

On Saturday, the i3th of February, in order that
that no possible occasion might be taken by the Gov-

1 February 12, 1768.

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 227

ernor, to think, that the debates and resolutions were
designed to be kept a secret from his Excellency, the
House came to the following resolution, viz. : Whereas
this House hath directed, that a letter be sent to the
several Houses of Representatives and Burgesses of
the British colonies on the continent, setting forth
the sentiments of this House, with regard to the
great difficulties that must accrue by the operation of
divers acts of Parliament, for levying duties and taxes
on the colonies, with the sole and express purpose of
raising a revenue ; and their proceedings thereon, in
a humble, dutiful, and loyal petition to the King, and
such representations to his Majesty s ministers, as
they apprehend, may have a tendency to obtain re
dress : And whereas it is the opinion of this House,
that all effectual methods should be taken, to culti
vate harmony between the several branches of this
government, as being necessary to promote the pros
perity of his Majesty s government in this province ;
Resolved, That a committee wait on his Excellency
the Governor, and acquaint him, that a copy of the
letter aforesaid, will be laid before him, as soon as it
can be drafted ; as well as of all the proceedings of
this House, relative to said affair, if he shall desire it.
And a committee was appointed, who waited on his
Excellency accordingly. On Monday following, the
House resolved on the establishment already men
tioned, which is observed, only to shew your Lord
ship, that there was, at this time, no disposition in the
House, " to revive unhappy divisions and distrac
tions, so prejudicial to the true interest of Great
Britain and the colonies."


The House beg leave to apologize to your Lord
ship, for the trouble given you in so particular a nar
ration of facts ; which they thought necessary to satisfy
your Lordship, that the resolution of the last House,
referred to by your Lordship, was not an unfair pro
ceeding, procured by surprise in a thin House, as his
Majesty has been informed ; but the declared sense
of a large majority, when the House was full : That
the Governor of the province was made fully ac
quainted with the measure ; and never signified his
disapprobation of it to the House, which it is pre
sumed, he would have done, in duty to his Majesty, if
he had thought it was of evil tendency : And, there
fore, that the House had abundant reason to be con
firmed in their own opinion of the measure, as being
the production of moderation and prudence. And the
House humbly rely on the royal clemency, that to
petition his Majesty will not be deemed by him to be
inconsistent with a respect to the British constitution,
as settled at the revolution, by William the Third :
That to acquaint their fellow subjects, involved in
the same distress, of their having done so, in full
hopes of success, even if they had invited the union
of all America in one joint supplication, would not be
discountenanced by our gracious Sovereign, as a
measure of an inflammatory nature : That when
your Lordship shall, in justice, lay a true statement
of these matters before his Majesty, he will no longer
consider them as tending to create unwarrantable
combinations, or excite an unjustifiable opposition to
the constitutional authority of the Parliament : That
he will then clearly discern, who are of that desperate

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 229

faction, which is continually disturbing the public
tranquility ; and, that while his arm is extended for
the protection of his distressed and injured subjects, he
will frown upon all those, who, to gratify their own
passions, have dared even to attempt to deceive him !
The House of Representatives of this province,
have more than once, during the administration of
Governor Bernard, been under a necessity of intreat-
ing his Majesty s ministers to suspend their further
judgment upon such representations of the temper of
the people, and the conduct of the Assembly, as they
were able to make appear to be injurious. The same
indulgence, this House now beg of your Lordship ;
and beseech your Lordship to patronize them so far,
as to make a favorable representation of their con
duct to the King our Sovereign ; it being the highest
ambition of this House, and the people whom they
represent, to stand before his Majesty in their just
character, of affectionate and loyal subjects.


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 147-150.]

May it please your Excellency,

The House of Representatives of this his Majesty s
ancient and loyal province of the Massachusetts Bay,

1 On June 22d Adams was appointed one of the committee which on June
3Oth reported this letter. The report was adopted immediately after the vote
of the House refusing to rescind the circular letter of February nth. The
General Court was prorogued on the day this message was sent to the Governor.
The text is printed in the Journal of the House, pp. 91-94. See W. V. Wells.
Life of Samuel A dams \ vol. i., p. 196.

2 3 o THE WRITINGS OF [1768

have, with the greatest deliberation, considered your
messages of the 2ist and 24th instant, with the sev
eral extracts from the letter of the right honorable
the Earl of Hillsborough, his Majesty s principal
Secretary of State for North American affairs, dated
the 22d of April last, which your Excellency has
thought fit to communicate. We have also received
the written answer which your Excellency was pleased
to give the committee of this House, directed to wait
on you the 2Qth instant, with a message, humbly re
questing a recess, that the members might be favored
with an opportunity to consult their constituents, at
this important crisis, when a direct and peremptory
requisition is made, of a new and strange construc-
ture, and so strenuously urged, viz. that we should
immediately rescind the resolution of the last House,
to transmit circular letters to the other British colo
nies on the continent of North America, barely inti
mating a desire that they would join in similar dutiful
and loyal petitions to our most gracious Sovereign,
for the redress of the grievances occasioned by sun
dry late acts of Parliament, calculated for the sole
purpose of raising a revenue in America.

We have most diligently revised, not only the said
resolution, but also the circular letter, written and
sent in consequence thereof; and after all, they both
appear to us to be conceived in terms not only pru
dent and moderate in themselves, but respectful to
that truly august body, the Parliament of Great
Britain, and very dutiful and loyal in regard to his
Majesty s sacred person, crown and dignity ; of all
which, we entertain sentiments of the highest rever-


ence and most ardent affection ; and should we ever
depart from these sentiments, we should stand self
condemned as unworthy the name of British subjects,
descended from British ancestors, intimately allied
and connected in interest and inclination with our
fellow subjects, the commons of Great Britain. We
cannot but express our deep concern, that a measure
of the late House, in all respects so innocent, in most,
so virtuous and laudable, and as we conceive, so truly
patriotic, should have been represented to adminis
tration in the odious light of a party and factious
measure, and that pushed through by reverting in a
thin House to, and reconsidering, what in a full as
sembly, had been rejected. It was, and is a matter
of notoriety, that more than eighty members were
present at the reconsideration of the vote against
application to the other colonies. The vote for re
consideration was obtained by a large majority. It
is, or ought to be well known, that the presence of
eighty members makes a full House, this number
being just double that, by the royal charter of the
province, required to constitute the third branch of
our Colony Legislature. Your Excellency might have
been very easily informed, if you was not, that the
measures of the late House, in regard to sundry acts
of the late Parliament, for the sole purpose of raising
a North American revenue, were generally carried by
three to one ; and we dare appeal to your Excellency
for the truth of this assertion, namely, that there
were many persons in the majority, in all views, as
respectable as the very best of the minority ; that so
far from any sinister views, were the committee of


the late House, appointed and directed to take into
their most serious consideration, the then present
state of the province, from going into any rash or
precipitate measures, that they, for some days, actu
ally delayed their first report, which was a letter to
Mr. Agent De Berdt, on this candid and generous
principle, that those who were reasonably presup
posed to be most warmly attached to all your Excel
lency s measures, especially those for furthering, and,
by all means, enforcing the acts for levying the North
American revenue, might be present, and a more
equal contest ensue. It would be incredible, should
any one assert that your Excellency wanted a true
information of all these things, which were not done,
or desired to be hid in a corner, but were notoriously
transacted in the open light, at noon day. It is, to
us, altogether incomprehensible, that we should be
required, on the peril of a dissolution of the great
and General Court, or Assembly of this province, to
rescind a resolution of a former House of Repre
sentatives, when it is evident, that resolution has no \
existence, but as a mere historical fact.

Your Excellency must know, that the resolution j
referred to, is, to speak in the language of the com
mon law, not now executory," but, to all intents and

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