Samuel Adams.

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1 cannot any longer remain silent, without just Impu
tation of inexcuseable Neglect. - - We therefore the
Freeholders & other Inhabitants, being legally as
sembled in Faneuil Hall, to consider what Steps
are necessary for us to take at this alarming Crisis,
think it proper to communicate to you our united
Sentiments, & to give you our Instruction there

It fills us with very great Concern to find, that

Measures have been adopted by the British Ministry,

& Acts of Parliament made, which press hard upon

our invalueabkJRjghts & Libertys, & tend greatly

to distress theTrade~oI~tHe" Province by which we

have heretofore been able to contribute so large a

Share towards the enriching of the Mother Country.

/ But we are more particularly alarmd & astonishd

/at the Act, called the Stamp Act, by which a very

^ grievous & we apprehend unconstitutional Tax is to

1 be laid upon the Colony.

By the Royal Charter granted to our Ancestors,
the Power of making Laws for our internal Govern
ment, & ofjevying_ Taxes x js vested in the General
Assembly : And by the samejCharter the Inhabitants
of this-rovince areentifled to all the Rights & Privi-
leges^jiaturat free-born ^Subjects of Great Britain :
Thermos.! e^enf^TRi^ht^r British Subjects are
those^of^b^ing -repi^sentedin the same Body which
exercises the Pow^^of, Jeyying Taxes upon them, &

Richard Dana John Rowe, Samuel Adams, John Erring, Jr., Joseph Green and
Ruddock. A portion of the next to the last paragraph of their report,
es.zed in the manuscript text, seems not to have been adopted.


of having their Property tryed by Jurys : These are
the very Pillars of the British Constitution founded
in the common Rights of Mankind. It is certain
that_we were in no Sense represented in trie Parlia
ment of Great Britain when this Act of Taxation was
made : Arid it is also certain that this Law admitts
of our Propertys being tryd, in Controversys arising
from internal Concerns, by Courts of Admiraltry,
without a Jury. It follows, that at once, it annihi
lates the most valueable Privileges of our Charter,
deprives us of the most essential Rights of Britons,
& greatly weakens the best Security of our Lives
Libertys & Estates ; which may hereafter be at the
Disposal of Judges, who may be Strangers to us, &
perhaps malicious, mercenary, corrupt & oppressive.

But admiting that we had no Complaints of this
Nature, we should still have Reason to except against
the Inequality of these Taxes : It is well known that
the People of this Province have not only settled this
Country, but enlargd & defended the British Domin
ion in America, with a vast Expence of Treasure &
Blood : They have exerted themselves in the most
distinguished Services for their King ; by which they
have often been reducd to the greatest Distress : And
in the late War more especially, by their surprizing
Exertions, they have bro t upon themselves, a Debt
almost insupportable : And we are well assured, that
if these expensive Services, for which very little if
any Advantage hath ever accrued to themselves, to
gether with the necessary Charge of supporting &
defending his Majestys Government here, had been
duly estimated, The Moneys designd to be drawn



from us by this Act, would have appeard greatly
beyond our Proportion.

We look upon it as a peciiliar hardship, that when
the Representative Body of this Province, had pre-
pard & sent forward, a decent Remonstrance against
these Proceedings, while they were depending in the
House of Commons, it faild of Admittance there :
And this we esteem the more extraordinary, inasmuch
as, being unrepresented, it was the only Method
whereby they could make known, their Objections to
Measures, in the Event of which their Constituents
were to be so deeply interested.

Moreover this Act, if carried into Execution, will
become a further Grievance to us, as it will afford a
Precedent for the Parliament to tax us, in all future
Time, & in all such Ways & Measures, as they shall
judge meet without our consent.

We therefore think it our indispensible Duty, in
Justice to our Selves & Posterity, as it is our un
doubted Privilege, in the most open & unreservd, but
decent & respectfull Terms, to declare our greatest
Dissatisfaction with this Law : And we think it in
cumbent upon you by no means to joyn in any pub-
lick Measures for countenancing & assisting in the
Execution of the same; But tor-tree- your best En
deavors in the General Assembly, to have the inherent,
unamenable Riglit^-ef the. -People of this Province,
assented -<% vindicated &: left upon the publick Re
cords ; that Posterity may never have Reason to
charge the present Times, with the Guilt of tamely
giving them away.

It affords us the greatest Satisfaction to hear, that


the Congress proposd by the House of Representa
tives of this Province, is consented to by the repre
sentatives of most of the other Colonys on the
Continent: We have the warmest Expectations
from the united Councils of that very respectable
Comittee : And we may with the strictest Propriety,
injoyn upon M r Otis, a Member of the same, being
also one of the Representatives of this Town, to con
tribute the utmost of his Ability, in having the Rights
of the Colonys stated in the clearest View, & laid
before the Parliament ; & in preparing a humble
Petition to the King, our Sovereign & Father,
under whose gracious Care & Protection, we have
the strongest Reason to hope, that the Rights
of the Colonys in general, & the particular Char
ter rights of this Province, will be confirmed & per

We further instruct you, to take particular Care,
that the best Oeconomy may be used, in expending
the publick money ; and that no unaccustomd Grants
may be made to those who serve the Government
(It is particularly our opinion that a very great Ex-
pence in maintaining Forts & Garrisons at the East
ern Parts of the Province may well be saved. For
as the French in Canada are now totally subdued to
his Majesty the Indians can no longer be tempted to
take scalps & Captives, for the sake of making Gains
of them, as they formerly have done in times of
Peace, & besides they are themselves reducd to so
small a number as to render it impracticable for them
ever to molest us).

And we in general recommend to your Care, that


the moneys of the Province drawn from the indi
viduals of the People at a time when almost every
Avenue of our Trade is obstructed, may not be
applyd to any other purposes, under any pretence, of
necessary contingent Charges, but what are evidently
intended in the Act for supplying the Treasury
By order of the Comittee



18, 1765.

[MS., Mellen Chamberlain Collection, Boston Public Library ; a text is in
Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. 16, p. 157.]

On a motion made & seconded at the above Meet
ing it was unanimously voted

That The Hon bl James Otis Esq, Moderator
The Hon bl Samuel Wells
Harrison Grey
Royal Tyler Esq,
Joshua Henshaw Esq
John Rowe Esq &
M r Samuel Adams

1 be a Committee to draw up & transmit, by the
first Opportunity, to the Right Honorable General
Conway, now one of His Majestys principal Secretarys
of State, and to Coll Isaac Barre, a member of
Parliament, several adresses humbly expressing the
sincere Thanks, of this Metropolis of His Majestys

1 From this point the manuscript is in the handwriting of Adams.

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 13

ancient & loyal Province of the Massachusetts Bay,
for their noble, generous & truly patriotic Speeches,
at the last Session of Parliament, in favor of the
Colonys, their Rights & Privileges : And that correct
Copys of the same be desired, that they may be re-
posited, among our most precious Archives. Also
voted that those Gentlemens Pictures as soon as they
can be obtaind, be placd in Faneuil Hall, as a stand
ing monument, to all Posterity, of the Virtue & Justice
of our Benefactors, & a lasting Proof of our Gratitude.


23, 1765.

[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 43-48-3 2

May it please your Excellency,

The House of Representatives have entered into a
due consideration of your speech to both houses at
the opening of this session ; and should have earlier
communicated to your Excellency our sentiments
thereupon, had not the late sudden and unexpected
adjournment prevented it.

We must confess, that after your Excellency had
called us together in pursuance of the unanimous ad
vice of a very full Council, we were in hopes you
would have given the assembly time then to have
considered the critical state of the province, and

Ascribed by Hutchinson, Bancroft and Wells to Samuel Adams, and by
Otis to John Adams.

2 By this running title will be cited " Speeches of the Governors of Massa
chusetts, from 1765 to 1775, . . . . , Boston, 1818."


determined what was proper to be done at so difficult
and dangerous a conjuncture.

Your Excellency tells us, that the province seems
to be upon the brink of a precipice ! A sight of its
danger is then necessary for its preservation. To
despair of the commonwealth, is a certain presage of
its fall. Your Excellency may be assured, that the
representatives of the people are awake to a sense
of its danger, and their utmost prudence will not be
wanting to prevent its ruin.

We indeed could not have thought that a weak
ness in the executive power of the province had been
any part of our danger, had not your Excellency
made such a declaration in your speech. Certainly
the General Assembly have done every thing incum
bent on them ; and laws are already in being for the
support of his Majesty s authority in the province.
Your Excellency doth not point out to us any defect
in those laws ; and yet you are pleased to say, that
the executive authority is much too weak. Surely
you cannot mean, by calling the whole legislative, in
aid of the executive authority, that any new and
extraordinary kind of power should by law be consti
tuted, to oppose such acts of violence as your Excel
lency may apprehend from a people ever remarkable
for their loyalty and good order ; though at present
uneasy and discontented. If, then, the laws of the
province for the preservation of his Majesty s peace
are already sufficient, your Excellency, we are very
sure, need not to be told, to whose department it
solely belongs to appoint a suitable number of magis
trates to put those laws in execution, or remove them

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 15

in case of failure of their duty herein. And we hope
this important trust will remain with safety to the
province, where the constitution has lodged it.

Your Excellency is pleased to tell us, that declara
tions have been made and still subsist, that the act
of Parliament for granting stamp duties in the colo
nies, shall not be executed within this province. We
know of no such declarations. If any individuals of
the people have declared an unwillingness to subject
themselves to the payment of the stamp duties and
choose rather to lay aside all business than make use
of the stamped papers, as we are not accountable
for such declarations, so neither can we see anything
criminal in them. This House has no authority to
control their choice in this matter ; the act does not
oblige them to make use of the papers ; it only exacts
the payment of certain duties for such papers as they
may incline to use. Such declarations may possibly
have been made, and may still subsist, very consist
ently with the utmost respect to the King and

Your Excellency has thought proper to enumerate
very minutely the inconveniencies that may arise from
the stamped papers not being distributed among the
people ; with respect to some of which your love and
concern for the province leads you to fear more for
us than we do for ourselves. We cannot think your
Excellency would willingly aggravate our dangers ;
we are not in particular so alarmed, as your Excel
lency seems to be, with the apprehension of the hand
of violence being let loose. Your Excellency, upon
recollection, will find that all papers relative to crown


matters are exempt from stamps. The persons of his
Majesty s good subjects will still remain secure from
injury. That spirit which your Excellency tells us
attacks reputations and pulls down houses, will yet
be curbed by the law. The estates of the people will
remain guarded from theft or open violence. There
will be no danger of force of arms becoming the only
governing power. Nor shall we realize what your
Excellency is pleased to call a state of general out
lawry. This we think necessary to be observed,
without a particular consideration of all the conse
quences which your Excellency fears, to prevent, if
possible, any wrong impressions from fixing in the
minds of ill disposed persons, or remove them if
already fixed.

You are pleased to say, that the stamp act is an act
of Parliament, and as such ought to be observed.
This House, sir, has too great a reverence for the su
preme legislature of the nation, to question its just
authority : It by no means appertains to us to pre
sume to adjust the boundaries of the power of Parlia
ment ; but boundaries there undoubtedly are. We
hope we may without offence, put your Excellency in
mind of that most grievous sentence of excommuni
cation, solemnly denounced by the church, in the
name of the sacred trinity, in the presence of King
Henry the Third, and the estates of the realm, against
all those who should make statutes, or observe them,
being made contrary to the liberties of the Magna
Charta. We are ready to think that those zealous
advocates for the constitution usually compared their
acts of Parliament with Magna Charta ; and if it ever

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 17

happened that such acts were made as infringed upon
the rights of that charter, they were always repealed.
We have the same confidence in the rectitude of
the present Parliament ; and therefore cannot but be
surprized at an intimation in your speech, that they
will require a submission to an act as a preliminary
to their granting relief from the unconstitutional bur
dens of it ; which we apprehend includes a suggestion
in it far from your Excellency s design, and supposes
such a wanton exercise of mere arbitrary power, as
ought never to be surmised of the patrons of liberty
and justice.

Furthermore, your Excellency tells us that the
right of the Parliament to make laws for the American
colonies remains indisputable in Westminster. With
out contending this point, we beg leave just to observe
that the charter of the province invests the General
Assembly with the power of making laws for its in
ternal government and taxation; and that this charter
has never yet been forfeited. The Parliament has a
right to make all laws within the limits of their own
constitution ; they claim no more. Your Excellency
will acknowledge that there are certain original in
herent rights belonging to the people, which the Par
liament itself cannot divest them of, consistent with
their own constitution : among these is the right of
representation in the same body which exercises the
power of taxation. There is a necessity that the sub
jects of America should exercise this power within
themselves, otherwise they can have no share in that
most essential right, for they are not represented in
Parliament, and indeed we think it impracticable.]

VOL. I. 2.


Your Excellency s assertion leads us to think that
you are of a different mind with regard to this very
material point, and that you suppose we are repre
sented ; but the sense of the nation itself seems
always to have been otherwise. The right of the
colonies to make their own laws and tax themselves
has been never, that we know of, questioned ; but
has been constantly recognized by the King and Par
liament. The very supposition that the Parliament,
through the supreme power over the subjects of Brit
ain universally, should yet conceive of a despotic
power within themselves, would be most disrespect
ful ; and we leave it to your Excellency s considera
tion, whether to suppose an indisputable right in any
government, to tax the subjects without their con
sent, does not include the idea of such a power.

May it please your Excellency,

Our duty to the King, who holds the rights of all
his subjects sacred as his own prerogative ; and our
love to our constituents and concern for their dearest
interests, constrain us to be explicit upon this very
important occasion. We beg that your Excellency
would consider the people of this province as having
the strongest affection for his Majesty, under whose
happy government they have felt all the blessings of
liberty : They have a warm sense of honor, freedom
and independence of the subjects of a patriot King :
they have a just value for those inestimable rights
which are derived to all men from nature, and are
happily interwoven in the British constitution : They
esteem it sacrilege for them ever to give them up ;

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 19

and rather than lose them, they would willingly part
with every thing else. We deeply regret it, that the
Parliament has seen fit to pass such an act as the
stamp act : we flatter ourselves that the hardships of
it will shortly appear to them in such a point of light
as shall induce them in their wisdom to repeal it : In
the meantime we must beg your Excellency to excuse
us from doing any thing to assist in the execution of
it : Were we, in order to avoid assertions, to resolve
what we have to say on this head into mere questions,
we should with all humility ask, whether it would be
possible for us to add any weight to an act of that
most august body the Parliament ? whether it would
not be construed as arrogance and presumption in us
to attempt it ? whether your Excellency can reason
ably expect that the House of Representatives should
be active in bringing a grievous burden upon their
constituents ? Such a conduct in us would be to
oppose the sentiments of the people whom we repre
sent, and the declared instruction of most of them.
They complain that some of the most essential rights
of Magna Charta, to which as British subjects they
have an undoubted claim, are injured by it : that it
wholly cancels the very conditions upon which our
ancestors settled this country, and enlarged his Majes
ty s dominions, with much toil and blood, and at their
sole expense : that it is totally subversive of the
happiest frame of subordinate, civil government, ex
pressed in our charter, which amply secures to the
Crown our allegiance, to the nation our connection,
and to ourselves the indefeasible rights of Britons :
that it tends to destroy that mutual confidence and


affection, as well as that equality which ought ever to
subsist among all his Majesty s subjects in his wide
and extended empire : that it may be made use of as
a precedent for their fellow subjects in Britain for the
future, to demand of them what part of their estates
they shall think proper, and the whole if they please :
that it invests a single judge of the admiralty, with a
power to try and determine their property in contro
versies arising from internal concerns, without a jury,
contrary to the very expression of Magna Charta ;
that no freeman shall be amerced, but by the oath of
good and lawful men of the vicinage : that it even
puts it in the power of an informer to carry a supposed
offender more than two thousand miles for trial ; and
what is the worst of all evils, if his Majesty s American
subjects are not to be governed, according to the
known stated rules of the constitution, as those in
Britain are, it is greatly to be feared that their minds
may in time become disaffected ; which we cannot
even entertain the most distant thought of without
the greatest abhorrence. We are truly sorry that
your Excellency has never made it a part of your
business to form any judgment of this act ; especially
as you have long known what uneasiness the most
distant prospect of it gave to his Majesty s good sub
jects in America, and of this province, of which you
are substituted to be the head and father. Had your
Excellency thought it proper to have seasonably en
tered into a disquisition of the policy of it, you would,
we doubt not, have seen that the people s fears were
not without good foundation ; and the love and con
cern which you profess to have for them, as well as

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 21

your duty to his Majesty, whose faithful subjects they
are, might have been the most powerful motives to
your Excellency to have expressed your sentiments
of it early enough to those whose influence brought
it into being.

We cannot help expressing our great uneasiness,
that after mentioning some violences committed in
the town of Boston, your Excellency should ask this
House whether such proceedings are consistent with
the dutiful, humble and loyal representations which
we propose should be made. We are sure your Ex
cellency will not expressly charge us with encourag
ing the late disturbances ; and yet to our unspeakable
surprise and astonishment, we cannot but see, that by
fair implication it may be argued from the manner of
expression, that an odium was intended to be thrown
on the province. We inherit from our ancestors the
highest relish for civil liberty ; but we hope never
to see the time when it shall be expedient to counte
nance any methods for its preservation but such as
are legal and regular. When our sacred rights are
infringed, we feel the grievance, but we understand
the nature of our happy constitution too well, and
entertain too high an opinion of the virtue and justice
of the supreme legislature, to encourage any means
of redressing it, but what are justifiable by the consti
tution) We must therefore consider it as unkind for
your Excellency to cast such a reflection on a prov
ince whose unshaken loyalty and indissoluble at
tachment to his Majesty s most sacred person and
government was never before called in question, and
we hope in God, never will again. We should rather


have thought your Excellency would have expressed
your satisfaction in presiding over so loyal a people,
who in that part of the government where the vio
lences were committed, before there was time for
them to be supported by the arm of civil power, and
even while the supreme magistrate was absent, by
their own motion raised a spirit and diffused it
through all ranks, successfully to interpose and put
a stop to such dangerous proceedings.

Your Excellency is pleased to recommend a com
pensation to be made to the sufferers by the late
disturbances. We highly disapprove of the acts of
violence which have been committed ; yet till we
are convinced that to comply with what your Excel
lency recommends, will not tend to encourage such
outrages in time to come, and till some good reason
can be assigned why the losses those gentlemen have
sustained should be made good, rather than any
damage which other persons, on any other different
occasions, might happen to suffer, we are persuaded
we shall not see our way clear to order such a com
pensation to be made. We are greatly at a loss
to know who has any right to require this of us, if we
should differ from your Excellency in point of its be
ing an act of justice, which concerns the credit of the
government. We cannot conceive why it should be
called an act of justice, rather than generosity, unless
your Excellency supposes a crime committed by a
few individuals, chargeable upon a whole community.

We are very sorry that your Excellency should think
it needful to intimate that any endeavors have been,
and may be used, to lessen your credit with this

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 23

House. Your Excellency cannot but be sensible
that when the popular pulse beats high for privileges,
it is no unusual thing for a clamor to be raised
against gentlemen of character and eminence. We
can assure you that our judgment of men, especially
those in high stations, is always founded upon our
experience and observation. While your Excellency
is pleased to make your duty to our most gracious

Online LibrarySamuel AdamsThe writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 31)