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ger I shall not even hint such a thing to the public.
Certain it is however that this said John Mein is tak
ing abundance of pains to make it appear as if the
Baronet s prediction was fulfilling apace, and that a
number of the Merchants who subscribed, had broke
through their Agreement, and thereby violated their
faith voluntarily plighted to the whole American
publick ! I am very solicitous for the Honor of the
Merchants of Boston, my fellow Citizens, but much
more for my Country, the Salvation of which very
much depends upon their punctually fulfilling their
Agreement : And therefore I must confess I was at
first greatly alarmed at the formidable Attack which
this same John Mein seemed to have made upon
both. I was particularly concerned to find a Mer
chant of the first Character and one who had always
distinguished himself in the List .of Patriots, so lost
to himself, his Connections in trade and his Country,
as to import 100 pieces of British Linnens, in direct
violation of his own Agreement. Thus it was repre
sented in the Boston Chronicle ; but how unlucky it
is for John Mein, that the Truth of his publication
should be so soon called in Question ! And as it
now appears to the World, beyond Contradiction, by
the Oath of Mr. William Palfrey a Person of un
doubted Veracity, that these 100 pieces of British
Linnen were in reality so many pieces of Russia Duck,
an allowed Article, will not the impartial publick at
once say that John Mein has committed Leasing
making, contrary to the Laws of his own Nation, and
be ready to charge him with as perverse a Misrepre-


sentation as ever the Nettleham Baronet himself was
guilty of. I have been told of so many other De
ceptions of the same kind in the several publications
of this over zealous Man, that for my own part I
must have better Authority than his before I shall give
my Credence .to any Tale that may hereafter come
from his Press I would desire Mr. Mein to accept a
Word of Caution, not to set himself in Opposition to
an awakened, an enlightened and a Determined Conti
nent, lest he be found to kick against the Pricks I
had also a word of serious Advice to the two young
Gentlemen who bring up the Rear in the very igno
ble List of Importers by the Name of Hutchinson,
whose ill advised Conduct I am particularly aston
ished at ; but for want of Leisure I must at present
omit it.

Your s,


[Boston Gazette, September 25, 1769.]

Messieurs PRINTERS,

Mr. Robinson l seems highly to resent it, that there
should be the least suspicion of a preconcerted plan to
assassinate Mr. Otis, when he was so ungenerously
assaulted in the Coffee-room ; but the impartial public
will form its own judgment of this matter, founded
upon more substantial Evidence than the Declara-

1 One of the Commissioners of Customs. See above, page 316.


1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 381

tion of an unknown By-stander. I am sorry there
should be room for any suspicion of this kind ; but
when I hear it affirm d that preparation was made
that very day for a dust that was to be kickd up in the
Evening, when I am told that one dirty fellow was
known to furnish another dirty fellow with a sword
for the purpose and that boats were in readiness to
carry off certain persons at a minutes warning, I must
confess it looks as if business of a very extraordinary
nature was intended. It certainly cannot be ac
counted for upon any principle of honor, that many
persons in the company should be suffer d to crowd
in upon Mr. Otis on purpose to hinder his making
use of his own strength ; pushing & pulling him as
Mr. Gridley declares upon oath " to prevent his
beating Mr. Robinson " who had attack d him, as in
all likelihood he would otherwise have done. When
we find one witness of undoubted veracity swearing
that means were used to prevent Mr. Otis improving
the advantage he manifestly had over his antagonist ;
others, that under these circumstances, a number of
sticks at once were over Mr. Otis s head a drawn
sword the cry in the room G d d n him, mean
ing Mr. Otis, 1 knock him down kill him kill him
all which has already been depos d by credible wit
nesses upon oath before the magistrate Can any one
from such declarations of impartial men, entertain the
least doubt but that some persons in the company
had a design to assassinate Mr. Otis ? since they not
only called upon each other to kill him, but were
actually endeavoring to perpetrate the murder by

William Tudor, Life of James Otis, pp. 362, 503.


the utmost of their power. And when we are also
assured by the testimony of another disinterested wit
ness, that he heard a certain person talking of a wager
he had lost upon the issue of the matter, can there be
any scruple that it was a preconcerted plan ! This
same certain person has of late been uncommonly
officious in the cause of C rs, and his name will
ere long be expos d Whether Mr. Robinson was
privy to any such plan he best knows himself. I
do not charge him with it. If he had agreed to
Mr. Otis s proposal to go abroad or withdraw to a
private place, and there decide the controversy be
tween them, or if he had propos d it himself, instead of
attacking him in a public company, he would in my
opinion have acted the part of a Gentleman and a
man of Courage ; and no one I suppose would suspect
that he had the least intention to avail himself of
foul play.

Mr. Robinson takes a great deal of pains to have
it believ d that there was no foul play. He tells the
public that " no man besides himself struck Mr. Otis,
or even offer d him the least unfair play." Mr.
Gridley, in direct contradiction to what Mr. Robinson
asserts, upon oath declares, that there was " foul
play," and that he protested against the " dirty usage "
which Mr. Otis receiv d. I shall for my own part al
ways place a greater confidence in what is said by an
indifferent person than the assertion of a party Mr.
Robinson indeed says that Mr. Gridley made himself
a party ; but one of his own witnesses has declar d
upon oath that he apprehended Mr. Gridley s design
was to separate the parties or see fair play ; which by

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 383

no means places him in the light of a party man Mr.
Robinson may entertain what opinion he pleases of
his By-Stander, and so will the public ; it will be a
difficult matter, if possible, for him, by any deposi
tions, which by the way he promis d us in the course
of last week, to invalidate the testimony of Mr.
Gridley, in the minds of any who know him. Mr.
Robinson moreover says, that he laid aside his own
sword, upon seeing Mr. Otis without one. One
would from hence conclude, that Mr. Robinson had,
in this instance, acted like a man who, to use his own
expression, " had nice sentiments of honor." But cir
cumstances seem throughout the whole of this matter,
to turn up unluckily for Mr. Robinson. Some of the
first Surgeons in this city attended Mr. Otis, and
upon a thoro examination of the wound he received
in his forehead, which was given by Mr. Robinson,
according to his own and his By-Stander s account,
they were all clear in their judgment, that it was the
cut of an edged weapon. Did Mr. Robinson then
borrow another sword, after he had, like a man of
nice sentiments of honor, laid aside his own, because
Mr. Otis was without one ? Or rather, did not some
other person strike Mr. Otis, and that with an edged
weapon ? This indeed is contrary to Mr. Robinson s
and his good friend the By-Stander s account of the
matter ; but one or the other of these must be the con
clusion, if the judgment of the Surgeons is of any
weight, and they have as nice sentiments of honor, as
even Mr. Robinson himself, and I dare say, are able
to defend their judgment. Mr. Robinson may take
his choice, either to acknowledge that he had the


assistance of one at least, who fought too with an edged
weapon, in the combat with Mr. Otis, which the By-
Stander pertly says ended greatly to the disadvantage
of Mr. Otis ; or else, that he was not sincere with the
Public in saying that he laid by his own sword, when
he found Mr. Otis without one ; for if he made use of
a sword, it was immaterial whether it was his own or
another man s.

The By-Stander roundly asserts that twenty gen
tlemen in the room can prove that " neither sword,
cutlass or other edged weapon whatever was seen
drawn." But the ill luck of Mr. Robinson attends
this man, who seems to make himself a swift witness
in the matter. I would just observe that if this By-
Stander is as active in his limbs, as he appears to be in
his tongue, which is called an imruly evil, he might for
aught I know be a match for Broughton himself ; and
perhaps he may have lent a fist too, when " the brisk
manual exercise," as he tells us, ensued ; which might en
title him to be present at Squire Froths, where some
of the perpetrators rendezvouz d, and mutual congrat
ulations, as fame reports, pass d on the grand occasion.
But this by way of digression wherein I could have
mentioned several curious anecdotes concerning the
Esqrs dismal apprehensions the next morning, (hav
ing I suppose been worried in his dreams in the night)
together with his sage advice to the peace-officers, by
no means to attempt to serve a precept on board a
man of war ; telling them it would be hazardous, and
that men of war were lawless, perhaps the Esquire
means privileged places. But these things shall be
related in due season.- -Twenty Gentlemen, says the

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 385

By-Stander, (modestly eno ) " can prove that neither,
sword, cutlass, or other edged weapon whatever was
seen drawn." How easily may the By-Stander and
his twenty gentlemen be confuted by the positive tes
timony of one person of credit, who swore the other
day before Mr. Justice Murray, " that a sword was
drawn"; and this by the way serves to confirm the
judgment of the Surgeons. Esquire Murray has
had the honor of being mentioned to Lord Hills-
borough by the Nettleham Baronet as a " fit person "
for a reforming Magistrate ; and to my knowledge he
took great care that justice should be done to Mr.
Robinson. I will not say that he appear d partial,
much less very partial in his favour, for that wou d
expose me to his Worship s resentment, which I very
much dread this I will say, tho Mr. Robinson need
not be told of it, that he used the utmost Caution in
admitting questions that should seem to prejudice his
cause, when he chose to think them in the least degree
impertinent or improper, and no one can blame his
Worship for that ! But to return to the By-Stander ;
\ if twenty gentlemen can prove that " neither Sword
i Cutlass, or any other edg d Weapon whatever was
seen drawn " is it not somewhat strange, that besides
a number of sticks, a scabbard should be found on the
ifloor, by a person who happened to enter the room
isoon after the affray ended ? Whether it was a scab
bard belonging to the sword that was seen drawn in
the hand of a person dressed in green, or another, is
not very material If any one doubts of the truth of
what I have now related, I appeal to Mr. Otis a
eputy-Sheriff in this Town who has the scabbard in


his possession, where the owner if he thinks proper
may apply for it.

This By-stander deals much in negative Evidence ;
he says the " Words Kill him, were not once heard
during the whole engagement": Unfortunately for
him he is again confronted by a person upon Oath.
Mr. Grid ley swears that he heard " divers voices hol
low out Kill him! Kill him! and he makes no
doubt they meant said Otis." But Mr. Robinson has
promis d, and I now call upon him to fulfil his promise,
"to give the public an opportunity of judging"
whether the bare Word of this By-stander, who con
ceals his Name, or the oath of Mr. Gridley taken be
fore two Magistrates, is more deserving of Credit.

Your s,


[Boston Gazette, October 2, 1769.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

LET us take a short retrospect of American affairs
-The opposition which the Colonies made to the
detestable stamp-act in the year 1765, finally operated
its repeal I am induced to call it a detestable act,
not from a warmth of resentment against a measure
which had it taken effect must have involv d this
whole Continent in perfect absolute slavery, but from
the cool dictates of reason. ^ For tho it was soon re-
peal d, it yet created such" a jealousy between the
mother country and the colonies, as it is to be fear d

^.^^r^r jsatf^"

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 387

will never wholly subside ; and for aught the promo
ters of if can tell will finally end in the ruin of the most
glorious Empire the sun ever shone upon, or at least
may accelerate consequences, arising from American
independence, which, whenever they happen, will be
fatal to Britain herself. As a condition of the re
peal the friends of the American cause, which was
the cause of liberty, in the British house of commons,
were oblig d to yield to a proposal ; that an act
should be passed expressly declaring a right in the
King, Lords and Commons of Great Britain to make
laws which shall be binding on the colonies in all
cases whatever-r^The Americans, who not long be
fore were viewed by the people of Britain in no bet
ter a character than the tawny aboriginal natives,
were not so void of understanding, as to overlook the
latent meaning of this act they clearly understood
the true intention of the words, " in all cases what
ever" , and that a right of making revenue laws bind
ing on the colonies was necessarily included. Thus
Great Britain, instead of burying in eternal oblivion,
a claim so repugnant to the laws of reason and
equity, and therefore so obnoxious to all the colo
nies, was induced at that critical season, and as I con
ceive, contrary to all the rules of sound policy, as far
as she could, to establish it : And while she was thro
necessity, about to repeal one law for taxing the
colonies, without their consent, she at the same time
held up to them a claim, and in effect told them, that
she was resolved to make another, or a thousand
more, whenever she should be pleas d to exercise theT>
right she had assum d Such were the councils which

3 88 THE WRITINGS OF [1769

ruled in Britain then, and we all know what they
have been since.

The Americans, for the sake of restoring harmony,
chose to treat this act with silence, at least till ne
cessity should oblige them to remonstrate the ill effects
of it. The repeal of the stamp-act was receiv d __j
with universal joy ; and perhaps future histo
rians may say of the colonists, as has been said
of the people of Britain upon another occasion in a
former period, that they were "mad with loyalty"
Addresses were offered to our most gracious Sov
ereign on the occasion, and letters of thanks were
sent to the patriots who had signaliz d themselves as
instruments in bringing on this happy event The
commerce with Great-Britain which had been stop d
was again reviv d upon the additional motive of
gratitude, and such steps were taken as might prob
ably lead the mother country, in the height of her
glory to imagine, that the Americans look d upon
the repeal as a singular & unmerited favor : It must
be own d they seem d too unmindful of the right they
had on their part claim d, of a total exemption from
taxes not rais d with their own free consent ; and
that the repeal was nothing more, upon their own
principles, than the removal of a burden which they
were under no manner of obligation to bear I men
tion these things to show that the colonies were at
that time heartily dispos d to a reconciliation with the
mother country, and that she has not the least reason
to complain of them that differences still unhappily
subsist between them and if Britain herself would
now and then recollect, she might perhaps correct

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 389

some past errors &&& follies, which might tend to re
store that mutual affection which all good men wish
for, and she herself, however she may now think of
the matter, may one day want Power is intoxicating ;
and those who are possess d of it too often grow vain
and insolent ; we have daily instances of this in par
ticular persons ; and a haughty nation inebriated
with power, like a drunken man upon a precipice,
may fall into inevitable ruin, when the friendly hand
of a child, if present, might have led him from

But tho the colonies were so well dispos d to
wards the mother country, it must not be forgot that
there was a cursed Cabal, principally residing in this
town, who having been disappointed in their expec
tations of the sweets of the stamp-act, were perpet
ually intriguing to bring about another parliamentary
tax-act ; for no other purpose than that they might
feast and fatten themselves upon the spoils and plun-
der of the people and I am persuaded the nation
would not have been so impolitick as to have pass d
another revenue act for the colonies so soon after
the confusion which the stamp-act had occasioned
on both sides the water, had not this Cabal found
means to induce the men in power at home to be-
1 lieve, that the opposition to that act was "afactwn"
that rag d indeed for a while, but was then an "ex
piring faction"; and that the generality of the
people, now under the influence of the "better sort",
and those whom they were pleas d to call the
"friends of government" who "feared GOD and
honor d the King", were become perfectly reconciled

39 o THE WRITINGS OF [1769

to the measure, and the experiment might be tried
with safety and success What a pity it is that great
men are so ready to yield implicit faith to the idle re
ports of their tools and dependents, in matters that
concern the welfare of millions, and the very existence
of states ! But great men are not always wise ! and -
we may safely add from the experience of the world,

that they are not always good. Perhaps the M y

themselves were glad to receive these accounts from
their wretched hirelings, as they might make a plaus
ible foundation on which to build a plan for their
own future wealth and greatness, however distressing
to the Colonies, and ruinous to the nation. This
may be tho t a little rude for an American pen ; but

Britain has too often seen a corrupt M y under

the best of kings. There have indeed sometimes
been instances of favourites torn as it were from the
arms of - , and made to suffer the vengence of an
injured People. I never could conceive what should
induce a free independent British house of Commons
to pass a Bill so repugnant to the British constitution,
as well as natural right and justice, as a bill for con
trolling the property of millions without their con
sent ! But I have been lately told that an opinion
prevails in that country, that an act of parliament
when once passed, becomes a part of the constitution,
and that such a bill was perfectly reconcileable with
their own Ideas of the act before-mentioned, declar
ing a right in the British parliament, to make laws
binding on the Colonies in all cases whatever, and
consequently in their opinion a constitutional bill-
Whatever was the motive, we find to our astonish-

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 391

ment, that in addition to the act of 4 Geo. 3. com
monly called the Molasses-act, another American
revenue-law was made, and the Colonies were again
taxed without their consent, by those who never did
and never can represent them. Let me ask the
Cabal, whether the Colonies in general are perfectly
reconciled to this act They now see the contrary
with grief and despair, and they may e re long see it
with terror and amazement. The Colonies are more
than ever united in a determined opposition to these
acts, and I hope in God they will continue their
opposition to them, till they are all repealed till the
Locust and the Caterpillars which now swarm among
us, are driven off like chaff, and every American
grievance is redressed. Their union & firmness I am
sure will continue as long as they have a feeling of
their own dignity and their own rights ; and there is
no reason to fear that this feeling will ever be ex-
tinguish d in their breasts, while they remain a vir
tuous and a sensible people. Their opposition has
been prudent & legal, what single step has been
taken that cannot fully be justify d by the Laws
of their country They have publickly remonstrated
their grievances to the world, and humbly petition d
their Sovereign for redress : But their very petitions
have been represented by the Cabal insolently and

treasonably represented even to his M y himself,

as the last efforts of a dying faction Indeed the
Cabal have since alter d their tone ; and either really
hagg d in their consciences, or pretending to fear
where no fear was, instead of an expiring faction,
they have since represented the colonies in general


and this town in particular, as upon the eve of an in
surrection, and that there was a necessity of the act
ual exertion of military power to prevent it they

have set forth to the L ds of the T y the

necessity of two or three regiments to guard their
persons, and wrote to the commanding officers at
Halifax for troops and ships of war to restore and
support government in the town of Boston I appeal
to their own letters lately publish d for the truth of
what I assert, and in consequence of these very
letters, (so weak and credulous or so wicked & aban-

don d were the M y) troops were sent, which

took the possession of this city in a manner unheard
of but in an enemies town, and with orders What
shall I say ! I shudder at the thought ! Surely " no
provincial magistrate could be found, so steel d
against the sensations of humanity and justice, as
wantonly to order troops to fire on an unarm d popu
lace, and (more than) repeat in Boston the tragic
scene exhibited in St. George s field ? "

Let any one imagine the distress of this people a A
free city, I mean once free and still entitled to its
freedom, reduc d to the worst of tyranny an aggra
vated tyranny ! Was not an army of placemen and
pensioners sufficient, who would eat us up as they eat
bread, but an array of soldiers must be stationed in
our very bowels Where is the bill of rights, magna
charta and the blood of our venerable forefathers !
In this dilemma to what a dreadful alternative were
we reduc d ! To resist this tyranny, or, submit to
chains The one might have been done with the
greatest ease, for what was an handful of troops to

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 393

subdue a large country surely two or three regi
ments could never have been intended "to exterminate
the inhabitants of this province." And it could not
be expected that such a petty armament could pro
duce any other effect than that of " inspiring the
people with resentment " " those who imagined
that the inhabitants of Boston would oppose the
landing of the King s troops knew very little of their
temper or design ", and yet I believe the thought of
finally submitting to chains was never suffer d to
harbour in their hearts God forbid that free coun
tries should ever again yield again to tyranny ! This
has long been the unhappy fate of the world, while it
was overspread with ignorance and invelop d in dark
ness: Mankind I hope are now become too enlight
ened to suffer it much longer.

The colonies have since had a temporary relief
from the alternative before mentioned, by the publick
spirited proposal of the merchants in the several gov
ernments, to withdraw their commercial connections
with the merchants and manufacturers of Great
Britain ; which is esteem d by all judicious and well-
dispos d persons as a noble sacrifice of their own
private rights and a well-chosen expedient for the re
covery of \hepublick rights of their country. It is
not to be wonder d at that this salutary measure
should be violently oppos d by the Cabal, and their
abandoned instruments ; and we find BERNARD early
endeavoring to prevent its taking an impression on
the other side the water, by falsely suggesting to the
minister of state that numbers who had sign d this
generous agreement " did not intend to comply with


it ", but that there were " still remaining enough of
the most respectable merchants of this town, non-sub
scribers, to defeat the scheme, even if the subscribers
were to keep to their promise " This number is
reduced to a few men, in themselves of very incon
siderable weight, who have had the honor of being

Online LibrarySamuel AdamsThe writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) → online text (page 27 of 31)