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who I mean, they must not expect their Liberties
would follow them to the Ends of the Earth. They
undoubtedly brot with them the Rights & Laws of
the Mother State. The British Constitution makes
no Distinction between good Subjects with Regard
to Liberty. To talk of British Subjects who are free


and of other British Subjects who are not free is
absurd. They are all alike free. The British Con
stitution is founded in the Principles of Nature &
Reason. It admits of no more Power over the
Subject than is necessary for the Support of Govern
ment, which was originally designd for the Preserva
tion of the unalienable Rights of Nature. It engages
to all Men the full Enjoyment of these Rights, who
take Refuge in her Bosom. Foreigners who have
resided a certain time & have behaved well & taken
the Oaths of Allegiance, by Act of Parliam* are de
clared to be as free as natural born Subjects (in
which Act it is to be observed the Colonies are to be
considerd as such) and even conquerd People after
swearing Allegiance are intitled to the same Honor
& Freedom. The Question then is What are those
Rights ? Without entering into a nice Disquisition
of their full Extent, which would require much more
Ability & Knowledge than I am possessd of, it is
sufficient for the present Purpose to say, that among
the main Pillars of the British Constitution are the
Rights of Representation & of Trial by Jury, both
which the Colonists lose by this Act. Their Prop
erty may be tried at the Option of Informers, in a
Court of Admiralty where there is no Jury. Great
Pains have been taken by Party Writers in England,
who, in all their Speculations which I have seen, dis
cover that they know or care but little about the
Colonists, to cause it to be believd they are repre
sented in Parliament, but I hope to little Purpose.
No Man of Common Sense can easily believe, that
the Colonists have all together one Representative in

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 55

the British House of Commons of their ozvn free
Election. The Acts of Parliament & the British
Constitution consider every individual Person in the
Realm as present in that high Court by his Repre
sentative upon his own free Election. Vid. i. Jac. i.
This is his indispensible Privilege. It is founded on
the Eternal Law of Equity. It is an Original Right
of Nature. No Man in the State of Nature can
justly take anothers Property without his Consent.
It is an essential Part of the British Constitution that
the Supreme Power cannot take from any Man any
part of his Property without his Consent in Person
or by his Representative. And so jealous is the
Nation of Property, that since the Revolution the
Power of naming Commissioners for the Land tax
is exercisd only by the House of Commons. Vid.
D r Ellis on temporal & spiritual Liberty. If then the
Colonists are free Subjects of Britain which no one has
yet denied, it is unconstitutional for the Parliament to
tax them because they are not represented in Parlia-
m 1 , and in my Opinion it ever will be unconstitutional
because they never can be present in Parliament by
their Representatives, it being impracticable.

As the Colonists have ever approvd themselves
not only loyal Subjects, but ready upon all Occasions
to afford the Crown their utmost Aid, it seems strange
to me that Parliament have seen fit, by their Inter
position, to alter the Manner of requiring it. They
have always heretofore granted their Aid to his
Majesty upon a Requisition from him, with the Con
sent of their Representatives, which is strictly consti
tutional. In this Way it was their own Free Gift,


and there is no Reason to believe they would ever
have incurrd his Majestys Displeasure in this Re
gard. This new Method will tend to disaffect them
to the Mother State. Like their British Ancestors,
they are jealous of their Rights, & they are of Opin
ion that the only Way to preserve their Rights, is to
have their Powers of Government continued to them
in their full Extent, which cannot be, if they are
taxed by Persons who do not & cannot represent

I am &c

BOSTON, Dec r 2o 1765
to J. S. Esq r London


[MS., Collections of the Earl of Dartmouth; an autograph draft is in the
Samuel Adams Papers, vol. i., Lenox Library.]

BOSTON 2o th 1765


I have already wrote you by this Opp ty , & must
beg to be excused for further troubling you. It
is probable the Conduct of the Colonys, upon the
Occasion of the Stamp Act may be set in an incandid
Light, I shall therefore give a briefe Account of them.
Tj-^pon the first Notice of a Proposal being made for
the Parliam to tax the Colonys they expressd the
greatest TTp^pm n^gQ All seemed to have an high
opinion of the Wisdom as well as Power of the Parl
which induced many to believe that such a Proposal
would not finally take Effect. However the Colonys

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 57

separately took the legal steps r & sent home their
humble Pef.itinns against it, but to their great Morti
fication, thn r Petitions were not sustaind r & the
Reason given was that they were /against a Rill for
imposing Tavp<L The rectitude off such an objection, *x.
would have apjx;ard more plainly had the Colonys /
been fr epresentedj in the House of Commons. As the
Case was otherwise it might & ought to have been
urgd, that the very Taxes designd in the Bill were to
be laid by a Number of Subjects, for their own Ease,
upon their Fellow Subjects, who could have no other
Method of making their Circumstances known and
the Hardships of the Bill upon them, but by humble
Supplication. To their Astonishment they after
wards heard that the Rill was passd into a Law a
Law byjvhich they were taxed hy Persons who were

& who

nf nhj-^n jng an adequate Knowledge of

f^ovfrnors of the Colony. &

other Officers oi the Crown r their own Agents whp
haye_sprne of ihem it is to be feard been too often

p^rh^ps were seeking- some profitably

This Government however or rather the House of
Representatives being resolvd to show its Marks of
Dutifulness to the supreme Power of the Nation,
& at the same time to collect the whole Strength of
Reason & Argument, that could be had, naovd for
ajojJnion of Com^jfrom the several Colonvs to meet
aTrCewYork, to prepare an humble, dutifull & loyal
Petition to his Majesty & the Parliam for Reliefe,


which took Place, 1 & the Petitions have been some
Time forwarded Copys of which were sent by the
House of Representatives of this Province to Mr De
Berdt, whom by a large Majority they chose their
Agent for this Purpose. The Houses of Representa
tives and Burgesses generally thro the Continent,
have imitated the Virginians, in passing Resolves set
ting forth theilf Rights as Britons & charterd Colo
nists & upon which (the Virginia Resolves) a Person
under the Name of William Pimm, but out of his
Character has harrangued the good People of Engl d .
but we hope he will get some small Knowledge at
least of his own Country & the Colonys before
he again engages his Passions so warmly in the

/* While the Houses of Representatives were joyntly

\ consulting the most prudent as well as the legal Steps,
J the Peoples Minds grew more & more disturbd, under

I the Apprehension of the Loss of their essential Rights.

I Events took place much like some that we hear of
in the quiet Citys of London & Westminster, tho it
must be confessd there have been some Transactions
for which even those Mother Cities, have not seen
occasion to afford Precedents since the year 88, from
which glorious CEra neither their Right of Repre
sentation, nor of Jurys nor any other of their essential
Rights & Charter Privileges have ever been invaded.
The most publick Marks of Contempt & Ignomy
have been put upon the Gentlemen appointed to dis-

1 The journal of the Congress, printed from a manuscript in the papers of
Caesar Rodney, is in H. Niles, Principles and Acts of the Revolution, Balti
more, 1822, pp. 451-461.

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 59

tribute the Stamps through America & even in [the
West India Islands where it was least expected. The
people in Boston began by hanging "p thpir St^mp p-
]\T aster in Rffiortp. This was done mid^T-the Great ^ ,
Tree at ftheL South Part of the Town, which now is
cgjled the Mj* pp nf T ih^rfyTj It is not likely that they
had any thing further in View at first, but at Night
great Numbers, many of them from the Neighboring *\
Towns got together & resolvd to make a Sacrifice / f
of their Pageantry by burning it on Fort Hill. Un- fa>
Luckily a small Building said to be designd for^a
Stamp Offirp J qg well as M^jh-il^-r 1 Mansion T^OTIQP ^
fe]l in their Way the former of which they demol- /
isjid, & to the other they did some Dammage but j
inconsiderable, in Comparison of what might have ^ -
been expected. This bore so hard upon M r O s Mind \ .
as to induce him the next Day publickly to declare /
his Resolution to resign his Office, which gave uni- /
versal Satisfaction throughout the Country. Such a
Spirit in all the Colonys excepting Hallifax & Que-
beck has had the same Effect, & there is not a Man
who dares to put thp ftrt in Fvprnt-ipn The People
in England may perhaps think it difficult for us to jus
tify these Proceedings. I do not now attempt it a[nd]
yet I will venture to express my Beleife, that if the
whole?eople of the Nation had thoughttheir essen
tial unalienable Rights had been invaded by an J\ct
which is really the Opinion which the

Ppppk of Am^ri^a hnvf of the Stamp Act
say, in such a. r^ gfa , gft^r tak 1>n g_p[l tygflJ Steps to nb-
tn wn Purpose ^./the whole People of Enrland

Andrew Oliver.


would have taken the same Steps & jwstifyd them-
SttfvestO wforh T make no Application.

Therewas another Transaction in this Town of a
truly ^2^^jNature which happend about a fort
night after the other viz on the 26 of August, when
the Houses of M r Story Deputy reg!" of the Court of
Vice Admiralty, M r Hallowell Comptroler of the Cus
tom, & the Lieutenant Governors were attackd, to the
two former of which some Mischiefe was done, & the
other has scarce any thing left but the Walls. 1 The
Cause of this Riot is not known publickly some
Persons have suggested their private Thoughts of it.
Be it what it will, \The Town must appear to every
candid Person to^have had no Concern in it. An
universal Consternation appeard in the faces of every
one the next morning, & a meeting of the Inhabi
tants was in a few hours had, the largest ever known
on any Occasion, who unanimously declard their De
testation of it. I voted to assist the Majistrate to
their utmost in preventing or suppressing any further
Disorder. I need only to say, to prevent any ill Im
pressions that may be made of the Town in the Minds
of sensible Persons, on your Side the Water, that the
House of Representatives, afterwards in their Mes
sage to the Gov r (who I should you have told was
chiefly at the Castle during the Time of these Dis
turbances) express themselves in the following Terms
" We should rather have thought your Excy would
have expressd your Satisfaction in presiding over so
loyal a People, who in that Part of the Governm 1

1 Cf * ] Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, vol. iii., p. 14 ; Thomas Hutch-|
inson, History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol. iii., p. 124.

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 61

where the Violences were committed, before there
was Time for them to be supported by the Arm of
civil Power, & even while the Supreme Magistrate was
absent, by their own Motion raisd a Spirit, & diffusd
it thro all Ranks, successfully to interpose & put a
stop to such dangerous Proceedings."

This Province has since been pretty quiet, but the
Peoples Opposition to the Stamp Act dayly increases,
& I believe nothing will ever reconcile them to it.

I have wrote in great haste, the Vessel being now
upon sailing.

I am with very great Esteem

Your most humble Serv 1



[MS., Collections of the Earl of Dartmouth ; a portion of this letter is
printed, under date of December 21, in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams,
vol. i., pp. 103-105.]

BOSTON Dec b f r 2o . h 1765


The House of Representatives of this Province
having appointed you their Agent for the Purposes
mentioned in their Letter to you, is the Occasion

1 See above, page 22.

2 Forwarded to the Earl of Dartmouth by Dennys De Berdt, with the state
ment : "The Inclosed Letter Wrote by Four Members of the Assembly and
wrote with so much Temper and Candour that it would not I thought be unac
ceptable to your Lordship." The body of this letter is presumably in the
hand of a clerk. With reference to the appointment of De Berdt, November
5. 7, T 765, see W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., p. So.


of our writing to you, not indeed by Order, but as in
dividual Members. The House was so fully informed
of your Ability and Inclination to serve the Province,
that your Election was soon determined by a very great
Majority. We hope you will have receiv d the ad
vice of your Appointment before this comes to Hand,
and we may assure you that your Acceptance of the
Trust, will give general Satisfaction to the good People

His Majesty s Subjects of this Province, are very
uneasy at several Acts of Parliament lately made, by
whichjjieir Trade is greatly obstructed, and unless a
Remedy is applied, it is feared must soon be ruined.
It has been very justly observed, that the Advan
tages drawn from America to Great Britain, are to
arise from Commerce, and therefore to encourage
and promote That, is her true Policy : The Profits of
the Trade of the Colonies, thro its several Channells
center in Great Britain, and therefore to stop those
Channels, must be evidently to her Prejudice. This
will be the Case-while the Sugar Act remains in Force :
The English West India Islands do not produce suf
ficient for the Consumption and Trade of the Conti
nent. To confine us then to those Islands, must
diminish the Trade. It will in a great Measure even
dry up its very Source. Our Trade to the West In
dies, and our Fishery are mutual Supports to each
other. They are indeed jointly the grand Basis of
the whole. The Duty of three Pence per Gallon on
foreign Molasses amounts to a full Prohibition, and
must soon put a Stop to that Branch. As one third
Part at least, of all the Fish that is taken is fit for no

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 63

other Market, it is very easy to conceive how much
our Fishery must be injured. It is much to be feared
that so great a Loss of Labour added to the usual
Expence of carrying it on, will prove a total Discour
agement to it. The Colonies may in Consequence of
this be put upon contriving some other Methods, per
haps to their own greater Advantage, and not so
beneficial to the Nation. Be that as it may, it is cer
tain there will be an End to Remittances that are
now made to Spain, Portugal and other Parts of Eu
rope, through which a very great part of the Produce
of America and the Profits of the Trade flow into
Great Britain, and set her Manufacturers of all Kinds
to work. By means of the Trade of the Colonies as
they have hitherto carried it on, Millions of them
have been enabled Yearly to consume British Manu
factures.-,^ An Attempt to raise Revenues out of their
Trade, as .it will in Effect advance the Price of your
Manufactures, will reduce the People to the Neces
sity of setting up Manufactures of their own. Their
Necessity will quicken their Invention, and they will
become by Degrees less useful, and in Time entirely
useless to the Mother Country. But we humbly ap
prehend it would appear too partial for the Nation to
confine her Views to her own Interest in regulating
the Trade of her Colonies. There is Justice due to
them as Subjects as such they have an equal Right
with the Inhabitants of Britain of making Use of
Trade and all other honest Means of subsisting and
enriching themselves. The Nation would show her
Wisdom in cherishing the Trade of the Colonies,
while she reaps so large a share of the Profits of it ;


but to abridge their Trade, even tho it should not be
an Advantage to her, unless it also evidently appears
to be carried on to her Prejudice, would not seem to
be just.

\^ The Colonists have as great a Regard for Right,
Liberty and justice as any People under Heaven
and they generally have Knowledge enough to dis
cover when their Rights are infringed. If this be
true, you will own they merit the Esteem of every
Man of sense in England, especially when it may be
justly added that they are and ever have been, as
loyal Subjects as any the King has. They hold
themselves intitled to all the inherent, unalienable
Rights of Nature, as Men and to all the essential
Rights of Britons, as subjects. The common Law of
England, and the grand leading Principles of the Brit
ish Constitution have their Foundation in the Laws
of Nature and universal Reason. Hence one would
think that British Rights, arp in a great Measure, un-
alienably, the Rights nf the Colonists, and of a.H Men
else. The American Subjects are by Charters from
the__Cro\vn, and other royal Institutions declared in-
titled to all the Rightsand Privileges of natura] born
Subjects within the Realm 3,nd with goodJReason;
for as emigrating Subjects, they brought the Rights
and Laws of the Mother State with them. Had they
been conquered, we presume that by the British Con
stitution, after taking the Oaths of Allegiance, they
would be acknowledged as free Subjects much more
when they have been neither Rebels nor Enemies,
but have greatly merited of their Mother Country, by
subduing and settling a large Continent, to the amaz-

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 65

ing Increase of National Power and Wealth.
it be observed that the New England Provinces were
Qpt-t-lpH by our Ancestors who came over but little
more than a Century ago, and they have maintained
them without one Farthing s Expence to the Crown.
o.r any private Man in England till the last War,
when the Nation began to see their real Importance.
By the Act of 13^ of George the Second, for natural
izing Foreigners, the Colonists are considered as
natural born Subjects, and intitled to all the essential
Rights of such. ^ {The primary, absolute, natural
Rights of Englishmen as frequently declared in
of Parliament from Magna Charta to this Day, are
Personal Security, Personal Liberty and Private Prop
erty, and to these Rights the Colonists are intitled by
Charters, by Common Law and by Acts of Parlia
ment!^? Can it then be wondered at that the Act for
levymg Stamp Duties upon the Colonies should be
astonishing to them, since in divers Respects it totally
annihilates these Rights. It^is a fundamental Prin-
crgle of the British Constitution that the supreme
Eower Cannot take irom any Man any Part of his
Property without his Consent in Person or by Repre
sentation^ It is certain the Consent of the Colonists
was in no Sense had in Parliament, nor even asked,
when this Act was made to tax them. They never
had the Return of one Member of Parliament, nor a
single Vote in the Election of one. The Right of
Tryals by Juries is also justly esteemed a main Pillar
of the British Constitution, and the best security of
the Lives, Liberty and Property of the Subjects.
But by this Act the Property of the American

VOL. I. 5.


Subjects is tryable at the option of an Informer by
Courts of Admiralty without Juries. The Right of
Representation and the Argument against this Tax
founded upon it, is so constitutional, that the Writers
in favour of it, have been put to great Shifts tg_evade
it. (We have been told that we are x 2^W^#7/y"jrepre-
sented, but we must desire an Explanation of this
vague Term, before we can give it a serious Consid
eration/! We are put upon a Footing with Birming
ham, Manchester and. other Towns in England, who
they say, send no Representatives, and yet are taxed
but have not those Towns a constitutional Right to
be represented ? and if they chuse to wave it, can that
be a good Reason for taxing the Colonies without a
Representation ? Would it not be equally reasona
ble for the Majority of the Members of Parliament to
deprive the Constituents of the Minority of the same
Right, and tax them at Discretion ? But Birming
ham, and the few Towns who send no Members, can
not be deemed reasonable Precedents for taxing all
America, when it is considered that all counties in
England return Members, and all Freeholders have a
Vote in their Election, and so in Fact are represented.
In the Act of the first of James the First, wherein
/Cthe Parliament recognized their Faith, Obedience
/ and Loyalty to his Majesty and his royal Progeny, it
V is declared that in that high Court of Parliament, all
) the whole Body of the Realm, and every particular
v^\ Member thereof, either in Person, or by Representa
tion, upon their own free Election, are by the Laws of
I this Realm deemed to be personally present, but
* can it with the least Shadow of Truth be said that

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 67

the Colonies are there in Person, or by Representa
tion upon their own free Election ? Yet the general
superintending Power of the Parliament over the
whole British Empire is clearly admitted here, so far
as in our Circumstances is consistent with the Enjoy
ment of our essential Rights, as Freemen, and Brit
ish Subjects ; and we humbly conceive that by the
Constitution, it is no further admissible by Great
Britain herself.

Wh^n we pl^?^ fhp Right- n f R ppr^entation. we
only mean to have our not being- represented upon
our own free Election considered as a Reason why
We should not be taxed hy flip Parliament ; and WP^

apprehend, that as we are entitled to all the Rights
of British Subjects, it is a Reason that cannot be
withstood without Violence to thp. Cnn^fif-nfinn We
are far however from desiring any Representation
there, because we think the Colonies cannot be
equally and fully represented ; and if not equally
then in Effect not at all. A Representative should
be T and continue to be well arqnaini-prl with the
internal Circumstances of the People whom TIP repr^-
sents. It is often necessary that the Circumstances
of individual Towns should be brought into Com
parison with those of the whole so it is in particularly
when Taxes are in Consideration. The proportionate
Part of each to the whole can be found only by an
exact Knowledge of the internal Circumstances of
each. Now the Colonies are at so great a Distance
from the Place where the Parliament meets, from
which they are seperated by a wide Ocean ; and their
Circumstances are so often and continually varying,


as is the Case in all Countries not fully settled, that it
would not be possible for Men, tho ever so well
acquainted with them at the Begining of a Parlia
ment, to continue to have an adequate Knowledge
of them during the Existence of that Parliament.
If a Representative cannot be supposed to have an
exact Knowledge of the Abilities of his Constituents.
in Proportion to the whole, when a general Tax Js
under Consideration, he cannot be said to represent
far at least as respects this very essential
He must be a mere Cypher in the House,
for he can neither give Yea or Nay, for want of
material Knowledge^ An unequal Proportion in
Taxes, may naturally be expected from so partial
and insufficient a Representation ; which it is most
likely would be to the Prejudice of the Colonies ; for
without supposing an undue Byas in the House of
Commons, which however may possibly hereafter take
place, it is to be considered that the Taxes of the
People in Britain will be lighter in Proportion to
what is laid on the Colonies ; and if what the Colo
nies ought to bear is a Matter of mere Conjecture,
it is not likely that the Nation in such a Case would
form an Estimate to her own Prejudice. In short
it appears to us that the Nation would not only be
a Party, but the Judge too, without that Knowledge
or the Possibility of having it, which would be
necessary to form a right Judgment, or even any

at all. / The Stamp Act it <^1f may <^rv^ to

how liable even the Parliament may be_to err injihis

important Matter for want of an adequate Knowledge

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