Samuel Adams.

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of the CircumstancS-j3f the^

1765] SAMUEL ADAMS. 69

meant only to lay upon them a reasonable Tax. The
Minister, tho he was at the Pains to get all the In
formation he could, from some Gentlemen of reputed
Knowledge of the Colonies, then in England, has
procured a parliamentary Tax upon them, amounting
as we are told to a much greater Sum than either he
or the Parliament, or even those Gentlemen who
had so lately left the Colonies imagined it would.
Such Mistakes in point of Taxation we are apt to
think would generally and unavoidably be made,
even tho we should be represented as fully as our
great Distance from England, and different Circum
stances would admit of.

The several subordinate Powers of Legislation in
America seem very probably to have been consti
tuted upon their being considered as free Subjects
of England, and the Impossibility of their being
represented in the Parliament, for which Reason
these Powers ought to be held sacred. By Means
thereof that Liberty which they justly claim as their
Birthright is established. Xojdeprive them of these^
subordinate Powers, which is in F.ffprr Hone by tim
Stamp ^\ct, destroys that Liberty. The Exercise
of Parliamentary Jurisdiction jn levying- external and
internal Taxes on the Colonists^ \vhile they are
not and cannot"^ represente<3T"is"~mconsistent withC C


any Degree of Freedom. [It brings them under a

Government essentially Afferent from that which
their Fellow Subjects in Britain are under. 1 / The

1 The following erased at this point : " In short the Power over them must
be despotic, and it is of little consequence to them whether such a Power be in
the Hands of one or many, the former is indeed more eligible."



American Powers of Government are rather to be
considered as Matters of Justice than Favor with
out them they cannot enjoy that Freedom, which,
having never forfeited, no Power on Earth has any
Right to deprive them of.

The Charter of this Province, invests the Powejuaf
making Laws for its internal Government in the
General Assembly. Our Laws are made, with the
Consent of Representative of rmr own free Election.
JThe People are all personally present by their Rep
resentatives, in the Assembly which governs and
taxes them and thus, the full Enjoyment of those
essential Rights which justly belong to them as Sub
jects of Great Britain is preserved-! At the same
Time that Dependence and Subordination which they
are ever ready to acknowledge, will appear to be
effectually secured, when it is considered that their
Laws must first have the Concurrence of the Council,
upon whose Election the Chair has a Negative, and
the Consent of the Governor who is appointed by
the Crown, before they can be in Force and finally
they must be laid before his Majesty, who at any
Time during three Years disanulls them at his Royal
Pleasure. Here is all the Check which the Nation
can in Reason desire. A further Controul would
leave them the Name only of free Subjects.
> - We find that Attempts have been made to rais e
a Jealousy in the Nation T that the Colonists are
struggling for Independence, than which Nothing can
be more injurious. (_lt is neither their Interest nor
have they ever shown the least Disposition to be
independent of Great Britain?"? They have always

i ;66] SAMUEL ADAMS. 71

prided themselves in being British Subjects, and have
with the greatest Cheerfulness done every Thing in
their Power to promote the common Cause of the
Nation And We have Reason to believe that they will
ever remain firmly attached to the Mother Country.
We are with great Respect

Your most humble Servants,

MARCH 24, 1766.

[Boston Record Commissioners Report, vol. 16, pp. 172-174.]

To the Inhabitants of the Town of Plymouth


The Inhabitants of the Town of Boston legally
assembled in Faneuil Hall have receivd with singular
pleasure, your respectful Address of the i6 th of Jan
uary last : The warm Sentiments of public Virtue
which you therein express is a sufficient Evidence,
that the most ancient Town in New England to
whose Predecessors this Province in a particular man
ner is so greatly indebted for their necessary Aids in
its original Settlement still retain the truly noble
Spirit of our renowned Ancestors When we recollect

1 A text, signed also by Edw. Sheafe, is in Papers Relating to Public Events

in Massachusetts , Philadelphia, 1856, pp. 6-13.


the ardent love of Religeon and Liberty, which in
spired the Breasts of those Worthys ; which induced
them at the Time when Tyranny had laid its oppressive
Hand on Church and State in their Native Country,
to forsake their fair Possessions and seek a Retreat in
this distant Part of the Earth When we reflect upon
their early care to lay a soiled Foundation for Learn
ing, even in a Wilderness, as the surest if not the only
Means of preserving and cherishing the Principles of
Liberty and Virtue, and transmitting them to us their
Posterity, our Mind is filled with deep Veneration,
and we bless and revere their Memory.

When we consider the immense Cost and Pains
they were at in subduing, cultivating, and settling
this Land, with the utmost Peril of their Lives ; and
the Surprizing increase of Dominion Strength and
Riches, which has accrued to Great Britain by their
Expence & Labour we confess we feel an honest
\ Indignation to think there ever should have been
any among her Sons, so ungrateful as well as unjust
and Cruel as to seek their Ruin-
Instances of this too frequently occur in the past
History of our Country : The Names of Randolph,
of Andross and others are handed down to us with
Infamy ; And the Times in which we live, even these
very Times, may furnish some future Historian with a
Catalogue of those, who look upon our rising Great
ness with an envious eye ; and while we and our
Sister Colonies, have been exerting our growing
Strength in the most substantial services to the
Mother Country, by Art and Intrigue have wickedly
attempted to deceive her into Measures to enslave

1766] SAMUEL ADAMS. 73

us If then Gentlemen, the Inhabitants of this Me
tropolis, have discovered an invariable Attachment
to the Principles of Liberty, when it has been in
vaded : If they have made the most vigorous Exer
tions for our Country when she has been threatned
with the Loss of every Thing that has been dear : If
they have used their utmost Endeavors that she may
be relieved from those Difficulties, with which She
is at this Time embarrassed ; If they have taken the
Legal and warrantable Measures to prevent that
Misfortune of all others the most to be dreaded, the
Execution of the Stamp Act ; and as a necessary
Means of preventing it, have made any Spirited Ap
plications for opening the Custom House and Courts
of Justice ; If at the same Time they have bore their
Testimony against outrageous Tumults and illegal
proceedings, and given any Example of the Love of
Peace & good order next to the consciousness of
having done their Duty is the Satisfaction of meet
ing with the Approbation of any of their Fellow

That the Spirit of our venerable Forefathers, may
revive and be defused through every Community in
this Land : That Liberty Civil and Religeous, the
grand Object of their View, may still be felt enjoy d
& vindicated by the present Generation, and the fair
Inheritance, transmitted to our latest Posterity, is the
fervent wish of the Metropolis Submitted by




[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 76-81.]

May it please your Excellency,

The House of Representatives of this province,
beg leave to return to your Excellency our congratu
lations upon the repeal of the stamp act ; a most
interesting and happy event, which has diffused a
general joy among all his Majesty s loyal and faithful
subjects throughout this extensive continent.

This is a repeated and striking instance of our most

gracious Sovereign s paternal regard for the happiness

and welfare of all his subjects. We feel upon this

occasion, the deepest sense of loyalty and gratitude.

We_arg aburujanlly convinced that our legal and

Constitutional rights, and Jibe rtiesjwill always be safe

under his propitious government. We esteem the

/ relation we have ever stood in with Great Britain, the

mother country, our happiness and security. We

/ have reason to confide in the British Parliament, from

] this happy instance, that all his Majesty s faithful sub-

/ jects, however remote, are the objects of their pat-

( ronage and justice.

When we reflect on the difficulties under which
this important business labored, and the causes from
whence they arose, we are truly astonished that they
have been surmounted ; and we gratefully resent the
noble and generous efforts of those illustrious patriots
who have distinguished themselves in our cause. In
deed, when we look back upon the many dangers
from which our country hath, even from its first set-

i 7 66] SAMUEL ADAMS. 75

tlement, been delivered, and the policy and power of
those, who have to this day sought its ruin, we are
sensibly struck with an admiration of Divine good
ness, and would religiously regard the arm which has
so often shielded us.

Upon so joyful an occasion, we were in hopes your
Excellency would have spread a veil over every dis
agreeable scene in the late times of public calamity ;
but to our surprise and astonishment, we find your
Excellency declaring in your speech, at the opening
of the General Court, that this cannot be done till a
better temper and understanding shall prevail in
general, than there seems to be at present. Though
your Excellency has seen reason to form so unfavor
able an opinion of the present times, we beg leave,
with all humility, to ask, whether so great a liberality
as you have shown, in your strictures upon them, ha S
a tendency to make them better ?

" Private interests and resentments," " popular dis
content," "unlimited abuse on the most respectable
characters." These and such like expressions, run
through a considerable part of your speech. We
should have been glad if your Excellency had given
some intimation, at least, that you did not mean to
cast reflections on either of the two Houses, to whom
your speech was immediately addressed. We have
reason to fear, that whatever were your intentions,
this construction will be put upon it by those who
would be glad to improve the authority of your Ex
cellency to our disadvantage. Upon this account,
we find ourselves under a necessity, explicitly to de
clare to your Excellency, that no private resentments


of ours, have intermixed with popular discontent.
We have no interest detached from, or inconsistent
with, the common good ; we are far from having any
" ill purposes" to execute, much less under the "bor
rowed mask of patriotic zeal," or any other hypocrit
ical disguise. It has ever been our pride to cultivate
harmony and union, upon the principles of liberty
and virtue, among the several branches of the legis
lature, and a due respect and reverence for his Maj
esty s representative in the province. We have
endeavored to solicit integrity and ability to the aid
of the people, and are very sorry if gentlemen of char
acter have, by any means, been deterred from serving
their country, especially in time of danger, when the
eyes of all might have been upon them for deliver
ance. A^ such a time, for true patriots to be silent.
is dangerous. Yonr F.yrHlency tplk ns_xxL.a.n u_n]jrn-

ie mostjrespect-

a < ble__characters,_o_3 v hirli yon ha ye _.

experience yourself.: but you assure us that it has
not abated your concern for the welfare of the coun
try, nor prevented your endeavors to promote it.
e thank your Excellency ; and upon this assurance
we have reason to hope you have employed your in-

Yfluence in behalf of this people, at a time when they
so much stood in need of it, in representing their be-

; havior, in general, in the most candid and favorable
view. In this light his Majesty, his Ministry and
Parliament, have been desirous of viewing it, and
when this good people shall find that your Excellency
has served them in so essential a point, they will, we
are sure, be ready " to recognize you in the united

1766] SAMUEL ADAMS. 77

character of a true friend to the province, and a
faithful servant of the Crown./

But, may it please your Excellency, we cannot for
bear observing, that when you are speaking, as we
conceive, of the injustice done his Honor the Lieu
tenant Governor, the last year, your manner of ex
pression would lead a stranger to think that so horrid
an act of villany was perpetrated, by the body of this
people. The infatuation, you tell us, " has been car
ried to such a degree of injustice, that the princi
pal object of the fury of the people, was a gentleman
to whom they were most highly indebted for his
services in the very cause for which they rose against
him. Your Excellency, no doubt, means that the
whole people, and not a part only, were most highly
indebted to this gentleman for his services, and that
the particular cause in which he had been engaged,
concerned them all ; and yet, so infatuated have the
body of the people been, that they even rose against
this very gentleman, and made him the object of
their fury ! Is not this the natural meaning of your
words ? And will it not, sir, afford matter of triumph
to the unrelenting enemies of this province, to hear
the Governor himself declaring that this was the
" prevailing temper of the people ; " that such was
their " violent and precipitate measures," and that a
veil cannot, even now, be drawn over so " disgraceful
a scene," because the same temper among the people
in general still prevails. There may, sir, be a general
popular discontent upon good grounds. The people
may sometimes have just reason to complain ; your
Excellency must be sensible, that in such a circum-


stance, evil minded persons may take the advantage,
and rise in tumult. This has been too common in
the best regulated and best disposed cities in Europe.
Under cover of the night a few villains may do much
mischief. And such, sir, was the case here ; but the
virtue of the people themselves finally suppressed the
mob ; and we have reason to believe, that the unaf
fected concern which they discover at so tragical a
scene, their united detestation of it, their spirited
measures to prevent further disorders, and other cir
cumstances well known to the honorable gentleman
himself, have fully satisfied him, that such an imputa
tion was without reason. But for many months past
there has been an undisturbed tranquillity in general,
in this province, and for the greater part of the time,
merely from a sense of good order in the people,
while they have been in a great measure deprived of
the public tribunals, and the administration of justice,
and so far thrown into a state of nature.

We are at a loss to conceive your Excellency s
meaning, when you allude to some proceedings which
"when known at home you fear will afford matter of
triumph to those who were for maintaining the stamp
act, and sorrow and concern to those who procure its
repeal;" and when you tell us that " the inflamma
tion of the country has been a grand object with
some persons," we cannot suppose your Excellency
would make a public declaration of a matter of such
importance without good grounds. An attempt to
inflame a country is a crime of very dark complexion.
You tell us that a stop has not yet been put to that
pursuit ; we hope you have taken every prudent and

1766] SAMUEL ADAMS. 79

legal step in your own department to prevent it.
Permit us however, to say, that it is possible you
may have been misinformed, by persons not well af
fected to this people, and who would be glad to have
it thought that we were turbulent and factious, and
perpetually murmuring, even after every cause of
complaint is removed. Such characters may still ex
ist in the persons of some who have taken all occa
sions from the just resentment of the people, to
represent them as inflammatory, disaffected and dis
loyal. Should there be any persons so abandoned,
as to make it the object of their policy, to inflame
the minds of the people against a wise, a good, a
"mild and moderate administration," they may be
assured of the severest censures of this House as
soon as they are known.

But the manner in which you are pleased to ex
plain the grounds of your testimony against the elec
tions of the present year, seems to imply that it is
your opinion that the two Houses have been so far
influenced by an inflammatory spirit in particular
persons, as even to make an attack upon the govern
ment in form. The two Houses proceeded in these
elections with perfect good humor and good under
standing ; and as no other business had been trans
acted when we were favored with your speech, it is
astonishing to us, that you should think this a time
to " interrupt the general harmony." We are wholly
at a loss to conceive how a full, free and fair election
can be called " an attack upon the government in
form," " a professed intention to deprive it of its
best and most able servants," "an ill-judged and ill


timed oppugnation of the King s authority." These,
may it please your Excellency, are high and griev
ous charges against the two Houses, and such as we
humbly conceive, no crowned head since the revolu
tion has thought fit to bring against two Houses of
Parliament. It seems to us to be little short, if any
thing, of a direct impeachment of the two Houses
of high treason. Oppugnation of the King s author
ity is but a learned mode of expression, which re
duced to plain English, is fighting against the King s
most excellent Majesty. But what, sir, is the op
pugnation which we have been guilty of ? We were
summoned and convened here to give our free suf
frages at the general election, directed to be annually
made by the royal charter. We have given our
suffrages according to the dictates of our conscien
ces, and the best light of our understanding. It
was certainly our right to choose, and as clearly
a constitutional power in your Excellency to dis
approve, without assigning a reason either before
or after your dissent.. Your Excellency has thought
proper to disapprove of some. We are far even
from suggesting that the country has by this means
been deprived of its best and ablest servants. We
have released those of the Judges of the Superior
Court who had the honor of a seat at the Board,
from the cares and perplexities of politics, and given
them opportunity to make still farther advances in
the knowledge of the law, and to administer right
and justice within this jurisdiction. We have also
left other gentlemen more at leisure to discharge the
duties and functions of their important offices. This

1766] SAMUEL ADAMS. 81

surely is not to deprive the government of its best
and ablest servants, nor can it be called an oppugna-
tion of any thing, but a dangerous union of legisla
tive and executive power in the same persons ; a
grievance long complained of by our constituents,
and the redress of which some of us had special in
struction, to endeavor at this very election to

Your Excellency is pleased to say, that only one
of all the American petitions " was well received
and of real use in producing the repeal ; " that peti
tion was forwarded from this province in season, to
be presented to the Parliament, before the stamp
act was passed ; by whose influence the presentation
of it was so long delayed by Mr. Agent Jackson,
and omitted through that whole session of parlia
ment, it is needless for us at present to inquire.
If it was so well received, as your Excellency tells us
it was, and of real use in procuring the repeal, there
is reason to think it might have had its designed
effect to prevent the passing that act, and saved this
continent from that distress and confusion in which
it has been involved. But your Excellency is under
a mistake, in supposing that this petition, alone, was
well received and of real use. Those from the late
general congress, we are informed by our agent Mr.
Deberdt, were early laid before the Ministry, and
were well received by them. He tells us, that Mr.
Secretary Conway kindly undertook to present that,
which was prepared for his Majesty ; and as the
royal ear is always open to the distresses of his
people, we have not the least reason to doubt but

VOL. I. 6.



that so united a supplication of his American sub
jects was graciously considered by him ; and with
regard to those to the two Houses of Parliament,
one of them at least we know was highly approved
of by the chairman of the committee for American
affairs, was read in the House of Commons, and sup
ported by Mr. Pitt ; it was never rejected, and we
cannot suppose it failed of due attention merely for
want of form. In truth sir, we look back with the
utmost pleasure upon the wisdom of the last House
of Representatives, in proposing such a union of the
colonies ; and although some have taken great pains
to lessen the weight and importance of the late con
gress in the minds of the people, we have the stron
gest reason to believe that their firm and prudent
measures had a very great influence in procuring
this happy repeal.

You are pleased to make a declaration that " when
ever an opportunity shall offer to restore harmony
and union to the provincial councils, you will most
cordially embrace it." The time, sir, is already
come ; never was there so happy a juncture, in which
to accomplish so desirable an end ; and it will be
the pride of this House to improve it ; with this
disposition we come together. If any expression or
sentiment in your speech should have a contrary
effect, as it will so far defeat our honest intention,
it will fill us with real concern. Permit us also to
say, that it will disappoint the expectations of his
Majesty and the Parliament in repealing the stamp
act ; for it is most reasonable in them to expect that
the restoration of the colonies to domestic peace and

i ;66] SAMUEL ADAMS. 83

tranquillity will be the happy effect of the establish
ment of their just rights and liberties.

When your Excellency shall " be assisted by special
instruction, and speak to us with greater authority
than your own," we shall be all attention ; being as
sured, from past experience, that everything coming
from his Majesty will be full of grace and truth.


[Massachusetts State Papers, pp. 88-91.]

May it please your Excellency,

THE House have fully considered your Excellency s
speech of the third instant, and beg leave to observe,
that as on the one hand no consideration shall ever
induce us to remit in the least our loyalty and grati
tude to the best of Kings, so on the other, no unpro
voked asperity of expression on the part of your
Excellency can deter us from asserting our undoubted
charter rights and privileges. One of the principal
of those is, that of annually choosing his Majesty s
Council for this province.

Had the most excellent letter from one of his Maj
esty s principal Secretaries of State, which has been
communicated to the House, arrived sooner, it could
not have prevented the freedom of our elections ; nor
can we, on the strictest examination of the transac
tions of the day of our general election, so far as the
House was concerned, discover the least reason for
regret. So long as we shall have our charter privi-


leges continued, we must think ourselves inexcusable,
if we should suffer ourselves to be intimidated in the
free exercise of them. This exercise of our rights
can never, with any color of reason, be adjudged an
abuse of our liberty.

Lest we should be at a loss for the proceedings
and transactions which have given your Excellency
so much uneasiness, you have been pleased to inform
us, in express terms, that you " mean the excluding
from the King s Council the principal Crown Offi
cers ; men not only respectable in themselves for

Online LibrarySamuel AdamsThe writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 31)