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[132] in our property, if, without our consent, others may, as by right, take it away; that taxes imposed on us by parliament, do thus take it away.

On the whole, it is the form rather than the substance of the Letters from a Farmer that is most original. Dickinson wrote as a cultivated, prosperous gentleman, addressing an audience of intelligent, but plain, people the soil of whose minds had been already somewhat prepared. What Dickinson did, and did with effective skill, was to present in attractive literary form the best of what had already been said and thought on behalf of the colonial claims, and to adapt the argument to the new crisis presented by the Townshend programme. Too patriotic to submit without a protest, and too thoughtful to rebel, he voiced more successfully, perhaps, than any other American publicist of his day, the sober second-thought of the great body of colonists who were ready to carry resistance to any point short of separation and war.

The Massachusetts Circular Letter1 (11 February, 1768), prepared by Samuel Adams for a committee of the House of Representatives, and addressed to the speakers of other representative houses throughout the colonies, introduces to us the man who, more zealously and persistently than anyone else, devoted himself to achieving American independence. Holding the humble office of tax-collector in Boston, Adams's devotion to public causes, joined to a rare talent for political organization, had already made him the master of the Boston town-meeting and the leading spirit in the provincial House of Representatives. In the course of the bitter fight which he waged against Governor Bernard and Governor Hutchinson, and in furtherance of his relentless insistence upon the right of complete local self-government for the colonies, Adams drafted, in whole or in part, most of the resolutions and reports which made Massachusetts the leader in the constitutional struggle, and which also marked it for special punishment later at the hands of Parliament.

The Circular Letter, studiously dignified and respectful in tone, is the best summary statement of the colonial argument which had thus far been put forward. Admitting the supreme

1 Text in W. MacDonald, Select Charters, 331-334.

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