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[378] repeated, ‘we must resist in arms.’1 In September of
chap. XVI.} 1760.
that year, Bernard manifested the purpose of his appointment, by informing the legislature of Massachusetts ‘that they derived blessings from their subjection to Great Britain.’ Subjection to Great Britain was a new doctrine in New England; whose people professed loyalty to the king, but shunned a new master in the collective people of England. The Council, in its reply, owned only a beneficial ‘relation to Great Britain;’ the House of Representatives spoke vaguely of ‘the connection between the mother country and the provinces, on the principles of filial obedience, protection, and justice.’

The colonists had been promised, after the conquest of Canada, that they should ‘sit quietly under their own vines and fig-trees, with none to make them afraid;’ and already they began to fear aggressions on their freedom. To check illicit trade, the officers of the customs had even demanded of the Supreme Court general writs of assistance; but the writs had been withheld, because Stephen Sewall, the chief justice of the province, a man of great integrity, respected and beloved by the people, doubted their legality.

In September, Sewall died, to the universal sorrow of the province; and the character of his successor would control the decision of the court on the legality of writs of assistance, involving the whole subject of enforcing the British Acts of Trade; by the utmost exertion of arbitrary and irresponsible discretion; as well as the degree of political support which the judiciary would grant to the intended new system of administration. Public opinion selected for the vacancy

1 John Adams's Works, IV. 6.

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