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Chapter 33:

An army and a fleet for Boston.—Hillsborough's Adminis-Tration of the Colonies continued.

April—June, 1768.

‘send over an army and a fleet to reduce the
Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. April.
dogs to reason;’1 such was the cry of those round the court and the public offices in England, at every rumor of colonial discontents. On the fifteenth of April the news of the Circular letter of Massachusetts reached the Ministers. ‘It is an incentive to rebellion,’2 said some of them; and their choleric haste dictated the most impolitic measures that could have been devised. To insulate the offending Province, and if possible the town of Boston, a letter was sent by Hillsborough to the Governors of each of the twelve other Colonies, with a copy of the Circular, which was described as ‘of a most dangerous and factious tendency,’ calculated ‘to inflame the minds’ of the people, ‘to promote an unwarrantable combination, and to excite open opposition to the authority of Parliament.’ ‘You will therefore,’ [144] said he,3 ‘exert your utmost influence to prevail
Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. April.
upon the Assembly of your Province to take no notice of it, which will be treating it with the contempt it deserves.—If they give any countenance to this seditious paper, it will be your duty to prevent any proceedings upon it by an immediate prorogation or dissolution.’4 This order he sent even to the Governor of Pennsylvania, who, by its Charter, had no power to prorogue or dissolve an Assembly. Massachusetts was told, that the King considered ‘their resolutions contrary to the sense of the Assembly, and procured by surprise. You will, therefore,’ such was the command to Bernard, ‘require of the House of Representatives in his Majesty's name to rescind the resolution which gave birth to the Circular letter from the Speaker, and to declare their disapprobation of that rash and hasty proceeding.’ ‘If the new Assembly should refuse to comply, it is the King's pleasure that you should immediately dissolve them.’5 In America, the best informed of the Crown Officers attributed the instruction to ‘the express order of the King.’6

The Agent of the Assembly of Massachusetts interceded for the Colony. Its Petition was received by Hillsborough for the King's perusal, but was never officially presented. ‘It has been resolved in Council,’ said the Secretary, ‘that Governor Bernard have strict orders to insist upon the Assembly's revoking their Circular letter; and if refused, he is [145] immediately to dissolve them. Upon their next

Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. April.
choice, he is again to insist on it; and, if then refused, he is to do the like; and as often as the case shall happen. I had settled the repeal of these Acts with Lord North; but the opposition of the Colonies, renders it absolutely necessary to support the authority of Parliament.’7

Here was a colonial system, never before thought of Townshend had suspended the legislative functions of New-York by Act of Parliament. Now a Secretary of State speaking for the King, offered to Massachusetts the option of forfeiting its representative government, or submitting to his mandate. At the same time the Commander-in-Chief in America, who was responsible to no one on that Continent, and in New-York itself took precedence8 of the Governor, was ordered to maintain the public tranquillity.9 But it was characteristic of Massachusetts, that the peace had not been broken. The power of Parliament was denied, but not resisted. ‘Things are fast hastening to a crisis,’ said Eliot10 of Boston. Yet none desponded. The people were persuaded that England had greater cause to fear the loss of their trade, than they the withholding of her protection. ‘The grand design of God in the settlement of New England,’11 began to be more clearly discerned. Some enthusiasts saw in this western Continent the wilderness spoken of [146] in the vision of the Evangelist John, as the asylum

Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. April.
of persecuted multitudes, to whom ‘the wings of a Great Eagle’ had been given to bear them to the ‘place prepared by God’ for their ‘rest from tribulation.’

Meantime, on Saturday, the second day of April, the Assembly of Virginia read the Circular letter from Massachusetts, and referred it to a committee of the whole House.12 The petitions of freeholders of the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, Dinwiddie and Amelia, pointed to the Act of Parliament suspending the legislative power of New-York, as of a tendency, fatal to the liberties of a free people. The county of Westmoreland dwelt also on the new Revenue Act, as well as on the Billeting Act. The freeholders of Prince Williams enumerated all three, which, like the Stamp Act, would shackle North America with slavery. On the seventh, the illustrious Bland reported Resolutions, reaffirming the exclusive right of the American Assemblies to tax the American Colonies; and they were unanimously confirmed. A committee of twelve, including Bland and Archibald Cary, prepared a Petition to the King, a Memorial to the House of Lords, and a Remonstrance to the House of Commons, which, after being carefully considered and amended, were unanimously adopted. On Friday, the fifteenth, Bland invited a conference with the Council; and the Council with Blair,13 as acting President after Fauquier's death, agreed to the papers which the House had prepared, and which were [147] penned in a still bolder style than those from Massa-

Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. April.

After this the Burgesses of Virginia, to fulfil all their duty, not only assured Massachusetts of their applause for its attention to American Liberty, but also directed their Speaker to write to the respective Speakers of all the Assemblies on the Continent, to make known their proceedings, and to intimate how necessary they thought it, that the Colonies should unite in a firm but decent opposition to every measure which might affect their rights and liberties.

In the midst of these proceedings of a representative body, which truly reflected the sentiments of a people, the Thirteenth British Parliament, the last which ever legislated for America, was returned. So infamous was the old House in public esteem, that one hundred and seventy of its members failed of being rechosen.14 But still corruption lost nothing of its effrontery; boroughs were sold openly, and votes purchased at advanced prices. The market value of a seat in Parliament was four thousand pounds; at which rate the whole venal House would have been bought for not much over two millions sterling,15 and a majority for not much over one million. Yet in some places a contest cost the candidates twenty to thirty thousand pounds apiece, and it was affirmed that in Cumberland one person lavished a hundred thousand pounds. The election was the warmest and most expensive ever known. The number of disputed returns exceeded all precedent; as did the riots, into which a misguided populace, [148] indulged once every seven years with the privilege

Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. April.
of an election, had been enticed.

The first incident in the history of this Parliament, was an unexampled interference of the Court. Wilkes represented Westminster. ‘I think it highly proper to apprise you that the expulsion of Wilkes appears to be very essential, and must be effected,’ wrote the King to Lord North,16 who stood ready to obey the peremptory and unconstitutional mandate.

At the opening, the great question was raised,

if strangers should be excluded from the debates. ‘It has always been my opinion,’ said Barrington, ‘that strangers should not be allowed to hear them.’ ‘Strangers are entitled to hear them,’ replied Seymour. ‘I ever wished,’ said Grenville, ‘to have what is done here, well known.’ The people no longer acquiesced in the secrecy of the proceedings of their professed representatives. The decision was postponed; but this is the last Parliament of which the debates are not reported.

The new House was not more just to the Colonies than its predecessor. Out of doors, America was not without those who listened to her complaints. The aged Oglethorpe,17 founder of the Colony of Georgia, busied himself with distributing pamphlets in her behalf among the most considerable public men. Franklin, in London, collected and printed the Farmer's Letters. ‘They are very wild,’18 said Hillsborough of them; many called them treasonable and seditious; yet Burke approved their principle. Trans [149] lated into French, they were much read in Parisian

Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. May.
saloons; and their author was compared with Cicero.

‘In America the Farmer is adored;’ said the Governor of Georgia;19 ‘and no mark of honor and respect is thought equal to his merit.’ At that time Georgia was the most flourishing Colony on the continent.20 Lands there were cheap and labor dear; it had no manufactures; though, of the poorer families, one in a hundred perhaps might make its own coarse clothing of a mixture of cotton and wool.21 Out of twenty-five members of the newly elected Legislature at least eighteen were professed ‘Sons of Liberty,’ ‘enthusiasts’ for the American cause, zealous for ‘maintaining their natural rights.’ They unanimously made choice of Benjamin Franklin, as their agent; and nothing but their prorogation prevented their sending words of sympathy to Massachusetts. New Jersey expressed its desire to correspond and unite with the other Colonies.22 The Connecticut Assembly in May, after a solemn debate, concluded to petition the King only; ‘because,’ said they, ‘to petition the Parliament would be a tacit confession of its right to lay impositions upon us; which right and authority we publicly disavow.’ Nor would the Court issue Writs of Assistance, although it was claimed that they were authorized by Townshend's Revenue Act. The times tried men's courage; some grew alarmed for consequences; but others ‘were carried above fear.’23 [150]

At New-York the merchants held a meeting to

Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. May.
join with the inhabitants of Boston in the agreement not to import from Great Britain; and against the opinion of the Governor, the royal Council held, that the meetings were legal; that the people did but assemble to establish among themselves certain rules of economy; that as they were masters of their own fortune, they had a right to dispose of it as they pleased.24

While Massachusetts received encouragement from its sister Colonies, its Crown officers continued and extended their solicitations in England for large and fixed salaries, as the only way to keep the Americans in their dependence. Grenville's influence was the special resource of Hutchinson and Oliver,25 who had supported his Stamp Act and suffered as its martyrs; and they relied on Whately to secure for them his attention and favor; which they valued the more, as it seemed to them probable, that he would one day supersede Grafton.

Bernard, on his part, addressed his importunities to Hillsborough; and asked leave to become an informer, under an assurance that no exposure should be made of his letters.26 Yet how could public measures be properly founded on secret communications, known only to the Minister and the King? Should the right of the humblest individual to confront witnesses against him be held sacred? and should rising nations be exposed to the loss of chartered privileges [151] and natural rights on concealed accusations? With

Chap Xxxiii} 1768. May
truer loyalty towards the mother country, Samuel Adams,27 through the Agent, advised the repeal of the Revenue Acts, and the removal of a Governor, in whom the Colonies could never repose confidence.

But Bernard went on, persuading Hillsborough that America had grown refractory28 in consequence of the feeble administration of the Colonies during the time of Conway and Shelburne; that it required ‘his Lordship's distinguished abilities’29 to accomplish the ‘most arduous task of reducing them into good order.’ ‘It only needs,’ said Hutchinson,30 ‘one steady plan, pursued a little while.’ At that moment the people of Massachusetts, confidently awaiting a favorable result of their appeal to the King, revived their ancient spirit of loyalty. At the opening of the political year on the last Wednesday in May, the new House of Representatives came together with a kindlier disposition towards England than had existed for several years. The two parties were nearer an equality.31 On the day of election, after hearing a sermon in which Shute of Hingham denied the supreme authority of Parliament and justified resistance to laws not based on equity,32 the Legislature seemed willing to restore Hutchinson to the Council, and on the first ballot he had sixty-eight votes where he needed but seventy-one.33 [152]

He himself was the cause of his defeat. As the

Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. May.
Convention were preparing to ballot a second time, Samuel Adams rose to ask whether the Lieutenant-Governor was a pensioner; on which Otis, the other ‘chief head of the faction,’ stood up and declared that Hutchinson had received a warrant from the Lords of the Treasury for two hundred pounds a year out of the proceeds of the new duties; and distributing votes for Artemas Ward, he cried out: ‘Pensioner or no pensioner; surely the House will not think a pensioner of the Crown a fit person to sit in Council.’ ‘But for the warrant,’ confessed Hutchinson, ‘I should have been elected.’ ‘And that,’ added Bernard, ‘would have put quite a new face upon public affairs.’ ‘I,’ said Hutchinson, ‘gave Ward a Lieutenant Colonel's commission in the Provincial Forces, thinking to bring him over;—he is a very sulky fellow.’34 ‘The Government,’ repeated Bernard, ‘should insist upon it, that the Lieutenant Governor and Secretary should have seats and votes at the Council Board without an election.’35 ‘This annual election of the Council spoils the Constitution,’ wrote Hutchinson,36 though he afterwards uttered the falsehood of denying his opinion. ‘The House,’ reported Bernard to Hillsborough, ‘has shown ingratitude, undutifulness and insolence.’ ‘They will not come to a right temper,’ said Hutchinson, ‘until they find that, at all events, the Parliament will maintain its authority, and that to oppose [153] it any longer must prove their ruin.’37 Such were the
Chap. Xxxiii} 1768. May.
representations of men, on whom Hillsborough was eager to bestow signal marks of his confidence; having resolved to reward Bernard's zeal with the lucrative post of Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, and to leave the Government of Massachusetts in the hands of Hutchinson.38

Just at this time, the Ministry in England re-

ceived the letters of March from the Commissioners of the Customs and from Bernard, and totally misconceiving the state of things, Hillsborough, on the eighth of June, peremptorily ordered Gage to send a regiment to continue permanently in Boston, for the assistance of the civil magistrates and the officers of the revenue.39 The Admiralty was also directed to send one frigate, two sloops, and two cutters to remain in Boston harbor;40 and the little castle of William and Mary was to be occupied and repaired.41

This first act of hostility on the part of Great Britain was adopted at a time when America thought of nothing more than peaceable petitioning and passive resistance by a non-importation agreement, which the adverse interests and disinclination of the merchants had as yet rendered void.

1 Compare Franklin's writings, VII. 256, of 8 May, 1768, and Durand to Choiseul, 1 January, 1768.

2 De Berdt to the Speaker, 29 July, 1768.

3 Hillsborough's Circular Letter, 21 April, 1768, as addressed to Rhode Island, in Prior Documents, 220.

4 See Hillsborough's letter as sent to Maryland. This clause was omitted from the letter sent to Rhode Island.

5 Hillsborough to Bernard, 22 April, 1768.

6 Hutchinson to Bernard, 4 August, 1770.

7 De Berdt to the Speaker of Massachusetts Assembly, 29 July, 1768, in Bradford's State Papers.

8 Moore to Shelburne, 5 March, 1768; Gage to Lord Barrington, 28 March, 1768; Hillsborough to Moore, 14 May, 1768. Moore to Hillsborough, 19 August, 1768, &c.

9 Hillsborough to Gage, 23 April, 1768.

10 Andrew Eliot to Thomas Hollis, 18 April, 1768.

11 Boston Gazette, 25 April, 1768, 682, 1, 3.

12 Journal of Virginia House of Burgesses, from 31 March to 15 April, 1768, p. 55.

13 Blair to Hillsborough, 18 May, 1768, inclosing the Virginia Petition, Memorial and Remonstrance.

14 W. S. Johnson to Gov. Pitkin, 24 April, 1768.

15 B. Franklin to W. Franklin, 13 March, 1768. Writings, VII. 394.

16 King to Lord North, 25 April, 1768.

17 Miss De Berdt to Mr. Read.

18 Franklin, VII. Compare W. S. Johnson to Pitkin, 29 July, 1768.

19 Sir James Wright to Lord Hillsborough, 23 May, 1768.

20 Wright to Hillsborough, 30 May, 1768.

21 Wright to Hillsborough, 31 May, 1768.

22 New Jersey to Massachusetts, 9 May, 1768, in Prior Documents, 216. W. Franklin to Hillsborough, 11 July, 1768.

23 E. Silliman to W. S. Johnson, 10 Nov. 1768. Wm. Pitkin to W. S. Johnson, 6 June, 1768; Wm. Pitkin to Richard Jackson, 10 June, 1768.

24 Moore to Hillsborough, 10 May, 1768. Compare Rev. Dr. Johnson to the Archbishop Seeker, 10 May, 1768.

25 Oliver to Thomas Whately, 11 May, 1768.

26 Bernard to Hillsborough, 12 May, 1768.

27 Samuel Adams to S. de Berdt, 14 May, 1768.

28 Bernard to Hillsborough, 19 May, 1768.

29 Bernard to Hillsborough, 12 May, 1768.

30 Hutchinson to——, 26 May, 1768.

31 Hutchinson to Richard Jackson, 14 June, 1768.

32 Letter of Hutchinson, 21 July, 1768.

33 Compare Bernard to Hillsborough, 30 May, 1768; Hutchinson to Nathaniel Rogers, 7 June, 1768.

34 Hutchinson to T. Pownal, 7 June, 1768.

35 Bernard to Hillsborough, 30 May, 1768.

36 Hutchinson to R. Jackson, 4 June, 1768.

37 Hutchinson to N. Rogers, 30 or 31 May, 1768.

38 Richard Jackson to Hutchinson, 3 June, 1768.

39 Hillsborough to Gage, 8 June, 1768.

40 Hillsborough to the Lords of the Admiralty, 11 June, 1768. Narrative of Facts relative to American Affairs.

41 Hillsborough to Gage, 8 June, and to Bernard, 11 June, 1768.

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