previous next
[119] understood the tendency of the measures adopted by
Chap. XXXI.} 1768. Jan.
Parliament; approved of making the appeal to Heaven, since freedom could not otherwise be preserved; and valued the liberties of his country more than its temporal prosperity, more than his own life, more than the lives of all. The confidence of his townsmen sustained his fortitude; his whole nature was absorbed by care for the public; and his strictly logical mind was led to choose for the defence of the separate liberties of America, a position which offered no weak point for attack. His theory, on which the Colonies were to repose till the dawn of better days, as a small but gallant army waits for aid within its lines, he embodied in the form of a letter from the Assembly of the Province to their Agent.1 On the sixth of

1 The papers which I possess or have seen, compel me to say, that the document referred to is the work of Samuel Adams, both in its substance and in its form. The evidence for it is both internal and external. Internal evidence: 1. The paper has the style of Samuel Adams. This has been universally admitted. 2. It conveys the exact political opinions of Samuel Adams. One may see the lineaments of his mind in every sentence; and so true is this, that he who wishes a key to the political career of that statesman, from his coming into political life to his end, needs only to study this production. As to external evidence, 1. Andrew Eliot, a most estimable clergyman of Boston, thoroughly well informed, one of the most sensible men of that day, writing to Thomas Hollis on the twenty-seventh of September, 1768, for the purpose of correcting a mistake that had been made respecting the authorship of a paper which Hollis had reprinted in England, says expressly that this letter of the House to its Agent which Hollis had also reprinted, was written by Samuel Adams. Here is explicit contemporary authority of the most trustworthy kind. 2. The original document is said by the late Samuel Adams Welles (I have myself never seen it), to be in the handwriting of Samuel Adams; and there is no evidence that any part of it exists or ever existed in the handwriting of any one of his contemporaries. 3. Samuel Adams writing to Dennys de Berdt on the 30th of January, 1768, refers to this public letter from the House of Representatives, and describes it as a letter, ‘in which,’ to use the very words of S. Adams, ‘I have the good fortune to have my own private sentiments so exactly expressed, as to make it needless for me to say any thing of them in this letter.’ This seems to me to approach an acknowledgment, that the public letter was his own.

Indirect evidence abounds. Not only do the contemporary letters of Bernard and of Hutchinson, and the History of Hutchinson, and the biography of Eliot, attribute generally many Massachusetts State Papers to the pen of Samuel Adams, but there is also a report of a conversation between Otis and Samuel Adams, in which Otis, on the last day of June or early in July of this very year, blamed the latter for intending to print a public letter; and in the course of the dispute Otis said to S. Adams, ‘You are so fond of your own draughts that you can't wait for the publication of them to the proper time.’ This remark which referred to a letter to Lord Hillsborough, defending the letter to De Berdt and its consequences, speaks not of a draught of one letter, but generally of ‘draughts;’ which is in harmony with all the contemporary testimony. See the unpublished part of the letter of Bernard to Hillsborough, 9 July, 1768.

Otis was named first among the representatives of Boston, and placed at the head of Committees long after his powers had failed. It was excusable that his biographer, led by this circumstance, by his reputation as the beginner of the Revolutionary strife, and by the natural inclination of a writer of a life to illustrate his theme, should have readily adopted the opinion that Otis was the author of this and other similar pieces. The papers which prove the reverse have come to light or to notice since he wrote; and no doubt his candor if he still survived, would lead him to revise his opinion. The papers of this session are not in the style of Otis, nor do they contain his opinions; but contain opinions, which he, for himself individually, never made his own. Not one contemporary writer so much as hints at his being the author of them. The inquirer who will put together the papers known to have been written, or speeches uttered by Otis from midsummer 1767 to his retirement, will have no doubt left on his mind. The gradual increase of that irritability which finally mastered the intellect of Otis, began to be apparent before this time. He still continued to make long and perhaps frequent speeches, and still beyond all others manifested his loathing of the corrupt and selfish Crown Officers. But his remarks became more and more personal, and uncertainty hung over his opinions, which varied with his moods of mind. I know of no calmly written paper of any considerable length which can be attributed to him as its author after 1765.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Massachusetts (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Samuel Adams (10)
James Otis (7)
Thomas Hollis (3)
Thomas Hutchinson (2)
Andrew Eliot (2)
Francis Bernard (2)
Samuel Adams Welles (1)
Dennys Berdt (1)
De Berdt (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
September 27th, 1768 AD (1)
July 9th, 1768 AD (1)
January 30th, 1768 AD (1)
1768 AD (1)
1767 AD (1)
1765 AD (1)
July (1)
June (1)
January (1)
6th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: