On Fryday June 9th. 1775. The report of the Committee on the Letter from the Convention of Massachusetts Bay being again read, the Congress came into the following Resolution:
Resolved, That no Obedience being due to the Act of Parliament, for altering the Charter of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, nor to a Governor or Lieutenant Governor who will not observe the directions of, but endeavour to subvert that Charter, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of that Colony are to be considered as absent and their Offices vacant; and as there is no Council there and the Inconveniences arising from the Suspension of the Powers of Government are intollerable, especially at a time when General Gage hath actually levyed War, and is carrying on Hostilities against his Majestys peaceable and loyal Subjects of that Colony; that in order to conform as near as may be to the Spirit and Substance of the Charter, it be recommended to the provincial Convention to write Letters to the Inhabitants of the several Places, which are intituled to representation in Assembly, requesting them to chuse such Representatives, and that the Assembly when chosen, do elect Councillors; and that such Assembly or Council exercise the Powers of Government, untill a Governor of his Majestys Appointment will consent to govern the Colony according to its Charter.
Ordered That the President transmit a Copy of the Above to the Convention of Massachusetts Bay.
Although this Advice was in a great degree conformable, to the New York and Pensilvania System, or in other Words to the System of Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Duane, I thought it an Acquisition, for it was a Precedent of Advice to the seperate States to institute Gov-354ernments, and I doubted not We should soon have more Occasions to follow this Example. Mr. John Rutledge and Mr. Sullivan had frequent Conversations with me upon this subject. Mr. Rutledge asked me my Opinion of a proper form of Government for a State. I answered him that any form, that our People would consent to institute would be better than none. Even if they placed all Power in a House of Representatives, and they should appoint Governors and Judges: but I hoped they would be wiser, and preserve the English Constitution in its Spirit and Substance, as far as the Circumstances of this Country required or would Admit. That no hereditary Powers ever had existed in America, nor would they or ought they to be introduced or proposed. But that I hoped the three Branches of a Legislature would be preserved, an Executive, independent of the Senate or Council and the House and above all things the Independence of the Judges. Mr. Sullivan was fully agreed with me in the necessity of instituting Governments and he seconded me very handsomely in supporting the Argument in Congress. Mr. Samuel Adams was with Us in the Opinion of the Necessity and was industrious in Conversation with the Members out of Doors: but he very rarely spoke much in Congress, and he was perfectly unsettled in any Plan to be recommended to a State, always inclining to the most democratical forms, and even to a single Sovereign Assembly: untill his Constituents, afterwards in Boston compelled him to vote for three branches. Mr. Cushing was also for one Sovereign Assembly, and Mr. Paine were1 silent and reserved upon the Subject at least to me.
Not long after this Mr. John Rutledge returned to South Carolina, and Mr. Sullivan went with General Washington to Cambridge: so that I lost two of my able Coadjutors. But We soon found the Benefit of their Co-operations at a distance.
Thus in MS.
On Wednesday October 18. 1775. The Delegates from New Hampshire laid before the Congress a part of the Instructions delivered to them by their Colony, in these Words:
”We would have you immediately Use your utmost Endeavours, to obtain the Advice and direction of the Congress, with respect to a Method for our Administering Justice, and regulating our civil Police. We press you not to delay this matter, as its being done speedily will probably prevent the greatest confusion among Us.”
This Instruction might have been obtained by Mr. Langdon or Mr. Whipple but I always supposed it was General Sullivan, who suggested the measure because he left Congress with a stronger im-355pression upon his mind of the importance of it, than I ever observed in either of the others. Be this however as it may have been, I embraced with Joy the opportunity of harranguing on the Subject at large, and of urging Congress to resolve on a general recommendation to all the States to call Conventions and institute regular Governments. I reasoned from various Topicks, many of which perhaps I could not now recollect. Some I remember as 1. The danger of the Morals of the People, from the present loose State of Things and general relaxation of Laws and Government through the Union. 2. The danger of Insurrections in some of the most disaffected parts of the Colonies, in favour of the Enemy or as they called them, the Mother Country, an expression that I thought it high time to erase out of our Language. 3. Communications and Intercourse with the Ennemy, from various parts of the Continent could not be wholly prevented, while any of the Powers of Government remained, in the hands of the Kings servants. 4. It could not well be considered as a Crime to communicate Intelligence, or to Act as Spies or Guides to the Ennemy, without assuming all the Powers of Government. 5. The People of America, would never consider our Union as compleat, but our Friends would always suspect divisions among Us, and our Ennemies who were scattered in larger or smaller Numbers not only in every State and City, but in every Village through the whole Union, would forever represent Congress as divided, and ready to break to pieces, and in this Way would intimidate and discourage multitudes of our People who wished Us well. 6. The Absurdity of carrying on War, against a King, When so many Persons were daily taking Oaths and Affirmations of Allegeance to him. 7. We could not expect that our Friends in Great Britain would believe Us United and in earnest, or exert themselves very strenuously in our favour, while We acted such a wavering hesitating Part. 8. Foreign Nations particularly France and Spain would not think Us worthy of their Attention, while We appeared to be deceived by such fallacious hopes of redress of Grievances, of pardon for our Offences, and of Reconciliation with our Enemies. 9. We could not command the natural Resources of our own Country; We could not establish Manufactories of Arms, Cannon, Salt Petre, Powder, Ships &c. Without the Powers of Government, and all these and many other preparations ought to be going on in every State or Colony, if you will, in the Country.
Although the Opposition was still inveterate, many Members of Congress began to hear me with more Patience, and some began to ask me civil questions. How can the People institute Governments? 356My Answer was by Conventions of Representatives, freely, fairly and proportionally chosen.—When the Convention has fabricated a Government, or a Constitution rather, how do We know the People will submit to it? If there is any doubt of that, the Convention may send out their Project of a Constitution, to the People in their several Towns, Counties or districts, and the People may make the Acceptance of it their own Act. But the People know nothing about Constitutions. I believe you are much mistaken in that Supposition: if you are not, they will not oppose a Plan prepared by their own chosen Friends: but I believe that in every considerable portion of the People, there will be found some Men, who will understand the Subject as well as their representatives, and these will assist in enlightening the rest....1 But what Plan of a Government, would you advise? A Plan as nearly resembling the Governments under which We were born and have lived as the Circumstances of the Country will admit. Kings We never had among Us, Nobles We never had. Nothing hereditary ever existed in the Country: Nor will the Country require or admit of any such Thing: but Governors, and Councils We have always had as Well as Representatives. A Legislature in three Branches ought to be preserved, and independent Judges. Where and how will you get your Governors and Councils? By Elections. How, who shall elect? The Representatives of the People in a Convention will be the best qualified to contrive a Mode.
After all these discussions and interrogations, Congress was not prepared nor disposed to do any thing as yet. The
Resolved that the Consideration of this matter be referred to Monday next. Monday arrived and Tuesday and Wednesday passed over, and Congress not yet willing to do any thing.
Suspension points in MS.