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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 1


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Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0082-0011

Author: Adams, John
Author: Leonard, Daniel
Author: Ingersoll, David Jr.
Author: Adams, Samuel
Author: Hawley, Joseph
Author: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Recipient: Hutchinson, Thomas
Recipient: Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Date: 1770-11-06

Message to Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson on the Style of Enacting Laws

6 November 1770. MS not found. Printed: Mass., House Jour. , 1770–1771, p. 134–135. Prepared by a committee appointed 2 November composed of Daniel Leonard, Samuel Adams, JA , Joseph Hawley, and David Ingersoll Jr. (same, p. 128).
After voting to conduct business despite their removal to Cambridge, members of the House added the phrase “in general court assembled” to the usual form for the authority under which provincial statutes were enacted. The committee described above was appointed immediately after the House received Hutchinson's protest that the “Stile of enacting” new laws would force him to violate instructions of thirty years' standing which required the governor to allow only the form “by the Governor, Council and House of Representatives” (same, p. 128). The committee's report of 6 November declared that the additional phrase was “of Substance, and necessary,” but the House did not press the matter. As Hutchinson pointed out, the representatives “sent for their bills from the council, took out the exceptionable words, and omitted them in all the other bills passed in the session” ( Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:226).
{ 246 }
JA himself referred to the matter as a “laboured controversy,” which he mentioned in passing in his Autobiography only as the inspiration for Governor Shirley's remark on “this brace of Adams's” who served in the House in 1770 ( Diary and Autobiography , 2:54–56, 3:295). For a discussion of the usage of the controversial phrase in earlier provincial statutes, see Mass., Province Laws , 5:139–140.
Printed (Mass., House Jour. , 1770–1771, p. 134–135).