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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


This foot note contained in document ADMS-01-02-02-0003-0002-0001
2. At a special town meeting in Cambridge, 14 Dec. 1772, Gen. William Brattle opposed the town's vote of instructions condemning the ministerial proposal to have the Superior Court judges paid by the crown and thus rendered independent of the Province. Brattle published his reasons in the Boston News Letter, 31 Dec. JA answered him in the Boston Gazette, 11 Jan. 1773, and followed with six more weekly pieces, citing innumerable British legal authorities from Bracton onward, to Brattle's sole rejoinder in the same paper, 25 Jan. All these articles, preceded by the Cambridge instructions, are reprinted in JA, Works , 3:511–574. The nub of the controversy, as JA phrased it in his Autobiography, was that since “the Judges Commissions were during pleasure” (durante beneplacito), the judges would become “entirely dependent on the Crown for Bread [as] well as office.” The position of Brattle and other tory advocates of the measure was that under the common law the judges held office during good behavior (quamdiu bene se gesserint), and by the proposed mode of payment would be rendered independent of both royal and popular influence.