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Coming of the American Revolution: Document Viewer
Massachusetts Historical Society
America's oldest historical society, founded 1791.

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Letter from Thomas Cushing to Jasper Mauduit, 17 November 1764

Letter from Thomas Cushing to Jasper Mauduit, 17 November 1764

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The "exclusive Right of the People"
James Otis, a Boston lawyer and Massachusetts legislator, composes a pamphlet entitled Rights of the Colonies Asserted and Proved. If the colonists are not directly represented in Parliament, he argues, then Parliament has no authority to tax them. The Massachusetts Assembly votes its approval of the pamphlet, and in October it draws up a petition to the king that makes the same case. The language of the petition is deemed so offensive, however, that led by Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson, the upper chamber of the legislature, the Council, recasts it. In the new version, a defiant call for rights gives way to a deferential request for continued privileges. Writing to Jasper Mauduit, Massachusetts' Parliamentary agent, or lobbyist, Boston representative Thomas Cushing leaves no question about his, or his compatriots', views of the Sugar Act and the proposed Stamp Act.

Questions to Consider

1. What document accompanies Cushing's letter?

2. Why did the members of the Massachusetts Assembly decide to compromise with the Council?

3. Cushing believes that one document expresses the views of the people. What is that document? How does he propose that Mauduit use it?

4. How is Mauduit to get further information?

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