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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 James Murray to John Murray (letterbook copy), 13 November 1765

Letter from James Murray to John Murray (letterbook copy), 13 November 1765

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Prosperity the End; Protectionism the Means
In major colonial ports, mob action has complicated England's orderly plan to extract a revenue from the provinces. While some colonists celebrate the mob's effectiveness, others worry about its impact. If the mother country is a benevolent parent, why should an upstart America spurn the security of her loving-kindness for a short-term gain, the avoidance of a piddling tax. Rights may be an issue for the radical fringe, but rights, after all, are relative. For a man like merchant James Murray, prosperity is the end and protectionism the means. With an eye toward the future's distant horizon, the Boston merchant shares his political opinions with his brother.

Questions to Consider

1. What does Murray identify as the beneficial effect of the Stamp Act?

2. What concern does Murray express about colonial prosperity? Identify the economic system he is describing.

3. What effect has the Sugar Act had on Murray's business? What is his response?

Further Exploration