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Boston, September 14, 1768. Gentlemen, You are already too well acquainted with the melancholly [sic] and very alarming circumstances to which this province, as well as America in general, is now reduced ...

Boston, September 14, 1768. Gentlemen, You are already too well acquainted with the melancholly [sic] and very alarming circumstances to which this province, as well as America in general, is now reduced ... Broadside

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"Deprived of the Councils of a General Assembly"
Governor Francis Bernard, appointed by the British government, has dissolved The General Court, the colony's legislative body. A circular letter from the selectmen of Boston communicates to the various towns in Massachusetts the resolves of a town meeting held on 12 September, and requests that representatives be sent to a convention at Boston on 22 September, to consider what measures should be adopted to obtain redress of grievances against Great Britain. Nearly 100 towns will respond to this call. This copy was sent to the town of Stoughtonham (now Sharon), Massachusetts.

Questions to Consider

1. Why are the words America and American italicized in this letter?

2. Make a bulleted list of all the factors that comprise the "alarming circumstances" described in the letter.

3. Why can't the colonists get the "Royal Ear"? What is meant by that and why are they frustrated?

4. Why do the colonists think that Governor Bernard is refusing to let the General Court meet? What is your assumption, based on the evidence that you have seen? For what are the colonists being punished? Why do they feel that this punishment is unjust?

5. Why does the British assurance that "proper Care will be taken for the Support of the Dignity of Government" so anger the colonists?

6. What is the meaning of the recent "Declaration" of the Governor? Why does his announcement cause such concern in Boston?

7. Why are the Boston selectmen calling for a convention of representatives of the other towns? How many days after the printing of this letter would the meeting be held? What does this tell us about the efficiency and speed of communication in 1768?

8. What is meant by the statement that the representatives must "tend to the real Service of our Gracious Sovereign, and the Welfare of his Subjects in this Province; and may happily prevent any sudden and unconnected Measures, which in their present Anxiety, and even Agony of Mind, they may be in Danger of falling into"?

9. The letter ends by hoping that people from other towns will "exert yourselves in every constitutional Way for so glorious a Purpose". Why the insertion of the word "constitutional"? What is the "Purpose" to which the letter refers?

Further Exploration

10. How does France enter into the picture? What is Bernard's supposed reason for stationing British troops in Boston? What do the colonists feel to be his real motive?

11. What does this letter convey about the importance of towns to one another? Using this document, demonstrate how it supports John Dickinson's phrase from the Liberty Song "by uniting we stand, by dividing we fall".

12. Nearly one hundred Massachusetts towns send delegates to the convention. What is the significance of that? What proportion of Massachusetts towns in 1768 does that figure represent?

13. What are the dangers of standing armies billeted in urban areas? What were the results in Boston? Compare the experience in Boston to at least two other instances in other countries at other times.

14. Two of the names of the Selectmen should be familiar to you by now. Who were John Hancock and John Rowe? What were the reasons for them to join in this act of resistance? What would be reasons for them to hold back?