A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Back to Sugar Act

"Boston, May 28. At a Meeting of the Freeholders ..."

Section Viewing Options NOTE

  • 1
  • 2
Jump:
overview | large | transcription HELP

Request this image

BOSTON, May 28.


At a Meeting of the Freeholders and other
Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, on
Thursday last, it was voted unanimously
that the following Instructions be given
to the Gentlemen chosen to represent
them in the General Assembly, viz.

To ROYALL TYLER, JAMES OTIS, THOMAS
CUSHING, and OXENBRIDGE THATCHER, Esqrs.

Gentlemen,

YOUR being chosen by the Freeholders and
Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, to re-
present them in the General Assembly the
ensuing year, affords you the strongest testimony of
that confidence which they place in your integrity
and capacity. By this choice they have delegated
to you the power of acting in their public concerns
in general, as your own prudence shall direct you ;
always reserving to themselves the constitutional
right of expressing their mind, and giving you such
instructions upon particular matters, as they at any
time shall judge proper.

We therefore your Constituents take this oppor-
tunity to declare our just expectations from you.

That you will constantly use your power and in-
fluence in maintaining the invaluable rights and pri-
vileges of the province, of which this Town is so
great a part ; as well those rights which are derived
to us by the royal charter, as those which being prior
to and independent on it, we hold essentially as free
born subjects of Great Britain ;

That you will endeavour, as far as you shall be
able, to preserve that independence in the house of
representatives, which characterizes a free people ;
and the want of which may in a great measure pre-
vent the happy effects of a free government : Cul-
tivating as you shall have opportunity, that harmo-
ny and union there, which is ever desirable to good
men, when founded in principles of virtue and pub-
lic spirit; and guarding against any undue weight
which may tend to disadjust that critical balance up-
on which our happy constitution, and the blessings
of it do depend. And for this purpose, we parti-
cularly recommend it to you to use your endeavours
to have a law passed, whereby the feats of such Gen-
tlemen as shall accept of posts of profit from the
Crown, or the Governor, while they are members
of the House, shall be vacated, agreeable to an act
of the British parliament, 'till their constituents shall
have the opportunity of re-electing them, if they
please, or of returning others in their room.

Being members of the legislative body, you will
have a special regard to the morals of the people,
which are the basis of public happiness ; and endea-
vour to have such laws made, if any are still want-
ing, as shall be best adapted to secure them : And
we particularly desire you carefully to look into the
laws of Excise, that if the virtue of the people is
endangered by the multiplicity of oaths therein en-
joined, or their trade and business is unreasonably
impeded or imbarrassed thereby, the grievance may
be redressed.

As the preservation of morals, as well as property
and right, so much depends upon the impartial dis-
tribution of justice, agreeable to good and whole-
some laws: And as the Judges of the land do
depend upon the free grants of the General Assembly
for support; it is incumbent upon you at all times
to give your voice for their honourable maintenance,
so long as they, having in their minds an indifference
to all other affairs, shall devote themselves wholly to
the duties of their own department, and the further
study of the law, by which their customs, prece-
dents, proceedings and determinations are adjusted
and limited.

You will remember that this province hath been at
a very great expence in carrying on the war ; and
that it still lies under a very grievous burden of debt :
You will therefore use your utmost endeavour to
promote publick frugality as one means to lessen the
publick debt. And we recommend as worthy your
particular attention, whether any expence can now be
necessary to maintain the garrison service on our eas-
tern frontier : considering that we are now in a state
of profound peace ; our French enemies being total-
ly subdued ; and there being hardly any remains
of the Indian tribes left, ever again to annoy us.

You will join in any proposals which may be made
for the better cultivating the lands, and improving
the husbandry of the province : And as you represent
a town which lives by its trade, we expect in a very
particular manner, that you make it the object of
your attention, to support our commence [commerce] in all its just
rights, to vindicate it from all unreasonable imposi-
tions, and promote its prosperity. -- Our trade has
for a long time laboured under great discourage-
ments ; and it is with the deepest concern that we
see such further difficulties coming upon it, as will
reduce it to the lowest ebb, if not totally obstruct
and ruin it. We cannot help expressing our sur-
prize, that when so early notice was given by the
agent, of the intentions of the ministry, to burthen
us with new taxes, so little regard was had to this
most interesting matter, that the Court was not
even call'd together to consult about it 'till the lat-

ter end of the year; the consequence of which was,
that the instructions could not be sent to the agent,
though sollicited by him, till the evil had got be-
yond an easy remedy.

There is now no room for further delay: We
therefore expect that you will use your earliest en-
deavours in the General Assembly, that such me-
thods may be taken as will effectually prevent these
proceedings against us. By a proper representation
we apprehend it may easily be made to appear that
such severities will prove detrimental to Great Bri-
tain itself; upon which account we have reason to
hope that an application, even for a repeal of the
act, should it be already pass'd, will be successful.
It is the trade of the Colonies, that renders them
beneficial to the mother country: Our trade, as it
is now, and always has been conducted, centers in
Great Britain, and in return for manufactures affords
her more ready cash, beyond any comparison, than
can possibly be expected by the most sanguine pro-
moters of these extraordinary methods. We are
ultimately yielding large supplies to the revenues of
the mother country, while we are labouring for a
very moderate subsistence for ourselves. But if our
trade is to be curtail'd in its most profitable branches,
and burthens beyond all possible bearing, laid upon
that which is suffer'd to remain, we shall be so far
from being able to take off the manufactures of Great
Britain, that it will be scarce possible for us to earn
our bread. -- But what still heightens our apprehen-
sions is, that these unexpected proceedings may be
preparatory to new taxations upon us: For if our
trade may be taxed, why not our lands? Why not
the produce of our lands, and every thing we pos-
sess or make use of? This we apprehend annihilates
our charter right to govern and tax ourselves -- It
strikes at our British privileges, which as we have
never forfeited them, we hold in common with our
fellow subjects who are natives of Britain : If taxes
are laid upon us in any shape without our having a
legal representation where they are made, are we
not reduc'd from the character of free Subjects to
the miserable state of tributary slaves.

We therefore earnestly recommend it to you to use
your utmost endeavours, to obtain in the General
Assembly all necessary instruction and advice to our
agent at this most critical juncture; that while he is
setting forth the unshaken loyalty of this province and
this town -- its unrival'd exertion in supporting his
Majesty's government and rights in this part of his
dominions -- its acknowledg'd dependence upon and
subordination to Great-Britain ; and the ready sub-
mission of its merchants to all just and necessary re-
gulations of trade, he may be able in the most humble
and pressing manner to remonstrate for us all those
rights and privileges which justly belong to us either
by charter or birth.

As his Majesty's other Northern American colonies
are embark'd with us in this most important bottom,
we further desire you to use your endeavours, that
their weight may be added to that of this province :
that by the united application of all who are ag-
grieved, all may happily obtain redress.