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Letter from Boston Merchants to Dennis De Berdt, 30 January 1770

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Boston 30th January 1770

Sir,

As there are many persons among us whose
Disposition is to represent every Occurrence here as much to the dis-
advantage of this Town & province as possible, & from the late
Transactions of the Merchants here we are apprehensive many
misrepresentations will be made on your side the water, to
prevent the bad impressions of which we beg leave to lay be-
fore you a candid & fair State of the whole matter, & accordingly
now enclose you the Boston Gazette in which is inserted a
particular & faithful Account of the Proceedings of the Merchts
& Traders of this Town at a late meeting, which was occasion'd
by the Efforts of some persons to render abortive the non-impor-
tation agreement -- a few people who had agreed to store
their goods untill a general importation might take place
had lately violated their agreement, some by removing
their goods, particularly Messrs Thomas & Elisha Hutchinson,
sons to the Lieut Governor, who had imported a Considerable
Quantity of Tea & had according to agreement stored & put
the same under the Care of the Comittee of Inspection &
deliver'd them the Key, late on Saturday night the 6th inst.
they found means to get into the Store where the Tea was
lodged & in a Clandestine manner carried off with a
declared intention of selling the same, & part of them upon
Examination it was found were actually sold, From
this Conduct of theirs, others took Courage & publickly
gave out that they intended to sell their goods &

[Endorsement]

Dennys Debert Esqr
some few did actually sell -- This greatly alarmed the
Trade, many of whom said, that in case the Conduct of
these persons passed unnoticed, they wou'd immediately trans-
mitt orders for goods to be shipp'd forthwith, whether the
revenue Acts were repealed or not, by this means the
agreement at this Critical time, it was highly probable,
wou'd be destroy'd; the Consequences of which might per-
haps be fatal, as it wou'd not only destroy our Credit
would have a direct tendency to weaken the hands
of your Friends & Strenfthen those of our Enemies on
your side the water & so might be the means of pre-
venting the revenue acts being repealed -- It was
therefore Judged to be absolutely necessary to call a
meeting of the Merchants & Traders & others Connected
with Trade to consider of some legal & spirited measures
to prevent the non importation agreement being render'd
abortive: As People in general were uneasy at the
Conduct of these few persons, which it was apprehended,
was in pursuance of a formed & settled Plan to render
void the agreements. The meetings held upon this
occasion were large but every thing was Conducted with
the utmost order, peace & decorum; As repeated appli-
cations has been made to these delinquents by Committees,
whom the only trifled with, It was judged expedient &
lawfull for the whole Body to wait upon them & demand
a Compliance with their agreement, This measure was
thought to be more necessary at this time as our
Brethren in the other Governments complaind of our want of Spirit, that our measures were too lax & in short
began to grow very jealous of us ; The Trade were forcd of convincing
of them that they were in earnest & at the same time choose
carefully to avoid every measure that had the least appear-
ance of Illegallity. This measure therefore was proposed as
one well adapted to Convince them of our zeal in the cause;
however the Commisioners & those who expected to reap
any advantage from the revenue Acts, Clamoured about
the meeting, said that it was unwarrantable & that
the proceedings were illegal, but what they chiefly
Objeted to was the whole Bodys going to the Houses &
stores of these People & they represented as if the Trade
had demanded their goods & money, which upon per-
rusing the Account enclosed you will find is very
far from the Truth, The Body only waited upon some
particular Persons & informed them that it appeared
from the report of their Committees that they had
violated their agreement, & demanded of them the re-
storing such goods to the Care of the Committe[e] as they
had taken from their Care, & which they ha[d] agreed
shou'd be stored & kept untill a general impo[rta ]tion
might take place, in other words, it was only peremptorily
demanding of them the fulfillment of the agreement
which they had voluntarily made with the Trade ; This
the Body apprehended tehy had an undoubted right to
do, this they though it was necessary to do in order to
preserve their Credit, it was the last step that could
be taken & after having in this manner done theirDuty, they determined to Justify themselves to their Brethren
thro' the Continent & Publish the names of these delinquents
to the world, that they might meet with all that neglect
& Contempt they deserve from all who are well-wishers
to their Country --

The Lieut Governor Convened his council
upon this occasion & laid before them the Proceedings of the
meeting he proposed, as we are informed, the Issuing a
Proclamation Enjoining & requiring the People assembled
to disperse, but they wou'd not advise to it, he then proposed,
as we are also informed, going himself to the meeting to
Enjoin them to disperse, neither would they advise to this,
he made several other proposals but to no purpose. They
met indeed from Day to Day but as they did not appre-
hend the Peace of the Town was in any danger they did
not seem inclinded to discountenance the meetings or
to do any thing that might give a Check to them measures
that were pursuing in order to prevent the nonimpor-
tation agreement, being broke ; at last his Honor
[the] Lieut Governor, not by advice of Council, but
without their Privity or Knowledge, sent a paper to the
[ . . . ] ecting enclosed in a Letter to their moderator, Copy's of
which you have inserted in the news papers -- afterwards his
Honor made mention of this letter & Paper to his council,
upon which they pass a vote by a marjority of one in
Substance as follows, That this Board approve of his
Honor the Lieut Governor's Sending the said Letter & paper.
to the People met a Faneuil Hall & that it was all to-
gether unnecessary for the Board to interfere in this Affair.
So it appears from this Account of the Matter that the

Board Considering his Honor's Station & Connection thoug [ht]
it not amiss in him to show some discountance to the
Proceedings of this meeting & approved of his Sending the
Letter as Commander in chief but it seems were not disposed
to Interpose their Authority in this Affair by advising to
any measures that would discountenance the meeting or
Interupt their proceedings -- His Honor also cited the
Justices of the County of Suffolk to meet him & [acquainted]
them also with the Proceedings of this meeting & desire
them to Consider what was proper to be done by them
relative to this matter, The result of their Consultations
you have in their Answer to his Honor, which is inserted
in the Boston Gazette of the 29th instant, by their Answer
it appears they pass over the meeting in Silence & did not
judge that there was any particular Call at this time
for any exertions of theirs --

We have not the least reason
to doubt but that according to Custom [the worst]
Construction possible will be put up on [these] pro-
ceedings of the merchants & others, that [every ]circum
stance will be agravated & such a Colouring [given to the]
whole of the Transactions as may make the most Un-
favourable impression -- you will excuse us therefore in
being so particular in our Account of this meeting &
of the Occasion & Design of it, as you will hereby be
Enabled to sett it in its true light, & we are persuaded
from your well known regard to the True interest of this

Town & Province & from your repeated exertions in
their favor that nothing in your Power will be wanting to
defend us against the ill natur'd suggestions & cruel mis=
representations of those who have been & still are disposed by
every art in their power to injure us --

We are with great Respect
Your most humble Servants

Thomas Cushing
Wm Phillips
John Hancock
Isaac Smith
Henderson Inches
[Jno?] Barnett
Wm Greenleaf
Ebenezer Storer
Jona Mason
Joseph Waldo
[Wm?] MoLineux
To [Dennis] DeBerdt Esqr.
[This page is blank.]

[Endorsement]

From the Commty
at Boston
Recd March 17. 170

Non Importation

[Address]

To
Dennis DeBerdt Esq,
In
London