"Extract of a letter from one of the council of Boston, in New-England, to a merchant in London."

Extract of a letter from one of the council of Boston, in New-England, to a merchant in London.
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[ This description is from the project: Coming of the American Revolution ]

This excerpted letter, written by an unnamed Boston councilman to a merchant in London, was printed in May 1764 in the The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston-Newsletter. The letter laments that the inconveniences imposed by the Stamp Act, Currency Act, and other actions by George Grenville have depressed Colonial trade revenue so badly that the system could collapse. At the end, it is suggested that England may lose its colonies as a result.

"Our Trade Is Most Grieviously Embarrassed"

Driven by the mutually enhancing forces of British neglect and colonial enterprise, provincial merchants have prospered, as have their English counterparts. George Grenville, however,  has rushed in to fix a system that is not broken. His actions-proscribing a colonial currency, cracking down on smuggling, meddling with the lucrative sugar trade, constraining commerce in a broad range of other goods, tying up vessels at port, creating a more elaborate and invasive customs apparatus, and imposing military justice on civilian trade violators-have set in motion a series of cascading effects. Will they crash over London as well?

To examine all four pages of this newspaper, please see the online display of The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston-Newsletter, 17 May 1764.

Questions to Consider

1. What complaint does the writer elaborate in the first sentence?

2. What other operations does the molasses trade support?

3. Why do you think this letter was reprinted in a newspaper?

Further Exploration

4. Look up the word "embarrass." How is its meaning different from what you had supposed?

5. What may be the effect of a depressed colonial trade? Considering to whom the letter is addressed, discuss the writer's possible motives.

6. Discuss Grenville's motives in setting fiscal policy in the colonies. What factors had he failed to take into account?