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

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

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    • Main description

    [ This description is from the project: Coming of the American Revolution ]

    This summary of a Boston town meeting, printed in the May 1764 issue of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston News-Letter, outlines the topics and resolutions discussed. These include instructions for those recently elected to the provincial assembly, representation of colonial issues to Parliament, and the colonies' place in the British Empire.

    "We . . . declare our just expectations"

    Soon after arriving in the New World, Massachusetts Bay Puritans established a unique system of local government, the town meeting. In that body, all qualified citizens have an equal voice. In addition to dealing with local affairs, the town meeting debates issues of colony-wide importance. Having formed a consensus, it then issues instructions for its representatives to the provincial legislative assembly, advising them what matters to raise and how to vote. Bostonians recognize that the current crisis with England tests their status within the British empire. Denied the right of direct representation in Parliament, they consider a variety of ways to make themselves heard across the Atlantic.

    To examine the whole newspaper, please see the online display of The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston News-Letter, 31 May 1764.

    Questions to Consider

    1. The Bostonians recommend a series of measures to secure their rights and promote public well-being. What specific measures do they recommend with regard to legislators who have paid appointments with the government of England or of Massachusetts? the support of judges? public frugality?

    2. What reasoning do the Bostonians use in recommending that the Sugar Act be repealed?

    3. What is their greatest fear ("what still heightens our apprehensions?").

    Further Exploration

    4. By what right do Bostonians claim the privilege to govern and tax themselves? Research the English basis for provincial government in one of the following colonies: South Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Virginia.