Papers of John Adams, volume 2

III. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, 6 February 1775 JA Novanglus Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusettensis III. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, 6 February 1775 Adams, John Novanglus Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusettensis
III. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay
My Friends, 6 February 1775

The history of the Tories, begun in my last, will be interrupted for some time: but it shall be reassumed, and minutely related, in some future papers. Massachusettensis, who shall now be pursued, in his own serpentine path, in his first paper,1 complains, that the press is not free, that a party has gained the ascendency so far as to become the licencers of it; by playing off the resentment of the populace, against printers and authors: That the press is become an engine of oppression and licentiousness, much devoted to the partisans of liberty, who have been indulged in publishing what they pleased, fas vel nefas,2 while little has been published on the part of the government.

The art of this writer which appears in all his productions, is very conspicuous in this. It is intended to excite a resentment against the friends of liberty, for tyrannically depriving their antagonists, of so important a branch of freedom, and a compassion towards the Tories, in the breasts of the people in the other colonies and in Great-Britain, by insinuating that they have not had equal terms. But nothing can be more injurious, nothing farther from the truth. Let us take a retrospective view of the period, since the last peace, and see, whether, they have not uniformly had the press at their service, without the least molestation to authors or printers. Indeed, I believe that the Massachusetts-Spy, if not the Boston Gazette have been open to them as well as to others. The Evening-Post, Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Chronicle, have certainly been always as free for their use as the air. Let us dismiss prejudice and passion, and examine impartially, whether the Tories have not been chargeable with at least as many libels, as much licentiousness of the press, as the Whigs? Dr. Mayhew was a Whig of the first magnitude, a clergyman equalled by a very few of any denomination in piety, virtue, genius or learning, whose works will maintain his character, as long as New-England shall be free, integrity esteemed, or wit, spirit, humour, or reason and knowledge admired. How was he treated from the press? Did not the Reverend Tories who were pleased to write against him, the Missionaries of Defamation as well as Bigotry and passive obedience, in their pamphlets, and news papers, bespatter him all over with their filth? With equal falshood and malice charge him with every thing evil? 244Mr. Otis, was in civil life: and a senator, whose parts, literature, eloquence and integrity, proved him a character in the world, equal to any of the time in which he flourished, of any party in the province. Now be pleased to recollect the Evening-Post. For a long course of years, that gentleman, his friends and connections, of whom the world has and grateful posterity will have a better opinion than Massachusettensis will acknowledge, were pelted with the most infernally malicious, false, and atrocious Libels, that ever issued from any press in Boston. I will mention no other names, lest I give too much offence to the modesty of some, and the envy and rancour of others.

There never was before, in any part of the world, a whole town insulted to their faces, as Boston was, by the Boston Chronicle. Yet the printer was not molested for printing, it was his mad attack upon other printers with his clubs, and upon other gentlemen with his pistols, that was the cause of his flight, or rather the pretence. The truth was, he became too polite to attend his business, his shop was neglected, procreations were coming for more than 2000 sterling, which he had no inclination to pay.3

Printers may have been less eager after the productions of the tories than of the whigs, and the reason has been because the latter have been more consonant to the general taste and sense, and consequently more in demand. Notwithstanding this, the former have ever found one press at least devoted to their service, and have used it as licentiously as they could wish. Whether the revenue chest has kept it alive and made it profitable against the general sense, or not, I wot not. Thus much is certain that 200, 3, 4, 5, 600, 800, 1500, sterling a year, has been the constant reward of every scribbler, who has taken up the pen on the side of the ministry, with any reputation, and commissions have been given here for the most wretched productions of dulness itself. Whereas the writers on the side of liberty, have been rewarded only with the consciousness of endeavoring to do good, with the approbation of the virtuous and the malice of men in power.

But this is not the first time, that writers have taken advantage of the times. Massachusettensis knows the critical situation of this province. The danger it is in, without government or law—The army in Boston—The people irritated and exasperated, in such a manner as was never before borne by any people under heaven. Much depends upon their patience at this critical time, and such an example of patience and order, this people have exhibited in a state of nature, under such cruel insults, distresses and provocations, as the history of man-245kind cannot parallel. In this state of things, protected by an army, the whole junto are now pouring forth the whole torrents of their billingsgate, propagating thousands of the most palpable falshoods, when they knew that the writers on the other side have been restrain'd by their prudence and caution from engaging in a controversy that must excite heats, lest it should have unhappy and tragical consequences.

There is nothing in this world so excellent that it may not be abused. The abuses of the press are notorious. It is much to be desired that writers on all sides would be more careful of truth and decency: but upon the most impartial estimate, the tories will be found to have been the least so, of any party among us.

The honest Veteran, who ought not to be forgotten, in this place, says, “if an inhabitant of Bern or Amsterdam, could read the newspapers, &c. he would be at a loss how to reconcile oppression with such unbounded licence of the press: and would laugh at the charge, as something much more than a paradox, as a palpable contradiction.”4 But with all his taste, and manly spirit, the Veteran is little of a statesman. His ideas of liberty are quite inadequate—his notions of government very superficial. Licence of the press is no proof of liberty. When a people is corrupted, the press may be made an engine to compleat their ruin: and it is now notorious, that the ministry, are daily employing it to encrease and establish corruption, and to pluck up virtue by the roots. Liberty can no more exist without virtue and independence, than the body can live and move without a soul. When these are gone, and the popular branch of the constitution is become dependent on the minister, as it is in England, or cut off, as it is in America, all other forms of the constitution may remain; but if you look for liberty, you will grope in vain, and the freedom of the press, instead of promoting the cause of liberty, will but hasten its destruction, as the best cordials, taken by patients, in some distempers, become the most rancid and corrosive poisons.

This language of the Veteran, however, is like the style of the minister and his scribblers in England, boasting of the unbounded freedom of the press, and assuring the people that all is safe, while that continues: and thus the people are to be cheated with libels in exchange for their liberties.

A stronger proof cannot be wish'd, of the scandalous license of the tory presses, than the swarms of pamphlets and speculations, in New-York and Boston, since last October. “Madness, folly, delusion, delirium, infatuation, frenzy, high treason and rebellion,” are charged 246in every page, upon three millions of as good and loyal, as sensible and virtuous people, as any in the empire: nay upon that congress, which was as full and free a representative, as ever was constituted by any people, chosen universally without solicitation, or the least tincture of corruption: that congress which consisted of governors, counsellors, some of them by mandamus too, judges of supreme courts, speakers of assemblies, planters and merchants of the first fortune and character, and lawyers of the highest class, many of them educated at the temple, call'd to the bar in England, and of abilities and integrity equal to any there.

Massachusettensis, conscious that the people of this continent have the utmost abhorrence of treason and rebellion, labours to avail himself of the magic in these words.5 But his artifice is vain. The people are not to be intimidated by hard words, from a necessary defence of their liberties. Their attachment to their constitution so dearly purchased by their own and their ancestors blood and treasure, their aversion to the late innovations, their horror of arbitrary power and the Romish religion, are much deeper rooted than their dread of rude sounds and unmannerly language. They dont want the advice of an honest lawyer, if such an one could be found, nor will they be deceived by a dishonest one. They know what offence it is, to assemble, armed and, forceably obstruct the course of justice. They have been many years considering and enquiring, they have been instructed by Massachusettensis and his friends, in the nature of treason, and the consequences of their own principles and actions. They know upon what hinge the whole dispute turns. That the fundamentals of the government over them, are disputed, that the minister pretends and had the influence to obtain the voice of the last parliament in his favour, that parliament is the only supream, sovereign, absolute and uncontroulable legislative over all the colonies, that therefore the minister and all his advocates will call resistance, to acts of parliament, by the names of treason and rebellion. But at the same time they know, that in their own opinions, and in the opinions of all the colonies, parliament has no authority over them, excepting to regulate their trade, and this not by any principle of common law, but merely by the consent of the colonies, founded on the obvious necessity of a case, which was never in contemplation of that law, nor provided for by it, that therefore they have as good a right to charge that minister, Massachusettensis and the whole army to which he has fled for protection, with treason and rebellion. For if the parliament has not a legal authority to overturn their constitution, and 247subject them to such acts as are lately passed, every man, who accepts of any commission and takes any steps to carry those acts into execution, is guilty of overt acts of treason and rebellion against his majesty, his royal crown and dignity, as much as if he should take arms against his troops, or attempt his sacred life. They know that the resistance against the stamp act, which was made through all America, was in the opinion of Massachusettensis, and George Grenville, high treason, and that Brigadier Ruggles, and good Mr. Ogden,6 pretended at the congress at New-York, to be of the same mind, and have been held in utter contempt and derision by the whole continent, for the same reason, ever since; because in their own opinion, that resistance was a noble stand against tyranny, and the only opposition to it, which could have been effectual. That if the American resistance to the act for destroying your charter, and to the Resolves for arresting persons here and sending them to England for tryal, is treason, the lords and commons, and the whole nation, were traitors at the revolution.

They know that all America is united in sentiment, and in the plan of opposition to the claims of administration and parliament. The junto in Boston, with their little flocks of adherents in the country, are not worth taking into the account; and the army and navy, tho' these are divided among themselves, are no part of America; in order to judge of this union, they begin at the commencement of the dispute, and run thro' the whole course of it. At the time of the Stamp Act, every colony expressed its sentiments by resolves of their assemblies, and every one agreed that parliament had no right to tax the colonies. The house of representatives of the Massachusetts-Bay, then consisted of many persons, who have since figured as friends to government; yet every member of that house concurred most chearfully in the resolves then passed. The congress which met that year at New-York, expressed the same opinion in their resolves.7 After the paint, paper and tea act was passed, the several assemblies expressed the same sentiments, and when your colony wrote the famous circular letter, notwithstanding all the mandates and threats, and cajolings of the minister and the several governors, and all the crown officers through the continent, the assemblies with one voice ecchoed their entire approbation of that letter, and their applause to your colony for sending it. In the year 1768, when a non importation was suggested and planned by a few gentlemen at a private clubb, in one of our large towns, as soon as it was proposed to the public, did it not spread thro' the whole continent? Was it not regarded, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, in almost all the colonies. When the paint and paper 248act was repealed, the southern colonies agreed to depart from the association in all things but the dutied articles, but they have kept strictly to their agreement against importing them, so that no tea worth the mentioning, has been imported into any of them from Great-Britain to this day. In the year 1770, when a number of persons were slaughtered in King-Street, such was the brotherly sympathy of all the colonies, such their resentment against an hostile administration; that the innocent blood then spilt, has never been forgotten, nor the murderous minister and governors, who brought the troops here, forgiven, by any part of the continent, and never will be. When a certain masterly statesman, invented a committee of correspondence in Boston, which has provoked so much of the spleen of Massachusettensis, of which much more hereafter; did not every colony, nay every county, city, hundred and town upon the whole continent, adopt the measure. I had almost said, as if it had been a revelation from above, as the happiest means of cementing the union and acting in concert? What proofs of union have been given since the last March! Look over the resolves of the several colonies, and you will see that one understanding governs, one heart animates the whole body. Assemblies, conventions, congresses, towns, cities, and private clubs and circles, have been actuated by one great, wise, active and noble spirit, one masterly soul, animating one vigorous body.

The congress at Philadelphia, have expressed the same sentiments with the people of New-England, approved of the opposition to the late innovations, unanimously advised us to persevere in it, and assured us that if force is attempted to carry these measures against us, all America ought to support us. Maryland and the Lower Counties on Deleware, have already, to shew to all the world their approbation of the measures of New-England, and their determination to join in them, with a generosity, a wisdom and magnanimity, which ought to make the Tories consider, taken the power of the militia into the hands of the people, without the governor, or minister, and established it, by their own authority, for the defence of the Massachusetts, as well as of themselves.8 Other colonies are only waiting to see if the necessity of it will become more obvious. Virginia, and the Carolinas, are preparing for military defence, and have been for some time. When we consider the variety of climates, soils, religions, civil governments, commercial interests, &c. which were represented at the congress, and the various occupations, educations, and characters of the gentlemen who composed it, the harmony and unanimity which prevailed in it, can scarcely be parallelled in any assembly that ever met. 249When we consider, that at the revolution, such mighty questions, as whether the Throne was vacant or not, and whether the Prince of Orange should be king or not, were determined in the Convention Parliament by small majorities of two or three, and four or five only; the great majorities, the almost unanimity with which all great questions have been decided in your house of representatives, and other assemblies, and especially in the Continental Congress, cannot be considered in any other light than as the happiest omens indeed, as providential dispensations in our favour, as well as the clearest demonstrations of the cordial, firm, radical and indissoluble union of the colonies.

The grand aphorism of the policy of the whigs has been to unite the people of America, and divide those of Great-Britain. The reverse of this has been the maxim of the tories, viz. to unite the people of Great-Britain, and divide those of America. All the movements, marches and countermarches of both parties, on both sides of the Atlantic, may be reduced to one or the other of these rules. I have shewn, in opposition to Massachusettensis, that the people of America are united more perfectly than the most sanguine whig could ever have hoped, or than the most timid tory could have fear'd. Let us now examine whether the people of Great-Britain are equally united against us. For if the contending countries were equally united, the prospect of success in the quarrel would depend upon the comparative wisdom, firmness, strength and other advantages of each. And if such a comparison was made, it would not appear to a demonstration that Great Britain could so easily subdue and conquer. It is not so easy a thing for the most powerful state to conquer a country a thousand leagues off. How many year's time, how many millions of money, did it take, with five and thirty-thousand men, to conquer the poor province of Canada? And after all the battles and victories, it never would have submitted without a capitulation, which secured to them their religion and properties.

But we know that the people of Great-Britain are not united against us. We distinguish between the Ministry, the House of Commons, the Officers of the Army, Navy, Excise, Customs, &c. who are dependent on the Ministry, and tempted, if not obliged, to eccho their voices; and the body of the people. We are assured by thousands of letters from persons of good intelligence, by the general strain of publications in public papers, pamphlets, and magazines, and by some larger works written for posterity, that the body of the people are friends to America, and wish us success in our struggles against the 250claims of parliament and administration. We know that millions in England and Scotland, will think it unrighteous, impolitic and ruinous, to make war upon us, and a minister, tho' he may have a marble heart, will proceed with a diffident, desponding spirit. We know that London and Bristol, the two greatest commercial cities in the empire, have declared themselves in the most decisive manner, in favour of our cause. So explicitly that the former has bound her members under their hands to assist us, and the latter has chosen two known friends of America, one attached to us by principle, birth, and the most ardent affection, the other an able advocate for us on several great occasions.9 We know that many of the most virtuous and independent of the nobility and gentry are for us, and among them the best Bishop that adorns the bench, as great a Judge as the nation can boast, and the greatest statesman it ever saw.10 We know that the nation is loaded with debts and taxes by the folly and iniquity of its ministers, and that without the trade of America, it can neither long support its fleet and army, nor pay the interest of its debt.

But we are told that the nation is now united against us, that they hold, they have a right to tax us and legislate for us as firmly as we deny it. That we are a part of the British Empire, that every state must have an uncontroulable power co-extensive with the empire, that there is little probability of serving ourselves by ingenious distinctions between external and internal taxes. If we are not a part of the state, and subject to the supreme authority of parliament, Great-Britain will make us so; that if this opportunity of reclaiming the colonies is lost, they will be dismembered from the empire; and although they may continue their allegiance to the King, they will own none to the imperial crown.

To all this I answer, That the nation is not so united—that they do not so universally hold they have such a right, and my reasons I have given before. That the terms “British Empire” are not the language of the common law, but the language of news papers and political pamphlets. That the dominions of the king of Great-Britain has no uncontroulable power co-extensive with them. I would ask by what law the parliament has authority over America? By the law of GOD in the Old and New Testament, it has none. By the law of nature and nations, it has none. By the common law of England it has none. For the common law, and the authority of parliament founded on it, never extended beyond the four seas. By statute law it has none, for no statute was made before the settlement of the colonies for this purpose; and the declaratory act made in 1766, was made without 251our consent, by a parliament which had no authority beyond the four seas. What religious, moral or political obligation then are we under, to submit to parliament as a supreme legislative? None at all. When it is said, that if we are not subject to the supreme authority of parliament, Great-Britain will make us so, all other laws and obligations are given up, and recourse is had to the ratio ultima of Lewis the XIVth, and the suprema lex of the king of Sardinia, to the law of brickbats and cannon balls, which can be answer'd only by brickbats and balls.

This language “the imperial crown of Great-Britain”, is not the stile of the common law but of court sycophants. It was introduced in allusion to the Roman empire, and intended to insinuate, that the prerogative of the imperial crown of England, was like that of the Roman emperor, after the maxim was established, quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem, and so far from including the two houses of parliament in the idea of this imperial crown, it was intended to insinuate that the crown was absolute, and had no need of lords or commons to make or dispense with laws. Yet even these court sycophants when driven to an explanation, never dared to put any other sense upon the words imperial crown, than this, that the crown of England was independent of France, Spain, and all other kings and states in the world.

When he says that the king's dominions must have an uncontroulable power, co-extensive with them, I ask whether they have such a power or not? and utterly deny that they have by any law but that of Lewis the fourteenth, and the king of Sardinia. If they have not, and it is necessary that they should have, it then follows that there is a defect in what he calls the British empire—and how shall this defect be supplied? It cannot be supplied consistently with reason, justice, policy, morality, or humanity, without the consent of the colonies, and some new plan of connection. But if Great-Britain will set all these at defiance, and resort to the ratio ultima, all Europe will pronounce her a tyrant, and America never will submit to her, be the danger of disobedience as great as it will.

But there is no need of any other power than that of regulating trade, and this the colonies ever have been and will be ready and willing to concede to her. But she will never obtain from America any further concession while she exists.

We are then asked, “for what she protected and defended the colonies against the martime power of Europe from their first settlement to this day?” I answer for her own interest, because all the profits of our trade centered in her lap. But it ought to be remem-252bered, that her name, not her purse, nor her fleets and armies, ever protected us, untill the last war, and then the minister who conducted that war, informs us, that the annual millions from America enabled her to do it.

We are then asked for what she purchased New-York of the Dutch? I answer she never did. The Dutch never owned it, were never more than trespassers and intruders there, and were finally expelled by conquest. It was ceded it is true by the treaty of Breda, and it is said in some authors, that some other territory in India was ceded to the Dutch in lieu of it. But this was the transaction of the king, not of parliament, and therefore makes nothing to the argument. But admitting for argument sake, (since the cautious Massachusettensis will urge us into the discussion of such questions) what is not a supposeable case, that the nation should be so sunk in sloth, luxury and corruption, as to suffer their minister to persevere in his mad blunders and send fire and sword against us, how shall we defend ourselves? The colonies south of Pennsylvania have no men to spare we are told. But we know better—we know that all those colonies have a back country which is inhabited by an hardy, robust people, many of whom are emigrants from New-England, and habituated like multitudes of New-Englandmen, to carry their fuzees or rifles upon one shoulder to defend themselves against the Indians, while they carry'd their axes, scythes and hoes upon the other to till the ground. Did not those colonies furnish men the last war excepting Maryland. Did not Virginia furnish men, one regiment particularly equal to any regular regiment in the service. Does the soft Massachusettensis imagine that in the unnatural horrid war, he is now supposing their exertions would be less. If he does he is very ill informed of their principles, their present sentiments and temper. But “have you arms and ammunition?” I answer we have; but if we had not, we could make a sufficient quantity of both. What should hinder? We have many manufacturers of fire-arms now, whose arms are as good as any in the world. Powder has been made here, and may be again, and so may salt-petre. What should hinder? We have all the materials in great abundance, and the process is very simple. But if we neither had them nor could make them, we could import them. But “the British navy.” Ay there's the rub. But let us consider, since the prudent Massachusettensis will have these questions debated. How many ships are taken to blockade Boston harbour? How many ships can Britain spare to carry on this humane and political war, the object of which is a pepper corn? Let her send all the ships she has round her island. What if 253her illnatur'd neighbours, France and Spain should strike a blow in their absence? In order to judge what they could all do when they arrived here we should consider what they are all able to do round the island of Great-Britain. We know that the utmost vigilance and exertions of them added to all the terms of sanguinary laws, are not sufficient to prevent continual smuggling, into their own island. Are there not 50 bays, harbours, creeks and inlets upon the whole coast of North-America, where there is one round the island of Great-Britain. Is it to be supposed then, that the whole British navy could prevent the importation of arms and ammunition into America, if she should have occasion for them to defend herself against the hellish warfare, that is here supposed.

But what will you do for discipline and subordination? I answer we will have them in as great perfection as the regular troops. If the provincials were not brought in the last war to a proper discipline, what was the reason? Because regular generals would not let them fight, which they ardently wished, but employed them in cutting roads. If they had been allowed to fight they would have brought the war to a conclusion too soon. The provincials did submit to martial law, and to the mutiny and desertion act, the last war, and such an act may be made here by a legislature which they will obey with much more alacrity than an act of parliament.

The new fangled militia, as the specious Massachusettensis calls it, is such a militia as he never saw. They are commanded through the province, not by men who procured their commissions from a governor as a reward for making themselves pimps to his tools, and by discovering a hatred of the people but by gentlemen whose estates, abilities and benevolence have rendered them the delight of the soldiers, and there is an esteem and respect for them visible through the province, which has not been used in the militia. Nor is there that unsteadiness that is charged upon them. In some places, where companies have been split into two or three, it has only served by exciting an emulation between the companies to encrease the martial spirit and skill.

The plausible Massachusettensis may write as he will, but in a land war, this continent might defend itself against all the world. We have men enough, and those men have as good natural understandings and as much natural courage as any other men. If they were wholly ignorant now, they might learn the art of war. But at sea we are defenceless. A navy might burn our sea port towns. What then? If the insinuating Massachusettensis, has ever read any speculations 254concerning an Agrarian law, and I know he has, he will be satisfied that 350 thousand landholders, will not give up their rights and the constitution by which they hold them, to save fifty thousand inhabitants of maritime towns. Will the minister be nearer his mark after he has burnt a beautiful town and murdered 30,000 innocent people? So far from it, that one such event, would occasion the loss of all the colonies to Great Britain forever. It is not so clear that our trade, fishery and navigation, could be taken from us. Some persons, who understand this subject better than Massachusettensis, with all his sprightly imaginations, are of a different opinion. They think that our trade would be increased. But I will not enlarge upon this subject, because I wish the trade of this continent, may be confined to Great Britain, at least as much of it, as it can do her any good to restrain.

The Canadians and Savages are brought in to thicken the horrors of a picture with which the lively fancy of this writer has terrified him. But although we are sensible that the Quebec act has laid a foundation for a fabrick, which if not seasonably demolished, may be formidable, if not ruinous to the colonies, in future times, yet we know that these times are yet at a distance, at present we hold the power of the Canadians as nothing. But we know their dispositions are not unfriendly to us. The savages will be more likely to be our friends than enemies: but if they should not, we know well enough how to defend ourselves against them.

I ought to apologize for the immoderate length of this paper. But general assertions are only to be confuted by an examination of particulars, which necessarily fills up much space. I will trespass on the readers patience only while I make one observation more upon the art, I had almost said chicanery, of this writer.

He affirms that we are not united in this province, and that associations are forming in several parts of the province. The association he means has been laid before the public, and a very curious piece of ledgerdemain it is.11 Is there any article in it acknowledging the authority of parliament—the unlimitted authority of parliament? Brigadier Ruggles himself, Massachusettensis himself, could not have signed it if there had, consistent with their known declared opinions. They associate to stand by the king's laws, and this every whig will subscribe. But after all, what a wretched fortune has this association made in the world, the numbers who have signed it, would appear so inconsiderable, that I dare say the Brigadier will never publish to the world their numbers or names. But “has not Great-Britain been a 255nursing mother to us?” Yes, and we have behaved as nurse children commonly do, been very fond of her, and rewarded her all along tenfold for all her care and expence in our nurture.

But “is not all our distraction owing to parliament's taking off a shilling duty on tea and imposing three pence, and is not this a more unaccountable frenzy, more disgraceful to the annals of America, than the witchcraft.”!

Is the three pence upon tea our only grievance? Are we not in this province deprived of the priviledge of paying our governors, judges, &c. Are not trials by jury taken from us! Are we not to be sent to England for tryal! Is not a military government put over us? Is not our constitution demolished to the foundation? Have not the ministry shewn by the Quebec bill, that we have no security against them for our religion any more than our property, if we once submit to the unlimited claims of parliament! This is so gross an attempt to impose on the most ignorant of the people, that it is a shame to answer it.

Obsta principiis—Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers and destroyers press upon them so fast that there is no resisting afterwards. The nature of the encroachment upon the American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching. Like a cancer, it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependants and expectants, untill virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity, frugality, become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality, swallow up the whole society.


That is, 12 Dec. 1774.


Right or wrong.


John Mein was the printer of the Boston Chronicle; he fled from Boston in November 1769, having been in the town only about five years (John E. Alden, “John Mein: Scourge of Patriots,” Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. , 34 [1937–1942]:571–599).


An accurate paraphrase of [Prescott], A Letter from a Veteran, p. 3.


In his first letter Massachusettensis suggests that perhaps many have not realized because of the gradual development of events how far the colonies have gone toward treason. He adds that any good lawyer will point out that treason encompasses more than just threatening the King's life or fighting his troops. It is treasonable to obstruct the operation of the courts, treasonable to force those to flee who accept the King's commissions, treasonable to seize provincial revenue, to assemble in illegally called conventions, or to raise forces.


Robert Ogden of New Jersey, one 256of the delegates to the Stamp Act Congress, who, like Timothy Ruggles, refused to approve its proceedings because of its failure specifically to recognize Parliamentary authority (Morgan, Stamp Act , p. 109).


Terminal punctuation supplied here and removed after “act was passed.”


See JA to James Warren, 3 Jan. 1775, above.


Henry Cruger (1739–1827), a New York merchant then residing in England, and Edmund Burke, the famed conservative theorist and Rockingham Whig, who opposed Lord North's coercive colonial policy, were returned to Parliament from Bristol in Nov. 1774 in place of two supporters of the North ministry (P. T. Underdown, “Henry Cruger and Edmund Burke: Colleagues and Rivals at the Bristol Election of 1774,” WMQ , 3d ser., 15:14–34 [Jan. 1958]).


Jonathan Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph, who cast his vote against the Massachusetts Government Act; Charles Pratt, first Earl Camden (1714–1794), who as lord chancellor was admired for protecting John Wilkes' rights during his trial, and who actively opposed the Stamp Act and the Coercive Acts; William Pitt ( DNB ).


Doubtless a reference to the association which Timothy Ruggles was trying to form among loyalists in Boston to counteract the Continental Association. Members of Ruggles' group pledged “that we will not acknowledge or submit to the pretended authority of any Congress, Committees of Correspondence, or any other unconstitutional assemblies of men; but will at the risk of our lives, if need be, oppose the forcible exercise of all such authority” (Sabine, Loyalists , 2:244–245).

IV. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, 13 February 1775 JA Novanglus Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusettensis IV. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, 13 February 1775 Adams, John Novanglus Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusettensis
IV. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay
My Friends, 13 February 1775

Massachusettensis, whose pen can wheedle with the tongue of king Richard the third, in his first paper, threatens you with the vengeance of Great-Britain, and assures you that if she had no authority over you, yet she would support her claims by her fleets and armies, Canadians and Indians. In his next he alters his tone, and sooths you with the generosity, justice and humanity, of the nation.1

I shall leave him to shew how a nation can claim an authority which they have not by right, and support it by fire and sword, and yet be generous and just. The nation I believe is not vindictive, but the minister has discovered himself to be so, in a degree that would disgrace a warrior of a savage tribe.

The wily Massachusettensis thinks our present calamity is to be attributed to the bad policy of a popular party, whose measures, whatever their intentions were, have been opposite to their profession, the public good. The present calamity seems to be nothing more nor less, than reviving the plans of Mr. Bernard and the junto, and Mr. Grenville and his friends in 1764. Surely this party, are and have been rather unpopular. The popular party did not write Bernard's letters,2 who so long ago pressed for the demolition of all the charters upon the continent, and a parliamentary taxation to support government and 257the administration of justice in America. The popular party did not write Oliver's letters who inforces Bernard's plans, nor Hutchinson's, who pleads with all his eloquence and pathos for parliamentary penalties, ministerial vengeance, and an abridgement of English liberties.3

There is not in human nature a more wonderful phaenomenon; nor in the whole theory of it, a more intricate speculation; than the shiftings, turnings, windings and evasions of a guilty conscience. Such is our unalterable moral constitution, that an internal inclination to do wrong, is criminal: and a wicked thought, stains the mind with guilt, and makes it tingle with pain. Hence it comes to pass that the guilty mind, can never bear to think that its guilt is known to God or man, no, nor to itself.

—Cur tamen hos tu Evasisse putes, quos diri conscia facti Mens habet attonitos, et surdo verbere caedit Occultum quatiente animo tortore flagellum? Poena autum vehemens, ac multo saevior illis, Quas et Caedicius gravis invenit aut Rhadamanthus, Nocte dieque suum gestare in pectore testem, Juv. Sat. 13. 192.4

Massachusettensis and his friends the tories, are startled at the calamities they have brought upon their country, and their conscious guilt, their smarting, wounded minds, will not suffer them to confess, even to themselves what they have done. Their silly denials of their own share in it before a people who they know have abundant evidence against them, never fail to remind me of an ancient fugitive, whose conscience could not bear the recollection of what he had done. “I know not, am I my brothers keeper”? he replies, with all the apparent simplicity of truth and innocence, to one from whom he was very sensible his guilt could not be hid. The still more absurd and ridiculous attempts of the tories, to throw off the blame of these calamities from themselves to the whigs, remind me of another story which I have read in the old testament. When Joseph's brethren had sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, in order to 258conceal their own avarice, malice, and envy, they dip the coat of many colours in the blood of a Kid, and say that an evil beast had rent him in pieces and devoured him.

However, what the sons of Israel intended for ruin to Joseph, proved the salvation of the family; and I hope and believe that the whigs, will have the magnanimity, like him, to suppress their resentment, and the felicity of saving their ungrateful brothers.

This writer has a faculty of insinuating errors into the mind, almost imperceptibly, he dresses them so in the guise of truth. He says “that the revenue to the crown from America, amounted to but little more than the charges of collecting it,” at the close of the last war. I believe it did not amount to so much. The truth is, there was never any pretence of raising a revenue in America before that time, and when the claim was first set up, it gave no alarm, like a warlike expedition against us. True it is that some duties had been laid before by parliament, under pretence of regulating our trade, and by a collusion and combination between the West India planters and the North-American governors, some years before duties had been laid upon molasses, &c. under the same pretence, but in reality merely to advance the value of the estates of the planters in the West India islands, and to put some plunder, under the name of thirds of seisures into the pockets of the governors. But these duties tho' more had been collected in this province than in any other in proportion, were never regularly collected in any of the colonies. So that the idea of an American revenue for one purpose or another had never, at this time, been formed in American minds.

Our writer goes on, “She Great-Britain tho't it as reasonable that the colonies should bear a part of the national burthen, as that they should share in the national benefit.”

Upon this subject Americans have a great deal to say. The national debt before the last war was near an hundred millions. Surely America had no share in running into that debt. Where is the reason then that she should pay it? But a small part of the sixty millions spent in the last war, was for her benefit. Did not she bear her full share of the burden of the last war in America? Did not this province pay twelve shillings in the pound in taxes for the support of it: and send a sixth or seventh part of her sons into actual service?5 And at the conclusion of the war, was she not left half a million sterling in debt? Did not all the rest of New-England exert itself in proportion? What is the reason that the Massachusetts has paid its debt, and the British minister in thirteen years of peace has paid none of his? Much of it 259might have been paid in this time, had not such extravagance and peculation prevailed as ought to be an eternal warning to America, never to trust such a minister with her money. What is the reason that the great and necessary virtues of simplicity, frugality and oeconomy, cannot live in England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as America?

We have much more to say still. Great Britain has confined all our trade to herself. We are willing she should, as far as it can be for the good of the empire. But we say that we ought to be allowed as credit, in the account of public burdens and expences, so much paid in taxes, as we are obliged to sell our commodities to her cheaper than we could get for them at foreign markets. This difference is really a tax upon us, for the good of the empire. We are obliged to take from Great-Britain, commodities that we could purchase cheaper elsewhere. This difference is a tax upon us for the good of the empire. We submit to this chearfully, but insist that we ought to have credit for it, in the account of the expences of the empire, because it is really a tax upon us. Another thing. I will venture a bold assertion. Let Massachusettensis or any other friend of the minister, confute me. The three million Americans, by the tax aforesaid upon what they are obliged to export to Great-Britain only, what they are obliged to import from Great-Britain only, and the quantities of British manufactures which in these climates they are obliged to consume, more than the like number of people in any part of the three kingdoms, ultimately pay more of the taxes and duties that are apparently paid in Great-Britain, than any three million subjects in the three kingdoms. All this may be computed and reduced to stubborn figures, by the minister, if he pleases. We cannot do it. We have not the accounts, records, &c. Now let this account be fairly stated, and I will engage for America, upon any penalty, that she will pay the overplus, if any, in her own constitutional way, provided it is to be applied for national purposes, as paying off the national debt, maintaining the fleet, &c. not to the support of a standing army in time of peace, placemen, pensioners, &c.

Besides, every farthing of expence which has been incurred on pretence of protecting, defending and securing America since the last war, has been worse than thrown away, it has been applied to do mischief. Keeping an army in America has been nothing but a public nuisance.

Furthermore, we see that all the public money that is raised here, and have reason to believe all that will or can be raised, will be applied not for public purposes, national or provincial, but merely to 260corrupt the sons of America, and create a faction to destroy its interest and happiness.

There is scarcely three sentences together, in all the voluminous productions of this plausible writer which do not convey some error in fact or principle, tinged with a colouring to make it pass for truth. He says “the idea, that the stamps were a tax, not only exceeding our proportion, but beyond our utmost ability to pay, united the colonies generally in opposing it.” That we thought it beyond our proportion and ability is true, but it was not this thought which united the colonies in opposing it. When he says that at first we did not dream of denying the authority of parliament to tax us, much less to legislate for us, he discovers plainly either a total inattention to the sentiments of America at that time, or a disregard of what he affirms.

The truth is, the authority of parliament was never generally acknowledged in America. More than a century since, the Massachusetts and Virginia, both protested against even the act of navigation and refused obedience, for this very reason, because they were not represented in parliament and were therefore not bound—and afterwards confirmed it by their own provincial authority.6 And from that time to this, the general sense of the colonies has been, that the authority of parliament was confined to the regulation of trade, and did not extend to taxation or internal legislation.

In the year 1764, your house of representatives sent home a petition to the king, against the plan of taxing them. Mr. Hutchinson, Oliver and their relations and connections, were then in the legislature, and had great influence there. It was by their influence that the two houses were induced to waive the word rights, and an express denial of the right of parliament to tax us, to the great grief and distress of the friends of liberty in both houses. Mr. Otis and Mr. Thatcher laboured in the committee to obtain an express denial. Mr. Hutchinson expressly said he agreed with them in opinion, that parliament had no right, but tho't it ill policy to express this opinion in the petition.7 In truth, I will be bold to say, there was not any member of either house, who thought that parliament had such a right at that time. The house of representatives, at that time, gave their approbation to Mr. Otis's Rights of the Colonies, &c.8 in which it was shewn to be inconsistent with the Right of British Subjects to be taxed, but by our own Representatives. In 1765, our house expressly resolved against the right of parliament to tax us. The Congress at New-York, resolved 3. “That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no tax be imposed on 261them, but with their own consent given personally, or by their representatives, 4. That the people of the colonies are not, and from their local circumstances cannot be represented in the house of Commons of Great-Britain. 5. That the only representatives of the people of the colonies, are the persons chosen therein by themselves; and that no taxes ever have been, or can be constitutionally imposed on them, but by their respective legislatures.” Is it not a striking disregard to truth in the artful Massachusettensis to say, that at first we did not dream of denying the right of parliament to tax us? It was the principle that united the colonies to oppose it, not the quantum of the tax. Did not Dr. Franklin deny the right in 1754, in his remarks upon Governor Shirley's scheme, and suppose that all America would deny it? We had considered ourselves as connected with Great-Britain, but we never thought parliament the supreme legislature over us. We never generally supposed it to have any authority over us, but from necessity, and that necessity we thought confined to the regulation of trade, and to such matters as concern'd all the colonies together. We never allowed them any authority in our internal concerns.

This writer says, acts of parliament for regulating our internal polity were familiar. This I deny. So far otherwise that the hatter's act was never regarded—the act to destroy the Land Bank Scheme raised a greater ferment in this province, than the Stamp-Act did, which was appeased only by passing province laws directly in opposition to it. The act against slitting mills, and tilt-hammers, never was executed here. As to the postage, it was so useful a regulation, so few persons paid it, and they found such a benefit by it, that little opposition was made to it: yet every man who thought about it, call'd it an usurpation. Duties for regulating trade we paid, because we thought it just and necessary that they should regulate the trade which their power protected. As for duties for a revenue, none were ever laid by parliament for that purpose until 1764, when, and ever since, its authority to do it has been constantly denied. Nor is this complaisant writer near the truth, when he says, “We know that in all those acts of government, the good of the whole had been consulted.” On the contrary, we know that the private interest of provincial governors and West India planters, had been consulted in the duties on foreign molasses, &c. and the private interest of a few Portugal merchants, in obliging us to touch at Falmouth with Fruit, &c. in opposition to the good of the whole, and in many other instances.

The resolves of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, upon the stamp-act, did great honor to that province, and to the eminent patriot 262Patrick Henry, Esq. who composed them. But these resolves made no alteration in the opinion of the colonies, concerning the right of parliament to make that act. They expressed the universal opinion of the continent at that time, and the alacrity with which every other colony, and the Congress at New-York, adopted the same sentiment in similar resolves, proves the entire union of the colonies in it, and their universal determination to avow and support it.

What follows here, that it became so popular that his life was in danger, who suggested the contrary? And that the Press was open to one side only, are direct misrepresentations and wicked calumnies.

Then we are told, by this sincere writer, that when we obtained a partial repeal of the statute imposing duties on glass, paper and teas, this was the lucky moment, when to have closed the dispute. What? With a Board of Commissioners remaining, the sole end of whose creation was to form and conduct a revenue—with an act of parliament remaining, the professed design of which expressed in the preamble, was to raise a revenue, and appropriate it to the payment of governors and Judges salaries, the duty remaining too upon an article, which must raise a large sum, the consumption of which would constantly increase? Was this a time to retreat? Let me ask this sincere writer a simple question. Does he seriously believe that the designs of imposing other taxes, and of new-moddling our governments, would have been laid aside, by the ministry or by the servants of the crown here? Does he think that Mr. Bernard, Mr. Hutchinson, the Commissioners and others, would have been content then to have desisted: If he really thinks so, he knows little of the human heart, and still less of those gentlemens hearts. It was at this very time that the salary was given to the governor, and an order soliciting for that to the Judges.

Then we are entertained with a great deal of ingenious talk about Whigs and Tories, and at last are told that some of the Whigs owed all their importance to popularity. And what then? Did not as many of the Tories owe their importance to popularity? And did not many more owe all their importance to unpopularity? If it had not been for their taking an active part on the side of the ministry, would not some of the most conspicuous and eminent of them have been unimportant enough? Indeed through the two last administrations to despise and hate the people, and to be despised and hated by them, were the principal recommendations to the favours of government, and all the qualification that was required.

The Tories, says he, were for closing the controversy. That is, 263they were for contending no more, and it was equally true that they never were for contending at all, but lying at mercy. It was the very end they had aimed at from the beginning. They had now got the Governor's salary out of the revenue—a number of pensions and places, and they knew they could at any time get the judges salaries from the same fountain, and they wanted to get the people reconcil'd and familiarised to this, before they went upon any new projects.

The Whigs were averse to restoring government, they even refused to revive a temporary riot act, which expired about this time. Government had as much vigour then as ever, excepting only in those cases which affected this dispute: The riot act expired in 1770, immediately after the Massacre in King Street. It was not revived and never will be in this colony, nor will any one ever be made in any other, while a standing army is illegally posted here, to butcher the people, whenever a governor, or a magistrate, who may be a tool, shall order it. “Perhaps the Whigs tho't that mobs were a necessary ingredient in their system of opposition.” Whether they did or no, it is certain that mobs have been thought a necessary ingredient by the tories in their system of administration, mobs of the worst sort with red coats, fusees and bayonets, and the lives and limbs of the whigs have been in greater danger from these than ever the tories were from others.

“The scheme of the whigs flattered the people with the idea of independence; the tories plan supposed a degree of subordination.” This is artful enough as usual, not say Jesuitical. The word independence is one of those, which this writer uses as he does treason and rebellion to impose upon the undistinguishing on both sides of the Atlantic. But let us take him to pieces. What does he mean by independence! Does he mean independent of the crown of Great-Britain, and an independent republic in America, or a confederation of independent republics? No doubt he intended the undistinguishing should understand him so. If he did, nothing can be more wicked, or a greater slander on the whigs, because he knows there is not a man in the province among the whigs, nor ever was, who harbours a wish of that sort. Does he mean that the people were flattered with the idea of total independence on parliament? If he does, this is equally malicious and injurious, because he knows that the equity and necessity of parliament's regulating trade has always been acknowledged, our determination to consent and submit to such regulations constantly expressed, and all the acts of trade in fact to this very day, much more submitted to and strictly executed in this province, than any other in America.


There is equal ambiguity, in the words “degree of subordination.” The whigs acknowledge a subordination to the king, in as strict and strong a sense as the tories. The whigs acknowledge a voluntary subordination to parliament, as far as the regulation of trade. What degree of subordination then do the tories acknowledge? An absolute dependence upon parliament as their supreme legislative, in all cases whatsoever, in their internal polity as well as taxation? This would be too gross and would loose him all his readers, for there is no body here who will expose his understanding so much as explicitly to adopt such a sentiment. Yet it is such an absolute dependance and submission, that these writers would perswade us to, or else there is no need of changing our sentiments and conduct. Why will not these gentlemen speak out, shew us plainly their opinion that the new government they have fabricated for this province is better than the old, and that all the other measures we complain of are for our and the public good, and exhort us directly to submit to them? The reason is, because they know they should loose their readers.

“The whigs were sensible that there was no oppression that could be seen or felt.” The tories have so often said and wrote this to one another, that I sometimes suspect they believe it to be true. But it is quite otherwise. The castle of the province was taken out of their hands and garrisoned by regular soldiers; this they could see, and they thought it indicated an hostile intention and disposition towards them. They continually paid their money to collectors of duties, this they could both see and feel. An host of placemen, whose whole business it was to collect a revenue, were continually rolling before them in their chariots. These they saw. Their governor was no longer paid by themselves according to their charter, but out of the new revenue, in order to render their assemblies useless and indeed contemptible. The judges salaries were threatned every day to be paid in the same unconstitutional manner. The dullest eyesight could not but see to what all this tended, viz. to prepare the way for greater innovations and oppressions. They knew a minister would never spend his money in this way, if he had not some end to answer by it. Another thing they both saw and felt. Every man, of every character, who by voting, writing, speaking, or otherwise, had favoured the stamp act, the tea act, and every other measure of a minister or governor, who they knew was aiming at the destruction of their form of government, and introducing parliamentary taxation, was uniformly, in some department or other, promoted to some place of honour and profit for ten years together; and on the other hand, every man who favoured the people 265in their opposition to those innovations, was depressed, degraded and persecuted as far as it was in the power of the government to do it.

This they considered as a systematical means of encouraging every man of abilities to espouse the cause of parliamentary taxation, and the plan of destroying their charter privileges, and to discourage all from exerting themselves, in opposition to them. This they thought a plan to enslave them, for they uniformly think that the destruction of their charter, making the council and judges wholly dependent on the crown, and the people subject to the unlimited power of parliament as their supreme legislative, is slavery. They were certainly rightly told then that the ministry and their governors together had formed a design to enslave them, and that when once this was done, they had the highest reason to expect window taxes, hearth taxes, land taxes and all others. And that these were only paving the way for reducing the country to lordships.—Were the people mistaken in these suspicions? Is it not now certain that Governor Bernard in 1769 had formed a design of this sort? Read his principles of polity. And that Lt. Governor Oliver as late as 1768 or 9 inforced the same plan? Read his letters.

Now if Massachusettensis will be ingenuous, avow this design, shew the people its utility, and that it ought to be done by parliament, he will act the part of an honest man. But to insinuate that there was no such plan, when he knows there was, is acting the part of one of the junto.

It is true that the people of this country in general, and of this province in special, have an hereditary apprehension of and aversion to lordships temporal and spiritual. Their ancestors fled to this wilderness to avoid them—they suffer'd sufficiently under them in England. And there are few of the present generation who have not been warned of the danger of them by their fathers or grandfathers, and injoined to oppose them. And neither Bernard nor Oliver ever dared to avow before them, the designs which they had certainly formed to introduce them. Nor does Massachusettensis dare to avow his opinion in their favour. I don't mean that such avowal would expose their persons to danger, but their characters and writings to universal contempt.

When you were told that the people of England were depraved, the parliament venal, and the ministry corrupt, were you not told most melancholly truths? Will Massachusettensis deny any of them? Does not every man who comes from England, whig or tory, tell you the same thing? Do they make any secret of it, or use any delicacy 266about it? Do they not most of them avow that corruption is so established there, as to be incurable, and a necessary instrument of government? Is not the British constitution arrived nearly to that point, where the Roman republic was when Jugurtha left it, and pronounc'd it a venal city ripe for destruction, if it can only find a purchaser? If Massachusettensis can prove that it is not, he will remove from my mind, one of the heaviest loads which lies upon it.

Who has censured the tories for remissness, I know not. Whoever it was, he did them great injustice. Every one that I know of that character, has been thro' the whole tempestuous period, as indefatigable as human nature will admit, going about seeking whom he might devour, making use of art, flattery, terror, temptation and alurement, in every shape in which human wit could dress it up, in public and private. But all to no purpose. The people have grown more and more weary of them every day, untill now the land mourns under them.

Massachusettensis is then seized with a violent fit of anger at the clergy. It is curious to observe the conduct of the Tories towards this sacred body. If a clergyman preaches against the principles of the revolution, and tells the people that upon pain of damnation they must submit to an established government of whatever character, the Tories cry him up as an excellent man, and a wonderful preacher, invite him to their tables, procure him missions from the society, and chaplainships to the navy, and flatter him with the hopes of lawn sleeves. But if a clergyman preaches Christianity, and tells the magistrates that they were not distinguished from their brethren for their private emolument, but for the good of the people, that the people are bound in conscience to obey a good government, but are not bound to submit to one that aims at destroying all the ends of government— Oh Sedition! Treason!

The clergy in all ages and countries, and in this in particular, are disposed enough to be on the side of government, as long as it is tolerable: If they have not been generally in the late administrations on that side, it is demonstration that the late administration has been universally odious.

The clergy of this province are a virtuous, sensible and learned set of men, and they don't take their sermons from newspapers but the bible, unless it be a few who preach passive obedience. These are not generally curious enough to read Hobbs.

It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate their discourses to the 267times, to preach against such sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues as are most wanted. For example, if exorbitant ambition, and venality are predominant, ought they not to warn their hearers against these vices? If public spirit is much wanted, should they not inculcate this great virtue? If the rights and duties of christian magistrates and subjects are disputed, should they not explain them, shew their nature, ends, limitations and restrictions, how much soever it may move the gall of Massachusettensis?

Let me put a supposition. Justice is a great christian as well as moral duty and virtue, which the clergy ought to inculcate and explain. Suppose a great man of a parish should for seven years together receive 600 sterling a year, for discharging the duties of an important office; but during the whole time, should never do one act or take one step about it. Would not this be great injustice to the public? And ought not the parson of that parish to cry aloud and spare not, and shew such a bold transgressor his sin? Shew that justice was due to the public as well as to an individual, and that cheating the public of four thousand two hundred pounds sterling, is at least as great a sin as taking a chicken from a private hen roost, or perhaps a watch from a fob!

Then we are told that news-papers and preachers have excited outrages disgraceful to humanity. Upon this subject I will venture to say, that there have been outrages in this province which I neither justify, excuse or extenuate; but these were not excited, that I know of, by news-papers or sermons. That however, if we run through the last ten years, and consider all the tumults and outrages that have happened, and at the same time recollect the insults, provocations, and oppressions which this people have endured; we shall find the two characteristicks of this people, religion and humanity, strongly marked on all their proceedings, not a life, nor that I have ever heard, a single limb has been lost thro' the whole. I will take upon me to say, there is not another province on this continent, nor in his majesty's dominions, where the people, under the same indignities, would not have gone greater lengths. Consider the tumults in the three kingdoms, consider the tumults in ancient Rome, in the most virtuous of her periods, and compare them with ours. It is a saying of Machiavel, which no wise man ever contradicted, which has been literally verified in this province that “while the mass of the people is not corrupted, tumults do no hurt.” By which he means, that they leave no lasting ill effects behind.


But let us consider the outrages committed by the Tories. Half a dozen men shot dead in an instant, in king street, frequent resistance and affronts to civil officers and magistrates, officers, watchmen, citizens, cut and mangled in a most inhuman manner. Not to mention the shootings for desertion, and the frequent cruel whippings for other faults, cutting and mangling men's bodies before the eyes of citizens, spectacles which ought never to be introduced into populous places. The worst sort of tumults and outrages ever committed in this province, were excited by the tories. But more of this hereafter.

We are then told that the whigs erected a provincial democracy, or republic, in the province. I wish Massachusettensis knew what a democracy, or republic is. But this subject must be considered another time.


Messieurs Printers. Instead of Cawings of Cormorants, in a former paper, you have printed cooings, too dove-like a word for the birds intended.9


Leonard's second letter appeared 19 Dec. 1774. JA probably refers to such statements as the following: “the colonies were as much benefitted by the conquests in the late war, as any part of the empire, and indeed more so. . . . The greatest opening was given to agriculture, the natural livelihood of the country, that was ever known in the history of the world, and their trade was protected by the British navy. . . . We knew that in all those acts of government creation of a post office and passage of regulatory and revenue-raising acts, the good of the whole had been consulted, and whenever through want of information any thing grievious had been ordained, we were sure of obtaining redress by a proper representation of it” (Novanglus and Massachusettensis, p. 147).


See No. II, note 7, above.


Copy of Letters Sent to Great-Britain, by His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, the Hon. Andrew Oliver, and Several Other Persons, BORN AND EDUCATED AMONG US . . . , Boston, 1773 (Evans, No. 12818; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:80, note 1).


Why should you think that those have escaped punishment whom a mind conscious of the dreadful deed holds awestruck and cuts them to pieces with a noiseless whip; their soul as torturer shakes the hidden lash? Moreover, that is a harsh and far more cruel punishment than those which both severe Caedicius and Rhadamanthus invent, to carry about in one's heart both night and day one's own witness (Juvenal, Satura, 13:192–198).


JA ignores the reimbursement that Parliament made to the colonies for war expenditures (Gipson, Empire before the Revolution , 7:317–318).


Very likely JA made use of Hutchinson's history for his assertion. See Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 1:272. What contemporary source he used for Virginia has not been determined, but see Thomas J. Wertenbaker, Virginia under the Stuarts, 1607–1688, Princeton, 1914, p. 125–126.


See Bailyn, Thomas Hutchinson , p. 64–65.


James Otis, The Rights of the Colonies Asserted and Proved . . . , Boston, 1764.


In the second Novanglus letter JA said that Grenville “chose to get the revenue into the exchequer, because he had hungry cormorants enough about him in England whose cooings were more troublesome to his ears, than the croaking of the ravens in America.” After reading this letter, Samuel Swift told JA that the word “cooings” was inappropriate; see Swift to JA, 30 Jan. 1775, below. Apparently Swift's letter provoked JA's note to the printer.