Papers of John Adams, volume 2

XII. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, 17 April 1775 JA Novanglus Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusettensis XII. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, 17 April 1775 Adams, John Novanglus Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusettensis
XII. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay
My Friends, 17 April 1775

We now come to Jersey and Guernsey, which Massachusettensis says “are no part of the realm of England, nor are they represented in parliament, but are subject to its authority.” A little knowledge of this subject will do us no harm, and as soon as we shall acquire it, we shall be satisfied, how these islands came to be subject to the authority of parliament. It is either upon the principle that the king is absolute there, and has a right to make laws for them by his mere will, and therefore may express his will by an act of parliament or an edict at his pleasure, or it is an usurpation. If it is an usurpation, it ought not to be a precedent for the colonies, but it ought to be reformed, and they ought to be incorporated into the realm, by act of parliament, and their own act. Their situation is no objection to this. Ours is an insurmountable obstacle.

Thus we see that in every instance which can be found, the observation proves to be true, that by the common law, the laws of England, and the authority of parliament and the limits of the realm, were confined within seas. That the kings of England had frequently foreign dominions, some by conquest, some by marriage, and some by descent. But in all those cases the kings were either absolute in those dominions, or bound to govern them according to their own respective laws, and by their own legislative and executive councils. That the laws of England did not extend there, and the English parliament pretended no jurisdiction there, nor claimed any right to controul the king in his government of those dominions. And from this extensive survey of all the foregoing cases, there results a confirmation of what has been so often said, that there is no provision in the common law, in English precedents, in the English government or constitution, made for the case of the colonies. It is not a conquered, but a discovered country. It came not to the king by descent, but was explored by the settlers. It came not by marriage to the king, but was purchased by the settlers, of the savages. It was not granted by the king of his grace, but was dearly, very dearly earned by the planters, in the labour, blood, and treasure which they expended to sub-374due it to cultivation. It stands upon no grounds then of law or policy, but what are found in the law of nature, and their express contracts in their charters, and their implied contracts in the commissions to governors and terms of settlement.

The cases of Chester, and Durham, counties palatine within the realm, shall conclude this fatigueing ramble. Chester was an earldom and a county, and in 21 year of king R. 2. A. D. 1397, it was by an act of parliament, erected into a principality, and several castles and towns, were annexed to it, saving to the king the rights of his crown. This was a county palatine, and had jura regalia, before this erection of it, into a principality. But the statute which made it a principality, was again repealed, by 1. H. 4. c. 3. and in 1399, by the 1. H. 4. c. 18. Grievous complaints were made to the king in parliament, of murders, manslaughters, robberies, batteries, riots, &c. done by people of the county of Chester, in divers counties of England. For remedy of which it is enacted, that if any person of the county of Chester, commit any murder or felony in any place out of that county, process shall be made against him by the common law, 'till the exigent,1 in the county where such murder or felony was done: and if he flee into the county of Chester, and be outlawed, and put in exigent for such murder or felony, the same outlawry or exigent, shall be certified to the officers and ministers of the same county of Chester, and the felon shall be taken, his lands and goods within that county shall be seized as forfeit into the hands of the prince, or of him that shall be lord of the same county of Chester, and the king shall have the year and day and waste; and the other lands and goods of such felons, out of said county, shall remain wholly to the king, &c. as forfeit. And a similar provision in case of battery or trespass, &c.

Considering the great seal of England, and the process of the kings contracts did not run into Chester, it was natural that malefactors should take refuge there and escape punishment, and therefore a statute like this, was of indispensible necessity, and afterwards in 1535, another statute was made, 27. H. c. 5. for the making of justices of peace within Chester, &c. Recites the king, considering the manifold robberies, murthers, thefts, trespasses, riots, routs, embraceries, maintenances, oppressions, ruptures of his peace &c. which have been daily done within his county palatine of Chester &c. by reason that common justice hath not been indifferently ministred there, like and in form as it is in other places of this his realm, by reason whereof the said criminals have remained unpunished; for redress whereof, and to the intent that one order of law should be had, the king is 375impowered to constitute justices of peace, quorum, and goal delivery, in Chester, &c.

By the 32. H. 8. c. 43. another act was made concerning the county palatine of Chester, for shire days.

These three acts soon excited discontent in Chester. They had enjoyed an exemption from the king's English courts, legislative and executive, and they had no representatives in the English parliament, and therefore they thought it a violation of their rights, to be subjected even to those three statutes, as reasonable and absolutely necessary as they appear to have been: and accordingly we find in 1542.–34. and 35. H. 8. c. 13. a zealous petition to be represented in parliament, and an act was made for making of knights and burgesses within the county and city of Chester. It recites a part of the petition to the king, from the inhabitants of Chester, shewing, “that the county palatine, had been excluded from parliament, to have any knights and burgesses there; by reason whereof, the said inhabitants have hitherto sustained manifold disherisons, losses and damages, in lands, goods and bodies, as well as in the good civil and politick governance and maintenance of the common wealth, of their said country: and forasmuch as the said inhabitants have always hitherto been bound by the acts and statutes, made by your highness and progenitors in said court, (meaning when expressly named, not otherwise,) as far forth as other counties, cities and boroughs, which have had knights and burgesses, and yet have had neither knight nor burgess there, for the said county palatine; the said inhabitants for lack thereof, have been oftentimes touched and grieved with acts and statutes, made within the said court, as well derogatory unto the most ancient jurisdictions, liberties, and privileges of your said county palatine, as prejudicial unto the common weal, quietness, rest and peace of your subjects, &c.” For remedy whereof, two knights of the shire and two burgesses for the city are established.

I have before recited all the acts of parliament, which were ever made to meddle with Chester, except the 51. H. 3. st. 5. in 1266, which only provides that the justices of Chester, and other bailiffs, shall be answerable in the exchequer, for wards, estcheats, and other bailiwicks; yet Chester was never severed from the crown or realm of England, nor ever expressly exempted from the authority of parliament: yet as they had generally enjoyed an exemption from the exercise of the authority of parliament, we see how soon they complain of it as grievous, and claim a representation, as a right; and we see how readily it was granted.—America, on the contrary, is not in the realm, 376never was subject to the authority of parliament, by any principle of law, is so far from Great-Britain, that she never can be represented; yet she is to be bound in all cases whatsoever.

The first statute, which appears in which Durham is named, is 27. H. 8. c. 24. §21. Cuthbert bishop of Durham, and his successors, and their temporal chancellor of the county palatine of Durham, are made justices of the peace. The next is 31 Eliz. c. 9. recites, that Durham is, and of long time hath been an ancient county palatine, in which the Queen's writ, hath not, and yet doth not run; enacts that a writ of proclamation upon an exigent, against any person dwelling in the bishoprick, shall run there for the future. And §5. confirms all the other liberties of the bishop and his officers.

And after this, we find no other mention of that bishoprick in any statute until 25 Char. 2. c. 9. This statute recites, “whereas the inhabitants of the county palatine of Durham, have not hitherto had the liberty and priviledge of electing and sending any knights and burgesses to the high court of parliament, altho' the inhabitants of the said county palatine are liable to all payments, rates, and subsidies, granted by parliament, equally with the inhabitants of other counties, cities, and burroughs, in this kingdom, who have their knights and burgesses in the parliament, and are therefore concerned equally with others, the inhabitants of this kingdom, to have knights and burgesses in the said high court of parliament of their own election, to represent the condition of their county, as the inhabitants of other counties, cities, and burroughs of this kingdom have.” Enacts two knights for the county, and two burgesses for the city. Here it should be observed, that altho' they acknowledge that they had been liable to all rates, &c. granted by parliament, yet none had actually been laid upon them before this statute.

Massachusettensis then comes to the first charter of this province, and he tells us, that in it “we shall find irresistable evidence, that our being a part of the empire subject to the supreme authority of the state, bound by its laws, and subject to its protection, was the very terms and conditions by which our ancestors held their lands and settled the province.” This is roundly and warmly said: but there is more zeal in it than knowledge. As to our being part of the empire, it could not be the British empire, as it is called, because that was not then in being, but was created seventy or eighty years afterwards. It must be the English empire then, but the nation was not then polite enough to have introduced into the language of the law, or common parlance any such phrase or idea. Rome never introduced the terms 377Roman empire until the tragedy of her freedom was compleated. Before that, it was only the republic, or the city. In the same manner the realm or the kingdom, or the dominions of the king, were the fashionable style in the age of the first charter. As to being subject to the supreme authority of the state, the prince who granted that charter thought it resided in himself, without any such troublesome tumults as lords and commons; and before the granting that charter, had dissolved his parliament, and determined never to call another, but to govern without. It is not very likely then, that he intended our ancestors should be governed by parliament, or bound by its laws. As to being subject to its protection, we may guess what ideas king and parliament had of that, by the protection they actually afforded to our ancestors. Not one farthing was ever voted or given by the king or his parliament, or any one resolution taken about them. As to holding their lands, surely they did not hold their lands of lords and commons. If they agreed to hold their lands of the king, this did not subject them to English lords and commons, any more than the inhabitants of Scotland holding their lands of the same king, subjected them. But there is not a word about the empire, the supreme authority of the state, being bound by its laws, or obliged for its protection in that whole charter. But “our charter is in the royal style.” What then? Is that the parliamentary style? The style is, this “Charles, by the grace of God, king of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c.” Now in which capacity did he grant that charter? As king of France, or Ireland, or Scotland, or England? He govern'd England by one parliament, Scotland by another. Which parliament, were we to be governed by? And Ireland by a third, and it might as well be reasoned that America was to be governed by the Irish parliament as by the English. But it was granted “under the great seal of England”—true. But this seal runneth not out of the realm, except to mandatory writs, and when our charter was given, it was never intended to go out of the realm. The charter and the corporation were intended to abide and remain within the realm, and be like other corporations there. But this affair of the seal is a mere piece of imposition.

In Moore's reports in the case of the union of the realm of Scotland with England, it is resolved by the judges that “the seal is alterable by the king at his pleasure, and he might make one seal for both kingdoms (of England and Scotland,) for seals, coin, and leagues are of absolute prerogative to the king, without parliament, nor restrained to any assent of the people”, and in determining how far the great 378seal doth command out of England, they made this distinction. “That the great seal was currant for remedials, which groweth on complaint of the subject, and thereupon writs are addressed under the great seal of England, which writs are limited, their precinct to be within the places of the jurisdiction of the court, that was to give the redress of the wrong. And therefore writs are not to go into Ireland, or the isles, nor Wales, nor the counties palatine, because the king's courts here have not power to hold pleas of lands or things there. But the great seal hath a power preceptory to the person, which power extendeth to any place where the person may be found, &c.”2 This authority plainly shews that the great seal of England, has no more authority out of the realm, except to mandatory or preceptory writs,3 (and surely the first charter was no preceptory writ) than the privy seal, or the great seal of Scotland, or no seal at all. In truth, the seal and charter were intended to remain within the realm, and be of force to a corporation there; but the moment it was transferred to New England, it lost all its legal force, by the common law of England; and as this translation of it was acquiesced in by all parties, it might well be considered as good evidence of a contract between the parties, and in no other light, but not a whit the better or stronger for being under the great seal of England. But “the grants are made by the king for his heirs and successors.” What then? So the Scots held their lands of him who was then king of England, his heirs and successors, and were bound to allegiance to him, his heirs and successors, but it did not follow from thence that the Scots were subject to the English parliament. So the inhabitants of Aquitain, for ten descents, held their lands, and were tied by allegiance to him who was king of England, his heirs and successors, but were under no subjection to English lords and commons.

Heirs and successors of the king, are supposed to be the same persons, and are used as synonimous words in the English law. There is no positive, artifical provision made by our laws or the British constitution for revolutions. All our positive laws suppose that the royal office will descend to the eldest branch of the male line, or in default of that to the eldest female, &c. forever, and that the succession will not be broken. It is true that nature, necessity and the great principles of self-preservation, have often over-ruled the succession. But this was done without any positive instruction of law. Therefore the grants being by the king for his heirs and successors, and the tenures being of the king his heirs and successors, and the preservation being to the king his heirs and successors, are so far from proving 379that we were to be part of an empire as one state subject to the supreme authority of the English or British state, and subject to its protection, that they don't so much as prove that we are annexed to the English crown. And all the subtilty of the writers on the side of the ministry, has never yet proved that America is so much as annexed to the crown, much less to the realm. “It is apparent the king acted in his royal capacity as king of England.” This I deny. The laws of England gave him no authority to grant any territory out of the realm. Besides, there is no colour for his thinking that he acted in that capacity, but his using the great seal of England: but if the king is absolute in the affair of the seal, and may make or use any seal that he pleases, his using that seal which had been commonly used in England, is no certain proof that he acted as king of England; for it is plain, he might have used the English seal in the government of Scotland, and in that case it will not be pretended that he would have acted in his royal capacity as king of England. But his acting as king of England “necessarily supposes the territory granted to be a part of the English dominions, and holden of the crown of England.” Here is the word “dominions,” systematically introduced instead of the word “realm.” There was no English dominions but the realm. And I say that America was not any part of the English realm or dominions. And therefore, when the king granted it, he could not act as king of England by the laws of England. As to the “territory being holden of the crown,” there is no such thing in nature or art. Lands are holden according to the original notion of feuds of the natural person of the lord. Holding lands, in feudal language, means no more than the relation between lord and tenant. The reciprocal duties of these are all personal. Homage, fealty, &c. and all other services, are personal to the lord; protection, &c. is personal to the tenant. And therefore no homage, fealty, or other services, can ever be rendered to the body politick, the political capacity, which is not corporated, but only a frame in the mind, an idea. No lands here or in England are held of the crown, meaning by it, the political capacity—they are all held of the royal person, the natural person of the king. Holding lands, &c. of the crown, is an impropriety of expression, but it is often used, and when it is, it can have no other sensible meaning than this—that we hold lands of that person, whoever he is, who wears the crown—the law supposes he will be a right, natural heir of the present king forever.

Massachusettensis then produces a quotation from the first charter, to prove several points. It is needless to repeat the whole, but the 380parts chiefly relied on, are italicised. It makes the company “a body politick in fact and name, &c. and enables it to sue and be sued.” Then the writer asks, “whether this looks like a distinct state or independent empire?” I answer no. And that it is plain and uncontroverted, that the first charter was intended only to erect a corporation within the realm, and the governor and company were to reside within the realm, and their general courts were to be held there. Their agents, deputies and servants only were to come to America. And if this had taken place, nobody ever doubted but they would have been subject to parliament. But this intention was not regarded on either side, and the company came over to America, and brought their charter with them. And as soon as they arrived here, they got out of the English realm, dominions, state, empire, call it by what name you will, and out of the legal jurisdiction of parliament. The king might by his writ or proclamation have commanded them to return, but he did not.


A writ commanding the recipient to appear in court on pain of being outlawed for nonappearance ( OED ).


Moore, Cases Collect & Report, p. 804.


Writs commanding an action within the powers of the person served.

XIII. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, April 1775 JA Novanglus Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusettensis XIII. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, April 1775 Adams, John Novanglus Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony Massachusettensis
XIII. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay
My Friends, April 1775

Another Clause in the Charter, quoted by this Writer, contains the Power “to make Laws and ordinancies, for the good and Welfare of the said Company, and for the Government and ordering of the Said Lands and Plantations and the People inhabiting the Same; So as such Laws and Ordinances be not contrary or repugnant to the Laws and Statutes of this our Realm of England.”

This is the usual Clause inserted in the Charters of all Corporations in England, and it is intended to restrain those Bodies politick within the limits of the Constitution and the Laws. It expressed no more however, than the Law would imply. For the King could not erect a Corporation within the Realm and give it Power to Superceed or overrule the general Laws of the Kingdom. A Similar Clause is inserted in the Laws of this Province which impower Towns to make By Laws “so as they be not repugnant to the Laws of the 381Province.” I suppose this Clause was inserted in that Charter to restrain the Corporation from Setting up any Form of Government different from the English Constitution in general, and perhaps was intended to subject them to the Common Law [and to Such Statutes as were then in force. But if We allow it the utmost Latitude of Construction, and Suppose that it meant to confine them to Obedience to Common Law,]1 and all statutes which were then in Force, and to all others which Should thereafter be made, this is no more than they would have been bound to, if no such Clause had been in the Charter, so long as they and their Charter remained in England, which both Grantor and Grantees then intended. But the Moment the Charter and the Company were removed to New England beyond the four Seas, out of the Realm, out of the Extent and local Limit of the Laws of England, that moment they were discharged from all obligation of obedience to the Laws of England. The Charter lost all Force, which it ever had by the Laws of England, as a legal Instrument, and became only Evidence of a Contract. The whole Plan and Design of all Parties was essentially changed. If a Charter granted in England, to be exercised there, can be forfeited by the Laws of England, the Translation of that Charter and Company to America, and setting up a Government here under it, was a forfeiture of it. What the Consequences of this forfeiture were, is another Question. The King might have commanded the Adventurers to return, and upon their Refusal might have Seized their Estates in England, if they had any: that is all. But he did not. But it did not bring our Ancestores, who were allowed to remain here, under the Authority of Parliament nor under the absolute Power of the King. Nay, what is more, this Charter was deemed forfeited and void for these very Reasons in the King's bench, Trinity. 11. Car. 1. Yet our Ancestors continued to enjoy their Priviledges and carry on Government, according to that Charter, from that Time, untill the Reign of James the second, nay untill the Revolution. In a Collection of original Papers relative to the History of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, page 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, you will find the Evidence of all this. “A Quo Warranto brought against the Company of the Massachusetts Bay by Sir John Banks, Attorney General.” This Quo Warranto goes upon the Principle upon which I have all along proceeded, vizt, that the common Law had made no Provision for erecting Governments or Colonies out of the Realm and therefore, any Royal Charter, out of the Realm was void. The Quo Warranto begins “That Sir Henry Roswell and all the Massachusetts 382Company &c used &c in several Parts beyond the Seas out of this Kingdom of England, without any Warrant or royal Grant (meaning that quoad hoc the Royal Grant was void) the Liberties, Priviledges, and Franchises following &c. 1. To be a Body Politick &c. 8. To appoint councell Houses in England, and beyond seas and there, when they please, to hold a Court of such of the said Company as they please; and in such Courts to make such Laws and Statutes concerning the Lands, Goods, and Chattells of that Company and other Persons beyond seas against the Laws and Customs of England &c.”

9. To transport out of England beyond the seas his Majestys subjects and others and them, at their Wills, to governe on the seas and on Parts beyond the seas.

14. To examine on Oath any Person in any Cause [touching Life and Member and to proceed to tryal, Sentence, Judgment and Execution]2 touching Life and Member, Lands, Tenements, Goods and Chattels, against the Laws and Customs of England,” “All which Franchises Liberties &c the said Sir Henry Roswell and others of the said Company have for all that Time, and still do usurp &c.”

This Quo Warranto, manifestly, is grounded on the Principle, that the Laws of England did not extend beyond Seas, and therefore that the Charter, when translated beyond Seas, was void.

In Michaelmas. Term. 11. Car. 1. Eaton, and in Hillary. 11. Car. 1. Roswell, and in Pass Paschal 13. Car. 1. Young, and in Hill. 12. Car. 1. Saltonstall, and Mich. Car. 1. Venn, came in and pleaded, that they never usurped any the Said Liberties &c nor doth use or claim any of the Same, but wholly disclaim them. Where-upon the Court gave Judgment, That they shall not for the future intermeddle with any Liberties &c aforesaid but shall forever be excluded from all use and claim of the same &c. Cradock made default, and was convicted of the usurpation,3 but had Judgment against him. Harwood, Perry, Wright, Vassall, Goffe, Adams, Browne and Foxcroft, pleaded and had Judgment as Eaton. The rest of the Patentees being in New England stood outlawed and no Judgment was entered up against them. In Consequence of these Proceedings, an order of the Privy Council was Sent 4. April 1638 to Mr. Winthrop in his Majestys Name, “requiring and injoining the Said Winthrop or any other in whose Power the said Letters Patent were, that they fail not to transmit The Said Patent hither, by the Return of the Ship, it being resolved in Case of any further Neglect, &c their Lordships will move his Majesty to reassume into his Hands the 383whole Plantation.”4 The Intent of this order, was that the Patent should be sent over, that the Government of the Colony might be under a Corporation in England according to the original and true Intent of the Patent.

But did Mr. Winthrop, or any other of the Adventurers return the Patent! No. Young as the Plantation was they had the Courage and the Wisdom to keep their Patent, in their own Power. But as this Translation of the Patent to New England, instead of using it within the Realm as was at first intended is of great Importance, in this controversy, We must be a little more particular.

The Charter as I have said Shews upon the Face of it, that it was intended to erect a Corporation within the Realm. The first Governor, Deputy Governor and Assistants were chosen in England, 13. May 1628. Cradock was chosen Governor and Goffe Deputy Governor in England, and as soon as the Election was over they with the Assistants appointed Mr. Endicot their Governor in the Plantation. This shews that they had one Governor in England, who was the Head of the Corporation, and another in America, who was only principal Agent or Manager for the Company. And in this manner the Affairs of the Company were conducted untill July 1629, when the Company in England projected a much larger Embarkation of Adventurers and a Translation of the Patent itself to New England. A Committee was appointed to consider of it, and advise with Council. The Company had been at great Expence, without any Returns or rational Prospect of Profit. Johnson, Winthrop, Dudley, and others, not the rascally Rabble of Romulus but Gentlemen of Family, Fortune, Education, and Figure, offered to go over with their Families, upon Condition that the Patent and Charter Should go with them. The Objection against it, was a doubt whether the Transfer was legal. The Report of the Committee is not on Record, but a Mr. White a Counsellor at Law was of the Company and his opinion was taken, and the Company concurred with it “that the Government and Patent Should be Settled in New England.” It is much to be wished that this important opinion of Mr. White was preserved. It might discover “Arcana.” It was certainly a wise and judicious opinion, in Point of Prudence and Policy, and has been vastly Successfull, for the Plantation probably had dwindled away, but for that Advice. However Governor Winthrop himself, who knew very well the Laws of England were confined within Seas, must have [been Sensible that there could be no Provision in that Law, for the Translation of the Company beyond Seas—and indeed they 384Seem to have]5 been all Sensible of this and to have considered the Charter only as a Licence to their People to go abroad. On the 20. of October, at a General Court in England, Mr. Winthrop was chosen Governor, and the Deputy Governor and Assistants chosen were all such as proposed to go over with the Charter. They went over accordingly, and the Existence of the English Power in America is entirely owing to this manifest departure from the first Intent of the Charter, for at this critical Time Richlieu and De Monts were upon the Point of making Settlements here which would have excluded the English forever.

Massachusettensis says that this clause in the Charter—“So as such laws be not contrary or repugnant to the laws and statutes of this our realm of England” is as evident a recognition of the authority of Parliament over this Province as if the words “Acts of Parliament” had been inserted 6

But there is no 7 such Clause in the first Charter or the second, and if there had been in the first Charter,8 it would have now been void. For by an express Clause in the first Charter, every Part of it was to be expounded most favourably for the Grantees, and therefore if there had been two contradictory Clauses in it, that must have done which was most in favour of the Grantees. Now they think that any Clause, obliging them to Obedience to Parliament, would have been directly repugnant to the Clause now under Consideration which gives them the Liberties and Immunities of natural born subjects.

Soon after, We are Struck with a Smart Remark indeed “if We are not annexed to the Realm we are Aliens.” It is not a little Surprizing, that this Writer should let Such Blunders escape him. If he had ever read one Page in a Book concerning the Connection of Scotland, Ireland, Jersey, Guernesy, Gascoin &c with England, he must have seen the Contrary. He might have forgot it, or this observation might escape him inadvertently. It is too uncandid to suppose, that he thought he should never be answered, and that it would pass well enough with the Ignorant, and serve to deceive them.

But unfortunately, all History and Law are against it. Lord Coke observed what a Concurrence of Judgments, Resolutions, and Rules there be in our Books in all Ages concerning this Case, as if they had been prepared for the deciding this Point; and that which never fell out in any doubtfull Case, no one opinion in all our Books is against this Judgement, in Calvins Case, who was not of the Realm, but yet was no Alien because born within the Allegiance of the King.9


The opposition he says has been executed chiefly by persons of desperate fortunes. 10

But this round Affirmation is a downright Contempt of Truth. The Denial and opposition has been planned and conducted by Men of the first Fortune in North America. Nay by the first Fortunes in this Province. I will undertake to Name three Gentlemen on the Whigg Side, in Boston any one of whom is able to purchase Bernard, Hutchinson, the four Judges of Admiralty, and the five Commissioners of the Customs, and still have an handsome Fortune left.

Novanglus to be continued.

Let me now dismiss this Paper of January the Sixteenth. It contains the Ground, the Principle and Foundation of the whole Building. It is an Attempt to prove the Supream Authority of Parliament by the Constitution. But it is the feeblest, the most frivolous, the weakest, the most absurd, Effort that ever was made. One would have thought that a Master Builder would have laid his Corner Stone to the best of his skill. Without the constitutional Authority contended for in this Paper, all the other Writings of Massachusettensis are mere Harrangue. Whoever reads it, and considers it, will be convinced how easy it is for any Scribbler on the side of Power, by Means of the Court Trumpetters to get a Reputation; and that this Man, however he has been cryed up for a Wit and Humourist and altho' he is a pretty 11 popular Declaimer, is not the most knowing Man in the World, in the grounds 12 of this great Controversy.


A reconstructed text from a draft in the (Adams Papers) supplemented with two MS copies in (MHi:Robert Treat Paine Papers). The sheet and separate half-sheet of the draft, both completely filled on both sides, are worn and illegible in spots, the half-sheet lacking a number of words because a small piece is missing from the top. Close examination suggests that it tore along a fold. The earlier copy of this thirteenth Novanglus letter, in the hand of Judge William Cushing, in the Paine Papers is endorsed: “Hon. John Adams—relative the Charters.” The second copy in the Paine Papers, in a different hand, probably a clerk's (despite the docketed statement), is endorsed by the copyist: “President John Adams on the charters. Copied fully and wholly,” and docketed by Charles Cushing Paine: “This paper is a copy in Judge Cushing's handwriting of a number of Novanglus, which was sent to Edes & Gill on the morning of the Battle of Lexington, to be published in their paper. But it was never published, the paper being then discontinued, and was by them handed to Judge C.” Differences between the two copies are noted below.

The thirteenth Novanglus letter was never published owing to the Lexington battle, which occurred two days after the appearance of the twelfth letter (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:313). It is reasonable to suppose that 386the draft, which is the heart of the document here printed, is not the complete MS which JA submitted to the printers, that the missing piece was then still part of it, but that it got separated at some point.

This supposition is based upon JA's own testimony and the nature of the two Cushing copies. According to JA, printer John Gill gave the MS of the thirteenth letter to Cushing shortly after the Lexington battle (same). Cushing probably made his first copy sometime during the Revolution and his second, during or after JA's presidency. There are several differences between the copies, but two stand out. The first omits entirely a paragraph that JA had struck out of his draft; the second includes this paragraph, but it is lined out. Although its inclusion might seem to indicate at first glance that the earlier copy is more faithful to JA's intention, this conclusion leaves unexplained the inclusion in the second copy of two brief but essential paragraphs missing from both JA's draft and the first Cushing copy. Why did Cushing scrupulously drop a paragraph that JA had struck out, but in the second copy include two paragraphs not in JA's draft?

The obvious answer is that these two paragraphs were on the missing piece of text, and, logically, they come respectively at the top of the front and backsides of the half sheet of the draft. The piece is large enough to have accommodated the paragraphs. When Cushing made the first copy of the draft, he must have known that the MS lacked a small piece, for he left two spaces in his copy for the missing short paragraphs. It is not too farfetched to assume that he had temporarily mislaid the piece, intending to fill in the words when he found it. The second copy includes the paragraphs in their proper places, but they are written in a different hand from that of the body of the text, and they are inserted in more-than-ample spaces obviously left for the purpose. Moreover, the first of these paragraphs is introduced by the words, in the copyist's hand, “on a separate piece of paper—viz.” Apparently considerable time elapsed between the misplacing of the piece cut from the draft and the finding of it later.

Although JA said in a portion of his Autobiography, written in 1804, that Judge Cushing still had the MS of the thirteenth letter that he had sent to the Boston Gazette 28 years earlier (same), the evidence is strong that the draft now in the Adams Papers is the MS that Cushing kept for so long. The handling of the missing paragraphs supports this conclusion, but there is further evidence. The first Cushing copy duplicates the JA draft in a way that would be unlikely if Cushing had been following a second draft. The signature “Novanglus” is crossed out, and the letter continues for another paragraph. A second draft, had there been one, would not have shown this change in intention. Thus, it seems safe to say that by supplementing the draft with the Cushing copies we have the thirteenth letter as JA intended it to appear in print, and that the original is safely in the Adams Papers—minus the top piece of the half-sheet.


Brackets in JA's draft; he probably meant this passage to be deleted, but it is enclosed in brackets in both Cushing copies.


Brackets in JA's draft; both Cushing copies carry this passage within brackets.


Illegible in JA's draft; word supplied from second Cushing copy; a space is left for the word in the first Cushing copy.


Hutchinson, A Collection of Original Papers, p. 105–106; opening quotation marks supplied by the editors.


Brackets in JA's draft; bracketed statement kept in both Cushing copies.


This paragraph appears only in the 387second Cushing copy; it logically belongs at the top of the front side of the half-sheet of JA's draft on a piece now missing.


JA's draft torn; these words are from the second Cushing copy and are missing from the first one. The hand-writing is different from both that of the main body of text and that of the two inserted paragraphs. The hand seems to be that of an elderly man, possibly Cushing.


The exact language is that the General Court may “from tyme to tyme . . . make, ordeine, and establishe all Manner of wholesome and reasonable Orders, Lawes, Statutes, and Ordinances, Direccions, and Instruccions, not contrairie to the Lawes of this our Realme of England” (Thorpe, Federal and State Constitutions , 3:1857).


JA's draft torn; words supplied from the Cushing copies.


This paragraph appears only in the second Cushing copy; it logically belongs at the top of the back side of the half-sheet of JA's draft on a piece now missing.


JA's draft torn; words supplied from the first Cushing copy. The second copy has “as” for “altho'.”


JA's draft torn; words supplied from the first Cushing copy. The second copy has “ground” for “grounds.”