Papers of John Adams, volume 1

Clarendon to the Boston Gazette

From Jonathan Sewall

174 Replies to Philanthrop, Defender of Governor Bernard: [ante 9 December 1766] – 16 February 1767 Replies to Philanthrop, Defender of Governor Bernard: [ante 9 December 1766] – 16 February 1767
Replies to Philanthrop, Defender of Governor Bernard
ante 9 December 1766 – 16 February 1767












Editorial Note Editorial Note
Editorial Note

In the winter of 1766–67, Jonathan Sewall, writing as Philanthrop, took it upon himself to defend Governor Francis Bernard against an unremitting series of attacks being made upon him in Boston newspapers, chiefly in the Gazette, by a number of pseudonymous writers. It is possible that Sewall wrote in hope of preferment, for soon after he had finished his series of letters, Governor Bernard offered him a newly created position, that of Special Attorney General. Yet there seems no reason to doubt the sincerity of Sewall's concern that attacks on the Governor would threaten the stability of the political state (Berkin, Jonathan Sewall , p. 43–44; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 12:311).

Bernard had incurred the hatred of the whig faction for his official support of the Stamp Act, despite his private position, and, later, in May 1751766, for his refusal to approve James Otis Jr. as the choice of the House of Representatives for speaker and his veto of six men, whig supporters all, chosen as councilors by the joint ballot of the House and outgoing Council (Berkin, Jonathan Sewall , p. 36–37). In retaliation, whig writers vilified the Governor in print. He was accused of customs racketeering, with some basis in fact, of greediness, of violation of the privileges of the House, and of undermining the colonists' rights as Englishmen.

Sewall began his defense with a long letter in the Boston Evening-Post for 1 December 1766. Almost every Monday thereafter until early February, Post readers were treated to a vigorous, sometimes slashing attack on Bernard's detractors and a careful presentation, too often written in a superior tone, concerning the Governor's conduct on particular occasions so far as it was known to the author. Sewall did not want for material. His entry into the field raised a regular hornet's nest of critics, signing themselves “A,” “AA,” “B,” “BB”; as Sewall put it, “almost the whole alphabet was conjured up.” And Sewall tried to answer them all. But by spring nearly everyone had said all there was to say. Philanthrop's letter of 9 February did not have a sequel until 2 March; and then there was silence. Joseph Hawley, defending the Lanesborough Stamp Act rioters, whose attorney he was, rekindled the fires in the summer of 1767, with Philanthrop answering him in three long letters (Boston Evening-Post, 6 and 13 July; 27 July; 3 and 10 Aug. 1767).

John Adams, of course, could not keep from replying to his old friend, just as he had answered him some three and one-half years before (3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, above). But Adams had trouble settling upon the literary style of his response. He began in straightforward fashion, addressing himself to “J Phylanthrop,” his addition of “J” suggesting the continuity he saw between Sewall's “J” letters of 1763 and those appearing over Sewall's new pseudonym (No. I, below). His first effort, unpublished and unsigned, was largely an attack on the character of Sewall, whom he called the “old Trumpeter” of “that restless grasping turbulent Crew of Villains” seeking the destruction of the people. Adams accused Philanthrop of ingratitude and of “venemos Bilingsgate.” It is almost as though Adams were working off steam, just as he did with the unfinished and unpublished letter to Sewall in 1763 (No. II, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, above). Next, in his diary, Adams wrote a thoughtful analysis of what should be understood by “the better Sort of People,” whom Sewall claimed as supporters of Bernard ( Diary and Autobiography , 1:326–329).

But when he appeared in print, Adams adopted once again the pseudonym he had used before in replying to Sewall, that of Humphrey Ploughjogger. Although he retained a kind of farmerish and common sense approach, most of the dialect and phonetic spelling was dropped. He had perhaps tired of these devices; the cause was too serious for playfulness. Attention was centered upon Philanthrop's contempt for the ordinary run of men and his fallacious belief that sharp criticism of high officials would undermine the due subordination of persons necessary for any kind of 176government. Adams wound up his series of three Ploughjogger letters, of which the first was unpublished, with a kind of rustic condescension toward the craziness of Philanthrop, who reminded Adams of his “little black Ram” (Nos. IIIV, below).

Further Sewall pieces that reproved his critics in what seemed a sweet reasonableness of tone that could be dangerously persuasive led Adams to lift out sentences and phrases from their context so that their sheer depth of spite stood revealed. If Sewall posed as a lover of men, then Adams had perforce to sign himself “Misanthrop.” The new pseudonym set Adams off on a long fantastical narrative in which he sought to expose Philanthrop as greedy for office but made craven by the gnawing of self-doubt. None of the “Misanthrop” performances saw print (Nos. VI and VII, below); they were probably intended for his own amusement.

Finally, and more seriously, Adams assumed the role most natural to him, that of historian. Writing as a figure of history called to life, and thus able to comment with unique perspective on significant developments since his own day, Adams demonstrated the continuity of love of freedom from the time of Governor Winthrop to his own. A common thread in the series of letters from Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford is the elemental soundness of the people despite the insidious efforts of Philanthrop to lead them astray by appealing to the weaknesses of human nature. The Winthrop letters discern parallels between the tyrannical precepts of the first two Stuarts and those of Philanthrop and warn Bostonians that liberty “has always been surrounded with dangers.” Only men who remain on guard remain free. In the end Adams analyzes at great length the role of Governor Bernard in refusing to administer the oath to two men elected to the House from Newbury and sees a most serious breach of the privileges of that body (Nos. VIIXI, below).

With the exception of his discussion of Bernard's interference in the affairs of the House, Adams confined himself to attacking the more theoretical of Philanthrop's arguments, leaving to others, as he said, the critique of the Governor's conduct. And even here, it was the principle at stake that caught Adams' attention. Philanthrop's defense of Bernard was based upon a concept of government that Adams saw as wholly wrongheaded and subversive of liberty.

I. To J Philanthrop, 9 December 1766 JA Sewall, Jonathan Philanthrop I. To J Philanthrop, 9 December 1766 Adams, John Sewall, Jonathan Philanthrop
I. To J Philanthrop
ante 9 December 1766 1
To J Phylanthrop

I confess I was in Hopes, that after the Repeal of the ever memorable Stamp Act, The People of this Province would have had a little Respite from the Teasings of that restless grasping turbulent Crew of Villains who have been for many Years past planning their Destruction.—This infamous set of Banditti, in the Course of the glorious 177Struggles of America for her Freedom received So many Mortifications and Disappointments, that for my own Part I felt myself much disposed to commisserate their Distresses, and to let them all sink into a peaceful and perpetual oblivion.—But it seems they now think themselves out of Danger, that the people are settling into Tranquility, and are grown innatentive to their Machinations, and that they may now set about their old Work, of fretting, teasing, lying, vapouring, and deceiving. And for these purposes they have hired their old Trumpeter J. Philanthrop, to start forth. A Champion, forsooth for Truth, Peace, order, Justice, and Civility the supporter of good Government, and the Vindicator of injured Innocence! And is it not very modest in this Author, to begin, with so many pious Lamentations about Party Spirit, Political Jealousies, undue Prejudices &c and to declaim so warmly against, throwing Dirt at respectable Characters, when he begins his Lucubrations with his venemos Bilingsgate upon a Character than which there is none more respectable in this Province,2 and with black malicious, impudent slander upon a Paper,3 without which the People of this Province, would have been ruind and enslaved by his Friends Patrons, Masters and Clients before they would have known or suspected their Danger. This is the very fellow, who but a few years ago, drew the Characters of Bluster, Thwackum, Gamut, Adjutant Trowel, Justice Gripe and Captn. Bluff4 —nay the very Rascall who drew the Character of the reverend Chaplain to the Junto, in which he bespatered with Dirt and Filth falsely and maliciously slanderd one of the politest Gentlemen, accomplished Scholars, and able Divines upon this Continent,5 with unparrallelled Virulence and Effrontery. A Gentleman to whom that very Rascall was under particular and very strong obligations for his Friendship and Charity to him in his needy Circumstances.

I have no more to say at present, but that I know you perfectly well, I know your Name, Character Descent Circumstances, Alliances, your Patrons, Prompters, Views, Temper and Designs,—further I know every syllable you have Scribbled from the first of your Productions which contained the Character of Bluster to the last of them, which appeard in last Mondays Ev. Post, and that unless you desist I will develop the whole black scene—and will expose the whole Faction and all their Views and Designs, from the Time they raised the villanous Clamour against Govr. Pownal6 to this Time that they are endeavouring to preserve, another Govr. of a very different and much worse Character.


MS (Adams Papers); microfilmed as part of a 27-page cluster of MSS under the date Aug. – Sept. 1763 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343); but for its actual provenance and date, see Editorial Note, above, and note 1, below.


The fact that specific references to Philanthrop's words are all to those found in the first of his letters, published in the Boston Evening-Post, 1 Dec. 1766, and that JA refers to “last Mondays Ev. Post” means that this letter had to have been written before 9 Dec.


James Otis Jr., whom Philanthrop referred to as “Tertullus haranguing in the Senate” (Boston Evening-Post, 1 Dec. 1766).


The Boston Gazette, which Philanthrop alluded to as “the dirty channel” of popular criticism of Bernard (same).


Nicknames used by Jonathan Sewall in his “J” series of letters published in the Post in 1763 (Editorial Note, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, above).


Samuel Cooper (1725–1783), pastor at the Brattle Street church (1746–1783) and ardent whig, “became the moral validation of the policies of the Whigs” (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 11:197). It was his father, William Cooper, however, who helped Sewall financially (same, 12:306).


Thomas Pownall, successor to William Shirley, was Governor of Massachusetts, 1757–1759 ( DNB ).

II. Humphrey Ploughjogger to Philanthrop, 5 January 1767 JA Ploughjogger, Humphrey Sewall, Jonathan Philanthrop II. Humphrey Ploughjogger to Philanthrop, 5 January 1767 Adams, John Ploughjogger, Humphrey Sewall, Jonathan Philanthrop
II. Humphrey Ploughjogger to Philanthrop
ante 5 January 1767 1
To the learned Philanthrop

As It is my Design to write a good deal to you, before I have done, So I have gained favour in the Eyes of our School Master, to write out my Letters to you, for the Time to come, and to mend the Spelling a little that I may appear in public a little more handsome; tho he will not be very nice about the Matter, and will leave you now and then an opening, Pedant as you are to carp, at Spelling and pointing when you are brought to a plunge in Point of Reason.2

This is all the Introduction and all the apology, I purpose to make, for a more particular Examination of your wicked Doctrine, in your first Treatise, vist that “the Person and office are so connected in the Minds of the greatest Part of Mankind, that a Contempt of the former, and a veneration for the latter are totally incompatible.”3

I dont care so much about Govr. Bernards Character, nor any Instances of his Conduct, to which the other Writers concernd are very able to do Justice, as I do about your general Maxims, Principles and precepts, which seem to me to be the very same that the evil Spirits would have believed and propagated, and the very same that their Missionaries have been preaching, and Scribling and trumpeting among Mankind ever since the fall of Adam. I say ever since the fall, for, from that time to this, there has been one Continued Conspiracy between the World, the Flesh and the Devil, against the Cause of 179Liberty, and we have Reason to fear and believe it will continue till the Fall of Antichrist, but this by the by.

Your Principles I say appear to me to be wicked, unsound, unorthodox, nay your Doctrine is heretical, and damnable, and your Precepts, the Precepts and Mandates of Earthly and infernal Tyranny.

And to prove that my apprehensions of it are not illgrounded, I crave leave to offer a few observations.

1st I think I see in your Doctrine “the Person and office so connected in the Minds of the greatest Part of Mankind,” a Contempt of the greatest Part of Mankind. It is wonderful and lamentable to Behold the Pride and Vanity there is in the great ones of the World. A Man of Learning is sure apt to despise all that he thinks ignorant, a Man of Courage all that he thinks Cowards, a Man of Wit all who are of slower apprehension, a Man of fortune all the poor, nay a Dancing Master all whose Heels are clumsey, and a Beau all who do not dress to finely as himself.

Now a Court is almost often made up of the learned, rich, Courageous, witty, Dancers, and Beaus. The Consequense is, that all the rest of the World is called by them the Generality, the Herd, Rabble, Mob, common People, Vulgar and such like stuff. Scorn and Contempt and turning up of the Nose is the Consequence of this. The common People they say, are not fit for any thing, but Hewers of Wood &c,—only the discerning few, the Choice Spirits, the better sort say they, are capable of any thing—and they themselves are always the discerning few, the Choice Spirits and better sort. (I am going to trace out the Course of it). These Fleers, and flouts, and sneers and snubbs are often thrown out by them to the People, who being a 1000 to one of them in Number and made of as good Clay as them selves, often return their scorn, with scorn, this soon setts them outragious,—and they presently grow to hate the common People instead of despising them, and Nero shall wish the People had but one Neck that he might strike it off at one blow, Caligula shall swear to tear up all remaining Virtue among the People, and Temerlane and Attilla, Shall glory that they were not Men but the Scourges of God and the Plagues of Mankind. All this hellish Temper, this blasphemous Rant, this numbrous Designs Spring Phylanthrop, from such a Contempt, as you have expressed for the Generality of Mankind.

MS (Adams Papers); microfilmed as part of a 27-page cluster of MSS under the date Aug. – Sept. 1763 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343); but for its actual provenance and date, see note 1, below.

180 1.

Although unsigned, this MS very likely was a draft of an unpublished “Humphrey Ploughjogger” newspaper letter written prior to the one published 5 Jan. (No. III, below). JA's quotation in the second paragraph of this draft of a passage from Philanthrop's first letter (1 Dec. 1766) means that he wrote it after that date. The reference in the opening paragraph to a “Design to write a good deal to Philanthrop” suggests that this draft was meant to be the first of a distinct series of letters. JA's comment in the same paragraph about the schoolmaster's correcting his spelling so that he might “appear in public a little more handsome” suggests that he planned to publish under the Ploughjogger pseudonym, the only one he had used for letters written with illiterate spelling. Given these facts, this draft must have been written before 5 Jan.


A reference to Philanthrop's complaint about the spelling and punctuation of “X,” one of his several newspaper opponents.


Here JA puts his finger upon a principle that would give Philanthrop trouble later when he tried to argue that Bernard should be respected for his private opposition to the Stamp Act despite his official need to enforce it (compare Berkin, Jonathan Sewall , p. 41–42).

III. Humphrey Ploughjogger to Philanthrop, 5 January 1767 JA Ploughjogger, Humphrey Sewall, Jonathan Philanthrop III. Humphrey Ploughjogger to Philanthrop, 5 January 1767 Adams, John Ploughjogger, Humphrey Sewall, Jonathan Philanthrop
III. Humphrey Ploughjogger to Philanthrop
Monday, January 5, 1767 Messieurs Edes & Gill,

Please to insert the following.

To the learned PHILANTHROP.

In your first Treatise, I find these Words, “Whatever tends to create in the Minds of the People, a Contempt of the Persons of those who hold the highest Offices in the State, tends to induce in the Minds of the People a Belief that Subordination is not necessary, and is no essential Part of Government.” Now if I understand the Meaning of your high-flown Words, for the Gizzard of me, I can't see the Truth of them. Should any one say, and in Print too, that the Steeple of Dr. Sewall's Meeting-House, was old, and decayed, and rotten, as it was the last Time I see it, and in Danger of falling on the Heads of the People in the Street, would this tend to induce in the Minds of the People, a Belief that a Steeple was not necessary to a Meeting-House, and that any Meeting House, might as well be turned topsy-turvey, and the Steeple stuck down into the Earth, instead of being erected into the Air? Again, suppose the Sweep of my Cyder-Mill was cracked and shivered, so that it had not Strength to grind an Apple, or to turn the Rolls, if one of my Neighbours should tell me of this, would this tend to create in me a Belief, that a Sweep was no necessary Part of a Cyder-Mill, and that the Sweep might as well be placed where the Rolls are, or where the Hopper is, or the Trough, as where we commonly put it? Once more, I have a Mare that is old, and lean, and hipped, and stifled, and spavined, and heavy, and botty, and has 181lost her Mane and Tail, and both her Ears, by the naughty Boys. Now if I should put this Jade into a Horse Cart, and lead her through the Town in the Sight of all the People, I believe they would one and all, despise my old Beast, and laugh at her too, and if any of them came near her, and she should kick 'em and bite 'em, they would hate her too; but would all this their Contempt and Laughter and Hatred, tend to induce in their Minds a Belief that a Horse was not necessary to draw a Horse Cart, and that a Cart might as well be put before a Horse, as a Horse before a Cart?

This now seems to be a strong Rashosination, so do you answer my Questions directly, not find Fault with my Pointing and Spelling as you served Mr. X, who our School-Master tells me is a Man of better Sense than you are, and Spells and Points better too, notwithstanding your Braggadocio airs.

So I remain yours to sarve, H. PLOUGHJOGGER

P.S. I'm so well known in the larned World, that I tho't it not worth while to write my Name out at length, but you may print it so if you pleas.

Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 5 Jan. 1767); Dft , with minor variations, of first paragraph in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:330, dated 31 Dec. 1766.

IV. Humphrey Ploughjogger to the <hi rendition="#italic">Boston Gazette</hi>, 19 January 1767 JA Ploughjogger, Humphrey Boston Gazette (newspaper) IV. Humphrey Ploughjogger to the <hi rendition="#italic">Boston Gazette</hi>, 19 January 1767 Adams, John Ploughjogger, Humphrey Boston Gazette (newspaper)
IV. Humphrey Ploughjogger to the Boston Gazette
To the PRINTERS. Monday, January 19, 1767

I Did flatter myself, as I had got so much Credit by my Writings upon Hemp, and Stamp-Act, &c. &c.1 that the learned Phylanthrop would just have taken some small Notice of me. * I have enquired about the Reason why he did not. Some tell me, the poor Man's Council is always despised by the great and larned. Some say that it would be below the Dignity of Government, to take Notice of such a Man as I am—and others say that my Arguments were so strong that there was no answering of them. Now for my Part I am inclined to this last way of Thinking, and so I shant advance any new Rashosinations till the old ones, are defuted—and in Truth I feel concerned for poor Phylanthrop—tho' he is very learned, yet 20 or 30 learned Men to one makes a dreadfull great odds2 —and it seems to have made the poor Man a most crazey. I pitty Crazyness from the bottom of my Heart—but it makes this Man behave so odd that I can't help laughing. 182I've got about 3 score Sheep at Home, that I take great Pleasure in feeding with Corn. I take a Cobb every Morning, and a Basket full of Ears, and go out and shell 'em to the Sheep—amongst the rest there is one little black Ram, a Year old, that gives me a good deal of Diversion. He is a spiteful little Thing—and he rushes in among the stately Weathers to get the Kernals of Corn, in the most fierce Manner imaginable—and will sometimes come behind a fine great Weather, or upon the side of him, and give him a paultry Bunt at unawares, and before the Weather can turn about to kill him, he will skulk and run away. But all the Sheep of the Flock hate him, and at Times bunt him and bang him, and bruise him most unmercifully, till the poor Beast's Flesh is almost worn off of his Bones. Now thinks I, this is certainly the learned Phylanthrop among my Sheep. His Nose, like Phylanthrop's is not clean, their Spite is alike, and their Slyness is alike, and in many other Respects they are alike. But I really think my little Ram looks cowed and sorry oftentimes that he ever picked a Quarrell with the whole Flock, and now sees that it will not do, and wishes himself out of the Scrape—which puts me in Mind of a comical Thing that happened tother Day in our Town. My Neighbour Worldly had a Yoke of Oxen, that he was going to sell to a Stranger, for a fine Yoke of working Cattle, but seven Years old, but the Stranger happen'd to go one side a little, and sees my Neighbour Worldley's Negro Man Toney, and asks him about them Oxen. Oh says Tony, they are as nice a Yoke of Oxen to work as ever stood under a Yoke, I have drove 'em myself this 12 Years, and never drove so good a Yoke as they are. Upon this the Stranger comes back to my Neighbour, told him what Tony had said, and would not have the Cattle. My Neighbour was very wroth, and after he got Home, he scolds at Tony very sadly. You told the Man that you had driven the Oxen 12 Years, and I told him they were but 7 Year old you Blockhead says my Neighbour.” Oh Master says Tony, I'm very sorry, I see now where I mist it. Just so I really believe Phylanthrop now sees where he mist it, and is very sorry—

I remain your's to sarve, h. ploughjogger

* I do think he might just have mention'd me, and quoted some lines at me, or something—for instance he might have said,

Joggs slowly on, unknowing what he sought, And whistled as he went for want of thought.

MS not found. Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 19 Jan. 1767).


Nos. I, III, and IX, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763 and 14 Oct. 1765, above.


A reference to the spate of pseudonymous letters appearing mainly in the Boston Gazette which attacked Philanthrop's assertions and arguments.

183 V. Misanthrop, No. 1, January 1767 JA Misanthrop V. Misanthrop, No. 1, January 1767 Adams, John Misanthrop
V. Misanthrop, No. 1
January 1767 1 Phylanthrops Principles, Motives and Views2

“'Tho I sincerely wish the Reformation of Paskalos3 and his Abettors and Assistants, yet I own from what I know of their Views and Principles, I am without Hopes of it: But my design is4 to contribute according to my best Ability, towards the support of good Government, and the Vindication of much injured Innocence. These two great Ends I am determined Steadily to pursue; and if I can be in any degree instrumental in promoting these—if I can undeceive my well meaning Countrymen, and perswade them to judge for themselves and attend to their true Interests, as they are subjects of Social, and moral Laws, I shall think myself amply recompenced for my Trouble, and I shall heartily despise whatever Paskalos and his Associates may say of this or my future Performances. I profess to be of no Party in Politicks, but I am a Friend to my Country, and consequently a Friend to good Government, Peace and order. I am an enemy to all Injustice and a Sincere Lover of all good and virtuous Men. From these Principles I now write, and from these I shall write again.5 And deliver my sentiments with decent Freedom.”

“I will always endeavour to avoid rendering Railing for Railing.” I doubt not I shall be able in the Name and Cause of Truth, to sustain the Charge, whenever this Goliah shall advance.6 They will excuse me, if, for the future, I take no Notice of any unmannerly ill founded Reflections.” Surely this Writer knows the Difference between Reasoning and Railing” I assure the Gentleman I am no Hireling nor do I write from selfish Views, notwithstanding the illnaturd Squibs of Some little Scriblers. But I write because I really think I am on the side of Truth, good order, and injured and almost deserted Innocence. He shall find me candid and free from Bigotry. I am determined to unravel the whole Mystery of Iniquity—and not quit the subject, till I have exposed every falshood, which has been, or may hereafter be published against his Excellency, or any others in Authority. Happy would it be, if all Christians had so much of the genuine Spirit of Christianity.” “I do now in the fear of God, declare and protest I shall, with Pleasure see, that Justice, Charity, Peace and good order, will take Place which is the only end in Writing, at first Sincerely proposed and still pursued by

The Principles Motives and Views of Phylanthrops Opponents 184

“To revile and slander Rulers, to endeavour to destroy all Confidence and affection in the People towards them, is highly offensive to God, criminal against the state and barbarously injurious to the Persons.7

It must, it cannot but be evident, notwithstanding the slander of Paskalos Scribling in the Gazette, or Tertullus harranguing in the senate, that we never had a milder Govr.” “When, thro the dirty Channell of a Gazette, and the more dirty Channell of XXXX, he has received such foul abuse” —&c and unprecedented Insults.

Surely my Countrymen can no longer be deceived by the groundless Insinuations of Faction and Malice. Shall we suffer Government to be openly insulted, and Innocence trampled on—The Ribaldry of a few Malicious Writers.

Have we not lent too ready an Ear to the Calumnies of ambitious envious Pretenders to Patriotism?—too easily given Credit to bold assertions instead of rational Evidence—given Countenance to those turbulent Destroyers of the public Peace, who have been Sapping the foundations of society and violating the Laws of Morality and Decency. Is it not a Reproach to us, that a public Paper infamous for wantonly affronting Majesty itself, treacherously subverting the first Principles of Government, inhumanly traducing the Character of the living and impiously trampling on the ashes of the dead, should be so generally purchased thro the Prov. When a Party Spirit prevails, Men are too apt to overleap the bounds of Decency8 to vilify and anathematize those who differ from them—foul Language! Revilings and bad Names —grossly abused and inhumanly insulted.—X, by his Reasoning, Spelling and Pointing, is no formidable enemy—yet has shewn his hearty good Will, and by the Dirt he has thrown, were he less impotent he would be less contemptible. His furious Attack, unmannerly Ribaldry—discharge of venemous Weapons—round Assertion—a Question, which cannot be fairly discussed, without entering so minutely into particulars, as might be disagreable to Some.

Paskalos is, and will ever be the same in Point of Decency and Veracity. It is disagreable to brush off Filth and Dirt.

Jealousies and undue Prejudices—groundless Calumnies of a few artful designing Men,—implicit faith—airy phantoms—temerary9 Presumtions, improbable Conjectures—Trifles lighter than Vanity—while the frenzy lasts—ungenerous Libels—idle tittle tattle of the credulous —wicked dogmatical assertions of the malicious—an assertion, notoriously repugnant to Truth—unjust and indecent affronts, subversive of Government and inconsistent with good Manners—with pharisaical os-185tentation proclaiming their Patriotism in the Market Places and on the House Tops.

Rude savage Treatment—Libels signed Paskalos—how unfair, how dishonest is this—a smal Crime, compared with what I shall now lay open—abusive Ribaldry of Paskalos—I blush for the pretended fair dealer A—I have great Reason to fear this Writer, notwithstanding his fair Pretensions, has wilfully imposed a palpable falshood upon the public. Let this warn him to be cautious of Detraction. He who publisheth a lie to the World.

The impatient X—angry X,—choleric, galloping, ranting Piece—his Friends wish him to the XXXXX miserable little Shifts,—inveterate Enemies—ungenerously and falsely charged him with Smuggling—not the least foundation in Truth—unjust Persecutors,—inhuman End of ruining a Gentlemans Character—a Spirit, truly diabolical—Enemies to the Gover and the Province—intended as an Injury and affront to the Govr.

Petulant impatient X—disaffected Individuals—imaginary Slight of their superiour Merits—mad Ambition which overturns Empires—Shake the State with internal Convulsions, in order to accomplish their revengeful and ambitious Schemes—Sow the seeds of Jealousy and discontent—inflame the Passions—general Accusations—minutest faults printed in the blackest Colours—all actions construed into Tyranny—The grossest Falshoods with bold Assertions—false alarms—detect the fraud—pretended Zealots for the public good—September 1760 the cry began—who first sounded and has continued to sound the Alarm—groundless and trifling Accusations—led blindfold by those whose Views and Designs are utterly inconsistent with public Peace and Happiness—basely suggested—such a Mixture of Injustice, Barbarity, and inexpressible Littleness of Soul in this Group of malicious supine insinuations, that is painful to refute them—peculiarly Sordid, cruel and eminently wicked—false narrow Spirited Insinuations—wicked Attempts to disturb the People, and make em jealous and suspicious—Snarling Writer X vent his Malice—have their Source not in Truth but in the worst of Passions.

Gentle Reader let me ask you, is this fellow Mad, or drunk? Is this decent Freedom? Is this Piety, Christian Piety, the true Spirit of Christianity. Upon Reading this choice Collection of Rhetoric, I cant help, recollecting King Lear in the cold Storm, calling out to the howling Winds, the flashing Lightning and hoarse, tremendous Thunder,

Rumble thy fill—&c— 186

I made this Collection at first for the sake of the vinous, new kind of oratory and Rhetoric that is in it—Such Flowers, such Beauties, such Harmony, and Elegance, and Grandeur—Such Meekness, Patience Modesty, Politeness, Piety Loyalty, Love of order, Justice, Peace. This Man must be the Dove and the Lamb, if we believe his Professions. His opponents, every Man, who ever said, or thought amiss of the Govr. or Lt Govr., such cruel, wicked, envious, malicious, turbulent, dirty, sordid, barbarous, inhuman, diabolical.

† Only let me intreat the Reader to keep this Paper by him, and to Study the Beauties of this Parcell of Extracts.

Upon Contemplating this excellent Group of Expressions, and comparing them together and considering their perfect Causistry &c I felt a most flaming Curiosity to know, who this perfect Christian, this spotless Saint, this disinterested Lover of his Country, really was. I conjectured a Multitude of Persons,—and considered their Characters and Actions. But none would do. At last as I must and will know the Bottom in all these Cases, I had recourse to the Occult Sciences.10 And I discovered, with precise Certainty, who this Phylanthrop, is, what are his Principles, Motives and Views, which I am determined, as they are very curious and remarkable to make public next Monday. I shall publish it with great Pleasure, because such Discoveries always yield great Pleasure to


MS (Adams Papers); microfilmed as part of a 27-page cluster of MSS under the date Aug. – Sept. 1763 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343); but for its actual provenance and date see Editorial Note, above, and notes 1 and 10, below.


Since this draft of an unpublished newspaper letter consists mainly of extracts from those Philanthrop letters which were published in the Boston Evening-Post between 1 Dec. 1766 and 5 Jan. 1767, a conjectural date for the draft is the first half of January.


Both paragraphs under this heading consist of quotations, more or less exact but sometimes with words and phrases omitted, from Philanthrop letters. Note is taken below only of those omissions that seem significant.


The pseudonym of one of Philanthrop's opponents, reputedly used by Joseph Warren (Berkin, Jonathan Sewall , p. 37).


Omitted here is “in the room of an abler pen, (which I have long wished would start forth).”


Omitted here is “and offer to the publick my candid thoughts on the grand question now under consideration, 'Whether justice shall be done to the sufferers in the late times of tumult and distress, or not?' In this, I shall, without designing offence to any, deliver my sentiments with that decent freedom which becomes, and is the birth-right of, an Englishman.”


This sentence, lacking quotation marks, does not immediately precede the next sentence, which has closing quote marks. Here and elsewhere no attempt has been made to supply such marks where normally they would be required.

187 7.

Omitted here is a set of qualifying phrases that precedes the quotation: “when rulers, by the whole course of their conduct, evince, to the satisfaction of all sober impartial judges, that they uniformly aim, with integrity and singleness of heart, to promote the true interest and happiness of those they govern; tho' they should sometimes err in their judgments, in trifling instances, with regard to the means to this end; yet to revile.”


Omitted here is: “and instead of endeavoring to convince their opponents by sober argument, are led, thro' an intemperate zeal.”


Temerary: Rash, reckless, Obs. ( OED ).


This reference to “Occult Sciences” ties this piece in with No. VI, below; see note 1 for that document.

VI. Misanthrop, No. 2, January 1767 JA Misanthrop VI. Misanthrop, No. 2, January 1767 Adams, John Misanthrop
VI. Misanthrop, No. 2
January 1767 1

During a Course of twenty Years, it has been the constant Amusement of my Life, to examine, the Secret Springs, Motives and Principles of human Actions: And I am more and more perswaded, every day, that from the Fall of Adam to this Time, Mankind in general, has been given up, to Strong Delusions, vile Affections, sordid Lusts, and brutal Appetites. The first Inquiry, that commonly arises in the Heart is, how will such a Thing affect my Humour, my Interest, my private Views and Designs? If it militates or non-conforms with these, —right or wrong—good or bad—wise or foolish—it must be discarded and renounced at once. If it coincides with these, at all hazards to others or the Public, and at any Expence of Honour, Truth or Conscience, it must be embraced and pursued. This great Point being once determined, the next Rule is to cover all this Matter up from the View of the World, in Secresy and Dissimulation, and to give out without a Blush or a Simper, that I am, in no possible Respect interested in it, or that it manifestly contradicts my Interest, and that I have no View, but to Serve God, holy Church, Religion, good Government, injured Innocence, Mankind in general or the particular Community to which I belong. And if the People will not otherwise believe me, I must boldly call God to witness that I speak, write and Act, from no other Principle or Inducement whatever, but pure Benevolence and Piety.

Long Practice and Experience, have given me, Some Dexterity and Sagacity, in unravelling Such Snarls, and in investigating, 'thro all the winding Labyrinths of Hypocrisy, Chicanery and Dissimulation, the real Springs, and original Movements in the Minds of Men.

An extraordinary Case, has however, now and then, happened which has puzzled all my Skill. As, I must and will fathom all such Cases to the Bottom, I have had Recourse, upon these occasions, to 188the occult Sciences. A little familiar Spirit attends me, whom, in Imitation of Shakespeare I have called Ariel. This little Spright, who hops about upon the Clouds and Rainbows, rides upon the Sun beams, dives down to the Center of the Earth, 'thro the Springs and Subterranean Canals; and indeed can circulate 'thro the Mass of a Mans Blood upon a Globule of Mercury, or dart 'thro the Pore of the Nerves in the Cerebrum or Cerebellum, upon a Particle of nervouse Juice or Animal Spirit; is of great Service to me, and never fails to unriddle the most mysterious Phaenomena, in Politicks or Ethicks.

A Late Writer in Fleet,2 has furnished one of these Cases.3 I could not account upon any Principles, for this Affair. Good Principles I saw at first thought could never prompt any Man to write upon that subject in that Manner. And, so excessively unpopular and odious was the Task, that no Man could well expect to serve himself by it in any scheme of Pride, Anger, Malice, Covetousness, Revenge, or Lust. After ruminating a while upon the subject without satisfaction, I calls my Ariel and bids him look out—away flutters my little Ariel, and the next Morning returned with the following Information.

That he flitted away to Ede's Printing office, and peeped into their Books of Account and found the Number of their subscribers, and when he had that, gave the signal to the Legions of the Air, and had the same Number of his Ariel Companions, attending him in an Instant (for such is the Association of these Ethereal Inhabitants that any one of them, can at a Call have any Number he wants to attend him in any Enterprise). Each of these Companions he ordered to attend each of the Papers, where ever they should go, and to enter the Brain of every Man who should read them, and if any of them would discover the author of Phylanthrop he was to return to the office and give the Hint to Ariel.

Not many Minutes after, in comes a Boy for a Paper and carries it into a certain Room in Town and gives it to a Gentleman, who seizes it with great Agitation and Impatience and reads. In thro his Eye Balls, flew the little Spirit into the much ruffled Regions of his Brain and attentively observes all that passes. It was that Paper Signd A,4 in which such a dismal Catalogue is given of the Governors Virtues. The first Thought which the Spirit observd after he had red a little while, was an Ejaculation Good God! what shall I do? what an everlasting Task have I undertaken to unravel all these facts and Reasonings? A Man must have more Charity and Phylanthropy than I have pretended to in the Name I have assumed, to cover this Multitude of sins.—I—Upon this the little one had all he wanted. He darted to Ariel 189and both of them returned in an Instant and reentered. I shall not enumerate all the Resolutions and Irresolutions, Hopes, fears, Resentments, Conflicts, Reasonings, Ridicule, Rage, Revenge, Compunction, Conviction, self Condemnation &c which took Place in his Mind while he rambled a while about the Town and at last crossed the ferry and walkd Home.

After he gets home, he retires to his office and seats himself at his Desk to ruminate and scrible. Where Ariel observd and recordd the following Lucubrations. I am the most miserable of all Mortals! I was born to trouble, as the Sparks fly upwards. I am not my own Man! I am a Slave! more unhappy than the basest Negro in Town, because I have the Sentiments of Liberty, her Feelings, the most exquisite Relish of her Charms, but am past a possibility of enjoying the heavenly Goddess! In the Affair of the Cabinet disputes, I was wronged, injured, abused, and my Brother was treated with the most wicked Cruelty. I began to vindicate my self And him. But it was signifyd to me that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, would be offended, if I proceded. And I knew that I had such dependance upon them that my Hands were ty'd, and I could not proceed.

And to go still further back. I knew and concievd in my soul, that the Legislative and Executive Powers ought to be kept asunder—that all Law, and all History, and common sense are in favour of this. And that all my Brethren of the Profession were of this Mind, yet my Masters prompted me to write and encouragd me with the Hopes of Bread and so I was brought to write the Pieces signed J in which among Many Instances in which I contradicted the sentiments of my Heart and Conscience I was prevail'd on to write in favor of the Judges sitting in Council.

And in Times of the late Stamp Act, I was fully and clearly, satisfyd, in my own Mind that the Parliament had no Authority to pass such a Law, and that Resistance to it was not only lawful but meritorious lawdable and glorious. And I was then convinced and yet remain so, that Resistance on this side the Water, and that alone saved Us, and I felt an eager affection for my Country and a strong Inclination, to write upon these subjects, and had sometimes begun and wrote but fear of grieving Mr G——fe,5 and offending the Governor and Lieutenant Governor on whom my Bread, and my preservation from Gaol depended, always obstructed me.

And now, I must acknowledge within myself that this my native Country has been insulted, most arrogantly insulted, misrepresented at home, most wickedly, and maliciously misrepresented by the Governor, 190and schemes are now going on under his Direction, to irritate and inflame the People to some new Extravagance, that the Necessity of regular Troops, and of some new fund for independent Salaries to Crown officers, might be made to appear. Vile schemes my soul detests. But Judge Russell6 is gone to England, there is a Vacancy on the superiour Bench. This Vacancy haunts me. I have no rest by day, no sleep by Night.—Shall I hearken to the Remonstrances of my Conscience, and write no more! Why if I should not, Mr. Gridley, who stands well with the Governor, and has helped a long Time to keep him in Countenance, and whose indisputable Learning, Genius and Merit entitle him to fill that vacancy before any Man, will I have reason to think obtain it. Besides Brigr. Ruggles,7 if I leave real Merit, and come to the Governors Notions of it, by his endeavours to defend the Measures of the Congress, and by his other similar faithful services, and sufferings in that Cause both before and since has deserved the Place before Mr. G—f. And The Governor may be afraid of giving offence to those Gentlemen by appointing Goffe, and so may be disposed to befriend Judge Russell so much as to appoint no Body till his Return. And unless Mr Goffe is made a Judge I cannot be Attorney General. Oh Jesü! what would I do and give for that Place!

MSS (Adams Papers); Dft of an unpublished newspaper letter which has been conflated from two physically distinct but organically related drafts. The first of these, comprising the first three paragraphs printed above, was microfilmed as part of a 27-page cluster of MSS under the date Aug. – Sept. 1763 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles, signed U. 1763” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 343). The second, consisting of the remaining paragraphs, was microfilmed as part of a 20-page cluster of MSS under the date 16 Feb. 1767 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767” (same, Reel No. 344). For their actual provenance and date, see notes 1 and 6, below. See also note 3, below, for the only substantive textual alteration resulting from their conflation.


Although neither of the two drafts which have been conflated to produce the text as here given was signed or dated, the evidence is nearly conclusive that they are one of two “Misanthrop” pieces written as replies to Philanthrop in Jan. 1767. The last part of the signed Misanthrop draft above (No. V), certainly composed in January, promises resort to the occult to learn Philanthrop's identity. The present draft introduces the spirit Ariel. Moreover, this piece concludes with a fanciful soliloquy uttered by Philanthrop. That soliloquy is finished and signed “Misanthrop” in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:330–331. The physical appearance of the MS in the diary is different from that of the diary entry dated 31 Dec. 1766 that precedes it and similar to that of the conflated draft. That is, the ink is similarly heavy, and the pen point seems the same.


That is, Philanthrop in the Fleets' Boston Evening-Post.


In the first of the pieces from which this text has been conflated, the remainder of this paragraph, which concludes the draft, reads:

“The late remarkable Writer in Fleet, has furnished 191one of these Cases. His Name Phylanthrop professed Benevolence, but not Satisfyed with this, he was profuse in his Professions, of Sincerity, Justice, order, Piety, public Spirit, and even Christianity, and his Declarations frequent that he had no other View or Design, or Hope of Reward; and his Charges upon all who differed from him, of Malice, Envy, Ambition, Revenge, Cruelty, Turbulence, Petulance, Disaffection &c. were very liberal. These Professions, together with the very curious Instructions and Informations he gives to the Public, and his Panegyricks and Invectives.”


“A,” whom a contemporary identified as Samuel Adams (MHi:Harbottle Dorr Papers, 1B:564), began his answers to Philanthrop on 8 Dec. 1766 in the Boston Gazette. Philanthrop remarked that “A” had “more the appearance of a Gentleman” and seemed to promise “to confine himself within the bounds of decent freedom” (15 Dec. 1766).


Edmund Trowbridge (1709–1793), Massachusetts attorney general, 1749–1767, and Superior Court justice, 1767–1775, had for many years used the name Goffe because he had been raised by his uncle and guardian Col. Edmund Goffe (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 8:507–520).


Chambers Russell (1713–1766), Massachusetts vice admiralty judge, 1746–1766, died in England in Nov. 1766 while on a mission concerning a boundary dispute between New York and New Jersey (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 9:81–87). News of his death appeared in the Boston Post-Boy, 19 Jan. 1767. Obviously JA wrote before knowing about his death.


Brigadier Timothy Ruggles (1711–1795), as delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, had been one of two who refused to sign its resolves. He later became a noted loyalist (Morgan, Stamp Act , p. 109).

VII. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, 26 January 1767 JA Winthrop, Governor Boston Gazette (newspaper) Bradford, Governor VII. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, 26 January 1767 Adams, John Winthrop, Governor Boston Gazette (newspaper) Bradford, Governor
VII. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford
Monday, January 26, 1767 Messi'rs Edes and Gill

Please to insert the following.

Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford

We have often congratulated each other, with high satisfaction, on the glory we secured in both worlds, by our favourite enterprize of planting America. We were Englishmen. We were citizens of the world. We were christians. The history of nations and of mankind was familiar to us; and we considered the species chiefly in relation to the system of great nature, and her all-perfect author. In consequence of such contemplations as these, it was the unwearied endeavour of our lives, to establish a society, on English, humane, and christian principles. This, (altho' we are never unwilling to acknowledge that the age in which we lived, the education we received, and the scorn and persecution we endured, had tinctured our minds with prejudices unworthy of our general principles and real designs,) we are conscious was our noble aim. We succeeded to the astonishment of all mankind, and our posterity, in spite of all the terrors, and temptations which have from first to last surrounded them, and endangered their very being, have been supremely happy. But what shall we say to the 192principles, maxims, and schemes, which have been adopted, warmly defended, and zealously propagated in America, since our departure out of it? adopted I say, and propagated, more by the descendents of some of our worthiest friends, than by any others? You and I, have been happier, in this respect, than most of our contemporaries. If our posterity, have not, without interruption maintained the principal ascendency in public affairs, they have always been virtuous and worthy, and have never departed from the principles of the Englishman, the citizen of the world, and the christian. You very well remember, the grief, we felt, for many years together, at the gradual growth and prevalence of principles opposite to ours; nor have you forgotten our mutual joy, at the very unexpected resurrection of a spirit, which contributed so much to the restoration of that temper and those maxims, which we have all along wished and pray'd might be established in America. Calamities are the causticks and catharticks of the body politick. They arouse the soul. They restore original virtues. They reduce a constitution back to its first principles. And to all appearance, the iron sceptre of tyranny, which was so lately extended over all America; and which threatned to exterminate all, for which it was worth while to exist upon earth; terrified the inhabitants into a resolution and an ardor for the noble foundations of their ancestors.

But how soon is this ardor extinguished! In the course of a few months, they have cooled down, into such a tame, torpid state of indolence and inattention; that the missionaries of slavery, are suffered to preach their abominable doctrines, not only with impunity, but without indignation and without contempt.1 What will be the consequence, if that, (I will not say contemptible but abominable) writer Philanthrop, is allowed, to continue his wicked labours? I say, allowed, tho' I would not have him restrained by any thing, but the cool contempt and dispassionate abhorrence of his countrymen; because the country whose interiour character is so depraved as to be endangered from within by such a writer, is abandoned and lost. We are fully perswaded that New-England is in no danger from him; unless his endeavours should excite her enemies abroad, of whom she has many and extreamly inveterate and malicious; and enable them, in concert with others within her own bosom, whose rancour is no less malignant and venemous, to do her a mischief. With pleasure I see that gentlemen are taking measures to administer the antidote, with the poison.

As the sober principles of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny are so 193gravely inculcated, by this writer, as his artifices are so insidious, and his mis-affirmations so numerous, and egregious, you will excuse me if I should again trouble you with a letter upon these subjects, from your assured and immutable friend,


Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 26 Jan. 1767); partial Dft (Adams Papers); part of a 20-page cluster of MSS microfilmed under the date 16 Feb. 1767 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767”; “No. 1. N.B. Boston Gazette 26 Jany. 1767”; “(Incomplete).”


The partial draft ends at this point. There are no significant differences between draft and printed text.

VIII. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, Some Fragments, January 1767 JA Winthrop, Governor Bradford, Governor VIII. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, Some Fragments, January 1767 Adams, John Winthrop, Governor Bradford, Governor
VIII. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, Some Fragments
January 1767

I am Sorry to find Phylanthrop, attempting to vindicate the high flying, Maxims, the arbitrary Precedents, and the Tyrannical Practices of that self sufficient Innovator that arrogant, pedantical Tyrant King James the first.1

This Exception in the Dedimus,2 is laying the Ax to the Root of the Tree of Liberty. It is Hewing it down, or tearing it up, as Nero swore he would Virtue by the Roots.

They are so—and It was a fundamental of your Politicks and mine to take away their Power and render the People capable.

If the Prince is remarkable for his Gluttony Drunkeness and Lust, they commended his Temperance, and Chastity, if notorious for Falshood and Deceit, they admired his noble Simplicity and Sacred Regard to Probity and Truth, if he was malicious, cruel, and revengeful they extolled his Clemency, Moderation and Condescention, and if he was infamous for Sordid Avarice and unfeeling Rapacity, they celebrated his Generosity, Humanity, Magnificence and Liberality.3

All the Disputes that have been between Power and Priviledge, between Tyranny and Liberty, between Phylanthrop and me, may be reduced to this single Question, who shall judge? Private Judgment is the Right of Mankind, and from this all other Rights originate.

Now shall we allow this Right in Individuals, in the greatest Part of Mankind, and yet deny that Individuals, the greatest Part of Mankind, have a Capacity to judge?4 Would not this be a Contradiction and in terms and a solecism in Nature? I grant that sound and shew 194have too much Influence, on Mankind in general, but it is owing to such Tempers and Principles as Phylanthrops that

To the Printers.

Cassius from Bondage shall deliver Cassius.

MS (Adams Papers); part of a 20-page cluster of MSS, 3 blank pages separating this document from No. VII, above; microfilmed under the date 16 Feb. 1767 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767”; probably meant as possible ideas for the Winthrop-Bradford series of letters. For probable date see notes 1–4, below, and No. IX, note 1, below.


Philanthrop as subscriber to King James' belief in promoting dread of the prince is first mentioned by JA in No. IX, below.


The governor's power to administer the oath to newly elected representatives, discussed by Philanthrop, 26 Jan. 1767, Boston Evening-Post, and by JA in Nos. X and XI, below.


JA makes this point more briefly in No. XI, below.


In No. XI, below, JA discusses at length the question of “who shall judge.”

IX. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, 2 February 1767 JA Winthrop, Governor Bradford, Governor IX. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, 2 February 1767 Adams, John Winthrop, Governor Bradford, Governor
IX. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford
ante 2 February 1767 1

Govr. W. to Govr. B.

I promised you, another Letter, concerning the wicked Maxims, the delusive Arts, and the false Assertions, of that devoted Writer, Phylanthrop.

I remember to have read in Diodorus the Sicilian, of an Institution among the ancient Aegyptians, intended to reconcile a Reverence for the Persons of their Princes, with an Endeavour to instruct and reform them. This Method was, when they were desirous of warning their Monarchs against particular Vices, they commended and extolled them for opposite Virtues. And I must confess when I read in the first Dissertation of Phylanthrop, such tryumphant possitive assertions as these, “It must, it cannot but be evident, to all who are willing to see, and judge for them selves, notwithstanding the slander of Paskalos,2 Scribbling in the Gazette, or Tertullus harranguing in the Senate, that we never had a Governor in the Chair, who discoverd more Mildness and Condescention in his Administration or a more uniform Steady Attention to the true Interests of this Province than G——r B——d has discovered,” and his triumphant, Interogations Has he ever discovered the least Inclination to abridge Us of any of our constitutional Rights and Liberties? Has he ever attempted to stretch Prerogative beyond its just Bounds? &c. I was much inclined to believe that Phylanthrop was, attempting that Aegyptian Method of 195Reformation and Instruction. But, upon a more thorough Examination of Phylanthrops Writings I was soon convinced, he was more zealous to Shroud his Hero, from the candid Inspection, and free Examination of the public, than he was for his Amendment or Information. And upon a careful Review of all the Writings, subscribed with that Name, I should sooner believe the Author to have received his Education in the detestible society of the Gypsies, where it is said they administer an oath to every Member, on his first Admission, never to Speak one Word of Truth, than that his Attempt was an Imitation of the Custom of AEgypt.

Impotent, wretched, and little as Human Nature is, in Relation to Superiour Intelligences, yet you my old Friend and I know from dear bought Experience, that human Ambition is infinite. We know it because We have felt the cruel oppressions, which Sprung out of it. From this expansive allgrasping Passion, it has happened, that nothing could ever satiate the Lust of Tyrants. Alexander and Caeesar after having desolated one World, cryed for another to desolate, and having arisen gradually greatly above all Mortalls in Power, nothing would content them, but to be worshiped on Earth by their Fellow Men, as immortal Gods. That the subject, in the Eastern Monarchies may be kept in a continual Adoration of his Sovereign, and may be properly prepared, to submit thankfully to be tortured, mangled and slaughtered at his Pleasure, and that Tyrany may stalk and ravage in all his Horrors; it must be high Treason to look the Monarch in the Face.

This Reverence and Awe, this Dread and Terror of the Prince and his favourites has in all Ages and Nations been cultivated among their Vassalls and slaves. And indeed Usurpation would long since have been abolished in the World, if there was not a great Disposition in human Nature itself to Timidity, Staring, Astonishment and Adoration,—which the Rich, the Learned, the Cunning, and the Wicked, have addresd themselves to and aval'd themselves of. The very first Maxim of Tyranny, is and always was, to puzzle the Understandings and excite the Admiration of the People—inspire them if possible with Religious scruples about seeing the Persons of the Magistrate or Priest, without Prostration before them, and much more about enquiring into their Conduct or Thinking about it.

If We go from Greece and Rome and Aegypt and Turkey and Persia, and fetch our Examples from England we shall not find them wanting. That selfsufficient Innovator, that arrogant pedantical Tyrant, King James the first the great School Master of the Kingdom as 196he affected to style himself, inculcated the same Maxim, upon his Pupils, the Parliament and People of England.

In one of his Speeches to both Houses, in which he displayd all some of his exalted Notions of Monarchy and the Authority of Princes, he expressed himself in the following Terms. “I conclude then the Point, touching the Power of Kings, with this Axiom in Divinity, that as to dispute what God may do is Blasphemy, But what God wills that Divines may lawfully and do ordinarily dispute and discuss: so is it sedition in subjects to dispute what a King may do in the Height of his Power. I will not be content that my Power be disputed upon &c.”3

It is with inexpressible sorrow that I see, in a Country that has always been so dear to Us, a Writer So venal and prostituted, as gravely to transfer these awful and misterious Doctrines of Despotism, to a few small Provincial Magistrates.

His Words are these “an Attempt to destroy the established Form of Government, is the highest Crime versus the State—whoever Says or does any Thing tending to destroy it, is a public Enemy.4 Subordination is essential to every Form of Government. What ever tends to destroy subordination tends to destroy Government. Whatever tends to induce in the Minds of the People a Belief that subordination is not essential, tends to destroy subordination. And what ever tends to create in the Minds of the People, a Contempt of the Persons of those who hold the highest offices, tends to a Belief that Subordination is not essential, because the Person and office are so connected in the Minds of the greatest Part of Mankind, that a Contempt of the Person and a Veneration of the office, are incompatible.”

The Maxim intended to be established by this dark Train of Propositions, is to use Phylanthrops own Language is truly diabolical. In what Respect does this axiom differ from the Eastern Rule of Despotism that subjects shall never look their Princes in the Face. The Reason they give is the Same, to behold the Princes Face, will diminish his Reverence, and from thinking his Prince a God or an Angel in his Imagination, his sight will inform him, he is but a Mortal Man—or in other Words for the People to look at their Prince, tends to create in their Minds a Contempt of his Person, and consequently of his office.

I should be glad to know if Phylanthrop will extend his Doctrine so far? Would he prohibit the People of Boston from looking at the G——r — L——t G——r—&c looking in their Faces, and observing their Air especially if the People should have Skill in Phisiognomy by discover-197ing accidentally some malevolent Passion. The least Anger, Fear, Jealousy, or Revenge may tend to create in their Minds a Contempt of their Persons—nay if they should not happen to be handsome and Genteel, Ladies and fine Gentlemen may conceive some Contempt, even from their Features and shapes, tho their Countenances should be ever so sweet and pleasant. Or would our Writer extend his Maxim, only to Speaking and Writing, or in the Language of King James, would he only, not be content to have their Power disputed upon. Would he only have it sedition, to dispute what a Governor or other Ruler may do, in the Hight of his Power! Talking and Writing about the Actions of Rulers may tend I grant, to create in the Minds of the People both a Contempt and an Hatred of them, and so thought K. James. Is every Talker and Writer about their Actions and Power a public Enemy and guilty of Sedition, or the highest Crime versus the State? Phylanthrops pretended Limitation afterwards that the Persons of Rulers are sacred no longer than they pursue the Good of the Community, is worse than Nothing; for who shall judge when they pursue that noble End or when they deviate from it—shall the Rulers themselves judge or their subjects, Phylanthrop or J.?

MS (Adams Papers); part of a 20-page cluster of MSS microfilmed under the date 16 Feb. 1767 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767.” For probable date see note 1, below.


Presumably this is the second in the series of Winthrop-Bradford letters, never published because JA abandoned the approach taken in it, that of discussing Philanthrop's general principles, in favor of dealing with a particular issue: Bernard's refusal to administer oaths of office to two men, which Philanthrop raised 26 Jan. 1767. JA concluded No. VII, above, with a promise of another letter about Philanthrop's “sober principles of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny.” The present document begins “I promised you, another Letter,” and No. X, below, printed in the Gazette, also mentions the promise, but notes that it will depart from the original plan. In the issue of 2 Feb. 1767 the printers of the Gazette announced that a letter from Winthrop to Bradford had arrived too late for publication and would appear in the issue of 9 Feb. (its continuation appeared 16 Feb.). This circumstance suggests that the present document was written before 2 Feb.


For this pseudonym, see No. V, note 3, above.


In 1610, quoted, somewhat abridged, in G. W. Prothero, ed., Select Statutes and Other Constitutional Documents Illustrative of the Reigns of Elizabeth and James I, Oxford, 1906, p. 293–295. JA's rendition is accurate in substance except that before the last sentence that he quotes he omits the following: “But just kings will ever be willing to declare what they will do, if they will not incur the curse of God.”


JA omits at this point the following: “so far at least as to give a check to his proceedings; because his actions tend eventually to dissolve the society which is necessary for the defence and support of every individual in it” (Boston Evening-Post, 1 Dec. 1766).

198 X. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, 9 February 1767 JA Winthrop, Governor Boston Gazette (newspaper) Bradford, Governor X. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, 9 February 1767 Adams, John Winthrop, Governor Boston Gazette (newspaper) Bradford, Governor
X. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford
Monday, February 9, 1767 That the Hypocrite reign not, lest the People be ensnared. Job. Sir,

You have my promise of another letter, concerning the maxims, arts, and positions of Philanthrop; whose performances of the last week1 I shall proceed to consider, without any formal apology for departing from the plan I proposed at first.

The art employed by this writer, in the introduction to his account of the Concord2 anecdote, is worth observation; before we undertake an examination of the account itself, and his reasonings upon it. God forbid that I should trifle with religion, or blame any man for professing it publickly. But there is a decency to be observed in this. True religion is too modest and reserved to seek out the market places and corners of the streets, party news papers, and political pamphlets, to exhibit her prayers and devotions. Besides there is so much in the temper of times and manners of ages, that ostentations of this kind, may be more excusable in one century than in another. The age in which you and I lived, was religious to enthusiasm: Yet we may safely say, that canting and hypocrisy, were never carried to so shameless a pitch, even by a sir Henry Vane, an Oliver St. John, an Oliver Cromwell or an Hugh Peters, as Philanthrop in his last monday's paper has carried them. True religion, my friend Bradford, was the grand motive, with you and me, to undertake our arduous and hazardous enterprize, and to plant a religion in the world, on the large and generous principles of the bible, without teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, or any mixture of those pompous rituals, and theatrical ceremonies, which had been so successfully employed, to delude and terrify men out of all their knowledge, virtue, liberty, piety and happiness, a religion that should never be made subservient to the pride, ambition, avarice, or lust, of an aspiring priesthood, or a cruel and usurping magistracy, was our incessant aim, and unwearied endeavour. And we have now the happiness to reflect on our success: for at least we have approached nearer to such an institution, than any others have done, since the primitive ages of christianity. And altho' stiffness, formality, solemnity, grimace and cant, very common in our times, have worn off, in a great measure from New-England: yet true religion, on the plan of freedom, popular power and private 199judgment, remains and prospers. This we are fully perswaded is truth, tho' the deluded Philanthrop seems to be so far given up to blindness of mind, as to think that his quotations from scripture, his affected meekness, charity, benevolence and piety; his formal stiffness and hypocritical grimace, will divest his countrymen of their senses, and screen him from their jealousy, while he is tearing up, by his principles and practices, conversation and writings, the foundations of their constitution, both in church and state.

But it is not only by attempting to throw around himself the rays of religion, that this writer has attempted to deceive his countrymen: he has laboured to possess their minds with principles in government, utterly subversive of all freedom, tending to lull them into an indolent security and inattention. In one of his late papers he has a paragraph to this purpose, “a brave and free people who are not thro' luxury, enervated and sunk to that degree of effeminate indolence, which renders them insensible to the difference, between freedom and slavery, can never fail to perceive the approaches of arbitrary power. The constitution of all free governments, especially that of the English, is of such a nature, the principles of it are so familiar, and so interwoven with the human mind, and the rulers are so circumscribed with positive laws, for the directing and controling their power, that they can never impose chains and shackles on the people, nor even attempt it, without being discovered. In such a government and among such a people, the very first act, in pursuance of a design to enslave or distress the subjects in general, must be so obvious, as to render all false colouring totally unnecessary to arouse the public attention; a simple narration of facts, supported by evidence, which can never be wanting in such a case, will be sufficient, and will be the surest means to convince the people of their danger.”3

What conclusion, shall a candid reader draw, by a fair interpretation from this wordy, cloudy passage? would he not conclude, that a free government, especially the English, was a kind of machine, calculated for perpetual motion and duration? That no dangers attended it? And that it may easily preserve and defend itself, without the anxiety or attention of the people?

The truth is precisely the reverse of this. Tho' a few individuals may perceive the approaches of arbitrary power, and may truly publish their perceptions to the people; yet it is well known the people are not perswaded without the utmost difficulty, to attend to facts and evidence. Those who covet such power, always have recourse to secresy and the 200blackness of darkness, to cover their wicked views, and have always their parties and instruments and minions at hand to disguise their first approaches, and to vilify and abuse, as turbulent destroyers of the public peace, as factious, envious, malicious pretenders to patriotism, as sowers and stirers of sedition, all those who perceive such approaches, and endeavour to inform and undeceive their neighbours. Liberty, instead of resting securely within the entrenchment of any free constitution of government, ever yet invented and reduced to practice, has always been surrounded with dangers—exposed to perils by water and by fire. The world, the flesh and the devil have always maintained a confederacy against her, from the fall of Adam to this hour, and will probably continue so till the fall of Antichrist. Consider the common-wealths of Greece. Were not their liberties in continual danger? Were not the wisest of them so sensible of it, as to establish a security of liberty, I mean the ostracism, even against the virtues of their own citizens? that no individual, even by his valour, public spirit, humanity and munificence, might endear himself so much to his fellow citizens, as to be able to deceive them, and engross too much of their confidence and power. In Rome, how often were the people cheated out of their liberties, by Kings, Deumvirs, Triumvirs, and conspirators of other denominations? In the times when Roman valour, simplicity, public spirit and frugality were at the highest, tyranny, in spight of all the endeavours of her enemies, was sometimes well nigh established, and even a Tarquin, could not be expelled but by civil war. In the history of the English nation, which Philanthrop is pleased to distinguish from all others, how many arbitrary reigns do we find since the conquest? sometimes, for almost an whole century together, notwithstanding all the murmur, clamour, speeches in the senate, writings from the press, and discourses from the pulpit, of those whom Philanthrop calls turbulent destroyers of the public peace: but you and I think, the guardian angels of their countries liberties, the English nation, has trembled and groaned under tyranny.

For reasons like these, the spirit of liberty, is and ought to be a jealous, a watchful spirit. Obsta Principiis4 is her motto and maxim; knowing that her enemies are secret and cunning, making the earliest advances slowly, silently and softly, and that according to her unerring oracle Tacitus, “the first advances of tyranny are steep and perilous, but when once you are entered, parties and instruments are ready to espouse you.” It is one of these early advances, these first approaches of arbitrary power, which are the most dangerous of all, and if not 201prevented, but suffered to steal into precedents, will leave no hope of a remedy without recourse to nature, violence, and war, that I now propose to consider.

And in the first place, let us see how far the court writer and his opponents are agreed in the facts. They seem to agree that two gentlemen chosen and returned as members of the house, were expressly excepted by the Governor, in the Dedimus, or power of administring the usual oaths to the members of the house. That the house, i.e. the gentlemen returned from the other towns, besides Newbury, would not receive the dedimus with this exception, i.e. refused themselves to be sworn by virtue of it. I say by the way, that Philanthrop agrees to this fact, tho' he seems to endeavour by the obscurity of his expression to disguise it, because the house itself must have considered the exception, as an infraction of their right, tho' Philanthrop only says it was so considered by some among them, otherwise the house would not have chosen a committee to remonstrate against the exception. That the governor erased the exception, or gave a new Dedimus, upon the remonstrance of the committee. That the governor however gave it up, only for that time, expresly reserving the claim of right to except members out of the commission, and told the committee he should represent the case home, for further instructions concerning it. This being the acknowledged state of facts,5 trifling with the instance in the reign of King James the first, is as good a proof of Philanthrop's knowledge in history and the constitution, as his shrewd suggestion that Cassius and B.B.6 are the same person is of his sagacity. It is with real sorrow that I now observe and propose hereafter to demonstrate, that both Philanthrop and his idol are too much enamoured with the fine examples of the Jemmys and Charleys, and too much addicted to an aukward imitation of their conduct, one example of such an imitation is this of the Dedimus at Concord, this memorable attempt to garble the house of representatives, which bears so exact a resemblance to the conduct of that self-sufficient innovator, that pedantical tyrant, that I own it seems more probable to me to have been copied designedly from it; than to have happened by accident. For the gentleman whose conduct and character Philanthrop defends cannot be denied to be well read in the reigns of the Stuarts, and therefore cannot be supposed to have been ignorant of James's conduct.7 That a solid judgment may be formed of the nature of the priviledge for which I contend, and whether it has been invaded or not, I shall produce a short sketch 202of the history of that transaction, and will then produce the opinion of writers, quite impartial, or to be sure not partial in my favour, concerning it.

[To be continued]

Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 9 Feb. 1767); partial Dft (Adams Papers), part of a 20-page cluster of MSS microfilmed under the date 16 Feb. 1767 and docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767”; this item docketed: “Rough draught. Boston Gazette 16 Feby. 1767.” There are no substantive differences between Dft and printed text, of which the Dft includes all but a portion of the final paragraph.


That is, 26 Jan. 1767. JA says “last week” because his response was originally intended for publication in the issue of 2 Feb. See No. IX, note 1, above.

In his letter of 26 Jan., Philanthrop rebutted charges that Gov. Bernard had infringed upon the right of the House of Representatives to judge the qualifications of its members by refusing to swear in two representatives from Newbury in May 1764 who he believed had been illegally elected. According to Philanthrop, however, the accusation had little substance. In 1763, he pointed out, Bernard had demonstrated his willingness to conciliate the House by ignoring a royal instruction against further division of Massachusetts towns in order to approve an act dividing the town of Newbury, which hitherto had enjoyed the privilege of sending two representatives to the lower house, into the towns of Newbury and Newburyport, each to have one representative. Despite the clarity of the law reducing Newbury's representation that town returned two members to the House in May 1764. Bernard, having been informed that the House did not examine election returns until after Council members had been chosen on the first day of meeting, and not wanting two illegally elected representatives to participate in the Council elections, decided to exclude the Newbury representatives from the oath-taking. His action brought complaints that the Governor was interfering with the right of the House to determine the qualifications of its members. Bernard then met with some representatives and councilors and explained that he did not want two questionably elected representatives taking part in the election of councilors. It was then explained to Bernard that it was the custom of the House to examine disputed returns before choosing the Council. Claiming that he had misunderstood, Bernard issued a new Dedimus, including the two men from Newbury. The House then voted for councilors; afterward it decided that Newbury was entitled to only one representative and ordered the town to hold new elections (Mass., House Jour. , 1764–1765, 41:8–9). Thus, what Philanthrop's critics called malice, he attributed to ignorance of parliamentary procedure in Massachusetts.


Because of smallpox in Boston the General Court met in Concord in May 1764 (Mass., House Jour. , 1764–1765, 41:vii).


Boston Evening-Post, 5 Jan. 1767.


Resist the first beginnings.


Draft ends here.


“Cassius” and “B.B.,” two unidentified critics of Philanthrop (Boston Gazette, 5, 12 Jan. 1767).


JA expressed a frank opinion of the character of Governor Bernard in the margin of his copy of Thomas Hollis' The True Sentiments of America, London, 1768, p. 92, Bernard's speech on the prorogation of the General Court, 4 March 1768. Next to Bernard's remark “But there are men to whose being (I mean the being of their importance) everlasting contention is necessary,” JA wrote: “true! and Bernard was the very first in the List of those Men.”

203 XI. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, 16 February 1767 JA Winthrop, Governor Boston Gazette (newspaper) Bradford, Governor XI. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford, 16 February 1767 Adams, John Winthrop, Governor Boston Gazette (newspaper) Bradford, Governor
XI. Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford
Monday, February 16, 1767 Remainder of Governor Winthrop's second Letter to Governor Bradford, begun in our last.

If we go back as far as the reign of Elizabeth, we find her, on one occasion, infringing on this priviledge, of the Commons, of judging solely, of their own elections and returns. This attempt was however so warmly resented by the Commons, that they instantly voted “That it was a most perilous precedent, when two knights of a county were duly elected, if any new writ should issue out, for a second election, without order of the house itself; that the discussing and adjudging of this and such like differences, belonged only to the house; and that there should be no message sent to the Ld. Chancellor, not so much as to enquire what he had done, in the matter; because it was conceived to be a matter derogatory to the power and priviledge of the house.”1 After this vote, which had in it something of the spirit of liberty and independency, we hear of no more disputes upon that subject, till we come to the reign of James the first, whose whole life was employed in endeavouring to demolish every popular power, in the constitution, and to establish the awful and absolute sovereignty of Kingship, that, as he express'd himself to the convocation, Jack and Tom, and Dick and Will, might not meet and censure him and his Council. And in order to accomplish the important purpose of his reign, he thought that nothing could be more useful, than to wrest from the Commons, into his own hands, or those of his creature, the Chancellor, the adjudication of their elections and returns. Outlaws, whether for misdemeanours or debts, had been declared by the judges, in the reign of Henry the sixth, incapable by law of a seat in the house, where they themselves must be lawgivers. Sir Francis Goodwin was now chosen for the county of Bucks, and his return was made as usual into Chancery. The Chancellor decreed him an outlaw, vacated his seat, and issued writs for a new election. Sir John Fortesque was chosen in his room. But the first act of the house was to reverse the decree of the Chancellor, and restore Goodwin to his seat. At James's instigation the Lords desired a conference on this subject, but were absolutely refused by the Commons, as the question regarded intirely their own priviledges. They agreed however to make a remonstrance to the King, by their speaker; where they maintained that tho' the returns were by form made into chancery, yet the sole right of judging with regard to elections belonged to the house itself. James was not 204satisfied, and ordered a conference between the house and the judges. The Commons were in some perplexity. Their eyes were now opened, and they saw the consequences of that power, which had been assumed, and to which their predecessors had in some instances blindly submitted.2 This produced many free speeches in the house, “By this course, said one member, the free election of the counties is taken away, and none shall be chosen but such as shall please the King and Council. Let us therefore with fortitude, understanding and sincerity, seek to maintain our priviledges. This cannot be construed any contempt in us, but merely a maintenance of our common rights, which our ancestors have left us, and which is just and fit for us to transmit to our posterity.” Another said, this may be called a quo warranto to seize all our liberties. “A Chancellor, added a third, by this course may call a parliament consisting of what persons he pleases. Any suggestion by any person, may be the cause of sending a new writ. It is come to this plain question, whether the Chancery or Parliament ought to have authority.”3 The Commons however, notwithstanding this watchful spirit of liberty, appointed a committee to confer with the judges before the King and Council. There the question began to appear a little more doubtful than the King had imagined, and to bring himself off, he proposed that Goodwin and Fortesque should both be set aside, and a writ be issued by the house, for a new election. Goodwin consented, and the Commons embraced this expedient; but in such a manner, that while they shewed their regard for the King, they secured for the future, the free possession of their seats, and the right which they claimed of judging solely of their own elections and returns. Hume who will not be suspected of prejudice against the Stuarts, and in whose words very nearly this story is related, remarks at the conclusion, “Power like this, so essential to the exercise of all their other powers, themselves so essential to public liberty, cannot fairly be deemed an encroachment in the Commons, but must be regarded as an inherent priviledge, happily rescued from that ambiguity, which the negligence of former parliments had thrown upon it.”4 Smollet concludes his account of this affair with this reflection, “Thus the commons secured to themselves the right of judging solely in their own elections and returns.”5 And my Ld. Bolingbroke, whose knowledge of the constitution will not be disputed, whatever may be justly said of his religion, and his morals, remarks upon this transaction of James thus, “Whether the will of the Prince becomes a law independently of parliament, or whether it is made so upon every occasion, by the concurrence of parliament, arbitrary power is alike 205established. The only difference lies here. Every degree of this power, which is obtained without parliament, is obtained against the forms, as well as against the spirit of the constitution; and must therefore be obtained with difficulty and possessed with danger. Whereas in the other method of obtaining and exercising this power, by and with parliament, if it can be obtained at all, the progress is easy and short, and the possession of it is so far from being dangerous, that liberty is disarmed, as well as oppressed by this method; that part of the constitution (viz. the house of commons) which was instituted to oppose the encroachments of the Crown, the maladministration of men in power, and every other grievance, being influenced to abet these encroachments, to support this mal-administration, and even to concur in opposing the grievances.”6

Now if we compare the attempt of King James, with the attempt of the Governor, who can discern a difference between them? James would have vacated the seat of Sir Francis Goodwin, because his election was against law, i.e. because Sir Francis was an outlaw; The Governor would have vacated the seats of Col. Gerrish and Capt. Little, because their election was against law, i.e. because they were both chosen and returned by a town, which by law was to choose and return but one. The King in one case, the Governor in the other, made himself judge of the legality of an election, and usurped authority to vacate the seats of members. I consider the power of the Chancellor here, which the King contended for as the power of the King, because there is no great difference in such cases, as has been very well known from the time of James to this day, between the power of the creator and that of the creature. And I say vacate the seats, because an exception from the Dedimus, is an absolute annihilation of a gentleman's seat, because by charter no man can vote or act as a representative till he has taken the oaths. It is as entire an exclusion from the house as an expulsion would be.

We will now if you please throw together a few reflections upon the soothing, amazing, melting solution of this arduous difficulty, with which Philanthrop has entertained the public.

He begins with an instruction to the Governor from his Majesty, not to consent to the division of towns.7 There has often been conversation during the administration of several late Governors, concerning such a royal instruction, which for any thing that I know may be a good one: but let it be good or evil, or whether there is any such or not, it has been found in experience, that when the division of a town would make way for the election of a friend, this instruction 206has been no impediment; and I need not go further than Concord and Newbury for two examples of this. Though I must go as far as the celebrated Berkshire for an instance of another member and favorite chosen and returned, as expressly against the instruction and law of the province, and knowingly suffered by the Governor to be sworn, without any exception in the Dedimus, and to vote for the Council, and finally left to the house, without any exception, caveat, message or hint to judge of their privilege, and vacate his seat. But to return to the instruction, is it a command to the governor to take upon himself to judge of the legality or illegality of the choice, returns or qualifications of the members of the house? No man will pretend this, or dare to throw such an infamous affront upon his Majesty or his Ministers, who perfectly know that even his Majesty himself has no right or authority whatever to judge in this matter. And that for the King himself to attempt to judge of the elections, returns or qualifications of the members of the house of Commons, or of the house of Representatives, would be an invasion of their privilege, as really as for them to coin money, or issue commissions in the militia, would be an encroachment on the Royal prerogative. If Newbury had sent ten, and Boston forty members, has the common law, or any act of parliament, or any law of the province, or this his Majesty's instruction, made the governor the judge, that those towns have not a right by law to send so many? The only question is, who shall judge? Is it the purport of that instruction, that the governor should except the forty and the ten out of the Dedimus? Would it not be as much as the King would expect of the governor, if he should give the Dedimus in the usual form, that is, to swear all the members, and leave it to the house to judge who the members were? And if the governor really supposed, as Philanthrop says he did, that the house would be jealous of the honor of their own laws, why should he have taken that jealousy away from them? Why did he not leave it to them to vindicate their own cause? If he had known any facts in this case, of which the house was not apprized, it would have been friendly and constitutional in him to have hinted it privately to some member of the house, that he might have moved it there. But there was no pretence of this, the case of Newbury being as well known to the house as to the governor. Or if he must have inserted himself in the business publickly, he might have sent the necessary information to the house in a message, recommending it to their consideration, not giving his own opinion, for this would have been an infraction of their privilege; because they are the sole judges in the matter, and ought not to be under the in-207fluence even of a message from his E——y, expressing his opinion, in deciding so very delicate a point as elections and returns, a point on which all the peoples liberties depend. Five members chosen and returned by Boston would be an illegal election; but how should the Governor come by his knowledge, that Boston had chosen and returned five? how should the precepts and returns come into his hands? It is no part of his Excellency's duty to examine the returns which are made to the sheriff, and lodg'd in the secretary's office. There can be no objection to his looking over them to satisfy his curiosity; but to judge of them belongs wholly to another department. Suppose him to have inspected them, and found five returned for Boston, would not this be as manifestly against the spirit of the instruction, and the standing law of the province, as the case of Newbury? And what pretence would he have to judge of this illegal election, any more than of any other? Suppose, for instance, it was proved to his Excellency, that twenty members returned were chosen by corruption, that is, had purchased the votes of the electors by bribery; or let it be proved that any number of the members had taken Rhode-Island or New-Hampshire bills, were out-laws, or chosen by a few inhabitants of their towns without any legal meeting, these would be equally illegal elections, equally against the instruction, and the law of the land: but shall the governor judge of these things, and vacate all such seats, by refusing them their oaths? Let it be suggested that a member is an infant, an idiot, a woman in man's cloathing, a leper, a petit-maitre, an enemy to government, a friend to the governor's enemies, a turbulent destroyer of the public peace, an envious malicious pretender to patriotism, any one of these, or a thousand other pretences, if the Governor is once allowed to judge of the legality or illegality of elections and returns, or of the qualifications or dis-qualifications of members, may soon be made sufficient to exclude any or all whom the Governor dislikes.8 The supposition that Boston should send forty, and all the other towns ten, is possible; but it is not less improbable that the Governor, and all others in authority, should be suddenly seized with a delirium, negative every counsellor chosen, dissolve the house, call another, dissolve that, command all the militia to muster and march to the frontiers, and a thousand other raving facts; and all that can be said is, that when such cases shall happen, the Government will be dissolved, and individuals must scramble as well as they can for themselves, there being no resource in the positive constitution for such wild cases. But surely, a negative, a right of exception in the Dedimus, would be of no service to him in such a case. So that no 208justification or excuse for the Governor's apprehensions or conduct, can be drawn from such supposed cases.

How the Governor's conduct in signing the bill for dividing Newbury came to be considered as so very friendly, and highly obliging, is not easily comprehended, unless every act of the Governor is to be considered in that light. If he signed the bill to oblige any particular friend, or in order that a friend's friend might get into the house, it was friendly and obliging no doubt to such friends: but if he signed it because he thought it for the general good, as I suppose he did, it was a part of his general duty, as governor, and no more obliging than any other act of equal importance. I suppose here that such conduct was not inconsistent with what he knew to be the intention of his instructions; for surely no man will call it friendly and obliging wilfully to break his instructions, for so small a benefit to the province as dividing a town. So that he can't be imagined to have run any risque in this case, any more than in any other instance of his duty.

It is asserted that the Governor had been misinformed concerning the custom of the house. How far this is true I know not. But had he been informed that they had a custom to let the Governor judge of their elections and returns! a custom to let him pick out whom he would to be sworn, and whom he would to send home! unless he had been informed of such a custom, I cannot see that any other misinformation can defend or even palliate his taking that part upon himself. But surely he had opportunity enough to have had the truest information. There were gentlemen eno' of both houses ready to acquaint him with the customs, nay the journals of the house would have informed him that the returns were all read over the first day before they proceeded to the choice of counsellors. And he ought, one would think, to have been very sure he was right, before he made so direct an onset on so fundamental a priviledge. Besides it has been, and is very credibly reported, and I believe it to be true, that he gave out, more than a week before that election, what he would do and did, and that some of his friends fearing the consequences, waited on him on purpose to diswade him from such an attempt, but without success. So that it was no sudden thought, nor inadvertency, nor rashness of passion—I report this as I have before some other things, from credible information, and real belief, without calling on witnesses by name, as such evidence is lately come in fashion, and is thought alone sufficient to support narratives and depositions sent to the boards at home, charging the blackest crimes on the country, and some of the most respectable characters in it. But admitting he was 209misinformed of the custom, I can't see that this is of any weight at all in the dispute. Whether the house examined any returns at all the first day or not, he could have no pretence to interpose. If he thought the custom was to examine no returns till the second day, and that such a custom was wrong, and ought to be altered, he might for ought I know, unexceptionably have sent a message, recommending this matter to the consideration of the house, not dictating to them how they should decide, much less should he have decided himself without consulting them, much less should he have taken from them the opportunity of judging at all, as by excepting the gentlemen out of the Dedimus in fact he did.

Philanthrop makes it a problematical point, whether his E——y's apprehensions or the custom of the house be most consonant to reason and our constitution. I confess myself at a loss to know from his account what his E——y's apprehensions were. If he means that his E——y apprehended that the house ought to change their custom, and decide upon all elections and returns before they proceed to the choice of councellors, I agree with him that such a point is immaterial to the present dispute, but if he means that his E——y apprehended he had a right to except such members out of the Dedimus as he pleas'd, or any members at all, he begs the question, and assumes that it is problematical whether he is or is not sole judge of elections, has or has not the same cathartic negative to administer when he thinks proper to the house, as he has to the board, which according to all the authorities I have cited before, and according to common sense, is to make it problematical whether the Governor has or has not plenary possession of arbitrary power.

It is asserted by our writer, that the two gentlemen were sworn and voted or might have voted. As to their being sworn, there could not possibly any harm accrue from any gentleman's taking the oaths of allegiance, subscribing the declaration, &c. and if the committee had been pleased to swear the whole country on that occasion, no damage would have been done, and from whence the Governor's dread of administering the oaths of allegiance to those gentlemen could arise, I can't conceive; from scruples of conscience it could not be, because he has often taken those oaths himself. As to the gentlemen's voting, I believe Philanthrop is mistaken, because I have been strongly assured they did not, but that they stood by, till the elections were over, as it was expected by the other members that they should. However I do not affirm this—The gentlemen themselves can easily determine this matter.


Philanthrop is often complaining of skulking, dark insinuations, &c. but I know of no man who deals in it so much as he. Witness among a thousand others, his base insinuations about the Senate and Gazette in his first piece, and what he says in his last about such a thing, being given out from a certain quarter, from what principle he will not say, a very dark unintelligible insinuation of no body knows what, against no body knows whom, which leaves every body to fix what he will on whom he will, and tends only to amuse and mislead.9 And nearly of the same character is a curious expression, somewhere in the piece, calling the exception of the two gentlemen out of the Dedimus, a Caveat to the House—which is about as sensible as it would be to cut off a man's legs and chain him fast to a tree, and then give him a caution, a Caveat, not to run away.

That the Governor did not succeed in his attempt is no proof that he did not make it. Our thanks are not due to him, but to the house, that this Dedimus was not received; all the members sworn by virtue of it, and itself lodged on file, as a precedent, to silence all envious and revengeful declaimers, both for himself and all his successors. It is equally true that King James did not succeed in his attempt, but gave it up. Yet all historians have recorded that attempt as a direct, and formidable attack on the freedom of elections, and as one proof that he aimed at demolishing the constitution, at stretching prerogative beyond its just bounds, and at abridging the constitutional rights and liberties of the nation. What should hinder but that a Governor's attempt should be recorded too? I doubt not a Bacon quibbling and canting his adulation to that Monarch in order to procure the place of Attorney General or Lord Chancellor, might celebrate his Majesty's friendly, modest, obliging behaviour in that affair: yet even the mighty genius of Bacon could never rescue his sordid soul from contempt for that very adulation, with any succeeding age.


Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 16 Feb. 1767); partial Dft (Adams Papers), part of a 20-page cluster of MSS docketed by CFA: “Original Draughts of Newspaper Articles Governor Winthrop to Governor Bradford. 1767”; this item docketed: “Rough draught. Boston Gazette 16 Feby. 1767.” For this letter the Dft includes merely part of the fourth paragraph, as noted below.


Quoted from David Hume, The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688 (6 vols., Boston, 1854, 4:231–232). The Catalogue of JA's Library lists an edition for 1778 although this work was first published in 8 vols. in 1763.


This description of the Goodwin episode was taken almost verbatim from Hume (same, p. 233).


Same, p. 233–234.


Same, p. 234.


Tobias Smollet, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius 211Caesar, to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, 16 vols., London, 1758–1765, 7:16 ( Catalogue of JA's Library ).


Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, Remarks on the History of England, London, [17—], p. 251–252.


Draft begins with this paragraph.


Draft ends here.


Philanthrop vaguely claimed that after the passage of the 1763 act reducing Newbury's representation, “it was given out, from a certain Quarter, from what principle, I will not say, that . . . Newbury might send two Representatives, notwithstanding the law of the province” (Boston Evening-Post, 26 Jan. 1767).