Papers of John Adams, volume 2

From William Woodfall

To Robert Treat Paine

22 Report to the General Court on Massachusetts Boundaries: [March—May 1774] Report to the General Court on Massachusetts Boundaries: [March—May 1774]
Report to the General Court on Massachusetts Boundaries
March—May 1774







Editorial Note Editorial Note
Editorial Note

Perhaps none of John Adams' services to Massachusetts was so demanding and time-consuming as the report on the boundaries of the province that he prepared for the General Court in 1774—and perhaps none of his public papers has offered so many challenges to students of his career. In 1961, the editors of The Adams Papers had to describe this triumph of legal and historical scholarship as an “elaborate but apparently irrecoverable report” (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:304, note). Since then, the work of other scholars and a more exhaustive canvass of the Adams manuscripts have enabled the present editors to identify a fragmentary draft of one of the report's three sections (No. II, below) and a draft fragment and contemporary copy of a second portion of that document (Nos. III and VI, below). The manuscript report itself remains lost, and identification of surviving portions was made possible only by painstaking investigation, some of it by other than Adams editors, of the task facing Adams and James Bowdoin on 1 March 1774 when they were named to prepare a “State of the Provinces Title” to lands claimed by her neighbors, New Hampshire and New York.

Preparation of this “State,” which fell to Adams, required a mastery of the history of boundary lines on no fewer than four frontiers, with reference to Dutch and English explorations and analyses of grants from kings to princes and from chartered companies to individuals. The claims of Massachusetts rested on three grants of the early seventeenth century: James I's charter to the Plymouth Council in 1620; that Council's con-23veyance of lands from three miles south of the Charles River to three miles north of the Merrimack River to Sir Henry Rosewell and his associates in 1628; and the charter of 1629, which incorporated the Rosewell grant into the colony of Massachusetts Bay. (The charters of 1620 and 1629 are printed in Thorpe, Federal and State Constitutions , 3:1827–1860; terms of the Rosewell grant are on p. 1847–1848.) All three granted lands with explicit north-south bounds which were to extend from “sea to sea.” The 1629 charter, however, added the proviso that the grant became void if the granted lands were already possessed or settled by some other Christian prince (same, p. 1850).

The validity of these ancient grants was weakened by the revocation of the colony's charter in 1684. Under a new charter, issued in 1691, that made Massachusetts Bay a royal province, the description of its bounds was altered. The province retained jurisdiction over Maine and was enlarged to include the old Plymouth Colony, but the north-south boundaries of Massachusetts were to extend west only as far as those of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Narragansett Country, that is, “King's Province” in Rhode Island (same, p. 1876).

The creation of the colony of New York in 1664 jeopardized even these western bounds of New England provinces. By a grant to his brother the Duke of York Charles II established a vast proprietorship which included ungranted lands in Maine, the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Long Island, and the claims of the Dutch in New Netherland. This last tract, encompassing the lands between the Connecticut and Delaware rivers, cut squarely across the claims of New England colonies with sea-to-sea charters. With this fact in mind, Charles II's letters patent of 1664 contained the proviso that the grant to his brother was to be good despite grants made earlier by any former king to any person or corporation. The grant of 1664 was made in anticipation of the conquest of New Netherland by England. After the conquest and Dutch cession of their North American claims, the grant to James was confirmed in a second charter in identical terms in 1674 (same, p. 1640, 1641–1644).

In 1774 Adams would have to immerse himself in these charters and in the history of the attempts to reconcile their contradictory terms and inaccurate descriptions of New England geography. The Bay Colony's land disputes with New Hampshire had, supposedly, been ended by a decision of the King in Council, 5 March 1740. This decree, which settled New Hampshire's boundary both on the east with the province of Maine and, on the south, with Massachusetts proper, was considered unjust by Massachusetts partisans. In setting the Maine–New Hampshire boundary, the decree interpreted a line running “north-westward” to be one running north, two degrees west, instead of north, forty-five degrees west, as Massachusetts and most geographers would have defined the term.

The decree's settlement of New Hampshire's southern boundary seemed equally unfair to the Bay province. Seventeenth-century grants to both colonies had been made on the assumption that the Merrimack River fol-24lowed an east-west course. Thus the grant to Rosewell in 1628 had been for lands extending three miles north of the Merrimack “or to the northward of any and every parte thereof.” All Privy Council actions upon disputes arising between Massachusetts and New Hampshire grantees in the seventeenth century, and even the charter from William and Mary in 1691, had repeated this description of the northern boundary of Massachusetts. The Merrimack, however, follows an east-west course for only some thirty miles between Pawtucket Falls and the Atlantic coast. Going upstream beyond the falls, one travels almost due north; so a strict interpretation of the line would have confined New Hampshire to a narrow strip east of the Merrimack.

Refusing to accept this boundary definition, New Hampshire began formal appeals to the Crown in 1726. Massachusetts responded by accelerating the settlement of towns in the disputed area west of the Merrimack. Despite this tactic, Massachusetts lost its claim to lands beyond the river. The Privy Council decree of 1740 invalidated the Merrimack as the basis for most of the Massachusetts–New Hampshire line: the boundary was to parallel the river from the coast to Pawtucket Falls; there it was to continue west rather than turn northward. Under this generous decision, New Hampshire received seven hundred square miles of territory that it had never before claimed (Jonathan Smith, “The Massachusetts and New Hampshire Boundary Line Controversy, 1693–1740,” MHS, Procs. , 43 [1909–1910] 77–88; and Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 2:290–297).

Whatever the inequities of these decisions, Massachusetts made no attempt to reopen the question until one section of the lands awarded New Hampshire in 1740 became part of an even more complicated dispute, that of New York and New Hampshire over the “Hampshire Grants.” New York's claim to lands as far east as the Connecticut River had early brought her into conflict with her three New England neighbors. As a matter of expediency, New York had agreed in 1683 to run a compromise line with Connecticut twenty miles east of the Hudson, but had conceded nothing to New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In 1764 the Privy Council upheld the rights of New York to the lands disputed with New Hampshire—the tract between the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain which comprises the modern state of Vermont. Nevertheless, confusion over land titles in the region, where governors of both provinces had made grants before the boundary settlement, kept dissension in the “Hampshire Grants” alive until the Revolution. (For an able summary of this controversy, see Matt B. Jones, Vermont in the Making, 1750–1777, Cambridge, 1939, chs. I–III.)

This confusion over titles in “the Grants” brought the boundary question before the General Court in 1774 and gave John Adams the chore of mastering the intricacies of provincial charters and territorial claims, an intellectual feat which served him well in his later career as a diplomat. (For Adams' discussion of the uses he made of his early research into these 25matters, see Works , 1:666–669.) The history of Adams' appointment to report on Massachusetts' boundaries began with a petition submitted to the province Council on 19 February 1774. The petition came from John Powell, Charles Phelps, and others with an interest in that section of the lands annexed from Massachusetts to New Hampshire under the 1740 boundary settlement and, in turn, awarded to New York under the 1764 decree fixing New Hampshire's western boundary. Powell's petition set forth the “ancient right” of Massachusetts to lands then under New York jurisdiction and called for their reannexation to Massachusetts (M-Ar: Legislative Council Records, 30 [1773–1774]: 183).

Although the petition itself, heard in the Council in February 1774, has not survived, it was doubtless a recital of the same demands presented by Powell and others in a petition dated 6 July 1772 heard in July 1772 (M-Ar: 118, p. 643–646; this petition and its effects are discussed at length in Jones, Vermont, p. 186–190). The earlier petition recounted the plight of settlers, like Powell, whose land titles were based on pre-1740 grants from Massachusetts in the southern portion of what is now Vermont. Upon transfer of jurisdiction to New Hampshire, these proprietors had been obliged to purchase new patents from that colony. Then, as New York asserted her claim, they faced the prospect of new fees for patents from New York as well as the payment of substantial quitrents required by that province.

In 1772 the General Court had ignored the petitioners' pleas that Massachusetts reassert her claims against the “ridiculous” pretensions of New York, but in 1774 the legislature moved quickly. On 1 March a joint committee of the two houses reported to the Council that “this Province has a just right to the Lands their Petition relates to” and recommended that “a full and clear State of the Provinces Title to those Lands and also to all the Lands bounded Southerly by the present Southern Jurisdiction Line of New Hampshire, and the Continuation of the said Line and Northerly by the proper and true Northern Line of the Old Colony of Massachusetts Bay and by the continuation thereof, should be made as soon as may be.” The report recommended that an appropriate person be appointed to prepare a report on the province title, to be ready “by the first Friday of the next May Session” (M-Ar:Legislative Council Records, 30 [1773–1774]: 215). The Council nominated Adams, and the House concurred and added James Bowdoin as his colleague. Then the Council and the House resolved to notify their agents in England of the action (same, p. 215, 221; Mass., House Jour. , 1773–1774, p. 175, 204, 209, 219).

The General Court's decision to reopen the thorny question of Massachusetts' boundaries with New Hampshire grew less out of sympathy for the proprietors of townships like Marlborough, Fulham, and Wilmington than out of the need for establishing territorial pretensions for use in still another controversy. In the eighteen months after John Powell and his neighbors submitted their first petition, Massachusetts had become embroiled in a new phase of her continuing boundary dispute with New York.


With Massachusetts, as with other New England neighbors, New York had claimed the Connecticut River as her eastern boundary. Controversies between settlers on the Hudson and members of the Bay Colony began when the Dutch held sway in New Netherland and continued unabated for a century and a half. Massachusetts partisans challenged the very validity of Dutch claims in North America. England's right to New York, they contended, rested on Sebastian Cabot's explorations, not on any cessions from the Dutch government. Thus, New Netherland was not lawfully possessed by a Christian state in 1629, when Massachusetts received her first charter, nor was it excluded from the earliest grants to the Plymouth Council or Rosewell. New Yorkers just as stoutly defended the force of the ancient Dutch claims which would have made the claims of Massachusetts beyond the Connecticut River completely void. Further, Massachusetts argued that its early seventeenth-century charters and grants could not be, and were not, affected by Charles II's extraordinary letters patent to the Duke of York. Nor, Massachusetts insisted, were the sea-to-sea terms of these ancient grants invalidated by its charter's abrogation in 1684 or the ambiguous description of its western boundary in the charter of 1691. New York's advocates asserted with equal vigor that any sea-to-sea boundary Massachusetts might have enjoyed had ended with the loss of the “old colony's” charter. (The most lucid summary of these points is found in The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Julius Goebel Jr., N.Y., 1964– , 1:545–558.)

In the 1750's and 1760's several attempts to resolve the question were fruitless. But, just as New York finally showed a willingness to accept some compromise line between the Hudson and Connecticut rivers, Massachusetts introduced a new, potentially disruptive claim: title to land beyond the Hudson. Although in theory such a title had always existed under the sea-to-sea charters, the claim remained quiescent until the Massachusetts General Court passed a series of resolutions in January 1768 (Mass., Province Laws , 18:279). Henceforth, the province coupled any action on the New York boundary with the stipulation that a settlement of that line not compromise the claims of Massachusetts in the west.

The latest attempt to resolve New York's eastern boundary with Massachusetts had followed lengthy correspondence between Governor Hutchinson and Governor Sir William Tryon of New York, which led to a proposal for a joint commission to agree on a line. In April 1772 the General Court accepted the proposal, but added the familiar proviso that such a line would be run, “the true and real extent or boundary of this province . . . being in any wise to the contrary notwithstanding,” a way for Massachusetts to call attention to its most extensive boundaries despite possible compromise on one (same, 5:176; for the history of this enabling legislation and of the commission it created, see Law Practice of Hamilton, ed. Goebel, 1:558–560). The New York Assembly enacted similar enabling legislation in March 1773, but, not to be outdone, it also adopted “A State of the Right of the Colony of New York, with respect to its eastern bound-27ary on Connecticut River so far as concerns the late encroachments under the Government of New Hampshire.” This “State” of New York's case, a report drafted by James Duane, attacked not only New Hampshire's claims to “the Grants,” but also the pretensions of Massachusetts to a sea-to-sea boundary (Journal of the Votes and Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Colony of New York from 1766–1776 Inclusive, Albany, 1820, Jan.–March 1773 sess., p. 90–108). A State of the Right of the Colony of New-York was also published separately as a pamphlet (Evans, No. 12888).

In the ensuing negotiations, Massachusetts agents continued to press the westernmost claims of the province. Their insistence that any agreement on New York's eastern boundary not “be construed to prejudice that claim” nearly ended the talks at Hartford in 1773 (Law Practice of Hamilton, ed. Goebel, 1:559–560). Agreement was finally reached in May 1773, with the line being run twenty miles east of the Hudson and without any explicit statement of the claims of Massachusetts beyond that river (Journal of the General Assembly of New York from 1766–1776, Jan.–March 1774 sess., p. 5–6).

Thus, the petition of John Powell and his fellows came at an opportune moment for advocates of the Massachusetts claims. A boundary settlement had been made with no express safeguard of those rights, and the New York Assembly had issued a detailed attack on the cherished sea-to-sea dominion of Massachusetts. To John Adams was entrusted the duty of restating and reaffirming the “true extent” of the “old Colony.”

Adams gave three accounts of his labors in this regard. The earliest and most accurate is found in a letter to Elbridge Gerry, 17 October 1779, written as Adams prepared to embark for Europe as American peace commissioner (LbC, Adams Papers). Two later accounts are less reliable, although their errors and exaggerations can easily be reconciled with the details offered Gerry only five years after the completion of the report (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:302–304; letter of 8 Aug. 1811 to the Boston Patriot, 23 Oct., 6, 9 Nov. 1811 in JA, Works , 1:665–669). In his letter to Gerry, Adams recalled that he bore the brunt of the committee's labor, for “Mr. Bowdoin left it to me, and I Spent most of the Winter winter and spring in rummaging the Books and Papers in the Balcony of Dr. Sewels Meeting House, in the New England Library of Mr. Prince, in the Library of Dr. Mather which came down to him . . . and in Johnny Moffats Collection of Papers and Records.”

Besides his reliance on these library sources Adams also acknowledged, in ambiguous terms, his debt to two contemporary students of the boundary dispute. He mentioned casually to Gerry that “Governor Hutchinson, drew a state of the Claim of Mass, much shorter however than mine.” Adams' marginal notes on this “state,” printed as an appendix to Mass., House Jour. , 1763–1764, reveal that he had studied Hutchinson's arguments with care. (Adams' copy of the Jour . is in his library at MQA; in the modern MHS edn. of the Jour., Hutchinson's report on boundaries appears at 28p. [277]–[306].) And, in one paragraph of a surviving section of his 1774 report, Adams borrowed Hutchinson's wording almost verbatim (see No. VI, note 15, below).

But Adams only hinted at an equally important source when he suggested to Gerry that the Massachusetts legislature seek aid from “a Mr. Phelps, an Inhabitant of the Grants, who furnished me with some Minutes, which he would perhaps produce now.” These “minutes” were in the form of a legal brief, the first half reciting the facts in the case by citations from patents, charters, and history, and the second developing the arguments with accompanying legal citations. Adams laboriously copied the brief onto twelve quarto pages (No. I, below). The “State of the Right in Fee” of Massachusetts to the southern portion of “the Grants” and Adams' close attention to it were a tribute to Charles Phelps (1717–1789), a stone-mason and self-educated lawyer of Marlborough, Vermont. His research provided John Adams in 1774 with a well-thought-out, if crude, outline of the history of these claims. (See James L. Huntington, “The Honorable Charles Phelps,” Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. , 32:441–453 [Feb. 1937].)

Armed with Phelps' and Hutchinson's studies, and eagerly patronizing the Moffatt, Mather, and Prince libraries, Adams labored over the “state” of the boundaries. When finished, it had three parts: “a very lengthy, I cannot say a very accurate State of the Massachusetts Claim to those Lands, a particular Examination, and an Attempt at a Refutation of the Claim of New York, and a similar Discussion of that of New Hampshire” (Adams to Gerry, 17 Oct. 1779). Of the “State of the Massachusetts Claim,” only a chronological outline of pertinent events that simply hints at the line to be taken survives (Nos. IV and V, below). Of the “Claim of New Hampshire,” merely a draft of the opening paragraphs remains (No. II, below). Only “An Examination of the Claim of New York” still exists in anything like its original form (No. VI, below).

The six documents chosen here for printing, all except the last in Adams' hand, either suggest or develop the line of argument he would pursue regarding the titles of the several colonies to the disputed lands and the superior claims of Massachusetts. Besides the documents printed, the Huntington Library contains several others, some of them in Adams' hand, that are generally in the nature of raw materials for the argument—lists of documents needed, copies of committee reports, and the like.

The fragmentary nature of surviving portions of the report can be easily explained by the history of the document after its completion. All accounts agree that the report was ready for submission when the General Court met in May 1774. In his earliest recollection of the matter, Adams wrote that “Mr. Bowdoin revised it and reported it, a few days before Gen. Gage removed the General Court to Salem” (to Gerry, 17 Oct. 1779). In later versions, he modified this statement. In his Autobiography, for instance, he stated that Bowdoin “approved it, and thought it wanted no Addition or correction”; and in his Boston Patriot letter he again insisted that Bowdoin had made no contribution in style or substance ( Diary and Auto-29biography , 3:303; JA, Works , 1:667). But if Adams became more sure that Bowdoin deserved no credit for their joint report, he became less certain about that report's fate. The statement in the Autobiography, written in 1804 or 1805, mentions that Bowdoin had given the report “to the Senate where it was read and sent down to the House, where it was read again” ( Diary and Autobiography , 3:303). But in 1811 Adams admitted: “Whether the report was ever read to the House or not, I know not. It was not printed in the Journal, as all other reports of that nature ever had been” (JA, Works , 1:667).

Adams' confusion over the report's submission can be explained by the contemporary account of another interested observer. In the first week of June 1774, Charles Phelps wrote his son about the events bearing on the boundary report the week that the General Court met in Boston. On Monday, 23 May, Phelps had arrived in the city. “Waiting upon Councillor Bowdoin, and Mr. Adams, the General Courts Committee,” he found the report “was in manner finished, Mr. Adams Red it to me for my Consideration thereof to have it Prepared and Finished against fryday that week, ready to Present it to the General Court for their Perusal.” On Friday, 27 May, Phelps continued: “I presented it but it was not signed they said then I carried it Back to the Committee for Signing: they had no Commission from the Province attested by the Secretary in form as they ought to have of the appointment wherefore could not attest it regularly before the Commission was made out by the Secretary.” This legal technicality proved fatal to Phelps' hopes for a statement from the legislature, for it “caused a delay 2 Days then the Governor . . . adjourned the General Court over to Salem” (Phelps to Charles Phelps Jr., 5[i.e., 2] June 1774, Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. , 25:51–52 [April 1922]).

Although Phelps corroborates Adams' recollection that the report was submitted before the General Court left Boston for Salem on 28 May, there is no evidence that Bowdoin, urged on by Phelps, resubmitted the petition with proper documentation to House or Council after sessions were resumed on 7 June. Adams claimed in 1779 that, “At Salem, it was read in both Houses, but they soon chose Delegates to Congress and were dissolved. The Report was left with the Clerk of the House, I have enquired of him and he cannot find it” (JA to Gerry, 17 Oct. 1779). But the proceedings of the General Court contain no record of action on the report except its tabling when it came down from the Council Board on 9 June before General Gage dissolved the legislature on 17 June 1774 (Mass., House Jour. , May–June 1774; M-Ar:Legislative Council Records, 30 [1773–1774]: 302).

For several years the report's whereabouts were a mystery. Adams' own copy was lost in 1775. As he told Gerry, “the first rough blotted Draught, was left in my Table drawer in my office in Boston, when the Regulars shut up the Town. The Table Papers and all were carried off, when they left the Town.” In 1783 a committee of the General Court which was to set forth the claims of Massachusetts to land west of the Hudson River 30located a copy of the study prepared nine years earlier (Mass., Acts and Laws , May 1783, ch. 109). In its report this new committee admitted that it had relied almost entirely on the work of Adams and Bowdoin. It had “found it necessary only to add a few Observations which apply more directly to the present State of the Dispute between this Government and that of New York” (see No. VI, note 15, below). Since James Bowdoin, Adams' colleague in 1774, served also on the 1783 committee, it is possible that the second group obtained a copy of the 1774 study from him rather than from some obscure corner of the Commonwealth's archives.

We have no way of knowing now how much of the material from Adams' report was incorporated into the 1783 document, “The Examination of the Claim of New York,” but if one judges by extant materials used in preparation by Adams, the writers of the 1783 report omitted a good deal. And the survival of even this small portion of Adams' work is accidental. The ill-fortune which dogged the 1774 report did not end with its rediscovery in 1783, for the report of 1783 was itself lost from the Massachusetts archives. The version printed below is taken from a contemporary copy donated in 1795 to the Massachusetts Historical Society by the heirs of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull. The interest of Connecticut people in the Massachusetts report no doubt stemmed from the colony's own effort to justify its sea-to-sea claims through use of many of the same early charters and grants on which its neighbor had relied. Connecticut had suffered defeat in asserting its claims in 1782 before a special court constituted by the Continental Congress, but its leaders had not yet accepted that decision as final in every respect (Julian P. Boyd and Robert J. Taylor, eds., The Susquehannah Company Papers, 11 vols., Ithaca, N.Y., 1930–1971, 7:144–247, 258–260, 292–294, 314–315; 8:123–126, 138–139).

Adams' report was known to exist as late as 1786 when Massachusetts and New York commissioners met at Hartford to resolve their dispute over lands in western New York. The report, Adams learned, “was found, and delivered to the Agents for Massachusetts, who attended the Settlement of the dispute with New York. Mr. Rufus King has repeatedly told me, that without that Statement, none of them would have understood any Thing of the Subject, and the Claim would have been lost” ( Diary and Autobiography , 3:303). In his later recollections, Adams added “Governor Sullivan, Chief Justice Parsons, Mr. Dalton” to the list of commissioners who informed him that they had “had” the report “in my handwriting” ( Works , 1:667; John Lowell, not Tristram Dalton, was the fourth Massachusetts commissioner in 1786). Yet although the report of May 1774 somehow survived the hazards of clerical misfiling and British occupation for at least a dozen years, there is no record of its whereabouts after 1786.

Those portions of the report still extant only hint at the nature of the complete manuscript. “An Examination of the Claim of New York” (No. VI, below) doubtless followed the organizational method which Adams used in presenting the New Hampshire claim (No. II, below): a presentation of the rival claimant's position, followed by rejoinders on behalf of 31Massachusetts, a procedure commonly used in courts of law. In dealing with New York, Adams was able to use recent, official statements of that colony's case. For New Hampshire, having no such convenient outline of opposing claims, he was forced to prepare arguments to attack. It is a tribute to his conscientious research that the surviving fragment of his “An Examination of the Claim of New Hampshire” includes a reference to that province's spurious royal charter, whose terms were all but unknown in his own day. It is clear, too, that Adams did not intend to confine himself to a discussion of Massachusetts' rights in “the Grants,” for his extensive notes as well as his outline of the Massachusetts title show that he planned to investigate Massachusetts' pretensions on the Maine frontier as well.

But the heart of Adams' report, the “State of the Massachusetts Title,” remains lost. It must have furnished the most useful material for the commissioners who traveled to Hartford in 1786, “to obtain from New York the cession of the Genesee country” (JA, Works , 1:667), for it is obvious that Adams supplied more than a recital of dates and summaries of charters to prove his province's case. Marginal notations on Charles Phelps' “State of the Right in Fee,” which may have been Adams' own, outline a disquisition on the law of patents and the alienation of property. And it was on this area of law that Massachusetts rested the argument that, whatever the changes in government or political structure in the Bay colony, its territorial claims remained as broad and sacred as on the day James I granted a charter to the Plymouth Company.

The complete report, which gave John Adams his introduction to the intricacies of North American boundaries, would be an invaluable addition to his papers. Its apparent loss is the more to be lamented because Adams himself felt his labors on behalf of his province and state had amounted to little. In commenting on the settlement agreed to by Massachusetts in 1786, he remarked wryly: “The Decision was much less favourable to Massachusetts than it ought to have been, and the State have very unoeconomically alienated all the Land since that time for a very inadequate sum of Money. I wish they had first given me a Township of the Land. It would have been much more prudently disposed of than any of the rest of it was, and more justly. I never had any thing for my half Years service, not even Credit nor Thanks” ( Diary and Autobiography , 3:303–304).

I. Charles Phelps’ State of His Case, March – May 1774 JA I. Charles Phelps’ State of His Case, March – May 1774 Adams, John
I. Charles Phelps' State of His Case
March–May 1774

A State of the Right in Fee, the Inhabitants of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay have to all the Lands, by them not granted, lying West of Connecticut River and adjoining thereon, and East of the East Boundary Line of the Province of New York, running 32North of the Point or Station in the late run Jurisdiction Line between the Bay Province and New Hampshire which constitutes the supposed Northwest Corner of that Part of the Massachusetts Province lying South of New Hampshire, South Boundary Line as it was called when run West as far as the East Borders of New York Government and extending North as far as a Line drawn East of Fort William Henry, running East to the Western Banks of Connecticutt River, at Windsor in the County of Cumberland all which lyeth in the Jurisdiction of New York Government by an order of the King in Council 20th July A.D. 1764.

For the Discussion whereof it may not be amiss to premiss the following Facts.

Cabot. H. 7 1st. The Continent of N. America was discovered by one Sebastian Cabot1 in Behalf of the English Crown in the Reign of H. 7. under Commission from him from the 40th to 67th deg. N. Lat. within which Limits, the Land under Consideration and the whole Government of Mass. Bay lieth. The Truth whereof it is supposed None will contradict.

1606. J. 1st. 2. In 1606. K. James the first, of England, granted all the Continent from 34 to 45 Deg. of Northerly Lat. which he divided into two Colonies, the Southern Virginia to certain Merchants of London, the Northern, N. England to Merchants of Plymouth in the County of Devon in England.

1607 3. In 1607. Some of the Patentees of the Northern Colony, began a Settlement at Sagadahoc, George Popham President. He died soon. Seven other eminent officers came over with him and about 100 People more, to settle the Country. The Winter being hard and 1608 severe, what survived returned to England in 1608 and so the design of settling the Country by them was at an End, and it seems none did much in reviving the design of settling for 9 or 10 years after. But

1620 4. In 1620 Novr. 3d. King James made a new Patent incorporating the Adventurers to the Northern Colony, by the Name of the Council of Plymouth for the settling, or Planting, Ruling, ordering and governing New England in America, and to their Successors and 33Assigns all that Part of America lying and being in Breadth from 40 deg. of Northerly Lat. from the Equinoctial Line to the 48 deg. of N. Lat. inclusively and in Length of and within all the Breadth aforesaid throughout, all the main Land from Sea to Sea, together with all the firm Lands &c. which includes the whole of the above first described Lands, and all other the Lands, within the Limits of the Bay Province in its first utmost Dimensions, equally.

1628 5. The Council of Plymouth, A.D. 1628 made a Grant of the same Lands above at first described with all the other Lands, in the last mentioned Province (i.e.) the Bay Province), of which them Lands are Part, Roswell & Young unto Sir Henry Roswell and Sir John Young Knights and four others, named in the Grant, and to their Heirs and Assigns and to their Associate forever by their Deed indented of Bargain and Sale for valuable Consideration under their common Seal as a Corporate Body Politick, who undertook to see to the Settlement of New England in America, the Patentees having engaged to accomplish it, as the meritorious Consideration of the Deed, at the Expence of the Adventurers without any Cost and Charge of the English Crown to enlarge the British Empire, populate so great a Territory in such a distant and remote Part of the Kings Dominions, the Atlantic 1000 Leagues lying between, a vast Number of Savage Barbarous Indians to encounter and Subdue all at their own Expence, to do and perform all which seems to have been the great Object in View both by the Royal Granter of the Premisses to said Council and the said Council's in their Grant by their said Indenture to said Roswell and his associates above mentioned being six Grantees in the whole.

1629. March 4. Car. 1. 6. Who having joined 20 more Associates with the Six Grantees mentioned in the Deed indented as aforesaid, the Year following viz. 4 March 1629, they obtained a confirmatory Corporation Grant of the same Land, to themselves and their Heirs and assigns, included in the said Deed indented, the Northern Boundary whereof is expressed, “Three Miles northward of Merrimack River, or to the Northward of any and every 34Part thereof, and East and West bounded from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, within which Limits the Lands first mentioned are all included.

1684. Q. whether this Decree affected Roswells Indenture.2 7. That Patent of King Charles the first was vacated in 1684.

8. The Inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay Province was Re-incorporated by a Charter of King William and Queen Mary A.D. 1691. with new Plymouth and other Colonies, by which all the Lands at first described, were granted and confirmed to the said Inhabitants and their Successors, and infranchised with the Powers of Government and impowered to make Grants of the Lands, within the Same, not before by them granted, in Consequence whereof.

9. The Inhabitants of the Province of Mass. Bay, have purchased a considerable Part of those Lands, at first described, of the Indian Natives, West of the Western Banks of Connecticutt River, the greatest Part of the Space from Northfield up Northward towards Windsor, West of, and granted upon the River.

10. And granted some Part of the same lying in Hindsdale in said Tract, more than one Hundred Years since.

Q.3 11. And Also made Grants of Six other Townships, a long time since, sundry of which more than Sixty Years since.

12. The Grantees whereof taken Possession of these Lands upon the faith of their Grants under the Bay Government, and the Authority derived from their Charter so made them to Grant the same, and the Purchasers under them have a long Time since, entered upon those very Lands and occupied them at a vast Expence and vast Numbers of People are now cultivating the same all upon the Faith of the Government of the Massachusetts Bay.

13. The Inhabitants whereof have done much to defend their Possession and Improvements, through the long Series of long protracted bloody French and Indian Wars at the Expence of much of their Blood and Treasure, Houses and Barns by them being burnt, their Cattle killed, many of them captivated, others slain by 35the sword all in defence of their said Possessions and Improvements.

Fort Dummer & No. 4. 14. In Addition to the Defence the Inhabitants so made in Time of War, it all being too weak, by no means answering their Hopes, the Massachusetts Province erected two Forts, the one call'd Fort Dummer, the other No. 4.4 in Defence of the Lands contained in their Charters aforesaid as well as in said Roswells Deed, the former upon the very Lands at first described, the other so near them, that only Connecticutt River is between it and said Lands and maintained them Forts at the Expence of two hundred and seventy odd Thousand Pounds Currency.

Q. 15. Upon Remonstrance and Petition of the Massachusetts Bay Province to the King and Council of their Grievance in having the Jurisdiction of those Lands given to New Hampshire, had an order of the King and Council, to have them reannexed to the Province again or that New Hampshire should reimburse that Sum to the Bay Province, but neither of which hath been performed.5

In 1677 Mass. disputes before the Lords of the Privy Council with John Mason Propr. 1639 of N. Hampshire & Ferdinando Gorge respecting their Boundary of their Patent from C. 1. in which dispute they viz. the Mass, before & on the 16 July 1677 before the Lords of the privy Council claimed all those Lands 3 Miles N. & S. of the two Rivers Charles and Merrimack 16. Some Disputes having arisen, between the prov. Mass. Bay and Captn. John Mason as Proprietor of New Hampshire and Ferdinando Gorge who had a grant from King Charles the first in 1639 of a Tract of Land then called the Province of Main, which adjoined to N. Hampshire on the North East, beginning at Piscataqua Harbour and running from thence N. East along the Sea Coast to Sagadahock and extending inland 120 Miles, and a Question arising as to Extent and Limits of their several Boundaries specified in their respective Grants, the said Mason and Gorge petitioned his Majesty in Council to have these disputes determined; and it having been referred to a Committee of Council they with the Assistance of two Lords Chief Justices, Rainsford and North entered into Consideration thereof, and heard all Parties, and the said Province of the Massachusetts Bay having claimed before them to be intituled to all the Lands within two Parrallell Lines to be drawn from the Atlantic Sea on the East Part to the South Sea on the West Part, three Miles South of every Part of 36Charles River and three Miles North of every Part of Merrimack River, the said two Parrallel Lines to be the South and North Boundaries of the said Province of Massachusetts Bay. whereupon,

1677. 16. July. order of K. & Council upon the Report of the Comtee. of Privy Council. 17. By order of the King and Council, reciting a Report made by the Committee of the Privy Council, and the said Lords Chief Justices, taking among other Things that having examined the several Claims of the Parties &c. and after stating the two Grants from the Crown to the Massachusetts and the Province of Main, and that it was insisted that the Grant of Government to the Massachusetts could extend no further than the ownership of the soil—their Lordships reported “That See the printed State of the Case between Benja. Rolfe Esqr and the Town of Bow. page 2d. by De Grey & Wedderburn. 17626 it seemed very clear to them that the Grant of the Government by the Massachusetts Charter extended no further than the Boundaries expressed in their Patent and that those Boundaries could not be construed to extend further North along the River Merrimack, than three English Miles; for the North and South Boundaries of the Lands granted, so far as the Rivers extend are to follow the Course of the Rivers, which makes the Breadth of the Grant. And that the Words in the Charter describing the Length to comprehend “all the Lands from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Sea in all the Breadth aforesaid” did not warrant the overreaching those Bounds by imaginary Lines, as the same would be against the Intent of the Grant; the Words “of and in all the Breadth aforesaid” showing that the Breadth was not intended an imaginary Line laid upon the broadest Part; But the Breadth respected the Continuance of the Boundaries by the Rivers as far as they go; but when the known Boundary of Breadth determined it must be carried on by imaginary Lines to the South Sea. And were of Opinion as to the Powers of Government, that the Massachusetts by the said Letters Patent had such Right of Government as is granted them by their Patent within the Boundaries of their Land expressed therein, according to such description as their Lordships had thereof made as aforesaid; and give the like opinion as to Gorge's Right of Government over the Province of Main, which Report was approved and con-37firmed by his Majesty in Council and all Parties ordered to acquiesce therein.

1729, Dunbar 18. In 1729 David Dunbar Esquire, came over from England and took Possession of the Fort at Pemaquid Vid. Appendix to the Votes of the House 1762. A brief State of the Title of the Prov. to the Country bet. Kennebeck & St. Croix. p. 10. 11.7 and claimed Jurisdiction over the Country at St. Croix, by Virtue of Authority from, and in Behalf of the Crown. The Proprietors allarmed at this Invasion of their Property, employed and impowered Samuel Waldo Esqr. to Petition the King that the said Dunbar might be removed, and that they might be quieted in their lawfull Possessions. Sir Bybye Lake a Proprietor in the Eastern Country, joined with Mr. Waldo in the Solicitation, and the Petition being referred to the Board of Trade, they called the Province Agent before them, and a State of the Case was ordered to be drawn up, setting forth the Provinces Claim, how little Expence the Province had been at in defending and improving this. The Conquest made in 1696 by the French, and the Reconquest in 1710, and the Lords of Trade, referred the State with the two following Queries subjoined to the Consideration of the Attorney and Solicitor General vizt. 1st. Whether the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay if they ever had any Right to the Government, of the Tract of Land lying between St. Croix and Kennebec River, have not by their Neglect and even Refusal to defend and take Care of and improve the same, forfeited their said Right to the Government and what Right they had under the Charter and now have to the said Lands. 2. Whether the said Tracts being conquered by the French and afterwards Reconquered by General Nicholson in the late Queens Time, and yeilded up by France to G. Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht, that Part of the Charter relating thereto became vacated, and whether the Government of that Tract, and the Lands thereof are not absolutely revested in the Crown, and whether the Crown has not thereby, sufficient Power to appoint Governors and assign Lands to such Families as shall be desirous to settle there.

The Attorney and Solicitor General heard Council on Behalf of the Crown and on Behalf of the Province and Proprietors, and on 11. August 1731 made Report. vizt.


Report of Atty. & Solr. Genl. 19. That upon considering the said Case and Queries and the Evidence laid before them, and what was alledged on all Sides it appeared to them that the Tract of Land lying between the Rivers Kennebeck and St. Croix was (among other Things) granted by the said Charter to the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay &c. also that the Right of Government granted to the said Province extended over this Tract of Land.

That it did not appear to them that the Inhabitants of the said Province had been guilty of any such Neglect or Refusal to defend this Part of the Country as could create a forfeiture of their Subordinate Right of Government over the same, or of the Property in the soil that was granted to them by the said Charter, it being Sworn by several Affidavits that a Fort was erected there and for some considerable Time defended at the Charge of the Province &c.

And as to the Question stated in the Case upon the Effect of the Conquest of that Tract of the Country by the French and the Reconquest thereof by Genl. Nicholson they conceive that the said Tract not having been yielded by the Crown of England to France by the Treaty, the Conquest thereof by the French, created according to the Law of Nations only a Suspension of the Property of the former owners and not an Extinguishment, and that upon the Reconquest of it, by General Nicholson all the ancient Rights both of the Province and private Persons, Subjects of the Crown of Great Britain, did revive and were restored, Jure Postliminii.8 For which Reasons they were of opinion that the said Charter still remained in Force, and that the Crown hath no Power to appoint a particular Governor over this Part of the Province or to assign Land to Persons desirous to settle there &c.

1718 20. About the Year 1718 Captn. Coram formed a Scheme for obtaining a Grant from the Crown of the Appendix to the Votes of the House 1762 Page 9. Lands bet. Nova Scotia and the Province of Main and a Petition was signed by Wm. Armstrong and divers others praying such Grant might be made to them. The Petition being referred to the then Solicitor General, part of his Report thereon was as follows “The King 39cannot make a Grant of these Lands, the Crown having already devested itself of its Rights.”

21. When Dr. Increase Mather was at England Agent for the Province, to obtain the last Charter of Wm. and Mary, he and two other Agents having signed a Petition to the King for a new Charter, the Rt. honble. Earl of Monmouth delivered it to the King with his own Hand, whereupon Mr. Mather obtained the Interposition of a great Personage, who prevailed with the King to refer the Affair unto the Consideration of the two Lords Chief Justices with his Majestys Attorney and Solicitor General, all of whom (from the Reasonableness of the Petition and the Equity of having it granted as will appear in the Sequel) had been brought into the New English Interest in the Premisses. So engaged were they, for a new Charter, as to meet 3 or 4 Times, in Consultation upon it. They all judged there was nothing unreasonable or prejudicial to the Kings Interest, in what was proposed. Whereupon the Ld. C. J. Holt presented it to the King, and the King ordered him to present it to the Council, who did accordingly, and from thence transferred to the Lords of the Committee for Trade and Plantation Affairs. Moreover Dr. Tillotson Archbishop of Canterbury and Dr. Burnett See the Book intituled Remarkables of Dr. Increase Mather page 124. 125. 6. 7. printed at Boston 17249 Bishop of Salisbury, both judging it to be most reasonable and just that they should have a new Charter, the latter, who besides many Real and weighty Expressions of his Kindness for this Country, told Mr. Mather that he would on the first Opportunity declare openly in the House of Lords “that there was a greater Sacredness in the Charter of New England, than in those of the Corporations in England, because those were only Acts of Grace whereas the Charter of New England was a Contract between the King and the first Patentees: they promised the King on their Part to enlarge his Dominions on their own Charges, provided they And their Posterity might enjoy such Priviledges: They had performed their Part. Now for the King to deprive their Posterity, of the Priviledges therein granted them, would carry a Face of Injustice with it.

1736. Feby. 9. Order of his Majesty in Council on the Pet. of N. Hampshire for a Commission to issue to ascertain their Boundaries. Vid. the printed State of the Case Benja. Rolfe Esq and others vs. the Proprietors of Bow Township in N. Hamshire. p. 3. 22. Upon a Petition of New Hampshire to his Maj-40esty, praying that the Boundaries of that Province might be ascertained his Majesty was pleased by order in Council to direct a Commission to issue to mark out the dividing Line between the said Province of New hampshire and the Massachusetts Bay; but with an express Declaration in that order contained “to take Care that private Property Should not be affected thereby.”

23. A Commission having been accordingly issued the Commissioners proceeded to examine into the Boundaries of the said Provinces: And a Distinction having been taken before them between the old and New Charters of the Massachusetts Bay for that the old Charter, not only declared the North Boundary of that Province to be 3 Miles Northward of the said River Merrimack but also to the Northward of any and every Part thereof; and under which old Charter the said Adjudication in 1677 had been made (Vid 17. before) which declared the North Boundary of that Province to be 3 Miles to the North along the River merrimack, and so far as that River extends to follow the Course thereof; but that in the latter or New Charter of the Massachusetts Bay, these Words (to the Northward of The Words of the Charter of W. & Mary are Proviso “that it shd be lawfull for the Govr & General Assembly to make and pass any Grant of Land lying within the Bounds of the Colonies of the Mass Bay, Plymouth and Province of Main as they might heretofore have done by Virtue of any former Charter or Letters Patent which Grants of Lands within the Bounds aforesaid (i.e. south of 3 Miles to the North of any and every Part of the River Merrimack the Words of the former Charter and Roswells Deed of Indenture from the Council of Plymouth) their Majestys did Will and ordain to be and continue forever of full force and Effect without our further Approbation or Consent. This Line cutts off from the Bay Province more than 253,440 Acres of Land, more than it would, had it run West 3 miles. North of the North Side of the Northernmost part a little west of the Mouth of the River Merrimack which is worth, in the State of Nature, as the New Yorkers sell their Lands of that Value in that Neighbourhood a dollar Per Acre, which amounts to more than seventy six Thousand Pounds lawfull Money, their being about 12 Townships so cutt off, which Adds to the Interest and Power of New York. That if taxed in the Bay at but 50£ per Annum per Township, adds to the Yearly Revenue of the Province 2400£ lawfull Money. And what is cutt off North in that District up to the Line of 3 Miles North of Merrimack River Crotch, according to the Report of the Commissioners in 1737 in favour of the Bay, if Wm. and Marys Charter gave all the Lands that were granted in the first Charter is 4 times that Quantity of Land and in a few Years will be worth at a Dollar per Acre 1,013,760 Dollars. 48 Townships at 50£ Tax per Annum Adds to the Yearly Revenue of this Province, when the Lands are brought into it and taxed that Sum per Town 9,600, lawfull Money per Annum.10 any and every Part thereof) are omitted. And a Doubt arising in Point of Law with the said Commissioners as to that Boundary, they determined specially, as follows (viz) “that if the said last Charter of King William and Queen Mary, granted to the Massachusetts all the Lands that were granted to them by the said former Charter of K. Car. 1. lying to the Northward of said Merrimack River, then the Commissioners determined that a Line should be run Parrallell with the said River Merrimack at the Distance of three English Miles North from the Mouth, beginning at the southerly side of the black Rocks, at Low Water Mark and thence to run to the said Parting of the said River, where the Rivers Pemigewassett and Winipissiake meet; and from thence due North 3 Miles, and from thence West towards the South Sea untill it meets with his Majestys other Governments; which shall be the Bound-41ary or dividing Line, between the said two Provinces of Mass. Bay and N. Hampshire on that side: But if otherwise then adjudged that a Line on the southerly side of N. Hampshire beginning at 3 english Miles North from the southerly side of the Black Rocks aforesaid and from thence Running due West up into the Main Land towards the South Sea, untill it meets with his Majestys other Governments should be the Boundary Line between the said Provinces on the Side aforesaid, i.e. the south side of N. Hampshire, which Point in Doubt they submitted to his Majestys Consideration.

24. His Majesty by order in Council made upon the said Report, and Hearing the Provinces by their Council was pleased, to adjudge that the Northern Boundarys of the said Province of Massachusetts Bay, are, and be, a Similar Curve Line pursuing the Course of the River Merrimack at 3 miles distance on the North Side thereof beginning at the Atlantic Ocean and ending at a Point due North of a Place called Pantuckett Falls, and a Strait Line drawn from thence due West across the said River till it meets with his Majestys other Governments.

Thus having recited the most important Facts that occur to my Mind at Present by which a General Idea of the Right of the Inhabitants of Mass.-Bay to the ownership of the Soil of those Lands, in the district above at first described containing about 48 Townships, except what was then granted, as well as the Right they have to claim the same and Petition the King and Council for the Jurisdiction of these Lands in full, according to their first Charter as well as from the Deed to Roswell &c. indented under the Common Seal of the Council of Plymouth 146 years since.

But more particularly to investigate their Right to this District and clearly show it by incontestible Argu-42ments from Law and Equity, I beg Leave to make some Observations upon the several Grants thereof, under the said Indenture to Roswell as well as those from the Crown. 2. Observe upon the several Reports, Constructions, and Adjudications of Commissioners, the most eminent Lawyers, Lords Chief Justices, Committees of the Lords of Trade and Plantation and Plantation Affairs and of those of the House of Lords in Parliament and also the orders of Kings and the Right honourable the Lords of their respective privy Councils, which have been made and exemplified at large and openly published to the World thereupon, and lastly shall attempt to show the Insufficiency of the Claim of New york, to the same Lands and endeavour to refute the Arguments they adduce in support of their pretended Right thereto.

1620 Grant of K. James to the Council of Plym. The Grant of K. James 1st. by his Letters Patents to the Council established at Plymouth in the County of Devon of all the Land &c. from the 40th to the 48th degree of Northerly Latitude, from sea to sea, including If the Consideration pd. or given, by the Grantee is a Burden & Expence to the Grantee, and yields a Profit & Advantage to the Grantor it is good in Law. So if the Consideration be expressed to be valuable it is good & the Estate shall poss. a Penny or a Pepper Corn, is a meritorious Consideration to raise a Use. &c. Shep. grand Abr. Tit Bargain & sale. Hawk Abr. Co. Lit. 5. Noys Maxims 87. Hob. 230.11 When the Contract is by deed it shall not for Want of a Consideration be call'd in Question. Plowd. Com. 309.12 a fortiori in a deed of Indenture, the Law forcloses each Party Hawk Abr 77. A deed of Indenture is the best deed the Law knows, for this works by Way of estoppell. i.e. it shall bar Either Party to say any Thing by Way of Exception against any Thing contained in the Indenture. If a Lease be by Indenture both Parties are concluded13 to say the Lessor had Nothing in the Lands at the Time the Lease was made. See Shephards Abr. 540. Tit. deed. Plowd. Com. 134. this District of Land, for the greatest and most important End, and End of the highest Concequence to the English Nation, in its first Formation, that ever was yet project and the Effect and the Operation thereof to the English Monarchy has incontestably demonstrated the Truth hereof, when duly considered with Respect to the design thereof expressly set forth in the Front of the Patent, for the planting &c. of New England in America from which so many flourishing Colonies that have spread themselves so far and wide on this large Continent, from the Example and Prudent Conduct of this Province, has induced so many Thousands to settle in America. When was there ever a Scheme set on foot by any King of England, that has proved so beneficial to the Nation as this Scheme of Planting New England—What an Additional Extent of English Territory—What Numbers of good and Loyal subjects—What Numbers of Thousands and Millions st. in Trade and Commerce—What vast Additions of Strength, in Arms Power and Glory, in the View of all Europe, and to the Dread Fear and Terror, of all her 43Kings and Monarchs. The whole Weight of all this super structure is laid upon and securely rests on this ancient and important Projection of Planting New England. This Charter was the laying the solid Basis, and great Foundation of all those glorious Achievements. Therefore the Adventurers and first Settlers of this Country to whence this Council of Plymouth by their Deed indented under their common seal, by Bargain and sale, did give grant &c. this district with other Territory included within the Limits of their Grant, in settling this Continent before any others, did do it as a most rich and valuable Consideration paid the Crown. Never was so valuable a sum paid in Consideration for any Grant, by English subjects to their Sovereign as this was. Never did a Prince reap so great a Profit by a Purchase Consideration paid for Lands and Tenements as has accrued to the English Monarchy hereby. Therefore the Consideration of the Grant by the Indenture aforesaid is highly meritorious of the whole Lands included in the descriptive Limits of their Grant by said Indenture to Roswell.

Consider next the Words of the Grant, The said These words make a Fee simple, to the Grantees. Hawk Abr. 13. Plow. Com. p. 28. bottom. Council in their Corporate Capacity, did by their deed indented under their common seal &c. “give, grant, bargain, sell, enfeof, alien and confirm, to Sir Henry Roswell &c. their Heirs and Assigns, and their Associates forever.” Words the most proper, full and copious of any known in the Law.

a Confirmation is not good, when made by him who has nothing Com. Dig. Tit Confirmation D. 4. p. 366.14 a Confirmation by him who has nothing at the time, is worth nothing 1. Roll. 482. 1. 8. as if T. in Tail and issue in T. join in a grant of the next avoidance; and T. in Tail dies: This is not a Confirmation by the issue in Tail for he had nothing at the Time. R. Roll Abr. 482. 1. 10. Consider next the Northerly Limit and Boundary of the Estate, Domain, or Property so granted, by clear, precise, certain and most obvious Boundary, least subject to Mutation, being durable and permanent, bounded within the Space of 3 English Miles to the Northward of the great River call'd Monomack alias Merrimack to the Northward of any and every Part thereof, &c.

N.B. mention is made only of the Northern Boundary of the Grant, because from thence ariseth all the Contest about the Premisses, now the subject of Litigation with New York. Now compare this Boundary so precisely and certainly established with the Report of 44Rainsford and North, 2 Lds. C. Justices in 1677—see No. 17. which Report was approved and confirmed, by his Majesty in Council and all Parties ordered to acquiesce therein. See how inconsistent thereto the order of the King and Council was in 1740—see No. 24.15 and how hard the order of the King and Council against the Interest and Rights of Mass. Bay, of 20 July 1764—see Page 1st. of this state.

Said Lands also, shall by said Deed indented be holden of said Roswell and the other Grantees, in free and common socage, and not in Capite, nor by Knights service. Now by stat. 12 of Car. 2d. Chap. 24. All Tenures, are turned into free and common socage. that to this Tenure in socage there is incident Fealty, Ayd, and Relief—Co. Lit. ss. 107. 108 Shep. Abr. 388. Tit. Lord and Tennant—Fealty, Ayd and Relief, yielded to the Sovereign, who is Lord Paramount of the soil, is all that is now due to him by Common socage. Enough has been said to show the Validity of the Bargain and Sale, by the Indenture to Roswell &c.—our N. York opponents dont seem to encounter the Validity of it, from its Fabrication, but they say the Vacation of the Charter, vacated the Mass. Right to the soil, which We deny, but of this hereafter.

This Deed executed 19 March in the 3d. Year of Car. 1, the next Year on the 4 March the same King by Letters Patent under the great seal, granted and confirmed the same Territory to said Roswell and his Associates he and they being 26 in Number, by the same Limits and Boundaries as by the Indenture, he and they had the same granted and confirmed to them and their Heirs and assigns forever by which Words of Grant &c. as in the said Indenture, the legal Operation whereof is a vesting of them &c. of an Estate of Inheritance See, on the Petition of Wm. Armstrong, and the Report of the Solicitor General thereupon that the King cannot make a Grant of the Land he petitioned for the Crown having divested itself of its Right thereto already, See No. 20. in Fee simple, and it must have opperated so to the Grantees &c. had it not there have been out of the Crown to convey, the Council having then 8 Years before granted the same Lands to the Council of Plymouth, who the Year before this Charter of 4. Car. had by their Indenture aforesaid bargained and sold the Premisses to Roswell and his Associates &c. There-45fore this Charter respecting the Domain or Property of the soil cant opperate to the Grantees thereof only by a Confirmation of the Crown, of the same Estate it had a little before granted, altho the same Charter as to Franchisement and Powers of Government did opperate necessarily as a Grant thereof to the Grantees, (No Powers of Government to them having before been granted,) as a Body Politic, incorporating of them as such which was the principal End of the Crown by said Letters Patent, the Grantees having the Property of the Soil granted them by said Deed of Bargain and Sale before by those to wit Council of Plym. who had a Crown Grant thereof.

Hence it seems clear and incontestible, that the Vacation of that Charter in 1684–36th. of Car. 2d. could not affect the Title of the Land, confirmed as aforesaid; because the Grantees by the said Deed were seized in Fee of the Land immediately of those who had a Grant thereof immediately of the Crown, antecedent to this Charter. For the Crown cant grant, what it hath not. Therefore this Charter as to the Soil or Fee of the Land, cant enure, only by Way of Confirmation of the Crown to the Grantees therein, and of the said Indenture.

And Q. by common Law, after the Crown has divested itself of its Right to the soil, by the Grant thereof to the said Council of Plymouth, whether it can by any Subsequent Deed, so much as confirm the same, during the Validity of its prior Grant, by Charter or Letters patent of Jas. 1. to the Council of Plym. for the Consideration therein mentioned vizt. for the planting, or settling &c. of New England in America. See Marginal Note foregoing Page.16

The Consideration, in the old Charter, is expressed by the following Words, tho not recited in Wm. and Marys Charter “have for diverse good Causes and Considerations us moving (these Words are left out of the new Charter and the Words for the Considerations therein mentioned put in) granted and confirmed, and by these Presents, of our especial Grace, certain Knowledge and mere Motion, do grant, &c. unto said Sir H. Roswell and five more Grantees and their associates 4620 more all by name, their Heirs and Assigns forever &c. The Consideration expressed, is the Grantees undertaking, to see to the settling or planting of N. England, all at their own Cost, without any Disbursement from the Crown—as appears by a Letter—Collection of Papers &c. page 3217 account of the ships, Persons, Expence &c. “The Company of N. England consisted of many worthy Gentlemen (meaning Roswells associates and first Adventurers) in the City of London, Dorchester and other Places, aiming at the Glory of God, the Propagation of the Gospell of Christ, the Conversion of the Indians, and the Enlargement of the Kings Majestys Dominions in America. And being authorized by his Royal Letters Patents for that End At their very great Costs and Charges furnished 5 Ships to go to N. England for the further settling of the English Plantation that they have already begun there. The Names of the 5 Ships were as followeth, the first is call'd the Talbot &c. 300 Tons. 2 the George 300 tons. 3d the Lions Whelp, a neat nimble ship 120 tons, the fourth called the four &c. of about 300 tons 5. the Mayflower &c.”

This Consideration was so great, that Dr. Burnet in 1691 said, that he would on the first Opportunity declare, in the House of Lords that there was a greater Sacredness in the Charter of New England, than in those of the Corporations in England &c. see No. 21.

But if there had been no Consideration paid, or given, or expressed, the Words (of our especial Grace, certain Knowledge and mere Motion) in common Charter or Crown Grants, where no valuable Consideration is advanced by the Grantee for the Benefit of the Crown, shall lead the Construction of the whole Charter, to be in favour of the Grantees most strongly, according to the legal Construction of the Grants of subjects—for their Grants shall always be construed most strongly against the Grantor and in favour of the Grantee. And in this Charter much more so, on Account of the Consideration by the Grantees advanced. Crown Grants, with the Words “Special Grace &c., shall be construed most favourably for the Grantees. Plowd. 47Com. 330. Besides this see an express Clause at the Close of the old Charter “shall be construed, reputed and adjudged in all Cases most favourably on the Behalf and for the Benefit and Behoof of the said Governor and Company and their Successors.”

See Plowdens Comment. 330. 331. a Comment, or Paraphrase upon the Words Sp. Grace &c.

In the Claim of N. York to those Lands against the Right of the Mass. Bay, they will construe the Charter to opperate most in favour of the Crown. But see Com. Dig. 458 Tit. Grant, if the Kings Grant be ex certa scientia &c. and Mero Motu it shall be taken more strongly against the King, and beneficial for the subject; as if the K. Pardon a sheriff all Contempts, he shall be excused of a false Return. 36. H. 6. 24. b. 37. H. 6. 21. b. Co. Ent.18 384. so if he pardons A.B. all Debts, Ex certa &c., Debts as sheriff are discharged as well as all others. R. 2. Roll 37. a. 1. Hales Hist. Pleas of the Crown 7. 13. a.19 agrees 1. Coke 49. a. So a Grant ex certa &c. dispenses with Uncertainties per Manwood forest Law 3. Edn.20 See also the very Words of the Charter that the Construction shall be most favourable for the Grantees.

Tr in JA's hand (CSmH); endorsed: “Charles Phelps's State of his Case.” Although it was not unusual for a lawyer in preparing an argument to include marginal notes, some of the marginal comments, as indicated in notes below, may be the contribution of JA. It is unlikely that he would have copied twelve pages, closely written, without adding something to an involved argument.


A common error based on Sebastian's claim of having done his father's deeds (Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages, N.Y., 1971, ch. 6).


This marginal note may have been Adams' own, for it is unlikely that Phelps would have raised a question about his own exposition without answering it at once. An answer is given below, however.


This and the similar “Q” below suggest that they are Adams' comments, revealing uncertainty about the information or about where authentication could be found.

Massachusetts granted many townships in New Hampshire and Vermont in the period 1735–1736, some of them so-called Canada towns given as compensation for military service in the expedition against Canada in 1690 (Mass., Province Laws , 12:passim).


Massachusetts built Fort Dummer in 1724 near what is now Brattleboro, Vt., as a defense against Indians. The fort at Number 4, built in 1743 at modern Charlestown, N.H., was actually built by Massachusetts men who had settled there (Howard H. Peckham, The Colonial Wars, 1689–1762, Chicago, 1964, p. 85; Francis Parkman, A Half-Century of Conflict, 2 vols., Boston, 1897, 2:217–221).


No record of this successful appeal has been found.


Rolfe vs. Bow: Appellants Case. A copy of this seven-page imprint and one 48of Rolfe vs. Bow: Respondents Case and of Rolfe vs. Bow: Appendix to Respondents Case are in NhHi. A full account of the dispute between the proprietors of Rumford, originally granted by Massachusetts, and the town of Bow, laid out by New Hampshire officials, can be found in Nathaniel Bouton, The History of Concord . . . , Concord, N.H., 1855, p. 205–226. Lord Mansfield's opinion in the case is extensively described by a contemporary (same, p. 220–221).


Sections 18 and 19 are taken almost verbatim from “Appendix to the Votes of the House of Representatives for the Year 1762,” Mass., House Jour. , 1762–1763, p. [298]–[299].


Law of the restoration of rights.


Remarkable Providences Illustrative of the Earlier Days of American Colonisation.


This note, which begins in the margin and then interrupts the text, may have been Adams' own. It breaks into the text at a convenient point, for the recital of facts has been completed, and the text then goes on to examine the right of Massachusetts to the disputed lands according to “Law and Equity.” Moreover, a later document known to be JA's (No. IV, below) has calculations on its verso, suggesting that he was interested in this aspect of the question.


William Sheppard, A Grand Abridgement of the Common and Statute Law of England, London, 1675; William Hawkins, An Abridgement of the First Part of . . . , Coke's Institutes [i.e., Cokeon Littleton], with Some Additions . . . , London, 1711; William Noy, A Treatise of the Principall Grounds and Maximes of the Lawes of this Kingdom, [London], 1641; Henry Hobart, The Reports of That Learned Sir Henry Hobart, Knight, London, 1641. The citation of elementary abridgments suggests a self-taught lawyer like Charles Phelps. It is further suggestive that these works by Sheppard, Hawkins, and Noy are not listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library , although a later edition of Hobart is.


Edmund Plowden, The Commentaries or Reports of Edmund Plowden . . . , London, 1761, is listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library . Here and elsewhere, Plowden is not quoted directly but his interpretations are put to work, suggesting the thorough knowledge and grasp of the well-trained and mature lawyer that JA was.


From this point on the marginal note intrudes to interrupt the text, and again JA may be adding his own contribution, particularly in the citations from Plowden.


Sir John Comyns, A Digest of the Laws of England, 5 vols., London, 1762–1767, is not listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library . The passage as well as the accompanying citations is taken verbatim from Comyns, except that the “1” in the second reference to Henry Rolle, Abridgement of the Common Law, 2 vols., London, 1668, has been inadvertently omitted. Rolle is not listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library .


The number “24” was inadvertently omitted above and has been supplied at the proper place in brackets.


That is, the note beginning, “a Confirmation is not good.”


[Thomas Hutchinson, comp.], A Collection of Original Papers Relative to the History of the Colony of Massachusets-Bay, Boston, 1769. The fourth ship was called the Four Sisters.


This passage and the citations are taken verbatim from Comyn's Digest. The first two citations refer to laws passed in the 36th and 37th years of the reign of Henry VI. The last is to Sir Edward Coke, A Book of Entries, London, 1671, which is listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library .


Sir Matthew Hale, The History of the Pleas of the Crown, 2 vols., London, 1736, is listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library .


John Manwood, Treatise and Discourse of the Lawes of the Forrest, 3d edn., London, 1665.

49 II. Draft of An Examination of the Claim of New Hampshire, March – May 1774 JA II. Draft of An Examination of the Claim of New Hampshire, March – May 1774 Adams, John
II. Draft of An Examination of the Claim of New Hampshire
March–May 1774
The Claim of New Hampshire is founded thus.

The Council of Plymouth, on the 19 day of March 1621, granted to John Mason, their Secretary, a Tract of Land from Neumkeag Naumkeag to Merrimack River. In the Year 1629, they granted him a Tract of Land between Merrimack and Piscataqua River Sixty Miles up each River, to be bounded on the West by a Line across from River to River. Both these Grants were united, and confirmed to Mr. Mason, by a new Grant from the Council of Plymouth, dated the 22d. Day of April 1635, under the following Description “A Portion of Main Land in New England, from the Middle of Merrimack1 River to proceed East ward along the sea Coast to Cape Anne; and round about the same to Piscataqua Harbour, and so forward up within the River Newichawanock, and to the farthest Head thereof; and thence North West ward till Sixty Miles be finished from the first Entrance of Piscataqua Harbour; and also from Neumkeag through the River thereof, up into the Land, West, Sixty Miles; from which Period to cross over Land to the Sixty Miles End, accounted from Piscataqua thro the Wewichawanack Newichawannock River, to the Land Northwest ward. And also all the South Half of the Isles of Shoals, together with all other Islands and Islets, as well imbayed as adjoining, laying, abutting upon or near the Premisses, within five Leagues Distance, and not otherwise granted by Special Name before the 18 day of April 1635 the said Tract or Portion of Land to be called and distinguished by the Name of New Hampshire.”

King Charles, by his Letters Patents dated 19. day of August 1635 confirmed this Tract called New Hampshire, to Mr. Mason with Powers of Government and Jurisdiction as in the Palatinate or Bishoprick of Durham.2

Such was the Establishment of this little Colony, comprehending no more than about Twenty Miles upon the Sea Coast, and Sixty Miles Inland or in Length.

In 1635 Mason died, and devised New Hampshire by his Will To John Tufton (to be called Mason). John dying before he became of full Age it descended to his Brother Robert Tufton Mason, who was not of Age, till 1650: in 1641 during his Minority, the Massachusetts, took the Colony , Supposing to be within their Patent, into their Protection, upon the Petition of the Inhabitants.


In 1675, upon Masons Petition to King Charles the second, a Report was made by the Crown Officers in favour of his Title, and the King sent a Mandatory Letter on the Subject, to the Massachusetts Governor.

Mr. Stoughton and Mr. Buckly were sent as Agents to England, to answer Masons Complaint, who, disclaimed all Right to New Hampshire; which being reported was confirmed by the King and Council 10 July 1677.

Dft (M/JA/6, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185); two folded sheets endorsed: “Extract from De Laet“; actually the endorsement is on the verso of the sheet dealing with New Hampshire. The other sheet has the extract from Joannes de Laet, Novus Orbis seu Descriptionis Indiae occidentalis . . . , Leyden, 1633, as well as an extract from William Smith, The History of the Province of New-York, from the First Discovery to the Year 1732 . . . , London, 1757.


An error in copying; this should, of course, be “Naumkeag,” at the site of modern Salem, Mass.


The description of the bounds of Mason's grant from the Council of Plymouth in 1635 and the assertion that this grant was confirmed by royal letters patent, as well as the biographical information for John and Robert Tufton Mason which follows, indicate that JA's source for this section of New Hampshire's “Claim” was A Short Narrative of the Claim, Title and Right of the Heirs of the Honourable Samuel Allen, Esq, to the Province of New-Hampshire, Boston, 1728 (Evans, No. 3106).

Samuel Allen (1636–1705) had purchased whatever title the Mason heirs held to New Hampshire lands in 1691 (Charles Wesley Tuttle and John Ward Dean, Capt. John Mason, the Founder of New Hampshire . . . , Prince Society, Pubns., 17 [1887]: 124). For the last fourteen years of his life, Allen fought to have his claims recognized, and in 1705, settlers on those tracts agreed to honor his title to waste lands (Elwin L. Page, “The Case of Samuell Allen of London Esqr. Governor of Newhampshire,” Historical New Hampshire, 25:53 [Winter 1970]). A Short Narrative, a thirteen-page pamphlet supposedly published to support the claims of Allen's heirs after New Hampshire residents had “invaded their Rights” and “possessed the Wasts“ on the heirs' lands, was part of Thomas Prince's Library consulted by JA at the Old South Church (Thomas Prince, MS catalogue of “New-English Books and Tracts,” MHi).

The standard authority on the Mason grants states that the Allen pamphlet contains “the first statement which I have met with that a charter from the King was obtained by Capt. John Mason.” That authority also says that it is the only source as well for the statement that Robert Tufton Mason was not of age till 1650 (Tuttle and Dean, Capt. John Mason, p. 355, 38–39).

JA also had recourse to William Douglass' history. This work, a part of his library, refers to a royal “patent” in 1635, although Douglass' description of the patent's bounds differs from those in the Allen pamphlet and in JA's draft (A Summary, Historical and Political, of the First Planting, Progressive Improvements and Present State of the British Settlements in North America, 2 vols., London, 1760, 1:418).

In JA's time, little credit was given the notion that Mason's grant had been confirmed by a royal charter (Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 1:268–269 and notes). But JA's use of the Allen pamphlet should not be interpreted as an indication that he planned to argue for the validity of any charter granted to Mason, for the draft here printed represents only the claim of New Hampshire, which he was to rebut on behalf of Massachusetts. Rather, JA's use of the Allen heirs' narrative shows 51his determination to raise and explore every possible ground on which the neighbors of Massachusetts might challenge its territorial rights. And, because the New Hampshire government had never attempted to come to terms with Allen's heirs, but instead had engaged in long and ultimately fruitless negotiations with Mason's descendants in an attempt to rationalize land titles in the colony (Tuttle and Dean, Capt. John Mason, p. 126–129), JA may have planned to use this fact in his arguments for Massachusetts.

III. Draft of An Examination of the Claim of New York, March – May 1774 JA III. Draft of An Examination of the Claim of New York, March – May 1774 Adams, John
III. Draft of An Examination of the Claim of New York
March–May 1774

In the Journal of the Votes and Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Province Colony of New York begun the 5th January 1773 and ended by Prorogation the Eighth of March following, page 93 is “A State of the Right of the Colony of New York, with Respect to its Eastern Boundary on Connecticut River, So far as concerns the late Encroachments under the Government of New Hampshire,” which it is necessary to consider particularly, together with whatever has been Advanced upon any other Occasion, in support of the Claim of New York, Either to the Property or Jurisdiction of the Lands in Question.

This State begins by an Attempt to establish the Pre-occupancy, or Priority of Possession of the Dutch, and prudently waives the Inquiry “whether Captain Hudson the Discoverer, acquired any Right—Whether he transferr'd his Pretensions to the States General—Whether his Conveyance was valid, or finally whether the Crown of England was not already invested with the Country, from the Discoveries of Sebastian Cabot as Questions foreign to the Purpose: Since it is not the Right, but the Priority of Possession of the Dutch, which is material and to be Supported.”

But the Massachusetts can by no means agree to this—They think it is unquestionable, that the Crown of England acquired the Right to the Country from the Discovery of Cabot, which was made for that Crown and by Virtue under its Authority; that the Crown alienated its Right, to the Plymouth Company in 1620, and the Company theirs to Roswell and others in 1628—and that the Fee of these Lands has never been in the Crown Since 1620. And therefore that the Lands, are still the Right of the Massachusetts, unless N. York can Shew, that they were possessed discovered by Hudson by Authority from the States General, which was never pretended, or at least possessed by the Dutch before 1620, under Some Grant, Patent or Act of the States General as a Government or State—nothing of which appears.


In order to shew a Priority of Possession, it is Stated that “in the Year 1609, Hudson first discovered the Coast between Marthas Vineyard and the first Virginia Settlement; and it then began to be minutely explored, and the Bays, Rivers, and Islands, ascertained and distinguished.

“Hudsons River was again visited in 1610, and in the following Years by Dutch Ships, and their Colony Advanced with such Rapidity, that in 1612 they had a Town and Fort on the Island Manhattans, now New York; and in 1615 another Town and Fort, at Aurania, now Albany, 160 Miles up Hudsons River; previous to which the States General in 1614, granted a Patent to some of their Subjects with the Priviledge of an exclusive Trade in this Country, which they denominated New Netherland.”

Dft (M/JA/17, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 191); endorsed: “Examination of the Claim of New York.”

IV. A State of the Title of the Massachusetts-Bay, March – May 1774 JA IV. A State of the Title of the Massachusetts-Bay, March – May 1774 Adams, John
IV. A State of the Title of the Massachusetts-Bay
March–May 1774

A State of the Title of the Massachusetts-Bay, to Lands between Connecticutt and Hudsons Rivers, at the North West Corner of the Province

The particular Tract, at this Time to be considered, is bounded Easterly by Connecticutt River, Westerly by the Eastern Line of New York, Northerly by the Northern Boundary of the Massachusetts Bay, and Southerly by the whole Tract containing, about Fifty Townships, by Estimation near a Million Acres.

A Hackeluit and Purchase &c. 1497 Votes in 17621 The General Hist. of Virginia New England and the Summer Isles &c. by Captn. John Smith Sometymes Govr in those Countrys and Admiral of N. England Lond. 1627. page 1st. But we find by Records, Cullumbus offered his Service. Purchas, his Pilgrimage. Book 8. C. 3. ss. 2.2 London 3d. Edit. 1617. The first Discovery of the Continent of North-America, was undoubtedly made by the Cabots under the Authority and in Behalf of the Crown of England, by Commission from Henry the Seventh, in the fifteenth Century, ranging the Coast from the fortyeth to the Sixty Seventh Degree of North Latitude, within which the Lands between the two Rivers of Connecticutt and Hudson are included.


Sebastian Cabot reported to Ramusio that in the Year 1497. at the Charge of K. H. 7. he discovered to the Sixty Seventh deg. and half of Northerly Lat. and all along the Coast to that which, is since called Florida.

Purchas, Part 1. B. 8. C. 1. Purchas &c. 1602 Votes in 1762.— Vid. H. Hist. Mass Bay page 1.4 Smiths General Hist. &c. p. 16. 17. America is a more common than fitting Name &c.3

In 1602 Captain Gosnold, and in 1603 Captain Martin Pringle sailed from Dartmouth to the Coast of North America, both of them first Anchored came to an Anchor about the Latitude of 43. coasted along and made Discoveries. Gosnold landed first on the Eastern Coast which he call'd Mavoshen abt. 43 deg. North and after some Commerce with the Savages, sailed Southward, and landed on the Elisabeth Islands which he named, after his Mistress the Queen who was living when he left England. He also named Marthas Vine Yard—He built a Fort and began a settlement, but could not perswade his People to persevere. This Attempt was near Narragansett Bay.

1606. Mass. Hist. Votes in 1762. In 1606. King James 1st. granted all the Continent from 34 to 45 degrees, which he divided into two Colonies vizt the southern or Virginia to certain Merchants of London, the Northern or New England to certain Merchants of Plymouth.

Purchase, Smith. Hist. Mass. Bay. Votes in 1762 In 1607 Some of the Patentees of the Northern Colony, began a settlement at Sagadahoc. George Popham President. They laid the Plan of a great State. At this Time the English were possessed of Port Royal, St. Croix, Mount Mansell, or Mount Desert and Penobscot: and the French beginning to encroach upon the Places East Of Kennebeck, in 1613 sir Samuel Argal came with diverse Armed Vessells from Virginia, and entirely Votes in 17645 dispossessed them—particular Notice is taken of his expelling from Penobscot and Mount Desart. He then proceeded to Hudsons River to do the same with the Dutch, but they disclaiming all Pretence to the Country, and desiring to continue as English subjects, for the Sake of Trade he did not remove them. 6 Complaint was afterwards made by the King to the states of these Intrudors but the States disowned them and laid no claim to any Part of the Country.


Hist. Mass 1608 Bay. p. 3. 4. 5. In 1608 Persecution Drove Mr. Robinson and his Church went from England to Holland. They staied about a Year at Amsterdam and then removed to Leyden. 1617 In 1617 they began to think of removing to America. The Majority of them were in favour of removing to Virginia. The Dutch laboured to perswade them to go to Hudsons River and settle under their West India They tacked abt. to the southward for Hudsons Bay; but Mr. Jones the Master had been bribed by the Hollanders to carry them more to the North, the Dutch intending themselves to take Possession of these Parts, as they did some time after. Neal. 87.7 Company. But chosing rather to be under the English, they applied to the Virginia Company for a Patent of Part of the Country about Hudsons River. A Patent was taken out under the Companys Seal to John Wincob. They sailed the beginning of August 1620, intending for Hudsons River, or the Coast near to it; but the Dutch had bribed their Pilot, and he carried them farther Northward, so that they fell in about Cape Cod, and arrived in that Harbour about 11th. of November. They coasted about till they found a Place more agreable for a Plantation, which they called New Plymouth. Captain Smith had given the Name of Plymouth to the same Place in 1614.

1607. 1608. 1609. Mass. Journ. 1764.8 In 1609, Henry Hudson, an Englishman, having made one Voyage in the Year 1607 and another in 1608, in the service of English Merchants, on Discovery, made a third, in 1609 in the service of Dutch Merchants, and on his Return to Dartmouth in England, coasted along the shoar of North America and entered the River, since called by his own Name, Hudson River, and sailed up the same many Leagues.

Novr. 3d. 1620. King James the 1st made a new Patent, incorporating the Adventurers to the northern Colony, by the Name of the Council of Plymouth and grants “unto the Council established at Plymouth in the County of Devon, for the planting, ruling, ordering and Governing of New England in America, and to their successors and assigns, all that Part of America lying and being in Breadth from forty degrees of Northerly Latitude from the Equinoctial Line to the forty Eighth degree of the said Northerly Latitude, inclusively, and in Length, of and within all the Breadth aforesaid, throughout all the main Lands from Sea to Sea” &c.

19 March 1628. The Council established at Plymouth, by their Deed 55indented, under their Common Seal, bearing Date the Nineteenth day of March in the third year of King Charles the first, “give, grant, bargain, sell, enfeoff, alien, and confirm to Sir Henry Roswell, Sir John Young, Knights, Thomas Southcott, John Humphreys, John Endicott, and Simon Whetcomb, their Heirs and assigns, and their associates forever, all that Part of New England in America aforesaid, which lies and extends between a great River there, commonly called Manomuck alias Merimack, and a certain other River there, called Charles River, being in a Bottom of a certain Bay there, commonly called Massachusetts, alias Mattachusetts, alias Massatusett Bay, and also all and singular those Lands and Hereditaments whatsoever lying within the space of three English Miles on the south Part of the said Charles River, or of any and every Part thereof; and also all and singular the Lands and Hereditaments whatsoever, lying and being within the space of three English Miles to the southward of the southermost Part of the said Bay called Massachusetts, alias Mattachusetts, alias Massatusetts Bay; and also all those Lands and Hereditaments whatsoever, which lie and be, within the space of three English Miles to the Northward of the said River called Manomuck alias Merrimack, or to the Northward of any and every Part thereof, and all Lands and Hereditaments whatsoever lying within the Limits aforesaid North and South in Latitude, and in Breadth, and Longitude, of and within all the Breadth aforesaid, through out the main Lands there, from the Atlantic and Western sea and Ocean on the East Part to the south Sea on the West Part” &c.9

4 March 1629 King Charles the first by his Letters Patents 4. March 1629, for the Consideration therein mentioned of his especial Grace, certain Knowledge, and mere Motion granted and confirmed, unto the Said Sir Henry Roswell and others, and their associates, Sir Richard Saltonstall and others therein named, their Heirs and assigns, all that Part of New England in America, lying and extending between the Bounds and Limits in the said Indenture expressed—and made the Grantees one Body corporate politique in fact and Name, by the Name of 56the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England: and therein expressly granted and declared, that the said Letters Patents shall be construed reputed and adjudged in all Cases most favourably on the Behalf and for the Benefit and Behoof of the said Governor and Company and their successors. &c.

And in the said Letters Patents is this Proviso—vizt. Provided always that if the said Lands, Islands, or any other the Premisses herein before mentioned, and by these Presents intended and meant to be granted, were at the Time of “the granting of the said former Letters Patents dated 3 November in the Eightteenth Year of our said dear Fathers Reign aforesaid actually possessed or, inhabited by any other Christian Prince or State, or were within the Bounds Limits or Territories of that southern Colonie then before granted by our said late Father to be planted by diverse of his living Subjects in the south Parts of America, that then this Present Grant shall not extend to any such Parts or Parcells thereof, so formerly inhabited or lying within the Bounds of the southern Plantation as aforesaid, but as to those Parts or parcells so possessed or inhabited by such Christian Prince or State or being within the Bounds aforesaid, shall be utterly void.” See the Additions10

7 Novr. 1629. The said Council of Plymouth, by another Indenture granted unto Captain John Mason and his Heirs “all that Part of the main Land between the Middle of Merrimack River and the Middle of Piscataqua River, from the Mouth of Piscataqua River to the Head thereof, and from thence Northwestward till 60 miles be finished, and from the Mouth of Merrimack River to the Head of it and from thence Westward till 60 Miles be finished and the Head line to cross over from thence to the End of the other 60 miles which Land the said John Mason called New Hampshire.

1677. 16 July Some Disputes having afterwards happened between the said Province of the Massachusetts Bay, and the said John Mason, as Proprietor of New Hampshire, and Vizt. printed State of the Case between Benja Rolfe Esq & the Town of Bow. page 2d. in 1762 by De Grey & Wedderburn. Ferdinando Gorge, who had a Grant from King Charles the first in 1639 of a Tract of Land in New England, 57then called the Province of Main, which Adjoined to New Hampshire on the North East, beginning at the Harbour of Piscataqua aforesaid and running from thence North East, along the sea Coast to Sagadahock extending inland 120 Miles.

And A Question arising, as to the Extent of the Boundaries and Limits of their said several Grants the said Mason and Gorge, petitioned his Majesty in Council, to have those Disputes determined: and it having been referred to a Committee of Council, they with the Assistance of two Lords Chief Justices, Rainsford and North, entered into the Consideration thereof, and heard all Parties; and the said Province of Massachusetts Bay having claimed before them to be intituled to all the Lands within two Parrellell Lines, to be drawn from the Atlantic sea on the East Part to the south sea on the West Part, three Miles South of every Part of Charles River and three Miles North of every Part of Merrimack River; the said two Parrellell Lines to be the South and North Boundaries of the said Province of Massachusetts Bay.

16, July 1677 By order of the King in Council, reciting a Report made by the Committee of the Privy Council and the said two Lords Chief Justices, taking Notice among other Things, that they had not thought fit to examine any Claims to the Lands, it being in their Opinion improper to judge of any Title of Land, without hearing of the Tertenants, but had examined the several Claims of the Parties to the Government, taking Notice that the said John Mason had waived before them all Pretence to Government, being convinced no such Power could be assigned to him from the Council of Plymouth.11 And after stating the two Grants from the Crown to the Massachusetts and Province of Main, and that it was insisted, that the Grant of Government to the Massachusetts could extend no further than the ownership of the soil, their Lordships reported that it seemed very clear to them, that the Grant of the Government by the Massachusetts Charter, extended no further than the Boundaries expressed in their Patent, and that those Boundaries could not be construed to extend 58further Northward along the River Merrimack than Three English Miles; for the North and south Bounds of the Lands, granted so far as the Rivers extend, are to follow the Course of the Rivers, which makes the Breadth of the Grant. And that the Words in the Charter describing the Length to comprehend all the Land from the Atlantic Ocean to the south Sea in all the Breadth aforesaid, did not warrant the overeaching those Bounds by imaginary Lines as the same would be against the Intent of the Grant; the Words “of and in all the Breadth aforesaid,” shewing that the Breadth was not intended an imaginary Line laid upon the broadest Part; but the Breadth respected the Continuance of the Boundaries by the Rivers, as far as they go; but when the known Boundary of Breadth determined, it must be carried on by imaginary Lines to the South Sea; and were of opinion, as to the Powers of Government that the Massachusetts, by the said Letters Patent, had such Right of Government as is granted them by their Patent, within the Boundaries of their Land expressed therein according to such description as their Lordships' had thereof made as aforesaid. And Gave the like opinion as to Gorge's Right of Government over the Province of Main; which Report was approved and confirmed by his Majesty in Council, and all Parties ordered to acquiesce therein.

1679, 18 Septr. King Charles 2d. soon after the aforesaid determination in the 31. Year of his Reign issued a Commission under the Great Seal, reciting (among other Things) that the Government of that Part of New Hampshire therein described, vizt extending from 3 miles northward of Merrimack River, or any Part thereof to the Province of Main, had not hitherto been granted, but remained under his Majestys immediate Care, created and constituted John Cuth Cutt Esqr President together with a Council to take Care of and govern the said Province of New Hampshire.12

1684. In the Year 1684, a Judgment was given in the Court of Chancery upon a Writ of Scire facias, that the said Letters Patents of King Charles 1st. and the Enrollment of the same, should be cancelled, vacated and an-59nihilated and should be brought into the said Court to be cancelled.” &c.13

In a Book entituled &c. as in the Margin, are these 1631. The Merchants Map of Commerce, by Lewis Roberts printed in London 3d. Edit. 1677 1st. Ed. 1637.15 Page 55 Words “There is a Dutch Plantation in the Latitude of 41 degrees, in a River called by the English Hudsons River &c.

Sir Ferdinando Gorge in his Description of New England, printed 165814 p. 30 says &c. vizt. as Captn. Dormer.

1633. Hutch Hist Mass Bay. p. 43. a Letter from Mr. Winslow &c.

1635. Hutch Hist. Mass Bay p. 48. 1683. The Dutch also sent hence16

See Additions Mem.

1691. 7. Octr. 3d. of Wm. & Mary King William and Queen Mary, by their Letters Patents, reciting the aforesaid Grant to the Council of Plymouth, and their aforesaid Indenture to Sir Henry Roswell and others, and also the aforesaid Letters Patents of King Charles the first, and the Bounds both in the said Indenture and Charter, did upon the Petition of several Persons employed as Agents, in behalf of said Colony of Massachusetts Bay, of their the said King and Queens Special Grace, certain Knowledge and mere Motion, will and ordain “That the Territories and Colonies commonly called or known by the Names of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, and Colony of New Plymouth the Province of Main, the Territory called Accada or Nova Scotia; and all that Tract of Land lying between the said Territories of Nova Scotia, and the said Province of Main, be erected, united and incorporated And their said Majestys did “by those Presents unite, erect and incorporate the same into one real Province by the Name of our Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England And their said Majestys did, in and by said Letters Patents, “give and grant unto unfinished

Dft (M/JA/17, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 191.) On the verso of p. 3 and 4, in an unknown but contemporary hand, are calculations showing that on the east side of the Connecticut River, Massachusetts lost 2,000 square miles, and on the west side, 1,500. The value of these lands is calculated at 6 shillings per acre for a total loss of £;672,000 in lawful money.


See No. I, note 7, above.


Samuel Purchas, Purchas His Pilgrimage or Relations of the World and the Religions Observed in All Ages and Places Discovered, from the Creation unto This Present. The section cited is 60entitled “Discoveries Made by Sebastian Cabot.” The Catalogue of JA's Library lists a 2d edition; the one cited here was in the Prince Library.


See the detail on Americus in No. V, below. Chapter 1, section 1, of Purchas is entitled “Of the Names Given to This Part of the World. . . .”


Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony of Massachusets-Bay, Boston, 1764.


[Thomas Hutchinson], The Case of the Provinces of Massachusetts-Bay and New-York, Respecting the Boundary Line between the Two Provinces, Boston, 1764, in Mass., House Jour. , 1763–1764, p. [279].


That Samuel Argall forced a declaration from the Dutch that they did not claim the country as theirs was a persistent myth wholly without foundation (John R. Brodhead, History of the State of New York, 2 vols., N.Y., 1853, 1:54).


Daniel Neal, The History of New-England Containing an Impartial Account of the Civil and Ecclesiastical Affairs . . . to the Year of Our Lord, 1700, 2 vols., London, 1720. Vol. 1 is listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library .


The Case of the Provinces, p. [288].


It will be observed here that JA preferred to quote extensively from the patent and that he did not at this point bring in the matter of consideration paid, as did Charles Phelps (No. I, section 5, above).


No. V, below.


JA has been fuller and more accurate here than Phelps. Compare this sentence with the first sentence under section 17 in No. I, above.


These facts are not included in Phelps' state of the case.


JA gives here a fuller and more technical account of the voiding of the charter. Compare No. I, section 7, above.


A Briefe Narration of the Originall Undertakings of the Advancement of Plantations into the Parts of America, published as part of the compilation of Sir Ferdinando Gorges' grandson, Ferdinando Gorges, America Painted to the Life . . . , London, 1658. In this volume, a part of Thomas Prince's Library, the pages containing Sir Ferdinando's A Briefe Narration carry the same running head as his grandson's A Description of New-England in the same volume, thus causing JA's confusion over the title of the elder Gorges' contribution. Notes on Dormer's exploits are found in No. V, below.


The author was Lewes Roberts, whose work is listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library . The earliest edition listed in the catalogues of the British Museum and the Library of Congress is that of 1638. See No. V, below, for material quoted from Roberts.


These unfinished notes are fleshed out in No. V, below.

V. Additions to A State of the Title of Massachusetts-Bay, March – May 1774 JA V. Additions to A State of the Title of Massachusetts-Bay, March – May 1774 Adams, John
V. Additions to A State of the Title of Massachusetts-Bay
March—May 1774
Additions to be made to the Title of the Massachusetts.

1631. The Merchants Map of Commerce. By Lewis Roberts 3d. Edition, printed in London 1677. first Ed. in 1637. page 55. “There is Dutch Plantation in the Latitude of 41 degrees, in a River called by the English Hudsons River, by the Indians called Monahaton; and by the Dutch (who have intruded into that Place, being within the New England Patent) called New Netherland; they have in this Place diverse Towns, New Amsterdam, their chief Town, Grave Saint, Flushing, and Middleborrough; also Fort-Orania, situate 40 miles up Hud-61sons River. Their Religion is like the Religion in Old Amsterdam, in Holland. Their Government Subjected to the Holland West India Company. They have usurped there a great Trade of Bever from the English Nation, notwithstanding the late King Charles in the Year 1631, did declare to the States of Holland his Discontents for such Intrusion; whereupon the States of Holland did disclaim the owning or countenancing of that Plantation, imputing it to the particular Acts of some private Merchants, and so left them to their own Protection, and to be ejected at the Kings Pleasure.”

“The chief Commodity by which the Dutch engross and draw the said Trade from the Neighbouring Plantation, is Guns, Powder, shot and Rapier Blades, which Instruments of War have twice been fatal to themselves by two Massacres committed by the Indians upon them with the help of those Weapons, to the destruction of Half their People at each Time. And hath been also dangerous to the Adjoining Plantations of Maryland, Virginia and New England.”

Purchas, his Pilgrimage. Book 8. Chap. 3. ss. 2. This is by Samuel Purchas, Parson of St. Martin's by Ludgate London 3. Edition printed at London 1617. Sebastian Cabot reported to Ramusio that in the Year 1497 at the Charge of King Henry the Seventh, he discovered to the Sixty Seventh degree and a halfe of Northerly Latitude. Cabot discovered all along the Coast to that which since is called Florida.

Purchas Part 1. B. 8. C. 3. ss. 6. p 924. Henry Hudson 1607. discovered further North, towards the Pole, than perhaps any before him. He found himself in 80 deg. 23 Minutes.

Another Voyage he made 1609. and coasted Newfoundland, and thence along to Cape Cod.

His last and fatal Voyage was 1610.

1497 The general History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles &c. by Captn. John Smith Sometyme Governor in those Countrys and Admiral of New England. London 1627. Page 1st. But we find by Records: “Cullumbus offered his Service in the year 1488. to King Henry the Seventh; and by Accident undertook it for the Spaniards. In the Interim King Henry gave a Commission to John Cabot and his three Sons, Sebastian, Lewis and Sautius. John and Sebastian well provided, setting sayle, ranged a great Part of this unknown World in the Year 1497. for though Cullumbus, had found certain Iles, 62it was 1498 e'er he saw the Continent, which was a Year after Cabot. Now Americus came a long time after, though the whole Continent to this day is called America after his Name, Yet Sebastian Cabot discovered much more than them all, for he sayled to about 40 deg. Southward of the Lyne, and to Sixty seven towards the North,” for which King H. 8. knighted him and made him grand Pilot of England. Being very aged K. Ed. 6. gave him a Pension of 166:13:4 Yearly.

A Description of New England, written by Sir Ferdinando Gorges Knight and Governor of the Fort and Island of Plymouth in Devonshire. printed in 1658. Page 30. But as Captaine Dormer, [(1620 Purch) a Note of Mr. Prince,]1 who, as I said, was coasting that Country, met with some Hollanders that were settled in a Place we call Hudsons River, in Trade with the Natives, whom the right of our Patent forbad them the Place as being by his Majesty appointed to us; their Answer was, they understood no such Thing, nor found any of our Nation there, so that they hoped they had not offended; However, this their Communication removed them not, but upon our complaining of their Intrusion to his Majesty, order was given to his Embassadours to deale with the States, to know by what warrant any of their Subjects took upon them to settle, within those Limits by him granted to his Subjects who were royally seized of a Part thereof; to which was answered that they knew of no such Thing, if there were any, it was without their Authority, and that they only had enacted the Company for the Affairs of the West Indies; this Answer being returned, made Us to prosecute our Business and to resolve of the removing of those Interlopers to force them to submit to the Government of those to whom that Place belonged.”

1633 Hutch. Hist. Mass. Bay. p. 43. “A Letter from Mr. Winslow of New Plymouth Sept. 26. 1633. mentions their having been up the River (i.e. Connecticutt). They forbad the Dutch making any Settlements there and set up a trading House themselves. The Governor of the Massachusetts also this Year 1635 sent a Bark round the Cape to the Dutch Governor, to acquaint him that the King had granted the River and Country of Connecticutt to his own Subjects, and desired him to forbear building any where thereabout.”


“The Commissioners of the united Colonies in a Declaration against the Dutch in 1653 say that 'Mr. Winslow, one of the Commissioners for Plymouth, discovered the Fresh River2 when the Dutch had neither Trading House, nor any Pretence to a foot of Land there.'”

1635 Page 48. The Dutch also sent home to Holland for Instructions intending to maintain their Claim to the River, or the Place where they had Possession, but upon a Treaty afterwards with the Commissioners of the united Colonies, they quitted all Claims to all Parts of the River resigning it up to the English.3

1639 Hutch. Hist. Mass. Bay. 108. 9. 10. In 1639 the Massachusetts People were enquiring into the Bounds of their Patent, and sent Persons to find out the Northernmost Part of Merrimack River. A Line to run East from 3 Miles north of the Head of the River will take in the whole of New Hampshire. They determined therefore that it came within their Jurisdiction, and from that Time they allowed Plantations to be settled, particularly at Hampton, as readily, as in any Part of the Colony.

1641 page 110. “The Massachusetts by extending its Wing over the Inhabitants of N. Hampshire nourished and cherished them for near 40 years and to this must be attributed the Growth and present flourishing state of that Colony. The Principal Inhabitants in 1680, when the Benefit was recent made a public and gratefull Acknowledgment of it.”

British Empire in America Vol. 1. page 117.4 This Country was at first called Nova Belgia; and the Dutch, who pretended to the Propriety of it, included Martha's Vineyard and Elizabeth Island: The former they called Henry Christians Island; and the latter Adrian Blocks, from the Name of two Masters of Ships, who, they say, discovered them: But it does not appear they had any Right to those Isles, or indeed to the Continent on Hudsons River, till they bought it of Captn. Hudson, who discovered it, and sold it to them about the Year 1608. which Sale being without the Kings Licence, was excepted against by the English; but there were no attempts made by them to settle here themselves, or hinder the Hollanders. The English, who 64sailed from Holland to the West Indies, and settled Plymouth Colony intended to take Possession of the Territories, lying on the Coast of the Bay formed by New Haven Colony, and Long Island; but the Master of the Ship being a Dutchman was bribed by some of his Countrymen to betray them, and land them further Eastward; which he did accordingly, and prevented their settling in Nova Belgia; where the Hollanders had begun to plant, but had been driven thence by Sir Samuel Argal, Governor of Virginia. They then applied themselves to King James 1st. who gave them Leave to build some Cottages, for the Convenience of their Ships touching there for fresh Water and Provisions in their Voyage to Brazil, under this Pretence, they encroached by little and little.”

A Purchas Part. 1. B. 8. C. 1. America is a more common than fitting Name, seeing Americus Vespucius the Florentine, from whom this Name is derived, was not the first Finder, nor Author of that Discovery: Columbus will challenge that, and more justly, with whom, and under whom Americus made his first Voyage, howsoever after that he coasted a great Part of the Continent which Columbus had not Seen, at the Charges of the Castilian and Portugal Kings. But so it might more rightly be termed Cabotia, or Sebastiana, of Sebastian Cabot a Venetian, which discovered more of the Continent than they both, about the same Time first employed by King Henry the seventh of England, and after by the Catholic King.

Dft (M/JA/17, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 191).


Words in brackets are above the line.


The old name for the Connecticut River. The quotation is verbatim from Hutchinson, p. 43, note.


The treaty with the Dutch was made in 1650, but it confirmed Dutch rights on the Connecticut. The colony of Connecticut acquired Dutch territory on the river through seizure during the English-Dutch war of 1650–1652 (N. B. Shurtleff et al., eds., Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, 12 vols., Boston, 1855–1861, 9:188–190; J. Hammond Trumbull and Charles J. Hoadly, eds., The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, 15 vols., Hartford, 1850–1890, 1:254).


John Oldmixon, The British Empire in America, Containing the History . . . of All the British Colonies, on the Continent and Islands of America, 2 vols., London, 1708. Vol. 1, listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library , was originally a part of the Prince Library.

65 VI. An Examination of the Claim of New York, May 1774 JA VI. An Examination of the Claim of New York, May 1774 Adams, John
VI. An Examination of the Claim of New York
May 1774

1753. In the year 1753 a Committee of the Council of N York in a Report upon the Petition of Mr. Levingston and others Stated the Facts and arguments in support of the Claim of that Province relative to its Eastern Boundary.1

1763. In the year 1763 The General Court of the Massachusetts Bay ordered a very particular State of the Controversy between this Government and the Government of New York respecting the boundary lines between them to be preserved and printed in the Journal of the House in this State most of the facts and Arguments of moment on either side are fairly and fully recorded.2

1767. In 1767 a Conference was held between the Commissaries of the Massachusetts Bay and the Commissaries of New York at New Haven in the Colony of Connecticut where many of the Facts and Arguments preserved in the aforesaid States were again urged and have been since published.3

1773. In the Journal of the votes and proceedings of the General Assembly of the Colony of New York begun the 5th January 1773 untill by prorogation the eighth of March following page 93, is

“A State of the right of the Colony of New York with respect to its Eastern boundary on Connecticut River so far as concerns the late encroachments under the Government of New Hampshire.”

This State is now to be considered together with whatever has been advanced upon other occasions in support of the Claims to New York either as the property or jurisdiction of the Lands in question.

N York

It begins thus “In considering the objections which have been raised against the Eastern extent of this Colony to the Banks of Connecticut River the preoccupancy of that River by the Dutch will be of moment. But wether Captain Hudson, who was the discoverer, acquired any Right, Wether he transfered his pretentions to the States General, wether his conveyance was valid, or finally wether the Crown of England was not already invested with the Country, from the discovery which had been made for the English by Sebasten Cabat in the reign of King Henery the seventh” are questions foreign to our purpose; “since it is not the right but the priority of possession by the Dutch which is at present material and to be supported.”

66 Massachusetts

But the Massachusetts can by no means agree to this. They think it unquestionable that the Crown of England acquired the right to the Country from the discovery of Sebasten Cabet which was made, at the expence, and under the authority and by a Commission from that Crown, that the Crown alinated its right in 1620 and conveyed the Fee to the Plymouth Company: which Fee the Plymouth Company conveyed to Rosewell and others in 1628 and has never been in the Crown since 1620.—and therefore that the Lands belong still in Fee to the Massachusetts, or to the Heirs at Law of Rosewell and his Associates many of whom are now living in the Province.

This Right in Fee would be clear, even if it was in the power of New York, to prove that the Lands were discovered by Hudson, under Commission from the States General, which was never pretended; or at least possessed by the Dutch before 1620 under some Grant, Patent, Diploma or Act of the States General as a Goverment or State, nothing of which appears.

It is indeed said, in a Book intituled the British Empire in America4 page 117 “that the Dutch bought the Continent on Hudsons River of Capt. Hudson who discovered it and sold it to them in the year 1608” and by Mr. Neal5 that “this part of the Country was first discovered by Capt. Hudson an Englishman who sold it to the Dutch about the year 1608.” But the first of these authors observes “that Hudsons sale being without the Kings Licence was excepted against by the English” and the last says “that doing it (in selling the Country to the Dutch) without the Kings Licence it was reckoned invalid” and very justly for the Crown by the discovery of Cabat was undoubtedly so vested with the right to the whole Continent, that a discovery of a part of it a century afterwards by an English subject could give him no title. He could not therefore convey any to the Dutch and his deed if he made any was void.

As to the priority of possession of the Dutch, this is not material unless it can be proved that the Dutch, as a State, were in possession of the Country—for the possession of a few private Dutchmen without any Grant Commission or other authority from their sovereign, merely as trespassers or intruders can by no rules hitherto adopted acquire any right or title, or be considered as within the meaning of Massachusetts Charter, where it excepts Lands actualy possessed by any Christian Prince or State.

If the discovery without an actual and continued Possession of a Country vests a right in the discoverer or in the Sovereign then the 67discovery of this part of the Continent by Cabat vested that right in him or the Crown of England and Hudsons after discovery could be of no use. If the minute investigation of the Harbours and Rivers is necessary to give this right, then Hudson who never penetrated into the Country could have no more right to the Land lying back in the Country than Cabat by his prior discovery of the Coast. If the possession of a part gives a right to the possession of the whole claimed under the same title, then the Plymouth Company Rosewell and the Massachusetts have a right to all contained in the Charter not possessed by the subjects of other States claiming under authority of such States. If such possession is not so extensively operative the Dutch could claim no right beyond their actual possession which was only of 2 or 3 detached places and being without Grant Charter or Claim of particular limits can by no construction extend their right of possession beyond those detached places.

New York

1609. In order to shew a priority of Possession it is stated “that in the year 1609 Hudson first discovered the Coast between Marthas Vineyard and the first Virginia Settlement: and then began to be minutely explored, and the Bays, Rivers and Islands, ascertained and distinguished.

1610. Hudson River was again visited in 1610 and in the following years by Dutch Ships, and their Colony advanced with such rapidity that in 1612 they had a Town and Fort on the Island of Manhattas now New York, and in 1615 another Town and Fort at Auranid Aurania now Albany 160 miles up Hudsons River previous to which the States General in 1614 granted a Patent to some of their subjects with the previledge of an exclusive trade in this Country which they denominated New Netherland.

In 1623 they made a Grant of the Soil to their West India Company, who in the same year erected Fort Nassau, on the east side of Delaware Bay: and Fort Good Hope on Connecticut River, and upwards of 35 miles from its mouth, near to this ancient Fortress, the remains of which are still to be seen, the Town of Hartford hath since been built under Connecticut.”


1613. †6 Sir Samuel Argal maintained the right of the English to the Sea Coast of the Whole Continent by clearing by force of Arms all Arcadia of the French; and by proceeding to Hudsons River, to 68remove the Dutch, but these submitted to his Authority acknowledged themselves to be Subjects to the Crown of England, and to the Governor of Virginia, and upon those Conditions only were suffered to remain. Their continuance there afterwards therefore, is evidence of the possession of the English Crown not of the Dutch State.

There is very little Evidence of any Grant or Patent made by the States General in 1614 to any of their Subjects, with the previledge of an exclusive trade in this Country such a Patent has been often mentioned, but never produced, as it easily might and probably would have been or some extract from it, if it had not been known to be of no weight. It is true that Governor Stuyvesant in 2 Sept. 1664 in one of his Letters disallows the right of the English Crown to all the Lands in North America “by virtue” as he says “of a Grant and Commission given by my said Lords, the high and mighty States General to the West India Company in the year 1621” and afterwards he says “moreover it is without dispute and acknowledged by the World that our Predecessors by virtue of the Commission and Patent of the said Lands, the States General have without controul and peacably (the contrary never coming to our knowledge) enjoyed Fort Orange about 48 or 50 years the Manhattans about 41 or 42 the South River 40 years and the fresh Water River about 36 years.”7 The Dutch came not into these Provinces by any violence, but by virtue of Commissions from my Lords the States General, first of all in the year 1614, 1615 and 1616 up the North River near Fort Orange where they bult a little Fort, and after in 1622 and even to this present time by virtue of Commission and Grant to the Governors of the West India Company, and moreover in the year 1656 a Grant to the Honorable the Burgomasters of Amsterdam of south River.


It is also true that De Laet, in his discription of the West Indias printed in 1633 and dedicated to King Charles 1st of England says, “anno 1610 Mercatores quidam Amstelloderneusis, eo (i.e. Manhattes) navem cum variis mercibus destinarunt; et, diplomate ab. illust. D. ordinibus confederatia Belgii imperato, quo, ipsis solis hoc flumen at vicinas regiones commerciorum gratia adire permittebatur, sequentibus annis hic cum barbaris commercia exercita fuerunt.”8

That a Diploma was granted by the States General, to some of their Subjects about this time was probably true. Their West India Company of which De Laet was Governor was probably erected about that time, and there might possibly be a Clause in it, by which this Com-69pany, or their servants might be permitted to go to that River (Hudsons) and the neighbouring regions for the sake of Commerce with the Savages, and all other Dutch Subjects might be thereby prohibited to go there for that end. But this is no grant of the Soil, and could make no title, to the W India Company if the States General had then enjoyed a good one to that Country instead of none at all—No “actual possession” therefore “was taken by any Christian Prince or State” by this Diploma of 1614.

That the States General made a Grant of the Soil to the W India Company in 1623 is utterly denied. There is no evidence of it, except the random talk of Stuyversant in his Letter of 2 Sept. 1664 which is a contradiction to what he himself had written in a former Letter to the W India Company dated 25 June 1660 “that they our more powerfull Neighbours lay their Claims under a Royal Patent, which we are unable hitherto to do in your Name.”9

But if it was true that in 1614 the States gave a priviledge of trade to the W India Company, at Hudsons River and the neighbouring territory, and in 1623, a Grant of the Soil, yet it is plain, it must have been obtained unfairly, by false suggestions or misinformation to the States; and that the Inhabitants themselves had no confidence in their Grant, for in 1620 as Capt. Dermur Dormer was coasting at Hudsons River he forbad the Dutch the place as being by his Majesty Granted to the Massachusetts Colony, and they instead of claiming the Country appologized for their trading there, not finding any English there. author's marginal note—1620 Sir Fred Gorg And in 1631 the English Embassidors by Order of King Charles remonstrated to the States General, against this Settlement being within the Grant he had made to his Subjects—to which the States answered they knew of no such thing—if there were any, it was without their authority, and that they only had erected a Company for the affairs of the W Indias, and disclaimed that Plantation imputing it to private Merchants, and left them to be yielded to his Majesty's pleasure, author's marginal note— 1631 Gorge and Roberts

As to the Erection of Fort Good Hope on Connecticut River upwards of 35 miles from its mouth in 1623, Is it not improbable that the Dutch Factory, for it was nothing more at Manhattans might trade with the Indians upon Connecticut River and they might have a Flankart to their trading House or Stockadors or Palisadoes round it: But if they had they were English Subjects, and had expressly acknowledged themselves to be so, or they would have been removed, and their possession, was tortious and of short duration. After all 70neither the permission to trade at Hudsons River pretended to be granted by said Stuyversant in 1614 to the W India Company nor the pretended Grant of the Soil in 1623 can give a colour to the N York claims upon Connecticut River.*

*10If the antiquity of the supposed Grant to the Dutch W India Company should be urged against the necessity of producing the Grant as far as respects the Massachusetts in the present Controversy it is enough to answer that some evidence should be given of the extent of that grant which may be defined by lines which will exclude the Land in controversy, and probably do as they lie far wide of Hudsons River and the course of it.

New York

When the first War between England and Holland became inevitable King Charles the second by Letters Patent dated 12th day of March 1663, 4 granted to his Brother, the Duke of York, the tracts of Country which comprehended New York. To render this gift effectual, before the War was proclaimed a fleet and land force were sent out to remove the Dutch and put the Duke in possession.

The Dutch Governor Stuyversant in his Letter dated the 2d day of September 1664 N.S. in answer to a Letter from Governor Nichols, in Augt. preceeding demanding a surrender of the Forts and Countries possessed by the Dutch under his command, denied the Title of the King of Great Britain to this part of America; insisted upon the right of the States General as founded not only on the first discovery, but on purchases from the Native proprietors, and a long peaceable and uninterupted Possession; and protested against every Act of Hostility as an infraction of the Alliance and Treaty of Peace then subsisting between his Britanic Majesty and the States General.

But however clear his opinion of the right of the Dutch, in no condition to defend it, he found himself Obliged to submit to a superior power; accordingly on the 27th day of August 1664 he surrendered all the Country which the Dutch then possessed to King Charles the second.

A Capitulation was previously agreed upon and granted for the security of the Inhabitants: By the 8th article it is declared, that all the People shall continue free Denizens, and shall enjoy their Lands, Houses, Goods wheresoever they are within this Country and dispose of them as they please.

Afterwards the States General by the Treaty of Breda in 1667 made a Cession of this Country to the Crown of England.


During the succeeding War between the two Nations, the Dutch in 1673 recompensed a part of it but by the Definitive Treaty of London in 1674 they again surrendered and finally yielded all their claims to the Crown of England.


By the Grant to the Council of Plymouth all the Land between Connecticut and Hudsons River with other Lands was conveyed to that Company. By their Deed to Rosewell and the Charter granted by the Crown, the whole of that Land which lies between the Massachusetts North and south boundaries was conveyed to the Inhabitants of that Colony, and were never afterwards in the Crown or in anything of England.

23d Apl 1762.11 King Charles 2d on the 23d day of April AD 1662 granted to the “Governor and Company of the English Colony of Connecticut in new England in America” and their successors “all that part of his Dominions in New England in America bounded on the East by Naragansett River commonly called Naragansett Bay where the said River falleth into the Sea: and on the North by the Line of the Massachusetts Plantation and on the south by the Sea: and in longitude as the line of the Massachusetts Colony, runing from East to West, that is to say from the said Naragansett Bay on the East, to the south Sea on the West part.”

By these Grants, the whole of the Land, between the Rivers Connecticut and Hudson, to the Southward of the Massachusetts North Line were conveyed to private Persons, and Bodies politick before the extraordinary Grant to the Duke of York in 1663, 4, So that this Grant to the Duke was absolutly void: it not being in the power of the King or the Crown to vareate vacate its Grants formerly made any more than it is in the power of a private person to annihilate his own Deed duly made and upon good consideration. “Indeed such a dispensing power seems to have been, at that time claimed by Charles, and it seems to have been well known and understood that the Grant to the Duke interfered with the former Grants to the Massachusetts and Connecticut; and a Clause was accordingly inserted in the Dukes Patent in these words “Our Will and pleasure is and we do hereby declare and Grant that these our Letters Patents or the Inrollment thereof shall be good and effectual in the Law to all intents and purposes whatsoever notwithstanding the not reciting or mentioning of the Premises or any part thereof or the meets or bounds thereof or of any former or other Letters Patents or Grants heretofore made or 72Granted of the premisses, or of any part thereof by us or of any of our Progenitors unto any other Person or Persons whatsoever, Bodies Politick or Corporate, or any Act, Law or other restraint, Uncertainty or Imperfection whatsoever to the Contrary in any wise notwithstanding altho express mention of the true yearly value or certainty of the Premisses or any of them, or of any other Gift or Grant by us or by any of our Progenetors or Predecessors heretofore made to the said James Duke of York in those presents is not, or any Statute, Act, Ordinance, Provision, Proclamation, or Restitution heretofore had, made, enacted, ordained or provided, or any other matter Cause or Thing whatever to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.”

This Clause it must be confesed if it had any force at all, is omnipotent however New York has hitherto been too modest and candid to contend that it has any validity at all. It is one among many proofs of a design in Charles which his professed advocates agree he entertained of subverting the English Constitution and rendering the Crown absolute.

Governor Stuyversants Letter has been fully considered and answered before.

By the Cession or more properly the Restitution of the Country to the Crown the request of it, and the final surrender in 1674 the Crown or King of England was only restored to the sovereignty or Goverment or Jurisdiction of the Country—no Tittle was acquired by this to the Fee simple of the Land. But the former Proprietors the Massachusetts and Connecticut Corperations were restored to their rights in fee simple Jure post liminii.

New York

It was the intention of the Crown that the Grant to the Council of Plymouth should not interfere with the Claims, and possessions of the Dutch in this Country, which were undoubtedly well known in England—is evident from a recital, to the following purpose.

“Now forasmuch as the King has been certainly given to understand by diverse good subjects that have for these many years frequented the Coasts and Teritories between the Degrees of forty and forty eight that there are no other subjects of any Christian King or State or by any authority from their Sovereign Lord or Princes actually in the possession of any the said Lands or Precints” and also from a proviso in these words “Provided always, that the said Lands, Islands or any of the Premisses by the said Letters Patent intended 73or meant to be granted were not then actually possessed or inhabited by any other Christian Power or State.”

Most of the Dutch Colony of New Netherland was, however included within the bounds of this Grant; it was therefore void for the false suggestion, and if it had been valid, the possessions of the Dutch were at least excepted and excluded by the saving Clause.

The Council of Plymouth by their Deed dated 19 day of March in the 3d year of the reign of King Charles the first granted to Sir Henry Roswell and others all Lands from 3 Miles Northward of any and every part of Merrimack River to 3 miles Southward of any and every part of Charles River and of Massachusetts Bay (East and West from Sea to Sea) with all Islands on the East and West Coasts. Within this description also, part of the New Netherlands is comprehended.

Sir Henery and his associates having found the design of planting a Colony thus became vested with the right of the Soil; but they still wanted the Powers of Jurisdiction or Government, which the Council of Plymouth never pretended to transfer.

To remedy this inconveniancy a Royal Charter was Obtained dated the fourth day of March 1628, 9 incorporating them by the Name of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay with ample Jurisdiction and Powers of Goverment.

But these Grants are liable to both the above objections. They are null as founded upon a void Patent, or at the best they cannot convey what was expressly excepted out of the Plymouth Patent by the proviso.

If it should be pretended that the Charter from the liberal terms of the granting Clause invested a new Right in aid of what was conveyed by the Deed from the Council of Plymouth, it must be a satisfactory answer, that it also included an express proviso that if the Lands thereby intended to be granted were, at the time of the Patent to the Council of Plymouth, possessed or Inhabited by any Christian Prince or State the Grant, as to such part should be utterly void.


Nothing can be more improbable than that the Crown had the least regard to the Claims and possessions of the Dutch, when the grant to the Council of Plymouth was made. The expedition of Sir Samuel Argall and the renunciation of all right to the Country made to him by the Duke Dutch—their request and his permission, that they might remain there, as English Subjects and under the Jurisdiction of the Virginia Company, as also the Voyage of Capt. Dormer in 1620 to 74Hudsons River who met some Hollanders and forbad them the place in the right of the Patent to the Council of Plymouth and their submission and apology to him were probably well known in England at that time as was K James's Patent in 1606 when no Dutchmen had ever been in this Country. There is not the least probability therefore that the Crown had the Dutch in contemplation: But the Proviso is well known to have been inserted from a mistaken apprehension of the distance across the Continent to the south Seas, an apprehension that the Western Extent of the Patent to the Council of Plymouth to the South Seas might interfere with some of the Spanish Plantations on the Western side of the Continent—and at that time the English Court had no disposition to quarell with the Spainiards.

Altho, all that has been ever called New Neitherland was within the bounds of this Grant, yet the suggestion was not false—The suggestion was “that there are no other Subjects of any Christian King or State, or by any authority from their Sovereign Lord or Princes actually in possession of any of the said Lands or Precints.” The meaning of which is plainly this “There are no subjects of any Christian Power at least none by any authority from their Sovereigns in possession.”

This was strictly true for the Straggling Dutchmen at Hudsons River had no authority, from the States General, to take possession there, the form of expressions seems to intimate that they had the Dutch in contemplation as if it had been said “altho' a few Dutchmen are settled at Hudsons River within said Patent yet they have acknowledged, subjection to us and our Virginia Company: and pretend no authority from the States General” to the Country, but only desire a liberty under the Dutch West India Company to trade with the Natives &c.

That the foregoing is the only just construction of the Charter will appear manifest if we recolect the well known and settled Rules for the construction of Charters.*

*12 And even if the supposed Proviso could be intended to secure the Possession of the few Dutch settlers who might be found within the limits of the Grant or Charter the present Lands in controversy would not be saved out of the Grant being neither settled or claimed at that time by any Dutchmen or others.

New York

We have great reason to Complain of the unwarrantable encroachments under the Authority of the Goverment of the Massachusetts 75Bay by which a valuable tract extending from Connecticut River, within 20 miles of Hudsons River, has been wrested from us.

Their conduct seems the more inexcusable as they must have known the N York encroachments were not only disrespectfull to his Majesty's Authority, and big with great mischiefs and disorders but were highly injurious to private property, great part of these Lands having anciently been granted to his Majesty's subjects under the Great Seal of this Colony.

So long ago as the year 1685 King James the second by Letters Patents under that Seal granted to the Ranselear Rensselaer Family the manor of Ranselaerwick extending from Hudsons River both on the East and west side 24 miles.

Westernhook was Granted under the Great Seal of this Province on the sixth day of March 1705 and its eastern Bounds are about 30 miles from Hudsons River.

Hosick was Granted on the second day of June 1688 and extends above 30 miles from the River.

These several Grants cover the Country the whole breadth of the Massachusetts claim and not only offer the highest evidence of the ancient right and Jurisdiction of this Colony as far as the Controversy respect the Massachusetts Bay but authorize a Remark of no small moment, Viz. that with respect to the Lands included within such of those Patents, as are prior in point of time to the Massachusetts Charter in 1691 the Crown had clearly parted with its right under the Seal of New York; and so far had no Estate left to be disposed of, or upon which that Charter could have operated had its boundaries been ever so unquestionable and comprehensive.


The Massachusetts have infinitly grater reason to complain of unwarrantable encroachments under the authority of the Government of New York by which not only a valuable tract of Land twenty miles on the east side of Hudsons River and in the part now in question, another Tract reaching quite to Connecticut River, but the whole Province of New York which lies between the North and South lines of Massachusetts to the southward of the Massachusetts North line which is all clearly within the boundaries of their Charter; and none of it, within the exception of Lands actually possessed and inhabited by any other Christian Prince or State, has been wrested from them.

The Massachusetts however, mean not to complain or to dispute concerning Lands which have been legally relinquished by them, 76by their voluntary agreement for the sake of Peace. But they think that much more has been already ceded to New York than they had reason to expect on the East side of Hudsons River: the boundary between the Massachusetts and New York on the west side of that River yet remains to be disputed and settled.

The charge of disrespect to his Majesty's Authority is still more extraordinary. By this way of reasoning if the Governors and Pattentees at New York had been still more craving than they have been, and had patented out the whole Province of the Massachusetts Bay, the Inhabitants must have acquiesed in the Usurpation least they should be disrespectfull to his Majesty's authority. The Massachusetts have been so far from being so disrespectfull to his Majesty's Authority as to grant by pretence of their Royal Charter enormous tracts of Land belonging to other Persons or Bodies Politick that they have never granted extensive tracts within the indisputable boundaries of their Goverment to private Persons and particular Families to lye for ages uncultivated and useless to the Public. They have never granted Lands but in consideration of important services done or to be done by the Grantees, and upon condition of a speady settlement.13 Who has been the faulty cause of the Mischiefs and Disorders which have been committed. Who has been guilty of that rapaciousness and oppression which have occasioned Mischiefs and Disorders, the World must Judge and it is hoped his Majesty in Council will very soon be graciously pleased to hear and determine.

The right to the Land in question must be determined before it can be known whose conduct has been injurious to private property.

The Grant of Westenhook (otherwise Houssatonock or Skeffield) was made at a time when the Massachusetts were engaged in the settlement of it and in order to defeat that settlement.

The Grant to the Ranslear Family and the Grant of Hoosick unfinished

New York

It is equally clear that the Dutch considered and claimed all the Country to the Westwards of Connecticut River, and as far Northward as the River St. Lawrence as part of their Colony of New Neitherland; and we find it so laid down in all the ancient Maps.*

* See Ogilbys America published in 1671 and his Map at page 168 section new neitherland where the Country to the southard of the River St. Lawrence is called Nova Belgeia, five new Netherlands and the River itself is called Rio St. Lawrence, alias de groote Rivier 77van niew Nederlandt—see also Blaues Blaeu's America published at Amsterdam in 1662 Vol. XI and his Map inscribed Nova Belgeia, et anglia Nova, see allso Johannes Van Kulens Keulen's Atlas.14


To all this assemblage of Belgic Erudition the Massachusetts have nothing more to say, than that it seems to be levelled against the Province of Canada, rather then the Massachusetts, and that in several maps more ancient than any of these the whole Continent of North America from Virginia to St. Lawrence River is inscribed with Sebastian Cabots Country—see Churchills collection of Voyages.15 It is a Common thing for Map publishers to afix to their own Nation a larger tract of Country then belongs to it; this is observable in French Maps particularly such as represent No. America, in some of which the whole Country between St. Lawrence River and Long Island is called New France including New York &c. If maps were to determine it the French would have a better Tittle to New York than the Dutch ever had.

Such misrepresentations in Maps are often made through Ignorance and often through fraud. There is an Edition of Dr. Douglass summary printed in London in 1759 to which is perfixed a new and accurate map of North America wherein the errors of all preceeding British, Frence and Dutch Maps respecting the rights of Great Britain, France and Spain, and the limits of each of his Majesty's Provinces are corected, in this Map the several Provinces are tinged with different colours, New York is blue, and in their plenitude of Power, they have stained one third of the whole Continent with that colour. Almost the whole Country from forty to fifty degrees of Lat. and from Sea to Sea is coloured for New York, leaving only a few specks for New England, Nova Scotia and Canada. Against such practices as these there is no remedy, but New York might as well claim the whole discovery of Columbus.

New York

The descriptive part in both Grants to the Duke of York is the same—and comprehends among other Lands “all that Island or Islands commonly called Matawacks or long Island, together with Hudsons River and all the Land from the west side of Connecticut River, to the east side of Delaware Bay.”

Connecticut River extends into the Country upon a northerly di-78rection beyond the 45th degree of North Latitude, where we find its Head, Hudsons River in its general course is nearly parellell to Connecticut River, and takes its rise a little to the southward of that Latitude.

The Duke continued Proprietor and chief Governor of this Province till he ascended the Throne, where his right was merged in the Royal authority: on his abdication it passed to King William, his successor, as Lord Proprietor and Royal Sovereign.


The discriptive words in the Patent dated March 12th. 1664 are these “all that part of the main Land of New England begining at a certain place called or known by the name of St. Croix next adjoining to New Scotland in America; and from thence extending along the Sea Coast unto a certain place called Pemaquine or Pemaquid and so up the River thereof to the farthest Head of the same as it tendeth Northward; and extending from thence to the River of Kenebeque and so upwards by the straitest course to the River of Canada Northward; and also all that Island or Islands commonly called by the several name or names of Matowacks or long Island, situate lying and being towards the West of Cape Codd, and the Narrow—Higanseth, abutting upon the main Land between the two Rivers there, called or known by the several names of Connecticut or Hudsons River, together also with the said River called Hudsons River, and all the Lands from the west side of Connecticut* to the East side of Delaware Bay; and also all those several Islands called or known by the names of Martins Vineyard and Nantukes or otherwise Nantuckett &c.

The Duke of York was so far from continuing Proprietor and Governor of that part of the Lands between the two Rivers of Connecticut and Hudson which lies between the Massachusetts North and South boundaries that he never was Proprietor or Governor of it at all, both the property and jurisdiction of it having been granted away before to the Massachusetts, and the Crown having no Estate left to convey. When James the second ascended the Throne the feudal Sovereignty of it devolved upon him, and upon his abdication it passed to King William but the Estate in the Land continued in the Massachusetts Corperation, and never passed to either of those Kings.

* The Land here granted is from the west side of the Colony of Connecticut according to the line that had been, just before Viz. Decemr. 4th. 1664 settled between King Charles's Commissioners 79and the Connecticut Commissioners. This Line would soon intersect Hudson River and would not include any part of Massachusetts to the East of Hudsons River.16

New York

In the Duke of York's Commissions to his several Lieutenant Governors, Majr. Edmund Andross on the first day of July 1674 and Collo. Thomas Dougan Dongan on the 30 of Sept. 1682 among other discriptions of the boundaries of this Province, are expressly comprehended all the Land from the West side of Connecticut River to the East side of Delaware Bay.

King William and Queen Mary by their Commission dated the fourth day of January in the first year of their Reign, appointed Henery Slaughter Sloughter to be Governor of the Province of New York and the teritories depending thereon, the boundaries whereof to Connecticut River on the East by the above and many other Grants, Commissions and Public acts were, notorious.

In all subsequent Acts and Commissions this Colony is discribed by the same General words “the Province of New York and the Teritories depending thereon” and its boundaries have never been altered by the Goverment here or at home.


Commissions from the Duke to his Lieutenant Governors could not divest the Massachusetts of an Estate which they held and enjoyed by an antecedent Charter from the Crown and Indenture to Roswell.

And it ought to be remembered that Andross himself thought the Massachusetts Title both to the Soil and Jurisdiction was good, and his Commission for New York extending to Connecticut River invalid; because being Governor of both Provinces at the same time, yet as Governor of New England, he maintained his Jurisdiction over the Lands on the West side of Connecticut River a great part of the Town of Springfield, and all Westfield and Suffield lying west of that River and having been under this Province a great number of years—Besides what reason can be assigned for the variance between the Commission to Governor Slaughter and those to Andross and Dougan? The Massachusetts new Charter was then in contemplation and preparing to pass the Seals. And it was seen that if the Commission to Slaughter should be in the words of those of Andross and Dougan, the Commission and the Charter would interfere. It be-80hoves New York to shew a better reason for the variance if they have it in their power.17

Tr attested by John Avery, Massachusetts Secretary of State (MHi); booklet of sewn pages with title in ink on the cover: “Lands Westward of Hudson's River”; penciled notation on cover: “Given by the heirs of Jonathan Trumbull, by David Trumbull, Dec. 12, 1795”; report, as submitted to the General Court in 1783.


In the Adams Papers (M/JA/17, Microfilms, Reel No. 191) is “New York Claim,” a hand-sewn booklet of 33 pages in the hand of John Thaxter Jr. The first section contains “Facts and Arguments from which New York deduces its Claim,” entered in the left-hand column of each page. “Observations” by an unidentified author are copied into the right-hand column of the same pages. The “Facts and Arguments” are those set forth in the “Report of Council of New York upon the Petition of Wm. Livingston and Others 1753” and were used by Thomas Hutchinson as the basis for his report on the Massachusetts-New York boundary in 1764 (see No. IV, note 5, above). The New York Council report is printed in Daniel J. Pratt, Report of the Regents of the University on the Boundaries of the State of New York, 2 vols., Albany, 1884, 2:100–104. The “Observations” are followed by a copy of A State of the Right of the Colony of New York . . . , N.Y., 1773, and by two pages of “Observations” on this publication. Neither set of “Observations” resembles the arguments in the surviving portions of JA's 1774 report on Massachusetts boundaries. Since Thaxter did not enter his law office as a clerk until June or July 1774, the material in this booklet may date from 1779–1782, when Thaxter served as JA's secretary during the peace mission ( Adams Family Correspondence , 1:142, note).


The Case of the Provinces; see No. IV, note 5, above.


Conference between the Commissaries of Massachusetts-Bay, and the Commissaries of New-York; at New-Haven in the Colony of Connecticut. 1767, Boston, 1768; Evans, No. 10965.


See No. V, note 4, above.


See No. IV, note 7, above.


This paragraph is the first of three passages in the “Examination of the Claim of New York” entered at the end of the 3d and 5th sections on Massachusetts with a symbol indicating where it should be inserted in the text. This and the next two passages, each marked with an “*,” (see notes 10 and 12, below) were probably added by the committee of 1783. Two other passages marked with asterisks (see notes 14 and 16, below) are in the nature of footnotes which may have existed in JA's original report.

The first of these paragraphs, whether a contribution of JA or of the committee of 1783, parallels material taken from The Case of the Provinces.


This letter is quoted in The Case of the Provinces, p. [278].


This paragraph is taken from “Extracts from De Laet” copied by JA. See descriptive note to No. II, above.


The quotation is from Smith, History of New York, p. 8. JA had copied the complete passage in his extracts from Smith. See No. II, descriptive note, above. Smith may have led JA to de Laet, for Smith cites him in a footnote, which JA also copied.


See note 6, above.


An obvious error corrected in the text. The charter of Connecticut was on the list of needed documents compiled by JA's clerk (CSmH: “The necessary proofs of the Line between N. Yo. and Massts. &c . . .”).


See note 6, above.


Although specified conditions of settlement were an important principle of New England land grants and sales, Massachusetts had become lax in enforcing them, particularly in areas in dispute between Massachusetts and other colonies.


See note 6, above. The references cited in this passage are John Ogilby, America: Being the Latest, and Most 81Accurate Description of the New World . . . , London, 1671; John Blaeu, Atlas Maior . . . , II vols., Amsterdam, 1662; and Johannes van Keulen, Le grand Nouvel Atlas de la mer, ou Monde aquatique, Amsterdam, 169[6].


Awnsham and John Churchill, comps., A Collection of Voyages and Travels, 3d edn., 6 vols., London, 1744–1746. Listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library .


See note 6, above.


The arguments in these concluding paragraphs paraphrase closely material in The Case of the Provinces, p. [281]. The transcription here continues in a different hand with this explanatory note signed by members of the 1783 committee of the General Court: “The Committee appointed to examine and State the Claims of this Commonwealth to Lands lying west of Hudsons River having obtained Possession of some Papers in which is contained a State of the same Case learnedly drawn up by a Committee appointed by the General Court before the War have found it necessary only to add a few Observations which apply more directly to the present State of the Dispute between this Government and that of New York. These Observations are added to several of the Paragraphs of the said State of the Case and in the last Sheet of the Report.” The “last Sheet” of the 1783 committee's report, which bears on the post-Revolutionary claims of Massachusetts, follows immediately and is printed in Law Practice of Hamilton, ed. Goebel, 1:648–650.