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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0072-0007

Author: Adams, John
Author: Novanglus
Recipient: Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Recipient: Massachusettensis
Date: 1775-02-27

VI. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay

[salute] My Friends,

Such events as the resistance to the stamp act, and to the tea act, particularly the destruction of that which was sent by the ministry in the name of the East India Company, have ever been cautiously spoken of by the Whigs, because they knew the delicacy of the subject, and they lived in continual hopes of a speedy restoration of liberty and peace: But we are now thrown into a situation, which would render any further delicacy upon this point criminal.
Be it remembered then, that there are tumults, seditions, popular { 289 } commotions, insurrections and civil wars, upon just occasions, as well as unjust.
Grotius B. 1. c. 3 §. 1. observes “that some sort of private war, may be lawfully waged. It is not repugnant to the law of nature, for any one to repel injuries by force.
§. 2. “The liberty allowed before is much restrained, since the erection of tribunals: Yet there are some cases wherein that right still subsists; that is, when the way to legal justice is not open; for the law which forbids a man to pursue his right any other way, ought to be understood with this equitable restriction, that one finds judges to whom he need apply,” &c.1
Sidney's discourses upon government2 c. 2. §. 24. “'Tis in vain to seek a government in all points free from a possibility of civil wars, tumults and seditions: that is a blessing denied to this life, and reserved to compleat the felicity of the next. Seditions, tumults, and wars do arise from mistake or from malice; from just occasions or unjust: Seditions proceeding from malice are seldom or never seen in popular governments; for they are hurtful to the people, and none have ever willingly and knowingly hurt themselves. There may be, and often is, malice in those who excite them; but the people is ever deceived, and whatever is thereupon done, ought to be imputed to error, &c. But in absolute monarchies, almost all the troubles that arise proceed from malice; they cannot be reformed, the extinction of them is exceeding difficult, if they have continued long enough to corrupt the people; and those who appear against them seek only to set up themselves or their friends.” The mischiefs designed are often dissembled, or denied, till they are past all possibility of being cured by any other way than force: and such as are by necessity driven to use that remedy, know they must perfect their work or perish. He that draws his sword against the prince, say the French, ought to throw away the scabbard; for tho' the design be never so just, yet the authors are sure to be ruined if it miscarry. Peace is seldom made, and never kept, unless the subject retain such a power in his hands, as may oblige the prince to stand to what is agreed; and in time some trick is found to deprive them of that benefit.
“It may seem strange to some that I mention seditions, tumults and wars, upon just occasions; but I can find no reason to retract the term. God intending that men should live justly with one another, does certainly intend that he or they who do no wrong, should suffer none; and the law that forbids injuries, were of no use, if no penalty might be inflicted, on those that will not obey it. If injustice there• { 290 } fore be evil, and injuries be forbidden, they are also to be punished; and the law instituted for their prevention, must necessarily intend the avenging of such as cannot be prevented. The work of the magistracy is to execute this law; the sword of justice is put into their hands to restrain the fury of those within the society who will not be a law to themselves; and the sword of war to protect the people against the violence of foreigners. This is without exception, and would be in vain if it were not. But the magistrate who is to protect the people from injury, may, and is often known, not to have done it: he sometimes renders his office useless by neglecting to do justice; sometimes mischievous by overthrowing it. This strikes at the root of God's general ordinance, that there should be laws; and the particular ordinances of all societies that appoint such as seem best to them. The magistrate therefore is comprehended under both, and subject to both, as well as private men.
“The ways of preventing or punishing injuries are judicial or extra-judicial. Judicial proceedings are of force against those who submit, or may be brought to tryal, but are of no effect against those who resist, and are of such power that they cannot be constrained. It were absurd to cite a man to appear before a tribunal who can awe the judges, or has armies to defend him; and impious to think that he who has added treachery to his other crimes, and usurped a power above the law, should be protected by the enormity of his wickedness: Legal proceedings, therefore, are to be used when the delinquent submits to the law; and all are just; when he will not be kept in order by the legal.
“The word sedition, is generally applied to all, numerous assemblies, without or against the authority of the magistrate, or of those who assume that power. Athaliah and Jezebel were more ready to cry out treason, than David, &c.
“Tumult is from the disorderly manner of those assemblies, where things can seldom be done regularly; and war is that 'decertatio per vim,' or trial by force, to which men come, when other ways are ineffectual.
“If the laws of God and men, are therefore of no effect, when the magistracy is left at liberty to break them; and if the lusts of those who are too strong for the tribunals of justice, cannot be otherwise restrained than by sedition, tumults and war, those seditions, tumults and wars, are justified by the laws of God and man.
“I will not take upon me to enumerate all the cases in which this may be done, but content myself with three, which have most fre• { 291 } quently given occasion for proceedings of this kind. The first is, when one or more men take upon them the power and name of a magistracy, to which they are not justly called. The second, when one or more being justly called, continue in their magistracy longer than the laws by which they are called, do prescribe. And the third, when he or they, who are rightly called, do assume a power, though within the time prescribed, that the law does not give; or turn that which the law does give, to an end different and contrary to that which is intended by it.
“The same course is justly used against a legal magistrate, who takes upon him to exercise a power which the law does not give: for in that respect he is a private man, (Quia,) as Grotius says, (eatenus non habet imperium,) and may be restrained as well as any other, because he is not set up to do what he lists, but what the law appoints for the good of the people; and as he has no other power than what the law allows, so the same law limits and directs the exercise of that which he has.”
Puffendorf's law of nature and nations L. [Bk.] 7. c. 8 §. 5 and 6. Barbeyrac's note on §. 6.3[1] When we speak of a tyrant that may lawfully be dethroned, we do not mean by the people, the vile populace or rabble of the country, or the cabal of a small number of factious persons; but the greater and more judicious part of the subjects of all ranks. Besides the tyranny must be so notorious and evidently clear, as to leave no body any room to doubt of it, &c. Now a prince may easily avoid making himself so universally suspected and odious to his subjects: for as Mr. Locke says, in his treatise of civil government c. 18. §. 209. 'It is as impossible for a governor, if he really means the good of the people, and the preservation of them and the laws together, not to make them see and feel it; as it is for the father of a family, not to let his children see he loves and takes care of them.' And therefore the general insurrection of a whole nation does not deserve the name of rebellion. We may see what Mr. Sidney says upon this subject in his discourse concerning government c. 3. §. 36. 'Neither are subjects bound to stay till the prince has entirely finished the chains which he is preparing for them, and has put it out of their power to oppose. 'Tis sufficient that all the advances which he makes are manifestly tending to their oppression, that he is marching boldly on to the ruin of the state.' In such a case, says Mr. Locke admirably well, ubi supra §. 210., 'How can a man any more hinder himself from believing in his own mind, which way things are going, or from casting about to save himself, than he { 292 } could from believing the captain of the ship he was in, was carrying him and the rest of his company to Algiers, when he found him always steering that course, though cross winds, leaks in his ship, and want of men and provisions, did often force him to turn his course another way for sometime, which he steadily return'd to again, as soon as the winds, weather, and other circumstances would let him.' This chiefly takes place with respect to kings, whose power is limitted by fundamental laws.
“'If it is objected, that the people being ignorant, and always discontented, to lay the foundation of government in the unsteady opinion and the uncertain humour of the people, is to expose it to certain ruin; the same author will answer you, that on the contrary, people are not so easily got out of their old forms as some are apt to suggest. England, for instance, notwithstanding the many revolutions that have been seen in that kingdom, has always kept to its old legislative of king, lords and commons: and whatever provocations have made the crown to be taken from some of their princes heads, they never carried the people so far as to place it in another line. But 'twill be said, this hypothesis lays a ferment for frequent rebellion. No more, says Mr. Locke, than any other hypothesis. For when the people are made miserable, and find themselves exposed to the ill usage of arbitrary power; cry up their governors as you will for sons of Jupiter, let them be sacred and divine, descended or authorised from heaven; give them out for whom or what you please, the same will happen. The people generally ill treated, and contrary to right, will be ready upon any occasion to ease themselves of a burden that sits heavy upon them. 2. Such revolutions happen not upon every little mismanagement in public affairs. Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty will be borne by the people, without mutiny and murmur. 3. This power in the people of providing for their safety anew by a legislative, when their legislators have acted contrary to their trust, by invading their property, is the best fence against rebellion, and the probablest means to hinder it; for rebellion being an opposition, not the persons, but authority, which is founded only in the constitutions and laws of the government; those whoever they be, who by force break through, and by force justify the violation of them, are truly and properly rebels. For when men by entering into society, and civil government, have excluded force, and introduced laws for the preservation of property, peace and unity, among themselves; those who set up force again, in opposition to the { 293 } laws, do rebellare, that is, do bring back again the state of war, and are properly rebels, as the author shews. In the last place, he demonstrates, that there are also greater inconveniencies in allowing all to those that govern, than in granting something to the people. But it will be said, that ill affected and factious men may spread among the people, and make them believe that the prince or legislative, act contrary to their trust, when they only make use of their due prerogative. To this Mr. Locke answers, that the people however is to judge of all that; because no body can better judge whether his trustee for deputy acts well, and according to the trust reposed in him, than he who deputed him. He might make the like query, (says Mr. LeClark,4 from whom this extract is taken) and ask, whether the people being oppressed by an authority which they set up, but for their own good, it is just, that those, who are vested with this authority, and of which they are complaining, should themselves be judges of the complaints made against them? The greatest flatterers of kings, dare not say, that the people are obliged to suffer absolutely all their humours, how irregular soever they be; and therefore must confess, that when no regard is had to their complaints, the very foundations of society are destroyed; the prince and people are in a state of war with each other, like two independent states that are doing themselves justice, and acknowledge no person upon earth, who in a sovereign manner, can determine the disputes between them,'” &c.
If there is any thing in these quotations, which is applicable to the destruction of the tea, or any other branch of our subject, it is not my fault: I did not make it.—Surely Grotius, Puffendorf, Barbeyrac, Lock, Sidney, and LeClerk, are writers, of sufficient weight, to put in the scale against the mercenary scriblers in New-York and Boston, who have the unexampled impudence and folly, to call these which are revolution principles in question, and to ground their arguments upon passive obedience as a corner stone. What an opinion must these writers have of the principles of their patrons, the Lords Bute, Mansfield and North, when they hope to recommend themselves by reviving that stupid doctrine, which has been infamous so many years. Dr. Sachevaril5 himself tells us that his sermons were burnt by the hands of the common hangman, by the order of the king, lords and commons, in order to fix an eternal and indelible brand of infamy on that doctrine.
In the Gazette of January the 2d, Massachusettensis entertains you with an account of his own important self. This is a subject { 294 } which he has very much at heart, but it is of no consequence to you or me, and therefore little need be said of it: if he had such a stand in the community, that he could have seen all the political manoeuvres, it is plain he must have shut his eyes, or he never could have mistaken so grossly, causes for effects, and effects for causes.
He undertakes to point out the principles and motives upon which the Blockade Act was made, which were according to him, the destruction of the East-India Company's Tea. He might have said more properly the Ministerial Tea: for such it was, and the company are no losers: they have received from the public treasury compensation for it.
Then we are amused with a long discourse about the nature of the British government, commerce, agriculture, arts, manufactures, regulations of trade, custom house officers, which as it has no relation to the subject, I shall pass over.
The case is shortly this: The East-India company, by their contract with government, in their charter and statute, are bound, in consideration of their important profitable privileges, to pay to the public treasury, a revenue, annually, of four hundred thousand pounds sterling, so long as they can hold up their Dividends at twelve per cent, and no longer.
The mistaken policy of the ministry, in obstinately persisting in their claim of right to tax America, and refusing to repeal the duty on Tea, with those on glass, paper and paint, had induced all America, except a few merchants in Boston, most of whom were closely connected with the junto, to refuse to import Tea from Great Britain: the consequence of which was a kind of stagnation in the affairs of the company, and an immense accumulation of tea in their stores, which they could not sell. This, among other causes, contributed to affect their credit, and their Dividends were on the point of falling below twelve per cent, and consequently the government was upon the point of losing 400,000 1. sterling a year of revenue. The company solicited the ministry to take off the duty in America: but they adhering to their plan of taxing the colonies and establishing a precedent, framed an act to enable the company to send their tea directly to America. This was admired as a master-piece of policy. It was tho't they would accomplish four great purposes at once: establish their precedent of taxing America; raise a large revenue there by the duties; save the credit of the company; and the 400,000 1. to the government. The company however, were so little pleased with this, that there were great debates among the directors, whether { 295 } they should risque it, which were finally determined by a majority of one only, and that one the chairman, being unwilling as it is said to interfere in the dispute between the minister and the colonies, and uncertain what the result would be: and this small majority was not obtained, as it is said, until a sufficient intimation was given that the company should not be losers.
When these designs were made known, it appeared, that American politicians were not to be deceived: that their fight was as quick and clear as the minister's, and that they were as steady to their purpose, as he was to his. This was tho't by all the colonies, to be the precise point of time, when it became absolutely necessary to make a stand. If the tea should be landed, it would be sold; if sold the duties would amount to a large sum, which would be instantly applied to increase the friends and advocates for more duties, and to divide the people; and the company would get such a footing, that no opposition afterwards could ever be effectual. And as soon as the duties on tea should be established, they would be ranked among post-office fees, and other precedents, and used as arguments, both of the right and expediency of laying on others, perhaps on all the necessaries, as well as conveniences and luxuries of life. The whole continent was united in the sentiment, that all opposition to parliamentary taxation must be given up forever, if this critical moment was neglected. Accordingly, New-York and Philadelphia determined that the ships should be sent back; and Charlestown, that the tea should be stored and locked up,—this was attended with no danger in that city, because they are fully united in sentiment and affection, and have no Junto to perplex them. Boston was under greater difficulties. The Consignees at New York and Philadelphia most readily resigned. The Consignees at Boston, the children, cousins, and most intimate connections of governor Hutchinson, refused. I am very sorry that I cannot stir a single step in develloping the causes of my country's miseries, without stumbling upon this gentleman. But so it is. From the near relation and most intimate connection of the consignees with him, there is great cause of jealousy, if not a violent presumption, that he was at the bottom of all this business, that he had plann'd it, in his confidential letters with Bernard, and both of them joined in suggesting and recommending it to the ministry. Without this supposition, it is difficult to account for the obstinacy with which the Consignees refused to resign, and the governor to let the vessel go. However this might be, Boston is the only place upon the continent, perhaps in the world, which ever breeds a species { 296 } of misanthropos, who will persist in their schemes for their private interest, with such obstinacy, in opposition to the public good; disoblige all their fellow-citizens for a little pelf, and make themselves odious and infamous, when they might be respected and esteemed. It must be said, however, in vindication of the town, that this breed is spawned chiefly by the Junto. The Consignees would not resign; the custom house refused clearances; governor Hutchinson refused passes by the castle. The question then was, with many, whether the governor, officers, and consignees should be compelled to send the ships hence? An army and navy was at hand, and bloodshed was apprehended. At last, when the continent, as well as the town and province, were waiting the issue of this deliberation with the utmost anxiety, a number of persons, in the night, put them out of suspense, by an oblation to Neptune. I have heard some gentlemen say, “this was a very unjustifiable proceeding”—“that if they had gone at noonday, and in their ordinary habits, and drowned it in the face of the world, it would have been a meritorious, a most glorious action.” But to go in the night, and much more in disguise, they tho't very inexcuseable.
“The revenue was not the consideration before parliament,” says Massachusettensis. Let who will, believe him. But if it was not, the danger to America was the same. I take no notice of the idea of a monopoly. If it had been only a monopoly, (tho' in this light it would have been a very great grievance) it would not have excited, nor in the opinion of any one justified the step that was taken. It was an attack upon a fundamental principle of the Constitution, and upon that supposition was resisted, after multitudes of petitions to no purpose, and because there was no tribunal in the Constitution, from whence redress could have been obtained.
There is one passage so pretty, that I cannot refuse myself the pleasure of transcribing it. “A smuggler and a whig are cousin germans, the offspring of two sisters, avarice and ambition. They had been playing into each other's hands a long time. The smuggler received protection from the whig, and he in his turn received support from the smuggler. The illicit trader now demanded protection from his kinsman, and it would have been unnatural in him to have refused it; and beside, an opportunity presented of strengthning his own interest.”
The wit, and the beauty of the style in this place, seem to have quite inraptured the lively juvenile imagination of this writer. The truth of the fact he never regards, any more than the justice of the { 297 } sentiment. Some years ago, the smugglers might be pretty equally divided between the whigs and the tories: Since that time, they have almost all married into the tory families, for the sake of dispensations and indulgencies. If I were to let myself into secret history, I could tell very diverting stories of smuggling tories in New-York and Boston,—Massachusettensis is quarrelling with some of his best friends. Let him learn more discretion.
We are then told that “the consignees offered to store the tea, under the care of the selectmen, or a committee of the town.” This expedient might have answered, if none of the junto, nor any of their connections had been in Boston. But is it a wonder, that the selectmen declined accepting such a deposit? They supposed they should be answerable, and no body doubted that tories might be found who would not scruple to set fire to the store, in order to make them liable. Besides if the tea was landed, though only to be stored, the duty must be paid, which it was tho't was giving up the point.
Another consideration which had great weight, was, the other colonies were grown jealous of Boston, and tho't it already deficient in point of punctuality, against the dutied articles: and if the tea was once stored, artifices might be used, if not violence, to disperse it abroad: But if through the continual vigilance and activity of the committee and the people, thro' a whole winter, this should be prevented; yet one thing was certain, that the tories would write to the other colonies and to England, thousands of falshoods concerning it, in order to induce the ministry to persevere, and to sow jealousies and create divisions among the colonies.
Our acute logician then undertakes to prove the destruction of the tea unjustifiable, even upon the principle of the whigs, that the duty was unconstitutional. The only argument he uses is this: that “unless we purchase the tea, we shall never pay the duty.” This argument is so frivolous, and has been so often confuted and exposed, that if the party had any other, I think they would relinquish this. Where will it carry us? If a duty was laid upon our horses, we may walk; if upon our butchers meat, we may live upon the produce of the dairy; and if that should be taxed, we may subsist as well as our fellow slaves in Ireland, upon Spanish potatoes and cold water. If a thousand pounds was laid upon the birth of every child, if children are not begotten, none will be born; if, upon every marriage, no duties will be paid, if all the young gentlemen and ladies agree to live batchellors and maidens.
In order to form a rational judgment of the quality of this trans• { 298 } action, and determine whether it was good or evil, we must go to the bottom of this great controversy. If parliament has a right to tax us, and legislate for us, in all cases, the destruction of the tea was unjustifiable; but if the people of America are right in their principle, that parliament has no such right, that the act of parliament is null and void, and it is lawful to oppose and resist it, the question then is, whether the destruction was necessary? For every principle of reason, justice and prudence, in such cases, demands that the least mischief shall be done; the least evil among a number shall always be preferr'd.
All men are convinced that it was impracticable to return it, and rendered so by Mr. Hutchinson and the Boston consignees. Whether to have stored it would have answered the end, or been a less mischief than drowning it, I shall leave to the judgment of the public. The other colonies, it seems, have no scruples about it, for we find that whenever tea arrives in any of them, whether from the East India company, or any other quarter, it never fails to share the fate of that in Boston. All men will agree that such steps ought not to be taken, but in cases of absolute necessity, and that such necessity must be very clear. But most people in America now think the destruction of the Boston tea, was absolutely necessary, and therefore right and just. It is very true, they say, if the whole people had been united in sentiment, and equally stable in their resolution, not to buy or drink it, there might have been a reason for preserving it; but the people here were not so virtuous or so happy. The British ministry had plundered the people by illegal taxes, and applied the money in salaries and pensions, by which devices, they had insidiously attached to their party, no inconsiderable number of persons, some of whom were of family, fortune and influence, tho' many of them were of desperate fortunes, each of whom, however, had his circle of friends, connections and dependants, who were determined to drink tea, both as evidence of their servility to administration, and their contempt and hatred of the people. These it was impossible to restrain without violence, perhaps bloodshed, certainly without hazarding more than the tea was worth. To this tribe of the wicked, they say, must be added another, perhaps more numerous, of the weak; who never could be brought to think of the consequences of their actions, but would gratify their appetites, if they could come at the means. What numbers are there in every community, who have no providence, or prudence in their private affairs, but will go on indulging the present appetite, prejudice, or passion, to the ruin of their estates and families, as well as their own health and characters! How much larger is the { 299 } number of those who have no foresight for the public, or consideration of the freedom of posterity? Such an abstinence from the tea, as would have avoided the establishment of a precedent, depended on the unanimity of the people, a felicity that was unattainable. Must the wise, the virtuous and worthy part of the community, who constituted a very great majority, surrender their liberty, and involve their posterity in misery in complaisance to a detestable, tho' small party of knaves, and a despicable, tho' more numerous company of fools?
If Boston could have been treated like other places, like New-York and Philadelphia, the tea might have gone home from thence as it did from those cities. That inveterate, desperate junto, to whom we owe all our calamities, were determined to hurt us in this, as in all other cases as much as they could. It is to be hoped they will one day repent and be forgiven, but it is very hard to forgive without repentance. When the news of this event arrived in England, it excited such passions in the minister as nothing could restrain; his resentment was inkindled into revenge, rage, and madness; his veracity was piqued, as his master piece of policy, proved but a bubble: The bantling was the fruit of a favourite amour, and no wonder that his natural affection was touched when he saw it dispatched before his eyes. His grief and ingenuity, if he had any, were affected at the thought that he had misled the East India company, so much nearer to destruction, and that he had rendered the breach between the kingdom and the colonies almost irreconcileable: his shame was excited because opposition had gained a triumph over him, and the three kingdoms were laughing at him for his obstinacy and his blunders: instead of relieving the company he had hastened its ruin: instead of establishing the absolute and unlimited sovereignty of parliament over the colonies, he had excited a more decisive denial of it, and resistance to it. An election drew nigh and he dreaded the resentment even of the corrupted electors.
In this state of mind bordering on despair, he determines to strike a bold stroke. Bernard was near and did not fail to embrace the opportunity, to push the old systems of the junto. By attacking all the colonies together, by the stamp-act, and the paint and glass act, they had been defeated. The charter constitution of the Massachusetts-Bay, had contributed greatly to both these defeats. Their representatives were too numerous, and too frequently elected, to be corrupted: their people had been used to consider public affairs in their town-meetings: their councellors were not absolutely at the nod of a { 300 } minister or governor, but were once a year equally dependent on the governor and the two houses. Their grand jurors were elective by the people, their petit jurors were returned merely by lot. Bernard and the junto rightly judged that by this constitution the people had a check, on every branch of power, and therefore as long as it lasted, parliamentary taxations, &c. could never be inforced.
Bernard, publishes his select letters, and his principles of polity: his son writes in defence of the Quebec bill:6 hireling garretteers were employed to scribble millions of lyes against us, in pamphlets and news papers: and setters employed in the coffee houses, to challenge or knock down all the advocates for the poor Massachusetts. It was now determined, instead of attacking the colonies together, tho' they had been all equally opposed to the plans of the ministry, and the claims of parliament, and therefore upon ministerial principles equally guilty, to handle them one by one; and to begin with Boston and the Massachusetts. The destruction of the tea was a fine event for scribblers and speechifyers to declaim upon; and there was an hereditary hatred of New-England, in the minds of many in England, on account of their non conforming principles. It was likewise thought there was a similar jealousy and animosity in the other colonies against New England; that they would therefore certainly desert her; that she would be intimidated and submit; and then the minister among his own friends, would acquire immortal honour, as the most able, skilfull and undaunted statesman of the age.
The port bill, charter bill, murder bill, Quebec bill, making all together such a frightful system, as would have terrified any people, who did not prefer liberty to life, were all concerted at once: but all this art and violence have not succeeded. This people under great trials and dangers, have discovered great abilities and virtues, and that nothing is so terrible to them as the loss of their liberties. If these arts and violences are persisted in, and still greater concerted, and carried on against them, the world will see that their fortitude, patience and magnanimity will rise in proportion.
“Had Cromwell,” says our what I shall call him? “had the guidance of the national ire, your proud capital had been levell'd with the dust.” Is it any breach of charity to suppose that such an event as this, would have been a gratification to this writer? Can we otherwise account for his indulging himself in a thought so diabolical? Will he set up Cromwell as a model for his deified lords, Bute, Mansfield and North? If he should, there is nothing in the whole history of him so cruel as this. All his conduct in Ireland, as exceptionable as any { 301 } part of his whole life, affords nothing that can give the least probability to the idea of this writer. The rebellion in Ireland, was most obstinate, and of many years duration; 100,000 protestants had been murdered in a day, in cold blood, by papists, and therefore Cromwell might plead some excuse, that cruel severities were necessary, in order to restore any peace to that kingdom: But all this will not justify him; for as has been observed by an historian, upon his conduct in this instance, “men are not to divest themselves of humanity, and turn themselves into devils, because policy may suggest that they will succeed better as devils than as men”! But is there any parity or similitude between a rebellion of a dozen years standing, in which many battles had been fought, many thousands fallen in war, and 100,000 massacred in a day; and the drowning three cargoes of tea? To what strains of malevolence, to what flights of diabolical fury, is not tory rage capable of transporting men!
“The whigs saw their ruin connected with a compliance with the terms of opening the Port.”—They saw the ruin of their country connected in it: But they might have easily voted a compliance, for they were undoubtedly a vast majority, and have enjoyed the esteem and affection of their fellow slaves to their last hours: Several of them could have paid for the Tea, and never have felt the loss. They knew they must suffer, vastly more, than the Tea was worth, but they thought they acted for America and posterity; and that they ought not to take such a step without the advice of the colonies. They have declared our cause their own—that they never will submit to a precedent in any part of the united colonies, by which Parliament may take away Wharves and other lawful estates, or demolish Charters; for if they do, they have a moral certainty that in the course of a few years, every right of Americans will be taken away, and governors and councils, holding at the will of a Minister, will be the only legislatives, in the colonies.
A pompous account of the addressors of Mr. Hutchinson, then follows. They consisted of his relations, his fellow labourers in the tory vineyard, and persons whom he had raised in the course of four administrations, Shirley's, Pownal's, Bernard's and his own, to places in the province. Considering the industry that was used, and the vast number of persons in the province, who had received commissions under government upon his recommendation, the small number of subscribers that was obtained, is among a thousand demonstrations of the unanimity of this people. If it had been thought worth while to have procured a remonstrance against him, fifty thousand sub• { 302 } scribers might have been easily found. Several gentlemen of property were among these addressers, and some of fair character, but their acquaintance and friendships lay among the junto and, their subalterns entirely: Besides did these addressers approve the policy or justice of any one of the bills, which were passed the last session of the late parliament? Did they acknowledge the unlimitted authority of parliament? The Middlesex magistrates remonstrated against taxation: But they were flattered with hopes, that Mr. Hutchinson would get the port-bill, &c. repealed, that is, that he would have undone all, which every body but themselves knew he has been doing these fifteen years.
“But these patriotic endeavours, were defeated.” By what? “By an invention of the fertile brain of one of our party agents, called a committee of correspondence. This is the foulest, subtlest and most venemous serpent that ever issued from the eggs of sedition.”.
I should rather call it, the Ichneumon, a very industrious, active, and useful animal, which was worshipped in Aegypt as a divinity, because it defended their country from the ravages of the crocodiles. It was the whole occupation of this little creature to destroy those wily and ravenous monsters. It crushed their eggs, wherever they laid them, and with a wonderful address and courage, would leap into their mouths, penetrate their entrails, and never leave until it destroyed them.
If the honor of this invention is due to the gentleman, who is generally understood by the “party agent” of Massachusettensis, it belongs to one, to whom America has erected a statue in her heart, for his integrity, fortitude and perseverance in her cause. That the invention itself is very useful and important, is sufficiently clear, from the unlimitted wrath of the tories against it, and from the gall which this writer discharges upon it. Almost all mankind have lost their liberties, thro' ignorance, inattention and disunion. These committees are admirably calculated to diffuse knowledge, to communicate intelligence, and promote unanimity. If the high whigs are generally of such committees, it is because the freeholders who choose them, are such, and therefore prefer their peers. The tories, high or low, if they can make interest enough among the people may get themselves chosen, and promote the great cause of parliamentary revenues, and the other sublime doctrines and misteries of toryism. That these committees think themselves “amenable to none,” is false: for there is not a man upon any one of them, who does not acknowledge himself to hold his place, at the pleasure of his constituents, and to be ac• { 303 } countable to them, whenever they demand it. If the committee of the town of Boston, was appointed for a special purpose at first, their commission has been renewed from time to time; they have been frequently thank'd by the town for their vigilance, activity and disinterested labours in the public service. Their doings have been laid before the town and approved of by it. The malice of the tories has several times swelled open their bosoms, and broke out into the most intemperate and illiberal invectives against it: but all in vain. It has only served to shew the impotence of the tories, and increase the importance of the committee.
These committees cannot be too religiously careful of the exact truth of the intelligence they receive or convey; nor too anxious for the rectitude and purity of the measures they propose or adopt: they should be very sure that they do no injury to any man's person, property or character: and they are generally persons of such worth, that I have no doubt of their attention to these rules; and therefore that the reproaches of this writer are mere slanders.
If we recollect how many states have lost their liberties, merely from want of communication with each other, and union among themselves, we shall think that these committees may be intended by providence to accomplish great events. What the eloquence and talents of negociation of Demosthenes himself could not effect, among the states of Greece, might have been effected by so simple a device. Castile, Arragon, Valencia, Majorca, &c. all complained of oppression under Charles the fifth, flew out into transports of rage, and took arms against him. But they never consulted or communicated with each other. They resisted separately, and were separately subdued. Had Don Juan Padilla, or his wife,7 have been possessed of the genius to invent a committee of correspondence, perhaps the liberties of the Spanish nation might have remained to this hour, without any necessity to have had recourse to arms. Hear the opinion of Dr. Robertson. “While the spirit of disaffection was so general among the Spaniards, and so many causes concurred in precipitating them into such violent measures, in order to obtain the redress of their grievances, it may appear strange that the male-contents in the different kingdoms should have carried on their operations without any mutual concert, or even any intercourse with each other. By uniting their councils and arms, they might have acted both with greater force, and with more effect. The appearance of a national confederacy would have rendered it no less respectable among the people, than formidable to the crown; and the emperor, unable to resist such a combination, { 304 } must have complied with any terms which the members of it thought fit to prescribe.”8
That it is owing to those committees that so many persons have been found to recant and resign, and so many others to fly to the army, is a mistake, for the same things would have taken place, if such a committee had never been in being, and such persons would probably have met with much rougher usage. This writer asks, “have not these persons as good a right to think and act for themselves as the whigs?” I answer yes. But if any man, whig or tory shall take it into his head to think for himself, that he has a right to take my property, without my consent, however tender I may be of the right of private judgment and the freedom of thought, this is a point in which I shall be very likely to differ from him, and to think for myself that I have a right to resist him. If any man should think, ever so conscienciously that the roman catholic religion is better than the protestant, or that the French government is preferable to the British constitution in its purity; Protestants and Britons, will not be so tender of that man's conscience as to suffer him to introduce his favourite religion and government. So the well bred gentlemen who are so polite as to think, that the charter constitution of this province, ought to be abolished, and another introduced wholly at the will of a minister or the crown; or that our ecclesiastical constitution is bad, and high church ought to come in, few people will be so tender of these consciences or complaisant to such polite taste, as to suffer the one or the other to be established. There are certain prejudices among the people, so strong, as to be irresistible. Reasoning is vain, and opposition idle. For example, there are certain popular maxims and precepts, call'd the ten commandments. Suppose a number of fine gentlemen, superior to the prejudices of education, should discover that these were made for the common people, and are too illiberal for gentlemen of refined taste to observe, and accordingly should engage in secret confidential correspondences to procure an act of parliament, to abolish the whole decalogue, or to exempt them from all obligation to observe it; if they should succeed, and their letters be detected, such is the force of prejudice, and deep habits among the lower sort of people, that it is much to be questioned, whether those refined genius's would be allowed to enjoy themselves in the latitude of their sentiments. I once knew a man, who had studied Jacob Beckman and other mystic's, until he conscienciously thought the millennium commenced, and all human authority at an end: that the saints only had a right to property; and to take from sinners any thing they wanted. { 305 } In this persuasion, he very honestly stole a horse. Mankind pitied the poor man's infirmity, but thought it however their duty to confine him that he might steal no more.
The freedom of thinking was never yet extended in any country so far as the utter subversion of all religion and morality; nor as the abolition of the laws and constitution of the country.
But “are not these persons as closely connected with the interest of their country as the whigs?” I answer, they are not: they have found an interest in opposition to that of their country, and are making themselves rich and their families illustrious, by depressing and destroying their country. But “do not their former lives and conversations appear to have been regulated by principles as much as those of the whigs?” A few of them, it must be acknowledged, untill seduced by the bewitching charms of wealth and power, appeared to be men of principle. But taking the Whigs and Tories on an average, the balance of principle, as well as genius, learning, wit and wealth, is infinitely in favour of the former. As to some of these fugitives, they are known to be men of no principles at all in religion, morals or government.
But the “policy” is questioned, and you are asked if you expect to make converts by it? As to the policy or impolicy of it, I have nothing to say: but we don't expect to make converts of most of those persons by any means whatever, as long as they have any hopes that the ministry will place and pension them. The instant these hopes are extinguished, we all know they will be converted of course. Converts from places and pensions are only to be made by places and pensions, all other reasoning is idle; these are the Penultima Ratio of the Tories, as field pieces are the ultima.
That we are not “unanimous is certain.” But there are nineteen on one side to one on the other, through the province. And ninety nine out of an hundred of the remaining twentieth part can be fairly shewn to have some sinister private view, to induce him to profess his opinion.
Then we are threatened high, that “this is a changeable world, and times rolling wheel may e'er long bring them uppermost, and in that case we should not wish to have them fraught with resentment.”
To all this we answer, without ceremony, that they always have been uppermost, in every respect, excepting only the esteem and affection of the people; that they always have been fraught with resentment (even their cunning and policy have not restrained them) and we know they always will be.—That they have indulged their re• { 306 } sentment and malice, in every instance in which they had power to do it: and we know that their revenge will never have any other limits than their power.
Then this consistent writer, begins to flatter the people, “he appeals to their good sense, he knows they have it.” The same people, whom he has so many times represented as mad and foolish.
“I know you are loyal and friends to good order.” This is the same people that in the whole course of his writings, he has represented as continuing for ten years together in a continual state of disorder, demolishing the Chair, Board, Supreme Court, and encouraging all sorts of riots, insurrections, treason and rebellion. Such are the shifts to which a man is driven when he aims at carrying a point not at discovering truth.
The people are then told that “they have been insidiously taught to believe that Great Britain is rapacious, cruel and vindictive, and envies us the inheritance purchased by the sweat and blood of our ancestors.” The people do not believe this—they will not believe it: On the contrary, they believe if it was not for scandals constantly transmitted from this province by the Tories, the nation would redress our grievances. Nay as little as they reverence the Ministry, they even believe that the Lords North, Mansfield and Bute, would relieve them, and would have done it long ago, if they had known the truth. The moment this is done “long live our gracious king and happiness to Britain,” will resound from one end of the province to the other: but it requires a very little foresight to determine, that no other plan of governing the province and the colonies, will ever restore a harmony between the two countries, but desisting from the plan of taxing them and interfering with their internal concerns, and returning to that system of colony administration, which nature dictated, and experience for one hundred and fifty years found useful.
[signed] NOVANGLUS
1. Both quotations are from Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace, in Three Books . . . , London, 1738, p. 54 (Catalogue of JA's Library).
2. Algernon Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government . . . , 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1750, 1:309, 311, 312-314, 316–317 (Catalogue of JA's Library). All emphases in the quotations from Sidney are JA's.
3. Samuel Pufendorf, Of the Law of Nature and Nations . . . To Which Are Added All the Large Notes of Mr. Barbeyrac . . . , London, 1729, p.720–721, note (Catalogue of JA's Library). Jean Barbeyrac (1674–1744) was a French authority on jurisprudence (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).
4. Jean Leclerc (1657–1736), Swiss theologian, philosopher, and translator of the works of John Locke (same).
5. In 1709, Dr. Henry Sacheverell (1674?–1724) preached a sermon on the divine right of kings and on the subject's duty passively to submit, which brought his impeachment by Parliament { 307 } and thus his suspension from preaching for a time (Robbins, Commonwealthman, p. 81–86; DNB).
6. Sir Thomas Bernard, An Appeal to the Public, Stating and Considering the Objections to the Quebec Bill, London, 1774.
7. Juan de Padilla and his wife, Maria Pacheco, described by contemporaries as “the real man of the pair,” were leaders in Castile of the revolt of the Comuneros (1520–1521) against King Charles I of Spain, better known as Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (Roger B. Merriman, The Rise of the Spanish Empire, 4 vols., N.Y., 1918–1934, 3:70–92).
8. William Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V, 3 vols., London, 1769, 2:185.

Docno: ADMS-06-02-02-0072-0008

Author: Adams, John
Author: Novanglus
Recipient: Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Recipient: Massachusettensis
Date: 1775-03-06

VII. To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay

[salute] My Friends,

Our rhetorical magician, in his paper of January the 9th continues to wheedle. “You want nothing but to know the true state of facts, to rectify whatever is amiss.” He becomes an advocate for the poor of Boston! Is for making great allowance for the whigs. “The whigs are too valuable a part of the community to lose. He would not draw down the vengeance of Great Britain. He shall become an advocate for the leading whigs,” &C.1 It is in vain for us to enquire after the sincerity or consistency of all this. It is agreeable to the precept of Horace. Irritat, mulcet falsis terroribus implet ut magus. And that is all he desires.
After a long discourse, which has nothing in it but what has been answered already, he comes to a great subject indeed, the British constitution; and undertakes to prove that “the authority of parliament extends to the colonies.”
Why will not this writer state the question fairly? The whigs allow that from the necessity of a case not provided for by common law, and to supply a defect in the British dominions, which there undoubtedly is, if they are to be governed only by that law, America has all along consented, still consents, and ever will consent, that parliament being the most powerful legislature in the dominions, should regulate the trade of the dominions. This is founding the authority of parliament to regulate our trade, upon compact and consent of the colonies, not upon any principle of common or statute law, not upon any original principle of the English constitution, not upon the principle that parliament is the supream and sovereign legislature over them in all cases whatsoever.
The question is not therefore, whether the authority of parliament extends to the colonies in any case; for it is admitted by the whigs that it does in that of commerce: But whether it extends in all cases.
{ 308 } { 309 }
We are then detained with a long account of the three simple forms of government; and are told that “the British constitution consisting of king, lords and commons, is formed upon the principles of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, in due proportion; that it includes the principled excellencies, and excludes the principal defects of the other kinds of government—the most perfect system that the wisdom of ages has produced, and Englishmen glory in being subject to and protected by it.”
Then we are told “that the colonies are a part of the British empire”. But what are we to understand by this? Some of the colonies, most of them indeed, were settled before the kingdom of Great-Britain was brought into existence. The union of England and Scotland, was made and established by act of parliament in the reign of queen Ann; and it was this union and statute which erected the kingdom of Great-Britain. The colonies were settled long before, in the reigns of the James's and Charles's. What authority over them had Scotland? Scotland, England and the colonies were all under one king before that—the two crowns of England and Scotland, united on the head of James the first, and continued united on that of Charles the first, when our first charter was granted. Our charter being granted by him who was king of both nations, to our ancestors, most of whom were post nati, born after the union of the two crowns, and consequently, as was adjudged in Calvin's case, free natural subjects of Scotland, as well as England, had not the king as good a right to have governed the colonies by his Scottish, as by his English parliament, and to have granted our charters under the seal of Scotland, as well as that of England?2
But to waive this. If the English parliament were to govern us, where did they get the right, without our consent to take the Scottish parliament, into a participation of the government over us? When this was done, was the American share of the democracy of the constitution consulted? If not, were not the Americans deprived of the benefit of the democratical part of the constitution? And is not the democracy as essential to the English constitution as the monarchy or aristocracy? Should we have been more effectually deprived of the benefit of the British or English constitution, if one or both houses of parliament, or if our house and council had made this union with the two houses of parliament in Scotland, without the king?
If a new constitution was to be formed for the whole British dominions, and a supream legislature coextensive with it, upon the general principles of the English constitution, an equal mixture of mon• { 310 } archy, aristocracy and democracy, let us see what would be necessary. England have six millions of people we will say: America has three. England has five hundred members in the house of commons we will say: America must have two hundred and fifty. Is it possible she should maintain them there, or could they at such a distance know the state, the sense or exigences of their constituents? Ireland too must be incorporated, and send another hundred or two of members. The territory in the East-Indies and West India islands must send members. And after all this, every navigation act, every act of trade must be repealed. America and the East and West Indies and Africa too, must have equal liberty to trade with all the world, that the favoured inhabitants of Great-Britain have now. Will the ministry thank Massachusettensis for becoming an advocate for such an union and incorporation of all the dominions of the king of Great-Britain? Yet without such an union, a legislature which shall be sovereign and supream in all cases whatsoever, and coextensive with the empire, can never be established upon the general principles of the English constitution, which Massachusettensis lays down, viz. an equal mixture of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. Nay further, in order to comply with this principle, this new government, this mighty Colossus which is to bestride the narrow world, must have an house of lords consisting of Irish, East and West Indian, African, American, as well as English and Scottish noblemen; for the nobility ought to be scattered about all the dominions, as well as the representatives of the commons. If in twenty years more America should have six millions of inhabitants, as there is a boundless territory to fill up, she must have five hundred representatives. Upon these principles, if in forty years, she should have twelve millions, a thousand; and if the inhabitants of the three kingdoms remain as they are, being already full of inhabitants, what will become of your supream legislative? It will be translated, crown and all, to America. This is a sublime system for America. It will flatter those ideas of independency, which the tories impute to them, if they have any such, more than any other plan of independency, that I have ever heard projected.
“The best writers upon the law of nations, tell us, that when a nation takes possession of a distant country and settles there, that country though separated from the principal establishment, or mother country, naturally becomes a part of the state, equal with its ancient possessions”. We are not told who these “best writers” are:—I think we ought to be introduced to them. But their meaning may be no more than that it is best they should be incorporated with the ancient es• { 311 } tablishment, by contract, or by some new law and institution, by which the new country shall have equal right, powers and privileges, as well as equal protection; and be under equal obligations of obedience with the old. Has there been any such contract between Britain and the Colonies? Is America incorporated into the realm? Is it a part of the realm? Is it a part of the kingdom? Has it any share in the legislative of the realm? The constitution requires that every foot of land should be represented, in the third estate, the democratical branch of the constitution. How many millions of acres in America, how many thousands of wealthy landholders, have no representative there?
But let these “best writers” say what they will, there is nothing in the law of nations, which is only the law of right reason, applied to the conduct of nations, that requires that emigrants from a state should continue, or be made a part of the state.
The practice of nations has been different. The Greeks planted colonies, and neither demanded nor pretended any authority over them, but they became distinct independent commonwealths.
The Romans continued their colonies under the jurisdiction of the mother commonwealth—but, nevertheless, she allowed them the priviledges of cities. Indeed that sagacious city seems to have been aware of the difficulties similar to those under which Great Britain is now labouring; she seems to have been sensible of the impossibility of keeping colonies planted at great distances, under the absolute controul of her senatus consulta. Harrington tells us, Oceana p. 43.3 that “the commonwealth of Rome, by planting colonies of its citizens within the bounds of Italy, took the best way of propagating itself, and naturalizing the country; whereas if it had planted such colonies without the bounds of Italy, it would have alienated the citizens, and given a root to liberty abroad, that might have sprung up foreign, or savage and hostile to her; wherefore it never made any such dispersion of itself, and its strength, till it was under the yoke of the emperors, who disburdening themselves of the people, as having less apprehension of what they could do abroad than at home, took a contrary course.” But these Italian cities, altho' established by decrees of the senate of Rome, to which the colonists was always party, either as a Roman citizen about to emigrate, or as a conquered enemy treating upon terms; were always allow'd all the rights of Roman citizens, and were govern'd by senates of their own. It was the policy of Rome to conciliate her colonies, by allowing them equal liberty with her citizens. Witness the example of the Privernates. This people had been { 312 } conquered; and complaining of oppressions, revolted. At last they sent ambassadors to Rome to treat of peace. The senate was divided in opinion: Some were for violent, others for lenient measures. In the course of the debate, a senator, whose opinion was for bringing them to his feet, proudly asked one of the ambassadors, what punishment he thought his countrymen deserved? Eam inquit, quam merentur, qui se libertate dignos censent.—That punishment which those deserve, who think themselves worthy of liberty. Another senator seeing that the ministerial members were exasperated with the honest answer, in order to divert their anger, asks another question. What if we remit all punishment? What kind of a peace may we hope for with you? Si bonam dederitis, inquit, et fidam, et perpetuam; si malam, haud diuturnam.—If you give us a just peace, it will be faithfully observed, and perpetually: but if a bad one, it will not last long. The ministerial senators were all on fire at this answer, cried out, sedition and rebellion: but the wiser majority decreed, “viri, et liberi, vocem auditam, an credi posse, ullum populum, aut hominem denique, in ea conditione, cujus cum paeniteat, diutius, quam necesse sit, mansurum? ibi pacem esse fidam, ubi voluntarii pacati sint: neque eo loco, ubi servitutem esse velint, fidem sperandam esse.—“That they had heard the voice of a man and a son of liberty: that it was not natural or credible that any people, or any man, would continue longer than necessity should compel him, in a condition that grieved and displeased him. A faithful peace was to be expected from men whose affections were conciliated—nor was any kind of fidelity to be expected from slaves.” The consul exclaimed, Eos demum, qui nihil praeterquam de libertate, cogitent, dignos esse qui Romani fiant. That they who regarded nothing so much as their Liberty, deserved to be Romans. Itaque et in senatu causam obtinuere, et ex auctoritate patrum, latum ad populum est, ut privernatibus civitas daretur.” Therefore the Privernates obtained their cause in the senate, and it was by the authority of those fathers, recommended to the people, that the privileges of a city should be granted them.
The practice of free nations only can be adduced, as precedents of what the law of nature has been thought to dictate upon this subject of colonies. Their practice is different. The senate and people of Rome did not interfere commonly in making laws for their colonies, but left them to be ruled by their governors and senates. Can Massachusettensis produce from the whole history of Rome, or from the Digest, one example of a Senatus consultum, or a Plebiscitum laying taxes on a colony.
{ 313 }
Having mentioned the wisdom of the Romans in not planting colonies out of Italy, and their reasons for it; I cannot help recollecting an observation of Harrington, Oceana, p. 44. “For the colonies in the Indies,” says he, “they are yet babes, that cannot live without sucking the breasts of their mother cities; but such as I mistake, if when they come of age, they do not wean themselves: which causes me to wonder at princes that delight to be exhausted that way.” This was written 120 years ago: the colonies are now nearer manhood than even Harrington foresaw they would arrive in such a period of time. Is it not astonishing then, that any British minister should ever have considered this subject so little as to believe it possible for him to new moddel all our governments, to tax us by an authority that never taxed us before, and subdue us to an implicit obedience to a legislature, that millions of us scarcely ever tho't any thing about.
I have said that the practice of free governments alone can be quoted with propriety, to shew the sense of nations. But the sense and practice of nations is not enough. Their practice must be reasonable, just and right, or it will not govern Americans.
Absolute monarchies, whatever their practice may be, are nothing to us. For as Harrington observes, “Absolute monarchy, as that of the Turks, neither plants its people at home nor abroad, otherwise than as tenants for life or at will; wherefore its national and provincial government is all one.”4
I deny therefore that the practice of free nations, or the opinions of the best writers upon the law of nations, will warrant the position of Massachusettensis, that when a nation takes possession of a distant territory, that becomes a part of the state equally with its ancient possessions. The practice of free nations, and the opinions of the best writers, are in general on the contrary.
I agree, that “two supreme and independent authorities cannot exist in the same state,” any more than two supream beings in one universe. And therefore I contend, that our provincial legislatures are the only supream authorities in our colonies. Parliament, notwithstanding this, may be allowed an authority supreme and sovereign over the ocean, which may be limited by the banks of the ocean, or the bounds of our charters; our charters give us no authority over the high seas. Parliament has our consent to assume a jurisdiction over them. And here is a line fairly drawn between the rights of Britain and the rights of the colonies, viz. the banks of the ocean, or low water mark. The line of division between common law and civil, or maritime law. If this is not sufficient—if parliament are at a loss { 314 } for any principle of natural, civil, maritime, moral or common law, on which to ground any authority over the high seas, the Atlantic especially, let the colonies be treated like reasonable creatures, and they will discover great ingenuity and modesty: The acts of trade and navigation might be confirmed by provincial laws, and carried into execution by our own courts and juries, and in this case illicit trade would be cut up by the roots forever. I knew the smuggling tories in New-York and Boston would cry out against this, because it would not only destroy their profitable game of smuggling, but their whole place and pension system. But the whigs, that is a vast majority of the whole continent, would not regard the smuggling tories. In one word, if public principles and motives and arguments, were alone to determine this dispute between the two countries, it might be settled forever, in a few hours; but the everlasting clamours of prejudice, passion and private interest, drown every consideration of that sort, and are precipitating us into a civil war.
“If then we are a part of the British empire, we must be subject to the supreme power of the state, which is vested in the estates in parliament.”
Here again we are to be conjured out of our senses by the magic in the words “British empire,”—and “supreme power of the state.” But however it may sound, I say we are not a part of the British empire. Because the British government is not an empire. The governments of France, Spain, &c. are not empires, but monarchies, supposed to be governed by fixed fundamental laws, tho' not really. The British government, is still less intitled to the style of an empire: it is a limitted monarchy. If Aristotle, Livy, and Harrington, knew what a republic was, the British constitution is much more like a republic than an empire. They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men. If this definition is just, the British constitution is nothing more nor less than a republic, in which the king is first magistrate. This office being hereditary, and being possessed of such ample and splendid prerogatives, is no objection to the government's being a republic, as long as it is bound by fixed laws, which the people have a voice in making, and a right to defend. An empire is a despotism, and an emperor a despot, bound by no law or limitation, but his own will: it is a stretch of tyranny beyond absolute monarchy. For altho' the will of an absolute monarch is law, yet his edicts must be registered by parliaments. Even this formality is not necessary in an empire. There the maxim is quod principi placuit legis, habet vigorem, even without having that will and pleasure { 315 } recorded. There are but three empires now in Europe, the German, or Holy Roman, the Russian and the Ottoman.
There is another sense indeed in which the word empire is used, in which it may be applied to the government of Geneva, or any other republic, as well as to monarchy, or despotism. In this sense it is synonimous with government, rule or dominion. In this sense, we are within the dominion, rule or government of the king of Great-Britain.
The question should be, whether we are a part of the kingdom of Great-Britain: this is the only language, known in English laws. We are not then a part of the British kingdom, realm or state; and therefore the supreme power of the kingdom, realm or state, is not upon these principles, the supreme power over us. That “supreme power over America is vested in the estates in parliament,” is an affront to us; for there is not an acre of American land represented there—there are no American estates in parliament.
To say that we “must be” subject, seems to betray a consciousness that we are not by any law or upon any principles, but those of meer power; and an opinion that we ought to be, or that it is necessary that we should be. But if this should be admitted, for argument sake only, what is the consequence? The consequences that may fairly be drawn are these. That Britain has been imprudent enough to let Colonies be planted, untill they are become numerous and important, without ever having wisdom enough to concert a plan for their government, consistent with her own welfare. That now it is necessary to make them submit to the authority of parliament: and because there is no principle of law or justice, or reason, by which she can effect it: therefore she will resort to war and conquest—to the maxim delenda est Carthago. These are the consequences, according to this writers ideas. We think the consequences are, that she has after 150 years, discovered a defect in her government, which ought to be supply'd by some just and reasonable means: that is, by the consent of the Colonies; for metaphysicians and politicians may dispute forever, but they will never find any other moral principle or foundation of rule or obedience, than the consent of governors and governed. She has found out that the great machine will not go any longer without a new wheel. She will make this herself. We think she is making it of such materials and workmanship as will tear the whole machine to pieces. We are willing, if she can convince us of the necessity of such a wheel, to assist with artists and materials, in making it, so that it may answer the end: But she says, we shall have no share in it; and if we will not let her patch it up as she pleases, her Massachu• { 316 } settensis's and other advocates tell us, she will tear it to pieces herself, by cutting our throats. To this kind of reasoning we can only answer, that we will not stand still to be butchered. We will defend our lives as long as providence shall enable us.
“It is beyond doubt, that it was the sense both of the Parent Country, and our Ancestors, that they were to remain subject to parliament.”
This has been often asserted, and as often contradicted, and fully confuted. The confutation, may not, however, have come to every eye which has read this News-Paper.
The public acts of kings and ministers of state, in that age, when our ancestors emigrated, which were not complained of, remonstrated and protested against by the commons, are look'd upon as sufficient proof of the “sense” of the parent country.
The charter to the treasurer and company of Virginia, 23 March 1609, grants ample powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, and then contains an express covenant “to and with the said treasurer and company, their successors, factors and assigns, that they, and every of them, shall be free from all taxes and impositions forever, upon any goods or merchandizes, at any time or times hereafter, either upon importation thither, or exportation from thence, into our realm of England, or into any other of our realms or dominions.”5
I agree with this writer that the authority of a supreme legislature, includes the right of taxation. Is not this quotation then an irresistable proof, that it was not the sense of king James or his ministers, or of the ancestors of the Virginians, that they were “to remain subject to parliament as a supreme legislature.”
After this, James issued a proclamation, recalling this patent, but this was never regarded—then Charles issued another proclamation, which produced a remonstrance from Virginia, which was answered by a letter from the lords of the privy council, 22d July 1634, containing the royal assurance that “all their estates, trade, freedom, and privileges should be enjoyed by them, in as extensive a manner, as they enjoyed them before those proclamations.”
Here is another evidence of the sense of the king and his ministers.
Afterwards parliament sent a squadron of ships to Virginia—the colony rose in open resistance, untill the parliamentary commissioners granted them conditions, that they should enjoy the privileges of Englishmen; that their assembly should transact the affairs of the colony; that they should have a free trade to all places and nations, { 317 } as the people of England; and 4thly, that “Virginia shall be free from all taxes, customs, and impositions whatever, and none shall be imposed on them without consent of their general assembly; and that neither forts nor castles be erected, or garrisons maintained without their consent.”6
One would think this was evidence enough of the sense both of the parent country, and our ancestors.
After the acts of navigation were passed, Virginia sent agents to England, and a remonstrance against those acts. Charles, in answer, sent a declaration under the privy seal, 19 April 1676, affirming, “that taxes ought not to be laid upon the inhabitants and proprietors of the colony, but by the common consent of the general assembly; except such impositions as the parliament should lay on the commodities imported into England from the colony.” And he ordered a charter, under the great seal, to secure this right to the Virginians.7
What becomes of the “sense” of the parent country, and our ancestors? For the ancestors of the Virginians, are our ancestors, when we speak of ourselves as Americans. From Virginia let us pass to Maryland. Charles 1st, in 1633, gave a charter to the Baron of Baltimore, containing ample powers of government, and this express covenant, “to and with the said lord Baltimore, his heirs and assigns, that we, our heirs and successors, shall at no time hereafter, set or make, or cause to be set, any imposition, custom, or other taxation, rate, or contribution whatsoever, in and upon the dwellings and inhabitants of the aforesaid province, for their lands, tenements, goods or chattels, within the said province; or to be laden or unladen, within the ports or harbours of the said province.”8
What then was the “sense” of the parent country, and the ancestors of Maryland? But if by “our ancestors”, he confines his idea to New England or this province, let us consider. The first planters of Plymouth were our ancestors in the strictest sense. They had no charter or patent for the land they took possession of, and derived no authority from the English Parliament or Crown, to set up their government. They purchased land of the Indians, and set up a government of their own, on the simple principle of nature, and afterwards purchased a patent for the land of the council at Plymouth, but never purchased any charter for government of the Crown, or the King: and continued to exercise all the powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, upon the plain ground of an original contract among independent individuals for 68 years, i.e. until their incorporation with Massachusetts by our present charter. { 318 } The same may be said of the colonies which emigrated to Sea-Brook, New-Haven, and other Parts of Connecticut. They seem to have had no idea of dependence on Parliament, any more than on the Conclave. The Secretary of Connecticut has now in his possession, an original Letter from Charles 2d. to that colony, in which he considers them rather as friendly allies, than as subjects to his English Parliament, and even requests them to pass a law in their assembly, relative to piracy.9
The sentiments of your ancestors in the Massachusetts may be learned from almost every ancient paper and record. It would be endless to recite all the passages, in which it appears that they thought themselves exempt from the authority of parliament, not only in the point of taxation, but in all cases whatsoever. Let me mention one. Randolph, one of the predecessors of Massachusettensis, in a representation to Charles 2d, dated 20 September 1676, says, “I went to visit the governor at his house, and among other discourse, I told him, I took notice of several ships that were arrived at Boston, some since my being there, from Spain, France, Streights, Canaries, and other parts of Europe, contrary to your Majesty's laws for encouraging Navigation and regulating the trade of the plantations. He freely declared to me, that the law made by your Majesty and your parliament obligeth them in nothing but what consists with the interest of that colony, that the legislative power is and abides in them solely to act and make laws by virtue of a Charter from your Majesty's royal father.”10 Here is a positive assertion of an exemption from the authority of parliament, even in the case of the Regulation of Trade.
Afterwards in 1677, The General Court passed a law, which shews the sense of our ancestors in a very strong light. It is in these words. “This court being informed, by letters received this day from our messengers, of his Majesty's expectation that the acts of Trade and Navigation be exactly and punctually observed by this his Majesty's colony, his pleasure therein not having before now [been] signified unto us, either by express from his Majesty, or any of his ministers of state; It is therefore hereby ordered, and by the authority of this court enacted, that henceforth, all masters of ships, ketches, or other vessels, of greater or lesser burthen, arriving in, or sailing from any of the ports in this jurisdiction, do, without coven, or fraud, yield faithful and constant obedience unto, and observation of, all the said acts of navigation and trade, on penalty of suffering such forfeitures, loss and damage as in the said acts are particularly expressed. { 319 } And the governor and council, and all officers, commissionated and authorized by them, are hereby ordered and required to see to the strict observation of the said acts.”11 As soon as they had passed this law, they wrote a letter to their agent, in which they acknowledge they had not conformed to the acts of trade; and they say, they “apprehended them to be an invasion of the rights, liberties and properties of the subjects of his Majesty in the colony, they not being represented in parliament, and according to the usual sayings of the learned in the law, the laws of England were bounded within the four seas, and did not reach America. However, as his Majesty had signified his pleasure, that these acts should be observed in the Massachusetts, they had made provision by a law of the colony, that they should be strictly attended from time to time, although it greatly discouraged trade, and was a great damage to his Majesty's plantation.”12
Thus it appears, that the ancient Massachusettensians and Virginians, had precisely the same sense of the authority of parliament, viz. that it had none at all: and the same sense of the necessity, that by the voluntary act of the colonies, their free chearful consent, it should be allowed the power of regulating trade: and this is precisely the idea of the late Congress at Philadelphia, expressed in the fourth proposition in their Bill of Rights.
But this was the sense of the parent country too, at that time; for K. Charles II. in a letter to the Massachusetts, after this law had been laid before him, has these words, “We are informed that you have lately made some good provision for observing the acts of trade and navigation, which is well pleasing unto us.”13 Had he, or his ministers an idea that parliament was the sovereign legislative over the Colony? If he had, would he not have censured this law as an insult to that legislature?
I sincerely hope, we shall see no more such round affirmations, that it was the sense of the parent country and our ancestors, that they were to remain subject to parliament.
So far from thinking themselves subject to parliament, that during the Interregnum, it was their desire and design to have been a free commonwealth, an independent Republic; and after the restoration, it was with the utmost reluctance, that in the course of 16 or 17 years, they were bro't to take the oaths of allegiance: and for some time after this, they insisted upon taking an oath of fidelity to the Country, before that of allegiance to the King.
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That “it is evident from the Charter itself,” that they were to remain subject to parliament, is very unaccountable, when there is not one word in either Charter concerning parliament.
That the authority of parliament has been exercised almost ever since the settlement of the country, is a mistake; for there is no instance, untill the first Navigation Act, which was in 1660, more than 40 years after the first settlement. This act was never executed or regarded, until 17 years afterwards, and then it was not executed as an act of parliament, but as a law of the colony, to which the king agreed.
“This has been expressly acknowledged by our Provincial Legislatures.” There is too much truth in this. It has been twice acknowledged by our House of Representatives, that parliament was the supreme legislative; but this was directly repugnant to a multitude of other votes by which it was denied.14 This was in conformity to the distinction between taxation and legislation, which has been since found to be a distinction without a difference.
When a great question is first started, there are very few, even of the greatest minds, which suddenly and intuitively comprehend it, in all its consequences.
It is both “our interest and our duty to continue subject to the authority of parliament, as far as the regulation of our trade, if it will be content with that, but no longer.”
“If the colonies are not subject to the authority of parliament, Great-Britain and the colonies must be distinct states, as compleatly so as England and Scotland were before the union, or as Great-Britain and Hanover are now:” There is no need of being startled at this consequence. It is very harmless. There is no absurdity at all in it. Distinct states may be united under one king. And those states may be further cemented and united together, by a treaty of commerce. This is the case. We have by our own express consent contracted to observe the navigation act, and by our implied consent, by long usage and uninterrupted acquiescence, have submitted to the other acts of trade, however grievous some of them may be. This may be compared to a treaty of commerce, by which those distinct states are cemented together, in perpetual league and amity. And if any further ratifications of this pact or treaty are necessary, the colonies would readily enter into them, provided their other liberties were inviolate.
That the colonies owe “no allegiance” to any imperial crown, provided such a crown involves in it an house of lords and a house of { 321 } commons, is certain. Indeed we owe no allegiance to any crown at all. We owe allegiance to the person of his majesty king George the third, whom God preserve. But allegiance is due universally, both from Britons and Americans to the person of the king, not to his crown: to his natural, not his politic capacity: as I will undertake to prove hereafter, from the highest authorities, and most solemn adjudications, which were ever made within any part of the British Dominions.
If his Majesty's title to the crown, is “derived from an act of parliament made since the settlement of these Colonies,” it was not made since the date of our charter. Our charter was granted by king William and queen Mary, three years after the revolution. And the oaths of allegiance are established by a law of the province. So that our allegiance to his majesty is not due by virtue of any act of a British parliament, but by our own charter and province laws. It ought to be remembered, that there was a revolution here as well as in England, and that we made an original, express contract with king William, as well as the people of England.
If it follows from thence, that he appears king of the Massachusetts, king of Rhode-Island, king of Connecticut, &c. This is no absurdity at all. He will appear in this light, and does appear so, whether parliament has authority over us or not. He is king of Ireland, I suppose, although parliament is allowed to have authority there. As to giving his Majesty those titles, I have no objection at all: I wish he would be graciously pleased to assume them.
The only proposition, in all this writer's long string of pretended absurdities, which he says follow from the position, that we are distinct states, is this,—That “as the king must govern each state by its parliament, those several parliaments would pursue the particular interest of its own state and however well disposed the king might be to pursue a line of interest that was common to all, the checks and controul that he would meet with, would render it impossible.” Every argument ought to be allowed its full weight: and therefore candor obliges me to acknowledge, that here lies all the difficulty that there is in this whole controversy. There has been, from first to last, on both sides of the Atlantic, an idea, an apprehension that it was necessary, there should be some superintending power, to draw together all the wills, and unite all the strength of the subjects in all the dominions, in case of war, and in the case of trade. The necessity of this, in case of trade, has been so apparent, that as has often been said, we have consented that parliament should exercise such a { 322 } power. In case of war, it has by some been thought necessary. But in fact and experience, it has not been found so. What tho' the proprietary colonies, on account of disputes with the proprietors, did not come in so early to the assistance of the general cause in the last war, as they ought, and perhaps one of them not at all!15 The inconveniences of this were small, in comparison of the absolute ruin to the liberties of all which must follow the submission to parliament, in all cases, which would be giving up all the popular limitations upon the government. These inconveniences fell chiefly upon New England. She was necessitated to greater exertions. But she had rather suffer these again and again, than others infinitely greater. However this subject has now been so long in contemplation, that it is fully understood now, in all the colonies: so that there is no danger, in case of another war, of any colonies failing of its duty.
But admitting the proposition in its full force, that it is absolutely necessary there should be a supreme power, coextensive with all the dominions, will it follow that parliament as now constituted has a right to assume this supream jurisdiction? By no means.
A union of the colonies might be projected, and an American legislature: or if America has 3,000,000 people, and the whole dominions twelve, she ought to send a quarter part of all the members to the house of commons, and instead of holding parliaments always at Westminster, the haughty members for Great-Britain, must humble themselves, one session in four, to cross the Atlantic, and hold the parliament in America.
There is no avoiding all inconveniences, in human affairs: The greatest possible or conceivable, would arise from ceding to parliament all power over us, without a representation in it: the next greatest, would accrue from any plan that can be devised for a representation there. The least of all [would] arise from going on as we begun, and fared well for 150 years, by letting parliament regulate trade, and our own assemblies all other matters.
As to “the prerogatives not being defined or limited,” it is as much so in the Colonies as in Great Britain, and as well understood, and as cheerfully submitted to in the former as the latter.
But “where is the British constitution, that we all agree we are intitled to?” I answer, if we enjoy, and are intitled to more liberty than the British constitution allows, where is the harm? Or if we enjoy the British constitution in greater purity and perfection than they do in England, as is really the case, whose fault is this? Not ours.
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We may find all the blessings “of this constitution in our Provincial Assemblies.”16 Our Houses of Representatives have, and ought to exercise, every power of the house of Commons. The first Charter to this colony, is nothing to the present argument: but it did grant a power of taxing the people—implicitly, tho' not in express terms. It granted all the rights and liberties of Englishmen, which include the power of taxing the people.
“Our Council Boards,” in the royal governments, “are destitute of the noble independence and splendid appendages of peerages,” most certainly: They are the meerest creatures and tools in the political creation. Dependent every moment for their existence on the tainted breath of a prime minister. But they have the authority of the house of lords, in our little models of the English constitution. And it is this which makes them so great a grievance. The crown has really, two branches of our legislatures in its power. Let an act of parliament pass at home, putting it in the power of the king, to remove any peer from the house of lords at his pleasure, and what will become of the British constitution? It will be overturned from the foundation. Yet we are perpetually insulted, by being told, that making our council by mandamus, brings us nearer to the British constitution. In this province, by charter, the council certainly hold their seats for the year, after being chosen and approved, independant of both the other branches. For their creation, they are equally obliged to both the other branches; so that there is little or no bias in favour of either, if any, it is in favour of the prerogative. In short, it is not easy without an hereditary nobility, to constitute a council more independent, more nearly resembling the House of Lords than the council of this province has ever been by Charter. But perhaps it will be said, that we are to enjoy the British constitution in our supreme legislature, the Parliament, not in our provincial legislatures.
To this I answer, if parliament is to be our supreme legislature, we shall be under a compleat oligarchy or aristocracy, not the British Constitution, which this writer himself defines a mixture of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. For King, lords and commons, will constitute one great oligarchy, as they will stand related to America, as much as the Decimvirs did in Rome. With this difference for the worse, that our rulers are to be three thousand miles off. The definition of an oligarchy, is a government by a number of grandees, over whom the people have no controul. The states of Holland were once chosen by the people frequently. Then chosen for life. Now they are not chosen by the people at all. When a member dies, his place is { 324 } filled up not by the people he is to represent, but by the states. Is not this depriving the Hollanders of a free constitution, and subjecting them to an aristocracy, or oligarchy? Will not the government of America be like it? Will not representatives be chosen for them by others, whom they never saw nor heard of? If our provincial constitutions are in any respect imperfect and want alteration, they have capacity enough to discern it, and power enough to effect it, without the interposition of parliament. There never was an American constitution attempted by parliament, before the Quebec Bill and Massachusetts Bill. These are such samples of what they may and probably will be, that few Americans are in love with them. However, America will never allow that parliament has any authority to alter their constitution at all. She is wholly penetrated with a sense of the necessity of resisting it, at all hazards. And she would resist it, if the constitution of the Massachusetts had been altered as much for the better, as it is for the worse. The question we insist on most, is not whether the alteration is for the better or not, but whether parliament has any right to make any alteration at all. And it is the universal sense of America, that it has none.
We are told that “the provincial constitutions have no principle of stability within themselves”. This is so great a mistake, that there is not more order or stability in any government upon the globe, than there ever has been in that of Connecticut. The same may be said of the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, and indeed of the others, very nearly. “That these constitutions in turbulent times would become wholly monarchial or wholly republican.” They must be such times as would have a similar effect upon the constitution at home. But in order to avoid the danger of this, what is to be done. Not give us an English constitution, it seems, but make sure of us at once, by giving us constitutions wholly monarchical, annihilating our houses of representatives first, by taking from them the support of government, &c. and then making the councils and judges wholly dependent on the crown.
That a representation in parliament is impracticable we all agree:17 but the consequence is, that we must have a representation in our supreme legislatures here. This was the consequence that was drawn by kings, ministers, our ancestors, and the whole nation, more than a century ago, when the colonies were first settled, and continued to be the general sense untill the last peace, and it must be the general sense again soon, or Great-Britain will lose her colonies.
“This is apparently the meaning of that celebrated passage in { 325 } governor Hutchinsons letter, that rung through the continent, viz. (There must be an abridgment of what is called English liberties.)” But all the art and subtlety of Massachusettensis will never vindicate or excuse that expression. According to this writer, it should have been “there is an abridgment of English liberties and it can't be otherwise.”18 But every candid reader must see that the letter writer had more than that in his view and in his wishes. In the same letter, a little before, he says, “what marks of resentment the parliament will shew, whether they will be upon the province in general or particular persons, is extremely uncertain; but that they will be placed somewhere is most certain, and I add, because I think it ought to be so.”19 Is it possible to read this without thinking of the port bill, the charter bill, and the resolves for sending persons to England by the statute of H. 8, to be tried! But this is not all. “This is most certainly a crisis,” says he. &c. “If no measure shall have been taken to secure this dependence (i.e. the dependence which a colony ought to have upon the parent state) it is all over with us.” “The friends of government will be utterly disheartned, and the friends of anarchy will be afraid of nothing, be it ever so extravagant.” But this is not all. “I never think of the measures necessary for the peace and good order of the colonies without pain.” “There must be an abridgment of what are called English liberties.” What could he mean? Any thing less than depriving us of trial by jury? Perhaps he wanted an act of parliament to try persons here for treason by a court of admiralty. Perhaps an act that the province should be governed by a governor and a mandamus council, without an house of representatives. But to put it out of all doubt that his meaning was much worse than Massachusettensis endeavours to make it, he explains himself in a subsequent part of the letter. “I wish,” says he, “the good of the colony, when I wish to see some further restraint of liberty.” Here it is rendered certain, that he is pleading for a further restraint of liberty, not explaining the restraint, he apprehended the constitution had already laid us under.
My indignation at this letter, has sometimes been softened by compassion. It carries on the face of it, evident marks of madness. It was written in such a transport of passions, ambition, and revenge chiefly, that his reason was manifestly overpowered. The vessel was tost in such a hurricane, that she could not feel her helm. Indeed he seems to have had a confused consciousness of this himself. “Pardon me this excursion,” says he, “it really proceeds from the state of mind, into which our perplexed affairs often throws me.”
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“It is our highest interest to continue a part of the British empire, and equally our duty to remain subject to the authority of parliament,” says Massachusettensis.
We are a part of the British dominions, that is of the king of Great-Britain, and it is our interest and duty to continue so. It is equally our interest and duty to continue subject to the authority of parliament, in the regulation of our trade, as long as she shall leave us to govern our internal policy, and to give and grant our own money, and no longer.
This letter concludes with an agreeable flight of fancy.20 The time may not be so far off, however, as this writer imagines, when the colonies may have the balance of numbers and wealth in her favour. But when that shall happen, if we should attempt to rule her by an American parliament, without an adequate representation in it, she will infallibly resist us by her arms.
[signed] NOVANGLUS
“It is very foreign from my intentions to draw down the vengeance of Great Britain upon the whigs; they are too valuable a part of the community to lose, if they will permit themselves to be saved. I wish nothing worse to the highest of them, than that they may be deprived of their influence, till such time as they shall have changed their sentiments, principles and measures” (Novanglus and Massachusettensis, p. 168).
2. Calvin's Case, decided in 1608, was used by JA in the debate with Hutchinson, 2 March 1773, above. James Wilson in 1774 was another American polemicist who seized upon this case to demonstrate the colonies' freedom from parliamentary authority (Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Cambridge, 1967, p. 225).
3. James Harrington, The Oceana and Other Works. Collected . . . by John Toland . . . , 3d edn., London, 1747 (Catalogue of JA's Library).
4. Same, p. 43.
5. JA ignores the exception which follows: “Except only the five Pounds per Cent due for custom upon all such Goods and Merchandizes as shall be brought or Imported into our Realm of England, or any other of these our Dominions according to the antient Trade of Merchants” (Thorpe, Federal and State Constitutions, 7:3799).
6. 12 March 1651 (Hening, Va. Statutes, 1:364).
7. Charles II changed his mind, however, when he heard about the outbreak of Bacon's Rebellion (Thomas J. Wertenbaker, Virginia under the Stuarts, 1607–1688, Princeton, 1914, p. 126).
9. 8 March 1684 (J. Hammond Trumbull and Charles J. Hoadley, eds., The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, 15 vols., Hartford, 1850–1890, 3:336–337)
10. Thomas Hutchinson, A Collection of Original Papers Relative to the History of the Colony of Massachusets-Bay, Boston, 1769, p. 506.
12. Same, 1:272.
13. Hutchinson, A Collection of Original Papers, p. 521. Hutchinson' note reads, “This is very extraordinary, for this provision was an act of the colony declaring that the acts of trade should be in force there.”
14. JA is probably referring to the watering down of the House petition of 1764 (No. IV, note 7, above) and the House approval of James Otis, The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted { 327 } and Proved (Bailyn, ed., Pamphlets, 1:414, 417)
15. Maryland (Gipson, Empire before the Revolution, 6:185–186; 7:296–298; 8:261).
16. What Massachusettensis actually says, is: “We shall seek for it [the British constitution] in vain in our provincial assemblies” (Novanglus and Massachusettensis, p. 171)
17. In the letter of 9 Jan. 1775, which is the subject of JA's scrutiny in this Novanglus letter, Massachusettensis favors representation in Parliament on principle but rejects it as impractical.
18. Here JA is putting words in the mouth of Massachusettensis.
19. Thomas Hutchinson to [Thomas Whately], 20 Jan. 1769 (Copy of Letters, p. 15). The quotations that follow in this and the next paragraph are from the same source, but the material in parentheses in the second of these quotations is JA's editorial insertion.
20. “After many more centuries shall have rolled away, long after we, who are now bustling upon the stage of life, shall have been received to the bosom of mother earth, and our names are forgotten, the colonies may be so far increased as to have the balance of wealth, numbers and power in their favour, the good of the empire make it necessary to fix the seat of government here; and some future George, equally the friend of mankind with him that now sways the British sceptre, may cross the Atlantic, and rule Great Britain, by an American parliament” (Novanglus and Massachusettensis, p. 172–173).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.