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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 2

From Samuel Eliot
Eliot, Samuel RTP
Boston January 22. 1762 Sir,

I have waited some days with Impatience for an Oppo. of sending to Taunton, but after the most diligent Enquiry can hear of none. I now with great pleasure forward by way of Bridgwater the inclosed papers as I imagine they may please you.1A Thought which I can with Sincerity say is abundantly sufficient to engage me to the performance of the most arduous Undertakings; therefore I trust my Honesty will not be called in Question when I assure you (as above) that it is with great Pleasure I embrace the only Oppo. I ever enjoyed of contributing to your Amusement.

The inclosed Disputes relate to were occasioned by a proposal of Mr. Hutchinsons2 for lowering Johannes. Mr. Otis3 was the first who opposed this Scheme. A Cause which it seems he tho't himself obliged to undertake from the Challenge as he calls it which Mr. Hutchinson gave him in Mr. Hatch's4Office where they accidentally met upon the day this project was first published, which was (Mr: Otis I have cut you out work as you'll see in the paper).

This projection is I believe disagreeable to most of the Merchants, more especially to those who are in the Connecticut Trade, tho it is thought Mr. Otis has treated Mr. Hutchinson very ill. Nat Rogers5is the person Mr. Otis means when he says that a Relation of His Honors drew for five thousand pounds St. J. &c.

You have also inclosed Considerations on the lowering the Value of Gold Coins, a performance much approvd of; wrote by Mr. Thatcher.6

The eleventh of January was published in Fleet's paper a long piece signed Y.Z. I need not tell you who Mr. Otis7supposes to be the Author by his quotation of Alme Sol curru &c.8 But perhaps you may not readily guess at his leering Assurance Broker piping hot from a compting House who is supposed to be Foster Hutchinson.9By another part of his Supplement it is conjectur'd he is suspicious of Mr. Bowdoin & that he is the person hinted at by the Butterflies Glass Globes &c.

The piece in Edes & Gills last paper signed J.R. is supposed to be wrote by Mr. Rowes.10

Thus Sir I think I have said all that is necessary to be said on this Subject by your much obliged humble Servt.,


P.S. I did not observe that Mr. Otis had published his Honors Challenge verbatim till I had wrote my Letter. I hope to see you in Town shortly.

RC ; endorsed.


Not located.


Thomas Huchinson (1711–1780), the lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts and member of the Council, believed that an accidental overvaluation of Portuguese gold johannes was a contributing factor in the draining of silver form New England. Favoring a reduction in their value, he opposed making gold coins legal tender. James Otis (1725–1783) of the House of Representatives took an opposing view which led to an exchange of arguments by both men in the Boston Evening Post and the Boston Gazette in Dec. 1761–Jan. 1762. Otis was successful in garnering enough votes to pass the legal tender act which established fixed values for foreign gold coins. For a detailed study of this controversy see Hugh F. Bell, "'A Personal Challenge': the Otis-Hutchinson Controversy, 1761–1762," Essex Institute Historical Collections, 106[1970]: 297–323.


James Otis, Jr. (1724/5–1783), son of James Otis (1702–1778), graduated from Harvard in 1743 and went on to study law with Jeremiah Gridley. He became one of the leading lawyers in Boston, argued against the writs of assistance before the superior court in 1761 and was recognized as the political leader of Massachusetts Bay from that time until 1769 when he became insane following a blow to the head in an altercation with a Crown official (DAB).


Nathaniel Hatch (1723–1784) served at various times as a clerk of the Superior Court, a member of the Land Bank Commission, and mandamus councillor. A loyalist, Hatch went to England with his family in 1776 (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 11:150–152).


"A near relation of his Honors drew last summer, for five thousand pounds sterling and remitted dollars to secure their acceptance, which dollars were bought, with those very bills, or which amounts to the same thing, with the gold they were here sold for" (Boston Gazette, Dec. 21, 1761). Nathaniel Rogers (1737–1770), nephew of Thomas Hutchinson and Boston merchant, later refused to sign the non-importation agreement (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 13:631–637).


Oxenbridge Thacher (1719–1765), a Boston lawyer, sided with the Otis group in the currency controversy and presented its side in his pamphlet Considerations on Lowering the Value of Gold Coins, within the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay [Boston, 1762]. (Ibid., 10:322–328).


Thomas Hutchinson to William Bollan, Jan. 11, 1762: "The piece YZ is said to be Mr. Bowdoins" Hutchinson LbC 26:6 (Massachusetts Archives). James Bowdoin (1726–1790), governor of Massachusetts, whose interest in science led to a close friendship with Bejamin Franklin. Clifford K. Shipton in his sketch of Bowdoin in Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 11:514–550, concludes, "Every schoolchild is familiar with the names of Sam Adams, James Otis, and John Hancock, but few Americans have the least idea who James Bowdoin was. In many ways he was the ablest of the four, but he has not appealed to the makers of popular myths."


"Alma Sol curru &c." These words begin the third stanza of Horace's poem Carmen Sæculare:

"alma sol, curru nitido diem qui primis et celas aliuque et idem nasceris, possis nihil urbe Roma visere maius"!

"O quickening Sun, that in thy shining car usherest in the day and hidest it, and art reborn another and yet the same, ne'er mayst thou be able to view aught greater than the city of Rome!" C. E. Bennett, Horace The Odes and Epodes (Cambridge, 1952), 350–351.

216 9.

Foster Hutchinson (1724–1779), brother of Thomas Hutchinson and partner of his in business. He became a judge of the Superior Court of Judicature, served as a mandamus councillor during the Siege, and with other loyalists fled to Halifax at the evacuation of Boston (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 11:237–243).


John Rowe (1715–1787), Boston businessman and diarist whose article appeared in the Boston Gazette, Jan. 18, 1762. Rowe's important diary extends, with some omissions, from 1764 to 1779. Anne Rowe Cunningham issued it in part under the title Letters and Diary of John Rowe Boston Merchant (Boston, 1903). The original manuscript is in the MHS.