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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 2

Notes on “Hutchinson Letters”
June 1773 1

1768. June 18. as you will resume the honor of yr. Correspondence (more of the Pack) relating to the Seizure of Hancocks Vessell, Temple Signalized. high Resentment in favr. of Commissioners Reflections on Internal Governt. & on Boston Town Meeting a Refference to Hallow. for further Questions

1768. Augt. further acct. of the Commissioners: Arguments in favour of them, Arguments to prove they need not withdraw, Temple signalized. Strictures on the Said Seizure; & on the Internal Governmt. their under officers signalized & Comissioners justified & explained Support called for as necessary to Support them a Small Pittance of Salary a Personal Esteem for the Commissrs. 10th. a meeting of Masschts. mention in P:S.

1768 Octr. 4th. Expressions of high Expectations of the National Resentmt. the national Convention, no fears of Army, but of a Mobb. Strictures on the Adv: of Council, ill natured; abt. the Barracks

1768 Decr. 10. the Adress of Council, Strictures on their Doings, necessary their proceeding unknown, & Confidence

1769 Jany. 20. You have done much Service to the Governmt. for People thought the Acts were abt. to be repealed expectation of the Resentmt. of Parliamt., because he thinks it ought to be the dependance a Colony ought to have Ask now if nothing more than declaratory Acts Measures necessary for Good of colonies 512 abridgment of English Liberty

1769 Octr. 20. not Possible prov. 16d. not be made 1st. week Parliament meets Penaltys of another kind keep secret smile & stab— Incentive Letters agravated if not misrepresentation Referring to a prejudiced Person Vizt. Holloway for Information Representing the People as in a State of Anarchy, when it was only the natural Effect of Imposition. Causing the Minority to judge ex parte as tho he only could give true Information. Pains taken to prevent all Petns. being Recd. & our Greivances redressed.

1767 May 7. And. Oliver Recommendation of good Freind Paxton necessary for Crown officers to be Supported, increase of luxury & expence how can any new measures be taken without raising the People, they have once availed themselves of the Clamours of the Manufacturers his Contrivance to defeat the Clamour of the manufactures I send you a Journal directed to the Secretary of State the Board of Trade.

1768 May. 11. Your steady attention to my private Concerns & Mr. Greenville's good Intentions support for Kings officers Refference to other Letters he had wrote

1769 Feby. 13. At Nonesuch Some are determin'd to consent to nothing that will remove us from our Old foundation; the Incendiarys must be taken off yr. Mo. humble. Freind

Augt. 12th. from New York. Thompson has drawn up my Case & by yr. Interest laid it before the D. of Grafton Refference to N. Rogers Letter


1768 Decr. 12. Nathl. Rogers, Govr. & Lt. Govr. fully acquainted wth. this negotiations Lett. Gov. Hutchinson Jany. 1769

The plan opens, he wrote other Letters, to his Freinds into them, & finally made a pretence of the Town Meetings, to bring on the dispute about Parliamentary power.

A Charter not forf. but by Sc: fac. or Quo Warranto.

A Repress that a few Incend led the Populace

a change of Constitution not to be affected in Secret, but ought to have been by free Consent.

the Charge of necessity of high measures.

the Convention

the abridgment of Libertys, a Priviledge

Discussing Gen: Paoli & Spirit of Liberty in Spain

building up a Form on the Runing of a State

separate Agent

heard ex Parte

all things not in man

every measure taken to represent raise the resentmts. of the People & then advantage taken of it

MS .


The Hutchinson Letters were the correspondence between Thomas Hutchinson (1711–1781), while chief justice and later as acting governor of Massachusetts, and Thomas Whately (ca. 17281772) of London, England, a former secretary to the Treasury under George Grenville, about the troubled state of political affairs in Massachusetts. Six of Hutchinson's letters, June 18, 1768—Oct. 20, 1769, as well as four of Andrew Oliver (1706–1774), secretary of the province, and several of other Tories came into the hands of Benjamin Franklin, agent for the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He sent them to Thomas Cushing, speaker of the House, who had Samuel Adams read them to the members on June 2, 1772. Historians of this period have found little in the letters that Hutchinson had not publicly stated before. However, in his letter of June 20, 1768, he wrote: "I never think of the measure necessary for the peace and good order of the colonies without pain. There must be an abridgment of what are called English liberties." The hostile reaction to this and other statements resulted in the House appointing a committee on June 3 consisting of Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Nathaniel Gorham, John Pickering, Jr., Joseph Hawley, James Warren, Jedediah Foster, and Robert Treat Paine, to consider and report on the letters. Paine had been elected to represent Taunton in the House at the town meeting of May 17 (RTP Diary).

RTP in his diary noted on June 15: "Comtee. on Govr. Letters reported." The House that day sent a message to the Council stating: "There are certain Letters which have been laid before the House, signed Tho. Hutchinson, Andw. Oliver, Cha. Paxton, and Rob. Auchmuty, containing Matters that nearly affect the Interest of this Province, and some particularly refer to the Conduct of the honorable Board; therefore the House have ordered Copies of the said Letters to be laid before the514honorable Board, that they may take such Order thereon as they shall judge proper. The Originals are at present in the Hands of a Committee of the House; but if the Board are desirous of it, they may have them to compare with the Copies: The House ordered copies of the letters printed, and these were delivered in the morning of June 16, whereupon the originals were taken to the Council by Samuel Adams (Journals of the House of Representatives, 50:55–57).

They were printed in Boston by Edes & Gill under the title Copy of letters sent to Great Britain, by His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, the Hon. Andrew Oliver, and several other persons, born and educated among us. Which original letters have been returned to America, and laid before the Honorable House of representatives of this province. In which (notwithstanding His Excellency's declaration to the House, that the tendency and design of them was not to subvert the constitution, but rather to preserve it entire) the judicious reader will discover the fatal course of the confusion and bloodshed in which this province especially has been involved, and which threatened total destruction to the liberties of all America.

RTP's papers include the above notes on the Hutchinson letters (printed above), as well as rough drafts, largely in his hand, of the resolves adopted by the House (printed below), on the afternoon of June 16.