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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

Extract from the Minutes of the Provincial Congress
Provincial Congress
Thursday, March 23, 1775, A.M.

Ordered, That Mr. Gerry, Mr. Paine and Mr. Adams, be a committee to bring in a resolve, expressing the sense of this Congress, that for this people to relax in their preparations to defend themselves, &c., would be attended with the most dangerous consequences.1

Printed in the Journals of Each Provincial Congress , 109–110.


The committee reported the next afternoon. Its report appears in Journals of Each Provincial Congress , 110, and in various newspapers. The report warned the population that “our implacable enemies are unremitting in their endeavors, by fraud and artifice as well as by open force, to subjugate this people.” Therefore citizens should “be ready to oppose, with firmness and resolution, at the utmost hazard, every attempt for that purpose.”

From David Cobb
Cobb, David RTP
Taunton April 4th 1775 Dear Sir,

The Bearer hereof, Mr. Bishop of Attleborô,1 is come to the Congress with a request of the Committees of Inspection for the County, relative to an Order which has been sent to Brightman, Terry, Crane, Ezra Richmond Esqrs. & Coll. Bowers, from Genll. Gage, to provide for two hundred of his Majesties Troops, which are hourly expected (Coll. Bowers was the person that inform’d us of it) & likewise respecting Coll. Gilbert’s behaivour, which has so irritated the County that they wou’d be glad of the Congress’s advice to take him & convey him to some secure place on the Continent where he’ll give us less trouble than he does now. There are a Number of perticulars relative to Gilbert’s conduct, which I have not time to relate, that deserve notice.2

We suppose the reason why the Troops are sent to Freetown is a Tarring & Feathering which was given to two of Gilbert’s Company in Dighton sometime last week, by a Number of hot headed fellows. Gilbert in consequence of it, wrote to Genll. Gage last Fryday & the Order to the Justices was return’d on Saturday. You’ll use your influence 39to forward the Bearer with an answer from the Congress as soon as possible as we are in waiting, & return me an answer of what you are doing, if agreeable. Your Family & Friends are well. I am, in haste, Your sincere Friend

David Cobb

12 o’Clock at night at Mr. Harlow’s

RC ; addressed: “To Robt. Treat Paine Esqr. At Concord”; endorsed.


Unidentified. There were three men of the Bishop family listed in the 1771 tax list for Attleborough—Elkanah, Nathaniel, and Zephaniah (Pruitt, Massachusetts Tax Valuation List of 1771, 552).


Col. Thomas Gilbert (1715–1797) of Freetown, Mass., had served as a colonel in the provincial forces during the Crown Point Expedition and later represented his town in the General Court. His actions in the legislature, such as voting against the creation of committees of correspondence and against the impeachment of Judge Peter Oliver, placed him well outside the radical activities then underway and allied him with the Crown establishment. At the request of General Gage, Gilbert in 1774 raised a body of 300 loyalists in Bristol County to support the administration. In March 1775 he wrote to Capt. James Wallace, R.N., of the Rose, asking for naval support if a retreat were forced upon those men who were serving “in the King’s name.” On Apr. 6, the Provincial Congress pronounced Gilbert “an inveterate enemy to his country, to reason, justice, and the common rights of mankind; and therefore, whoever has knowingly espoused his cause, or taken up arms for its support, does, in common with himself, deserve to be instantly cut off from the benefit of commerce with, or countenance of, any friend of virtue, America, or the human race.” A few days later, RTP noted in his diary that in Taunton he “found a large party had been after Col. Gilbert & had brought off some of his men, taken their Guns &c wch. Gen’ral Gage had sent them.” Locals continued “bringing in & reclaiming Gilberts Guns & have had great Success” (RTP, Diary, Apr. 10, 15, 1775. A longer account appears in The Boston Evening Post, Apr. 17, 1775). Gilbert sought refuge aboard the Rose, which took him to Boston, where he remained until the general evacuation in March 1776. He thereafter lived in Nova Scotia ( Journals of Each Provincial Congress , 130–131; Sabine, American Loyalists, 1:470–471).