Letter from Lieutenant Governour Bull to the Earl of Dartmouth

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EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM LIEUTENANT GOVERNOUR BULL TO THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH, DATED CHARLESTOWN, JULY 31, 1774.

I had expectations that the measures taken by the Parliament relative to Boston would have had some happy effect towards composing the disturbances in this Province, which seemed to have subsided a little last winter, but it has taken a contrary turn. Their own apprehensions and thoughts, confirmed by the resolutions and correspondence from other Colonies, have raised an universal spirit of jealousy against Great Britain, and of unanimity towards each other; I say universal, my Lord, for few who think otherwise are hardy enough to avow it publickly.

The general claim is exemption from taxation, but by their own Representatives, as co-essential with the British, (their own) Constitution. Some who do not enter so deep into principles, are alarmed at the consequence of a ready acquiescence under taxation by the Parliament, as they apprehend that then all the variety of ways and means of raising money in Great Britain will soon be put in practice here, and applied to purposes not merely American.

Such arguments as the last are easily understood and felt by every man, and catches like wild-fire among the multitude. They are deaf to the argument on the other side of the question, though obvious to a man of consideration, that in every Empire an absolute power must necessarily be lodged somewhere, over all the parts and members thereof, which, in Great Britain, is in the King and his Parliament. But liberty or slavery, in their greatest latitude, is the alternative generally held forth in their popular meetings, for little attention or patience is shown to those who attempt to state things in a different light.

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Your Lordship has doubtless been informed of the proposal from Boston, that there should be a Congress of Committees from every Province, to consider of what was proper to be done by them in this crisis. Accordingly on the sixth instant a great concourse of people assembled in Charlestown, in order to choose a Committee of five men for South Carolina. I enclose Timothy' s Gazette, which publishes the result thereof.

I beg your Lordship' s permission to observe, and I do it with great concern, that this spirit of opposition to taxation and its consequences, is so violent and so universal throughout America, that I am apprehensive it will not be soon or easily appeased. The general voice speaks discontent, and sometimes in a tone of despair, as determined to stop all exports to, and imports from, Great Britain, and even to silence the Courts of law, foreseeing, but regardless of the ruin that must attend themselves in that case; content to change a comfortable for a parsimonious life, to be satisfied with the few wants of nature, if by their sufferings they can bring Great Britain to feel.

This is the language of the most violent; others think it is going too far; and the most violent too often prevail over the moderate. When men shall in general lay aside the hopes of getting riches, and abandon the employment of agriculture, commerce, and mechanick labour, what turn their leisure time, under such circumstances, may take, I submit to your Lordship' s knowledge of history, and of he human mind. Such sudden and great changes in the manners of an extended thriving people, among whom the Gazettes are filled with such variety of articles for luxury, is scarce credible, though possible, but the continuance of it is very improbable. The first account of the result of the Congress at Philadelphia may reach your Lordship the beginning of November. I think it my duty to make this true and faithful representation of the disposition and temper of the people, how disagreeable it may however appear, and to confide in the Royal wisdom for the remedy.

Captain Maitland, who on the 18th instant, had brought in several chests of tea for merchants in this town, which he had promised the General Committee, as it is called, to destroy or carry back, and taken in his load of rice in the mean time, gave great offence to the Committee and the people, as the tea was that day landed by the Custom-House Officers and lodged in the King' s store house.

Several hundred men went with great threats in quest of him in the evening, but as they entered his ship on one side, he went off from the other, and took shelter on board his Majesty' s ship Glasgow, then in Rebellion Road, and next morning his ship was removed from the wharf by Captain Maltby' s assistance. Another parcel of tea, since arrived, by consent of the Committee, is lodged in the King' s stores in the same predicament. Although Captain Maitland sails first, yet, as his ship is heavy laden, I think my account of these matters will reach your Lordship soonest by the packet, &c.