Report of the Committee to Inquire into the Several Proceedings in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay

Bill Passed

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WEDNESDAY, April 20, 1774.

The Earl of Buckinghamshire reported from the Lords' Committee, appointed to inquire into the several Proceedings in the Colony of Masachusetts Bay, in opposition to the sovereignty of his Majesty in his Parliament of Great Britain over that Province; and also what has passed in this House relative thereto, from the 1st day of January, 1764, as follows: —

That in obedience to your Lordships' commands, the Committee have met, and taken into consideration the matters to them referred; and having attentively read and considered the several Papers which have been laid before the House, relative to the Proceedings in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, in opposition to the sovereignty of his Majesty in his Parliament of Great Britain over that Province; and having also carefully inspected the Journals of the House, from the 1st day of January, 1764, to the present time, they find that, on the 2d day of April, 1764, a Bill was brought up from the Commons to your Lordships, intituled, "An Act for granting certain Duties in the British Colonies and Plantations

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in America; for continuing and amending, and making perpetual, an Act, passed in the sixth year of the reign of his late Majesty, King George the Second, intituled ‘Act for the better securing and encouraging the Trade of his Majesty' s Sugar Colonies in America;’ for applying the produce of such Duties, and of the Duties to arise by virtue of the said Act, towards defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing, the said Colonies and Plantations; for explaining an Act, made in the twenty-fifth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled ‘An Act for the Encouragement of the Greenland and Eastland Trades, and for the better securing the Plantation Trade;’ and for altering and disallowing several Drawbacks on Exports from this Kingdom, and more effectually preventing the clandestine conveyance of Goods to and from said Colonies and Plantations, and improving and securing the Trade between the same and Great Britain."

That this Bill passed the House on the 4th of April, and received the Royal assent on the following day.

Assertions by the Assembly of Massachusetts Bay

The Committee having perused the Report of the Board of Trade, of the 11th day of December, 2, 1764, and the Papers laid before his Majesty therewith, find in the said Papers the strongest assertions by the Assembly of the Massachusetts Bay, of their sole right to pass laws, particularly of taxation; and of their resolution to invite the other Colonies to combine with them in measures to prevent the King, in his Parliament, from passing any such laws; for instance, in a letter to Mr˙ Mauduit, then Agent of the Province, which was drawn up by a Committee of the House of Representatives, and afterwards approved by the House, they used the following expressions: "The silence of the Province should have been imputed to any cause, even to despair, rather than be construed into a tacit cession of their rights, or an acknowlodgement of a right in the Parliament of Great Britain to impose Duties and Taxes upon a People who are not represented in the House of Commons;" and in the same letter they avowed and authenticated the doctrines advanced in a certain pamphlet, intituled, "The Rights of the British book from of the British Colonies asserted and proved;" written by James Otis, Esq˙; which pamphlet, amongst other things, says, "That the imposition of taxes, whether on trade or on land, on houses or ships, on real or personal, fixed or floating property, in the Colonies, is absolutely irreconcilable with the rights of the Colonists, as British subjects, and as men."

Bill Passed

The Committee find that, on the 28th day of February, 1765, a Bill was brought from the Commons, intituled, "An Act for granting and applying Stamp Duties and other Duties in the British Colonies and Plantations in America; towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same; and for amending such parts of the several Acts of Parliament relating to the Trade and Revenues of the said Colonies and Plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned."

That the said Bill received the Royal assent on the 22d of the same month.

His Majesty' s Speech

That on the 17th day of December, his Majesty declared, in his most gracious Speech from the Throne, "That the matters of importance which had lately occurred in some of his Colonies in America, were the principal cause of his Majesty' s assembling his Parliament sooner than was usual in times of peace."

House of Representatives of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay Resolution

It appears to the Committee, from the votes of the House of Representatives of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, of the 6th of June, 1765, that they came to a Resolution, "That it was highly expedient there should be a meeting, as soon as might be, of Committees from the Houses of Representatives or Burgesses, in the several Colonies on the American Continent, to consult on their then present circumstances, and the difficulties to which they were reduced by the operation of the late Acts of Parliament, for levying Duties on the Colonies, and to consider of a general Address to his Majesty and the Parliament, to

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implore relief; and that letters should be forthwith prepared and transmitted to the respective Speakers of the several Assemblies, to invite them to accede to this proposition:" and further, that on the 8th of June, they did actually elect three persons to be their Committees; and also voted £450 to bear their expenses.

Boston Riots

Your Committee find, in a letter from the Governor to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, dated August 15th, 1765, an account of a violent riot at Boston, in resistance to a law passed by the Legislature of Great Britain, in which an attack was made upon Mr˙ Oliver, Distributer of Stamps, and carried to the length of pulling down and destroying his houses, manifesting a resolution, if they could have found him, of putting him to death; upon which occasion the backwardness and indisposition of the Council to support the peace and good order of Government, were very apparent. Also, in another letter from the Governor, dated August 31st, 1765, to the said Board of Trade, they find that the mob attacked the house of Mr˙ Storey, Register of the Admiralty, which they demolished; they also took all his hooks and papers, amongst which were the Records of the Court of Admiralty, and burnt them, and searched about for him, with an intent to murder him; they also pillaged the house of Mr˙ Hallowell, Comptroller of the Customs. But their most violent proceeding was against the Lieutenant Governor, whose house, plate, books, and manuscripts, to a very great value, they totally destroyed. And, in this great extremity, the Council being, as the Governor observes, dependent upon the people, refused even to concur with him in his proposition of giving notice to General Gage of the then situation of the town of Boston.

It is remarkable that this commotion entirely arose out of the town of Boston; for though it was given out that many People out of the country were concerned in this affair, upon inquiry, it was found that such persons living out of Boston as were seen in the crowd, were there merely as spectators.

In Governor Bernard' s letter to the Board of Trade, of October 12th, 1765, he says, "That the real authority of the Government is at an end; some of the principal ringleaders in the late riots, walk the streets with impunity; no Officers dare attack them; no Attorney General prosecute them; no Witness appear against them; and no Judges sit upon them."

And during the general disorder, the Governor thought it necessary for some companies of the Militia to be mustered, with the unanimous advice of the Council, but that the Militia refused to obey his orders.

And we find that so little attention was paid to an Act of the British Legislature, by the Council and House of Representatives, that they resolved in a joint Committee, on the 25th of October, 1765, that it should and might be lawful to do business without Stamps, notwithstanding the Act of Parliament to the contrary.

His Majesty' s Speech

On the 14th day of January, 1766, upon the meeting of the Parliament, after the recess at Christmas, his Majesty was pleased to declare himself in a most gracious Speech from the throne, in the following terms:

"My Lords and Gentlemen: When I met you last, I acquainted you that matters of importance had happened in America, which would demand the most serious attention of Parliament.

That no information which could serve to direct your deliberations in so interesting a concern might be wanting, I have ordered all the Papers that give any light into the origin, the progress, or the tendency, of the Disturbances which have of late prevailed in some of the Northern Colonies, to be immediately laid before you.

No time has been lost, on the first advice of these Disturbances, to issue orders to the Governors of my Provinces, and to the Commanders of my Forces, in America, for the exertion of all the powers of the Government

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in the suppression of riots and tumults, and in the effectual support of lawful authority.

Whatever remains to be done on this occasion, I commit to your wisdom, not doubting but your zeal for the honor of my Crown, your attention to the just rights and authority of the British Legislature, and your affection and concern for the welfare and prosperity of all my People, will guide you to such sound and prudent resolutions as may tend at once to preserve those constitutional rights over the Colonies, and to restore to them that harmony and tranquillity which have lately been interrupted by riots and disorders of the most dangerous nature."

Address to the King by the House of Lords

In the dutiful Address which was voted the same day, the House assure his Majesty, "of their hearty concurrence with his Majesty' s most salutary intentions; that they would exert their utmost endeavours to assert and support his Majesty' s dignity and honor, and the legislative authority of this Kingdom over its Colonies; and that they would take into their consideration the most proper methods to provide for the restoration of tranquillity to those Colonies which had been disturbed by such violent and dangerous commotions."

Papers Laid Before the House of Lords

Upon the same day all the Papers relating to the information and advices received from America, of the riots and tumults there, were laid before the House.

More Papers relating to America were laid before the House, which, together with the other Papers, were referred to a Committee of the whole House for Tuesday, the 28th.

More Papers were laid before the House, and referred to the said Committee.

Resolutions of the House of Lords

The Committee met, and after several adjournments, on the 10th of February, following, the Chairman reported several Resolutions, which were agreed to by the House, as follows:

"1. Resolved, That the King' s Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make Laws and Statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the Colonies and People of America, subjects of the Crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.

"2. Resolved, That it appears to this Committee, that Tumults and Insurrections of the most dangerous nature, have been raised and carried on in several of the North American Colonies, in open defiance of the Power and Dignity of his Majesty' s Government, and in manifest violation of the Laws and Legislative authority of this Kingdom.

"3. Resolved, That it appears to this Committee that the said Tumults and Insurrections have been encouraged and inflamed by sundry Votes and Resolutions, passed in several of the Assemblies of the said Provinces, derogatory to the honor of his Majesty' s Government, and destructive of the legal and constitutional dependency of the said Colonies on the Imperial Crown and Parliament of Great Britain.

"4. Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to desire that his Majesty would be graciously pleased to give instructions to the Governors, of the several Provinces, where the above mentioned Tumults and Insurrections have happened, that they should, in his Majesty' s name, require of the Assemblies of the said Provinces, to make proper recompense to those who have suffered in their persons or properties, in consequence of the aforesaid Tumults and Insurrections; and to assure his Majesty that this House will, upon this and all occasions, support the lawful authority of his Crown, and the rights of Parliament.

"5. Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that all his Majesty' s subjects, residing in the said Colonies, who have manifested their desire to comply with, or to assist in, carrying into execution, the Act for laying a duty on Stamps, or any other Act of Parliament, in the British Colonies in North America, have acted as dutiful and loyal subjects, and are therefore entitled to, and will assuredly have, the favor and protection of this House."

"Ordered, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, pursuant to the fourth Resolution."

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Bills Passed

On the 5th of March, a Bill was brought from the Commons, intituled, "An Act for the better securing the Dependency of his Majesty' s Dominions in America upon the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain."

Which Bill received the Royal assent on the 18th of the same month.

And also a Bill intituled, "An Act to repeal an Act made in the last session of Parliament intituled, ‘An Act for granting and applying certain Stamp Duties, and other duties in the British Colonies and Plantations in America; towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same; and for amending such parts of the several Acts of Parliament relating to the Trade and Revenues of the said Colonies and Plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned.’"

Which Bill received the Royal assent on the 18th of March.

Whilst the Bill for repealing the Stamp Act was under deliberation, petitions from the Merchants of the city of Bristol, from the Merchants of Glasgow, from Edward Montague, Agent for the Colony of Virginia, and from the Merchants of the city of London, in favor of the said repeal, were received and read.

On the 2d of June, a Bill was brought from the Commons, intituled, "An Act for indemnifying persons who have incurred certain penalties inflicted by an Act of the last session of Parliament, ‘for granting certain Stamp Duties in the British Colonies and Plantations in America;’ and for making valid all instruments executed or enrolled there on unstamped paper, vellum, or parchment."

Which Bill received the Royal assent on the 6th of the same month.

Authority Questioned

It appears by a letter from Governor Bernard to the Earl of Shelburne, dated December 24th, 1766, that the Governor, by advice of the Council, ordered the Mutiny Act and three other Acts to be printed by the Printer of the Laws, in the interval of the adjournment of the Assembly. Two companies of Artillery being driven on shore by distress of weather, and the said Act of Parliament having been consulted, the Council advised the Governor to order the Commissary to supply them with what they demanded under the Act, which was done. Upon the meeting of the Assembly a Message was sent to the Council, and carried by five members, to inquire "by what authority Acts of Parliament were registered amongst the laws of that Province; and whether they knew of any Act (meaning of Assembly) requiring the registering of Ordinances (their term for Acts of Parliament) which their Legislature never consented to."

Letters Laid Before the House of Lords

The Committee find that, on the 12th of March, 1767, the Lord Wycombe (by his Majesty' s command) laid before the House copies of letters, &c˙, from his Majesty' s Governors in America, which were ordered to lie on the table.

That on the 3d of April more copies of letters from his Majesty' s Governors in America, were laid before the House, and ordered to lie on the table.

Address to the King by the House of Lords

That on the 14th of May, it was ordered that an humble Address should be presented to his Majesty, "That he would be graciously pleased to give directions that there might be laid before this House copies of all Reports made to or by the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, together with all Orders and Proceedings made or had by the Secretaries of State, or his Majesty' s Privy Council, relating to the Bill passed by the Governor, Council, and Assembly of the Massachusetts Bay, for granting compensation to the sufferers, and of free and general pardon, indemnity, and oblivion to the offenders in the late times, from the time of the receipt of the said Bill."

That on the 18th day of May, pursuant to the said Address, the Lord Wycombe laid before the House, a copy of the Report of the Committee of Council, &c˙, which papers were ordered to lie on the table.

That on the same day it was ordered, that an humble Address should be presented to his Majesty, "That he would be graciously pleased to give directions, that there

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might be laid before this House, copies of such precedents as had been, or might be found, of Orders in Council, declaring Acts of Assembly in America, to be null, illegal, or void; together with Reports of the several Attorneys, and Solicitors General, or either of them, in similar cases, read at the Council Board on the 9th instant."

That on the 22d of May, the Lord Wycombe, (by his Majesty' s command,) laid before the House copies of such precedents as had been found, of Orders in Council, declaring Acts of Assemblies in America to be null, illegal, and void; together with Reports of the several Attorneys, and Solicitors General, or either of them, in similar cases.

Which Papers were ordered to lie on the table; and from a perusal of them we find that several Acts of different Colonies have been, from time to time, declared by his Majesty in Council, to be null, illegal, and void.

Bills Passed

That on the 15th of June a Bill was brought up from the Commons intituled, "An Act to enable his Majesty to put the Customs and other Duties in the British Dominions in America, and the execution of the laws relating to Trade there, under the management of Commissioners to be appointed for that purpose, and to be resident in the said Dominions."

Which Bill received the Royal assent on the 29th of the same month.

That on the 18th of June a Bill was brought up from the Commons, intituled, "An Act for granting certain Duties in the British Colonies and Plantations in America; for allowing a drawback of the duties of Customs upon the exportation from this Kingdom of coffee and cocoa nuts, of the produce of the said Colonies or Plantations; for discontinuing the drawbacks payable on china earthen ware, exported to America; and for more effectually preventing the clandestine running of goods in the said Colonies and Plantations."

Which Bill received the Royal assent on the 29th of June.

Message from the House of Representatives, Massachusetts Bay

The Committee find that, on the meeting of the Assembly of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, on the 28th of January, 1767, a Message was sent to the Governor from the House of Representatives desiring to be informed, "Whether any provision had been made at the expense of that Government for the King' s Troops lately arrived in the harbour of Boston;" and that after having had the Minutes of Council (by which it expressly appeared that the provision for the Artillery companies at the Castle, was made in pursuance of the then late Act of Parliament) laid before them, they replied that, "In giving orders, with the advice of the Council, for making provision for the Artillery companies at the Castle the Governor had acted in an essential point against the plain intention of the Charter, by which alone, and that only, according to such Acts as are or may be in force within this Province, the Governor and Council were authorized to issue money out of the Treasury;" adding "That it was still more grevious to them to find the Governor stating, as the foundation of the proceeding, a late Act of Parliament, which to them appeared as great a grievance as the Stamp Act, which took away the unalienable right of freedom from all Taxation, but such as they should voluntarily consent to and grant."

Governor Bernard

Governor Bernard was obliged in his Rejoinder, 14th and 18th February, carefully to avoid giving the Act of Parliament as the foundation of the provision made: he would otherwise not have had the concurrence of the Council; for though the greater part, he believed, had a due respect for Acts of Parliament, not one of them would have dared to avow it in that instance, and at that time.

Bill Passed

The Committee find that, on the 2d of March, 1768, a Bill was brought up from the Commons, intituled, "An Act for the more easy and effectual recovery of the Penalties and Forfeitures inflicted by the Acts of Parliament, relating to the Trade or Revenues of the British Colonies and Plantations in America."

Which Bill received the Royal assent on the 8th of the same month.

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Colony Measures

It appears to the Committee, that by a circular letter from the House of Representatives of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, addressed to all the Assemblies upon the Continent of North America, they desired the assent of those Assemblies to their sentiments and proceedings; acquainting them, that they had represented to his Majesty that the Acts of Parliament of Great Britain, imposing duties upon that Province, with the sole and express purpose of raising a Revenue, are infringements of their natural constitutional rights, and desired them to point out any thing further that might be necessary to carry their system into execution.

In this year the Assembly, at the election of the Council, left out all the Crown Officers, which measure had been before adopted, in the years 1766 and 1767.

In the beginning of May, 1768, subscriptions were made, and Associations entered into, for the non-importation of goods from Great Britain; but this last measure was at that time defeated by the merchants in the other Colonies refusing to concur in it.

Events in Boston, 1768

On the 9th day of May, 1768, regular seizure was made by the Collector and Comptroller of the Customs, of the sloop Liberty, belonging to Mr˙ Hancock, of the town of Boston, which occasioned a most violent tumult; the Collector and Comptroller, with the son of the Collector, were attacked by a numerous and outrageous mob, who beat and abused them in a most cruel manner; and in the night attacked their houses, broke the windows, seized on a boat belonging to the Collector, which they carried away in triumph, and afterwards burnt. The Commissioners of the Customs expecting the same treatment, the riot still continuing, thought it prudent to retreat for safety till midnight with their families, to the houses of some persons in the neighbourhood; and afterwards, upon conviction that their lives were in danger, took refuge on Board his Majesty' s ship the Romney, then in the harbour of Boston; and for their further security, from thence into Castle William. During the time of this, their perilous situation, they applied several times by letter to the Governor and Council for protection, but could procure no assistance whatsoever; and were finally told, in a letter from Governor Bernand, dated June 13th, that "After several hours deliberation of the necessity of taking some measures to preserve the peace of the town, and what those measures should be, the Council had come to resolution that, as there appeared to be no immediate danger of further violences, they were of opinion that it would be best to refer this matter to the consideration of a Committee of both Houses, and that therefore the Governor at present could not let them know what kind of aid and protection they might expect to receive." The consequence of which was, that they received no protection whatsoever. The disorder and confusion remained in this state unnoticed till the 22d July, when the Governor moved the Council to take into consideration some measures for restoring vigor and firmness to Government; but on the 29th of July, the Council made a reply to what had been proposed to them by the Governor, in which they state, "That the disorders which happened were occasioned by the violent and unprecedented manner in which the sloop Liberty had been seized by the officers of the Customs."

In consequence of, this disorderly state at Boston, two regiments having been set thither from Halifax, in order to support the execution of the civil power, and preserve the peace of the town, strict orders were given, and repeated to the troops, not to quarrel with the townsmen, by whom they complained they had been frequently ill treated and insulted.

On Monday, the 5th of March, 1768, at nine at night, the alarm bells were rung, as in cases of fire: the fire said to be in Kings street, and the People thereby led thither, where, finding the alarm false, they joined a multitude who had been braving two companies at the gates of their barrack, and threatened with death the centinel who was posted at

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the custom house, where the King' s treasure was lodged. The centinel being surrounded was forced to retreat, and call for aid, which brought Captain Preston, Captain of the day, with a party from the main guard, to extricate him. That officer used his utmost endeavours to prevent mischief, notwithstanding which, the rioters by blows and every act of aggravation, drew upon themselves the fire of several of the soldiers, by which some persons unfortunately were killed; and upon the Governor' s offering to obtain the Commanding Officer' s consent to remove one of the regiments to the Castle, and to station the other so as no opportunity of disputes with the townsmen should remain, the Council insisted that both regiments should go, giving for a reason that the People would most certainly drive out the troops, and that the inhabitants of other towns would join with Boston in it; and several of them declared, that they did not judge from the general temper of the People only, but they knew it to be the determination, not of a mob, but of the generality of the principal inhabitants; in consequence of which both regiments were accordingly removed.

In the Petition presented to the Governor by several People of consideration, in pursuance of a resolution of a town meeting, held at that time, they disavow the Legislative authority of this country, and assert that it would be better for them to struggle against it, than tamely to relinquish their rights.

And the Assembly absolutely refused, by a great majority, to rescind their former order of sending circular letters to the other Colonies, though they had received a positive requisition from the Crown to that purpose.

An Association was entered into the beginning of August, when most of the merchants of Boston entered into and subscribed an agreement, that they would not send for, or import, any kind of goods or merchandise from Great Britain, some few articles of necessity excepted, from the 1st of January, 1769, to the 1st of January, 1770; and that they would not import any tea, paper, glass, or painters' colours, until the Act, imposing duties on those articles, should be repealed.

Boston Town Meeting

It was also voted in a town meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of Boston, September 12th, that the levying money within that Province, for the use and service of the Crown, in other manner than the same is granted by the great and general Court or Assembly of the Province, was in violation of the said Royal Charter, and the same was also in violation of the undoubted natural rights of subjects, declared in the aforesaid Act of Parliament, (meaning the Act of Succession,) freely to give and grant their own money for the service of the Crown, with their own consent in person, or by Representatives of their own free election.

Boston' s Letter to Other Towns

They also voted that, as the Governor did not think proper to call a general Court for the redress of their (supposed) grievances, the town should then make choice of a suitable number of persons to act for them as a Committee in Convention, with such as might be sent to join them from the several towns in that Province, in order that such measures might be consulted and advised as his Majesty' s service, and the peace and safety of his subjects in the Province, might require.

They also voted that, as there was at that time a prevailing apprehension in the minds of many, of an approaching war with France, in order that the inhabitants of that town might be prepared, in case of sudden danger, that those of the said inhabitants who might at that time be unprovided, should be, and thereby were, requested duly to observe at that time the law of the Province, whereby it is required that every listed soldier and other householder, (except troopers, who by law, are otherwise to be provided,) shall always be provided with a well fixed firelock, musket, accoutrement, and ammunition, as in the said law is particularly mentioned, to the satisfaction of the commissioned officers of the company.

They also voted that a letter should be written to the several towns in the Province, as follows:

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"Gentlemen: You are already too well acquainted with the melancholy and very alarming circumstances to which this Province, as well as America in general, is now reduced; taxes, equally detrimental to the commercial interests of the Parent Country and her Colonies, are imposed on the People without their consent; taxes designed for the support of the civil Government in the Colonies, in a manner clearly unconstitutional, and contrary to that in which, till of late, Government has been supported by the free gift of the People in the American Assemblies or Parliaments; as also for the maintenance of a large standing army, not for the defence of the newly acquired Territories, but for the old Colonies, and in time of peace. The decent, humble, and truly loyal applications and petitions from the Representatives of this Province, for the redress of these heavy and very threatening grievances, have hitherto been ineffectual, being assured from authentic intelligence, that they have not yet reached the Royal ear. The only effect of transmitting applications hitherto perceivable, has been a mandate from one of his Majesty' s Secretaries of State to the Governor of this Province, to dissolve the General Assembly, merely because the late House of Representatives refused to rescind a resolution of a former House, which implied nothing more than a right in the American subjects to unite in humble and dutiful petitions to their gracious Sovereign, when they found themselves aggrieved. This is a right naturally inherent in every man, and expressly recognised at the glorious revolution, as the birth-right of an Englishman.

"This dissolution you are sensible has taken place. The Governor has publicly and repeatedly declared that he cannot call another Assembly; and the Secretary of State for the American Department, in one of his letters, communicated to the House, has been pleased to say, "That proper care will be taken for the support of the dignity of Government;" the meaning of which is too plain to be misunderstood. The concern and perplexity into which these things have thrown the People, have been greatly aggravated by a late declaration of his Excellency Governor Bernard, that one or more regiments may be expected in this Province.

"The design of these troops is in every One' s apprehension, nothing short of enforcing, by military power, the execution of Acts of Parliament, in the forming of which the Colonies have not, and cannot have, any constitutional influence. This is one of the greatest distresses to which a free People can be reduced.

"The town which we have the honor to serve, have taken these things, at their late meeting, into their most serious consideration; and as there, is in the minds of many a prevailing apprehension of an approaching war with France, they have passed the several votes which we transmit to you, desiring that they may be immediately laid before the town, whose prudentials are in your care, at a legal meeting, for their candid and particular attention.

"Deprived of the counsels of a General Assembly in this dark and difficult season, the loyal People of this Province will, we are persuaded, immediately perceive the propriety and utility of the proposed Committee of Convention, and the sound and wholesome advice that may be expected from a number of gentlemen chosen by themselves, and in whom they may repose the greatest confidence, must tend to the real service of our most gracious Sovereign, and the welfare of his subjects in this Province, and may happily prevent any sudden and unconnected measures, which, in their present anxiety, and even agony of mind, they may be in danger of falling into.

"And it is of importance that the Convention should meet as soon as may be; so early a day as the 22d of this instant, September, has been proposed for that purpose; and it is hoped, the remotest towns will by that time, or as soon after as conveniently may be, return their respective Committees.

"Not doubting but you are equally concerned with us, and our fellow citizens, for the preservation of our invaluable rights, and for the general happiness of our country, and that you are disposed, with equal ardour, to exert yourselves in every constitutional way for so glorious a purpose."

The Committee observe, that it does not appear to them that any steps were taken to suppress these measures, or

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that they were noticed of by the Council, or any of the Civil Magistrates.

His Majesty' s Speech

The Committee think it necessary here to insert the following extracts.

The first extract is from his Majesty' s most gracious Speech from the Throne, on the 8th day of November, 1768. :

"At the close of the last Parliament, I expressed my satisfaction at the appearances which then induced me to believe, that such of my subjects as had been misled in some parts of my Dominions, were returning to a just sense of their duty; but it is with equal concern that I have since seen that spirit of faction which I had hoped was well nigh extinguished, breaking out afresh in some of my Colonies in North America, and in one of them, proceeding even to acts of violence, and of resistance to the execution of the law; the capital town of which Colony appears, by late advises, to be in a state of disobedience to all law and Government, and has proceeded to measures subversive of the Constitution, and attended with circumstances that manifest a disposition to throw off their dependence on Great Britain. On my part I have pursued every measure that appeared to be necessary for supporting the Constitution, and inducing a due obedience to the authority of the Legislature. You may rely upon my steady perseverance in these purposes; and I doubt not but that, with your concurrence and support, I shall be able to defeat the mischevious designs of those turbulent and seditious persons, who, under false pretences, have but too successfully deluded numbers of my subjects in America, and whose practices, if suffered to prevail, cannot fail to produce the most fatal consequences to my Colonies immediately, and in the end, to all the Dominions of my Crown."

Address of the House of Lords to the King

The second extract is from your Lordships dutiful Address to his Majesty on his said most gracious Speech :

"We feel the most sincere concern, that any of our fellow subjects in North America, should be misled by factious and designing men, into acts of violence, and of resistance to the execution of the law, attended, with circumstances that manifest a disposition to throw off their dependence upon Great Britain. At the same time that we shall be always ready to contribute to the relief of any real grievance of your Majesty' s American subjects, we most unfeignedly give your Majesty the strongest assurances, that we shall ever zealously concur in support of such just and necessary measures, as may best enable your Majesty to repress that daring spirit of disobedience, and to enforce a due submission to the laws; always considering that it is one of our most essential duties to maintain inviolate the supreme authority of the Legislature of Great Britain over every part of the Dominions of your Majesty' s Crown."

His Majesty' s Response

The third extract is from his Majesty' s most gracious Answer to your Lordships Address :

"Your zealous concurrence in every measure that can bring relief to my People is well known to me, nor do I doubt of the attention that you will always give to any real grievances of my American subjects. The strong assurances I receive from you at the same time of your determination to vindicate the just Legislative authority of Parliament over all the Dominions of my Crown, deserve my warmest approbation."

Papers Laid Before the House

The Committee find that on the 15th of November, the Lord Harwich acquainted the House, "That he had received his Majesty' s commands to lay before the House, Papers relating to the late Disturbances in America; and that the same would be laid before the House in a few days."

That accordingly, on the 28th of November, the Lord Harwich laid before the House, copies of all Letters, &c˙, relating to the late Proceedings of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, together with a list thereof, which was read by the Clerk.

Resolutions of the House of Lords

That on the 15th of December, the House came to the following resolutions:

"1. Resolved, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the votes and resolutions, and

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proceedings of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts Bay, in the months of January and February last, respecting several late Acts of Parliament, so far as the said votes, resolutions, and proceedings, do import a denial of, or to draw into question, the power and authority of his Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in Parliament assembled, to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the Colonies and People of America, subjects of the Crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever, are illegal, unconstitutional, and derogatory of the rights of the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain.

"2. Resolved, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the resolution of the said House of Representatives of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, in January last, to write letters to the several Houses of Representatives of the British Colonies on the Continent, desiring them to join with the said House of Representatives of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, in Petitions which do deny, or draw into question the right of Parliament to impose duties and taxes upon his Majesty' s subjects in America; and in pursuance of the said resolution, the writing such letters in which certain late Acts of Parliament, imposing duties and taxes, are stated to be infringements of the rights of his Majesty' s subjects of the said Province, are proceedings of a most unwarrantable and dangerous nature, calculated to inflame the minds of his Majesty' s subjects in the other Colonies; tending to create unlawful combinations, repugnant to the laws of Great Britain, and subversive of the Constitution.

"3. Resolved, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That it appears that the town of Boston, in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, has for some time past been in a state of great disorder and confusion; and that the peace of the said town has at several times been disturbed by riots and tumults of a dangerous nature, in which the officers of his Majesty' s Revenue there hare been obstructed by acts of violence in the execution of the laws, and their lives endangered.

"4. Resolved by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in, Parliament assembled, That it appears that neither the Council of the said Province of Massachusetts Bay, nor the ordinary Civil Magistrates, did exert their authority for suppressing the said riots and tumults.

"5. Resolved by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That in these circumstances of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and of the town of Boston, the preservation of the public peace, and the due execution of the laws became impracticable without the aid of a military force to support and protect the Civil Magistrates, and the Officers of his Majesty' s Revenue.

"6. Resolved by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the declarations, resolutions, and proceedings, in the town meeting at Boston, on the 14th of June, and 12th of September, were illegal and unconstitutional, and calculated to excite sedition and insurrection in his Majesty' s Province of Massachusetts Bay.

"7. Resolved, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the appointment at the town meeting, on the 12th of September, of a Convention to be held in the town of Boston, on the 22d of that month, to consist of Deputies from the several towns and districts in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and the issuing a precept by the Selectmen of the town of Boston, to each of the said towns and districts for the election of such Deputies, were proceedings subversive of his Majesty' s Government, and evidently manifesting a design in the inhabitants of the said town of Boston, to set up a new and unconstitutional authority, independent of the Crown of Great Britain.

"8. Resolved by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the elections, by several towns and districts in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, of Deputies to sit in the said Convention, and the meeting of such Convention in consequence thereof, were daring insults offered to his Majesty' s authority, and audacious usurpations of the powers of Government."

Address to the King by the House of Lords

It was then ordered, "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to return, his Majesty thanks for the communication which he has been pleased to make to his Parliament, of several Papers relative to public

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transactions in his Majesty' s Province of Massachusetts Bay.

To express our sincere satisfaction in the measures which his Majesty has pursued for supporting the Constitution, and inducing a due obedience to the authority of the Legislature.

To give his Majesty the strongest assurances that we will effectually stand by and support his Majesty in such further measures as may be found necessary to maintain the Civil Magistrates in a due execution of the laws within his Majesty' s Province of Massachusetts Bay.

And as we conceive that nothing can be more immediately necessary either for the maintenance of his Majesty' s authority in the said Province, or for the guarding his Majesty' s subjects therein from being further deluded by the arts of wicked and designing men, than to proceed in the most speedy and effectual manner for bringing to condign punishment the chief authors and instigators of the late disorders, to beseech his Majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to direct his Majesty' s Governor of Massachusetts Bay to take the most effectual methods for procuring the fullest information that can be obtained, touching all treasons or misprison of treason committed within his Government, since the 30th of December last, and to transmit the same, together with the names of the persons who were most active in the commission of such offences, to one of his Majesty' s principal Secretaries of State, in order that his Majesty may issue a special commission for inquiring of, hearing, and determining the said offences within this Realm, pursuant to the provisions of the statute of the thirty-fifth year of the reign of King Henry the Eighth, if his Majesty shall, upon receiving the said information, see sufficient ground for such a proceeding."

Message Sent to the House of Commons

And a Message was sent to the House of Commons, to carry down the said Resolutions and Address, and desire their concurrence thereto.

On the 20th January, 1769, Lord Harwich, by his Majesty' s command, laid before the House more copies of letters relating to America, which were ordered to lie on the table.

On the 9th of February, the Resolutions and Address, sent to the Commons on the 15th of December last, for their concurrence, were returned agreed to, with some amendments, which were read and agreed to, and notice thereof sent to the Commons; and the said Address was ordered to be presented to his Majesty by both Houses.

His Majesty' s Response

On the 14th of February, the Lord Chancellor reported his Majesty' s Answer to the said Address, as follows:

"My Lords and Gentlemen: The sincere satisfaction you express in the measures which I have already taken, and the strong assurances you give of supporting me in those which may be still necessary, to maintain the just legislative authority, and the due execution of the laws, in my Province of Massachusetts Bay, give me great pleasure.

I shall not fail to give those orders which you recommend, as the most effectual method of bringing the authors of the late unhappy disorders in that Province, to condign punishment."

Which Address and Answer were ordered to be printed.

Comments on the Actions of the Masschusetts Bay Colony

It doth not appear to the Committee that the censure of the proceedings in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and of the conduct of the Council and other Civil Magistrates, expressed by both Houses of Parliament, in their Resolutions, and their approbation of the measure of sending troops thither to support and protect the Magistrates, and the Officers of the Revenue, produced the good effect that might reasonably have been hoped for. A disposition to deny the authority, and resist the laws of the supreme Legislature, continued still to prevail, not only in flagitious publications in the daily newspapers, but also in a variety of violent and unwarrantable resolutions and proceedings of those merchants and others, who had subscribed to the agreements for non-importation of goods from Great Britain.

Meetings of the Associators were represented to have been held, in as regular a manner as any other meeting authorized by the Constitution.

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Committees were appointed to examine the cargoes of all vessels arriving from Great Britain; and regular votes and resolutions of censure were passed in those meetings upon all such as refused to concur in those unlawful Associations; their names were published in the public newspapers as enemies to their country; and the mandates and decrees of those Committees meet with a respect and obedience denied to the constitutional authority of Government.

In some cases goods imported from Great Britain were locked up in ware-houses, under the care of these Committees, in order to prevent their being sold; and, in one or two instances, they were re-shipped to Great Britain.

Message to the Governor

On the 31st of May, 1769, the General Court met at the court house at Boston, pursuant to his Majesty' s writs, and the first step the Assembly took, before they proceeded on any other business, was to send a Message to the Governor, asserting that the having ships in the harbor, and troops in the town of Boston, was inconsistent with these dignity and freedom; and, therefore, that they had a right to expect that he would give orders for the removal of the forces, by sea and land, from that port, and from the gates of the city, during the session of the Assembly; and, at the same time, the House came to several resolutions to the same effect as the declarations contained in their Message to the Governor.

The Governor' s Response

The Governor having in reply to their Message, acquainted them "That he had no authority over his Majesty' s ships in that port, or his troops in that town, nor could give any orders for the removal of them," they then proceeded to the election of Counsellors, in which election not only the Lieutenant Governor, and other officers of Government were excluded, but also several other gentlemen who had been of the former Council, and who (the Governor represents) showed a disposition to support the King' s Government, to acknowledge the authority of Parliament, and to preserve the People from a Democratic despotism, and were otherwise distinguished by their integrity and ability.

Response of the Assembly

On the 13th of June, the Assembly sent an Answer to the Governor' s Message, of the 31st of May, in which he had told them that he had no authority over the King' s ships or troops. In this Answer they assert that "By the principles of the Constitution, the Governor of that Colony has the absolute military command; that the sending a military force there to enforce the execution of the laws, is inconsistent with the nature of Government, and the spirit of a free Constitution; that the unwillingness of a People in general, that a law should be executed, was a strong presumption, of its being an unjust law; that it could not be their law, as the People must consent to laws before they can be obliged, in conscience, to obey them."

It appears by a vote of the Assembly, on the 8th of July, that they have declared that all trials for treason, misprison of treason, or for any felony or crime whatever, committed or done in that Colony, ought of right to be had and conducted within the courts of the Colony; and that the seizing any person or person' s, residing in that Colony, suspected of any crime whatsoever, committed therein, and sending such person or persons to places beyond the sea to be tried, is highly derogatory of the rights of British subjects, as thereby the inestimable privilege of being tried by a Jury from the vicinage, as well as the liberty of summoning and producing witnesses on such trials, will be taken away from the party accused.

Bill Brought from the House of Commons

On the 6th of April, 1770, a Bill was brought up from the House of Commons, to your Lordships, intituled, "An Act to repeal so much of an Act, made in the seventh year of his present Majesty' s reign, intituled, ‘An Act for granting certain Duties in the British Colonies and Plantations in America; for allowing a drawback of the duties of customs upon the exportation from this Kingdom, of coffee and cocoanuts, of the produce of the said Colonies or Plantations; for discontinuing the drawbacks payable on china earthen

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ware, exported to America; and for more effectually preventing the clandestine running of goods in the said Colonies and Plantations;’ as relates to the Duties upon glass, red lead, white lead, painters' colours, paper pasteboards, millboards, and scaleboards, of the produce or manufacture of Great Britain, imported into any of his Majesty' s Colonies in America; and also to the discontinuing the drawbacks payable on china earthen ware, exported to America; and for regulating the exportation thereof."

Which Bill received the Royal assent on the 12th of April.

Address to His Majesty

On the 30th of April, it was ordered "That an humble Address should be presented to his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, copies of all narratives of any disputes or disturbances which have happened between his Majesty' s troops, stationed in North America, and the inhabitants of any of his Majesty' s Colonies there, since the 24th day of June last, received by the Commissioners of his Majesty' s Treasury, and of his Majesty' s Secretaries of State, or any other public officers, together with copies of all orders and instructions sent to the Governors, Lieutenant Governors, Deputy Governors, Presidents of the Council of any of his Majesty' s Colonies in North America, or to the Commander-in-chief of his Majesty' s forces, or any officer, civil, or military, within the same, relative to such disputes or disturbances."

Papers Laid Before the House of Lords

And that on the 4th of May, the Lord Harwich, (by his Majesty' s command,) laid before the House, several Papers relating to the late Disturbances in America, pursuant to an Address to his Majesty, for that purpose, on the 30th of April last, together with a list thereof; which were ordered to lie on the table.

The Committee find that, on the 7th of May, the Lord Harwich, laid before, the House, (by his Majesty' s command,) a Narrative of the late transactions at Boston, and the case of Captain Thomas Preston, of the twenty-ninth Regiment of Foot, which had been transmitted to his Lordship, from the War Office; and the same were ordered to lie on the table.

On the 14th of May it was ordered, that an humble Address should be presented to his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to give directions, that there be laid before this House, copies of the Earl of Hillsborough' s letter of the 13th of May, 1769, to the Governors of the several Colonies of North America; together with the Speeches of the Governors, referring to the said letter, and the Answers of the Assemblies to the same, so far as they have been received.

And on the 15th, the Lord Harwich laid before the House, by his Majesty' s command, copies of the Earl of Hillsborough' s letter of the 13th of May, 1769, to the Governors of the several Colonies of North America; together with the Speeches of the Governors, referring to the said letter, and the Answers of the Assemblies to the same, so far as they have been received; together with a list thereof; which were ordered to lie on the table; and the same with the other American Papers presented in this Session, were also ordered to be taken into consideration on Friday next; and the Lords summoned.

Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson' s Letter

The Committee find by Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson' s letter of the 27th of March, 1770, that when the troops were in the town, the Commissioners of the Customs were sensible they could have no dependence upon them, for if any riot had happened, no Civil Magistrate that he knew would have employed them in suppressing it; those who, from a principle, would have been disposed to it, refusing, and giving this reason, that they must immediately after have left the country; and that just the same principles prevailed with respect to the troops, which were said to be unconstitutional, although established by an Act of Parliament, it being alleged that it was an Act which did not bind Colonists.

Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson, in his letter to the Earl of Hillsborough, of the 27th April, 1770, complains, that he has never been able to obtain the advice or consent of the Council to any proposal made for discountenancing

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the usurpation of the powers of Government by the town of Boston. That he had used the negative powers given him by Charter, in excluding Mr˙ Hancock from being Speaker pro tempore, and Mr˙ Cushing from the office of Commissary General, to which offices they had been elected; but adds, that this was doing but little, as he could not remove any of those who were actually in office, some of whom were inflammatory than any out of office; he further says, that they were then attempting to compel all the impoiters, of what they call contraband goods, to send them back, and that he was not sure they would not succeed; that all goods which they have not enumerated are called contraband. That tea from Holland may lawfully be sold; that it is a high crime to sell any from England. That Mr˙ Hancock offered to send one or more of his ships back, and to lose the freight; that several of the importers pleaded that they should be utterly ruined; but the Boston zealots had no bowels, and gave for answer, "That if a ship was to bring in the plague, nobody would doubt what was necessary to be done with her; but the present case is much worse than that." In the same letter the Lieutenant Governor observes, "That the Boston principles obtain more and more in the remote parts of the Province, and the Representatives of seven-eighths of the town appear, in the present session, to be favourers of the non-importation measures. That their internal distresses may, in a course of years, force them to desist, but that the distress at present, and it may be for some time to come, lies principally upon the friends to Government, who run the risk of importing goods, and then are compelled, by the ruling power, to keep them unsold, or to ship them back; that he made an attempt that day to prevail upon a merchant of the first estate and character, to induce him to promote an Association, but to no purpose; and that he gave him for answer, ‘that, until Parliament made provision for the punishment of the confederacies, all would be ineffectual, and the associates would be exposed to popular rage.’" He observed further, "that the last year, when the King' s speech, and the Addresses of the Lords and of the House of Commons first came to them, the heads of the opposition were struck with terror, and the seditious newspaper writers laid aside their pens for five or six weeks, but as soon as the apprehension of vigorous measures ceased, their fears were over, and they became more assuming and tyrannical than before, and although the terror was not so great the present year, yet it was visible; but now, that they expect nothing will be done, they are recovering their spirits, knowing there is no power within the Government to restrain them.

The resistance to the custom-house officers still continued to manifest itself upon every occasion, in consequence of which, on the 18th of May, 1770, a tideman of the customs, who had seized a small coasting vessel belonging to Connecticut, and a few casks of sugar, for breach of the Acts of Trade, in the evening was seized, stripped, and carried about the town, three or four hours, besmeared with tar, and then covered with feathers, and followed by a great number of disorderly People.

1771, 1772

The Committee do not find in your Lordship' s Journals of the years 1771 and 1772, any material proceedings relative to the matter to them referred.

House of Representatives, Massachusetts Bay Colony, Response to the Governor

Though in the year 1771, things remained tolerably quiet in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, yet the disposition to disavow the authority of Parliament, occasionally broke out in the authority House of Assembly and town meetings; accordingly, in an Answer from the House of Representatives to a Message from the Governor, on the 5th of July, 1771, they say, that "They know of no Commissioners of his Majesty' s Customs, nor of any revenue his Majesty has a right to establish in North America; that they know and feel a tribute levied and extorted from those, who, if they have property, have a right to the absolute disposal of it."

Defiance of the Laws of Revenue and Trade

At the same time, the disposition to import goods in defiance of the laws of Revenue and Trade, and to support such iniquitous practices, by insults and open violences upon the officers whose duty it is to carry the said laws into execution, broke out upon many occasions; and, as usual, the

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Magistrates declined giving their assistance and support, though applied to for that purpose; which appears in the case of