John Adams was the second President of the United States, ruling the country from 1797 to 1801, and one of the Founding Fathers. He was also a major leader of American independence from Great Britain. This is volume four out of ten of his works, this book containing Novanglus, Thoughts on the Government and the first Defence of the Constitution. The text is annotated with more than 380 endnotes.
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The Works ofJohn Adams
The Works of John Adams Volume 4
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PREFACE TO THE EDITION OF 1819.
NOVANGLUS. ADDRESSED TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COLONY OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY.
WORKS ON GOVERNMENT.
PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.
THOUGHTS ON GOVERNMENT.
THE REPORT OF A CONSTITUTION, OR FORM OF GOVERNMENT, FOR THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS;
[CHAPTER I.] Endnote 076: A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS.
[CHAPTER II. Endnote 105]: THE FRAME OF GOVERNMENT.
CHAPTER II. [III.]: Executive Power.
CHAPTER III. [IV.]: Judiciary Power.
CHAPTER IV. [V.]: Delegates to Congress, [Commissions, Writs, Indictments, &c.; Confirmation of Laws, Habeas Corpus, and enacting Style.]
CHAPTER V. [VI.]: The University at Cambridge, and Encouragement of Literature, &c.
SECTION I.: The University.
CHAPTER VI. Endnote 189
[CHAPTER VII. AND LAST.] Endnote 207: [Continuance of Officers, &c.]
PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.
CHAPTER I.: OF MODERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICS.
CHAPTER II.: ARISTOCRATIC REPUBLICS.
CHAPTER III.: MONARCHICAL OR REGAL REPUBLICS.
CHAPTER IV.: OPINIONS OF PHILOSOPHERS.
CHAPTER V.: WRITERS ON GOVERNMENT.
CHAPTER VI.: OPINIONS OF HISTORIANS.
CHAPTER VII.: ANCIENT DEMOCRATICAL REPUBLICS.
CHAPTER VIII.: ANCIENT ARISTOCRATICAL REPUBLICS.
CHAPTER IX.: ANCIENT MONARCHICAL REPUBLICS.
CHAPTER X.: CONCLUSION.
OR, A HISTORY OF THE DISPUTE WITH AMERICA, FROM ITS ORIGIN, IN 1754, TO THE PRESENT TIME; WRITTEN IN 1774, BY JOHN ADAMS.
The occasion of the production of the series of papers signed Novanglus, in the Boston Gazette of 1774, is given in the Diary Endnote 002 of the author. A writer for the government, under the signature of Massachusettensis, supposed by Mr. Adams to be Jonathan Sewall, but who is now understood to have been Daniel Leonard, had made some impression upon public opinion in Massachusetts. His articles, first printed in the Massachusetts Gazette and Post-Boy, immediately attracted much public attention, and called out many replies. They were forthwith collected and printed in a pamphlet form in Boston; republished by James Rivington, in New York, in the same year, under the title of “The Origin of the American Contest with Great Britain, or the present Political State of the Massachusetts Bay in general, and the town of Boston in particular; exhibiting the Rise and Progress of the disordered State of that Country, in a series of weekly Essays, published at Boston, under the signature of Massachusettensis, a Native of New England;” and still another edition was issued in Boston, by J. Mathews, probably during the siege of that place, in the next year, 1776.
The papers of Novanglus, in reply to Massachusettensis, were reprinted in Almon’s Remembrancer for 1775, in an abridged form, and bearing the following title: “History of the Dispute with America, from its Origin, in 1754, to the present Time.” This was reprinted in pamphlet form, in London, by John Stockdale, in 1784, with the name of the author. Previous to this time, a Dutch translation had been made in Holland, apparently for the purpose of extending information respecting the struggle, and inspiring confidence in the author, when he was soliciting an alliance for the United States with that country; and it was published at Amsterdam, by W. Holtrop, 1782, with a portrait. Last of all, the papers of Novanglus and Massachusettensis, in their original form, were collected in one volume, in 1819, and printed by Hews and Goss, in Boston, to which was prefixed the preface which immediately follows.
Jonathan Sewall was descended from Mitchells and Hulls and Sewalls, and I believe Higginsons, that is, from several of the ancient and venerable of New England families. But, as I am no genealogist, I must refer to my aged classmate and highly-esteemed friend, Judge Sewall, of York, whose researches will one day explain the whole.
Mr. Sewall’s father was unfortunate; died young, leaving his son destitute; but as the child had discovered a pregnant genius, he was educated by the charitable contribution of his friends, of whom Dr. Samuel Cooper was one of the most active and successful, among his opulent parishioners. Mr. Sewall graduated at college in 1748; kept a Latin school in Salem till 1756, when Chambers Russell, of Lincoln, a judge of the supreme court and a judge of admiralty, from a principle of disinterested benevolence, received him into his family, instructed him in law, furnished him with books, and introduced him to the practice at the bar. In 1757 and 1758, he attended the supreme court in Worcester, and spent his evenings with me, in the office of Colonel James Putnam, a gentleman of great acuteness of mind, and very extensive and successful practice, and an able lawyer, in whose family I boarded, and under whose auspices I studied law. Here commenced between Mr. Sewall and me a personal friendship, which continued, with none but political interruptions, till his death. He commenced practice in Charlestown, in the county of Middlesex; I, in that parish of the ancient town of Braintree, now called Quincy, then in the county of Suffolk, now of Norfolk. We attended the courts in Boston, Cambridge, Charlestown, and Concord; lived together, frequently slept in the same chamber, and not seldom in the same bed. Mr. Sewall was then a patriot; his sentiments were purely American. To James Otis, who took a kind notice of us both, we constantly applied for advice in any difficulty; and he would attend to us, advise us, and look into books for us, and point out authorities to us, as kindly as if we had been his pupils or his sons.
After the surrender of Montreal, in 1759, rumors were everywhere spread, that the English would now new-model the Colonies, demolish the charters, and reduce all to royal governments. These rumors I had heard as often as he had. One morning I met him accidentally on the floor of the old town-house. “John,” said he, “I want to speak with you.” He always called me John, and I him Jonathan; and I often said to him, I wish my name were David. He took me to a window-seat and said, “These Englishmen are going to play the devil with us. They will overturn every thing. We must resist them, and that by force. I wish you would write in the newspapers, and urge a general attention to the militia, to their exercises and discipline, for we must resist in arms.” I answered, “All this, I fear, is true; but why do you not write yourself? You are older than I am, have more experience than I have, are more intimate with the grandees than I am, and you can write ten times better than I can.” There had been a correspondence between us, by which I knew his refined style, as well as he knew my coarse one. “Why,” said Mr. Sewall, “I would write, but Goffe will find me out, and I shall grieve his righteous soul, and you know what influence he has in Middlesex.” This Goffe had been attorney-general for twenty years, and commanded the practice in Middlesex and Worcester and several other counties. He had power to crush, by his frown or his nod, any young lawyer in his county. He was afterwards Judge Trowbridge, Endnote 003 but at that time as ardent as any of Hutchinson’s disciples, though he afterwards became alienated from his pursuits and principles.
In December, 1760, or January, 1761, Stephen Sewall, chief justice, died, deeply lamented, though insolvent. My friend Jonathan, his nephew, the son of his brother, who tenderly loved and deeply revered his uncle, could not bear the thought, that the memory of the chief justice should lie under the imputation of bankruptcy. At that time bankruptcy was infamous; now it is scarcely disgraceful. Jonathan undertook the administration of his uncle’s estate. Finding insolvency inevitable, he drew a petition to the General Court, to grant a sum of money sufficient to pay the chief justice’s debts. If my friend had known the character of his countrymen, or the nature of that assembly, he never would have conceived such a project; but he did conceive it, and applied to James Otis and his father, Colonel Otis, to patronize and support it. The Otises knew their countrymen better than he did. They received and presented the petition, but without much hope of success. The petition was rejected; and my friend Sewall conceived a suspicion that it was not promoted with so much zeal by the Otises, as he thought they might have exerted. He imputed the failure to their coldness, was much mortified, and conceived a violent resentment, which he expressed with too much freedom and feeling in all companies.
Goffe, Hutchinson, and all the courtiers soon heard of it, and instantly fastened their eyes upon Sewall, courted his society, sounded his fame, promoted his practice, and soon after made him solicitor-general, by creating a new office expressly for him. Mr. Sewall had a soft, smooth, insinuating eloquence, which, gliding imperceptibly into the minds of a jury, gave him as much power over that tribunal as any lawyer ought ever to possess. He was also capable of discussing before the court any intricate question of law, which gave him at least as much influence there as was consistent with an impartial administration of justice. He was a gentleman and a scholar, had a fund of wit, humor, and satire, which he used with great discretion at the bar, but poured out with unbounded profusion in the newspapers. Witness his voluminous productions in the newspapers, signed long J. and Philanthropos. These accomplishments richly qualified him to serve the purposes of the gentlemen who courted him into their service.
Mr. Sewall soon fell in love with Miss Esther Quincy, the fourth daughter of Edmund Quincy, an eminent merchant and magistrate, and a granddaughter of that Edmund Quincy, who was eighteen years a judge of the superior court, who died of the small-pox in the agency of the province, at the Court of St. James, and whose monument was erected, at the expense of the province, in Bun-hill-fields, London. This young lady, who was celebrated for her beauty, her vivacity, and spirit, lived with her father, in this parish, now called Quincy. Mr. Sewall’s courtship was extended for several years; and he came up very constantly on Saturdays, and remained here until Mondays; and I was sure to be invited to meet him on every Sunday evening. During all these years, there was a constant correspondence between us, and he concealed nothing from me, so that I knew him by his style whenever he appeared in print.
In 1766, he married the object of his affections, and an excellent wife he found her. He was soon appointed attorney-general. In 1768, he was employed by Governor Bernard to offer me the office of advocate-general in the court of admiralty, which I decidedly and peremptorily, though respectfully, refused.
We continued our friendship and confidential intercourse, though professedly in boxes of politics as opposite as east and west, until the year 1774, when we both attended the superior court in Falmouth, Casco Bay, now Portland. I had then been chosen a delegate to Congress. Mr. Sewall invited me to take a walk with him, very early in the morning, on the great hill. In the course of our rambles, he very soon began to remonstrate against my going to Congress. He said, that “Great Britain was determined on her system; her power was irresistible, and would certainly be destructive to me, and to all those who should persevere in opposition to her designs.” I answered, “that I knew Great Britain was determined on her system, and that very determination determined me on mine; that he knew I had been constant and uniform in opposition to all her measures; that the die was now cast; I had passed the Rubicon; swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish with my country, was my unalterable determination.” The conversation was protracted into length, but this was the substance of the whole. It terminated in my saying to him, “I see we must part, and with a bleeding heart I say, I fear forever; but you may depend upon it, this adieu is the sharpest thorn on which I ever set my foot.” I never conversed with him again till the year 1788. Mr. Sewall retired, in 1775, to England, where he remained, and resided in Bristol.
On my return from Congress, in the month of November, 1774, I found the Massachusetts Gazette teeming with political speculations, and Massachusettensis shining like the moon among the lesser stars. I instantly knew him to be my friend Sewall, and was told he excited great exultation among the tories and many gloomy apprehensions among the whigs. I instantly resolved to enter the lists with him, and this is the history of the following volume.
In 1788, Mr. Sewall came to London to embark for Halifax. I inquired for his lodgings, and instantly drove to them, laying aside all etiquette to make him a visit. I ordered my servant to announce John Adams, was instantly admitted, and both of us, forgetting that we had ever been enemies, embraced each other as cordially as ever. I had two hours conversation with him, in a most delightful freedom, upon a multitude of subjects. He told me he had lived for the sake of his two children; he had spared no pains nor expense in their education, and he was going to Halifax in hope of making some provision for them. They are now two of the most respectable gentlemen in Canada. One of them a chief justice, the other an attorney-general. Their father lived but a short time after his return to America; evidently broken down by his anxieties, and probably dying of a broken heart. He always lamented the conduct of Great Britain towards America. No man more constantly congratulated me, while we lived together in America, upon any news, true or false, favorable to a repeal of the obnoxious statutes and a redress of our grievances; but the society in which he lived had convinced him that all resistance was not only useless but ruinous.
More conscious than ever of the faults in the style and arrangement, if not in the matter, of my part of the following papers, I shall see them in print with more anxiety than when they were first published. The principles, however, are those on which I then conscientiously acted, and which I now most cordially approve.
To the candor of an indulgent nation, whom I congratulate on their present prosperity and pleasing prospects, and for whose happiness I shall offer up my dying supplications to Heaven, I commit the volume with all its imperfections.
January 1, 1819
. Endnote 004
My Friends,—A writer, under the signature of Massachusettensis, has addressed you, in a series of papers, on the great national subject of the present quarrel between the British administration and the Colonies. As I have not in my possession more than one of his essays, and that is in the Gazette of December 26, I will take the liberty, in the spirit of candor and decency, to bespeak your attention upon the same subject.
There may be occasion to say very severe things, before I shall have finished what I propose, in opposition to this writer, but there ought to be no reviling. Rem ipsam dic, mitte male loqui, which may be justly translated, speak out the whole truth boldly, but use no bad language.
It is not very material to inquire, as others have done, who is the author of the speculations in question. If he is a disinterested writer, and has nothing to gain or to lose, to hope or to fear, for himself more than other individuals of your community; but engages in this controversy from the purest principles, the noblest motives of benevolence to men, and of love to his country, he ought to have no influence with you, further than truth and justice will support his argument. On the other hand, if he hopes to acquire or preserve a lucrative employment, to screen himself from the just detestation of his countrymen, or whatever other sinister inducement he may have, so far as the truth of facts and the weight of argument are in his favor, he ought to be duly regarded.
He tells you, “that the temporal salvation of this province depends upon an entire and speedy change of measures, which must depend upon a change of sentiment respecting our own conduct and the justice of the British nation.” Endnote 005
The task of effecting these great changes, this courageous writer has undertaken in a course of publications in a newspaper. Nil desperandum is a good motto, and nil admirari is another. He is welcome to the first, and I hope will be willing that I should assume the last. The public, if they are not mistaken in their conjecture, have been so long acquainted with this gentleman, and have seen him so often disappointed, that if they were not habituated to strange things, they would wonder at his hopes, at this time, to accomplish the most unpromising project of his whole life. In the character of Philanthrop, he attempted to reconcile you to Mr. Bernard. But the only fruit of his labor was, to expose his client to more general examination, and consequently to more general resentment and aversion. In the character of Philalethes, he essayed to prove Mr. Hutchinson a patriot, and his letters not only innocent but meritorious. But the more you read and considered, the more you were convinced of the ambition and avarice, the simulation and dissimulation, the hypocrisy and perfidy of that destroying angel.
This ill-fated and unsuccessful, though persevering writer, still hopes to change your sentiments and conduct, by which it is supposed that he means to convince you, that the system of colony administration which has been pursued for these ten or twelve years past is a wise, righteous, and humane plan; that Sir Francis Bernard and Mr. Hutchinson, with their connections, who have been the principal instruments of it, are your best friends; and that those gentlemen, in this province, and in all the other colonies, who have been in opposition to it, are, from ignorance, error, or from worse and baser causes, your worst enemies.
This is certainly an inquiry that is worthy of you; and I promise to accompany this writer in his ingenious labors to assist you in it. And I earnestly entreat you, as the result of all shall be, to change your sentiments or persevere in them, as the evidence shall appear to you, upon the most dispassionate and impartial consideration, without regard to his opinion or mine.
He promises to avoid personal reflections, but to “penetrate the arcana” and “expose the wretched policy of the whigs.” The cause of the whigs is not conducted by intrigues at a distant court, but by constant appeals to a sensible and virtuous people; it depends entirely on their good-will, and cannot be pursued a single step without their concurrence, to obtain which, all their designs, measures, and means, are constantly published to the collective body. The whigs, therefore, can have no arcana; but if they had, I dare say they were never so left, as to communicate them to this writer; you will therefore be disappointed, if you expect from him any thing which is true, but what has been as public as records and newspapers could make it.
I, on my part, may, perhaps, in a course of papers, penetrate arcana too; show the wicked policy of the tories; trace their plan from its first rude sketches to its present complete draught; show that it has been much longer in contemplation than is generally known,—who were the first in it—their views, motives, and secret springs of action, and the means they have employed. This will necessarily bring before your eyes many characters, living and dead. From such a research and detail of facts, it will clearly appear, who were the aggressors, and who have acted on the defensive from first to last; who are still struggling, at the expense of their ease, health, peace, wealth, and preferment, against the encroachments of the tories on their country, and who are determined to continue struggling, at much greater hazards still, and, like the Prince of Orange, are resolved never to see its entire subjection to arbitrary power, but rather to die fighting against it in the last ditch.
It is true, as this writer observes, “that the bulk of the people are generally but little versed in the affairs of state;” that they “rest the affairs of government in the hands where accident has placed them.” If this had not been true, the designs of the tories had been many years ago entirely defeated. It was clearly seen by a few, more than ten years since, that they were planning and pursuing the very measures we now see executing. The people were informed of it, and warned of their danger; but they had been accustomed to confide in certain persons, and could never be persuaded to believe, until prophecy became history. Now, they see and feel that the horrible calamities are come upon them, which were foretold so many years ago, and they now sufficiently execrate the men who have brought these things upon them. Now, alas! when perhaps it is too late. If they had withdrawn their confidence from them in season, they would have wholly disarmed them.
“The same game, with the same success, has been played in all ages and countries,” as Massachusettensis observes. When a favorable conjuncture has presented, some of the most intriguing and powerful citizens have conceived the design of enslaving their country, and building their own greatness on its ruins. Philip and Alexander are examples of this in Greece; Cæsar in Rome; Charles V. in Spain; Louis XII. in France; and ten thousand others.
“There is a latent spark in the breasts of the people, capable of being kindled into a flame, and to do this has always been the employment of the disaffected.” What is this latent spark? The love of liberty. A Deo hominis est indita naturæ. Human nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty. There is also in human nature a resentment of injury and indignation against wrong; a love of truth, and a veneration for virtue. These amiable passions are the “latent spark” to which those whom this writer calls the “disaffected” apply. If the people are capable of understanding, seeing, and feeling the difference between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, to what better principle can the friends of mankind apply, than to the sense of this difference? Is it better to apply, as this writer and his friends do, to the basest passions in the human breast—to their fear, their vanity, their avarice, ambition, and every kind of corruption? I appeal to all experience, and to universal history, if it has ever been in the power of popular leaders, uninvested with other authority than what is conferred by the popular suffrage, to persuade a large people, for any length of time together, to think themselves wronged, injured, and oppressed, unless they really were, and saw and felt it to be so.
“They,” the popular leaders, “begin by reminding the people of the elevated rank they hold in the universe, as men; that all men by nature are equal; that kings are but the ministers of the people; that their authority is delegated to them by the people, for their good, and they have a right to resume it, and place it in other hands, or keep it themselves, whenever it is made use of to oppress them. Doubtless, there have been instances when these principles have been inculcated to obtain a redress of real grievances; but they have been much oftener perverted to the worst of purposes.”
These are what are called revolution principles. They are the principles of Aristotle and Plato, of Livy and Cicero, and Sidney, Harrington, and Locke; the principles of nature and eternal reason; the principles on which the whole government over us now stands. It is therefore astonishing, if any thing can be so, that writers, who call themselves friends of government, should in this age and country be so inconsistent with themselves, so indiscreet, so immodest, as to insinuate a doubt concerning them.
Yet we find that these principles stand in the way of Massachusettensis and all the writers of his class. The Veteran, in his letter to the officers of the army, allows them to be noble and true; but says the application of them to particular cases is wild and utopian. Endnote 006 How they can be in general true, and not applicable to particular cases, I cannot comprehend. I thought their being true in general, was because they were applicable in most particular cases.
Gravity is a principle in nature. Why? Because all particular bodies are found to gravitate. How would it sound to say, that bodies in general are heavy; yet to apply this to particular bodies, and say, that a guinea or a ball is heavy, is wild? “Adopted in private life,” says the honest amiable veteran, “they would introduce perpetual discord.” This I deny; and I think it plain, that there never was a happy private family where they were not adopted. “In the state, perpetual discord.” This I deny; and affirm, that order, concord, and stability in this state, never was nor can be preserved without them. “The least failure in the reciprocal duties of worship and obedience in the matrimonial contract would justify a divorce.” This is no consequence from these principles. A total departure from the ends and designs of the contract, it is true, as elopement and adultery, would by these principles justify a divorce; but not the least failure, or many smaller failures in the reciprocal duties, &c. “In the political compact, the smallest defect in the prince, a revolution.” By no means; but a manifest design in the prince, to annul the contract on his part, will annul it on the part of the people. A settled plan to deprive the people of all the benefits, blessings, and ends of the contract, to subvert the fundamentals of the constitution, to deprive them of all share in making and executing laws, will justify a revolution.
The author of a “Friendly Address to all reasonable Americans” Endnote 007 discovers his rancor against these principles in a more explicit manner; and makes no scruples to advance the principles of Hobbes and Filmer boldly, and to pronounce damnation, ore rotundo, on all who do not practise implicit, passive obedience to an established government, of whatever character it may be. It is not reviling, it is not bad language, it is strictly decent to say, that this angry bigot, this ignorant dogmatist, this foul-mouthed scold, deserves no other answer than silent contempt. Massachusettensis and the Veteran—I admire the first for his art, the last for his honesty.
Massachusettensis is more discreet than any of the others; sensible that these principles would be very troublesome to him, yet conscious of their truth, he has neither admitted nor denied them. But we have a right to his opinion of them, before we dispute with him. He finds fault with the application of them. They have been invariably applied, in support of the revolution and the present establishment, against the Stuarts, the Charleses, and the Jameses, in support of the Reformation and the Protestant religion; and against the worst tyranny that the genius of toryism has ever yet invented; I mean the Roman superstition. Does this writer rank the revolution and present establishment, the Reformation and Protestant religion, among his worst of purposes? What “worse purpose” is there than established tyranny? Were these principles ever inculcated in favor of such tyranny? Have they not always been used against such tyrannies, when the people have had knowledge enough to be apprized of them, and courage to assert them? Do not those who aim at depriving the people of their liberties, always inculcate opposite principles, or discredit these?
“A small mistake in point of policy,” says he, “often furnishes a pretence to libel government, and persuade the people that their rulers are tyrants, and the whole government a system of oppression.” This is not only untrue, but inconsistent with what he said before. The people are in their nature so gentle, that there never was a government yet in which thousands of mistakes were not overlooked. The most sensible and jealous people are so little attentive to government, that there are no instances of resistance, until repeated, multiplied oppressions have placed it beyond a doubt, that their rulers had formed settled plans to deprive them of their liberties; not to oppress an individual or a few, but to break down the fences of a free constitution, and deprive the people at large of all share in the government, and all the checks by which it is limited. Even Machiavel himself allows, that, not ingratitude to their rulers, but much love, is the constant fault of the people.
This writer is equally mistaken, when he says, the people are sure to be losers in the end. They can hardly be losers if unsuccessful; because, if they live, they can but be slaves, after an unfortunate effort, and slaves they would have been, if they had not resisted. So that nothing is lost. If they die, they cannot be said to lose, for death is better than slavery. If they succeed, their gains are immense. They preserve their liberties. The instances in antiquity which this writer alludes to are not mentioned, and therefore cannot be answered; but that in the country from whence we are derived, is the most unfortunate for his purpose that could have been chosen. No doubt he means, the resistance to Charles I. and the case of Cromwell. But the people of England, and the cause of liberty, truth, virtue, and humanity, gained infinite advantages by that resistance. In all human probability, liberty, civil and religious, not only in England, but in all Europe, would have been lost. Charles would undoubtedly have established the Romish religion, and a despotism as wild as any in the world. And as England has been a principal bulwark, from that period to this, of civil liberty and the Protestant religion in all Europe, if Charles’s schemes had succeeded, there is great reason to apprehend that the light of science would have been extinguished, and mankind drawn back to a state of darkness and misery like that which prevailed from the fourth to the fourteenth century. It is true, and to be lamented, that Cromwell did not establish a government as free as he might and ought; but his government was infinitely more glorious and happy to the people than Charles’s. Did not the people gain by the resistance to James II.? Did not the Romans gain by the resistance to Tarquin? Without that resistance, and the liberty that was restored by it, would the great Roman orators, poets, and historians, the great teachers of humanity and politeness, the pride of human nature, and the delight and glory of mankind for seventeen hundred years, ever have existed? Did not the Romans gain by resistance to the Decemvirs? Did not the English gain by resistance to John, when Magna Charta was obtained? Did not the Seven United Provinces gain by resistance to Philip, Alva, and Granvelle? Did not the Swiss Cantons, the Genevans, and Grisons gain by resistance to Albert and Gessler?
I have heretofore intimated my intention of pursuing the tories through all their dark intrigues and wicked machinations, and to show the rise and progress of their schemes for enslaving this country. The honor of inventing and contriving these measures is not their due. They have been but servile copiers of the designs of Andros, Randolph, Dudley, and other champions of their cause towards the close of the last century. These latter worthies accomplished but little; and their plans had been buried with them for a long course of years, until, in the administration of the late Governor Shirley, they were revived by the persons who are now principally concerned in carrying them into execution. Shirley was a crafty, busy, ambitious, intriguing, enterprising man; and, having mounted, no matter by what means, to the chair of this province, he saw, in a young, growing country, vast prospects of ambition opening before his eyes, and conceived great designs of aggrandizing himself, his family, and his friends. Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Oliver, the two famous letter-writers, were his principal ministers of state; Russell, Paxton, Ruggles, and a few others, were subordinate instruments. Among other schemes of this junto, one was to have a revenue in America, by authority of parliament.
In order to effect their purpose, it was necessary to concert measures with the other colonies. Dr. Franklin, who was known to be an active and very able man, and to have great influence in the province of Pennsylvania, was in Boston in the year 1754, and Mr. Shirley communicated to him the profound secret,—the great design of taxing the colonies by act of parliament. This sagacious gentleman, this eminent philosopher and distinguished patriot, to his lasting honor, sent the Governor an answer in writing, with the following remarks upon his scheme, remarks which would have discouraged any honest man from the pursuit. The remarks are these:—
“That the people always bear the burden best, when they have, or think they have, some share in the direction.
“That when public measures are generally distasteful to the people, the wheels of government must move more heavily.
“That excluding the people of America from all share in the choice of a grand council for their own defence, and taxing them in parliament, where they have no representative, would probably give extreme dissatisfaction.
“That there was no reason to doubt the willingness of the colonists to contribute for their own defence. That the people themselves, whose all was at stake, could better judge of the force necessary for their defence, and of the means for raising money for the purpose, than a British parliament at so great distance.
“That natives of America would be as likely to consult wisely and faithfully for the safety of their native country, as the governors sent from Britain, whose object is generally to make fortunes, and then return home, and who might therefore be expected to carry on the war against France, rather in a way by which themselves were likely to be gainers, than for the greatest advantage of the cause.
“That compelling the colonies to pay money for their own defence, without their consent, would show a suspicion of their loyalty, or of their regard for their country, or of their common sense, and would be treating them as conquered enemies, and not as free Britons, who hold it for their undoubted right, not to be taxed but by their own consent, given through their representatives.
“That parliamentary taxes, once laid on, are often continued, after the necessity for laying them on ceases; but that if the colonists were trusted to tax themselves, they would remove the burden from the people as soon as it should become unnecessary for them to bear it any longer.
“That if parliament is to tax the colonies, their assemblies of representatives may be dismissed as useless.
“That taxing the colonies in parliament for their own defence against the French, is not more just, than it would be to oblige the cinque-ports, and other parts of Britain, to maintain a force against France, and tax them for this purpose, without allowing them representatives in parliament.
“That the colonists have always been indirectly taxed by the mother country, (besides paying the taxes necessarily laid on by their own assemblies); inasmuch as they are obliged to purchase the manufactures of Britain, charged with innumerable heavy taxes, some of which manufactures they could make, and others could purchase cheaper at markets.
“That the colonists are besides taxed by the mother country, by being obliged to carry great part of their produce to Britain, and accept a lower price than they might have at other markets. The difference is a tax paid to Britain.
“That the whole wealth of the colonists centres at last in the mother country, which enables her to pay her taxes.
“That the colonies have, at the hazard of their lives and fortunes, extended the dominions and increased the commerce and riches of the mother country; that therefore the colonists do not deserve to be deprived of the native right of Britons, the right of being taxed only by representatives chosen by themselves.
“That an adequate representation in parliament would probably be acceptable to the colonists, and would best raise the views and interests of the whole empire.” Endnote 008
The last of these propositions seems not to have been well considered; because an adequate representation in parliament is totally impracticable; but the others have exhausted the subject. Endnote 009
Whether the ministry at home, or the junto here, were discouraged by these masterly remarks, or by any other cause, the project of taxing the colonies was laid aside; Mr. Shirley was removed from this government, and Mr. Pownall was placed in his stead.
Mr. Pownall seems to have been a friend to liberty and to our constitution, and to have had an aversion to all plots against either; and, consequently, to have given his confidence to other persons than Hutchinson and Oliver, who, stung with envy against Mr. Pratt and others, who had the lead in affairs, set themselves, by propagating slanders against the Governor among the people, and especially among the clergy, to raise discontents, and make him uneasy in his seat. Pownall, averse to wrangling, and fond of the delights of England, solicited to be recalled, and after some time Mr. Bernard was removed from New Jersey to the chair of this province.
Bernard was the man for the purpose of the junto. Educated in the highest principles of monarchy; naturally daring and courageous; skilled enough in law and policy to do mischief, and avaricious to a most infamous degree; needy, at the same time, and having a numerous family to provide for, he was an instrument suitable in every respect, excepting one, for this junto to employ. The exception I mean was blunt frankness, very opposite to that cautious cunning, that deep dissimulation, to which they had, by long practice, disciplined themselves. However, they did not despair of teaching him this necessary artful quality by degrees, and the event showed that they were not wholly unsuccessful in their endeavors to do it.
While the war lasted, these simple provinces were of too much importance in the conduct of it, to be disgusted by any open attempt against their liberties. The junto, therefore, contented themselves with preparing their ground, by extending their connection and correspondencies in England, and by conciliating the friendship of the crown-officers occasionally here, and insinuating their designs as necessary to be undertaken in some future favorable opportunity, for the good of the empire, as well as of the colonies.
The designs of Providence are inscrutable. It affords conjunctures, favorable for their designs, to bad men, as well as to good. The conclusion of the peace was the most critical opportunity for our junto that could have presented. A peace, founded on the destruction of that system of policy, the most glorious for the nation that ever was formed, and which was never equalled in the conduct of the English government, except in the interregnum, and perhaps in the reign of Elizabeth; which system, however, by its being abruptly broken off, and its chief conductor discarded before it was completed, proved unfortunate to the nation, by leaving it sinking in a bottomless gulf of debt, oppressed and borne down with taxes.
At this lucky time, when the British financier was driven out of his wits, for ways and means to supply the demands upon him, Bernard is employed by the junto, to suggest to him the project of taxing the colonies by act of parliament.
I do not advance this without evidence. I appeal to a publication made by Sir Francis Bernard himself, the last year, of his own Select Letters on the Trade and Government of America; and the Principles of Law and Polity applied to the American Colonies. I shall make use of this pamphlet Endnote 010 before I have done.
In the year 1764, Mr. Bernard transmitted home to different noblemen and gentlemen, four copies of his Principles of Law and Polity, with a preface, which proves incontestably, that the project of new-regulating the American Colonies was not first suggested to him by the ministry, but by him to them. The words of this preface are these: “The present expectation, that a new regulation of the American governments will soon take place, probably arises more from the opinion the public has of the abilities of the present ministry, than from any thing that has transpired from the cabinet. It cannot be supposed that their penetration can overlook the necessity of such a regulation, nor their public spirit fail to carry it into execution. But it may be a question, whether the present is a proper time for this work; more urgent business may stand before it; some preparatory steps may be required to precede it; but these will only serve to postpone. As we may expect that this reformation, like all others, will be opposed by powerful prejudices, it may not be amiss to reason with them at leisure, and endeavor to take off their force before they become opposed to government.”
These are the words of that arch-enemy of North America, written in 1764, and then transmitted to four persons, with a desire that they might be communicated to others.
Upon these words, it is impossible not to observe: First, that the ministry had never signified to him any intention of new-regulating the colonies, and therefore, that it was he who most officiously and impertinently put them upon the pursuit of this will-with-a-wisp, which has led him and them into so much mire; secondly, the artful flattery with which he insinuates these projects into the minds of the ministry, as matters of absolute necessity, which their great penetration could not fail to discover, nor their great regard to the public omit; thirdly, the importunity with which he urges a speedy accomplishment of his pretended reformation of the governments; and, fourthly, his consciousness that these schemes would be opposed, although he affects to expect from powerful prejudices only, that opposition, which all Americans say, has been dictated by sound reason, true policy, and eternal justice. The last thing I shall take notice of is, the artful, yet most false and wicked insinuation, that such new regulations were then generally expected. This is so absolutely false, that, excepting Bernard himself, and his junto, scarcely anybody on this side the water had any suspicion of it,—insomuch that, if Bernard had made public, at that time, his preface and principles, as he sent them to the ministry, it is much to be doubted whether he could have lived in this country; certain it is, he would have had no friends in this province out of the junto.
The intention of the junto was, to procure a revenue to be raised in America by act of parliament. Nothing was further from their designs and wishes, than the drawing or sending this revenue into the exchequer in England, to be spent there in discharging the national debt, and lessening the burdens of the poor people there. They were more selfish. They chose to have the fingering of the money themselves. Their design was, that the money should be applied, first, in a large salary to the governor. This would gratify Bernard’s avarice; and then, it would render him and all other governors, not only independent of the people, but still more absolutely a slave to the will of the minister. They intended likewise a salary for the lieutenant-governor. This would appease in some degree the gnawings of Hutchinson’s avidity, in which he was not a whit behind Bernard himself. In the next place, they intended a salary to the judges of the common law, as well as admiralty. And thus, the whole government, executive and judicial, was to be rendered wholly independent of the people, (and their representatives rendered useless, insignificant, and even burthensome,) and absolutely dependent upon, and under the direction of the will of the minister of state. They intended, further, to new-model the whole continent of North America; make an entire new division of it into distinct, though more extensive and less numerous colonies; to sweep away all the charters upon the continent with the destroying besom of an act of parliament; and reduce all the governments to the plan of the royal governments, with a nobility in each colony, not hereditary indeed at first, but for life. They did indeed flatter the ministry and people in England with distant hopes of a revenue from America, at some future period, to be appropriated to national uses there. But this was not to happen, in their minds, for some time. The governments must be new-modelled, new-regulated, reformed, first, and then the governments here would be able and willing to carry into execution any acts of parliament, or measures of the ministry, for fleecing the people here, to pay debts, or support pensioners on the American establishment, or bribe electors or members of parliament, or any other purpose that a virtuous ministry could desire.
But, as ill luck would have it, the British financier was as selfish as themselves, and, instead of raising money for them, chose to raise it for himself. He put the cart before the horse. He chose to get the revenue into the exchequer, because he had hungry cormorants enough about him in England, whose cawings were more troublesome to his ears than the croaking of the ravens in America. And he thought, if America could afford any revenue at all, and he could get it by authority of parliament, he might have it himself, to give to his friends, as well as raise it for the junto here, to spend themselves, or give to theirs. This unfortunate, preposterous improvement, of Mr. Grenville, upon the plan of the junto, had wellnigh ruined the whole.
I will proceed no further without producing my evidence. Indeed, to a man who was acquainted with this junto, and had any opportunity to watch their motions, observe their language, and remark their countenances, for these last twelve years, no other evidence is necessary; it was plain to such persons what this junto were about. But we have evidence enough now, under their own hands, of the whole of what was said of them by their opposers through the whole period.
Governor Bernard, in his letter of July 11, 1764, says, “that a general reformation of the American governments would become not only a desirable but a necessary measure.” What his idea was, of a general reformation of the American governments, is to be learned from his Principles of Law and Polity, which he sent to the ministry in 1764. I shall select a few of them in his own words; but I wish the whole of them could be printed in the newspapers, that America might know more generally the principles, and designs, and exertions of our junto.
His 29th proposition is: “The rule that a British subject shall not be bound by laws, or liable to taxes, but what he has consented to by his representatives, must be confined to the inhabitants of Great Britain only; and is not strictly true even there.
“30. The Parliament of Great Britain, as well from its rights of sovereignty, as from occasional exigencies, has a right to make laws for, and impose taxes upon, its subjects in its external dominions, although they are not represented in such Parliament. But,
“31. Taxes imposed upon the external dominions ought to be applied to the use of the people from whom they are raised.
“32. The Parliament of Great Britain has a right and a duty to take care to provide for the defence of the American colonies; especially as such colonies are unable to defend themselves.
“33. The Parliament of Great Britain has a right and a duty to take care that provision be made for a sufficient support of the American governments.” Because,
“34. The support of the government is one of the principal conditions upon which a colony is allowed the power of legislation.” Also, because,
“35. Some of the American colonies have shown themselves deficient in the support of their several governments, both as to sufficiency and independency.”
His 75th proposition is: “Every American government is capable of having its constitution altered for the better.
“76. The grants of the powers of government to the American colonies, by charters, cannot be understood to be intended for other than their infant or growing states.
“77. They cannot be intended for their mature state, that is, for perpetuity; because they are in many things unconstitutional, and contrary to the very nature of a British government. Therefore,
“78. They must be considered as designed only as temporary means, for settling and bringing forward the peopling the colonies; which being effected, the cause of the peculiarity of their constitution ceases.
“79. If the charters can be pleaded against the authority of parliament, they amount to an alienation of the dominions of Great Britain, and are, in effect, acts of dismembering the British empire, and will operate as such, if care is not taken to prevent it.
“83. The notion which has heretofore prevailed, that the dividing America into many governments, and different modes of government, will be the means to prevent their uniting to revolt, is ill-founded; since, if the governments were ever so much consolidated, it will be necessary to have so many distinct states, as to make a union to revolt impracticable.” Whereas,
“84. The splitting America into many small governments, weakens the governing power and strengthens that of the people; and thereby makes revolting more probable and more practicable.
“85. To prevent revolts in future times, (for there is no room to fear them in the present,) the most effectual means would be, to make the governments large and respectable, and balance the powers of them.
“86. There is no government in America at present, whose powers are properly balanced; there not being in any of them a real and distinct third legislative power mediating between the king and the people, which is the peculiar excellence of the British constitution.
“87. The want of such a third legislative power adds weight to the popular, and lightens the royal scale, so as to destroy the balance between the royal and popular powers.
“88. Although America is not now, (and probably will not be for many years to come) ripe enough for a hereditary nobility, yet it is now capable of a nobility for life.
“89. A nobility appointed by the king for life, and made independent, would probably give strength and stability to the American governments as effectually as a hereditary nobility does to that of Great Britain.
“90. The reformation of the American governments should not be controlled by the present boundaries of the colonies, as they were mostly settled upon partial, occasional, and accidental considerations, without any regard to the whole.
“91. To settle the American governments to the greatest possible advantage, it will be necessary to reduce the number of them; in some places to unite and consolidate; in others to separate and transfer; and in general to divide by natural boundaries instead of imaginary lines.
“92. If there should be but one form of government established for all the North American provinces, it would greatly facilitate the reformation of them; since, if the mode of government was everywhere the same, people would be more indifferent under what division they were ranged.
“93. No objections ought to arise to the alteration of the boundaries of provinces from proprietors, on account of their property only; since there is no occasion that it should in the least affect the boundaries of properties.
“94. The present distinctions of one government being more free or more popular than another, tends to embarrass and to weaken the whole, and should not be allowed to subsist among people subject to one king and one law, and all equally fit for one form of government.
“95. The American colonies, in general, are at this time arrived at that state, which qualifies them to receive the most perfect form of government which their situation and relation to Great Britain make them capable of.
“96. The people of North America, at this time, expect a revisal and reformation of the American governments, and are better disposed to submit to it than ever they were, or perhaps ever will be again.
“97. This is, therefore, the proper and critical time to reform the American governments, upon a general, constitutional, firm, and durable plan; and if it is not done now, it will probably every day grow more difficult, till at last it becomes impracticable.”
My friends, these are the words, the plans, principles, and endeavors of Governor Bernard, in the year 1764. That Hutchinson and Oliver, notwithstanding all their disguises, which you well remember, were in unison with him in the whole of his measures, can be doubted by no man. It appeared sufficiently in the part they all along acted, notwithstanding their professions. And it appears incontestably from their detected letters; of which more hereafter.
Now, let me ask you, if the Parliament of Great Britain had all the natural foundations of authority, wisdom, goodness, justice, power, in as great perfection as they ever existed in any body of men since Adam’s fall; and if the English nation was the most virtuous, pure, and free that ever was; would not such an unlimited subjection of three millions of people to that parliament, at three thousand miles distance, be real slavery? There are but two sorts of men in the world, freemen and slaves. The very definition of a freeman is one who is bound by no law to which he has not consented. Americans would have no way of giving or withholding their consent to the acts of this parliament, therefore they would not be freemen. But when luxury, effeminacy, and venality are arrived at such a shocking pitch in England; when both electors and elected are become one mass of corruption; when the nation is oppressed to death with debts and taxes, owing to their own extravagance and want of wisdom, what would be your condition under such an absolute subjection to parliament? You would not only be slaves, but the most abject sort of slaves, to the worst sort of masters! at least this is my opinion.
Judge you for yourselves between Massachusettensis and Novanglus.
The history of the tories, begun in my last, will be interrupted for some time; but it shall be resumed, and minutely related in some future papers. Massachusettensis, who shall now be pursued in his own serpentine path, in his first paper complains that the press is not free; that a party, by playing off the resentment of the populace against printers and authors, has gained the ascendency so far as to become the licenser of it; that the press is become an engine of oppression and licentiousness, much devoted to the partisans of liberty, who have been indulged in publishing what they pleased, fas vel nefas, while little has been published on the part of government.
The art of this writer, which appears in all his productions, is very conspicuous in this. It is intended to excite a resentment against the friends of liberty, for tyrannically depriving their antagonists of so important a branch of freedom; and a compassion towards the tories, in the breasts of the people, in the other colonies and in Great Britain, by insinuating that they have not had equal terms. But nothing can be more injurious, nothing farther from the truth. Let us take a retrospective view of the period since the last peace, and see whether they have not uniformly had the press at their service, without the least molestation to authors or printers. Indeed, I believe, that the Massachusetts Spy, if not the Boston Gazette, has been open to them as well as to others. The Evening Post, Massachusetts Gazette, and Boston Chronicle have certainly been always as free for their use as the air. Let us dismiss prejudice and passion, and examine impartially whether the tories have not been chargeable with at least as many libels, as much licentiousness of the press, as the whigs? Dr. Mayhew was a whig of the first magnitude,—a clergyman equalled by very few of any denomination in piety, virtue, genius, or learning, whose works will maintain his character as long as New England shall be free, integrity esteemed, or wit, spirit, humor, reason, and knowledge admired. How was he treated from the press? Did not the reverend tories, who were pleased to write against him, the missionaries of defamation, as well as bigotry and passive obedience, in their pamphlets and newspapers, bespatter him all over with their filth? Did they not, with equal falsehood and malice, charge him with every thing evil? Mr. Otis was in civil life, and a senator, whose parts, literature, eloquence, and integrity proved him a character in the world equal to any of the time in which he flourished of any party in the province. Now, be pleased to recollect the Evening Post. For a long course of years, that gentleman, his friends and connections, of whom the world has, and grateful posterity will have, a better opinion than Massachusettensis will acknowledge, were pelted with the most infernally malicious, false, and atrocious libels that ever issued from any press in Boston. I will mention no other names, lest I give too much offence to the modesty of some, and the envy and rancor of others.
There never was before, in any part of the world, a whole town insulted to their faces, as Boston was by the Boston Chronicle. Yet the printer was not molested for printing. It was his mad attack upon other printers with his clubs, and upon other gentlemen with his pistols, that was the cause, or rather the pretence, of his flight. The truth was, he became too polite to attend to his business; his shop was neglected; procurations were coming for more than two thousand pounds sterling, which he had no inclination to pay.
Printers may have been less eager after the productions of the tories than of the whigs, and the reason has been, because the latter have been more consonant to the general taste and sense, and consequently more in demand. Notwithstanding this, the former have ever found one press, at least, devoted to their service, and have used it as licentiously as they could wish. Whether the revenue-chest has kept it alive, and made it profitable against the general sense, or not, I wot not. Thus much is certain, that two, three, four, five, six, eight, fifteen hundred pounds sterling a-year, have been the constant reward of every scribbler who has taken up the pen on the side of the ministry with any reputation, and commissions have been given here for the most wretched productions of dulness itself; whereas, the writers on the side of liberty have been rewarded only with the consciousness of endeavoring to do good, with the approbation of the virtuous, and the malice of men in power.
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