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Stephen Hopkins to the President of the Massachisetts Congress



Providence, Rhode-Island, April 27, 1775.

SIR: Yesterday, Mr˙ John Brown, one of the principal merchants of this Town, being at Newport, as an agent of


this Colony appointed by the General Assembly to purchase provisions for the use of this and your Government, was seized upon in a freight or packet boat corning to Providence. He was carried and confined on board a Man-of-War lying in Newport, and about three hundred barrels of flour in that packet and another freight boat, taken by the Ship-of-War. It is said the captures are to be sent to Boston for condemnation.

We are greatly alarmed at this open force and hostility, and cannot but expect that the worst of treatment will, be offered to our agent. We have thought proper to send you this notice, to the end that you may detain all such of the King' s Officers, or others, in his immediate service, as may be in your hands, to answer and be accountable for the conduct and treatment which may be had and acted to Mr˙ Brown, and such as may be captured with him in the said two vessels; and that you would, on your part, in the common cause, do your utmost to make reprisals of persons to stand as security in like manner; not doubting but you will cheerfully do those things which, by the laws of Nature and Nations, are justifiable to be done to those who put themselves in a state of war with others.

We are sorry to inform you that the first struggle which hath happened in our Colony, hath been unfavourable; an event which could not have come to pass, but by the faithlessness of some of the Members of our Assembly, who must have revealed their proceedings, although the oath of God was upon them to secrecy.

Reprisals, recommended by the Continental Congress, and sanctioned by the several Colonies, appears to be a


good remedial provision, and in this instance highly necessary to be put in practice; and we shall not fail ourselves to make use of it at every opportunity, and make the life of every Crown Officer in our power security for the safety of John Brown, and those captured with him.

I am, Sir, for myself, and in behalf of all the true friends of freedom in this Colony, your friend and servant,


To the President of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts-Bay, at Concord, or elsewhere. On express by Doctor Wm˙ Bowen.