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Extract of a Letter from Lieutenant Governour Colden to the Earl of Dartmouth



Notwithstanding the business which at this time agitates America, is such, that we continually expect some event of great importance, what has occurred in this Province since my letter to your Lordship of the 2d of November, has not been very material.

The first thing done here in consequence of the Resolutions of the Congress, was the dissolution of the Committee of fifty one, in order to choose a new Committee to carry the measures of the Congress into effect; a day was appointed by advertisement, for choosing sixty persons to form this new Committee.

About thirty or forty citizens appeared at the election, and chose the sixty persons who had been previously named by the former Committee. I can no otherwise, my Lord, account for the very small number of people who appeared on this occasion, than by supposing that the measures of the Congress are generally disrelished.

The Non-Importation Association affects the smugglers as well as the fair traders. No Tea is to be imported from any part of the world after the first day of this month.

The smugglers expect large quantities of Dutch Tea, and insist that it shall be exempted from the effect of the Association; others declare; that the fair traders shall not be the only sufferers. It is a dispute which I think may very probably defeat the Association. Several vessels are daily expected here with Goods from England, and I am told ten or twelve at Philadelphia. It is however shocking to reflect, my Lord, that smuggling is such a business among us, as to be publickly espoused by numbers, and more strenuously advocated than the legal trade.

In the present Committee of this place there are several gentlemen of property, and who are esteemed to favour moderate and conciliatory measures. I was surprized to find such men joining with the Committee, whose design is to execute the plan of the Congress. I have at length discovered that they act with a view to protect the city from the ravages of the mob. For this purpose, they say, they are obliged at present to support the measures of the Congress; that if they did not, the most dangerous men among us would take the lead; and, under pretence of executing the dictates of the Congress, would immediately throw the city into the most perilous situation; that however considerable the numbers may be who disapprove of violent riotous measures, yet the spirit of mobbing is so much abroad, it is in the power of a few people at any time to raise a mob; and that the gentlemen and men of property will not turn out to suppress them.

I fear, my Lord, there is too much truth in this representation. It is a dreadful situation; if we are not rescued from it by the wisdom and firmness of Parliament, the Colonies must soon fall into distraction, and every calamity annexed to a total annihilation of Government.

The Assembly of this Province stand prorogued to the tenth day of January, and, by the advice of the Council, summonses are issued for them to meet on that day.

Many people think there is a probability that they will go upon conciliatory measures, and propose something that may be countenanced by Administration. The event is uncertain, but on such occasions I think every thing is to be tried that may possibly avert the calamity which hangs over this country. I do not apprehend there is any danger that the Assembly will make matters worse than they are.

Several pieces have been published here exposing the extravagant and dangerous proceedings of Congress, and advising the people to rely on the Assembly, that they will take the most reasonable and constitutional means of restoring peace and harmony between Great Britain and this Province.