Primary tabs

Letter from Stephen Parker to James Bowdoin



Machias, May 13, 1776.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONOUR: You may remember I waited on you some time last September with a letter from Mr˙ Timothy Fitch, craving your interest for permission to send a vessel to the West-Indies; in consequence of which you were pleased to write Colonel Warren on the subject, and recommend the same. On my arrival at Watertown, presenting your letter, and informing the Colonel of my business, he advised me not to mention the matter to the General Court, as thinking it would not be granted. I submitted and returned; and having expended what money I was possessed of in seeking after relief for the inhabitants of Machias, I mentioned to Mr˙ Fitch my real opinion was, if I could proceed to the bay in Nova-Scotia, and procure a quantity of hay, it would be of eminent service to our people, as a large stock of cattle must die if no hay could be obtained but what was cut in the place, we being supplied with hundreds of tons from Nova-Scotia yearly. Mr˙ Fitch joined in sentiment with me, and accordingly agreed to allow me a commission for transacting some business; procured three or four hundred bushels of corn, and advised me, as soon as the brig he sent was despatched, to get a schooner and proceed to Machias. The command of this brig was given to Captain Thomas Fossey, who, arriving at East Passage, we immediately proceeded to Cape Forschue, (alias Yarmouth;) here I agreed for a schooner of one Mr˙ Tinkham, and seven tons of salt hay, no English being to be had; reserved what my commissions came to in provisions, and expected to proceed directly to Machias on the brig sailing; but finding the hay so damaged as to be unfit for anything, and my being obliged to give fifty dollars for the run, freight or no freight, it being now the 1st of January, I concluded, from the difficulties of weather and disappointment in hay, to seek passage another and cheaper way; and the very first that presented I embraced, at the expense of ten dollars, though only twenty-five leagues distant, bringing with me in provisions (which Mr˙ Fitch shipped) what my commissions entitled me to.

May it please your Honour, my ignorance of the resolves of the Grand Congress, my necessitous circumstances, and real concern for my family, with my ardent desire of serving the inhabitants of Machias, and not lucrative motives, or the remotest thought of joining myself with the enemies of America, were the cause of my putting foot in the Government of Nova-Scotia. And I here solemnly declare to your Honour that I went to a place (viz: Yarmouth) which is inhabited almost entirely by New-England people, and who appear to be as true friends to the welfare of America and grand cause of liberty as any person whatever; nor have I corresponded with or sold any articles to any other, having strictly avoided furnishing any inhabitant of Halifax, officer, soldier, or seaman, belonging to the Crown, or any transport engaged in the service thereof, with one article, great or small. On my arrival here, as I had been to Nova-Scotia, the inhabitants seem dissatisfied; and to what length it may grow I know not. I therefore presume most earnestly to crave your Honour' s candour and interest with the honourable Court in my behalf; for if I have offended, it is not with any design or the least alienation from the great and glorious cause in which America is engaged; but the effect of ignorance, and pure necessity; for from the first of my leaving Machias for Philadelphia, which was early last July, my principles and declarations, publick and private, have been immoveably fixed in the most steadfast attachment to the liberties and prosperity of this suffering land, America. I beseech, for the sake of my poor distressed ailing wife and helpless children, that I may not be deemed an enemy to the welfare of my native country, the cause of America, or the least cool thereto; or be made to suffer by censure or otherwise; for as I ever have been, I now am, and trust ever shall be, ready to give the most solemn assurances of my fervent regard to the laws, dignity, and interest, of this virtuous, oppressed, and most justly struggling land.

I beg leave to lay these my earnest requests at your Honour' s feet; and subscribe myself, with profound respect, your Honour' s most obedient humble servant,


To the Honourable James Bowdoin, Esq.


P˙ S. I presume to enclose a copy of my Petition to the Honourable Court.