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Letter from Lieutenant Governour Colden to the Earl of Dartmouth



By my letter of the 7th of September your Lordship would find I entertained hopes that the people of this Province would adopt moderate measures, and avoid giving any new offence to the Parliament. I knew such were the sentiments of the farmers and country people in general who make a great majority of the inhabitants.

A great deal of pains has been taken to persuade the counties to choose Delegates for the Congress, or to adopt those sent by this city. Several of the counties have refused to be concerned in the measure. In Queen' s County, where I have a house, and reside the summer season, six persons have not been got to meet for the purpose; and the inhabitants remain firm in their resolution not to join in the Congress. In the counties that have joined in the measures of the city, I am informed the business has been done by a very few persons, who took upon themselves to act for the freeholders. A gentleman who was present when the Delegates were chosen in Orange County, says there were not twenty persons at the meeting, though there are above a thousand freeholders in that county; and I am told the case was similar in other counties that are said to have joined in the Congress.

The violent men in this city, who lost the lead among the people when the Committee of fifty-one were appointed, as mentioned in my former letters to your Lordship, hoped they had got an opportunity to regain their importance, and to throw the city into confusion, on occasion of orders which were received by some of our merchants to furnish articles wanted by the army at Boston. These violent men last week called a meeting of the citizens, which few but the lower class of people attended, and not a great many of them; yet they had the impudence to send a Committee to the merchants who were engaged in supplying the articles wanted by the army at Boston, with a very impertinent message, and endeavoured to deter them and all others from furnishing the army and transports with any thing whatever. These maoenvres occasioned some bustle among the people for a few days, and obliged the Committee of fifty-one to desire a meeting of the inhabitants on Friday last, when a large body of the principal people and merchants appeared, and declared,


that those who had taken upon them to threaten the merchants had acted without any authority from the publick, and that they highly disapproved of their conduct, which has once more silenced the turbulent factious few, who are never easy when the people are quiet and orderly. The merchants now go on completing their orders without farther interruption.

It is my duty to give your Lordship the best information I am able of the disposition of the people of this Province. With this view I mention the most material transactions among them. It is extremely difficult at such times to give an opinion of what may happen. The most trifling unforeseen incident may produce the greatest events. I have already said, my Lord, that I am well assured almost the whole inhabitants in the counties wish for moderate measures; they think the dispute with Great Britain is carried far enough, and abhor the thoughts of pushing it to desperate lengths. In the city, a large majority of the people wish that a non-importation agreement may not be proposed, and were very much surprised on finding that such a measure would probably be resolved on by the Congress. I have some hopes that our merchants will avoid a non-importation agreement, even if proposed by the Congress. I am certain a majority of the most considerable are convinced it is a wrong measure, and wish not to come into it, but whether they will have resolution enough to oppose the sentiments of all the other Colonies, can only be known when they are put to the trial.

The speeches in Parliament, and other inflammatory papers published in London, and reprinted in America, make the worst impression on the minds of the people. They are opposed in this place by publishing more papers in favour of Administration, and against measures which must be offensive to Parliament, than in all the other Colonies put together.