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Letter from Samuel Adams, Boston, to Arthur Lee



Boston, May 18th, 1774.

MY DEAR SIR: The edict of the British Parliament, commonly called the Boston Port Act, came safely to my hand. For flagrant injustice and barbarity, one might search in vain among the archives of Constantinople to find a match for it. But what else could have been expected from a Parliament too long under the dictates and controul of an Administration which seems to be totally lost to all sense and feeling of morality, and governed by passion, cruelty and revenge. For us to reason against such an Act, would be idleness. Our business is to find means to evade its malignant design. The inhabitants view it, not with astonishment, but with indignation. They discover the utmost contempt of the framers of it; while they are yet disposed to consider the body of the nation (though represented by such a Parliament) in the character they have sustained heretofore, humane and generous. They resent the behaviour of the merchants in London: those, I mean, who receive their bread from them, in infamously deserting their cause at the time of extremity. They can easily believe, that the industrious manufacturers, whose time is wholly spent in their various employments, are misled and imposed upon by such miscreants as have ungratefully devoted themselves to an abandoned Ministry, not regarding the ruin of those who have been their best benefactors. But the inhabitants of this town must and will look to their own safety, which they see does not consist in a servile compliance with the ignominious terms of this barbarous edict. Though the means of preserving their liberties should distress, and even ruin the British manufacturers, they are resolved (but with reluctance) to try the experiment. To this they are impelled by motives of self-preservation. They feel humanely for those who must suffer, but being innocent, are not the objects of their revenge. They have already called upon their sister Colonies, (as you will see by the enclosed note,) who not only feel for them as fellow-citizens, but look upon them as suffering the stroke of Ministerial vengeance in the common cause of America; that cause which the Colonists have pledged themselves to


each other not to give up. In the mean time, I trust in God this devoted town will sustain the shock with dignity; and, supported by their brethren, will gloriously defeat the designs of their common enemies. Calmness, courage, and unanimity prevail. While they are resolved not tamely to submit, they will, by refraining from any acts of violence, avoid the snare that they discover to be laid for them, by posting regiments so near them. I heartily thank you for your spirited exertions. Use means for the preservation of your health. Our warmest gratitude is due to Lords Camden and Shelburne. Our dependence is upon the wisdom of the few of the British nobility. We suspect studied insult in the appointment of the person who is Commander-in-chief of the troops in America to be our Governour; and I think there appears to be in it more than a design to insult upon any specious pretence. We will endeavour, by circumspection and sound prudence, to frustrate the diabolical designs of our enemies.

I have written in haste, and am, affectionately, your friend,


Arthur Lee, Esq˙, London.