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Letter from a Gentleman in Connecticut to Mr. Holt, New-York, Dated March 29, 1775



Mr. James Rivington has often been animadverted on in a publick manner, and sundry Resolves have been passed in the different Colonies, respecting his conduct as a Printer; not only as being partial, but as publishing falsehoods tending to disunite them in their great struggle to support constitutional liberty, destroy their mutual confidence, and render abortive that system of conduct recommended by the Congress as the most certain and advisable expedient for obtaining a redress of our grievances. Mr˙ Rivington, or his partisans, have represented this as an attempt to destroy the liberty of the press. But shall a press disgorge calumny and falsehood with impunity? Shall the most innocent actions of a community be traversed, and the most reputable characters, even Legislative bodies, be traduced with passive tameness? This would be a tacit acknowledgment of the charge. Is it not notorious, that he, while America is anxiously struggling to preserve her constitutional liberties, like an invidious spy, watches every motion towards the grand point, and strives to frustrate every design, by disseminating distrust and falsehood among the people, in order to intimidate or divide them, thereby rendering his press an engine of tyranny, as well as a sink of the most impure productions. An instance of this we have, in his "uninfluenced" paper of last week, termed "Extract of a Letter from Connecticut."

It is evident, from the whole strain of this epistle, that the writer attempts to set the General Assembly of this Colony in a disadvantageous point of light, villify and disgrace some of its most worthy members, and create a distrust of them among the Colonies, as though they had changed measures, which is wide of the truth, as I shall show anon. He says —

"Our Assembly met on the second of March, and the


two first days were spent in examining the conduct of Captain Glover and the Ridgfield Representatives, which had declared against the measures of the Congress." Here he stumbles at the very threshold; I am very certain nothing of that matter was debated the first day. His account of the Committee is very confused; if it is intelligible, he means the Committee were appointed to superintend the examination of the Representatives; but while the House spent two days in examining them, how could any Committee superintend? Did they appoint a Committee to superintend themselves? He says a Committee were appointed to superintend the business, and make report in May. The meaning (if any) is obscure, at best. If he intends such a Committee were appointed to superintend the examination of the first two days, or while the examination lasted, it is not true.

He next observes: "The debates of a week' s duration upon the matter cost the Colony One Hundred and Seventy-five Pounds." Here, again, he needs a comment. If he is intelligible, he must mean a week was spent in debating such matters as he had before mentioned, i˙e˙ examining the Representatives; but this is not true. At first he speaks of but two days himself, and I before observed on the first day none of his matters were agitated; now he seems to assign a whole week to that business, for he can' t be supposed so silly as to accuse the Assembly of sitting a week on matters at large. His design was doubtless to insinuate that the House spent a week about a trifling examination, which cost the Colony One Hundred and Seventy-Five Pounds. This might raise a clamour, and this, I charitably believe, was his design.

The next clause is remarkable; he says, "In the next, many long and learned arguments were produced by the old leaven, the Republicans, urging the necessity of an Army to be immediately raised; the matter was recommended to a Committee, consisting of the most inflammatory, who openly declare for independence." Such a high charge against the Committee ought to be supported by the strongest evidence; but the whole weight rests on the mere ipse dixit of an anonymous author. Should this dirty performance gain any credit, what idea must the community entertain of the Committee, and Assembly that appointed them? He says, "They were Republicans, who openly declare for independence, i˙ e˙ such as disavow Monarchy, and admit no King to preside in the State." Is this true? I ask this vile calumniator whether he ever heard any such doctrine advanced in that Assembly, or by the Members of it? If so, let him support the charge, and give us his name; otherwise he will be accounted a malicious defamer. Is a Printer to be tolerated who charges the Representatives of a Colony with treasonable principles from an anonymous scribbler? He ought to publish the name of his correspondent, or take the blame of this scurrilous accusation to himself. But I must inform him that the Committee consisted of gentlemen of the first character, for ability as well as loyalty, and firm attachment to British Constitution.

The Report of the Committee, and vote for a Petition to His Majesty, which next occur, I shall remark on hereafter. He then proceeds: "This Assembly was a special one, called for the express purpose of raising six thousand men." How he obtained this intelligence I cannot conjecture. Did the Governour mention it in his speech, or was it ever declared in the Upper or Lower House of Assembly? I am confident he never heard it from the first or the last, and cannot suppose him a Member of the second; whence, then, did he derive his intelligence of the express purpose? I presume it was a creature of his own morbid imagination. He next acquaints us, ' ' Two gentlemen went to Cambridge to consult the Provincial Congress." This, I conceive, was mentioned with a malevolent design towards them, in order to asperse their characters. That they were there is conceded; but whether with a design to consult the Congress or not, is, I believe, mere conjecture. If that was really their errand, where is the crime? Is not America engaged in supporting the Town of Boston Is it then a crime to consult them in affairs of common concern?

He proceeds: "Our warm sons of — insisted on raising an Army in this Province, and, at any rate, drive the King' s General out of this religious land." This is


mere rant. No such thing was proposed in the Assembly (I am very certain) through the whole session.

He subjoins: "A Letter, carrying with it in effect a Petition, was sent down to the Lower House from the Upper House, addressed to Lord Dartmouth." A Letter was sent from the Upper Board to the Lower House, for their concurrence and approbation; it was an answer to one received from Lord Dartmouth, and addressed to that Nobleman; in this they declare the loyalty of themselves and the other Colonies to his present Majesty, and their concern at the claims of the British Parliament, which have occasioned so much anxiety among the Colonists; they decently asserted our Constitutional rights, and condoled the unhappy sufferers of Boston as a virtuous and loyal people; in fine, they requested his Lordship' s kind interposition with His Majesty for our relief.

He concludes: "The Wasp immediately seized and clumsily attacked those parts of it which were calculated to restore harmony between Great Britain and America; but he was overruled, and returned home grievously disappointed." Whoever was designed by the Wasp, the epithet, clumsy, is not so applicable to that insect as to his own dull performance. But here again he errs from the truth. When the Letter was read in the Lower House, sundry clauses were objected to. Though (in my opinion) the fair import of the Letter was unexceptionable, yet, as not only one, but several Members were of opinion that some expressions were too vague, and might be wrested to a noxious sense, they were cautious of making any seeming concessions of their indubitable rights. After some debate, a Committee was appointed from both Houses to make some amendments, which they did, by substituting more cautious and determinate expressions, and varying rather the diction than sense; when it passed the House (as I thought) without a dissent. So that instead of being overruled, as he falsely suggests, there was an amendment to the general acceptance; and no one (I believe) returned home grievously disappointed, except the author or his voucher.

As to what he says in this polite way, "that the Wasp clumsily attacked those parts of the Letter that were calculated to restore harmony between Great Britain and America:" no parts were attacked except such as I just noticed. Doubtless he was offended that any corrections were made, and intended they should be understood in the noxious, sense to which the House feared they might be wrested, else why is he angry with others for attacking those parts which, it was apprehended, might be taken in such a sense? By such as might restore harmony, it is evident he designed such parts as might gratify the Ministry, at the expense of our liberties.

I promised to consider the Report of the Committee, and the vote for a Petition to His Majesty. The House considered at large the alarming situation of America; they professed their allegiance to his present Majesty, and firm resolution to support our Constitutional liberties. They desire to live peaceable and loyal subjects to His Britannick Majesty. But should violence essay to enslave them, they believe they are warranted by the example of Great Britain and the Constitution itself, to defend themselves, and repel any lawless invasion. Though they were well united in the grand principle of Constitutional liberty, yet it is no wonder, in this sad dilemma, if their councils were serious. After considerable debates on affairs the most interesting that ever were agitated in a Senate, the Committee withdrew, and framed a Bill, (as their author informs,) that the minds of the Assembly might be known. Every Article of this Bill was calmly debated; and approving that for appointing General Officers, (such as have been in some of the neighbouring Provinces for a long time,) the rest of the Bill was prudently dismissed. In these debates, a concern for the publick weal so far predominated over private resentment, that the whole was conducted with the greatest friendship and harmony, so that when a great part of the Bill was rejected, yet it seemed to be with a general approbation of the Committee themselves, as every one seemed inclined to pursue the most prudent advice, whether suggested by himself or another.

I now proceed to consider the Petition to His Majesty: here our author fails of telling the whole truth. Mr˙ Rivington, the week before he published the extract now


under consideration, mentions this Petition as cause of great joy. One would think from this, that the Colony had been in open rebellion, and was now returning to their duty; else why this, transport? Did he never hear that this Colony petitioned their Sovereign before? I can tell him they have repeatedly. Did not the Congress petition? He knows they did. Whence, then, this exultation? Doubtless he had an eye to those parts of the Letter which were calculated to restore harmony between Great Britain and America, which his correspondent informed him were clumsily attacked by the Wasp; but he returned home grievously disappointed. That this is mere fiction, I have shown before. But being deceived by his correspondent, he felt a glow of uncommon joy, which he could not conceal until he might publish the Letter. He thought, perhaps, Connecticut had made a compliment of her liberties to the Ministry; and this he was impatient to publish.

This Colony, ever attached to the present reigning family, did vote to prefer a Petition to His Majesty; but on a little reflection, it was thought inexpedient at this juncture, as the Congress had petitioned in behalf of America in general, and they had not then heard what reception their Petition met with; and by some it was thought, in every such step we ought to advise with the other Colonies. In short, I have the satisfaction to see, that the very same reasons that the worthy Representatives of Pennsylvania offered their Governour as an excuse for not petitioning at present, prevailed on this Assembly to defer it to a future session.




* We hear, from Connecticut, that last Friday, the Assembly of that Colony, after sitting ten days, adjourned to meet at Hartford, on the 13th of April. The Printer has received many particulars of their proceedings, but they must be deferred, as they came too late for this week' s paper; we have only room to inform the publick, that a Letter was sent from the Upper Board for the approbation of the Cower House, addressed to Lord Dartmouth. It contains every mark of loyalty to the King, and carries with it, in Affect, a Petition. The House of Assembly, by a great majority, voted a PETITION to His Majesty, and a Committee was appointed to draw it up. The event has afforded unspeakable satisfaction to the friends of our happy Constitution.