Primary tabs

Meeting of the Committees from every Town and District



At a Meeting of the Committees from every town and district, in the County of Middlesex, and Province of Massachusetts Bay, held at Concord, in the said county, on the 30th and 31st of August, 1774, to consult upon measures proper to be taken at the present very important day,

The Hon˙ JAMES PRESCOTT, Esquire, Chairman:

After having read the late Act of the British Parliament, entitled "An Act for the better regulating the Government of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England," and debated thereon; voted that a Committee be appointed to take into consideration the said Act, and report to this meeting.

Voted, also, that Mr˙ Jonathan Williams Austin, of Chelmsford, Captain Thomas Gardiner, of Cambridge, Doctor Isaac Foster, of Charlestown, Captain Josiah Stone, of Farmingham, Mr˙ Richard Deavens, of Charlestown, Doctor Oliver Prescott, of Groton, Henry Gardiner, Esquire, of Stow, Mr˙ William Brown, of Farmingham, and Mr˙ Ebenezer Bridge, Jun˙, of Billerica, be the Committee; who reported as follows:

It is evident, to every attentive mind, that this Province is in a very dangerous and alarming situation. We are obliged to say, however painful it may be to us, that the question now is, whether, by a submission to some late Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain, we are contented to be the most abject slaves, and entail that slavery on posterity after us; or, by a manly, joint, and virtuous opposition, assert and support our freedom.

There is a mode of conduct, which, in our very critical circumstances, we would wish to adopt; a conduct, on the one hand, never tamely submissive to tyranny and oppression; on the other, never degenerating into rage, passion, and confusion. This is a spirit which we revere, as we find it exhibited in former ages, and will command applause to the latest posterity.

The late Acts of Parliament pervade the whole system of jurisprudence, by which means we think the fountains of justice are fatally corrupted. Our defence must therefore be immediate, in proportion to the suddenness of the attack, and vigorous in proportion to the danger.

We must now exert ourselves, or all those efforts, which for ten years past have brightened the annals of this country, will be totally frustrated. Life and death, or, what is more, freedom and slavery, are, in a peculiar sense, now before us; and the choice and success, under God, depend greatly upon ourselves. We are, therefore, bound, as struggling, not only for ourselves, but future generations, to express our sentiments in the following Resolves; sentiments which, we think, are founded in truth and justice, and, therefore, sentiments we are determined to abide by.

Resolved, That as true and loyal subjects of our gracious Sovereign George the Third, King of Great Britain, &c˙, we, by no means, intend to withdraw our allegiance from him; but, while permitted the free exercise of our natural and Charter rights, are resolved to expend life and treasure in his service.

Resolved, That when our ancestors emigrated from Great Britain Charters and solemn stipulations expressed the conditions; and what particular rights they yielded; what each party had to do and perform; and which each of the contracting parties were equally bound by.

Resolved, That we know of no instance in which this Province has transgressed the rules on their part, or any ways for felted their natural and Charter rights to any power on earth.

Resolved, That the Parliament of Great Britain have exercised a power contrary to the above mentioned Charter, by passing Acts which hold up their absolute supremacy over the Colonists; by another Act blocking up the port of Boston; and by two late Acts, the one entitled "An Act for the better regulating the Government of the Province of Massachusetts Bay;" the other entitled "An Act for the more impartial administration of justice in said Province;" and by enforcing all these iniquitous Acts with a large armed force, to dragoon and enslave us.

Resolved, That the late Act of Parliament, entitled "An Act for the better regulating the Government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England," expressly acknowledges the authority of the Charter granted,


by their Majesties King William and Queen Mary, to said Province; and that the only reasons suggested in the preamble to said Act, which is intended to deprive us of the privileges confirmed to us by said Charter, are the inexpediency of continuing those privileges, and a charge of their having been forfeited, to which charge the Provinces have had no opportunity of answering.

Resolved, That a debtor may as justly refuse to pay his debts, because it is expedient for him, as the Parliament of Great Britain deprive us of our Charter privileges, because it is inexpedient to a corrupt Administration for us to enjoy them.

Resolved, That in all free states there must be an equilibrium in the Legislative body, without which constitutional check they cannot be said to be a free people.

Resolved, That the late Act, which ordains a Council to be appointed by his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, from time to time, by warrant under his or their signet or sign manual, and which ordains that the said Counsellors shall hold their offices, respectively, for and during the pleasure of his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, effectually alters the constitutional equilibrium; renders the Council absolute tools and creatures, and entirely destroys the importance of the Representative body.

Resolved, That no state can long exist free and happy where the course of justice is obstructed; and that when trials by Juries, which are the grand bulwarks of life and property, are destroyed or weakened, a people fall immediately under arbitrary power.

Resolved, That the late Act, which gives the Governour of this Province a power of appointing Judges of the Superiour and Inferiour Courts, Commissioners of Oyer and Terminer, the Attorney Generals, Provosts, Marshals, and Justices of the Peace; and to remove all of them, (the Judges of the Superiour Court excepted) without consent of Council, entirely subverts a free administration of justice; as the fatal experience of mankind, in all ages, has testified that there is no greater species of corruption than when judicial and executive officers depend, for their existence and support, on a power independent of the people.

Resolved, That by ordaining Jurors to be summoned by the Sheriff only, which Sheriff is to be appointed by the Governour without consent of Council; that the security which results from a trial by our peers, is rendered altogether precarious, and is not only an evident infraction upon our Charter, but a subversion of our common rights as Englishmen.

Resolved, That every people have an absolute right of meeting together to consult upon common grievances, and to petition, remonstrate, and use every legal method for their removal.

Resolved, That the Act which prohibits these constitutional meetings cuts away the scaffolding of English freedom, and reduces us to a most abject state of vassalage and slavery.

Resolved, That it is our opinion these late Acts, if quietly submitted to, will annihilate the last vestiges of liberty in this Province, and therefore, we must be justified by God and the world in never submitting to them.

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this body, that the present Act, respecting the Government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, is an artful, deep laid plan of oppression and despotism, and that it requires great skill and wisdom to counteract it. This wisdom we have endeavoured to collect from the united sentiments of the country; and although we are grieved that we are obliged to mention any thing that may be attended with such very important consequences as may now ensue, yet a sense of our duty as men, as freemen, as Christian freemen, united in the firmest bonds, obliges us to resolve that every Civil Officer now in commission in this Province, and acting in conformity to the late Act of Parliament, is not an officer agreeable to our Charter; therefore, unconstitutional, and ought to be opposed in the manner hereafter recommended.

Resolved, That we will obey all such Civil Officers now in commission, whose commissions were issued before the first day of July, 1774, and support them in the execution of their offices, according to the manner usual before the late attempt to alter the Constitution of this Province; nay, even although the Governour should attempt to revoke their commissions; but that if any of said officers


shall accept a commission under the present plan of arbitrary Government, or in any way or manner whatever assist the Governour or Administration in the assault now making on our rights and liberties, we will consider them as having forfeited their commissions, and yield them no obedience.

Resolved, That whereas the Honourable Samuel Danforth and Joseph Lee, Esquires, two of the Judges of the Inferiour Court of Common Pleas for this county, have accepted commissions under the new Act, by being sworn members of his Majesty' s Council appointed by said Act, we therefore look upon them as utterly incapable of holding any office whatever.

And whereas a venire on the late Act of Parliament, has issued from the Court of Sessions, signed by the Clerk, we think they come under a preceding resolve of acting in conformity to the new Act of Parliament; we therefore resolve, that a submission to Courts thus acting, and under these disqualifications, is a submission to the Act itself, and of consequence, as we are resolved never to submit one iota to the Act, we will not submit to Courts thus constituted, and thus acting in conformity to said Act.

Resolved, That as, in consequence of the former Resolve, all business at the Inferiour Court of Common Pleas and Court of General Sessions of the Peace, next to be holden at Concord, must cease; to prevent the many inconveniences that may arise therefrom, we resolve, that all actions, writs, suits, &c˙, brought to said Court ought to remain in the same condition as at present (unless settled by consent of parties) till we know the result of a Provincial and Continental Congress. And we resolve, that no Plaintiff in any cause, action, or writ aforesaid, ought to enter said action in said Court thus declared to be unconstitutional. And we resolve, if the Court shall sit in defiance to the voice of the county, and default actions, and issue executions accordingly, no officer ought to serve such process. And we are also determined to support all Constables, Jurors, and other officers, who, from these constitutional principles, shall refuse obedience to Courts which we have resolved, are founded on the destruction of our Charter.

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this body of Delegates, that a Provincial Congress is absolutely necessary in our present unhappy situation.

These are sentiments which we are obliged to express, as these Acts are intended immediately to take place. We must now either oppose them, or tamely give up all we have been struggling for. It is this that has forced us so soon on these very important resolves. However, we do it with humble deference to the Provincial and Continental Congress, by whose Resolutions we are determined to abide; to whom, and the world, we cheerfully appeal for the uprightness of our conduct.

On the whole, these are "great and profound questions." We are grieved to find ourselves reduced to the necessity of entering into the discussion of them; but we deprecate a state of slavery; our fathers, left a fair inheritance to us, purchased by a waste of blood and treasure; this we are resolved to transmit equally fair to our children after us; no danger shall affright, no difficulties intimidate us; and if in support of our rights, we are called to encounter even death, we are yet undaunted, sensible that he can never die too soon, who lays down his life in support of the laws and liberties of his country.

Which Report being maturely deliberated,

Voted, That the sense of the whole body respecting the same, be collected by yeas and nays, which being done, there were one hundred and forty-six yeas, and four nays.

Voted, That it be recommended to the several towns and districts in this county, that each appoint one or more Delegates to attend a Provincial meeting to be holden at Concord, on the second Tuesday of October next.

Voted, That a fair copy of the proceedings of this meeting be made out and forwarded to the Grand Continental Congress, and also to the Town Clerk of each town in this county.

Voted, That the thanks of this meeting be given to the Honourable James Prescot, Esquire, for his faithful services as Chairman.

Voted, That this meeting be dissolved. And it was accordingly dissolved.