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Earl of Dartmouth to Governour Gage



Whitehall, 9th April, 1774.

The King having thought fit that you should return immediately to your command in North America, and that you should proceed directly to Boston, on board his Majesty' s ship Lively, now lying at Plymouth, ready to sail with the first fair wind, I send you herewith, by his Majesty' s command, a commission under the great seal, appointing you Captain General and Governor-in-chief of his Majesty' s Province of Massachusetts Bay, together with such instructions as have been usually given to Governors of that Province, for their guidance in the exercise of the ordinary and more permanent powers and authorities incident to that command.

What is further necessary for your direction in the present state of disorder and commotion within that Province, and for enabling you to carry into execution the measures that have been, and probably will be adopted, for reducing it to a state of obedience to lawful authority, is of a more delicate and important nature, and requires more precise and particular instructions.

With this letter you will receive an Act of Parliament, passed in the present session, for discontinuing the loading and unloading of goods and merchandise at the town and within the harbour of Boston; and also a Minute of the Treasury Board, containing the substance of such instructions as their Lordships have thought fit to give to their officers in consequence thereof; and it is the King' s command that you do give them all proper and necessary assistance and support in the execution thereof.

To this end it will be expedient that you do, immediately upon your arrival, and as soon as your commission has been read and published, in the usual form, appoint a meeting, either at the town or within the castle, (as circumstances shall point out,) with the Commander-in-chief of his Majesty' s ships, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Commissioners of the Customs, the Chief Justice, and the Secretary of the Province, in order to consider what steps it may be proper to take for carrying the Act into execution, and for enforcing, if necessary, a due obedience thereto; and if Mr˙ Hutchinson should not be come away, in consequence of the leave he has obtained for that purpose, his advice and assistance, in this case, as well as in the execution of every other part of your instructions, will be of very great use and advantage to you.

His Majesty trusts that no opposition will, or can, with any effect, be made to the carrying the law into execution, nor any violence or insult offered to those to whom the execution of it is entrusted. Should it happen otherwise, your authority as the first Magistrate, combined with the command over the King' s troops, will, it is hoped, enable you to meet every opposition, and fully to preserve the public peace, by employing those troops with effect, should the madness of the people, on the one hand, or the timidity or want of strength of the peace officers on the other hand, make it necessary to have recourse to their assistance. The King trusts, however, that such necessity will not occur, and commands me to say, that it will be your duty to use every endeavour to avoid it; to quiet the minds of the people; to remove their prejudices, and, by mild and gentle persuasion, to induce such a submission on their part, to this law, and such a proper compliance with the just requisitions it contains, as may give full scope to his Majesty' s clemency, and enable his Majesty to exercise the discretionary power given him by the Act, of again restoring to the town of Boston those commercial privileges and advantages which it hath so long enjoyed, and which have raised it to its present state of opulence and importance.

At the same time the sovereignty of the King, in this Parliament, over the Colonies, requires a full and absolute


submission; and his Majesty' s dignity demands, that until that submission be made, the town of Boston, where so much anarchy and confusion have prevailed, should cease to be the place of the residence of his Governor, or of any other officer of Government, who is not obliged by law to perform his functions there. It is, therefore, his Majesty' s further pleasure, that so soon as the law for discontinuing the port shall have taken place, and every step has been pursued that is necessary to insure the execution of it, you do make the town of Salem the place of your residence; that you do require all officers (not included in the above exception) to attend you there: and that the General Court, and all other courts and offices which are not by law fixed at Boston, be appointed and held at Salem, until his Majesty, satisfied on your representation, that the laws of this Kingdom will be duly observed, and Government be again administered at the town of Boston, without opposition, shall have signified his Royal will and pleasure for the return of his Governor to, and for holding of the General Court at that town.

The proceedings of the body of the people at the town of Boston, in the months of November and December last, were of such a nature and criminality as to have fixed a deep degree of guilt upon those who were the principal ringleaders and abettors of those proceedings, and the measures proper to be taken for inducing the punishment of such guilt, become a very necessary part of the present consideration, relative to the state of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

The King considers the punishment of these offenders as a very necessary and essential example to others, of the ill consequences that must follow from such an open and arbitrary usurpation as tend to the subversion of all government, and the rendering civil liberty unsafe and precarious; and his Majesty' s subjects in the Province of Massachusetts Bay in genera], cannot give a better test of their love of justice, and respect for the Constitution, than in their zealous endeavours to render effectual a due prosecution of such offenders.

If, however, the prejudices of the people should appear to you to be such as would in all probability prevent a conviction, however clear and full the evidence might be, in that case it would be better to desist from prosecution, seeing that an ineffectual attempt would only be a triumph to the faction, and disgraceful to Government.

The foregoing is all that I have at present in command from the King to say to you. I need not suggest to you the very great advantage that will result from your obtaining a just and perfect knowledge of the characters, inclinations and tempers of the principal people in the Colony; such information must, of necessity, be of great benefit, and your own discretion will point out to you the use that is to be made of it.

The last advices from Boston are of a nature to leave but little room to hope that order and obedience arc soon likely to take the place of anarchy and usurpation. His Majesty, however, confides in your fortitude and discretion, and doubts not that all other officers, civil and military, animated by your example, will exert themselves in such a manner, in support of the Constitution, and for enforcing obedience to the laws, as will recommend them to his Majesty' s royal grace and favour.