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Letter from Lieutenant Governour Colden to the Earl of Dartmouth



New-York, July 6, 1774.

In my letter of June 1st, I informed your Lordship that the people of this city had chosen a Committee of fifty-one persons to correspond with the sister Colonies on the present political affairs; that many of this Committee were of the most considerable merchants, and men of cool tempers, who would endeavour to avoid all extravagant and dangerous measures. They have had a continual struggle with those of a different disposition, and having for several weeks succeeded in suspending any resolutions, I was in hopes they would have maintained the only conduct which can excuse them. But accounts repeatedly coming to hand from different parts of the Continent, of the appointment of Deputies to meet in a general Congress, this measure was so strenuously pushed, that it was carried in the Committee of fifty-one on Monday last, and five persons were named for the Deputies from this Province; the persons named are, James Duane, and John Jay, two eminent lawyers, Isaac Low, Philip Livingston, and John Alsop, merchants. I am told that a violent effort was made in the Committee to have John Morin Scott, an eminent lawyer, and Alexander McDougall, named in the place of Jay and Alsop; it is said that the people are to be invited to meet on Thursday, to approve of the Deputies named by the Committee. These transactions are dangerous, my Lord, and illegal, but by what means shall Government prevent them? An attempt by the power of the Civil Magistrates would only show their weakness, and it is not easy to say upon what foundation a military aid should be called in; such a measure would involve us in troubles, which it is thought much more prudent to avoid; and to shun all extremes, while it is yet possible things may take a favourable turn. The purpose of the Congress, it is said, is to petition for a redress of grievances, and to consider of a plan for settling the controversy with Great Britain. But no Instructions for the Deputies have yet appeared that I know of.

The present political zeal and phrenzy is almost entirely confined to the City of New-York, the people in the counties are no ways disposed to become active, or to bear any part in what is proposed by the citizens. I am told all the counties but one have declined an invitation sent to them from New-York, to appoint Committees of Correspondence. This Province is every where, my Lord, except in the City of New-York, perfectly quiet and in good order, and in New-York a much greater freedom of speech prevails now than has done heretofore. An opposition has been declared to the vile practice of exhibiting effigies, which I hope will prevent it for the future.