Primary tabs

To Governour Wentworth



Portsmouth, New-Hampshire, March 17, 1775.

MUCH DELUDED SIR: As I have no desire to detract from the merit of your former actions, I readily allow, that for many years your prudent conduct gained you the affections of almost all the people in this and the neighbouring Colonies. No man in your station could be more honoured and revered; no person could exert himself more in favour of the Province, of exceed you in promoting the true interest of it. You did not prostitute commissions, but endeavoured to add dignity to your Courts and honour to your Militia. You caused harmony to subsist between the several officers and soldiers throughout the Province; and doubtless felt that satisfaction yourself, whichever results from the consciousness of having done well. You well know what effects this produced; and with pleasure saw the zeal with which the people espoused and defended your cause against the rage and malice of some who have since become your bosom friends. But, Sir, let me ask you, whether your late conduct has not been totally different? Have you not, without provocation, risen up against your native Country, and done all in your power to enslave it? Have, you not used your utmost endeavours, to enforce those unconstitutional Acts, against which America, has made so violent an opposition? Have you not arbitrarily deprived the people from any share in their own Government for near twelve months, and reduced your people to the sad necessity of being governed by the Crown, or its immediate servants; or of being reduced to a state of anarchy? Have you not devised various methods to divide, and weaken the people, that their opposition to Parliamentary measures might be less powerful? Have you not issued your writs for the election of Representatives to Towns where the number of inhabitants were inconsiderable, when compared with others, which you chose to pass by without the least notice? Have you not executed your vengeance on all those who have stood forth to defend the liberties of their Country, upon the members of the late Congress; upon Civil Magistrates and Military Officers? You have. How then can you expect to rule in the hearts of this people? Can you conceive that they take no notice of these things? Be not deceived. A few fawning sycophants may endeavour to flatter you; but believe me, Sir, the affections of the people will never be possessed, by you in future. They well know that you were the only person who endeavoured to procure workmen to build barracks for the enemies of America; they are fully sensible, that the officers who have been foremost in disciplining their men, and fitting them for action: and the men who have been engaged for the preservation of the sacred rights of the people, who have warned the people of their danger and exhorted each to shun it, have been made the objects of your resentment, these men you have dismissed from every civil and military employment. But what is the consequence? You already see that numbers of officers have resigned, nobly refusing to hold commissions when, nothing can secure them but consenting to the ruin of their Country; and you will soon, find that the same spirit will discover itself to every part of the Government; and, of course, the militia will be in the same state as that of the Massachusetts, Maryland &c.


I suppose that in excuse for this conduct, you will say that you were expressly ordered to do this, and could by no means avoid it, and secure your own standing; which perhaps may be the case. But then I must beg leave to observe, that if those orders were from General Gage, and you can by no means secure your standing but by obeying them, you can claim but little merit for any acts you may do in future; as General Gage, with his nod, can direct the publick affairs of this and every other Colony upon the Continent. If it proceeded from the mandates of a Minister, then it is immaterial whether we are governed by Lord North or any other person, as every thing is to be regulated by his arbitrary will and pleasure.

I however incline to think that this is our deplorable situation, that the person who presides over us has little more to do than echo the voice of a despotick Minister, and see that his mandates are obeyed; I must therefore pity the person appointed to preside, and the unhappy people who are called to obey. No situation can be more unhappy; no slavery can be more complete. I think myself acquainted with the natural goodness of your heart, and will venture to affirm, that you would not (if left to yourself) make such a wanton use of the prerogative, or deprive the people for such a length of time from having a share in their own Government. You well know that by the same kind of conduct, the people may be deprived of the inestimable right of representation, whenever and for whatever length of time an arbitrary Minister may think proper. I shall conclude, by assuring you that I am far from being your enemy; and that I sincerely grieve for you, and a number of others, who I am persuaded must, if they retain their commissions, owe their future greatness to their Country' s ruin.