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' Speculator' on County Conventions and Committees



MR˙ EDES : In last Monday' s paper, I observed sundry resolutions of the Committees of Correspondence, &c˙, in the County of Middlesex in General Convention assembled. The matter suggested in said resolutions (excepting what respects their convening together) was to me highly agreeable, as it was full evidence of their patriotism and zealous endeavours to serve their country. I heartily wish their sense in this regard may be adopted; but however evident their patriotism may be, however worthy of notice their suggestions, yet I think the mode and channel in which they were originated, and were exhibited to publick view, are highly inproper. Committees of Safety, &c˙, are officers made by, and known in, the law; therefore the law must be their rule. They are Town Officers, chosen in the same manner as the Selectmen are; their business is to inspect the political behaviour of their townsmen, and use their endeavours to suppress every effort of the enemies of their country, and whatever else is of the same complexion. But for the Committees of several towns to assemble together, and organize themselves into a body, resembling a Congress or General Assembly, exhibiting their doings under the name of Resolutions, is without their line, and beyond their sphere.

When the powers of government in this State were suspended by the enemies of our peace, such political manoeuvres were necessary, and tended greatly to the salvation of America; but when this suspension was at an end, and the forms and execution of Legislative and Executive Government were assumed and restored, the reason and necessity of County Conventions came to a period; all that Committees of Correspondence, &c˙, now have to do, is, to take care of the enemies of the State, in their several towns, and to give all necessary information to each other and to proper Magistrates. County Conventions, at this time of day, can do no good, and may be productive of lasting mischief. If in their resolutions they coincide with the doings of the Legislature, it is nugatory, because the business may as well be done without them, and charges saved. But on the other hand, should their resolutions clash and interfere with the sense of the General Assembly, the State must be divided against itself. By the same rule that one hundred members are collected in one County, a proportionable number may be collected in the whole State, which (to say the least) would be double the number of the General Court. And no reason can be given why a State Convention of Committees, &c˙, may not take place, as


well as a County Assembly. Should this Convention proceed to publish resolutions different from the acts and the intentions of the Legislature, founded on mature and solemn deliberation, they (the Court) must be under duress, and in continual fears; the consequence of which (at least) must be formidable.

I hope and trust, as the General Court are the creators of Committees, that they will define their power, and limit .their jurisdiction; for at present, it is unlimited, which cannot be affirmed of any constitutional part of State administration.

I am no friend to mysteries in Government — a rule within a rule, a wheel within a wheel! The line of Government should be unperplexed with intricacies, and the same should be affirmed of the law.


County of Middlesex, September 14, 1776.