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For the Massachusetts Gazette



Boston, March 9, 1775.

My worthy Friends and Fellow- Countrymen:

The more I reflect upon the Petition, so called, of the American Continental Congress to the King, the more I am surprised, astonished, and amazed at the unaccountable folly it discovers. One would think that an assembly, allowed on all hands to be unknown in the Constitution, would, in an undertaking of this kind, have endeavoured to obviate any objections to their authority by the moderation, truth, justice, and equity of their complaints; would have recommended themselves by that decent demeanour and dutiful behaviour which would have insured an attention to their requests from the Throne, and interested the Nation in their favour; but alas for us, we find them, contrary to their own declaration, actuated by "a restless levity of temper, unjust impulses of ambition, and artful suggestions of seditious persons," instead of that quiet submission to lawful authority, that decent moderation, and those loyal principles which ought to have been the characteristicks of their councils.


But I shall waive any further general observations, until I have particularly examined the remaining grievances complained of, of which the next in order, is, "The Judges of Courts of common law have been made entirely dependant on one part of the Legislature for their salaries, as well as for the duration of their commissions."

By this, so far as it respects this Province, can be intended only the Judges of the Superiour Court, as it is confined to such as receive salaries; and the Judges of the Inferiour Courts have only court fees, upon the several causes which come before them. And here let us examine what was formerly our situation in this respect, and thence determine the expediency, propriety, and necessity of the alteration. The Judges of the Superiour Court were before dependant upon the annual grants of the House of Representatives for their salaries, which have ever been so small, that they would scarce defray the necessary expense of attending the Courts, and never sufficient to maintain a family; so that unless the Judges had a private estate to subsist their families upon, they must have been constantly kept in the most pressing circumstances, if not greatly involved in debt. Of this repeated remonstrances were made and petitions presented for relief, but without success; and what was a still greater hardship, they were in continual danger, that by any unpopular adjudications, even these scanty pittances would be curtailed. Under these circumstances, could the dignity of the King' s Judges be properly supported and preserved? Could they act with that firmness, spirit, freedom, and resolution requisite to maintain so important a character? Could they be considered as not "dependant on one part of the Legislature for their salaries?"

To these questions let every impartial observer return an answer, and determine for himself, whether they were rendered more dependant on one part of the Legislature, when they were made entirely independent of every part. Add to this, that they and some other Civil Officers who where formerly paid by the Province, are now paid out of that fund which you are taught to believe is squandered away upon a set of worthless placemen and pensioners; and thereby an internal tax upon your estates for these purposes prevented. As to the "duration of their commissions," they are now removable only by an order from His Majesty, under his sign manual; and it is paying but an ill compliment to His Most Excellent Majesty, whom they profess to believe the gracious father of his people, and ever attentive to the reasonable complaints of his subjects, to suppose that he will make an improper or wanton use of this power. However, there is no doubt to be entertained, that even in this instance, as soon as we return to our former state of obedience, such an alteration will be made upon a dutiful application to the King and Parliament, as will remove every ground of complaint on this account.

The next article is, "Counsellors holding their commissions during pleasure, exercise Legislative authority." This is very extraordinary; we all profess to think the British Constitution the best that now is or ever has been established in the world; we are all striving after the rights, liberties, and privileges of Englishmen; we all wish to be under a Government as nearly similar as the difference of our circumstances will admit; and yet this alteration, which certainly reduces us to a much nearer resemblance of that great original, which we so much and so justly admire, is complained of as a grievance. Before the late Act of Parliament for regulating the government of the a Massachuselts-Bay — for I consider this grievance as confined to this Province, for reasons I shall hereafter explain — the Council was annually chosen by the House of Representatives, and consequently, by adopting any unpopular measures, were in danger of losing their election the ensuing year. This we have seen verified in many instances of the most worthy and sensible men in the Province being left out of the Council merely on this account. On the other hand, if any members, who were zealous in support of the popular schemes were elected into the Council, they were liable to be turned or kept out by the negative which the Governour had upon the election. By the late Act they are appointed by His Majesty, with the consent of his Privy Council, and rendered independent of any branch of


the Legislature here, and, therefore, may be presumed to be impartial and unbiased in their councils. In which of those modes of appointment the Council best resembles the House of Lords in England, who hold their seats by hereditary right, independent of the King or the Commons, let every one judge for himself, and thence conclude what a grievance we labour under in this respect.

They go on to complain that "humble and reasonable Petitions from the Representatives of the people have been fruitless." Had they been more explicit in their declaration of the instances of this kind referred to, we might better judge of the justice of their complaint. The Congress knew that in consequence of the Petitions from the Colonies, the Stamp Act was repealed; they knew that certain Duties, imposed upon several articles by another Act of Parliament, were taken off in consequence of a similar application, from all the articles except Tea, and that this was kept on only to save the legal and constitutional right and supreme jurisdiction of the British Parliament; they know that whenever this right is acknowledged, and their honour thereby saved, that even this Duty will be taken off, and no further occasion of complaint given. They must have seen, that, had it not been for the highhanded, unwarrantable measures adopted by those who call themselves Whigs; had they instead thereof proposed any plan of accommodation, any means of settling the dispute amicably and honourably; all things would have been adjusted upon an equitable, a constitutional and permanent foundation. There can be no reasonable doubt that this has been the disposition of Administration for some years past; but that our daring outrageous behaviour, instead of the "humble and reasonable Petitions from the Representatives of the people" that we are told of, has compelled them to use coercive measures, to bring us to a due sense of that dependance upon the British Nation which our forefathers, and we, until very lately, have uniformly acknowledged. Can it be supposed that a powerful, a brave-spirited, and generous Nation can, on the one hand, admit such extravagant claims as the Colonies now set up, or, on the other, entertain a design of oppressing and enslaving them? Both these things are equally incompatible with her own interest, and therefore equally improbable. Yet you are made to believe them by your leaders, who find it their interest to fish in troubled waters; who know that as soon as the ball of contention is once taken away, they must sink into their native obscurity, and therefore seek their own advancement in your ruin. Could I suppose that views so dishonourable and base influenced the British Councils, as an attempt to injure and enslave you, no one would more readily join heart and hand in a forcible opposition to their measures, if all peaceable and reasonable means failed of success. But I am firmly persuaded, and upon the best grounds, that your fears are without foundation; that your danger exists only in your own imaginations; and I pray God that your eyes may be opened, that you may see things in their true and natural colours, and escape the impending evils before they burst upon you.

The next complaint is, that "the agents of the people have been discountenanced, and Governours have been instructed to prevent the payment of their salaries," Let us examine the grounds of this complaint. Formerly, while we were convinced that our own interest was inseparably connected with that of Great Britain; while we were willing to submit to the rightful exercise of her authority over us, and in this submission found that we were happy, peaceful, and free, an agent was chosen by the three branches of the Legislature, who took care of the concerns of the Province at the Court of Great Britain. To this no objection was ever made, but a salary was granted and regularly paid, and the interest of the Province carefully attended to by the agent. Of late years the demagogues on this side the Atlantick, finding they should not be able to accomplish their sinister purposes unless they had an agent of their own appointment, who would join in forwarding and promoting their own rash measures, determined to effect this point; accordingly the House of Representatives, when they found the Governour would not approve the choice of an agent they had made, to answer these ends, instead of electing a suitable person, in whom


all parties might agree, proceeded in their separate capacity to choose one, who should serve the House alone, and the Council appointed one for themselves. These agents were never admitted as such, at any board or office in England, not being properly appointed, and were therefore useless to all good intents and purposes whatever. This measure was also justly deemed offensive by His Majesty, as introducing unnecessary innovations, and he accordingly, to save a useless expense of money to the Province, instructed his Governour to refuse his consent to the payment of the salaries granted to the agents thus appointed, which he, without doubt, had not only a legal and constitutional right to do, but therein consulted the true interest of the Province, and which ought by no means to be considered as a grievance, as every valuable, just, and lawful purpose may be answered by the former as well as the latter mode of election. With how much reason, then, a complaint is made on this account it is for you, my fellow-countrymen, to determine, before you adopt any forcible measures for redress. Admitting, indeed, that these things are really illegal and oppressive, every method ought to be tried for relief before you proceed to such desperate extremities; and if you fail of success, you ought even then to consider whether the miseries and calamities necessarily attendant upon and consequent to a forcible opposition to the Parent State, do not far exceed any advantages which you can expect to gain from the fullest satisfaction of your wishes in this unnatural contest. But when you consider that your complaints are for the most part groundless, that you are seduced, deceived, and misled by your worst enemies, under the mask of patriots, you cannot, I think, hesitate immediately to think and judge for yourselves, to exercise that virtue, prudence, and wisdom, which you naturally possess; and now, while it is in your power, secure your happiness and freedom undiminished, lest you be finally compelled to make the greatest sacrifices to maintain even a partial enjoyment of them.