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as had been threatned, a Plan of economy and industry, was set on foot, at one of these town meetings,' the apparent design of which, is to allarm the trading and manufacturing people of Great Britain, and to engage them in their interest, so as to obtain a repeal of the Laws, rather than to answer the ends and purposes pretended.
An association was accordingly entered into in this town, whereby the articles now charged with duties, with many others, were to be entirely disused, and encouragement was given to manufacture the same among themselves; the consumption of British manufactures in general was to be discountenanced, and a preference given to those of America. That this spirit might extensively prevail, the proceedings of the town meeting were transmitted to every town of note throughout the Continent, and we find the same measures adopted in the neighboring Provinces, and the newspapers of each, echo to the other, their great, tho' but imaginary progress in manufactures. Few of the principal people of the town signed the Association, and very few of the subscribers conform to the terms of it, which serve to shew Your Lordships that it is such a policy as we before suggested.
At a subsequent town meeting, instructions were given to the Representatives of Boston, to promote a remonstrance from the General Assembly, against the late Laws.
The General Assembly is now sitting, and the lower House has so far entered into their views, as to address His Majesty and write to His Secretary of State on the subject. And to influence the other provinces to pursue similar measures, it was voted, a few days ago, that an account of their proceedings should be transmitted to the Speaker of every House of Representatives on the Continent.1
From this conduct of the lower House, Your Lordships may form a judgment of the general sense and disposition of the people of this Province. We must nevertheless observe, that there are many people of property in this town, who might be induced to shew their countenance in support of Government, if the executive power had strength to protect them: Property however has but little weight and influence in these popular Governments places of trust and authority being acquired, and maintained, by trimming with, and courting the people.
1 October 28, 1767.
2 Massachusetts Broadsides, Collections, LXXV. Nos. 1403, 1404.
3 Journals, Massachusetts House of Representatives, January 20, 1768. 4 lb., January 22 and 26, February 4, and 13, 1768. The text of the letter sent is in the Boston-Gazette, March 14, 1768.
While it is the general received opinion that the Acts imposing the late duties are unconstitutional, the People will be easily persuaded not to pay any. And we do not know how soon that period may arrive, after they find themselves disappointed in their expectations of a repeal, in consequence of their remonstrances.
Our Officers were resisted and defeated, almost in every attempt to do their duty, when the right of Parliament to lay external duties was acknowledged; now, that the right of Parliament to lay any taxes whatever on the Colonies, is denied, we have every reason to expect that we shall find it totally impracticable to inforce the execution of the Revenue Laws, untill the hand of Government is properly strengthened. At present, there is not a Ship of War in the province, nor a company of Soldiers nearer than New York, which is two hundred and fifty miles distant from this place.
We herewith transmit to Your Lordships, a collection of Newspapers, filled with publications derogatory to the honor and authority of Great Britain, and subversive of all order, and government, which have nevertheless been hitherto circulated thro' the different Colonies with impunity.
We have not made any one privy to the contents of this memorial, as a Subject of this delicate nature, requires the utmost secrecy, in the present feeble, and unhinged state of Government. Which is humbly Submitted.
Boston, Feb 12. 1768.
[Endorsed] Memorial from the Commrs of the Customs in America Feb. 12. 1768. R. the 4th June 1768.2
1 "It may here be observed, that at the Commencement of this Board ..., a majority of them considered it necessary for all the Members to sign such Letters and Memorials to the Treasury as should be agreed on by the major Part. . . . This (it is said) was very reluctantly complied with by one of them, who immediately applied to the Treasury. . . . The Answer was in the Negative." Letters to the Ministry, 107.
2 PRO, Class 1. Bundle 465. fos. 330-333.
COMMISSIONERS OF THE CUSTOMS TO LORDS OF THE TREASURY
May it please Your Lordships.
In our Memorial of the 12th of February we laid before Your Lordships our Sentiments upon the present State of Government in this Country, and we are very sorry to say that from the Experience we have since had, we are confirmed in the Opinions we had then formed.
Having had Reason to think that the Persons employed in the out-door Business had been guilty of collusive practices, we thought it necessary to employ some extra Tidesmen on board of Vessels arriving in this Port from foreign ports. This Measure gave Umbrage to the Merchants, and produced great Clamours amongst them, and they have since endeavoured to distress and embarrass our Officers, and those who shew a Disposition to pay the Duties are threatnd by them.
Several persons have applied to Mr. Williams Inspector General for the usual Indulgences, and among the Rest the famous Mr. Malcolm, and being answered that the full Duties would be required, he went away, and said he should take his own Measures, On the next day his Vessel arrived near the Harbour, where she was unloaded of about Sixty pipes of Wine into Lighters, which were conducted into Town at Night by a great Number of people
the Master nevertheless, the next day, reported his Vessel in Ballast, and though the Affair is notoriously known and our Officers have endeavoured to procure an Informer, yet no one dares to appear.
To give your Lordships a fuller Idea of the general Temper and Disposition of the People in this Country, we beg leave to submit to Your Consideration some other Proceedings in this place.
On the 26th February the House of Representatives in this Province passed Resolves similar to those of the Town Meeting in October last, to discourage the Use of Foreign Superfluities and to encourage the Manufactures of this Province, and out of eighty two Members, Brigadier Ruggles was the only one who answered in the Negative.1
The Merchants have held several Meetings (at one of which the said Mr. Malcolm presided) to concert Measures to obtain a Repeal of the Laws; accordingly they have entered into an Association not to import any Goods from Great Britain for a limited
1 Journals, Massachusetts House of Representatives, February 26, 1768, and Massachusetts Broadsides, No. 1442.
Time, and a Committee of seven persons hath been appointed to correspond with the Merchants in the other Provinces, to excite them to adopt similar Measures, and those persons who refuse to subscribe are to be discouraged in the most effectual Manner. We are now to observe to Your Lordships, as we did before in our last Memorial, in regard to the proceedings of the Town Meetings, that we consider these Measures as a Policy calculated to alarm the Trading and Manufacturing people of Great Britain, and to engage them in their Interest, so as to obtain a Repeal of the Laws, rather than to answer the Ends and purposes pretended.
On the 29th of February a most audacious Libel on Governor Bernard was published in the Newspapers printed by Edes & Gill of this Town, His Excellency communicated the same to both Houses, but the lower House payed no Regard to it.1
The Chief Justice opened the Superior Court on the 8th Instant with a very strong and pointed Charge in respect to Libels, the grand Jury nevertheless did not present the Publishers of the Libel on the Governor.
Though the most seditious and inflamatory publications have been circulated through all the provinces of America for many Months past, no one Governor, as we can learn, has hitherto attempted to prosecute the Authors or publishers of them, and the political Doctrines avowed in them are now become the Principles of the generality of the People; on the 11th, instant at an annual Meeting for the Choice of Town Officers, the Thanks of the Town were voted to the Author of the farmers Letters published at Philadelphia the Motion was made by the aforesaid Mr. Malcolm, and it passed unanimously.2
For several Evenings in the beginning of March a number of people armed with Clubs assembled about the Houses of some of the Members of the Board, blowing Horns, beating Drums, and making hideous Noises, so that the Familys quitted their Houses expecting they would proceed to Violence, On the 17th. instant we had certain Information that, on the next day, being the Anniversary of the Repeal of the Stamp Act, which has been observed as a Day of Triumph over Great Britain, certain Images would be affixed to a Tree called the Tree of Liberty, that the Mob would assemble and bring the Commissioners and the Officers of the Board to the Tree, to oblige them to renounce their Commissioners, accordingly at day break on the 18th., the 1 Ib., March 1, 1768. The alleged libel is at the head of the second column of the second page of the Supplement to the Boston-Gazette, February 29, 1768.
2 Boston Records, XVI. 241, 243.
Effigies of Mr. Paxton and Mr. Williams were exhibited on the Tree, and after hanging a few Hours were taken down, the Morning was ushered in with Guns firing Drums beating, and a Display of Colours in several parts of the Town; That Morning as soon as the Board met, we wrote a Letter to the Governor, and before we broke up we received a Minute of the Council, Copies of which are sent herewith; The Council met again in the Afternoon, as resolved in the Minute of the Morning, and adjourned without taking any Measures to secure the Peace of the Town, and here we think it necessary to observe to Your Lordships, that even in the heighth of the Outrages in the Year 1765 the Council of this Province, who are annually chosen by the Representatives of the people, would not advise the Governor to apply to the Commander of His Majestys Troops for any Military Aid; In the Evening the Mob made a procession through the Town, with Drums beating, and Colours flying, which was closed with a Cart, in which were placed four swivel Guns, they went to Liberty Tree and after discharging several Guns they paraded through the Streets making hideous Cries and Noises at the Houses of the Governor and some of the Commissioners, and about nine O'Clock they proceeded to the House of Mr. Williams Inspector General, who is become particularly obnoxious by being our immediate Instrument in regulating this Port, and annexed is the Copy of Mr. William's Letter to the Board acquainting us of the Attack made upon him by the Mob of that Evening.
It does not appear that it is their plan to molest us immediately, as the last Mob was prevailed upon to disist from proceeding to Outrage until the Answer of Government to the remonstrance of their Assembly could be received; But of this we are well convinced, that the Governor and Magistracy have not the least Authority or power in this place, that the Mob are ready to be assembled on any Occasion, and that every Officer who exerts himself in the Execution of his Duty will be exposed to the Resentment of the Populace, without the least probability of receiving and Protection.
Though no immediate Outrage should be committed on ourselves or Officers, yet if the answer from Government to the Remonstrances of the lower House of Assembly should not be agreable to the people, We are fully persuaded that they will proceed to violent Measures; In the mean Time we must depend on the favour of the Leaders of the Mob for our protection and in such Circumstances we cannot answer for our Security for a