Liberty Letters, Samuel Adams, October 31, 1771
BOSTON Octob 31 1771.
I Inclose a printed Copy of a Resolve of the Council of this province, whereby Junius Americanus is censurd for asserting that the late Secretary Oliver stood recorded in the Councils Books as a perjurd traitor. You may easily suppose that the Friends of America for whom that Writer has been & is a firm & able Advocate, resent this Conduct of the Council whose Ingratitude to say nothing of the Injustice of this proceeding is the more extraordinary as Junius Americanus has taken so much pains to vindicate that very Body against the malignant Aspersions of Bernard & others. There was however only Eight of twenty six Councellors present when they were prevaild upon by an artful man to pass this Resolve. You will see by the inclosd some remarks upon the former proceedings of the Council, or rather a recital of parts of them, by which I think it appears that the Assertion could not be groundless nor malicious; nor can it be false if their own publication is true. I can conceive that the Design of the first mover of this Resolve was to injure the Credit of all the Writings of Junius Americanus, which I believe he very sensibly feels, & also to make it appear to the World that the Council, as they had before said of the House, had departed from & disavowd the Sentiments of former Assemblys; and that this Change has been effected by the Influence of Mr. Hutchinson. With Regard to the Council, it is hardly possible for any one at a distance to ascertain their political Sentiments from what they see of their determinations publishd here in general, for it has been the practice of the Governor to summon a general Council at the Time when the Assembly is sitting & of Course the whole Number of Councillors is present – but in their Capacity of Advisers to the Governor they are adjournd from week to week during the Session of the Assembly & till it is over when the Country Gentlemen Members of Council return home. Thus the general Council being kept alive by Adjournments, the principal & most important part of the Business of their executive department is done by seven or eight who live in & about the Town, & if the Governor can manage a Majority of so small a Number, Matters will be conducted according to his mind. I believe I may safely affirm that by far the greater Number of civil officers have been appointed at these adjournments; so that it is much the same as if they were appointed solely by our ostensible Governor or rather by his Master, the Minister for the time being. You will not then be surprisd if I tell you that among the five Judges of our Superior Court of Justice, there are the following near Connections with the first & second in Station in the province. Mr Lynde is Chiefe Justice; his Daughter is married to the Son of Mr Oliver, the Lt Govr; Mr Oliver another of the Judges is his Brother; his Son married Gov Hutchinsons Daughter; & Judge Hutchinson lately appointed, who is also Judge of the probate of Wills for the first County, an important department, is the Govrs brother. Besides which the young Mr Oliver is a Justice of the Common pleas for the County of Essex. Mr Cotton a Brother in Law of the Govr is deputy Secretary of the province & Register in the probate office under Mr Hutchinson; a cousin german of the Govr was sent for out of another province to fill up the place of Clerk to the Common pleas in this County; & the eldest Son of the Govr will probably soon be appointed a Justice of the same Court in the room of his Uncle advancd to the superior bench. I should have first mentiond that the Gov & the Lt Gov’ are Brothers by Marriage.
The House of Representatives, notwithstanding the Advantages which a new Governor always has in his hands I have reason to think will be so firm as at least not to give up any Right. The Body of the people are uneasy at the large Strides that are made & making towards an absolute Tyranny – many are alarmd but are of different Sentiments with regard to the next step to be taken – some indeed think that every Step has been taken but one & the ultima Ratio would require prudence unanimity and fortitude. The Conspirators against our Liberties are employing all their Influence to divide the people, partly by intimidating them for which purpose a fleet of Ships lies within gun Shot of the Town & the Capital Fort within three miles of it is garrisond by the Kings Troops, and partly by Arts & Intrigue; by flattering those who are pleasd with Flattery; forming Connections with them, introducing Levity Luxury & Indolence & assuring them that if they are quiet the Ministry will alter their Measures. I fear some of the Southern Colonies are taken with this Bait, for we see hardly anything in their publick papers but Advertisements of the Baubles of Britain for sale. This is the general Appearance of things here while the people are anxiously waiting for some happy Event from your side the Water – for my own part I confess I have no great Expectations from thence, & have long been of Opinion that America herself under God must finally work out her own Salvation.
I have been told by a friend that a Manuscript has been sent from hence upon the Subject of the Tryals of Preston & the Soldiers, for your perusal entitled a Hue & Cry &c. Had I seen & thought it answerable to what I have heard of it, I should have endeavord to have had it publishd here. I wish it had been or still might be publishd in London if you have seen it & think it worth while, subject entirely to your Correction and Amendment. But after all what will the best & most animating publications signify, if the many are willing to submit & be enslavd by the few.
I wrote you about a fortnight past by Capt. Hood & can add nothing more at present but that I am sincerely your friend & hbl servt
Source: Samuel Adams, 31 October 1771, Samuel Adams letter, to Arthur Lee. [Ms., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library a text with variations is in R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. ii., pp. 184-187.]
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