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and company, their heirs and successors. It is, upon us, in all cases whatever, in that parliament, easy, upon this principle, to account for the ac. where we cannot debate and deliberate upon the krowledgment of, and submission to, king William necessity or expediency of any law, and, conseand queen Mary, as successors of Charles the I. in quently, without our consent; and, as it may probathe room of king James; besides, it is to be con- bly bappen, destructive of the first law of society, sidered, that the people in the colony, as well as the good of the whole. You tell us that, "after in England, had suffered under the tyrant James, the assumption of all the powers of government, by by which he had alike forfeited his right to reign virtue of the new charter, an act passed for the over both. There had been a revolution here, as reviving, for a limited time, all the local laws of well as in England. The eyes of the people here the Massachusetts Bay and New Plymouth, rewere upon William and Mary; and the news of spectively, not repugnant to the laws of England. their being proclaimed in England was, as your And, at the same session, an act passed establish. excellency's history tells us, "the most joyful news ing naval officers, that all undue trading, con. ever received in New England.” And, if they trary to an act of parliament, may be prevented." were not proclaimed here, "by virtue of an act of Among the acts that were then revived, we may the colony,” it was, as we think may be cancluded reasonably suppose was that, whereby provision from the tenor of your history, with the general or was made to give force to this act of parliament universal consent of the people, as apparently as in the province. The establishment, therefore, of if"such act had passed.” It is consent alone that the naval officers, was to aid the execution of an makes any human laws binding; and, as a learned act of parliament, for the observance of which, author observes, a purely voluntary submission to within the colony, the assembly had before made an act, because it is highly in our favor and for our provision, after free debates, with their own conbenefit, is in all equity and justice, to be deemed sent, and by their own act. as not at all proceeding from the right we include in the legislators, that they thereby obtain an au.
The act of parliament, passed in 1741, for putting thority over us, and that ever hereafter, we must
an end to several unwarrantable schemes, mentionobey them of duty. We would observe, that one
ed by your excellency, was designed for the general of the first acts of the general assembly of this good; and, if the validity of it was not disputed. province, since the present charter, was an act
it cannot be urged as a concesion of the supreme requiring the taking the oaths mentioned in an act authority, to make laws binding on us in all cases of parliament, to which you refer us.
whatever. But, if the design of it was for the ge
For what purpose was this act of the assembly passed, if it neral benefit of the province, it was, in one respect,
at least greatly complained of by the persons more was the sense of the legislators that the act of par. liament was in force in the province? And, at the immediately affected by it; and to remedy the insame time, another act was made for the establish- convenience, the legislature of this province passed ment of other oaths necessary to be taken, both an act, directly militating with it; which is the which acts have the royal sanction, and are now
strongest evidence that, although they may have in force. Your excellency says, that when the submitted, sub silentio, to some acts of parliament, colony applied to king William for a second char.
that they conceived might operate for their bene. ter, they knew the oath the king had taken, which fit, they did not conceive themselves bound by any
of its acts which, they judged, would operate to was to govern them according to the statutes in par. liament, and (which your excellency here omits,)
the injury even of individuals. the laws and customs of the same. By the laws Your excellency has not thought proper to at. and customs of parliament, the people of England tempt to confute the reasoning of a learned writer freely debate and consent to such statutes as are on the laws of nature and nations, quoted by’us, made by themselves, or their chosen representa. on this occason, to shew that the authority of the tives. This is a law, or custom, which all man- legislature does not extend so far as the fundakind may justly challenge as their inherent right. mentals of the constitution. We are unhappy in According to this law, the king has an undoubted not having your remarks upon the reasoning of right to govern us. Your excellency, upon recol. that great man; and, until it is confuted, we shall lection, surely will not infer from hence, that it remain of the opinion, that the fundamentals of the was the sense of our predecessors that there was constitution being excepted from the commission to remain a supremacy in the English parliament, of the legislators, none of the acts or doings of the or a full power and authority to make laws binding / general assembly, however deliberate and solemn,
could avail to change them, if the people have not, cellency has informed us, they kept a day of solemn in very express terms, given them the power to do thanksgiving to Almighty God when they received it; and that, much less ought their acts and doings, it? And were they men of so little discernment, however numerous, which barely refer to acts of such children in understanding, as to please themparliament made expressly to relate to us, to be selves with the imagination, that they were blessed taken as an acknowledgment that we are subject with the same rights and liberties which natural to the supreme authority of parliament.
born subjects in England enjoyed, when, at the
same time, they had fully consented to be ruled We shall sum up our own sentiments in the
and ordered by a legislature, a thousand leagues words of that learned writer, Mr. Hooker, in his
distant from them, which cannot be supposed to ecclesiastical policy, as quoted by Mr. Locke.
be sufficiently acquainted with their circumstances, “The lawful power of making laws to command
if concerned for their interest, and in which they whole political societies of men, belonging so pro
cannot be in any sense represented? perly to the same entire societies, that for any prince or potentate of what kind soever, to exer. [The committee who reported the above, were cise the same of himself, and not from express Mr. Cushing, (the speaker,) Mr. S. Adams, Mr. oommission, immediately and personally received Hancock, Mr. Phillips, major Poster, col. Bowers, from God, is no better than mere tyranny. Laws, Mr. Hobson, col. Thayer, and Mr. Denny.] therefore, they are not, which public approbation hath not made so; for laws buman, of what kind MASSACHUSETTS RESOLUTIONS.-On motion of Mr. Sa soever, are available by consent.” “Since men, Adams, the following resolutions were adopted, 110 naturally, have no full and perfect power to com. to 4, May 28, 1773. mand whole politic multitudes of men, therefore, Whereas, the speaker bath communicated to this utterly without our consent, we could in such sort, house, a letter from the truly respectable house of be at no man's commandment living. And to be Burgesses, in his majesty's ancient colony of Vir.' commanded, we do not consent, when that society, ginia, enclosing a copy of the resolves entered into whereof we be a party, hath at any time before by them, on the 12th of March last, and request. consented.” We think your excellency has not ing that a committee of this house may be appoint. proved, either that the colony is a part of the politiced to communicate, from time to time, with a cor. society of England, or that it bas ever consented responding committee, then appointed by the said that the parliament of England or Great Britain, house of Burgesses in Virginia: should make laws binding upon us, in all cases,
And, whereas this house is fully sensible of the whether made expressly to refer to us or not.
necessity and importance of a union of the several We cannat help, before we conclude, expressing colonies in America, at a time when it clearly ap. our great concern, that your excellency has thus pears, that the rights and liberties of all are sysrepeatedly, in a manner, insisted upon our free tematically invaded; in order that the joint wisdom. sentiments on matters of so delicate a nature and of the wbole may be employed in consulting their weighty importance. The question appears to us common safety: to be no other, than whether we are the subjects
Resolved, that this house have a very grateful of absolute unlimited power, or of a free govern
sense of the obligations they are under to the house ment, formed on the principles of the English con stitution. If your excellency's doctrine be true,
of Burgesses, in Virginia, for the vigilance, firm.
ness and wisdom, which they have discovered, at the people of this province hold their lands of the crown and people of England; and their lives, liber.
all times, in support of the rights and liberties of
the American colonies; and do heartily concur with ties, and properties, are at their disposal; and that,
them in their said judicious and spirited resolves, even by compact and their own consent, they were subject to the king, as the head alterius populi Resolded, That a standing committee of corres. of another people, in whose legislature they bave pondence and enquiry be appointed, to consist of no voice or interest. They are, indeed, said to have fifteen members, any eight of whom to be a quorum; & constitution and a legislature of their own; but whose business it shall be, to obtain the most early your excellency has explained it into a mere phan. and authentic intelligence of all such acts and tom; limited, controled, superseded, and nullified resolutions of the British parliament, or proceedat the will of another. Is this the constitution ings of administrations as may relate to, or affect which so charmed our ancestors, that, as your ex. the British colonies in America, and to keep up
and maintain, a correspondence and communica-lby parliament, on the one side, and by the general tion with our sister colonies, respecting these im. assemblies of this continent, on the other, greatly portant considerations; and the result of such their wilitates, and is productive of this unhappy contenproceedings, from time to time, to lay before the tion, think it of the utmost importance to the welhouse.
fare of both, and particularly of the colonies, that
the constitutional powers and rights of each, be Resolved, that it be an instruction to the said enquired into, delineated and fully ascertained. committee, that they do, without delay, inform themselves particularly of the principles and au. That his majesty's subjects of America, are thority, on which was constituted a court of en. entitled to the same rights and liberties as those quiry, held in Rhode Island, said to be vested with of Great Britain, and that these ought, in justice, powers to transport persons, accused of offences by the constitution, to be as well guaranteed and committed in America, to places beyond the seas secured, to the one, as to the other, are too apto be tried.*
parent to be denied. Resolved, that the said committee be further It is, by this house, humbly conceived, to be instructed to prepare and report to this house, a likewise undeniable, that the authority assumed, draft of a very respectful answer to the letter, and now forcibly exercised by parliament, over received from the speaker of the honorable house the colonies, is utterly subversive of freedom in of Burgesses of Virginia, and another, to a letter the latter; and that, while his majesty's loyal sub. received from the speaker of the honorable house jects in America bave the mortification, daily, to of representatives, of the colony of Rhode Island; see new abridgements of their rights and liberties, also, a circular letter to the speakers of the several they have not the least security for those which other houses of assembly, on this continent, enclos. at present remain. Were the colonists only af. ing the aforesaid resolves, and requesting them to fected by a legislature, subject to their control, lay the same before their respective assemblies, in they would, even then, have no other security than confidence, that they will readily and cheerfully belongs to them by the laws of nature, and the comply with the wise and salutary resolves of the English constitution; but should the authority, house of Burgesses, in Virginia.
now claimed by parliament, be fully supported by
power, or submitted to by the colonies, it appears [The committee of correspondence, chosen in to this house that there will be an end to liberty pursuance of the resolves aforesaid, were Mr. in America; and that the colonists will then change Cusbing, (the speaker,) Mr. S. Adams, hon. John the name of freemen for that of slaves. Hancock, Mr. William Phillips, captain William Heath, hon. Joseph Hawley, James Warren, esq.
In order to adjust and settle these important R. Derby, jun. esq. Mr. Elbridge Gerry, J. Bowers, concerns, the free and magnanimous Burgesses of esq. Jededjah Foster, esq. Daniel Leonard, esq. Virginia have proposed a method for uniting the captain T. Gardner, capt. Jonathan Greenleaf, and councils of its sister colonies; and it appearing to J. Prescott, esq.)
this bouse to be a measure very wise and salatary,
is cheerfully received and heartily wdopted. Letter from the house of representatires, addressed to the speakers of the several houses of assembly, on
With great respect for your honorable assembly, the continent.
and in confidence, that a matter, which so nearly Boston, June 3, 1773. affects the safety of each colony, will be assisted SR-The house of representatives, of this pro- by its wise councils, permit this house to enclose vince, being earnestly attentive to the controversy a copy of resolutions, laiely entered into here, and between Great Britain and the colonies, and con. to request you to communicate the same at a con. sidering that the authority claimed and exercised |venient opportunity.
THOMAS CUSHING, speaker. *In consequence of burning the Gaspee, a British armed vessel, which had greatly barassed the (June 2, 1773, the galleries having been cleared, navigation of Rhode Island, a court of enquiry was appointed, under the great seal of England, to be by a vote of the house, Mr. S. Adams observed, holden at Newport. They met once and again, that he perceived the minds of the people were but finally dissolved, witbout doing any thing im. much agitated by a report, that letters of an exportant. It was supposed that many persons, suspected of burning the Gaspee, would have been traordinary nature had been written and sent to sent to England for trial.
England, greatly to the prejudice of this province:
that he had obtained certain letters, with different been made by all his governors, ever since its first signatures, with the consent of the gentleman, publication, make it proper for me to communicate from whom he received them, that they should the order to both houses. be read in the house, under certain restrictions, namely, that the said letters be peither printed nor I am required to signify to you his majesty's copied, in whole, or in part,”—and he accordingly disapprobation of the appointment of committees offered them for the consideration of the house, of correspondence, in various instances, which sit A vote then passed, that the letters be read; and and act, during the recess of the general court, by they were read accordingly: being signed, Thomas prorogation.
T. HUTCHINSOX. Hutchinson, Andrew Oliver, Charles Paxton, Ro. bert Auchmuty, &c. The whole house was then EXTRACT FROM THE AISWER OF THE HOUSE OF AEresolved into a committee, to take said letters
PRESENTATIVES TO THE GOVERNOR, into consideration, and the house adjourned to the
February 5, 1774. afternoon. Mr. Hancock, from the committee of May it please your ercellency, the whole house, reported, that the committee
It affords great satisfaction to this house to find, were of opinion, the tendency and design of the that his majesty has been pleased to put an end to said letters was to overthrow the constitution of an undue claim, heretofore made by the governors this government, and to introduce arbitrary power of this province, grounded upon a supposition into the province, and the report was accepted, that the consent of the chair was necessary to the 101 to 5. A committee of nine was, thereupon, validity of the judicial acts of the governor and chosen, to consider what was proper to be done, in council. Whereby their proceedings, when sitting reference to the letters aforesaid; and the speaker, as the supreme court of Probate, and as the court (Mr. Cushing,) Mr. Admas, Mr. Haricock, Mr. Gor for determining in cases of marriage and divorce, ham, Mr. Pickering, maj. Hawley, col. Warren, Mr. bave been so often impeded. The royal order, Payne and major Foster, were chosen.]
that the governor shall acquiesce in the determina.
tion of the majority of the council, respects not EXTRACT FROM THE GOVERNOR'S MESSAGE TO THE TWO the council only, but the body of the people of HOUSES, JANUARY 26, 1774.
this province. And bis majesty has therein shewed Gentlemen of the council, and
his regard to justice, as well as the interest and Gentlemen of the house of representatives,
convenience of bis subjects, in rescuing a clause The judicial proceedings of the governor and in the charter from a construction which, in the council, as the supreme court of Probate, and as opinion of this house, was repugnant to the espress the court for determining in cases of marriage and
meaning and intent of the charter, inconsistent with divorce, having been impeded in many instances, the idea of a court of justice, and dangerous to the where the opinion of the governor has been dif
rights and property of the subject. ferent from that of the majority of councellors present, the governor having always considered Your excellency is pleased to inform the two his consent as necessary to every judicial act. In houses, that you are required to signify to them the year 1771, I stated the arguments, as well his majesty's disapprobation of the appointment against as for the claim of the governor; and his of committees of correspondence, in various in. majesty kaving been pleased to order the case thus stances, which sit and act, during the recess of the stated, to be laid before the lords of his majesty's general court, by prorogation. You are not pleased most honorable privy council, I am now able to to explain to us the grounds and reasons of bis inform you, that it has been signified to me, to be majesty's disapprobation: until we shall have such bis majesty's pleasure, that I do acquiesce in the explanation laid before us, a full answer to this determination of the majority of counsellors pre-part of your speech will not be espected from us. sent, voting as a court for proving wills and ad- We cannot, however, omit saying, upon this occaministration, and deciding controversies concern- sion, that while the common rights of the Ameri. ing marriage and divorce, although I should differ can subjects, continue to be attacked in various in opinion from that majority. This order more instances, and at times when the several assemblies immediately respects the council; nevertheless, are not sitting, it is bighly necessary that they the tender regard which his majesty has shewn for should correspond with each other, in order to the interest and convenience of his subjects, in a unite in the most effectual means for the obtaining construction of the charter, different from what bad a redress of their grievances. And as the sitting
of the general assemblies in this, and most of the shall, at the same time, as far as in us lies, most colonies, depends upon the pleasure of the gover- effectually secure the tranquility and good order nors, who hold themselves under the direction of of the government, and the great end for which it administration, it is to be expected, that the meet. was instiluted, the safety and welfare of the peoing of the assemblies will be so ordered, as that ple. the intention proposed by a correspondence be.
[The committee, by whom the foregoing was tween them, will be impracticable, but by committees, to sit and act in the recess.
reported, were, the speaker, Mr. S. Adams, Mr. We would,
Hancock, col. Warren, col. Thayer, col. Bowers, moreover, observe that, as it has been the practice
and captain Derby.] for years past for the governor and lieutenant go. vernor of this province, and other officers of the
[Before the general court of Massachusetts secrown, at all times, to correspond with ministers of state, and persons of distinction and influence parated, in June, 1774, they elected five delegates,
to meet such as should be chosen by the other coloin the nation, in order to concert and carry on sucb
nies, to convene at Philadelphia, to consider the measures of the British administration,' as have
critical and alarming situation of the country.been deemed by the colonists to be grievous to
They met in September, 1774, and delegates from them, it cannot be thought unreasonable, or im
all the other provinces, (except Georgia, which, proper, for the colonists to correspond with their
however, soon afterwards joined the confederacy,) agents, as well as with each other, to the end, that
convened there, at that period, and formed the their grievances may be so explained to his ma- first continental congress. The following gentlejesty, as that, in his justice, he may afford them
men were appointed delegates: Thomas Cushing, necessary relief. As this province has heretofore
Samuel Adams, Robert T. Paine, James Bowdoin, felt the great misfortune of the displeasure of our and John Adams. And as the general court was dissovereign, by means of misrepresen+ations, permit solved, it was also proposed to have a provincial us further to say, there is room to apprehend that
congress, or meeting of deputies, from every town his majesty has, in this instance, been misinformed; in this state. Deputies were accordingly chosen, and that there are good grounds to suspect, that and met at Salein, October 7th, 1774. An adjourn. those who may have misinformed him, have had in
ment was immediately voted, to Concord. John meditation further measures destructive to the colo. Hancock, was chosen president, and Benjamin nies, which they were apprehensive would be de.
A committee was appointed feated by means of committees of correspondence, to consider the state of the province, consisting of sitting and acting in the recess of the respective the following gentlemen, viz. the president, Joseph assemblies.
Hawley, Dr. Joseph Warren, Samuel Dexler, col. It must be pleasing to the good people of this Ward, col. Warren, captain Heath, col. Lee, Dr. province, to find that the heavy debt which had Church, Dr. Holtan, Mr. Gerry, col. Tying, captain been incurred by their liberal aids, through the Robinson, major Foster, and Mr. Gorham. The course of the late war, for the subduing his ma. day following, the committee reported a message jesty's inveterate enemies, and extending his ter. to governor Gage, which was accepted, and is as ritory and dominion in America, is so nearly dis. follows:] charged. Whenever the house of representatives
MESSAGE FROM THE PROVINCIAL CONGRESS, SITTING AT shall deem it incumbent upon them to provide for
CONCORD, TO HIS EXCELLENCY GOVERNOR GAGE. any future charges, it will be done, as it ought, by May it please your excellency, such ways and means as, after due deliberation, to them shall seem meet.
The delegates, from the several towns in the
province of Massachusetts Bay, convened in conIn the mean time, this house will employ the gress, beg leave to address you. The distressed powers with which they are entrusted, in suport and miserable state of the province, occasioned ing his majesty's just authority in the province, by the intolerable grievances and oppressions to according to the royal charter, and in despatching which the people are subjected, and the danger such public business as now properly lies before and destruction to wbich they are exposed, of us. And, while we pursue such measures as tend, which your excellency must be sensible, and the by God's blessing, to the redress of grievances, want of a general assembly, have rendered it and to the restoration and establishment of the indispensably necessary to collect the wisdom of publie liberty, we persuade ourselves, that weltbe province, by their delegates, in this congress,