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use of the letters for the public benefit, and for weakening the influence and power of the writers and their friends, and disarming their revenge, it was judged most expedient, by the gentlemen to whom they were first shown, to allow the House such a use of the originals, as they might think necessary to found their proceedings upon for the common safety. By whom and to whom they were sent is still a secret, known only to three persons here, and may still remain so, if you desire it.
I forgot to mention, that, upon the first appearance of the letters in the House, they voted, by a majority of one hundred and one to five, that the design and tendency of them were to subvert the constitution, and introduce arbitrary power. Their committee upon this matter reported this day a number of resolutions, which are to be printed by to-morrow morning, and every member furnished with a copy, that they may compare them with the letters; and to-morrow at three o'clock in the afternoon is the time appointed to decide upon
The acceptance of it by a great majority is not doubted.
Should the vessel that is to carry this letter remain long enough, I will send you a copy of the resolutions. Nothing could have been more seasonable, than the arrival of these letters. They have had great effect; they make deep impressions wherever they are known; they strip the mask from the writers, who, under the professions of friendship to their country, now plainly appear to have been endeavouring to build up themselves and their families upon its ruins. They and their adherents are shocked and dismayed; the confidence reposed in them by many is annihilated; and administration must soon see the necessity of putting the provincial power of the crown into other hands,
if they mean it should operate to any good effect. This, at present, is almost the universal sentiment.
The House have this day sent up the letters to the Board, which, I believe, will concur with them in the substance and spirit of their proceedings. We are highly indebted to our friends in London, and to you, Sir, in particular, for so important a communication, and hope, while it supports the cause of truth and justice, and promotes the deliverance of this abused and oppressed country, it will be attended with no disadvantage to them.
The inconveniences, that may accidentally arise from such generous interpositions, are abundantly compensated by the reflection, that they tend to the security and happiness of millions. I trust, however, that nothing of this kind will occur to disturb the agreeable feelings of those, who, in this instance, have done such extensive good. With great esteem, I am, &c.
FROM THOMAS CUSHING TO B. FRANKLIN.
Hutchinson's Letters. - Petition to the King for the
Removal of Governor Hutchinson, and LieutenantGovernor Oliver.
Province of Massachusetts Bay, 25 June, 1773. SIR, The House of Representatives have lately had divers letters, signed Thomas Hutchinson, Andrew Oliver, &c., laid before them, attested copies of which, you have enclosed; and, after maturely considering their contents, they have voted as their sense, that the tendency and design of said letters appear to have been to overthrow the constitution of this government, and
to introduce arbitrary power into this province; and have passed sundry resolves respecting these letters, which accompany this letter. They have also agreed upon and passed a petition to his Majesty, which you will receive with this enclosure, praying that his Ex cellency Thomas Hutchinson, governor, and Andrew Oliver, lieutenant-governor, of this province, be removed from the posts they hold within this government;
which petition you are desired, as soon as possible, to present to his Majesty ; * and, as the persons aforenamed have by this their conduct rendered themselves very obnoxious, and have entirely lost the confidence of this people, you are desired to use your interest and influence to support said petition, that it may have its desired effect; and you are further directed to employ Arthur Lee as counsel upon this occasion, and any other counsel you may think proper.
You are desired also to take effectual care, that the several petitions, relative to the governor and judges of the Superior Court receiving their support from the crown, independent of the grants of the people, may be (if they have not already been) immediately laid before his Majesty, and strenuously supported; as they are matters that very nearly and essentially affect our happy constitution, the preservation of which in a great measure depends upon their meeting with a favorable reception and answer. I have the honor to be, &c.
* See the Resolves and Petition, Vol. IV. pp. 426, 430.
TO THOMAS CUSHING.
Controversy with Governor Hutchinson. — Resolves of
the Virginia House of Burgesses. - Dr. Franklin justifies himself against the Charge of Neglect, as Agent for Massachusetts. — Arthur Lee.
London, 7 July, 1773. SIR, I thank you for the pamphlets you have sent me, containing the controversy between the governor and the two Houses. I have distributed them where I thought they might be of use. He makes perhaps as much of his argument as it will bear; but has the misfortune of being on the weak side, and so is put to shifts and quibbles, and the use of much sophistry and artifice, to give plausibility to his reasonings. The Council and the Assembly have greatly the advantage in point of fairness, perspicuity, and force. His precedents of acts of Parliament binding the colonies, and our tacit consent to those acts, are all frivolous. Shall a guardian, who has imposed upon, cheated, and plundered a minor under his care, who was unable to prevent it, plead those impositions after his ward has discovered them, as precedents and authorities for continuing them. There have been precedents, time out of mind, for robbing on Hounslow Heath, but the highwayman, who robbed there yesterday, does nevertheless deserve hanging.
I am glad to see the resolves of the Virginia House of Burgesses.* There are brave spirits among that people. I hope their proposal will be readily complied with by all the colonies. It is natural to suppose, as you do, that, if the oppressions continue, a congress may grow out of that correspondence. Nothing would more alarm our ministers; but, if the colonies agree to hold a congress, I do not see how it can be prevented.
* The resolves appointing a Committee of Correspondence, and requesting the legislatures of the other colonies to do the same, for the purpose of promoting a mutual intercourse. These resolves were passed on the 12th of March, 1773; and, as the plan was generally adopted by the other colonies, it became a very important instrument in effecting a union, and carrying forward concerted measures in the early stages of the Revolution. See the Resolves in Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, 3d ed. p. 87.
The instruction relating to the exemption of the commissioners I imagine is withdrawn; perhaps the other also, relating to the agents, but of that I have heard nothing. I only wonder that the governor should make such a declaration of his readiness to comply with an intimation in acting contrary to any instructions, if he had not already, or did not soon expect a repeal of those instructions. I have not and shall never use your name on this or any similar occasion.
I note your directions relating to public and private letters, and shall not fail to observe them. At the same time I think all the correspondence should be in the Speaker's power, to communicate such extracts only as he should think proper for the House. It is extremely embarrassing to an agent, to write letters concerning his transactions with ministers, which letters he knows are to be read in the House, where there may be governor's spies, who carry away parts, or perhaps take copies, that are echoed back hither privately; if they should not be, as sometimes they are, printed in the Votes. It is impossible to write freely in such circumstances, unless he would hazard his usefulness, and put it out of his power to do his country any farther service. I speak this now, not upon my