Modern Commentary at the end of Original

            Sadly Modern Americans have no real understanding of “Liberty”! It is not taught in your schools or churches.  The study of the “ancients” no longer touches your thoughts so that you would understand that history tells the story of the way small numbers of individual hold to the feudal beliefs of enslaving others.  That slavery does not have to be overt. This word would conjures ideas of what many of us Founders fought against from the beginning yet with that, it applies in a modern sense to what de Tocqueville wrote would happen to the United States.  More terrible, as de Tocqueville wrote, is that the majority of the citizenry is willing to accept the cloak of slavery for security by clamoring in your modern times for the god of environmentalism and economy over the truths of Liberty.

The Original – [Boston Gazette, October 14, 1771.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

“Ambition saw that stooping Rome could bear A MASTER, nor had Virtue to be free.”

I Believe that no people ever yet groaned under the heavy yoke of slavery, but when they deserv’d it.  This may be called a severe censure upon by far the greatest part of the nations in the world who are involv’d in the misery of servitude: But however they may be thought by some to deserve commiseration, the censure is just.  Zuinglius, one of the first reformers, in his friendly admonition to the republic of the Switzers, discourses much of his countrymens throwing off the yoke: He says, that they who lie under oppression deserve what they suffer, and a great more; and he bids them perish with their oppressors.  The truth is, All might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they ought.  Is it possible that millions could be enslaved by a few, which is a notorious fact, if all possessed the independent spirit of Brutus, who to his immortal honor, expelled the proud Tyrant of Rome, and his “royal and rebellious race?”  If therefore a people will not be free; if they have not virtue enough to maintain their liberty against a presumptuous invader, they deserve no pity, and are to be treated with contempt and ignominy.  Had not Caesar seen that Rome was ready to stoop, he would not have dared to make himself the master of that once brave people.  He was indeed, as a great writer observes, a smooth and subtle tyrant, who led them gently into slavery; “and on his brow, ‘ore daring vice deluding virtue smil’d”.  By pretending to be the peoples greatest friend, he gain’d the ascendency over them: By beguiling arts, hypocrisy and flattery, which are even more fatal than the sword, he obtain’d that supreme power which his ambitious soul had long thirsted for: The people were finally prevail’d upon to consent to their own ruin: By the force of perswasion, or rather by cajoling arts and tricks always made use of by men who have ambitious views, they enacted their Lex Regia: whereby Quod placuit principi legis habuit vigorem; that is, the Will and pleasure of the Prince had the force of law.  His minions had taken infinite pains to paint to their imaginations the god-like virtues of Caesar: They first persuaded them to believe that he was a deity, and then to sacrifice to him those Rights and Liberties which their ancestors had so long maintained, with unexampled bravery, and with blood & treasure.  By this act they fixed a precedent fatal to all posterity: The Roman people afterwards, influenced no doubt by this pernicious example, renew’d it to his successors, not at the end of every ten years, but for life.  They transfer’d all their right and power to Charles the Great: In eum transtulit omne suum jus et poteslatem.  Thus, they voluntarily and ignominiously surrendered their own liberty, and exchanged a free constitution for a TYRANNY!

It is not my design at present to form the comparison between the state of this country now, and that of the Roman Empire in those dregs of time; or between the disposition of Caesar, and that of — (the present administration); The comparison, I confess, would not in all parts hold good: The Tyrant of Rome, to do him justice, had learning, courage, and great abilities. It behoves us however to awake and advert to the danger we are in.  The Tragedy of American Freedom, it is to be feared is nearly compleated: A Tyranny seems to be at the very door.  It is to little purpose then to go about cooly to rehearse the gradual steps that have been taken, the means that have been used, and the instruments employed, to encompass the ruin of the public liberty: We know them and we detest them.  But what will this avail, if we have not courage and resolution to prevent the completion of their system?

Our enemies would fain have us lie down on the bed of sloth and security, and persuade ourselves that there is no danger.  They are daily administering the opiate with multiplied arts and delusions, and I am sorry to observe, that the gilded pill is so alluring to some who call themselves the friends of Liberty. But is there no danger when the very foundations of our civil constitution tremble?  When an attempt was first made to disturb the corner-stone of the fabrick, we were universally and justly alarmed: And can we be cool spectators, when we see it already removed from its place?  With what resentment and indignation did we first receive the intelligence of a design to make us tributary, not to natural enemies, but infinitely more humiliating, to fellow subjects?  And yet with unparalleled insolence we are told to be quiet, when we see that very money which is torn from us by lawless force, made use of still further to oppress us – to feed and pamper a set of infamous wretches, who swarm like the locusts of Egypt; and some of them expect to revel in wealth and riot on the spoils of our country.  Is it a time for us to sleep when our free government is essentially changed, and a new one is forming upon a quite different system?  A government without the least dependance upon the people: A government under the absolute controul of a minister of state; upon whose sovereign dictates is to depend not only the time when, and the place where, the legislative assembly shall sit, but whether it shall sit at all: And if it is allowed to meet, it shall be liable immediately to be thrown out of existence, if in any one point it fails in obedience to his arbitrary mandates.  Have we not already seen specimens of what we are to expect under such a government, in the instructions which Mr. HUTCHINSON has received, and which he has publickly avow’d, and declared he is bound to obey?   By one, he is to refuse his assent to a tax-bill, unless the Commissioners of the Customs and other favorites are exempted: And if these may be freed from taxes by the order of a minister, may not all his tools and drudges, or any others who are subservient to his designs, expect the same indulgence?  By another he is to forbid to pass a grant of the assembly to any agent, but one to whose election he has given his consent; which is in effect to put it out of our power to take the necessary and legal steps for the redress of those grievances which we suffer by the arts and machinations of ministers, and their minions here.  What difference is there between the present state of this province, which in course will be the deplorable state of all America, and that of Rome, under the law before mention’d?  The difference is only this, that they gave their formal consent to the change, which we have not yet done.  But let us be upon our guard against even a negative submission; for agreeable to the sentiments of a celebrated writer, who thoroughly understood his subject, if we are voluntarily silent, as the conspirators would have us to be, it will be consider’d as an approbation of the change.  “By the fundamental laws of England, the two houses of parliament in concert with the King, exercise the legislative power: But if the two houses should be so infatuated, as to resolve to suppress their powers, and invest the King with the full and absolute government, certainly the nation would not suffer it.”  And if a minister shall usurp the supreme and absolute government of America, and set up his instructions as laws in the colonies, and their Governors shall be so weak or so wicked, as for the sake of keeping their places, to be made the instruments in putting them in execution, who will presume to say that the people have not a right, or that it is not their indispensible duty to God and their Country, by all rational means in their power to RESIST THEM.

“Be firm, my friends, nor let UNMANLY SLOTH Twine round your hearts indissoluble chains.  Ne’er yet by force was freedom overcome.  Unless CORRUPTION first dejects the pride, And guardian vigour of the free-born soul, All crude attempts of violence are vain.  Determined, hold Your INDEPENDENCE; for, that once destroy’d, Unfounded Freedom is a morning dream.”

The liberties of our Country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.  We have receiv’d them as a fair Inheritance from our worthy Ancestors: They purchas’d them for us with toil and danger and expence of treasure and blood; and transmitted them to us with care and diligence.  It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightned as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle; or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing menOf the latter we are in most danger at present: Let us therefore be aware of it.  Let us contemplate our forefathers and posterity; and resolve to maintain the rights bequeath’d to us from the former, for the sake of the latter.  Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude and perseverance. Let us remember, that, “if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.”  It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers in the event.



Comments and Application for the Modern Citizen:

My fears are great in that again, the general citizenry of your modern age will not receive the benefits of the true Founding wisdom that uncompromising history can instruct.  As written in this 1771 article, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1831 in Chapter VI of his book two a discussion regarding the tyranny that occurred during the Roman times.  More so, de Tocqueville was concerned that the America and other Christian democracies would fall to a despotism not ever been recognized before.  He described it in such a manner that you in the modern United States might finally be able to see:

“But it would seem that if despotism were to be established amongst the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them. I do not question, that in an age of instruction and equality like our own, sovereigns might more easily succeed in collecting all political power into their own hands, and might interfere more habitually and decidedly within the circle of private interests, than any sovereign of antiquity could ever do. But this same principle of equality which facilitates despotism, tempers its rigor. We have seen how the manners of society become more humane and gentle in proportion as men become more equal and alike. When no member of the community has much power or much wealth, tyranny is, as it were, without opportunities and a field of action. As all fortunes are scanty, the passions of men are naturally circumscribed–their imagination limited, their pleasures simple. This universal moderation moderates the sovereign himself, and checks within certain limits the inordinate extent of his desires.

Independently of these reasons drawn from the nature of the state of society itself,… When I consider the petty passions of our contemporaries, the mildness of their manners, the extent of their education, the purity of their religion, the gentleness of their morality, their regular and industrious habits, and the restraint which they almost all observe in their vices no less than in their virtues, I have no fear that they will meet with tyrants in their rulers, but rather guardians. I think then that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything which ever before existed in the world:… I am trying myself to choose an expression which will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it, but in vain; the old words “despotism” and “tyranny” are inappropriate: the thing itself is new; and since I cannot name it, I must attempt to define it.”

As was mentioned in the third paragraph that “Our enemies would fain have us lie down on the bed of sloth and security,” having you receive the “daily administering the opiate with multiplied arts and delusions” via the modern media leads then to what de Tocqueville describes where the citizens will see “petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives.” And that they will “live apart” from neighbors and children such that “he exists but in himself and for himself alone.”  Above this segregated citizenry, de Tocqueville view the future, your present, sees a “race of men stands an immense and tutelary (a guardian, patron or protector) power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances–what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?”

Your present situation is that of not understanding Liberty to the extent that de Tocqueville describes your condition with agency regulations and burdens at every level manipulating you the ‘sheeple’– “After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a net-work of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided: men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates (weakens), extinguishes, and stupefies (unable to think clearly) a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Unlike the time of 1771 when the King appointed the governor, your governors and politicians of immense authority are elected.  To this concern much was written in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers but I would again direct you to de Tocqueville who visited America in 1831 as he continue writing almost prophetically of your present condition: “Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions; they want to be led, and they wish to remain free: as they cannot destroy either one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once. They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty; this gives them a respite; they console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians. Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large that holds the end of his chain. By this system the people shake off their state of dependence just long enough to select their master, and then relapse into it again. A great many persons at the present day are quite contented with this sort of compromise between administrative despotism and the sovereignty of the people; and they think they have done enough for the protection of individual freedom when they have surrendered it to the power of the nation at large.

“…Of all the forms which democratic despotism could assume, the latter would assuredly be the worst. When the sovereign is elective, or narrowly watched by a legislature which is really elective and independent, the oppression which he exercises over individuals is sometimes greater, but it is always less degrading; because every man, when he is oppressed and disarmed, may still imagine, that whilst he yields obedience it is to himself he yields it, and that it is to one of his own inclinations that all the rest give way. In like manner I can understand that when the sovereign represents the nation, and is dependent upon the people, the rights and the power of which every citizen is deprived, not only serve the head of the State, but the State itself; and that private persons derive some return from the sacrifice of their independence which they have made to the public…” and “…Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day, and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their will…” Lastly, “…It is in vain to summon a people, which has been rendered so dependent on the central power, to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity…”

The conclusion for the citizen during your present time and future generations is that you MUST always have a clear and truthful Perspective of Liberty above all else!  I can only finish with reiterating the end of the final paragraph in the original – “…Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude and perseverance. Let us remember, that “if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.”  It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers in the event.”



Taxation, Government Pensions & Constitutional Abuse: Response to Ben Franklin June 29, 1771



[Boston Gazette, July 29, 1771; a text from the Bowdoin MS. is in Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society, Ser. I., vol. viii., pp. 468-473.]


June 29, 1771.


Your letter of the 5th of February[2] has been laid before the House: The contents are important and claim our fixed attention.

We cannot think the doctrine of the right of Parliament (modern perspective: Congress or Bureaucratic Agencies that violate the original intent of the Constitution, the malfeasance of the 16th Amendment and the fees by rule/regulations of Agencies) to tax us is given up, while an act (modern perspective: such as the 16th Amendment and the fee charging authority of Agencies) remains in force for that purpose, and is daily put in execution; and the longer it remains the more danger there is of the people’s becoming so accustomed to arbitrary and unconstitutional taxes (modern perspective: the sheeple going accepting the wrong), as to pay them without discontent; and then, as you justly observe, no Minister (modern perspective: Politician) will ever think of taking them off, but will rather be encouraged to add others.  If ever the provincial assemblies (modern perspective: States Legislatures) should be voluntarily silent, on the Parliament’s  (modern perspective: Federal Congress) taking upon themselves a power thus to violate our constitutional and Charter Rights, it might be considered as an approbation of it, or at least a tacit consent, that such a power should be exercised at any future time.  It is therefore our duty to declare our Rights and our determined Resolution at all times to maintain them: The time we know will come, when they must be acknowledged, established and secured to us and our posterity.

We severely feel the effects, not of a revenue raised, but a tribute extorted, without our free consent or control (modern perspective: Congress passing legislation without reading the bills, Pork and agencies Fees). Pensioners and Placemen are daily multiplying (modern perspective: public employee union member retirements, Congress retirement packages after one term, other federal employee retirements); and fleets and standing armies posted in North America (modern perspective: all the Federal agencies that have law enforcement armed individuals – post office, NOAA, IRS, DHS-TSA and other agencies), for no other apparent or real purpose, than to protect the exactors and collectors of the tribute; for which they are to be maintained, & many of them in pomp & pride to triumph over and insult an injured people, and suppress if possible, even their murmurs.  And there is reason to expect, that the continual increase of their numbers will lead to a proportionable increase of a tribute to support them.  What would be the consequence?  Either on the one hand, an abject slavery in the people, which is ever to be deprecated; or, a determined resolution, openly to assert and maintain their rights, liberties and privileges (modern perspective: it’s not about the economy, it’s about Liberty!).  The effects of such a resolution may for some time be retarded by flattering hopes and prospects (modern perspective: “Hope & Change”); and while it is the duty of all persons of influence here to inculcate (definition: instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction) the sentiments of moderation (modern perspective: regarding the acts of Congress and the bastardizing of Constitutional Original Intent), it will in our opinion, be equally the wisdom of the British administration (modern perspective: Congress and the presidential administration(s)), to consider the danger of forcing a free people by oppressive measures into a state of desperation.  We have reason to believe that the American Colonies (modern perspective: The various States), however they may have disagreed among themselves in one mode of opposition to arbitrary measures, are still united in the main principles of constitutional & natural liberty (modern perspective: The 10th Amendment movement); and that they will not give up one single point in contest of any importance, tho’ they may take no violent measures to obtain them.  The taxing their property without their consent (modern perspective: EPA rules and other egregious environmental regulations), and thus appropriating it to the purposes of their slavery and destruction, is justly considered, as contrary to and subversive of their original social compact, and their intention in uniting under it: They cannot therefore readily think themselves obliged to renounce those forms of government, to which alone for the advantages imply’d or resulting, they were willing to submit.  We are sensible, as you observe, that the design of our enemies in England (modern perspective: Oligarchs, socialist, fascist, humanist and globalist in elected offices, the agencies administration, politicians that ascribe to the former), as well as those who reside here (modern perspective: in the States), is to render us odious (definition: repulsive) as well as contemptible, and to prevent all concern for us in the friends of liberty in England (modern perspective: Washington D.C. and some states capitals); and perhaps to detach our Sister Colonies (modern perspective: separate the States by class warfare or other economic means) from us, and prevent their aid and influence in our behalf, when the projects of oppressing us further and depriving us of our Rights by various violent measures, should be carried into execution.  In this however, we flatter ourselves they have failed: But should all the other Colonies (modern perspective: The various States) become weary of their liberties, after the example of the Hebrews, this Province (modern perspective: specific to Mass. in this letter) we trust, will never submit to the authority of an absolute government.

We are now led to take notice of another fatal consequence, which we are under strong apprehensions will follow from these parliamentary revenue laws (modern perspective: Congress & Federal Agencies); and that is, the making the governors of the colonies, and other officers, independent of the people for their support (modern perspective: Politicians receiving lobbyist monies).  You tell us there is no doubt of such intention, and that it will be persisted in, if the American revenue is found sufficient.  We are the more inclin’d to believe it, not only because the governor of the province of New-York has openly declared it with regard to himself, to the assembly there; but because the present governor of this province has repeatedly refused to accept of the usual grant for his support, tho’ he has not been so explicit as to assign a reason for it.  The charter of this province (modern perspective: developed into the State Constitution in 1780) recognizes the natural Right of all men to dispose of their property: And the governor here, like all other governors, kings and potentates, is to be supported by the free grants of the Representatives of the people.  Every one sees the necessity of this to preserve the balance of power and the freedom of any state: A power without a check, is subversive of all freedom: If therefore the governor (modern perspective: or president), who is appointed by the crown (modern perspective: elected by the people), shall be totally independent of the free grants (modern perspective: paid by the public) of the people for his support, where is the check upon his power?  He becomes absolute and may act as he pleases: He may make use of his power, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private separate advantage, or any other purpose to which he may be inclined, or instructed by him upon whom alone he depends.  Such an independency threatens the very being of a free constitution; and if it takes effect, will produce and firmly establish a tyranny upon its ruin.  The act of parliament of the 7 Geo. 3.[3] intitled, “An act for granting certain duties in the Colonies, &c.” declares That it is expedient that a revenue should be raised in his Majesty’s dominions in America, for making more certain and adequate provision for the defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and the support of civil government in such colonies where it shall be found necessary; and, towards further defreying the expences of defending, protecting and securing the said dominions.  These are the very purposes for which this government by the Charter is empowered to grant taxes: So that by the act aforementioned, the Charter is in effect made void.  Agreeable to the design of that act, the governor it seems is first to be made independent; and in pursuance of the plan of despotism, the judges of the land, and all other important civil officers, successively: Next follows an independent military power, to compleat the ruin of our civil liberties. (modern perspective: the consolidation of law enforcement agencies under DHS and the power of the public employee unions)  Let us then consider the power the Governor already has, and his Majesty’s negative (modern perspective: Veto – Misinterpretation of the Art. 4 sec. 2 clause 1 and the 14th Amendment) on all our acts, and judge whether the purposes of tyranny will not be amply answered! (modern perspective: from a strict constructionist view with “Natural law and the Ten Commandments” as the guide of the first Courts to the modern theories of law being: Legal positivism, Legal realism  and Critical legal studies)  Can it be expected that any law will pass here, but such as will promote the favourite design (modern perspective: of the oligarchs)?  And the laws already made, as they will be executed by officers altogether dependent on the crown (modern perspective: agents of Federal agencies), will undoubtedly be perverted to the worst purposes.  The governor of the province (modern perspective: of the various States and how the State militia’s or guard units were nationalize removing full authority from the States governor’s to the Feds), and the principal fortress in it, are probably already thus supported.  These are the first fruits of the system: If the rest should follow, it would be only in a greater degree, a violation of our essential, natural rights.  For what purpose then will it be to preserve the old forms without the substance?  In such a state, and with such prospects, can Britain expect anything but a gloomy discontent in the Colonies (modern perspective:  a strong Federal government overpowering the States therefore, the States should be discontent and engage their 10th Amendment Rights)?  Let our fellow-subjects (modern perspective: citizens) there recollect, what would have been their fate long ago, if their ancestors had submitted to the unreasonable and uncharitable usurpations, exactions and impositions of the See of Rome (modern perspective: Now is the actions by the global Islam & radical Islam movements), in the reign of Henry the VIII.  Soon would they have sunk into a state of abject slavery to that haughty power, which exalteth itself above all that is called God: But they had the true spirit of liberty, and by exerting it, they saved themselves and their posterity; The act of parliament passed in the 25th of that reign,[4] is so much to our present purpose, that we cannot omit transcribing a part of it, and refer you to the statute at large.  In the preamble it is declared (modern perspective: the following is the precursor to the Declaration of Independence), that

“the realm of England hath been and is free from subjection to any man’s law but only to such as have been devised, made and ordained within the realm for the wealth of the same.”  And further, “it standeth therefore with natural equity and good reason, that in every such law humane made within this realm by the said sufferance, consents and customs, your Royal Majesty and your Lords spiritual and temporal and Commons representing the whole state of your realm in this your Majesty’s high court of parliament, hath full power and authority, not only to dispense, but also to authorize some elect person or persons to be sent to dispense with those and all other humane laws in this your realm, and with every one of them, as the quality of the persons and matter may require.  And also the said laws and every one of them to abrogate, annul, amplify or diminish, as it shall seem to your Majesty and the Nobles and Commons of your realm present in parliament meet and convenient for the wealth of your realm.  And because that it is now in these days present seen, that the state, dignity and superiority, reputation and authority of the said imperial crown of this realm, by the long sufferance of the said unreasonable and uncharitable usurpation and exaction is much and sore decayed, and the people of this realm thereby much impoverished.”  It is then enacted, that “no person or persons of the realm, or of any other his Majesty’s dominions, shall from henceforth pay any pensions, censes, portions, peter pence, or any other impositions to the use of the said Bishop of the See of Rome; but that all such pensions, &c. which the said Bishop or Pope hath heretofore taken – shall clearly surcease, and never more be levied or paid to any person or persons in any manner or wise.”

Nothing short of the slavery and ruin of the nation would have been the consequence of their submitting to those exactions: And the same will be the fate of America, if the present revenue laws remain, and the natural effect of them, the making governors independent (modern perspective: Congress and Bureaucrats continue to act without limitation of the Constitution as originally intended and expect the Judiciary to fix it) , takes place.

It is therefore with entire approbation that we observe your purpose freely to declare our Rights, and to remonstrate against the least infringement of them.  The capital complaint of all North-America, hath been, is now and will be until relieved, a subjugation to as arbitrary a tribute as ever the Romans laid upon the Jews, or their other colonies: The repealing these duties (modern perspective: Obamacare, EPA and other egregious regulations on the people and business) in part is not considered by this house as a renunciation of the measure: It has rather the appearance of a design to sooth us into security in the midst of danger: Any species of tribute unrepealed, will stand as a precedent, to be made use of hereafter as circumstances and opportunity may admit: If the Colonies (modern perspective: The Various States) acquiesce in a single instance, it will in effect be yielding up the whole matter and controversy. We therefore desire it may be universally understood, that altho’ the tribute is paid, it is not paid freely: It is extorted and torn from us against our will: We bear the insult and the injury for the present, grievous as it is, with great impatience; hoping that the wisdom and prudence of the nation will at length dictate measures consistent with natural justice and equity: For what shall happen in future, We are not answerable: Your observation is just, that it was certainly as bad policy, when they attempted to heal our differences, by repealing part of the duties only (modern perspective: the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare and little regulatory reform in the House), as it is bad Surgery to leave splinters in a wound which must prevent its healing, or in time occasion it to open afresh.

The doctrine, that no agent ought to be received or attended to by government, who is not appointed by an act of the general court (modern perspective: the Senate now giving carte blanche to the presidential administration(s) to appoint personnel without Senate Approval- S. 679), to which the governor (modern perspective: president) has given his assent, if established, must be attended with very ill consequences; for, besides the just remarks you made upon it, if whatever is to be transacted between the assemblies of the Colonies and the government, is to be done by agents appointed by and under the direction of the three branches, it will be utterly impracticable for an assembly ever to lay before the Sovereign (modern perspective: Congress) their complaints of grievances occasioned by the corrupt and arbitrary administration of a governor (modern perspective: a president).  This doctrine, we have reason to think, was first advanced by governor Bernard, at a time when he became the principal agent in involving the nation and the Colonies in controversy and confusion: Very probably, it now becomes a subject of instruction to governor Hutchinson5 (modern perspective: example — the president not working with The House on a true budget) who refuses to confirm the grants of the Assembly to the Agents for the respective houses.  In this he carries the point beyond Governor Bernard who assented to grants made in general terms for services performed, without holding up the name of agent: But governor Hutchinson (modern perspective: a strong parallel between many acts of Hutchinson and the president in 2012) declines his assent even in that form; so that we are reduced to a choice of difficulties, either to have no agent at all, but such as shall be under the influence of the minister; or to find some other way to support an agent than by grants of the general assembly.  But we are fallen into times, when governors of colonies (modern perspective: governors of the States and any politician beholding to lobbyist, unions, international bankers and other global oligarchs) seem to think themselves bound to conform to instructions, without any regard to the civil constitution, or even the public safety.

End note: Since the writing of this letter an Instruction of this kind is arrived, which has been communicated by the Governor to his Majesty’s Council; and is recorded in their Journal 1

[1] [Boston Gazette, July 29, 1771; a text from the Bowdoin MS. is in Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society, Ser. I., vol. viii., pp. 468-473.] Page 46, note, applies also to the authorship of this letter.

[2] J. Bigelow, Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin, vol. iv., p. 378.

[3] The act of parliament of the 7 Geo. 3, Chap. 46.

[4] Chap. 21.  The quotation from the statute is inexact.

Relevant for Today “To Arthur Lee” 1771


[Ms., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

BOSTON April 19 1771.


Your Letter of the 31 Dec, which I received, by Cap Scott a few days past affords me great Satisfaction; especially as it promises a Correspondence which I dare say will be carried on with an Openness & Sincerity becoming those who are anxiously concerned for the publick Liberty at so alarming a Crisis.[1]  Perhaps there never was a time when the political Affairs of America were in a more dangerous State; Such is the Indolence of Men in general, or their Inattention to the real Importance of things, that a steady & animated perseverance in the rugged path of Virtue at the hazard of trifles (1800’s def.—to talk or act frivolously) is hardly to be expected.  The Generality are necessarily engaged in Application to private Business for the Support of their own families (modern perspective—the majority of the people are engaged in daily life at work and home to provide for their families) and when at a lucky Season the publick are awakened to a Sense of Danger, & (then) a manly resentment is enkindled, it is difficult, for so many separate Communities as there are in all the Colonies (modern perspective: the United States), to agree in one consistent plan of Opposition while those who are the appointed Instruments of Oppression (modern perspective: Those elected that do not follow the Constitution and the Constitutions of the States), have all the Means put into their hands (modern perspective: have the financial resources and assumed power), of applying to the passions of Men (modern perspective: manipulating the media to work on emotions) & availing themselves of the Necessities of some, the Vanity of others & the timidity of all (modern perspective: receiving favors form lobbyist and giving in to special interests, listening to academics and oligarchs that are prideful—not adhering to the Constitution and a lack of confidence and courage of the general population).

I have long thought that a Design (modern perspective: a plot or plan) has been on foot to render ineffectual the Democratical part of this Government, even before the province was cursed with the Appointment of Bernard (modern perspective: elected progressive/socialist/fascist / oligarchical persons that do not respect the Constitution), and so unguarded have the people been in former times, so careless in the Choice of their representatives as to send too many who either through Ignorance or Wickedness have favored that Design (modern perspective: a plot or plan).  Of late the lower house of Assembly have been more sensible of this Danger & supported in some Measure their own Weight, which has alarmed the Conspirators and been in my opinion the true Source of Bernard’s (modern perspective: the present Senate and minority Congressional members) Complaint against them as having set up a faction against the Kings Authority (modern perspective: the present OB Administration).  The 4 Judges of the Supreme Court, the Secretary & the Kings Attorney who had been Councellors were left out at the annual Election in 1766 (modern perspective: a new administration can replace four Justices, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General); this gave great offence to the Governor (modern perspective: the Democratic Administration & Senate Majority), and was followed with two Speeches to both Houses perhaps as infamous & irritating as ever came from a Stuart to the English parliamt.[2] Happy indeed it was for the Province that such a Man was at the Head of it, for it occasioned such a Jealousy & Watchfulness in the people as prevented their immediate & total Ruin. (modern perspective: The People came awake to the reality that their Liberties were at stake and desired to retain them above everything else. The People became alert to holding the elected and bureaucrats accountable to the Constitution and the rule of law.)

The plan (the plot) however is still carried on though in a Manner somewhat different; and that is by making the Governor altogether independent of the People for his Support; this is depriving the House of Representatives of the only Check they have upon him & must consequently render them the Objects of the Contempt of a Corrupt Administration. (modern perspective: giving the president full authority to appoint bureaucratic heads without Senate approval.) Thus the peoples Money being first taken from them without their Consent, is appropriated for the Maintenance of a Governor (modern perspective: growth of agencies, czars and political appointies) and at the Discretion of one in the Kingdom of Great Britain upon whom he absolutely depends for his Support (modern perspective: by the president).  If this be not a Tyranny I am at a Loss to conceive what a Tyranny is.  The House of Representatives did a few days since, grant the Governor (modern perspective: the presidential administration) the usual Sum for his Support and it is expected that this Matter will be made certain upon his refusal of it.  The Governor of New York was explicit at the late Session of their Assembly, upon the like Occasion: But I confess I should not be surprised if our good Governor, should accept the Grant & discount it out of what he is to receive out of the Kings Chest; thinking it will be conceived by the Minister as highly meritorious in him, in thus artfully concealing his Independency (for the Apprehension of it is alarming to the people) & saving 1000 Pounds sterling of the revenue at the same time. (modern perspective: This was the issue of double dipping in that the King was responsible for paying and ensuring that the colonial governor was paid and received a retirement.  The issue became that the people in the colonies were being forced to pay for the Kings responsibility.)

While the Representative Body of the people is thus rendered a mere Name, it is . . . considered that the other Branch of the Legislative though annually elective, is at the same time subject to the Governors Negative: A Consideration which I doubt not has its full Weight in the minds of some of them at least, whenever any Matter comes before them which they can possibly think will affect the Measures of Administration.  You will easily conjecture how far this may tend to annihilate that Branch or produce Effects more fatal.  (modern perspective: This would be exactly what is happening in 20012 with the Democratic Senate being the extended arm of the president while the House is attempting to act somewhat Constitutionally for the proper role of government.  The caveat is that many of the Republicans are no different then the socialist Democrats.  This was true in Samuel Adams day with the Tories / Loyalist.)

It seems then that we are in effect to be under the absolute Government of one Man – ostensively the Governor of the province (modern perspective: the present 2012, president of the US) but in Reality some other person residing in Great Britain (modern perspective: CFR, international bankers, oligarchs and the United Nations), whose Instructions the Governor (modern perspective: the president, progressive/liberal state governors & progressive/liberal politicians) must punctually observe upon pain of forfeiting his place.  So that any little advantage that might now & then arise from his happening to form Connections with wise Men in the province are totally lost.  As Matters are now circumstanced he must associate with Pensioners, Commissioners of the Customs Officers of the Army & Navy, Tools Sycophants and who together with him are to make such representations as to them shall seem meet, and jointly if Occasion shall require it, execute such Orders as they shall from time to time receive.  Such is to be the happy Government of free British Subjects in America.  I will however do Governor Hutchinson the Justice to say that though he may[3] . . yet he has a very natural Connection with some of the principal Gentlemen Inhabitants of the province for his Excellencys own Brother is a Justice of the Superior Court, & also a Judge of the probate of Wills & he has also a Brother by marriage upon the same superior Bench. Moreover the Lt Governor is his Brother by marriage who has an own Brother & a Brother by marriage who are justices of the Superior Court.  As these Gentlemen are Natives of the province it is hoped the Channells of Justice will remain unpolluted notwithstanding his Excellencys other Connections. (modern perspective: potentials for collusion and surely this is nepotism.)

[1] On January 10, 1771, Lee wrote to Adams: Our friend Mr. Sayre has done me the favour of communicating to me your very obliging invitation to a correspondence.”-R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. I., p. 249.

[2] See Vol. I., pages 79, 83.

[3] At this point the words “mar a State of Absolute Independency in both Houses of Assembly” are erased in the draft.

%d bloggers like this: