History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 6

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII.
WILL MASSACHUSETTS RESCIND? ADMINISTRATION OF GRAFTON:
HILLSBOROUGH SECRETARY FOR THE COLONIES.

APRIL–JULY 1768.

“SEND over an army and a fleet to reduce them to reason,” was the cry at court and the public offices in England, on every rumor of the discontents of the Americans. On the fifteenth of April 1768, the circular letter of Massachusetts reached the ministers, and their choleric haste dictated most impolitic measures. A letter was sent by Hillsborongh to the governors of each of the twelve other colonics, with a copy of the circular, which was described as “of a most dangerous and factious tendency,” calculated “to inflame the minds” of the people, “to promote an unwarrantable combination, and to excite open opposition to the authority of parliament.” “You will therefore,” said he, “exert your utmost influence to prevail upon the assembly of your province to take no notice of it, which will be treating it with the contempt it deserves. If they give any countenance to this seditious paper, it will be your duty to prevent any proceedings upon it by an immediate prorogation or dissolution.” This order he sent even to the governor of Pennsylvania, who, by its charter, had no power to prorogue or dissolve an assembly. Massachusetts was told that the king considered “their resolutions contrary to the sense of the assembly, and procured by surprise. You will therefore,” such was the command to Bernard, “require of the house of representatives, in his majesty’s name, to rescind the resolution which gave birth to the circular letter from the speaker, and to declare their disapprobation of that rash and hasty proceeding.”

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