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

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXXV.
THE KING IN COUNCIL INSULTS MASSACHUSETTS AND ITS AGENT.

DECEMBER 1773–FEBRUARY 1774.

THE just man enduring the opprobrium of crime, yet meriting the honors due to virtue, is the sublimest spectacle that can appear on earth. Against Franklin were arrayed the court, the ministry, parliament, and an all-pervading social influence; but he only assumed a firmer demeanor and a loftier tone. On delivering to Lord Dartmouth the address to the king for the removal of Hutchinson and Oliver, he gave assurances that the people of Massachusetts aimed at no novelties; that, “having lately discovered the authors of their grievances to be some of their own people, their resentment against Britain was thence much abated.” The secretary expressed pleasure at receiving the petition, promised to lay it before the king, and hoped for the restoration “of the most perfect tranquillity and happiness.” It was the unquestionable duty of “the agent of the house of representatives of the Massachusetts Bay” to communicate to his employers the proof that the governor and lieutenant-governor of the province were conspiring against its constitution; to bring censure on this fulfilment of duty, it was necessary to raise a belief that the evidence had been surreptitiously obtained. The newspaper press was therefore employed to spread a rumor that they had been purloined by John Temple, from the papers of Thomas Whately in the hand of his executors. The anonymous calumny which was attributed to Bernard, William Knox, and Mauduit was denied by “a member of parliament,” who truly affirmed that the letters which were sent to Boston had never been in the executor’s hands. But William Whately, the executor, who

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