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William III. who gave the charter, aided by an able ministry, men thoroughly versed in the English constitution and law, together with the happy effects that have been derived from it to the nation, as well as this colony, did place it above the reprehension of the general, and should have led him to inquire, whether the disorders complained of have not originated from an arbitrary disposition in the governor, rather than from too great a spirit of democracy in the people.
And this house cannot but express their concern, that too many in power both at home and abroad so clearly avow, not only in private conversation, but in their public conduct, the most rancorous enmity against the free part of the British constitution, and are indefatigable in their endeavours to render the monarchy absolute, and the administration arbitrary in every part of the British empire.
Resolved, that this house, after the most careful inquiry, have not found any instance of the course of justice being interrupted by violence, even before a single magistrate, nor of any magistrate's refusing to inquire into, or redress any complaint properly laid before him; while it is notorious to all the world, that, even such, acts of parliament as have been deemed by the whole continent highly oppressive, have been so far from being opposed with violence, that the duties imposed, and rigorously exacted, have been punctually paid.
Resolved, that the fining in the small sum of ten pounds only, a high handed offender, viz. one Fellows, in the county of Essex, who by force, and with fire arms loaded with ball, and swan shot, rescued a prisoner lawfully taken by the sheriff of said county, is a grievance, and tends to the encouragement of such crimes for the future.
Resolved, that the frequently entering noli prosequi by the attorney and advocate general, in cases favourable to the liberty of the subject, and rigorous prosecutions by information and otherwise in those in favour of power, is a daring breach of trust, and an insupportable grievance on the people.
Resolved, that it is the opinion of this house, that all trials for treasons, misprision of treason, or for any felony, or crime whatsoever committed or done in his majesty's said colony, by any person or persons residing therein, ought of right to be had and conducted in and before his majesty's courts held within the said colony, according to the fixed and known course of proceeding; and that the seizing any person, or persons, residing in this colony, suspected of any crime whatsoever, committed therein, and sending such person, or persons, to places beyond the sea, to be tried, is highly derogatory of the rights of British subjects, as thereby the inestimable privilege of being tried by a jury from the vicinage, as well as the liberty of summoning and producing witnesses on such trial, will be taken away from the party accused."
Virrinia Gazette, for 1759.
An account of the origin of these committees and of their mode of firoceeding, is thus given by mr. Gordon, and is not unworthy of attention* "Governor Hutchinson and his adherents having been used to represent the party in opposition, as only an uneasy factious few in Boston, while the body of the people were quite contented; mr. Samuel Adams was thereby* induced to visit mr. James Warren, of Plymouth. After conversing upon the subject, the latter proposed to originate and establish committees of correspondence in the several towns of the colony, in order to learn the strength of the friends to the rights of the continent, and to unite and increase their force. Mr. Samuel Adams returned to Boston, pleased with the proposal, and communicated the same to his confidents. Some doubted whether the measure would prosper, and dreaded a disappointment which might injure the cause of liberty. But it was conVol. 11. f
eluded to proceed. The prime managers were about sis in number, each of whom, when separate, headed a division; jthe several individuals of which, collected and led distinct subdivisions. In this manner the political engine has been constructed. The different parts are not equally good and operative. Like other bodies, its composition includes numbers who act mechanically, as they are pressed this way or that way by those who judge for them; and divers of the wicked, fitted for evil practices, when the adoption of them is thought necessary to particular purposes, and a part of whose creed it is, that in political matters the public good is above every other consideration, and that all rules of morality when in competition with it, may be safely dispensed with. When any important transaction is to be brought forward, it is thoroughly considered by the prime managers. If they approve, each communicates it to his own division; from thence, if adopted, it passes to the several subdivisions, which form a general meeting in order to canvass the business. The prime managers being known only by few to be the promoters of it, are desired to be present at the debate, that they may give their opinion when it closes. If they observe that the collected body is in general strongly against the measure they wish to have carried, they declare it to be improper: is it opposed by great numbers, but not t warmly, they advise to a re-consideration at another meet\ ing, and prepare for its being then adopted; if the opposition is not considerable, either in number or weight of person*, tiiey give their reasons, and then recommend the adoption of the measure. The principal actors are determined on securing the liberties of their country, or perishing in the attempt.
"The news of his majesty's granting salaries to the justices of the superior court, afforded them a fair opportunity for executing the plan of establishing committees of correspondence through the colony. The most spirited pieces were published, and an alarm spread, that the ■granting such salaries tended rapidly to complete the system of their slavery.
"A town meeting was called, and a committee of correspondence appointed, to write circular letters to all the towns in the province, and to induce them to unite in measures. The committee' made a report, containing several resolutions contradictory to the supremacy of the British legislature. After setting forth, that all men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please, they proceed to a report upon the natural rights of the colonists as men, christians, and subjects; and then form a list of infringements and violations of their rights. They enumerate and dwell upon the British parliament's having assumed the power of legislation for the colonies in all cases whatsoever....the appointment of a number of new officers to superintend the revenues....the granting of salaries out of the American revenue, to the governor, the judges of the superior court, the king's attorney and solicitor general. The report was accepted; copies printed; and six hundred circulated through the towns and districts of the province, with a pathetic letter addressed to the inhabitants, who were called upon not to doze any longer, or sit supinely in indifference, while the iron hand of oppression was daily tearing the choicest fruits from the fair tree of liberty. The circular letter requested of each town a free communication of sentiments on the subjects of the report, and was directed to the select men, who were desired to lay the same before a town meeting, which has been generally practised, ant! the proceedings of the town upon the business have been transmitted to the committee at Boston. This committee have their particular correspondents in the several towns, who, upon receiving any special information, are ready to spread it with dispatch among the inhabitants. It consists of twenty-one persons of heterogeneous qualities and
professions, &C." Cordon's Hist. Am. War, vol. I. p. 3«.
THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF THE MEMBERS COM-
Thomas Cushing, Robert Treat Paine.
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Ward.
Connecticut. Eliphalet Dyer, Silas Deane.
Prom the city and county of New York, and other counties
in the province of New York. James Duane, Philip Livingston,
Henry Wisner, Isaac Low,
John Jay, John Alsop.
From the county of Suffolk, in the province of New York.
William Livingston, Richard Smith.
Charles Humphreys, Thomas Mifflin,
Samuel Rhoads, Edward Biddle,
George Ross, John Dickinson.
Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware. Cesar Rodney, George Read.
Robert Goldsborough, Samuel Chase,