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Adams, John (1735-1826) to Catharine Macaulay

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01785.01 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 19 April 1773 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 32 x 20 cm.

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01785.01 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 19 April 1773 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 32 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Describes the contest between Massachusetts Governor Hutchinson and the Assembly over the question of Parliament's control. Denies sovereignty of Parliament over American rights.

Background Information: In this letter, John Adams (1735-1826) describes the escalating tensions in Massachusetts during the winter and early spring of 1773, and the mounting opposition to Governor Thomas Hutchinson. Two months after ...this letter was written, Samuel Adams read a private letter of Hutchinson's before a secret session of the Massachusetts legislature. This letter, which had been acquired by Benjamin Franklin, stressed the need to limit the colonists' rights. The Massachusetts House subsequently petitioned the King for Hutchinson's removal. On March 30 1774, Hutchinson dismissed the legislature before it could initiate impeachment proceedings against him.See More

Full Transcript: Boston 19 April 1773
I have many Apologies to make, for neglecting so long to acknowledge the Receipt of your agreable Favour. I hope to be more punctual for the future ...- My own absence from Town, my ill State of Health and the melancholly Situation of our public affairs, a System of Tyranny gaining ground upon us every day and overbearing every Man, who will not bow his knee to Baal, must be my excuse for the past -
We have had here, an Abundance of Politicks [struck: this] the last Winter, as you will partly see by the inclosed Papers. -
The Intelligence that Salaries were granted by the by the Crown to our Judges, already dependent for their Continuance in office, on [strikeout] the mere Will of a Governer and Council, Spread a general Alarm here - to lull the People, the Courtiers had Recourse to a very odd stratagem. - they gave out that the judges were already in, during good Behaviour, and that this Grant of Salaries from the crown would render them completly independent. In order to practice this most flagrant Imposition upon the People one of the Council who had the Reputation of a Lawyer, having formerly practiced at the Bar here, was employed to advance Such curious Doctrines in a Cambridge Town Meeting. - He executed his Commission with Such Zeal, that he publicly challenged every Lawyer in the Province, and Mr Otis, Mr Quincy and myself by Name, tho we were all of us, near ten miles distant from him, to dispute with him upon [2] his Law, either in Town Meeting, or in the Newspapers, and accordingly, in the next weeks Paper, commenced the Combat by publishing his Narration - With all the Sobriety, and gravity imaginable, I entered the Lists with him, and exhibited as you see a [strikeout] most ridiculous ostentation of Learning. - I fear you will scarsely thank me for giving you the trouble of reading it -
You will find however in these Papers, a Part of a controversy between the Governer and the House - This controversy will amuse you - It ought never to have been, begun by the Governer. - For the [illegible] of it must be that the People of this Continent will be convinced, too clearly, and too soon that upon Principles of the British Constitution, the British Parliament have no Authority over us. -
However, We must resign to hate - this Man was born, to disturb this Continent and the British Empire, and if he is suffered with his Family Conventions to hold the Places they now fill he will effectually answer the test of is Creator. - a thorough Master in Theory and Practice of the Political Principles of Machiavell there is no Quantity of public Mischief, no Sacrifice of Truth, Honour, Virtue or Country through which he will not cheerfully force his way to Wealth and Power.
I know of no greater Anguish than to see, half a Dozen men for Seven years together constantly bent, to set two Countries together by the Laws, and yet not be able to convince Either Country that this is the Case - Barnard, Hutchinson, Oliver, Moffat, Howard, Poveton & Holliwell are that lot of Men, and yet they are cherished on [struck: both sides the Atlantic] one side of the Atlantic as their best Friend, and are not detected on the other as their worst Enemies - [3]
As Soon as the Proceedings of the last Winter are printed I will transmit them to you entire -
The [text loss] strong appearance at present of a Renovation of that Union of the Colonies, which alone can give us hopes, that Falsehood and Hypocrisy, will not finally prevail against us -
I am, Madam, with great Esteem, your
Most humble, and most obliged Servant
John Adams
Mrs. Macaulay -

[address leaf]
Mrs Katharine Macaulay
John Adams
April 19: 1773

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People: Adams, John, 1735-1826
Macaulay, Catharine, 1731-1791
Hutchinson, Thomas, 1711-1780

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: PresidentGovernment and CivicsRevolutionary WarWomen's HistoryGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyLiterature and Language ArtsCivil Rights

Sub Era: Road to Revolution

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