The Voice of the Patriots
On the eve of the American Revolution, Samuel Adams, Dr. Joseph Warren, James Otis, and other Patriot leaders recognized the importance of collective resistance, the power of correspondence, and more importantly the vital significance of town meetings. They recognized that in order to gain popular support they needed to split the strength of the towns away from British rule. Their first step was to gain influence in town meetings throughout Massachusetts, which were primarily dominated by Loyalists, although at this time the number of Patriot supporters was growing rapidly. In Boston on Monday, November 2, 1772, they organized a town meeting at Faneuil Hall and garnered enough support to vote in a resolution to create a standing Committee of Correspondence. The purpose of the Boston Committee of Correspondence was to "Prepare a statement of the rights of the colonists, and of this province in particular, as men, as Christians, and as subjects; Prepare a declaration of the infringement of those rights; and Prepare a letter to be sent to all the towns of this province and to the world, giving the sense of this town."
On the verge of the American Revolution, Committees of Correspondence were formed in cities and regions throughout the American colonies. The most influential Committees of Correspondence on the eve of the American Revolution were located in the colonies of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. The committees were provisional Patriot emergency governments established in response to British policy on the eve of the revolution throughout the Thirteen Colonies. Additionally, they served as a vast network of communication for Patriot leaders.
The first communication from the Boston Committee of Correspondence sent to the towns of Massachusetts was a list of grievances (below) they had with Britain with a request that their views be endorsed. Accompanying the list of grievances was a request that asked for "a free communication of your sentiments to this town, of our common danger".
"British Parliament has assumed power of legislation for the colonists without their consent."
"Parliament has raised illegal revenues."
"Tax collectors have been appointed by the Crown, a right reserved to the province."
"Tax collectors are entrusted with power too absolute and arbitrary. Private premises are exposed to search."
"Fleets and Armies are quartered on the townsfolk in time of peace without their consent."
"Tax revenue has been used by King to pay provincial government officers, making them dependent on him, in violation of the charter."
"General assemblies are forced to meet in inconvenient places. Activities of the council have been limited."
"Colonists accused of crimes are to be tried in admiralty courts."
ix. "Restraints are placed against iron mills, hat manufacture, and transport; wool cannot be carried over a ferry; many other businesses are curtailed."
"Colonists accused of destroying any British naval property are to be transported to England for trial."
"Parliament is attempting to establish an American Episcopate."
"Parliament is making frequent alteration of the bounds of the colonies, not according to charter."
Immediately following the issuing of the list of grievances, the majority of towns in Massachusetts took stock in the example set by the Boston Committee of Correspondence and established a network of Committees of Correspondence throughout the colony of Massachusetts. The name Committee of Correspondence helped garner support during this radical period. Rather than being singular in title, the word "committee" carries no authoritative ring and carried more moral power in the minds of the colonists than a request from a single representative or even a single town would have.
CONVENTION OF WORCESTER COUNTY
Journal of a convention of the committees of correspondence and delegates, of the several towns in the county of Worcester.
Tuesday, August 9, 1774
At a meeting of the committees of correspondence for the county of Worcester, in county Congress assembled, on the 9th day of August, A. D. 1774, at the house of Mrs. Mary Sternes, in Worcester, there were present:
Worcester - William Young, Esq., Mr. Joshua Bigelow, Capt. Timothy Bigelow, Lieut. John Smith.
Lancaster - Doct. William Dunsmore, Deacon David Wilder, Mr. Aaron Sawyer, Capt. Samuel Ward, Capt. Asa Whitcomb, Capt. Hezekiah Gates, Mr. John Prescott, Mr. Ephraim Sawyer.
Mendon - Capt. Nathan Tyler, Deacon Edward Rawson, Mr. James Sumner, Elder Nathaniel Nelson, Mr. Benoni Benson.
Rutland Distiict - Mr. Asa Hapgood, Lieut. Nathan Sparhawk, Deacon John Mason, Lieut. Andrew Parker.
Brookfield - Jedediah Foster, Esq., Capt. Jeduthan Baldwin, Capt. Phinehas Upham.
Oxford - Capt. Ebenezer Learned, Doct. Alexander Campbell.
Charlton - Mr. Caleb Curtis, Capt. Jonathan Tucker.
Sutton - Mr. Amos Singletary, Capt. Henry King, Rev. Ebenezer Chaplin.
Leicester, Spencer and Paxton - Col Thomas Denny, Capt. William Henshaw, Capt. Joseph Henshaw, Rev. Benjamin Conklin.
Weslborough - Capt. Stephen Maynard.
Shrewsbury - Hon. Artemas Ward, Mr. Phinehas Heywood.
Lunenburg - Doct. John Taylor.
Harvard - Rev. Joseph Wheeler.
Bolton - Capt. Samuel Baker, Mr. Jonathan Holman.
Petersham - Capt Ephraim Doolittle, Col. Jonathan Grout.
Southborough - Capt. Jonathan Wood.
Hardwick - Capt. Paul Mandell, Mr. Stephen Rice, Lieut Jonathan Warner, Deacon John Bradish.
Holden - Mr. John Child.
Douglas - Mr. Samuel Jennison.
Princeton - Mr Moses Gill.
A committee was appointed to sort and count the votes given in, for a chairman or president, and clerk, who reported that William Young, Esq., of Worcester, was elected chairman, and William Henshaw, Esq., of Leicester, clerk.
The Rev. Benjamin Conklin, being invited, opened the meeting with very earnest and solemn prayer.
Voted, To choose a committee of ten, to draw up some proper resolves to lay before the convention for their consideration.
Voted, That Mr. Timothy Bigelow, Capt. Joseph Henshaw, Capt. Ephraim Doolittle, Capt. Samuel Ward, Mr. John Smith, Mr. Luke Drury, Mr. Joshua Bigelow, Deacon Edward Rawson, Capt. Paul Mandell, Lieut. Jonathan Holman, be the committee.
The committee retired, and again returned, after some time, and reported that they had drafted a number of resolves, which were read.
After debate thereon, it was voted to lay the resolves upon the table for further consideration.
Voted, To adjourn to to-morrow morning, at 7 o'clock, to meet at the same place.
Wednesday, August 10, 1774.
Met according to adjournment. In the absence of the president, Deacon Baker was chosen chairman pro tempore.
Voted, That the committee chosen yesterday, be a committee to write a letter to the gentlemen chosen by this province to attend the Continental Congress, to inform them of the sense of the county respecting our public affairs.
A letter being reported, was considered and accepted.
Voted, That the committee chosen yesterday, be a committee to send a letter to all of the towns and districts in this county, who have not chosen committees of correspondence, desiring them to choose such committees, or send delegates to represent them at the adjournment of this convention. The committee chosen to write to the several towns, after some time, reported, that they were ready to read a letter; which was done, and the same was accepted, and is as follows:
Worcester, August 9, 1774.
Friends and Brethren: - The committees of correspondence from a majority of towns in this county, have now convened at Worcester, in order to consult and determine upon the most regular steps to be taken and recommended to the several towns in this county, at this truly critical and alarming crisis, when it no longer remains a doubt, that the acts, annihilating our once free constitution, are actually come authenticated, attended with three more transports and a ship of war, and the council, appointed by his majesty, are about taking the oaths required for that office. In the first place, we beg leave to observe, that a considerable number of respectable towns in this county have not yet chosen committees, and by that means, may not have received the letters notifying this convention; therefore, we earnestly recommend, as brethren and fellow sufferers, when all that is valuable in this life is at stake, that you choose committees of correspondence, or such other delegates as you may think proper, to meet this convention at their adjournment, when the united wisdom and aid of the whole are wanting, to oppose the torrent of tyranny rushing upon us. In order to avoid a second disappointment, by having our letters fall into unfriendly hands, and you thereby be deprived of a proper notification, we shall be careful to have them transmitted by such of our members as live nearest those towns which have not sent their committees.
The convention stands adjourned to the last Tuesday of August instant, at the house of Mrs. Mary Sternes, inn holder, at Worcester, at 10 o'clock, before noon.
By order of the committees of correspondence in convention,
The consideration of the resolves reported yesterday, was resumed: the same were severally read, considered, debated, and each accepted without one dissentient vote: and it was Ordered, that the same be signed by the chairman and clerk, and printed, and circulated in handbills. They are as follow:
Resolved, That we bear all true allegiance to his majesty king George the third, and that we will, to the utmost of our power, defend his person, crown, and dignity, but at the same time, we disclaim any jurisdiction in the commons of Great Britain over his majesty's subjects in America.
Resolved, That the charter of this province is the basis of our allegiance to his majesty, wherein, on his part, the royal faith is plighted, to protect and defend us, his American subjects, in the free and full enjoyment of each and every right and liberty enjoyed by his subjects in Great Britain; his American subjects likewise bear him true allegiance.
Resolved, That we have, within ourselves, the exclusive right of originating each and every law respecting ourselves, and ought to be on an equal footing with his majesty's subjects in Great Britain.
Resolved, That an attempt to vacate said charter, by either party, without the consent of the other, has a tendency to dissolve the union between Great Britain and this province, to destroy the allegiance we owe to the king, and to set aside the sacred obligations he is under to his subjects here.
Resolved, That the right lately assumed, by the parliament of Great Britain, over this province, wherein they claim a disposal of our lives and properties, and to alter and disannul our charter without our consent; is a great and high-handed claim of arbitrary power.
Resolved, That as parliament have not only adopted the aforementioned principle, but have actually put it into practice, by taxing the Americans, and most cruelly blocking up the harbor of Boston, in order to force this province to submission to such power, and have farther proceeded to pass several acts to change our free constitution in such manner, which, if effected, will render our lives and properties wholly insecure: Therefore,
Resolved, That it is the indisputable duty of every American, and more especially in this province, to unite in every virtuous opposition that can be devised, in order to save ourselves and posterity from inevitable ruin. And, in the first place, we greatly approve of the agreement entered and entering into through this and the neighboring provinces, for the non-consumption of British goods. This, we apprehend, will have a tendency to convince our brethren in Britain, that more is to be gained in the way of justice, from our friendship and affection, than by extortion and arbitrary power. We apprehend that the balance of our trade with Britain has been greatly in their favor; that we can do much better without it than they can; and that the increase of such trade heretofore, was greatly occasioned by the regard and affection borne by the Americans to their brethren in Britain. Such an agreement, if strictly adhered to, will greatly prevent extravagance, save our money, encourage our own manufactures, and reform our manners.
Resolved, That those justices of the court of general sessions, and common pleas, for this county, who, in a late address to his excellency Governor Gage, aspersed the good people of this county, have thereby discovered that they were destitute of that tender regard which we might justly expect in our present distressed situation.
Voted, That we most earnestly recommend it to the several towns in this county, (and if it should not be thought too arrogant,) to every town in the province, to meet and adopt some wise, prudent, and spirited measures, in order to prevent the execution of those most alarming acts of parliament, respecting our constitution.
Voted, That the meeting be adjourned to the last Tuesday of August instant, to meet at the house of Mrs. Mary Sternes, inn holder, in Worcester, at 10 o'clock of the forenoon, and it was adjourned.
Tuesday, August 30, 1774.
At a meeting of the committees of correspondence from each and every town and district within the county of Worcester, convened in Congress, at Worcester, on Tuesday, the 30th day of August, A. D. 1774, there were present one hundred and thirty members, together with a number of delegates and gentlemen from several towns.
William Young, Esq. was president.
Voted, That the Rev. Mr. Chaplain be desired to attend this meeting, and to pray: who came in, and the meeting was opened with prayers,
Voted, By reason of the straightness of the place, and the many attending, to adjourn to the county court house.
The Congress met in the county court house, according to adjournment; debated on many things, and adjourned to 3 o'clock, P. M.
Voted, To choose a committee of nine persons, to take into consideration the state of public affairs, and prepare resolves to lay before the convention.
Voted, That Capt. Joseph Henshaw, Mr. Phinehas Heywood, Capt. Ephraim Doolittle, Capt. Henry King, Mr. Timothy Bigelow, Mr. Samuel Jennison, Capt. Samuel Ward, Mr. Luke Drury, and Capt. Joseph Gilbert, be a committee for the purpose aforesaid.
Voted, That the Rev. Mr. Chaplain be desired to attend the Congress tomorrow.
Voted, That this meeting be adjourned till to-morrow, at 7 o'clock, A. M. to this place.
The meeting was closed with prayer.
Wednesday, August 31, 1774.
The Congress met according to adjournment.
Voted, That the Rev. Mr. Chaplain open the meeting with prayer; which was done.
Voted, That every person who speaks in this meeting shall rise up, and, after he is done speaking, shall sit down, and not speak more than twice on the same subject, without obtaining leave, and shall not speak irrelevantly.
The committee appointed yesterday, returned, and informed that they were ready to report resolutions.
The resolves prepared by the committee were read.
Voted, To adjourn to 2 o'clock, P. M.
Met according to adjournment.
Voted, To accept of the resolves brought in by the committee, and the same were amended.
Voted, The first resolve in the affirmative:
Voted, The second resolve in the affirmative:
Voted, The third resolve in the affirmative:
Voted, The fourth resolve in the affirmative:
Voted, The fifth resolve in the affirmative:
Voted, The sixth resolve in the affirmative:
Voted, The seventh resolve in the affirmative:
Voted, The eighth resolve in the affirmative:
Voted, That the whole of the resolves be accepted, which are as follow:
Whereas, the charter of this province, as well as laws enacted by virtue of the same and confirmed by royal assent, have been, by the parliament of Great Britain, without the least color of right or justice, declared in part null and void; and in conformity to an act of said parliament, persons are appointed to fill certain offices of government, in ways and under influences, wholly unknown before in this province, incompatible with its charter, and forming a complete system of tyranny: and whereas, no power on earth hath a right, without the consent of this province, to alter the minutest title of its charter, or abrogate any act whatsoever, made in pursuance of it, and confirmed by royal assent, or to constitute officers of government in ways not directed by charter, and as we are assured that some officers of the executive courts in this county, have officially conducted in compliance with and in conformity to the late acts of parliament altering our free constitution; and as the sittings of such courts may have a tendency to affect the good people of this county, in such manner as may insensibly lead them to submit to the chains of slavery forged by our enemies; therefore,
Resolved, That it is the indispensable duty of the inhabitants of this county, by the best ways and means, to prevent the sitting of the respective courts under such regulations as are set forth in a late act of parliament, entitled, an act for regulating the civil government of the Massachusetts Bay.
Resolved, That in order to prevent the execution of the late act of parliament, respecting the courts, that it be recommended to the inhabitants of this county, to attend, hi person, the next inferior court of common pleas and general sessions, to be holden at Worcester, in and for said county, on the sixth day of September next.
Resolved, That it be recommended to the several towns, that they choose proper and suitable officers, and a sufficient number, to regulate the WORCESTER CONVENTION. G3:J movements of each town, and prevent any disorder which might otherwise happen; and that it be enjoined on the inhabitants of each respective town, that they adhere strictly to the orders and directions of such officers.
And whereas, the courts of justice will necessarily be impeded by the opposition to the said acts of parliament, therefore, Resolved, that it be recommended to the inhabitants of this province in general, and to those of this county in particular, that they depute fit persons to represent them in one general provincial convention, to be convened at Concord, on the second Tuesday of October next, to devise proper ways and means to resume our original mode of government, whereby the most dignified servants were, as they ever ought to be, dependent on the people for their existence as such; or some other which may appear to them best calculated to regain and secure our violated rights. The justice of our complaints and the modes of redress, we submit to the determination of our sister colonies, being, in our opinion, the only just tribunal we can appeal to on earth.
Resolved, That it be recommended, that such inn holders and retailers, who shall be approbated by the selectmen in their respective towns, continue and exercise their respective functions; provided, they strictly adhere to the law of this province respecting inn holders and retailers,
Resolved, That it be recommended to the several towns, that they indemnify their constables for neglecting to return lists of persons qualified to serve as jurors.
Resolved, That as the ordinary course of justice must be stayed, in consequence of the late arbitrary and oppressive acts of the British parliament, we would earnestly recommend to every inhabitant of this county, to pay his just debts as soon as may be possible, without any disputes or litigation.
Resolved, That as the dark and gloomy aspect of our public affairs has thrown this province into great convulsions, and the minds of the people are greatly agitated with the near view of impending ruin; we earnestly recommend to everyone, and we engage ourselves, to use the utmost influence in suppressing all riotous and disorderly proceedings in our respective towns.
It was Moved, That whereas, it is generally expected, that the governor will send one or more regiments to enforce the execution of the acts of parliament, on the 6th of September, that it be recommended to the inhabitants of this county, if there is intelligence, that troops are on their march to Worcester, to attend, properly armed, in order to repel any hostile force which may be employed for that purpose.1 The motion, after some debate being withdrawn;
Voted, That if there is an invasion, or danger of an invasion, in any town in this county, then such town as is invaded, or being in danger thereof, shall, by their committees of correspondence, or some other proper persons, send letters, by express posts, immediately, to the committees of the adjoining towns, who shall send to other committees in the towns adjoining them, that they all come properly armed and accoutered to protect and defend the place invaded.
Voted, That it be recommended to the towns in this county, to pay no regard to the late act of parliament, respecting the calling town meetings, but, to proceed in their usual manner; and also, that they pay no submission to any acts altering our free constitution.
Voted, That it be recommended to each town of the county, to retain in their own hands, what moneys may be due from them severally to the province treasury, till public tranquility be restored, and more confidence can be reposed in the first magistrate and his council.
Voted, To postpone the consideration of the petition of Doct. William Paine, respecting the establishment of a hospital for the small pox, to the adjournment of this meeting.
Voted, That each member will purchase at least two pounds of powder in addition to any he may have on hand, and will use all his exertions to supply his neighbors fully.
Voted, That the members and delegates endeavor to ascertain what number of guns are deficient to arm the people in case of invasion,
Voted, That the resolves accepted in this convention, and the vote about town meetings, be signed by the chairman and clerk, and printed.
Voted, That the Rev. Mr. Chaplain be requested to close the meeting with prayer.
Voted, To adjourn this meeting to the first Tuesday of September next, then to meet at the house of Mr. Timothy Bigelow, in Worcester, at 10 o'clock, A. M.
Tuesday, Sept. 6, 1774.
The committees of correspondence and delegates of the several towns, met in convention, at the house of Mr. Timothy Bigelow, according to adjournment.
The Rev. Mr. Chaplain opened the meeting with prayer.
Voted, As the opinion of this convention that the court should not sit an any terms.
Voted, That the several committees inform the people of their respective towns, of this vote of the convention, and, that they choose one man from each company, as a committee to wait on the judges to inform them of the resolution to stop the courts sitting, if the people concur therein.
Voted, That the body of the people in this county now in town, assemble on the common.
Voted, To choose a committee of three persons to inquire of the committees of the towns, how long it will be before they make the determination of the body of the people respecting the courts, known to the judges, and to inform the convention thereof.
Voted, To adjourn to the green beyond Mr. Salisbury's, where the convention proceeded.
Voted, That a committee of three, viz.: Capt. Mandell, Deacon Rawson, and Mr. Samuel Jennison, be a committee to inform the grand jurors of the determination of the county as to the courts being held.
Voted, to adjourn to the court house at two o'clock, P. M.
Met according to adjournment, and again adjourned to the green, to attend the body of the people.
Voted, To choose a committee of three persons to proceed to wait on the committees of the towns, to inquire the occasion of the delay of the judges in making their appearance before the body of the people.
Voted, That three persons be chosen a committee, to acquaint John Chandler, Esq., and the other protesters, that they must follow after the judges 2
Voted, That the thanks of the convention be given to the Rev. Mr. Chaplain, for his attendance with them.
Voted, That it be recommended to the military officers in this county, that they resign their commissions to the colonels of the respective regiments.
Voted, That the field officers resign their offices, and publish their resignations in all the Boston newspapers.
Voted, That it be recommended to the several towns of the county, to choose proper officers for the military of the town, and a sufficient number.
, That it be recommended to the several towns and districts of this county, that they provide themselves, immediately, with one or more field pieces, mounted and fitted for use; and also a sufficient quantity of ammunition for the same; and that the officers appoint a suitable number of men, out of their respective companies, to manage said field pieces.
Voted, To take notice of those justices of the inferior court of common pleas and general sessions of the peace of this county, who aspersed the people in a late address to Gov. Gage.3
Voted, That three persons be a committee to require the committee of the day, to make report to the convention, of their proceedings with the judges.
Voted, That the principals in the protest reading their recantation, shall be accepted for all those who signed the recantation.
Voted, That four men be desired to attend, in addition to those who are to walk with Col. Gardner Chandler, sheriff of the county, through the ranges of the people.
Voted, That it be recommended to the officers of each company of the people assembled, to keep good order: enjoin it on their men not to do the least damage to any person's property: but to march quietly home: and that the convention have nothing further to lay before them.
Voted, That Deacon Rawson, Mr. Asa Whitcomb, and Doct. Crosby, be a committee to wait on a number of justices, to give them an opportunity to sign the declaration, which has been signed by the justices and officers of the inferior court, and is as follows:
Worcester, Sept. 6, 1774.
Worcester, ss. The justices of the inferior court, and justices of the court of general sessions of the peace, for the county of Worcester, to the people of the county, now assembled at Worcester:
Gentlemen: - You having desired, and even insisted upon it, that all judicial proceedings be stayed by the justices of the court appointed this day, by law, to be held at Worcester, within and for the county of Worcester, on account of the unconstitutional act of the British parliament, respecting the administration of justice in this province, which, if effected, will reduce the inhabitants thereof to mere arbitrary power; we do assure you, that we will stay all such judicial proceedings of said courts, and will not endeavor to put said act into execution.
John Chandler, Jr.,
We, the officers of the court, do, for ourselves, give the people the same assurances above.
Gardner Chandler, Sheriff.
Nathaniel Chandler, Attorneys.
Voted, To choose a committee of nine persons, to draw up a form of a vote for administering justice, and to protect the justices in the execution of their offices.
Voted, That Capt. Ward, Capt. Henshaw, Deacon Rawson, Joseph Wheeler, Samuel Jennison, Lieut. Joseph Baker, Capt. Mandell, Timothy Bigelow, and Lieut. Jonathan Holman, be the committee for that purpose.
Voted, That the above committee be appointed to confer with the justices of the county, tomorrow morning.
Voted, That the consideration of the justices' address to Governor Gage, be committed to the same committee.
Voted, To adjourn till to-morrow, at 8 o'clock, A. M.
Wednesday, September 7, 1774.
The convention met according to adjournment.
Voted, To accept of the acknowledgment made by Thomas Steel, Joseph Wilder, Timothy Paine, John Chandler, Abel Willard, and Joshua Upham, Esquires, for aspersing the people of this county in a late address to Governor Gage.
Voted, That the justices who addressed Governor Gage at the last session of the court, be brought before the convention, and make and sign a declaration, in writing, of the inadvertence of their proceedings: which is done, and the declaration is as follows:
Whereas, the committees in convention have expressed their uneasiness to a number of the justices of the common pleas and general sessions, now present in the convention, who, in an address to Governor Gage, at their session in June last, aspersed the people of this county; those justices, in the presence of the convention, frankly declare that they precipitately entered into the measure; they are sorry for it; and they disclaim an intention to injure the character of any; and were the same measure again proposed, they should reject it.
The committee on the administration of justice, and respecting the offices of probate and sheriff, made a report, which was accepted, and is as follows:
Whereas, the late act of parliament respecting the province, is evidently designed to prevent any civil officers holding their places by virtue of the charter of this province, thereby interrupting the course of justice, and it is necessary to have civil officers till further provision can be made: therefore,
Resolved, That the justices of the peace for this county, who were in said office on the last day of June past, except Timothy Ruggles, John Murray, and James Putnam, Esquires, be hereby desired to act in said offices, as single justices, except in judicial proceedings merely civil: also, that the judge of probate, sheriffs, and coroners, who were in office on the last day of June past, exercise their respective offices till the rising of the Provincial Congress, proposed to sit at Concord, on the second Tuesday of October next, notwithstanding any proposed supersedes that may be sent to them, or any of them, or any proclamation designed to prevent them from holding and exercising their said offices. And we, hereby, also recommend, to the people of this county, that they consider and treat them as being in then said offices, and support and defend them in the execution thereof, according to the laws of this province.
Voted, To put the laws in execution respecting peddler's and chapmen.
Voted, That the Norfolk exercise be adopted.
Voted, To take notice of Mr. Samuel Paine, assistant clerk, for sending out venires.
Voted, That Mr. Samuel Jennison go to Mr. Samuel Paine forthwith, and desire his immediate attendance before this body, to answer for his sending venires to the constables, commanding their compliance with the late act of parliament.
Mr. Paine appeared, and stated that he felt bound by the duty of his office to comply with the act.
Voted, That Mr. Paine has not given satisfaction, and that he be allowed to consider till the adjournment of this meeting.
Voted, To adjourn till the 20th of September instant, to meet at the court house, in Worcester, at 10 o'clock, A. M. 14
In compliance, therefore, to a resolution of so respectable a body as aforesaid, so reasonable in its , and so necessary at this distressing day of trial, we, the subscribers, being deeply impress
September 20, 1774.
The convention met, according to adjournment, and was opened with prayers.
Voted, To defer the consideration of the expediency of adjourning to the superior court, for the present.
Voted, That the sheriff send out precepts to the towns for the choice of representatives.
Voted, That Capt. Joseph Henshaw, Capt. Thomas Denny, Capt. Whitcomb, Mr. Timothy Bigelow, and Capt. Tyler, be a committee, to report in relation to giving instructions to the representatives.
Voted, That the same committee take into consideration the choice of field officers.
Voted, As the opinion of this convention, that the sheriff adjourn the superior court appointed by law to be held this day, and that he retain such as are, or may be committed as criminals, in his custody, until they have a trial.
Voted, That the plan for military organization be recommitted to the same committee who have reported, to make further additions and amendments*
Adjourned till to-morrow morning, at 8 o'clock, A, M.
September 21, 1774.
The convention met according to adjournment, and was opened with prayer.
A paper was sent by Mr. Samuel Paine, clerk of the inferior court, which is as follows:
To the several gentlemen of the committees of correspondence for the county of Worcester, now convened in Worcester.
Gentlemen: - I thought I gave you all the satisfaction, relative to my issuing the warrants, at your last meeting, which could reasonably be expected: still, you have demanded of me more. As I considered myself, in that matter, as acting merely officially, and, as such, had no right to judge of the propriety or impropriety of the act of parliament, and my issuing the warrants gave the people, who were the only judges, an opportunity to determine for themselves whether they should be complied with or not, upon this representation, I hope I shall stand fair in the eye of my countrymen. Should not this be a sufficient excuse for me, you must know, gentlemen, that 1 was regularly appointed clerk of the peace for this county, by the justices, in September last, and, as the said justices of the court of general sessions of the peace, as well as the inferior court of common pleas for this county, whose servant I am, on the sixth day of September current, did give assurance to the body of the people of this county, then assembled at Worcester, that they would not endeavor to put said act in execution, so, gentlemen, I give you the same assurance.
Your devoted servant,
Voted, That the paper sent by Mr. Paine is not satisfactory, and that the same be committed to Mr. Joseph Henshaw, Mr. Bigelow and Mr. Doolittle, who reported, after some time, as follows:
The committee to whom the convention referred the consideration of a letter addressed to them, signed Samuel Paine, have had the same before them, and beg leave to report:
The letter appears to have been written by a young man, who, by his connections, has lately started into the office of clerk of the sessions and inferior court, through the indulgence of the bench of justices. The letter is affronted to the convention, and in no respect answers their reasonable requisitions. Considering the person who wrote it, the committee are of opinion, it is of too small importance to be noticed any further by the convention, and therefore recommend, that said letter be dismissed, and the person treated with all neglect.
By order of the committee,
JOSEPH HENSHAW, Chairman.
Voted, To take notice of Mr. Sheriff Chandler, for carrying an address to* Governor Gage, and that a committee wait on him, and request his attendance before this body, forthwith.
Voted, That Doct. Dimsmore, Mr. Drury, and Mr. Clapp, be a committee to inform the sheriff of this vote of the convention respecting his conduct. Mr. Sheriff came in, and presented the following declaration, which was accepted:
Whereas, the convention of committees have expressed their uneasiness to the sheriff of this county, now present before the convention, for presenting, with others, an address to Governor Gage, he frankly declares it was precipitately done by him: that he is sorry for it: and disclaims an intention to do anything against the minds of the inhabitants of this county and, had he known it would have given offence, he would not have presented said address.
Resolved, That as the ordinary courts of justice will be stayed, in consequence of the late arbitrary and oppressive acts of the British parliament, we would earnestly recommend to every inhabitant of this county, to pay his just debts, as soon as possible, without any dispute or litigation, "and if any disputes concerning debts or trespasses should arise, which cannot be settled by the parties, we recommend it to them to submit all such causes to arbitration; and if the parties, or either of them, shall refuse to do so, they ought to be considered as co-operating with the enemies of the country."
The committee on instructions submitted their report, which was accepted, and is as follows:
Resolved, That it be recommended to the several towns and districts, that they instruct their representatives, who may be chosen to meet at Salem, in October next, absolutely to refuse to be sworn by any officer or officers, but such as are or may be appointed according to the constitution, or to act as one branch of the legislature in concert with any others, except such as are, or may be appointed, according to the charter of this province: and that they refuse to give their attendance at Boston, while the town is invested with troops and ships of war: and should there be any thing to prevent their acting with such a governor and council as is expressly set forth in the charter, that they immediately repair to the town of Concord, and there join in a provincial congress, with such other members as are or may be chosen for that purpose, to act and determine on such measures as they shall judge to be proper to extricate this colony out of the present unhappy circumstances.
Voted, That it be again recommended to the several towns and districts in this county, that they provide themselves immediately with one or more field pieces, mounted and fitted for use, and also, a sufficient quantity of ammunition for the same, and that the officers appoint a suitable number of men, out of their respective companies, to manage said field pieces.
Whereas, the people of this county are under solemn obligations not to purchase airy goods imported from Great Britain, after the last day of August, 1774, which they determine sacredly to adhere to, until our many grievances be redressed, therefore, Resolved, that it be recommended, and we do earnestly recommend it to the committees of correspondence or selectmen, in the several seaport towns in this province, to appoint, or cause to be appointed, committees to inspect the imports that have been, or shall be made, since the last day of August, aforesaid, and publish all such in the Boston newspapers, with the names of the importers, that so we may carefully avoid all such persons in our dealings for the future.
Voted, To choose a standing committee for the. county, to correspond with the committees of correspondence for the several counties, and elsewhere, as they shall think proper; also, to prepare matter to lay before this body at their several meetings; to give the earliest intelligence to the several committees of any new attack upon the liberties of the people, and call a county congressional convention at any time, as occasion may require.
Voted, That the committees of correspondence for the towns of Worcester and Leicester, be a committee for the above purpose, and that Messrs. Thomas Denny, Joseph Henshaw, and Joshua Bigelow, be added to the committee.
As the several regiments in this county are large and inconvenient, by the increase of its inhabitants since the first settlement of said regiments, therefore, Voted, that the county be divided into seven distinct regiments, in the following manner, to wit:
First - Worcester, Leicester, Holden, Spencer, Paxton.
Second - Sutton, Oxford, Sturbridge, Charlton, Dudley.
Third - Lancaster, Bolton, Harvard, Lunenburg, Leominster, Fitchburg, Ashburnham, Westminster.
Fourth - Brookfield, Western, Braintree, Hardwick, Oakham.
Fifth - Rutland, Hutchinson, Petersham, Athol, Templeton, Winchendon, Royalston, Hubardston, Princeton.
Sixth - Southborough, Westborough, Northborough, Shrewsbury, Grafton.
Seventh - Mendon, Uxbridge, Northbridge, Upton, Douglas.
Voted, That it be recommended to the several towns in this county, to choose proper military officers, and a sufficient number for each town, and that the captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, who are chosen by the people in each regiment, do convene, on or before the tenth day of October next, at some convenient place in each regiment, and choose their field officers to command the militia until they be constitutionally appointed, and that it be recommended to the officers in each town of the county, to enlist one third of the men of their respective towns, between sixteen and sixty years of age, to be ready to act at a minute's warning; and that it be recommended to each town in the county, to choose a sufficient number of men as a committee to supply and support those troops that shall move on any emergency.
Voted, That it be recommended to the company officers of the minute men, to meet at Worcester, on the 17th of October next, at ten o'clock of the forenoon, to proportion their own regiments, and choose as many field officers as they shall think necessary.
Voted, That it be recommended to the justices of the county, that they liberate any persons confined in jail for debt, who are entitled to such liberation by the laws of the province.
Voted, That Capt. Joseph Henshaw, Colonel Thomas Denny, and Capt. Willard Moore, be a committee to present the following remonstrance, in behalf of this convention, to his Excellency General Gage.
To his Excellency Thomas Gage, Esq.,
The people of the county of Worcester, being earnestly solicitous for the peace and welfare of the province in general, cannot view the measures now pursuing by your excellency, but with increasing jealousy, as they apprehend there has not existed, and does not at present exist, any just occasion for the formidable hostile preparations making on the neck leading to our distressed capital.
It is a matter of such notoriety, that your excellency must be sensible, there was not the least opposition made to obstruct the of the king's troops at their first landing, nor have the people, since that time, discovered any intention to disturb them, till your excellency was pleased to order the seizure of the powder in the arsenal at Charlestown, in a private manner, which occasioned the report that a skirmish had happened between a party of the king's troops and the people at Cambridge, in which several of the latter fell. This caused the people to form and march from diverse parts of the country; but no sooner had the report proved false, than they returned peaceably to their homes.
The inhabitants of the province in general, and of the town of Boston, have never given cause for those cruel and arbitrary acts, for blockading their harbor and subverting the charter by altering the civil government of the province, which, however, this people are determined, by the divine favor, never to submit to, but with their lives, notwithstanding they are aggrieved at the king's displeasure against them, through the instigation of traitorous and designing men.
This county finds it difficult to comprehend the motives for the present hostile parade, unless it be in consequence of some preconcerted plan to subject the already distressed town of Boston to mean compliances or military contributions. They are equally at a loss to account for your excellency's conduct towards the county of Suffolk, as in your answer to their address, remonstrating against fortifying the only avenue to the town, which, by that means, may, in some future time, be improved to cut off the communication between town and country, and thereby reduce the miserable inhabitants to the greatest straits; your excellency is pleased in answer to observe, that you had not made it easier to effect this, than what nature has made it; if so, the county cannot conceive, why this expense and damage of the town to no purpose; your excellency is likewise pleased to take notice of the general good behavior of the soldiers, but at the same time pass over that part complaining of the detention of private property, and proceed to answer by way of quere, to which you would not permit a reply. This county are constrained to observe, they apprehend the people justifiable in providing for their own defense, while they understood there was no passing the neck without examination, the cannon at the north battery spiked up, and many places searched, where arms and ammunition were suspected to be, and if found, seized; yet, as the people have never acted offensively, nor discovered any disposition so to do, till as above related, the county apprehends this can never justify the seizure of private property. It is with great anxiety this county observes the wanton exercise of power in the officers of the customs at Salem, and on board the king's ships, respecting the article of fuel, destined for the use of the inhabitants of Boston, who are obliged to have it with the additional charge of landing and relading at Salem, before it can proceed; when your excellency must be sensible, the act, which is the professed rule of conduct, expressly excepts fuel and victuals, which may be brought to Boston by taking on board one or more officers, without the aforesaid charge, while that destined for the troops proceeds direct, free from the same. There are many other things which bear extremely hard on the inhabitants, while they are prohibited from transporting the smallest articles from one part of the town to another, waterbome, without danger of a seizure, or to get hay, cattle, from any of the islands, notwithstanding there is no other way of transportation. Your excellency, we apprehend, must have been greatly misinformed of the character of this people, to suppose such severities tend either to a submission to the acts, or reconciliation with the troops; and the county are sorry to find the execution of the acts attempted with an higher hand than was intended, unless the acts themselves should be thought too lenient. Bringing into the town a number of cannon from Castle-William; sending for a further reinforcement of troops, with other concurring circumstances, strongly indicating some dangerous design; have justly excited in the minds of the people, apprehensions of the most alarming nature, and the authors must be held accountable for all the blood and carnage made in consequence thereof. Therefore, this county, in duty to God, then country, themselves, and posterity, do remonstrate to, and earnestly desire your excellency, as you regard the service of the king, and the peace and welfare of the province, to desist from any further hostile preparations, and give the people assurance thereof, by levelling the entrenchments and dismantling the fortifications, which will have a tendency to satisfy their doubts, and restore that confidence so essential to their quiet, and his majesty's service. By order of the convention of committees for the county of Worcester.
JOSEPH HENSHAW, Chairman.
Attest, William Henshaw, Clerk.
Voted, That this meeting be adjourned to the first Tuesday of December next, at 10 o'clock, of the forenoon, to meet at the court house in Worcester. December 6, 1774.
December 6, 1774
The convention of committees met according to adjournment, and after prayer by the Rev. Mr. Maccarty, proceeded to business.
The committee appointed to present the remonstrance to General Cage, reported, that they offered the same to Mr. Secretary Flucker, who kept the address some days, and returned it to them, with the following answer:
Boston, Oct. 6, 1774.
Gentlemen: - His excellency the governor is ever ready to receive any address of his majesty's subjects, properly laid before him; but that from the county of Worcester, which you were appointed to present, not being directed to him as governor of the province, and there being an article in it injurious to his majesty, the governor declines receiving it at present, as he wishes to have an alteration in those two points before it is presented.
I am, Gentlemen, your humble servant,
To Messrs, Thomas Denny, Joseph Henshaw, Willard Moore.
The committee being afterwards informed, that if the address were directed to General Gage, with his official titles, it would be received, they waited on the governor, on Friday, October 14th, and presented the address, entitled as follows:
"To his Excellency Thomas Gage, Esq., Governor of his Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay, and Commander in Chief of the King's forces in North America."
The governor returned the following answer to the same:
Gentlemen: - 1 have repeatedly given the strongest assurances, that I intended nothing hostile against the town or country, and therefore, desire you to ease the minds of the people against any reports that may have been industriously spread amongst them to the contrary; my wish is to preserve peace and tranquility.
With respect to the execution of the port-bill, it is a matter belonging to other departments; and if anything is done not warranted by said act, the law is open for redress.
Voted, To request the Provincial Congress to establish the Norfolk exercise, with such alterations as they shall think proper, instead of the exercise of 1764.
Voted, To recommend the raising an artillery company in this county, to exercise and manage the field pieces, and that the persons chosen for that purpose in each town, meet at Worcester, on the 17th of January next, at eleven o'clock, A. JYL, to form themselves into a company, and to choose officers.
Voted, That Timothy Bigelow, Mr. Bancroft, William Henshaw, Mr. Sawyer, and Mr. Jonathan Stone, be a committee to draft a petition and remonstrance to the Provincial Congress, against the sixty-four exercise, and put the votes of this convention in order.
Voted, That William Henshaw, Capt. Timothy Bigelow, and Col. Joseph Henshaw, be a committee to present the petition and remonstrance to the Provincial Congress.
Voted, To recommend to the several towns in this county, to give it in charge to their constables and collectors, on their peril, not to pay any public moneys to Harrison Gray, Esq., late treasurer of this province, and to indemnify them for paying it where the towns shall order them to pay.
Voted, That the inhabitants of each town in this county, order their assessors not to return any certificates of the lists of assessments made by them, to Harrison Gray, Esq., late treasurer of the province, and that they indemnify them therefor.
Whereas, we are informed there is a covenant circulating through this province, wherein the signers have combined against the liberties of the people, therefore, Voted, that William Henshaw, Capt. Timothy Bigelow, and Col. Joseph Henshaw, be a committee humbly to request the advice of the Provincial Congress, what measures this county shall take in that affair.5
Voted, To choose a committee of nine persons, any two of whom to go to the field officers of the county of Worcester, to know the reason why they have not resigned their commissions to the governor, and published such resignation in the Boston newspapers, agreeably to a vote of this convention at a former meeting, and demand a categorical answer, whether they will comply or not with said requisition, and make report to this body at their next meeting.
Capt. Gates, Capt. Timothy Bigelow, Mr. Joshua Bigelow, Major Willard Moore, Col. Sawyer, Mr. Dodge, Capt. Joseph Gilbert, and Mr. Hezekiah Ward, were chosen a committee for the above purpose.
Voted, That it be recommended to the inhabitants of each town in this county, to choose committees of inspection to carry into effect the resolves and proceedings of the Continental Congress.
Voted, That we will encourage a printing office to be set up in this county, and recommend to every town herein, to give all proper encouragement to such undertaking.
Voted, That Capt. Timothy Bigelow, Mr. Joshua Bigelow, and William
Henshaw, be a committee to consult with Mr. Isaiah Thomas, and endeavor to procure a printing office to be set up.
Voted, That the convention be adjourned, to meet on the 26th of January next, at ten o'clock, A. M., at Worcester, at the court house.
January 26, 1774.
The convention met at the court house in Worcester.
In the absence of the chairman, Col. Artemas Ward was chosen chairman pro tempore.
Voted, That Col. William Henshaw, Col. Ward, Mr. David Bancroft, Capt.
Timothy Bigelow, Doct. Dunsmore, Mr. Longley, Capt. Job Cushing, Capt. Page, and Col. Sparhawk, be a committee to take into consideration a plan for this county to adopt respecting the non-consumption covenants of the Continental and Provincial Congress, and to report thereon.
Voted, That it be recommended to the selectmen in each town and district in the county, to insert in the warrants for the next March meetings, an article to choose a county treasurer agreeably to law.
Voted, To adjourn till to-morrow morning, at nine o'clock, A. M.
January 27, 1774
The convention met according to adjournment.
The committee chosen yesterday, being ready to report,
Voted, That the convention sit with closed doors, during the disputes on the covenants.
The committee on the covenant reported as follows:
Resolved, That it be recommended to the inhabitants of this county that have not signed this or a similar covenant, that they do it as soon as may be with convenience. The covenant is as follows:
We, the subscribers, having seen the association and covenant drawn up by the grand Continental Congress, respecting the non-importation, nonconsumption, and non-exportation of goods, signed by our delegates, and also the delegates of the other colonies on the continent, and also the addition thereto, made by the delegates in Provincial Congress, dated Cambridge, December 5, 1774, for carrying into execution the said association, and having attentively considered, do heartily approve of said association, and the addition, and of every part thereof; and in order to make the same association our own personal act, we do, by these presents, associate under the sacred ties of virtue, honor, and love of our country, strictly to observe and keep all and every article and clause in said association, and addition contained with respect to the importation, exportation, and consumption, according to the true intent, meaning, and letter thereof, and will duly inform, and give notice of every evasion or contravention of said agreement, so far as we are able. All and every of which clauses aforesaid, to remain firm and in force until overruled by a continental and provincial body duly assembled.
The above was accepted by the convention, and signed by the members thereof.
Voted, That Col. Ward, Capt. Newhall, and Col. Holman, be a committee to wait on the Rev. Mr. Fish, and desire him to preach a sermon before the convention, at the next meeting, and in case of failure, to wait upon the Rev. Mr. Paine, for that purpose.
Voted, That Mr. Chairman, Mr. Bancroft, and Mr. Stone, be a committee to wait on the Rev. Mr. Maccarty, and obtain leave to use his pulpit, and to make provision for the reverend clergy who may attend.
Voted, That Col. Ward, Capt. Bigelow, Capt. Willard, Capt. Fay, and Capt. Newhall, be a committee to take into consideration the misbehavior of inn holders, retailers, and persons selling liquors without a license.
Voted, To adjourn to three o'clock, P. M.
The convention met according to adjournment.
Voted, That Col. Ward, Doct. Dunsmore, Capt. Bigelow, William Henshaw, Capt. Willard, Capt Fay, and Capt. Newhall, be a committee to take into consideration, the conduct of certain persons inimical to their country. Their report thereon was made, accepted, and is as follows;
Whereas, the convention of committees for the county of Worcester, did, on the 31st of August, 1774, resolve; that it be recommended to such inn holders and retailers in said county, who may be approbated by the selectmen in their respective towns, to continue and exercise their respective functions, provided they strictly adhere to the laws of this province, respecting inn holders and retailers, and it was the sense of the convention, that no person or persons, ought to sell spirituous liquors in said county, but such as are, or shall be approbated by the selectmen of their respective towns or districts: and as complaint has been made to the convention now sitting, that a number of persons in this county do practice the selling strong liquors without the approbation as aforesaid, which is not only counteracting a resolve of said convention, but is against the law of the province, is of dangerous consequence, and has a tendency to corrupt the morals of the people: for preventing the same, and promoting peace and good order, it is Resolved, that it be recommended to the committees of correspondence, inspection, and selectmen in every town and district in this county, carefully to inquire into such illegal practices, and disorders, and not only discountenance, but discourage and put a final stop to such breaches of good order; but, provided any person will not be reclaimed, he or they ought to be held up to the public view, and treated not only with neglect, but contempt, as enemies of the public as well as of private good, until they reform.
And, whereas, Isaac Jones of Weston, in the county of Middlesex, inn holder and trader, has, by his conduct of late years, in various instances, manifested a disposition inimical to the rights and privileges of his countrymen: therefore, Resolved, That it be earnestly recommended to all the inhabitants of this county, not to have any commercial connections with said Isaac Jones, but to shun his house and person, and treat him with that contempt he deserves: and should any persons in this county be so lost to a sense of their duty, after this recommendation, as to have any commercial connections or dealings with said Jones, we do advise the inhabitants of this county to treat such persons with the utmost neglect.
Voted, That Mr. Willard Moore, Mr. Nathaniel Longley, and Capt. William Page, be a committee to take under consideration a motion made respecting Messrs. Mills and Hicks, and Draper's newspapers, who made report, which was accepted, as follows:
Whereas, the enemies of these united colonies are indefatigable in their endeavors to create divisions among the inhabitants, and as there are several printers on the continent, viz.: Rivington and Gaines of New York. Draper, Mills and Hicks of Boston, that incessantly assist them in their endeavors, by publishing their scandalous performances, in their several newspapers: therefore,
Resolved, That it be recommended to the good people of this county, not to take any more of the aforesaid papers, but that they encourage those printers who have invariably appeared friendly to the country.
, That Col. Ward, Capt. Newhall, Capt. Page, Capt. Bigelow, and Major Moore, be a committee to take the affairs of trade into consideration, and to remonstrate against riots and routs.
The report of this committee was accepted, and is as follows:
Resolved, That it be strongly recommended by this body to the committees of inspection in the several towns in this county, that they be very assiduous in the discharge of the trust reposed in them, with respect to trade; to see that all traders keep strictly to the rules laid down by the Continental and Provincial Congress: and also, that they make strict inquiry of every person that purchases goods abroad, who they trade with, and when the goods were imported; and that it be also recommended to the inhabitants of this county, whenever they purchase goods as above said, that they be very careful not to break covenant: and that they take bills of parcels of every article, and lay the same before the committee for their inspection, that no person may be imposed upon by those villains that are inimical to the cause of liberty.
Whereas, we are fully sensible that our enemies are assiduously endeavoring to provoke us to acts of violence, not only with those whom we esteem inimical to our liberties, who are natives of this province, but also with General Gage, and the king's troops; endeavoring thereby, as we apprehend, to exceed the bounds of our patience, that they may have a pretense to represent us as the aggressors: therefore,
Resolved, That we are disposed to conduct ourselves in a friendly manner towards his majesty's troops, agreeably to the recommendation of the Continental Congress, so long as they behave peaceably towards us.
Resolved, That it be recommended to the inhabitants of this county, to be very careful in discountenancing and suppressing all acts of violence, except so much as is necessary to carry the resolves of the Continental and Provincial Congress into execution; and being fully convinced of the justice of our cause, we are determined firmly and religiously to support and maintain our rights, even to the loss of our lives and fortunes, before we will dastardly and impiously give up and submit to an arbitrary power.
Voted, That the standing committee fit and prepare the votes and resolves of the convention for the press, and get such a number of handbills, containing the same, struck off as they shall think proper, for circulation.
Voted, To adjourn to the twenty-eighth day of March next, to meet at 10 o'clock, A. M. at the court house in Worcester.
March 28, 1775.
The convention met according to adjournment.
Voted, That the Rev. Mr. Chaplain be requested to open this convention with prayer.
Voted, That the convention do now proceed to the meeting house, to attend the sermon by the Rev. Elisha Fish, and the other exercises.
The convention being again met in the afternoon:
Voted, That the thanks of the convention be presented to the Rev. Mr. Fish, for the discourse preached before them, inand that the standing committee wait upon him and request a copy thereof for the press.
Voted, That the standing committee print as many copies of said discourse as they judge fit, for circulation.
May 31, 1775.
The convention met according to adjournment, at the court house, in Worcester.
Mr. William Young was elected chairman pro tempore, and Jeduthan Baldwin clerk pro tempore.
Voted, That the Rev. Mr. Chaplain be desired to open this convention with prayer.
Voted, To pass over counting the votes for county treasurer.
Voted, That Col. Hezekiah Ward, Mr. Padleford, and Mr. Joshua Bigelow, be a committee to draw up a remonstrance to the Provincial Congress, that no man be allowed to have a seat therein who does not vote away his own money for public purposes, in common with the other members, and with his constituents.
Resolved, That a committee be appointed, to take into consideration the subject of allowing those who are inimical to the country, to exercise the right of voting in town meetings.
Resolved, That the erecting of a paper mill in this county would be of great public advantage; and if any person or persons will undertake the erecting of such mill and the manufacture of paper, that it be recommended to the people of the county to encourage the undertaking by generous contributions and subscriptions.!
That the expectation of the visit of the royal troops was not without foundation, will appear by the following extracts of the official dispatch of General Gage to the Earl of Dartmouth, dated, Salem, August 27, 1774.
"Since the unwarrantable impeachment of the chief justice [Oliver,] I understand he has never taken his seat upon the bench, but he has promised me to attend the superior court at Boston, towards the end of the month, and I hope also, he will preside in said court to be held at Worcester in September, notwithstanding the threats thrown out against him. I have engaged to meet him at Boston, to prevent violence, which, from the present system, I don't expect to meet with there; I believe, that I must attend him also at Worcester, where I am to expect it.'*
"By the plan lately adopted, forcible opposition and violence is to be transferred from the town of Boston to the country."
"In Worcester, they keep no terms; openly threatening resistance by arms; have been purchasing arms 5 preparing them; casting balls; and providing powder; and threaten to attack any troops who dare to oppose them. Mr. Ruggles, of the new council, is afraid to take his seat as judge of the inferior court, which sits at Worcester, on the 6th of next month 5 and, I apprehend, that I shall soon be obliged to march a body of troops into that township, and perhaps into others, as occasions happen, to preserve the peace."
In reference to the mandamus councilors, General Gage writes,"your lordship judged right, that art would be practiced on this occasion, to intimidate and prejudice; even force was attempted on Mr. Ruggles, by a number of people collected on the road, near Worcester, with intent to stop him, but he made his way through them,"
On the second of September following, Gov. Gage writes to the Earl of Dartmouth, as follows;
"I came here to attend the superior court, and with the intention to send a body of troops to Worcester, to protect the court there; and if wanted, to send parties to the houses of the councilors who dwell in that county 5 but finding, from undoubted authority, that the flames of sedition had spread universally throughout the country, beyond conception; the councilors already driven away; and that no court would proceed on business; I waited the event of the sitting of the superior court here, on the 30th ultimo; the judges met, but could get neither grand nor petit jury."
On the invitation of the convention, the people of the county had assembled to the number of about six thousand. The companies of the several towns were under officers of their own election, and marched in military order. Having been formed in two lines, when the arrangements were completed, the royalist justices, and officers, were compelled to pass through the ranks, pausing, at intervals, to read their declarations of submission to the public will. At evening, finding that no troops were on their way to sustain the judicial tribunals, whose constitution had been corrupted by the act of parliament, the great assembly dispersed peacefully through the ranges of the body of the people; that they go immediately after the judges, and read their recantations.2
Forty-three of the royalist inhabitants of Worcester, had made their protest against the patriotic resolutions of that town. This protest having been entered on the municipal records, by the clerk, without authority, he was subsequently compelled, in open meeting, to obliterate the document; the work of the pen not being effectual in destroying its former traces, his fingers were dipped in ink, and drawn over the page, which still remains in the town book, entirely illegible. Most of the subscribers of the loyal paper were forced to sign recantations of their expressed opinion. To these persons the vote in the text refers.
The address of the justices of the county of Worcester, was presented June 21, 1774, and with the answer of Governor Gage, follows:
To his Excellency Thomas Gage, Esq., Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England.
May it please your Excellency: - The justices of the court of general sessions of the peace, and justices of the inferior court of common pleas, held at Worcester, on the second Tuesday of June, 1774, beg leave, at our first session, after your safe arrival, to congratulate your excellency thereon, and also, on your appointment to the most important office of first magistrate in this province; in full confidence, from the amiable character your excellency has obtained in your other important departments in America, you will ever delight in promoting the good of this government. We find a peculiar difficulty in expressing the distress of our minds relating to the unhappy circumstances of this province at this time; and can, with sincerity, say, that we have no doubt, from your well known character, you will do all that is in your power, to extricate us out of our distresses, in every way consistent with the true interest of Great Britain and her colonies, which we hold inseparable. And we do bear our testimony against all riots, routs, combinations, and unwarrantable resolves, which, we apprehend, have been the unhappy occasion of many of our troubles. And as there are now circulating through this province, certain inflammatory pieces, signed by order of the committee of correspondence of the town of Boston; and in this county, by order of certain persons, calling themselves a committee of correspondence of the town of Worcester, directed to the several towns in the county, stimulating the people to break off all connections with Great Britain, which have still a tendency to alienate the affections of the people of this province and county from the mother country, and create discord and confusion, we do assure your excellency, that we will do everything in our power, to discountenance such proceedings, and support the execution of the laws, and render your excellency's administration successful and prosperous.
To which his Excellency was pleased to return the following answer:
Gentlemen: - I return you my most sincere and hearty thanks for your very affectionate and truly patriotic address.
Your disavowal of the malevolent labors of a desperate faction, who, by raising groundless fears and jealousies, and using every sort of artifice and fraud, endeavor to delude and intimidate the people, and to create in them an aversion and enmity towards their brethren in Great Britain, is a proof that you hold sentiments the most friendly to your country. May your designs to discountenance such proceedings, meet with all the success that every real patriot must hope and wish for; and I will, at all times, be ready to advance so laudable a work, which alone can give peace and happiness to the province, and restore the union so necessary to be cemented with the kingdom of Great Britain.
On the day following the adjournment of the county convention, a meeting of the blacksmiths of the county of Worcester was held. Their resolutions, which were published in a handbill, and subscribed by forty-three persons, follow:
Whereas, at a meeting of the delegates from the counties of Worcester, Middlesex, and Essex, with the committee of correspondence of the town of Boston, in behalf of the county of Suffolk, holden at Boston the 26th day of August, 1774, it was resolved - That all such officers or private persons as have given sufficient proof of their enmity to the people and constitution of this country, should be held in contempt, and that those who are connected with them ought to separate from them: laborers to shun their vineyards j merchants, husbandmen, and others, to withhold their commerce and supplies:
Voted with a sense of our duty to our country, paternal affection for our children and unborn millions, as also for our personal rights and liberties, solemnly covenant, agree and engage to and with each other, that from and after the first day of December, 1774, we will not, according to the best of our knowledge, any or either of us, nor any person by our directions, order or approbation, for or under any or either of us, do or perform, any blacksmith's work, or business of any kind whatever, for any person or persons whom we esteem enemies to this country, commonly known by the name of tories, viz.: all councilors in this province appointed by mandamus, who have not publicly resigned said office, also every person who addressed Governor Hutchinson on his departure from this province, who has not publicly recanted: also every officer exercising authority by virtue of any commission tending to carry any of the late oppressive acts of parliament into execution in America: and, in particular, we will not do any work for Timothy Ruggles of Hardwick, John Murray of Rutland, and James Putnam of Worcester, Esquires: nor for any person or persons cultivating, tilling, improving, dressing, hiring, or occupying any of their lands or tenements. Also, we agree to refuse our work of every kind, as aforesaid, to all and every person or persons who shall not have signed the non-consumption agreement, or have entered into a similar contract or engagement, or that shall not strictly conform to the association or covenant agreed upon and signed by the Continental Congress lately convened at Philadelphia.
We further agree, that we will not do any work for any mechanic, tradesman, laborer, or others, that shall work for, or in any ways, or by any means whatever, aid, assist, or promote the business, or pecuniary advantage, pleasures or profits of any the said enemies to this country.
Resolved, That all lawful ways and means ought to be adopted by the whole body of the people of this province, to discountenance all our inveterate political enemies in manner as aforesaid. Therefore, we earnestly recommend it to all denominations of artificers, that they call meetings of their respective craftsmen in their several counties, as soon as may be, and enter into associations and agreements for said purposes: and that all husbandmen, laborers do the like: and that whoever shall be guilty of any breach of any or either of the articles or agreements, be held by us in contempt, as enemies to our common rights.
ROSS WYMAN, Chairman.
Timothy Bigelow, Clerk.
This vote relates to the royalist covenant, drawn by Gen. Ruggles, inserted in the note to the journal of the Provincial Congress, ante page 68.