The Writings of Samuel Adams— Volume 3

Author: Samuel Adams

The Committee of Correspondence of Massachusetts to Other Committees of Correspondence.1

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]


BOSTON Octob 21 1773


The Committee of Correspondence appointed by the House of Representatives of this Province have been not altogether inattentive to the Design of their Institution. We have been waiting for Intelligence from Great Britain from whose injudicious Councils the common Grievances of the Colonies have sprang; in hopes that a Change in the American Department would have producd a happy Change in the measures of Administration; But we are sorry to say, that from the best Accounts that we have obtaind the Ministry have been hitherto so far from radically redressing American Grievances that even the least Relaxation has not been advisd if thought of. On the Contrary, the British Parliament have been prorogud without taking the least Notice of the Affairs of America; while they have been curtailing the Charter of the East India Company in such a Manner & in such a Degree, as to indicate that they are much more intent upon increasing the power & Influence of the Crown than securing Liberties of the Subject. At the same time, this Province has had a very recent Discovery of the unalterd Resolution of the Ministry to pursue their plan of arbitrary Power, in the Kings Answer to the Petitions of our Assembly against the appropriation of the Revenue raisd from the Colonies, for the purpose of rendering our Governor & Judges dependent on the Crown. In his Majestys Answer, we have nothing explicit, but his Resolution to support the supreme Authority of the British parliamt to make Laws binding on the Colonies (altho the petitions were supported by the express Declarations of the Charter of the province) and his great Displeasure, that principles repugnant to that Right were therein held forth. Such an Answer to such a petition affords the strongest Grounds to conclude, that the Ministry are as firmly resolvd as ever to continue the Revenue Acts & apply the tribute extorted by Virtue of them from the Colonies, to maintain the executive powers of the several Governments of America absolutely independent of their respective Legislatures; or rather absolutely dependent on the Crown, which will, if a little while persisted in, end in absolute Despotism.

Such being still the temper of the British Ministry, Such the Disposition of the parliament of Britain under their Direction & Influence, to consider themselves as THE SOVEREIGN of America, Is it not of the utmost Importance that our Vigilance should increase, that the Colonies should be united in their Sentiments of the Measures of Oppposition necessary to be taken by them, and that in whichsoever of the Colonies any Infringments are or shall be made on the common Rights of all, that Colony should have the united Efforts of all for its Support. This we take to be the true Design of the Establishment of our Committees of Correspondence.

There is one thing which appears to us to be an Object worthy of the immediate Attention of the Colonies. Should a War take place, which is thought by many to be near at hand, America will then be viewd by Administration in a Light of Importance to Great Britain. Her Aids will be deemd necessary; her Friendship therefore will perhaps be even courted. Would it not then be the highest Wisdom in the several American Assemblies, absolutely to withhold all kinds of Aid in a general War, untill the Rights & Liberties which THEY OUGHT TO ENJOY are restored, & secured to them upon the most permanent foundation? This has always been the Usage of a spirited House of Commons in Britain, and upon the best Grounds; for certainly protection & Security ought to be the unalterable Condition when Supplys are called for. With Regard to the Extent of Rights which the Colonies ought to insist upon, it is a Subject which requires the closest Attention & Deliberation; and this is a strong Reason why it should claim the earliest Consideration of, at least, every Committee; in order that we may be prepared when time & Circumstances shall give to our Claim the surest prospect of Success. And when we consider how one great Event has hurried on, upon the back of another, such a time may come & such Circumstances take place sooner than we are now aware of. There are certain Rights which every Colony has explicitly asserted, & we trust they will never give up. THAT in particular, that they have the sole & unalienable Right to give & grant their own money & appropriate it to such purposes as they judge proper, is justly deemd to be of the last Importance. But whether even this Right, so essential to our Freedom & Happiness, can remain . . . to us, while a Right is claimed by the British parliament to make Laws binding upon us in all Cases whatever, you will certainly consider with Seriousness. It would be debasing to us after so manly a Struggle for our Rights to be contented with a mere TEMPORARY reliefe. We take the Liberty to present you with the State of a Controversy upon that Subject, between the Governor of this province and the Assembly. And as the Assembly of this or some other Colony may possibly be called into further Consideration of it, we should think our selves happy in a Communication of such further Thoughts upon it, as we are perswaded will upon a . . . occur to your Minds. We are far from desiring that the Connection between Britain & America should be broken. ESTO PERPETUA, is our ardent wish; but upon the Terms only of Equal Liberty. If we cannot establish an Agreement upon these terms, let us leave it to another & wiser Generation. But it may be worth Consideration that the work is more likely to be well done, at a time when the Ideas of Liberty & its Importance are strong in Mens Minds. There is Danger that these Ideas will hereafter grow faint & languid. Our Posterity may be accustomd to bear the Yoke & being inured to Servility they may even bow the Shoulder to the Burden. It can never be expected that a people, however NUMEROUS, will form & execute a wise plan to perpetuate their Liberty, when they have lost the Spirit & feeling of it.

We cannot close without mentioning a fresh Instance of the temper & Design of the British Ministry; and that is in allowing the East India Company, with a View of pacifying them, to ship their Teas to America. It is easy to see how aptly this Scheme will serve both to destroy the Trade of the Colonies & increase the revenue. How necessary then is it that Each Colony should take effectual methods to prevent this measure from having its designd Effects.2


The foregoing Letter was unanimously agreed to by the Committee of Correspondence, and is in their name and by their order Transmitted to you by your most respectfull friends and humble Servants,


P.S. It is the request of the Committee that the Contents of this Letter be not made publick least our Common Enemies should counteract and prevent its design.

________________________________________________________________ 1The origin of this letter appears in the manuscript journal, preserved in the Boston Public Library, of the Committee of Correspondence, consisting of fifteen members, appointed by the House of Representatives of Massachusetts. At a meeting of the committee on June 28, 1773, a sub-committee, consisting of Adams, Hancock, Cushing, Phillips, and Heath, was appointed, to write to the Connecticut Committee of Correspondence and also to the committee of each assembly. The letter to Connecticut appears to have been approved at a meeting of the sub-committee on July 4. At a meeting of the sub-committee on July 15 Adams was asked to draft a letter on general government to the committees of the neighboring governments. This letter was still unwritten on August 19, and on September 29 the sub-committee called a meeting of the full committee for October 20. On that date it was voted expedient to write a circular letter to the other committees, and in the afternoon of the same day Adams and Warren were appointed a sub-committee to draft such a letter. At the afternoon meeting on October 21 a draft was reported, read several times, and accepted; and it was voted that the chairman, with Adams and Heath, should sign the letters. The Journal is printed in Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., vol. iv., pp. 85-90. 2The remainder is not in the autograph of Adams.


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Chicago: Samuel Adams, "The Committee of Correspondence of Massachusetts to Other Committees of Correspondence.1," The Writings of Samuel Adams— Volume 3 in The Writings of Samuel Adams—Volume 3 Original Sources, accessed April 21, 2019,

MLA: Adams, Samuel. "The Committee of Correspondence of Massachusetts to Other Committees of Correspondence.1." The Writings of Samuel Adams— Volume 3, in The Writings of Samuel Adams—Volume 3, Original Sources. 21 Apr. 2019.

Harvard: Adams, S, 'The Committee of Correspondence of Massachusetts to Other Committees of Correspondence.1' in The Writings of Samuel Adams— Volume 3. cited in , The Writings of Samuel Adams—Volume 3. Original Sources, retrieved 21 April 2019, from