Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from a Committee of the Town of Boston, 23 October 1769

From a Committee of the Town of Boston

LS4: American Philosophical Society

Boston October 23d. 1769


It is with the greatest Pleasure we obey the Orders of the Town of Boston in transmitting to you their Remarks upon the Letters from Governor Bernard, the Commissioners of his Majesty’s Customs, General Gage and Commodore Hood Copies of which the Town have been furnished with by Mr. Bollan.5

The Town of Boston are fully sensible of your extensive Influence and from your past Conduct have the strongest Reason to assure themselves that you will exert your great Abilities in promoting the united Interest of Great Britain and her Colonies.

The Happiness of British Subjects is founded on the Freedom of the Constitution. And in behalf of the Town of Boston we beg you would always and particularly at this Time defend this injured Town against the injurious Calumnies of those who wish the total Abolition of Liberty both in Great Britain and America. We are with strict Truth, Sir Your most obedient and very humble Servants6

Thomas Cushing R. Dana
Saml Adams Joshua Henshaw
John Adams Joseph Jackson
James Otis Benja Kent
Jos Warren
Committee of the
Town of Boston

Benjamin Franklin Esq (Copy)

P: S:7 We have wrote to Dennys DeBerdt Esq. to whom we had before transmitted Papers and Evidences respecting the Affairs of the Town and have desired him to communicate them to you, if you shall think it necessary to apply to him for the same. Have also wrote William Bollan, Thomas Pownal and Barlow Trecothick Esquires Letters of the same tenor with this.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Despite the fact that the letter is labeled a copy, the signatures are original.

5After Parliament, late in 1768, had received damaging reports about riots and protests in Boston, the Selectmen had asked BF and other friends in England to counter the charges. See their letter to BF above under Feb. 18. William Bollan, agent for the Massachusetts Council, procured copies of unfriendly letters from Governor Bernard, from General Thomas Gage and Commodore Samuel Hood, commander in chief respectively of the King’s land and sea forces, and from four members of the American Board of Customs Commissioners. The letters were published in three pamphlets in Boston during 1769, and the town meeting’s “Remarks,” written mostly by Samuel Adams, appeared as An Appeal to the World; or a Vindication of the Town of Boston … (Boston, 1769). The Massachusetts House petitioned for Bernard’s removal, and the Boston town meeting sued the letter-writers for libel; see Francis G. Wallet, “Governor Bernard’s Undoing: an Earlier Hutchinson Letters Affair”, New England Quarterly, XXXVIII (1965), 217–26; G. B. Warden, Boston, 1689–1776 (Boston, 1970), p. 223.

6For Thomas Cushing (1725–1788), Speaker of the Massachusetts House, see DAB. Samuel and John Adams, James Otis, Jr., and Dr. Joseph Warren are too familiar to need an introduction. Richard Dana (1700–1772) achieved notoriety in 1770 as a Justice of the Peace investigating the Boston Massacre; see Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, VI, 236–9. For Benjamin Kent see above, XI, 80 n, and, for Joshua Henshaw and Joseph Jackson, the letter to BF cited in the previous note.

7The postscript had become separated, but we are convinced that it belongs with the letter. The handwriting, although smaller, is the same. The town meeting of Oct. 18, furthermore, had instructed the committee to transmit copies of its report to, among others, Bollan, Pownall, and Trecothick: W. H. Whitmore et al., eds., Reports of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston (30 vols., Boston, 1881–1909), [XVI] (1886), 297, 299–300.

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