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To John Adams from Rufus King, 3 October 1786

From Rufus King

New york 3 Oct. 17861

Dr Sir,

You will undoubtedly hear much of the tumultuous and irregular conduct of a considerably numerous class of people in the western counties of massachusetts— the same temper which appears to have collected these illegal Assemblies in Massachusetts, has shewn itself in New Hampshire; but General Sullivan, who is now President of that State, by very proper and decisive Measures has put an End to these unjustifiable proceedings in that country—2 Perhaps in Massachusetts, considering the prostrate situation of our commerce, the Government have pressed the subject of Taxes, of the direct Kind, beyound what prudence would authorise; the amount of Taxes laid on the Citizens of that State, in one form and another, and for the purposes of the Union, the State, the counties, & towns, including the Support of the Clergy & the town schools, in the course of the year 1786, will not be less then the sum of One Million & a Half of Dollars; the whole of this Sum, excepting about 250, or, 300 Thousand Dollars which are raised by Imposts & Excises, must be raised from the People by an immediate and direct apportionment upon the Polls & Estates of the Inhabitants— Perhaps this Apportionment may be nearly equal to One third part of the Rents or income of the Estates of all the Inhabitants—

The operation of these heavy Taxes, in connection with the pressure of the Creditors upon their Debtors for their private Demands has occasioned an Opposition to the judicial Courts in the Counties of, Middlesex, Bristol, Worcester, Hampshire & Berkshire; and the Opposition has been so considerable that in some of these counties, the lower court has been obliged to adjourn without doing any Business— the General Court are now sitting, and without Doubt they will pursue such Measures as shall redress all the real Greivances of the People, and establish the honor and Energy of our Government—3

You will see this business greatly magnified, and tories may rejoice— But all will be well—

With sincere Respect, Dr. Sir / Your Ob. & very Hbl. Servt.

Rufus King

RC (Adams Papers description begins Manuscripts and other materials, 1639–1889, in the Adams Manuscript Trust collection given to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1956 and enlarged by a few additions of family papers since then. Citations in the present edition are simply by date of the original document if the original is in the main chronological series of the Papers and therefore readily found in the microfilm edition of the Adams Papers (APM). description ends ); internal address: “His Excy.— / Mr. Adams &c &c &c”; endorsed: “Mr King 3. Oct. ansd / 27. Nov. 1786.”

1King wrote to JA on 2 Oct. (Smith, Letters of Delegates, 23:578–579), enclosing the Annapolis convention’s report and lamenting its failure, for which see Charles Storer’s 7 April letter, and note 2, above.

2Although JA likely received in mid-October Storer’s 19 Aug. letter reporting the calling of county conventions, above, this letter and another of 4 Oct. from John Jay (Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 description begins The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America, from … 1783, to … 1789, [ed. William A. Weaver], repr., Washington, D.C., 1837 [actually 1855]; 3 vols. description ends , 2:673) are the first containing news of Shays’ Rebellion to which there are extant replies, for which see JA’s 29 and 30 Nov. letters to King and Jay, respectively, both below.

3Gov. James Bowdoin called back the Mass. General Court on 27 Sept., mainly in order to quell the Shaysite uprising, for which see Tristram Dalton’s 11 July letter, and note 3, above.

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