Benjamin Franklin Papers
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The Massachusetts General Court to the American Commissioners, 23 October 1778

The Massachusetts General Court to the American Commissioners

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: Library of Congress

Council Chamber Boston
Octr. 23d. 1778

May it please your Honors,

Agreeable to the Directions of the Genl. Assembly of this State, I do myself the Honor to transmit One hundred Copies of An Act intitled “An Act to prevent the return to this State of certain persons named and described and others who have left the same and joined our inveterate and Cruel Enemies;”4 in Order that the same may be made public for their Government. Doubtless many of those mentioned in said Act, since they have found that the low Arts and Wicked Designs of our Enemies have been frustrated, will have that Modesty peculiar to themselves to Attempt a return; but I hope if they should be so daring, that Just Vengeance of our Countrymen will fall upon them. Your Honors will perceive that I am directed to transmit five hundred Copies of said Act, which I shall endeavour to comply with by five different Opportunities. I am with every sentiment of Esteem Your Honors, most Obedient and very humble Servant

John Avery, Dy. secy.5

Addressed: (On Public Service) / Their Excellency’s / Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee and / John Adams Esqrs. / Commissioners at the Court of France / Paris

Notations in different hands: Jn. Avery Oct 23. 78 / D. Secretary, Mass: Bay.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4State of Massachusetts-Bay. In the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight. An Act to prevent the Return to this State of certain Persons … (Boston, 1778). The act named hundreds of persons, with Thomas Hutchinson at the head of the list, who, if they returned, would be jailed and then transported out of state; a second return would mean the death penalty. The act was passed on Oct. 16.

5John Avery (1739–1806), although bearing only the title of deputy secretary, was actually secretary of the commonwealth: Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, XIV, 384–9.

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