Dutiful and Loyal Notwithstanding Any Representations to the Contrary

in by Warren

Date: March 23, 1770

Authors: James Bowdoin, Samuel Pemberton, Joseph Warren, in committee

Sir:  It is in consequence of an appointment of the Town of Boston that we have the honor of writing to you, and of communicating the enclosed narrative, relative to the massacre in this Town on the 5th Instant.

After that execrable deed, perpetrated by Soldiers of the 29th Regiment, the Town thought it highly expedient, that a full and just representation of it should be made to persons of Character as soon as may be, in order to frustrate the designs of certain men who, as they have heretofore been plotting the ruin of our Constitution and Liberties, by their Letters, Memorials and Representations, are now said to have procured depositions in a private manner, relative to the said Massacre to bring an odium upon the Town as the aggressors in that affair. But we humbly apprehend that after examining the said Narrative, and the Depositions annexed to it, you will be fully satisfied of the Falsehood of such a suggestion; and we take upon ourselves to declare upon our honor and consciences, that having examined critically into the matter, there does not appear the least ground for it.

The Depositions referred to (if any such there be) were taken without notifying the Selectmen of the Town, or any other Persons whatever, to be present at the Caption in behalf of the Town: which, as it has been a thing justly complained of heretofore in some other cases, so the Town now renew their complaints on the same head; and humbly presume such Depositions will have no weight till the Town has been served with Copies of them, and an opportunity given them to be heard in their defence in this matter, and in any other, wherein their character is drawn into Question with a view of passing a censure upon it.

A different conduct was observed on the Part of the Town: The Justices with a Committee to attend them made their examinations publicly; most of them at Faneuil Hall and the rest where any persons might attend. Notifications were sent to the Custom House where the Commissioners of the Customs sit, that they or any persons in their behalf might be present at the Captions; and accordingly Mr. Sheaffe, the Deputy Collector, and Mr. Green, Tenant of the Custom House under the Commissioners and employed by them, were present at many of them.

One of said Commissioners Mr. Robinson, in a secret manner has embarked on board Capt. Robson, and sailed for London the 16th Instant; which with Three of the other Commissioners retiring from the Town, and not having held a Board for some time since the 5th Instant, gives reason to apprehend they have planned, and are executing a scheme of misrepresentation, to induce Administration to think that their persons are not in safety in this town in the absence of Troops.  But their safety is no way dependent on Troops; for you are sensible, sir, that if any evil had ever been intended them, troops could not have prevented it.

It was so apparently incompatible with the safety of the Town for the Troops to continue any longer in it, that His Majesty’s Council were unanimous in their advice to the Lieutenant Governor [i.e. Thomas Hutchinson] that they should be removed to the Barracks at Castle Island and it is the humble and fervent prayer of the Town, and the Province in General, that His Majesty will graciously be pleased, in his great wisdom and goodness, to order the said Troops out of the Province; and that his dutiful and loyal subjects of this Town and Province—dutiful and loyal notwithstanding any representations to the contrary—may not again be distressed and destroyed by Troops; for prevent­ing which we beg leave in behalf of the Town, to request most earnestly the favor of your interposition and influence. We have the Honor to be with the most perfect regard,


Your most obedient and very humble Servants,

James Bowdoin,

Sam’l Pemberton,

Joseph Warren.

Source: Duplicate of letter addressed to the Marquis of Granby, transcribed from original by Sam Forman at Clements Library, University of Michigan, Schoff Revolutionary War Collection 1. The content is identical to the text published in the Massachusetts Papers, Seventy-Six Society, pp. 135-137. Specific addressees of this and similar letters are listed in the first edition of the Town of Boston pamphlet to which these letters served as cover. The same committee including Warren wrote both the pamphlet and the cover letters. Additional copies of these cover letters may be encountered in archives and signature collections.

Commentary: Whig members of the Boston Town Meeting assured that their view of the events surrounding the Boston Massacre were disseminated to other American provinces and to Whig supporters in Great Britain. They were sensitive that a parallel Loyalist account of the affair not be afforded credibility. This cover letter names the people involved in that counter narrative and their nefarious methods and motives. Joseph Warren’s involvement in committees, rapid writing, and distribution of authoritative Patriot views of key events follows a pattern discernible in Boston Sons of Liberty information dissemination from the late 1760s through the outbreak of hostilities in 1775.

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