A List of Infrigements and Violation of Rights – Boston Committee of Correspondence

in by Warren

Date: November 20, 1772

“[T]the following will not fail to excite the Attention of all who consider themselves interested in the Happiness and Freedom of Mankind in general, and of this Continent and Province in Particular.

1st. The British Parliament have assumed the Powers of Legislation for the Colonists in all Cases whatsoever, without obtaining the Consent of the Inhabitants…”

“2dly. They have exerted that assumed Power, in raising a Revenue in the Colonies without their Consent; thereby depriving them of that Right which every Man has to keep his own Earnings.”

“3dly. A Number of new Officers, unknown in the Charter of the Province, has been appointed…”

“4thly. These Officers are by their Commissions invested with Powers altogether unconstitutional… Each of these petty officers so made is intrusted with Power more absolute and arbitrary than ought to be lodged in the hands of any Man or body of Men whatsoever…  Thus our Houses, and even our Bed-Chambers, are exposed to be ransacked, our Boxes, Trunks and Chests broke open, ravaged and plundered, by Wretches, whom no prudent Man would venture to employ even as menial servants; whenever they are pleased to say they suspect there are in the House, Wares, &c. for which the Duties have not been paid.”

“5thly. Fleets and Armies have been introduced to support these unconstitutional Officers in collecting and managing this unconstitutional Revenue…”

“6thly. The Revenue arising from this Tax… has been applied to the most destructive purposes…Fifteen Hundred Pounds Sterling annually, out of the American revenue, for the support of the Governor of this Province independent of the Assembly:.. the Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature, as also the King’s Attorney and Solicitor General are to receive their Support from this grievous tribute.”

“7thly. [We are] oppressed by Instructions sent to our Governor from the Court of Great Britain; whereby the first branch of our legislature is made merely a ministerial engine… In consequence of instructions, the Assembly has been prorogued from time to time, when the important concerns of the Province required their meeting…” “…giving up the provincial Fortress, Castle William, into the hands of the Troops, over whom he had declared he had no controul…”

“8thly. The extending the power of the Courts of Vice-Admiralty to so enormous a degree, as deprives the people in the colonies, in a great measure, of their inestimable right to trials by Juries…”

“9thly. The restraining us from erecting Slitting Mills for manufacturing our iron from the natural produce of this Country, is an Infringement of that Right in which God and Nature have invested us, to make use of our skill and industry in procuring the necessaries and conveniences of Life…”

“10thly. …An Act for the better preserving his Majesty’s Dockyards, Magazines, Ships, Ammunition and Stores, is, as we apprehend, a violent Infringement of our Rights. By this Act, any one of us may be taken from his Family, and carried to any part of Great Britain, there to be tried, whenever it shall be pretended that he has been concerned in burning or otherwise destroying any Boat or Vessel, or any Materials for building, &c. and naval or victualling Store, &c. belonging to his Majesty…”

“11thly. As our ancestors came over to this Country that they might not only enjoy their civil but their religious Rights…we cannot see without concern, the various attempts which have been made, and are now making, to establish an American Episcopate… And doing or attempting to do any thing which has even the remotest tendancy to endanger this Enjoyment, ad also an Infringement of our Rights; which is not barely to exercise, but peaceably and securely to enjoy, that Liberty with which CHRIST hath made us free.”

“12thly The frequent Alteration of the Bounds of the Colonies by Decisions before King and Council, explanatory of former Grants and Charters.”

Source: The Votes and Proceedings of the Freeholders and Other Inhabitants of the Town of Boston: In Town Meeting Assembled, According to Law. (Published by Order of the Town.) to Which Is Prefixed, as Introductory, an Attested Copy of a Vote of the Town at a Preceding Meeting. Boston: Edes and Gill, in Queen-Street, and T. and J. Fleet, in Cornhill, November 20, 1772. “List of Infringements,” pp. 13-29 excerpted here, is by Joseph Warren.

Commentary: Warren’s List of Infringements presages the structure of the Declaration of Independence.

The document has three parts. The first is titled “A State of the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular” by Samuel Adams. The second is “A List of Infringements and Violations of Those Rights.” The third “Letter of Correspondence with the other Towns” was penned by Dr. Benjamin Church. This document realized its desired effect in the course of the following two years, by prompting many towns to elect their own committees of correspondence, and to conduct two-way communications with the Boston Committee of Correspondence. Committees of principal patriots formed and became active in most provinces. By the time of the Intolerable Acts, these proved pivotal in providing the rationale and crystallizing the call for the First Continental Congress.

Founding members of the Boston Committee were: James Otis, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, Benjamin Church, William Dennie, William Greenleaf, Joseph Greenleaf, Dr. Thomas Young, William Powell, Nathaniel Appleton, Oliver Wendell, John Sweetster, Josiah Quincy, John Bradford, Richard Boynton, William Mackay, Nathaniel Barber, Caleb Davis, Alexander Hill, William Molineux, and Robert Pierport. By late summer of 1774, Boston’s Committee of Correspondence morphed into the Massachusetts Provincial committees of correspondence, donations and supplies.

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