Author: Attributed on the basis of handwriting by the biographer John Cary to the Boston town clerk.
Date: September 6, 1774
At a Convention of the Representative Comtees of the Several Towns & Districts of the County of Suffolk in the Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England, on Tuesday the 6th day of Septemr 1774, at the House of Richard Woodward in Dedham,
1st After reading several late Acts of the British Parliamt, & and other papers relative to this Convention; & having
taken into M agreed, that in case of any difference in Sentimt, the Question be decided by the Deputies Voting by Towns & Districts & having taken into &c;.
2nd That there are certain rights, to which we are intituled, in common with all mankind, as Men; that there are other rights, to which we are intituled, as English-men, in common with other the Kings Subjects residing in England; & that there are also other rights, to which we are, Charter intituled, in common with other our fellow Subjects in this Province.
3d That all these several rights are arbitrarily & cruelly invaded by several late Acts of the british Parliamt, & inforced by the Iron-hand of Power.
4[th] That notwithstanding this more than inhuman treatment, which wou’d justify a resumption of our first Charter (which was unrighteously taken from us) or any other measures we might presently adopt; yet we are willing to Suppose that the King has been imposed upon, by either weak of wicked Ministers, who have misrepresented the King’s Subjects in America, both to him & to our fellow-Subjects in Britain, & therefore, as interest& inclination dictates, we openly declare to the World, our ardent desire, that out antient harmony with great Britain may be restored, & fixed upon the most solid & lasting basis, & defined in the most clear & explicit manner, so that each may certainly know what to expect from the other, & that there may not be the least infraction of our mutual rights so long as Sun & Moon endures.
5th That until such a restoration takes place, & in order to effect the same: we will, to the utmost of our power, withhold all commercial intercourse with great Britain, & the consumption of british Merchandize & Manufactures, & especially of East India Teas & piece Goods; with such additions, alterations & exceptions only, as the grand Congress of the Colonies may agree to.
6th That in order, not only to effect such a restoration, but also to prevent a civil War, & promote peace, harmony & good order; ther ought to be, as formerly, Town & District Meetings throughout this County & Province, for the transaction of their common & ordinary business, & also in order to form County Meetings, from whence may arise Provincial Conventions, who may by their Comtees, correspond with similar Provincial Comtees of the Several Colonies of America, or with the grand Congress of the same, as the pressing circumstances of the times may point out.
7th That we will pay all due respect & submission to such measures as may be recommended to all Colonies, by their grand Congress, for the recovery & establishment of our just rights & liberties, civil & religious, & the restoration of that Union & Harmony between great Britain & the Colonies, most ardently desired by all good men. [and here we would pause —– & venture to the World our most serious wish, that (in order to prevent future contentions) these difficulties with great Britain may very soon be so settled & adjusted, that America may never again be [ illegible]harassed & troubled with Custom-House Officers, Revenue Commissioners, or other unconstitutional Officers wth their [ illegible]; but in lieu of these, & for the restoration of our antient Charter, to the explicit & [illegible] protection of all the Colonies by great Britain, that the Colonies may severally pay into the Treasury of great Britain, certain net annual Sums in times of peace, & other certain net annual Sums in time of War; & that these sums may be much more advantageous to the Treasury of great Britain, than the present mode of Supplies from America.]
8th That in order to farther the effect of such restoration, we will give all possible encouragement to the improvement of Ameri. Manufactures: and Comarc: and will use our utmost endeavors to suppress Pedlars & Petty Chapmen, by avoiding all dealings with them, & putting the Laws, if possible, in execution against them.—
9th That the power assumed by the british Parliamt, to make Laws to bind the Colonies in all causes whatsoever, is not only intended to affect our civil rights & liberties, in which case we feel ourselves already under the Iron-M[H?]arrow of Oppression; but, by the establishment of Popery in Canada, we have everything to fear for our religious rights & privileges.
10th That this System of Popish Despotism, cannot be more effectually prevented taking place, both here, & in Britain itself, than by a firm Union of the British Colonies, in defence of their every civil & religious right & liberty; & therefore, for her Sake, as well as our own, we will not yield up, even, the least of our just claims.
11th That as by virtue of a late act of the british Parliamt, we have Councellors, & other Officers (who are Americans!!!—-not such as at the beginning) unconstitutionally imposed upon us, we will consider them as enemies & traitors to their Country, & will not acknowledge their official-authority; & boldly say, that they for their attempting to destroy the Constitution by accetg such appts ought to be brought to a trial by their Peers, as soon as the times will permit .
12th That in order to prevent any Persons being intimidated into a compliance with any parts of the Unconstitutional Acts of the british Pariamt, all persons within this County, who may be fined, or otherwise suffer, by means of a non-compliance with any parts of said Acts, shall be indemnified, & saved harmless, by this County, & and be paid by the same.
13th That tho’ we seriously readily acknowledge our allegiance to king George the Third, in common with our fellow Subjects in Britain; & tho’ it is our wish, inclination & interest, forever to continue constitutionally [illegible] subject to the [ ] of great Britain; #q.v. tho’ we yet we will use every lawful means which heaven has, or may, put into our power, to prevent our becoming Slaves: & will never Submit to it, until the last reason of States has been fully tried; which severe trial, may God of his great mercy prevent, for the sake of both great Britain & the Colonies.
13 14th That [blank two lines follow for insertions] be a Comtee for this County, to act in concert, & correspond, with other County Comtees of this Province; & also, on any emergency, to call a County-Convention.
15th That a Body.—- [ rest of the line is blank]
15 16th That this Convention be adjourned to Tuesday the [ ] day of [ ] next at 10 o’Clock in the forenoon, at the House of [ ] in [ ].
17th That a Copy of these proceedings be transmitted to the Comtee of Correspondence for the Town of Boston, in order to be published to the World. Then this Convention was declared to be adjourned agreeable to the 16th Article.
(in. 13th) # & tho’ we disclaim & protest, as we hereby do, against all licentious proceedings ] & riotous proceedings, as being subversive to all good Government, yet we will &c.
15th That A B ye be a Commtee for this County, for drawing up, & report as soon as may be the best ways & means, in their opinion, to encourage & improve Agriculture, Manufactures & Commerce; & to point out such particulars as may occur to their Minds, for the first acted upon.
[Written on two virtually identical scraps of paper, an apparent important insertion for the Suffolk Resolves:]
—;& having taken into most serious consideration, the subject matter of said Acts, & traced their origin & consequences; & considered the unjust charges of licentiousness, rebellion, & intentional independency, brought against America in general, & this part of it in particular: and being deeply impressed with a sense of the almost incredible fatigues & hardships our ancestors encountered, who fled from oppression for the sake of civil & religious liberty for themselves & posterity, & here began a Settlemt on bare creation, at their own sole expense; and having considered the duty due, to the memory of such invincible Worthys, to our country, ourselves, & our posterity;
1st Do vote as the Opinion of this Convention & resolves, that it is an indispensible duty which we owe to God, to great Britain, to our King, our Country, ourselves, & our posterity, by all lawful ways & means in our power, to maintain, defend, & preserve, these civil & religious rights & liberties for which, many of our Fathers, Fought —bled—& died; & to hand them down entire to future generations. –And may God assist us in faithfully to discharge our Duty.
Source: I transcribed this text, with as much of the original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, interlineations, and corrections retained as the word processing software permits, from an old facsimile document belonging to the Milton Historical Society, retained at the Milton Public Library, Huntoon Collection Box 52. I also examined the original at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Joseph Palmer Papers, Ms. N-644.
Commentary: This is the only surviving draft of the Suffolk Resolves. The final document, approved just three days later, is considerably different in many respects. The latter exhibits more elegant wording, specific actions, and a defensively martial tone, as compared with this draft. The changes, the politics involved with their unanimous passage by the Suffolk County Convention, and orchestration of their dramatic dispatch to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia; are largely attributable to Joseph Warren.
The definitive account of the Suffolk Resolves has not yet been written. I am much obliged to Mr. Steve Kluskens, Curator of the Milton Historical Society, for a useful out-of-print reference. Lauiston Scaife, a member of that society, wrote the monograph – “Milton and the Suffolk Resolves” – in 1921. It contains an overview, useful references that were then current, and local lore concerning this important document. Find the full text here: http://archive.org/details/miltonsuffolkres00scai