Induce Measures Destructive of Our Constitutional Liberty

in by Warren

Authors:  Boston Committee of Correspondence, which included Joseph Warren

“Boston, June 22d, 1773.


The Committee of Correspondence of the Town of Boston, conformable to that Duty which they have hitherto endeavored to discharge with Fidelity, again address you with a very fortunate important Discovery; and cannot express their grateful Sentiments in having obtained the Approbation of so large a Majority of the Towns in this Colony, for their past Attention to the general Interest.

A mere extraordinary Occurrence possibly never yet took Place in America; the Providential Care of that gracious Being who conducted the early Settlers of this Country to establish a safe Retreat from Tyranny for themselves and their posterity in America, has again wonderfully interposed to bring to Light the Plot that had been laid for us by our malicious and insidious Enemies.

Our present Governor has been exerting himself (as the honorable House of Assembly have expressed themselves in their late Resolves) “by his secret confidential Correspondence, to induce Measures destructive of our constitutional Liberty, while he has practiced every method among the People of this Province, to fix in their Minds an exalted opinion of his warmest Affection for them, and his unremitted Endeavours to promote their best Interest at the Court of Great Britain.”  This will abundantly appear by the Letters and Resolves which we herewith transmit to you; the serious Perusal of which will shew you your present most dangerous Situation. This Period calls for the strictest Concurrence in Sentiment and Action of every individual of this Province, and we may add, of THIS CONTINENT; all private Views should be annihilated, and the Good of the Whole should be the single object of our Pursuit – “By uniting we stand,” and shall be able to defeat the Invaders and Violators of our Rights.

We are,

Your Friends and humble Servants,

Signed by Direction of the Committee for Correspondence in Boston,

William Cooper [in ms signature] Town Clerk

To the Town Clerk of                                                       , to be immediately delivered to the Committee of Correspondence for your Town, if such a Committee is chosen, otherwise to the Gentlemen the Selectmen, to be communicated to the Town.”

Source:  Broadside published on behalf of the Boston Committee of Correspondence. Archival manuscript location TBD.

Commentary:  This broadside broke the news of Thomas Hutchinson’s leaked private correspondence.  Sidestepping the controversial circumstances of the letters’ acquisition in England and subsequent transmittal to Boston Patriots, the story is ‘spun’ as divine Providence unmasking Hutchinson’s plot to destroy American liberties within the British Empire. For months afterwards, newspapers like the Massachusetts Spy, Boston Gazette, and Essex Gazette, filled their columns with Hutchinson’s leaked letters and excerpts of them advancing the Whig narrative of a Loyalist plot to make America subservient to Parliament and the ministry in “all cases whatsoever.” Thus, Patriot communications continued to incorporate two parallel narratives: reasoned constitutional arguments for American autonomy within the British Empire, and an emotional attack on prominent Loyalists for their alleged plots to undermine American liberties.

Noteworthy in this broadside are the directions for distribution, favoring committees of correspondence in recipient towns that had established them, otherwise to the selectmen of the Town Meetings.  In the early months of the Boston Committee of Correspondence, Patriots and associated publishers appear to have been experimenting with the most effective means  to reach like minded citizens at a distance and to sway undecided people. Three months earlier The Massachusetts Spy and Essex Gazette published the 6300 word House of Representatives’ answer to Governor Hutchinson’s New Year’s address by sharing a single moveable type form. The latter appears to have been a one-off instance of closely coordinated Patriot publishers, though it may be viewed as an experiment to optimize Committee of Correspondence communications and impact.

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