Monthly Archives: May 2008

Item of the Day: Congress Canvassed (1774)

Full Title:

The Congress Canvassed: Or, An Examination into the Conduct of the Delegates, at their Grand Convention, Held in Philadelphia, Sept 1, 1774.  Addressed, to the Merchants of New-York.  By A. W. Farmer.  Author of Free Thoughts, &c.  Printed in the Year M,DCC,LXXIV.

Gentlemen,

I shall make no apology for addressing myself to you, the Merchants of the city of New-York, upon the present unhappy and distressed state of our country.  My subject will necessarily lead me to make some remarks on your past and present conduct, in this unnatural contention between our parent country and us.  I am duly sensible of what importance you are to the community, and of the weight and influence you must have in the conduct of all our public affairs: I know that the characters of many of you are truly respectable, and I shall endeavour to express what I have to say to you, consistently with that decency and good manners which are due, not only to you, but to all mankind.

But you must not expect any undue complaisance from me.–You must be content with plain English, from a plain countryman; I must have the privilege of calling a fig–a Fig; an egg, –an Egg.  If, upon examination, your conduct shall, in any instances, appear to be weak, you must bear to be told of it:—if wrong, to be censured:—if selfish, to be exposed:—if ridiculous, to be laughed at :— Do not be offended if I omit to say, that if your conduct shall appear to be honourable, that it shall be commended.  Honourable and virtuous actions want no commendation,—they speak for themselves:  They affect not praise, but are rather disgusted with it,—instead of heightening, it tarnishes their lustre.  If you have acted from honourable motives, from disinterested principles, from true patriotism,—if justice and prudence, and a love of your country have been the guides of your conduct, you need fear no attack, nor the strictest scrutiny of your actions. 

Nor, upon the other hand, ought you to be displeased with the man, who shall point out your errors, supposing you have acted wrong.  To err is common,— I wish it was uncommon to persist in error.  But such is the pride of the human heart, that when we have once taken a wrong step, we think it an impeachment of our wisdom and prudence to retreat.  A kind of sullen, sulky obstinacy takes possession of us; and though, in the hour of calm reflection, our hearts should condemn us, we had rather run the risk of being condemned by the world too, than own the possibility of our having been mistaken.  Preposterous pride!  It defeats the end it aims at:  It degrades instead of exalting our characters, and destroys that reputation which it seems so solicitous to establish.  To become sensible of our errors, and to mend them,—to grow wiser by our own mistakes,—to learn prudence from our misconduct,—to make every fall a means of rising higher in virtue,—are circumstances which raise the dignity of human nature the nearest to that perfection of conduct which has never erred.   

Possibly, in many instances, I shall need your candour:  In one particular I must bespeak it.  I live at a distance from the city, and visit it but seldom.  The opinion I have formed of your conduct, depends, a good deal, upon report, and the common newspapers.—I have, however, endeavoured to get the best information I could; and I have not the least inclination to put unfair constructions upon your actions; and should I, in any instance, misrepresent you, I will, upon good information, make all proper acknowledgements.  Under these circumstances, and with this disposition, I think I have a right to expect, that you will read this Address without prejudice, and judge of it with impartiality, and such a regard to truth and right, as every reasonable man ought to make the basis of his opinion in all the discussions, and the rule of his conduct in all his actions.

 

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Filed under 1770's, American Revolution, Congress, Eighteenth century, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: A Copy of the Deposition of Francis Branson (1680)

A copy of the Deposition of Francis Branson.

Found In: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers  thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836. [pp. 119-120]

 

Francis Branson, commander of the ship Anne and Hester, aged 30 years or thereabouts, in the behalf of his Majestie testifieth, that William Kelso, Chirurgeon, and John Bowland, mate of the said ship, being aboard, in the great cabbin at sea, the 16th day of April last, 1680, amongst other discourses that then passed between them, the said William Kelso in hearing of this Deponent, did declare in the great cabbin, that he was the Chirurgeon Generall, in the late rebellion in Scottland, and that after the Duke of Monmouth had been there and qualified them, Kelso cutt of his hair and wore a Perriwigg, and made his escape into the north of Ireland, and from thence transported himself to Dublin, and was there some small time, and from thence he made his excape to Bristol, and there he stayed a while, and after went up to London. He then at the same time did declare, that he knew those persons that murdered the Arch Bishop of St. Andrews, and that they had made their escape disguised, and could not be found; that there were sixe of them that sett upon him, when he was in his coach, going over a plain 3 miles from a village, that they hauled him out of his coach and told him that he had betrayed them, and therefore nothing should satisfie them but his blood. His Daughter being in the coach with him, opened her bosome, and desired them to spare her father and kill her, but they fell upon him with pistols, first pistolling him, and then hewed him in pieces with their swores ; all which words were spoken by the said Kelso, when we wee coming from England, being then bound for the Isle of May.

Sworn to in Court, the 4th January, 1680, in Boston, New England. That this is a true coppie taken and compared with the original, 4th January 1680.

Attest,

EDWARD RAWSON, Secr’y.

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Filed under 1680's, Crime and punishment, England, Great Britain, Ireland, Legal, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Trials

Item of the Day: Laws for Pequot Indians (1675) [i.e. 1676]

Laws for Pequot Indians.

Found In: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers  thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836. [pp. 93-96]

 

[The following has been transcribed as it appears in the above text. No changes or corrections have been made to the spelling of the words in the document.] 

 

Laws of the said Indians to observe.

  1. That whosoever shall oppose or speake against the onely liveing and true God, the creator and ruler of all things, shall be brought to some English Court to be punished as the nature of the offence may require.
  2. That whosoever shall powaw or use witch-craft or any worship to the Devill, or any falls God, shall be so convicted and punished.
  3. That whosoever shall profane the holy Sabbath day by servill work or play, such as chopping or fetching home of wood, fishing, fowling, hunting, &c, shall pay as a fine tenn shillings, halfe to the cheife officers, and the other halfe to the constable and informer, or be sharply whipt for ever such offence.
  4. Whosoever shall committ murder or manslaughter, shall be brought to Hartford goale, and be tryed by the Government according to the English Law, which punisheth by death.
  5. Whosoever shall committ adultery by lying with another mans wife, or to have or keep her from her husband, shall be imprisoned and tryed and punished with a fyne of fortyy shillings for every offence, and so in the case of the adultresse; the sayd fine to be distributed as before.
  6. Whoseover shall steale, shall restore double to his neighbours for what he hath taken, when convict before their officer and councill, and pay the constable two shillins sixpence for his paynes about executing the law.
  7. Whosoever shall appeare, and prove to be drunk amongst them, shall pay tenn shillings or be whipt as the officers shall see meete, and the fine divided as before in the law about Sabbath breaking; in like manner shall it be done to such Indians as doe bring the liquors or strong drinke amongst them.
  8. It is ordered that a ready and comely attendance be given to heare the word of God preached by Mr. Fitch, or any other minister sent amongst them. The cheife officers and constables are to gather the people as they may, and if they be refractory and refuse, or doe misbehave themselves undecently, such shall be punished with a fine of five shillings, or be corporally punished as the officers shall see most meet.
  9. If the officers shall neglect in any of the premises to doe their duty, they shall receive double punishment, when convict thereof in any of our English Courts.
  10. But whosoever shall either affront the principall officer, or refue to assist the constable in the due execution of his office, shall pay for each affront so given, ten shillings, and for such refusall to assist the constable, five shillings.

Mr. Thomas Stanton Sen’r, and Lieutenant James Avery, were appoynted and desired to give them advice and help in all cases of difficulty, for the well management of their trust and affayres, to whome they are in all such cases to repayre.

WM. LEET, Dept Governor,

SAMUEL WILLYS, Assist.

JOHN TALCOTT, Assist.

JOHN ALLYN, Assist.

JAMES RICHARDS, Assist.

Dated in Hartford, May 31, 1675.

To Hermon Garrata to cause to be published to the people of his plantation, and the rest under his Government.

The tenn articles were faythfully published to Robin Harmaysun, Monohor, the Naragansett Sunk Squaw and her councill being present, at a great concourse amongst the Pequitts, the forepart which respects Robins own interest was served and desired Robin not to be published as yet.

pr. JOHN STANTON.

Capt. Avery, and Lieutenant Minor being present as witnesseth their hands.

JAMES AVERY

THO. MINOR.

The 24th January, 1675. [i.e. 1676]

 

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Filed under 1670'S, American Indians, Colonial America, Connecticut, Crime and punishment, Legal, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Religion

Item of the Day: Almon’s Anecdotes (on Wm. Knox) (1797)

Full Title:

Biographical, Literary, and Political Anecdotes of Several of the Most Eminent Persons of the Present Age.  Never Before Printed.  With an Appendix; Consisting of Original, Explanatory, and Scarce Papers.  By the Author of Anecdotes of the Late Earl of Chatham.  In Three Volumes.  Volume II.  London: Printed for T. N. Longman, and L. B. Seeley.  In Pater-Noster-Row.  1797. 

Chapter XXI.

William Knox, Esq.  Advocate for the American War.  Secretary to Lord George Germaine.  His State of the Nation; assisted by Mr. Grenville.  Other Publications.

This gentleman was another of Mr. Grenville’s friends; and was a very strenuous and persevering advocate of the British measures against America.  He was agent for Georgia; and Under Secretary of State to Lord Hillsborough, and to Lord George Germaine, during the American war.  To his zeal and suggestions, many of the unfortunate measures against America were ascribed, and he sustained much of the hatred of the Americans on that account.  He was the author of several tracts on American subjects, the principal of which was,

“The Controversy between Great Britain and her Colonies reviewed.”  It is obviously a work of much labour and contains extracts from many papers.  The writer’s view is to support the right of Great Britain to tax America.

He was also the writer of a tract intitled “The Present State of the Nation; particularly with respect to its Trade, Finances, &c.”  This pamphlet was, at first, ascribed to Mr. Grenville; and Mr. Burke, by his pamphlet intitled “Observations upon it,” gave a temporary currency to that opinion.  Mr. Grenville undoubtedly assisted the writer with materials and arguments, but the compositions belong to Mr. Knox.  It consists principally of a defence of Mr. Grenville’s ministry and measures, and a condemnation of the Rockingham ministry, and their measures.

Mr. Knox has also published two small volumes, called “Extra-official State Papers;” which contain many useful hints. 

The two following Letters are not unworthy of the reader’s notice:

5th March 1783.

“Sir,

“Letters having been written to the Secretary of the late Board of Trade, and to my colleague, for the last six months, as Under Secretary of State in the American department, and to all the clerks who have been deprived of their situations in those offices by their suppression, acquainting them, that the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury had made them all allowances in compensation of the incomes they had been deprived of; and no such letter having come to me, I am constrained to give you the trouble of this letter, to request the favour of you to move their Lordships to permit you to inform me of what account it is that I, who had served as Under Secretary to every Secretary of State that has filled the American department, from its institution to its suppression, and even attended the Earl of Shelburne when that department was absorbed in the domestic, until his Lordship was more ably served, should be the only person passed over upon this occasion without compensation, and even without notice.

“I am, Sir, &c. William Knox.”

“Geo. Rose, Esq.”

Copy of Mr. Rose’s Answer, dated 17th of March 1783.

“Sir,

“Upon reading to my Lords Commissioners of the Treasury your letter, dated the 5th instant, respecting a compensation for your office of Under Secretary of State for the American department, I am directed to acquaint you, that my Lords are of opinion that you have no claim whatever to a compensation for the loss of your office, you already having a pension of six hundred pounds a-year for yourself, and the like sum for Mrs. Knox.

“I am, Sir, &c. Geo. Rose.”  

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Filed under 1790's, American Revolution, Eighteenth century, Government, Great Britain, Letters, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: A Letter from King Charles II regarding Nathaniel Bacon (1676)

Full Title: A Letter from his Majesty Charles 2d, for the apprehension of Nathaniel Bacon, the instigator and head of a Rebellion in Virginia

Found In: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers  thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836. [pp. 99-100]

[The following letter has been transcribed as it appears in the above text. No changes or corrections have been made to the spelling of the words in the document.] 

CHARLES R.

Trusty and well beloved, wee greet you well, wee doubt not but you have heard of the disorders in our Colony of Virginia, raised and continued by Nathaniell Bacon the younger, who hath made himself the head and leader of a rebellion there, to the great detriment of that Colony, and the danger of others, near adjoyning  thereunto, having confidence therefore in your loyalty, and that you abhor such desperate and treasonable actions, and to prevent the contagion of so bad an example in other Colonies upon that tract belonging to our Crowne; wee have thought fitt to signifie our pleasure unto you, and hereby to require that if the said Nathaniel Bacon, or any of his accomplices in that rebellion, shall for their safety or otherwise, retreat, or resort into that Province of our Colony of New England, under your jurisdiction, or any part thereof, you cause him, them, and every of them, to be forthwith seized and secured, and then give immediate notice thereof, to the Governour or Commander in chief in Virginia, to the end such further course may be taken with them as shall be agreeable to law. And wee doe further require you to issue forth proclamation streightly, forbidding all and every the planters or inhabitants of your said Province to joyne with the said rebells, or to afford them any arms, ammunition, provisions, or assistance of any kind whatsoever, but contrarily enjoyning those under your jurisdiction to oppose the said rebells in all things as there shall be occasion–and so wee bid farewell. Given at our Court in White Hall, the 3d day of November, 1675, in the eight and twentieth year of our Reigne.

By his Majesties command.

H. COVENTRY

To our trusty and well beloved, the governour and Councill of the Colony of Connecticut, in New England.

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Filed under 1670'S, Charles II, Colonial America, Connecticut, Government, Great Britain, History, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Letters from the English Kings and Queens (1836)

Full Title: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836.

 

PREFACE.

THE Author, or rather Compiler of the following work, publishes it as an act due the State, for the purpose of transmitting to posterity, a correct history of facts and events, which transpired in the early settlement of Connecticut–commencing, even before the falling of the first tree in the forest, by any white man in the Colony.

It is a compilation of a correspondence of the Kings and Qeens [sic] of England, with the different Governors of the Colony–from the first settlement in Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield, in 1635, for the term of more than one hundred years–embracing letters from the Lords of the Council of trade and foreign plantations; a correct copy of the old patent of Connecticut; letters from the Hon. the Commissioners of his Majesties customs in England; and answeres by the Governors, &c. Also letters to apprehend Capt. Kidd, as a pirate, and many other interesting, curious literary communications–among which are twenty-seven questions sent to this Colony by the Lords of the Council of trade in 1679, with the answers of Gov. Leet–which answers are probably as correct early history of this Colony as is extant, and will be highly interesting to all readers. Indeed they are a succinct history of the Colony at that period, as to its navigations, productions, shipping, populations, state of society, Indian wars, religion, title of lands, trade and manufactures, &c. And when we contemplate that these answeres were written by a Governor of this State, when a Colony, nearly two hundred years since, upon this ground, then occupied by the sturdy trees of the forest, but now covered with stores, banks, public buildings and the splendid private dwellings of the refined population of the City of Hartford–and this, the first publication of most of them, they cannot fail to be interesting to the most inattentive observer of past events.

The orthography of the original letters and documents is strictly and carefully preserved.

The signatures of the Kings and Queens are uniformly placed at the commencement of the communications, and not at the close as is usual for other persons; the large, elegant and expensive seals attached to each letter, are yet in a perfect state of preservation. The idea tha the delicate hands of Queen Mary and Queen Anne of England have been upon the same sheets, which I have copied for this book, and nearly two centuries since, satisfies the mind that these events are indeed ancient, and appears rather as a dream, than a reality. The reader will occasionally observe, that answers to letters from England, are some few of them missing, not having been preserved by the writers as they should have been, not only for the benefit of the Colony at the time, but also for the advantage of future historians and the honor of the country.

This work is not published by the compiler expecting even a compensation for his labor, but solely to transmit to posterity, the important historical events which it contains, emanating from the pens of the Kings and Queens of England, and the Governors of this Colony, verified by their own signatutes and Seals, the last of whom have been gathered to their fathers nearly a century ago. . . .

 

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Filed under 1700's, Colonial America, Connecticut, Eighteenth century, Great Britain, History, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Franklin on the Interest of Great Britain (1760)

Full Title:

The Interest of Great Britain Considered with Regard to Her Colonies and the Acquisitions of Canada and Guadaloupe.  To which are added, Observations concerning the increase of Mankind, peopling of Countries, &c.  As the very ingenious, useful, and worthy Author of this Pamphlet [B——n F——n, LL. D.] is well-known and much esteemed in England and America; and seeing that his other Works have been received with universal Applause; the present Production needs no further Recommendation to a generous, free, an intelligent, and publick-spirited People.  The Second Boston-Edition.  London, Printed MDCCLX.  Boston, N. E. Reprinted and Sold by B. Mecom, at the New Printing-Office, near the Town-House.  1760.

I have perused with no small Pleasure the Letter addressed to Two Great Men, and the Remarks on that Letter.  It is not merely from the Beauty, the Force and Perspicuity of Expression, or the general Elegance of Manner conspicuous in both Pamphlets, that my Pleasure chiefly arises; it is rather from this, that I have lived to see Subjects of the greatest Importance to this Nation publickly discussed without Party-Views, or Party-Heat, with Decency and Politeness, and with no other Warmth than what a Zeal for the Honour and Happiness of our King and Country may inspire;–and this by Writers whose Understanding (however they may differ from each other) appears not unequal to their Candour and Uprightness of their Intention.

But, as great Abilities have not always the best Information, there are, I apprehend, in the Remarks some Opinions not well founded, and some Mistakes of so important a Nature, as to render a few Observations on them necessary for the better information of the Publick.   

The Author of the Letter, who must be every Way best able to support his own Sentiments, will, I hope, excuse me, if I seem officiously to interfere; when he considers, that the Spirit of Patriotism, like other Qualities good and bad, is catching; and that this long Silence since the Remarks appeared has made us despair of seeing the Subject further discussed by masterly Hand.  The ingenious and candid Remarker, too, who must have been misled himself before he employed his Skill and Address to mislead others, will certainly, since he declares he aims at no Seduction, be disposed to excuse even the weakest effort to prevent it. 

And surely if the general Opinions that possess the Minds of the People may possibly be of Consequence in publick Affairs, it must be fit to set those Opinions right.  If there is Danger, as the Remarker supposes that “extravagant Expectations” may embarrass “a virtuous and able Ministry,” and “render the Negotiation for Peace a Work of infinite Difficulty;” there is no less Danger that Expectations too low, through Want of proper Information, may have a contrary Effect, may make even a virtuous and able Ministry less anxious, and less attentive to the obtaining Points, in which the Honour and Interest of the Nation are essentially concerned; and the People less hearty in supporting such a Ministry and its Measures. 

The People of this Nation are indeed respectable, not for their Numbers only, but for their Understanding and their publick Spirit: They manifest the first, by their universal Approbation of the late prudent and vigorous Measures, and the Confidence they justly repose in a wise and good Prince, and an honest and able Administration; the latter they have demonstrated by the immense Supplies granted in Parliament unanimously, and paid through the whole Kingdom with Chearfulness.  And since to this Spirit and these Supplies our “Victories and Successes” have in great Measure been owing, is it quite right, is it generous to say, with the Remarker, that the People “had no Share in acquiring them?”  The mere Mob he cannot mean, even when he speaks of the Madness of the People; for the Madness of the Mob must bee too feeble and impotent, arm’d as the Government of this Country at present is, to “over-rule,” even in the slightest Instances, the “Virtue and Moderation” of a firm and steady Ministry.

While the War continues, its final event is quite uncertain.  The Victorious of this Year may be  the Vanquished of the next.  It may therefore be too early to say, what Advantages we ought absolutely to insist on, and make the sine quibus non of a Peace, If the Necessity of our Affairs should oblige us to accept of Terms less advantageous than our present Successes seem to promise us, an intelligent People, as ours is, must see that Nesessity, and will acquiesce.  But as a Peace, when it is made, may be made hastily; and as the unhappy Continuance of the War affords us Time to consider, among several Advantages gain’d or to be gain’d, which of them may be most for our interest to retain, if some and not all may possibly be retained; I do not blame the public Disquisition of these Points, as premature or useless.  Light often arises from a Collision of Opinions, as Fire from Flint and Steel; and if we can obtain the Benefit of the Light, without Danger from the Heat sometimes produc’d by Controversy, why should we discourage it.   

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Filed under 1760's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, Franklin, Great Britain, New England, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Matthew Williams