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severe; and as he thought they were a reflection on the king, he wished them to be erased. After some debate, the house complied with the request, and a grant was made to meet the expenses which had been ordered by the executive. James Otis was then a member of the house, and the chief supporter of the remonstrance.

Governor Bernard, in his first speech to the general court,and such was the doctrine afterwards advanced and asserted by him through his whole administration, and by his successor,spoke of the powers and privileges of the province, as grants and favors from the crown; while the house of representatives always spoke of their rights, contended for the full extent of their authority recognised by the charter, and pleaded even for greater powers, an absolute right to levy taxes, and to legislate for themselves, since they were not represented in the British parliament. Governor Bernard was a zealous advocate for the royal prerogative; believing himself bound by the instructions of the king and his ministers, as well as by the provisions of the charter; and he urged the claims of arbitrary power as far as prudence would permit. In this course, he was supported by the lieutenant governor, and some others, while the house and most of the council appealed to the great principles of the revolution of 1688, as their guide, and opposed constitutional rights to the mere will of the ministry, and other royal agents.

Govenor Bernard, and his political friends, were also in favor of the policy for raising a revenue in the province from imposts, in the hope, as was supposed, of receiving, from the system, lucrative offices and large salaries. But to the people and their immediate representatives, this system was extremely obnoxious, as it was a great tax on trade and navigation, and gave occasion for petty tyranny and oppression in various ways. Spies and informers were often employed, and the officers of the customs retained large sums as fees, so that very little of the amount paid found its way into the public chest.

The collector of the customs had been negligent of paying over or accounting for the sums received by him, for some time, and the general court directed the treasurer of the province to institute a suit against him. The governor, probably by request of the collector, proposed that the king's attorney should be employed to prosecute the suit; but the house of assembly insisted that the treasurer was the proper person to undertake it, in behalf of the province, to whom the money received by the collector was to be paid. The sums particularly referred to, arose from forfeitures, one third of which, by act of parliament, accrued to the province. The object of the house was,

to have the suit brought in the courts of the province; but the collector was desirous of having it decided in the court of admiralty, in which case he might expect more favor. The governor might have been induced to consent to the course urged by the house, as the chief justice of the superior court was known to have no prejudices against the officers of the customs, nor any objections to be governed by acts of parliament. By advice of the council, the governor yielded to their wishes; but rarely, on any future occasion, did he give up his own opinions or plans to gratify the assembly.

The case was decided against the collector, in the lower court, though he offered a plea in abatement, as to the jurisdiction of the court. On an appeal before the superior court, the lieutenant governor being chief justice,the plea was admitted, and the judgment of the lower court was set aside. It appeared that the collector's accounts had been settled, according to the forms of law, at least, in the admiralty court, which, according to act of parliament, had the jurisdiction of the case; and the judges decided that they had no control over that


This decision served to increase party feeling, and to mark more distinctly the difference of political opinion between the supporters of the crown and its agents, and the friends of colonial authorities and rights. Mr Otis was counsel for the treasurer, with whom the merchants of Boston united in this case, as they had petitioned the court to institute such a suit; and Mr. Hutchinson, was not only one of the superior court, which decided against the treasurer, but, as a member of the council, had opposed the measure when pending in the general court. The latter lost, while the former received, the approbation of the people, by these proceedings. The chief justice, in his charge to the jury, cautioned them "against deciding according to the popular feelings." And in this indeed, he might have acted most uprightly; but there were those who more than intimated, that he was seeking for favor from the British ministry, who had all the best offices in their gift. Nor was he or the governor backward in charging improper motives on the opposition. It was their interest to do so: and their representations to the ministry in England were, that the complaints and discontents in Massachusetts spring from the disappointment of Mr. Otis and a few others. About this period, Mr. Hutchinson made this memorable declaration : "that the opposition to the authority of parliament began in Boston; and was moved and conducted by James Otis, both in that town and in the general assembly!"

The excitement produced by this dispute and the decision in relation to it was soon followed by a stronger expression of the popular feeling, growing out of the attempts of the customhouse officers to exercise authority most arbitrary and oppressive. They applied for writs of assistance, to enable them to search for goods, at any time and in any store or dwellinghouse, they might choose. They suspected, they said, that goods, on which the duties had not been paid, were sometimes secreted in dwelling-houses and other private places, and they wanted legal authority to enter any buildings, ad libitum: the attorney for the crown pleaded the practice of the English court of exchequer to prove the legality of such writs; and stated also that the superior court in the province had the same authority, as to the law for collecting the customs on trade. The objections made by Mr. Otis, the attorney for the merchants of Boston, who opposed the granting of such powers, as their dwelling-houses would be liable to search at all times and by any petty officer or agent of the collector, were that all general warrants were considered improper and oppressive by the courts in England, and that a process to break or to enter a house or store, must designate a particular building, and be issued only on the oath of the complainant; that they were justly odious to the people even in England, as they led to great oppression on the subjects, and legalized acts of tyranny and injustice in the officers; and that although the court of exchequer in that country had great authority in this respect, it would also punish the abuse of authority in the officers, (who were in fact the officers of the court); and it was therefore, at their peril they made searches without good cause: But that here the court had no authority to punish the collector or his agents, for the most wanton and oppressive acts in the business of their office, as they were amenable only to the court of admiralty: That if the writs prayed for were granted, the collector, and any person he might choose to employ for the purpose, (for such was the extent of his authority under such process,) might enter any building, without particularizing it, and at any time, merely on suspicion; and thus there would be no restraint on the passions, party feelings or personal enmities of the collector and his political friends, from acts the most odious and most oppressive. Another objection was that such writs were not made returnable, and the court here therefore would have no control over them or the malpractice of those who executed them, after they were issued; and thus a door would be open, he said, to all kinds of oppression and tyranny, without limits and without remedy. He in

sisted that such a measure was pregnant with infinite mischief, and clearly contrary to the spirit of the British constitution. "I have fully considered the subject," he added," and I solemnly declare that I will to my dying day oppose, with all the powers God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on the one hand, and villany on the other, as this writ of assistance is."


The superior court, to which application was made for such writs, gave their opinion for issuing them; † and Mr. Otis, for his patriotism and zeal, on the occasion, was charged by the governor, the chief justice, and their political friends, as being actuated by a spirit of selfishness, and revenge; but with the opposers of arbitrary power, and the great body of the people, he found favor and admiration.

Such was the influence and importance of this transaction, that it has been sometimes considered the first decided measure, which led to and hastened on the revolution, which took place thirteen years after. It certainly served to show the arbitrary views or the subserviency of some of the individuals high in power in the province, who held their offices under the crown, and the disposition of those who executed the laws of trade and the customs, to the most odious and oppressive acts; while it afforded an occasion for the display of the principles and feelings in support of civil liberty, by which the people were then animated. The same feelings and principles had, indeed, long warmed and guided the people of Massachusetts; and it was only necessary to call them forth, that arbitrary measures should be adopted or attempted to be enforced, which were inconsistent with their rights, and with the measure of self-government, which they had long enjoyed.

There was so much dissatisfaction manifested, and such expressions of complaint and reprobation uttered by the people, touching the opinions of the court and the authority of custom-house officers thus sanctioned, that, at the next meeting

"I do not recollect that the town of Boston ever chose a lawyer to represent it, under the second charter, till the year 1738, when Mr. Reed was chosen, but left out the next year, and Mr. Pratt in 1758 and 1759. These were men of the first character in their profession. Lawyers have since taken the lead and been much employed in public measures." Hutch. Vol. III.-But Oxenbridge Thacher was a member from Boston, as well as James Otis, as early as 1764.

+ Some of the justices had objections to granting writs of assistance, and judgment was postponed. The chief justice was desired to write to England for information, as to the practice there, in similar cases. He learnt that the court of exchequer did issue writs of a general nature, touching the customs; and this was afterwards deemed a sufficient authority for granting them in the province.

of the general court, the governor saw fit to admonish them "to disregard all attempts to disturb the public mind," (as he chose to represent the indignant declarations of the friends of liberty;) "as there was no just cause for a jealousy of tyranny under the reigning monarch, as there had been in the time of the Stuart dynasty." The representatives and council united in an answer to the speech, and said, that they knew no reason for his apprehension or admonition, at that time; that they were not sensible of any party feelings or unjust jealousies, and that, if the people should manifest them, they would endeavor to suppress them; that they had no suspicion their civil rights were in danger under his administration; but still that it was their duty to see for themselves, in guarding the interests and liberties of their constituents.

On a bill for making gold a tender, at its current value in the province, which was brought into the house of representatives and passed, a dispute was engendered, which was followed by a warm discussion, and produced or confirmed party feelings of long continuance and of important results. Gold as well as silver had been the current coin for several years, from the introduction of specie for paper in 1753-4; but silver only had been a lawful tender in the payment of debts. Silver, in England, had increased in value, or in price, at nearly the rate of four pence on the dollar; on this account, more silver had been sent out of the province than gold, and the former had become comparatively scarce. For the benefit of the people, it was proposed to make gold a legal tender; for while it was not so, the debtor would be obliged to obtain silver, at a considerable loss, to satisfy his creditor. By the influence chiefly of Mr. Hutchinson, the lieutenant governor, the council refused to concur with the house, and the bill failed. Their objection was, that it was sufficient to have one made a tender; that the other might be left to take its chance; and that it might be as profitable to export gold as silver! Such was the language of the great opposer of the bill; but the people were not satisfied, and the most considered the objection altogether frivolous.If Mr Otis, on this occasion, secured the attachment of the people, the lieutenant governor forfeited it in an equal degree. The bill was calculated for the relief of those who had large debts to discharge, and only lessened somewhat of the profits of the capitalist. The effect produced on political parties, then forming, or becoming more distinctly marked, served to show that the minds of the people were prepared to contend, not only for their civil privileges, but for their own interests, if in any

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