Description

    Boston's Selectmen request participation in early revolutionary activity

    [John Hancock] Printed Circular Signed by Six Selectmen of Boston: Joseph Jackson, Samuel Sewall, John Ruddock, William Phillips, Timothy Newell, and John Rowe. Missing is the prominent signature of John Hancock, who was serving as a selectman at the time (he served from 1765 to 1776). One page, 7.75" x 12.25", October 31, 1767, Boston.

    "GENTLEMEN,
    In Compliance with the Orders of the Town it is our Honour to serve, WE inclose you their Votes, past the 28th Instant; and doubt not, as you tender your own Interest, and the Salvation of your country, you will promote similar Measures so far as they may be consistent with the particular Circumstances of your Town.
    WE with the future Happiness of this Province, and general Welfare of the Whole Continent."


    Following the printed text are the signatures of the six selectmen, some who were still serving during the Revolutionary War. "To the Gentlemen Select-Men/ of Eastown" appears at the bottom of the document. Boston's selectmen supervised many of the town's important affairs, especially those concerning taxes, land distribution, infrastructure, and the appointment of minor town officials. The selectmen, usually Boston's more prominent and capable men, were chosen to serve terms of one year. They played a leading role in rebellious activity against the British government prior to the Revolutionary War, as exemplified here.

    In passing the Revenue Act of [June] 1767 (part of the infamous Townshend Acts), the British government hoped to raise revenue by taxing the American colonists for British imports into the colonies. As a result of its passage, Boston's merchants worked into an uproar. According to the minutes of the Boston Selectmen's October 22, 1767, meeting, the Selectmen, after being petitioned by a number of angry Boston merchants, voted that a town meeting be held at ten o'clock on October 28 at Faneuil Hall, a prominent meeting hall in Boston which became known as the cradle of liberty. At the crowded town meeting, measures were considered to thwart the Act by preventing the need to import the highly-taxed English goods, which, according to a broadside reporting on the meeting, "threaten the Country with Poverty and Ruin". The attendees passed resolutions to ensure that Boston would use less imported goods, such as sugar, carriages, furniture, apparel, shoes, jewelry, chinaware, silks, and liquor, and that after December 31, 1767, only goods manufactured in the American colonies would be consumed.

    It was also decided that the Boston Selectmen would forward these resolutions to the selectmen of every town in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Accordingly, this circular was delivered to the "Eastown" Selectmen with the admonition that "Eastown" would "promote similar Measures". In the next few years, Boston's rebellious activity increased, leading to the British occupation of the town in 1768 and the Boston Massacre of 1770. This significant circular, which documents some of the earliest rebellious activity, has some minor stains. The verso bears the address: "To/ The Gentlemen the Selectmen/ of Easttown". Near fine.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    16th-17th Tuesday-Wednesday
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