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    Elbridge Gerry Draft Autograph Letter to Samuel Adams. One page, 6.75" x 7.5", Marblehead, Massachusetts; December 22, 1772. Unsigned draft written on the verso of a now detached integral address cover of a letter from Samuel Adams to Gerry, dated December 7, 1772. On the verso containing the integral address cover, the following is docketed in Gerry's hand "Boston Letter of Saml Adams recd Decr. 7 1772 & reply" and signed with his initial, "G". Gerry's draft reads:

    I am this day favoured with yours of 7th current & observe my respects of 26th Novr. had but just reached you. As no mention is made of a letter dated [of?] 12th Novr. left at Mr. Justice Quincys & it contained matters not to be entrusted generally shall be glad you'll notice it in your next. I thank you for yr State of Rights etc.

    Gerry and Adams had been engaged in frequent communications at this time concerning the formation of committees of correspondence in Massachusetts. Gerry's draft is in response to Adams' letter of December 7, in which Adams acknowledged Gerry's November 26 letter. "I have just received yours of the 26th November, and take the earliest opportunity to acknowledge it. I shall lay it before our committee as soon as may be." (Henry Alonzo Cushing, The Writings of Samuel Adams. New York, 1906, Vol. 2.) Gerry had written to Adams on November 26 concerning Marblehead's response to Adams' call for several Massachusetts towns to form committees of correspondence similar to Boston's Committee of Correspondence, which had been formed weeks earlier by Adams and others to function as a shadow government in order to inform colonists of threats to their liberties by actions of the British government and also to make sure Crown officials were accountable to their colonial subjects. Gerry's November 26 letter included a copy of a petition signed by a number of freeholders of Marblehead to form "committee of grievances, to act when the assembly is prevented from meeting. They are to employ themselves in inventing when one method fails another method for having our grievances redressed, communicate their sentiments to a grand committee at Boston to receive proposals for opposition, and to communicate such as are approved to their respective towns, and to continue this method undauntedly until some means are found effectual and oppression is removed. Pray let me be informed how this is viewed." (James T. Austin, The Life of Elbridge Gerry; Boston, 1828; pp. 21-22.) Gerry's draft ends by thanking Adams for his "State of Rights etc.", which refers to Adams' Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting, dated November 20, 1772, which included a declaration of the "Natural Rights of the Colonists as Men."

    Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), an American public official and diplomat, was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts. As a young man, he became a vocal opponent of Parliamentary efforts to tax the colonies after the French and Indian War ended in 1763. In 1770, Gerry was active as a member of a Marblehead committee that sought to enforce importation bans on taxed British goods. He frequently communicated with other Massachusetts opponents of British policy, including Samuel Adams. In May 1772, he won election to the Great and General Court of Massachusetts, the colony's legislative assembly. There he worked closely with Adams to advance colonial opposition to Parliamentary policies, and was responsible for establishing Marblehead's committee of correspondence, one of the first to be set up after Boston's.

    A fascinating document, part of a string of letters between two Massachusetts signers of the Declaration of Independence concerning early efforts of colonial resistance to the British government.

    Condition: Multiple flattened folds, with light toning throughout. The edges are uneven, with some paper loss along right edge where wax seal was broken. There are small pin holes along the left vertical edge from where the page had been removed from a larger notebook. Light soiling throughout, and there is an adhesive residue stain at the top left corner where a small strip of tape was placed. Overall in good condition.


    More Information:

    Elbridge Gerry remained active in the early stages of organizing the resistance in theAmerican Revolutionary War. Elected to theSecond Continental Congress, he signed both theDeclaration of Independence and theArticles of Confederation. Gerry was one of three men who attended theConstitutional Conventionin 1787 who refused to sign theUnited States Constitution because it did not then include aBill of Rights. After its ratification, he was elected to the United States Congress, where he was actively involved in the drafting and passage of the Bill of Rights. Gerry was a member of a diplomatic delegation toFrancethat was involved in theXYZ Affair. He became a Democratic-Republican and later served as governor of Massachusetts (1810-1812) and Vice President of the United States (1813-1814) under James Madison. He is known best for being the namesake of gerrymandering, a process by which electoral districts are drawn with the aim of aiding the party in power.

    Samuel Adams (1722-1803), public official, political philosopher, was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was a second cousin to John Adams, a fellow Founder and second president of the United States. He was a politician incolonial Massachusetts and became a leader of the movement that resulted in theAmerican Revolution. Adams was a leading figure in theMassachusetts House of Representatives and theBoston Town Meetingin the 1760s, and became a part of a movement opposed to theBritish Parliament's efforts to tax theBritish American colonies without their consent. He and his colleagues devised acommittee of correspondence system in 1772 to help coordinate resistance to what he saw as the British government's attempts to violate theBritish Constitution at the expense of the colonies, which linked like-mindedPatriots throughout theThirteen Colonies. In 1774, Adams attended theContinental Congressin Philadelphia and he helped guide Congress towards issuing theContinental Associationand later theDeclaration of Independencein 1776. Adams helped draft theArticles of Confederationand theMassachusetts Constitution. Adams returned to Massachusetts after the American Revolution, where he served in thestate senateand was eventually elected governor, serving in that capacity from 1794 to 1797.

     

    The committees of correspondence were organized by the Patriot leaders of the American Colonies on the eve of the American Revolution. They coordinated responses to England and shared information; by 1773, they had emerged as shadow governments, superseding the colonial legislature and royal officials. These committees served an important role in the Revolution, by disseminating the colonial interpretation of British actions between the colonies and to foreign governments. The committees of correspondence rallied opposition on common causes and established plans for collective action, and so the group of committees was the beginning of what later became a formal political union among the colonies. In Massachusetts, in November 1772, Samuel Adams and others formed a committee in response to the recent British decision to have the salaries of the royal governor and judges be paid by the Crown rather than the colonial assembly, which removed the colony of its means of holding public officials accountable to their constituents. In the following months, more than one hundred other committees were formed in the towns and villages of Massachusetts, including Marblehead. The Massachusetts committee had its headquarters in Boston and under the leadership of Adams became a model for other Patriot groups.



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