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I observe we are to have a session soon, and the acting metropolis and towns have probably produced it; nevertheless, I hope they will go on, as his excellency designs to stop the corresponding committee. They are good outguards, and there is reason to expect great services from them; they are great troubles to the tories, as appears by the papers.
The whigs here are very happy in falling in with your sentiments, as will appear when their reply shall fall into your hands. I remain, with great sincerity and esteem,
ELBRIDGE GERRY. Samuel Adams, Esq.
A minute and extensive correspondence was maintained by the patriots of that day on the constantly recurring questions of popular rights in which the interests of the province were discussed, measures of resistance determined, and a common sentiment excited among the people, which secured on proper occasions a wonderful unanimity both of acts and expression.
Without the authority or emoluments of office men of education and character voluntarily devoted themselves to incessant and indefatigable labour, and left no effort unattempted which could inform or encourage the people. Their instructions were every where received as orders, and their requests as laws. As the power of the magistracy was diminished that of voluntary patriotism acquired strength. Resistance was organized, directed, limited and controlled ; and rebellion, which might then almost be said to have commenced, had none of the extravagance of anarchy in the hazardous period of its inception.
Mr. Gerry entered into the arrangements of the leaders of the province with his natural ardour, and devoted himself to the occasion with a perseverance and assiduity which could have left him little opportunity for other concerns.
A committee of correspondence was that year established at Marblehead, which maintained a regular intercourse with the great central committee at Boston and with other distinguished agents of the people, the chief labour of which devolved on Mr. Gerry.
Re-elected to General Court........Mr. Adams' Motion........Affairs
In May 1773, Mr. Gerry was re-elected a member of the general court. On the organization of the government, the reply of the house of burgesses of Virginia to the proceedings of Boston and other towns of Massachusetts in the preceding autumn, was communicated to the house of representatives.
On the communication of this important measure Mr. Samuel Adams made his celebrated motion“ for the appointment of a standing committee of correspondence and enquiry on the communication of the truly respectable house of burgesses of his majesty's ancient colony of Virginia, enclosing a copy of resolves entered into by them on March 12, 1773."
Whether “ the merit of originating this powerful engine of resistance” belongs to Virginia, as is claimed for her by the elegant biographer of Patrick Henry, or was proposed by Massachusetts three years before, as is contended by one of her recent historians, or whether the measure was adopted so nearly at the same time by both states that one could not have borrowed it from the other, according to the suggestion of a writer of high authority, is a question which, however honourable to the emulation which proposed it, time has rendered it difficult to decide.
It is certain however that from this period committees of correspondence were duly appointed, and formed a regular channel of intelligence by which the spirit of patriotism was invigorated, and extended from one end of the continent to the other. Every where the most active and intelligent citizens were placed on these committees; and in the house of representatives of Massachusetts, Mr. Gerry, though one of the youngest members, was associated in this honourable service with the veteran statesmen and master spirits of the time.*
* The movement of these committees is indicated in the letter subjoined.
Mr. Cushing to Mr. Gerry.
Boston, Sept. 29, 1773. SIR, I am desired to notify you that the committee of correspondence, of which you are a member, are to meet at the representatives' chamber on Wednesday the 20th October next, at 10 o'clock, A. M. to consider of some matters of importance, and more especially to consider whether it will be expedient for the committee to write to the committees of correspondence in other governments to consult and agree upon one form of conduct with respect to any requisitions for aid that may be made upon the colonies in case of a war. Your attendance at the time and place before mentioned is earnestly requested.
In addition to the standing committee of correspondence and enquiry, another committee was appointed at the same session to prepare an address to the provinces, of which committee Mr. Gerry was a member, with Mr. Adams, Mr. Hancock, and Major Hawley. The address prepared in obedience to their instructions was published by the committee in the October of that year; and breathes a spirit of confidence and determination, to have been expected from the ardent character of its authors.
At this session of the legislature certain letters of Governour Hutchinson and Lieutenant Governour Oliver to persons in England, written in 1768–9, and intended, as was supposed, to encourage the administration in maintaining their arbitrary measures, were procured and laid before the house, who voted that “their tendency and design was to overthrow the constitution of this government, and introduce arbitrary power into the province.”
Mr. Gerry distinguished himself in the debates which ensued on the disclosure of these letters, and was indefatigably engaged through the year
Your most humble servant,
THOMAS Cushing. P. S. It is thought it will not be best to mention abroad the particular occasion of this ineeting.
Mr. Elbridge Gerry.