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The American Revolution
The Colonies Move Toward Open Rebellion, 1773-1774
Suffolk County [Massachusetts] Resolves, September 1774

Suffolk County, Massachusetts, surrounds Boston. Delegates from town in the county produced the following resolves in September 1774. In the following excerpts of those resolves, how does Suffolk County respond to the Intolerable Acts? Why did the people of Suffolk oppose British recognition of Roman Catholicism and French laws in Canada as dangerous to the liberties of all Americans?

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WHEREAS the power but not the justice, the vengeance, but not the wisdom of Great Britain, which of old persecuted, scourged and excited our fugitive parents from their native shores, now pursues us their guiltless children with unrelenting severity: And whereas, this then savage and uncultivated defart was purchased by the toil and treasure, or acquired by the blood and valour of those our venerable progenitors, to us they bequeathed the dear bought inheritance, to our care and protection they configured it, and the most sacred obligations are upon us to transmit the glorious purchase, unfettered by power, unclogged with shackles, to our innocent and beloved offspring. On the fortitude, on the wisdom, and on the exertions of this important day is suspended the fate of this new world, and of unborn millions. . .

Therefore we have resolved and do resolve . . .

  • 3. That the late acts of the British Parliament for blocking up the harbour of Boston, for altering the established form of government in this colony, and for screening the most flagitious violators of the laws of the province from a legal trial, are gross infractions of those rights to which we are justly entitled by the laws of nature, the British constitution, and the charter of the province.
  • 4. That no obedience is due from this province to either or any part of the acts abovementioned, but that they be rejected as the attempts of a wicked administration to enslave America.
  • 5. That so long as the Justices of our Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, &c. and Inferior Court of Common Pleas in this county are appointed or hold their places, by any other tenure than that which the charter and the laws of the province direct, they must be considered as under undue influence, and are therefore unconstitutional officers, and as such no regard ought to be paid to them by the people of this county. . . .
  • 9. That the fortifications begun and now carrying on upon Boston Neck, are justly alarming to this county, and give us reason to apprehend some hostile intention against that town, more especially as the commander in chief has in a very extraordinary manner removed the powder from the magazine at Charlestown, and has also forbidden the keeper of the magazine at Boston, to deliver out to the owners the powder which they had lodged in said magazine.
  • 10. That the late act of Parliament for establishing the Roman Catholic religion and the French laws in that extensive country now called Canada, is dangerous in an extreme degree to the protestant religion and to the civil rights and liberties of all America; and therefore as men and protestant Christians, we are indispensibly obliged to take all proper measures for our security.
  • 11. That whereas our enemies have flattered themselves that they shall make an easy prey of this numerous, brave and hardy people, from an apprehension that they are unacquainted with military discipline, we therefore for the honour, defence and security of this county and province advise, as it has been recommended to take away all commissions from the officers of the militia that those who now hold commissions, or such other persons be elected in each town as officers in the militia, as shall be judged of sufficient capacity for that purpose, and who have evidenced themselves the inflexible friends to the rights of the people; and that the inhabitants of these towns and districts who are qualified do use their utmost diligence to acquaint themselves with the art of war as soon as possible, and do for that purpose appear under arms at least once every week.
  • 12. That during the present hostile appearances on the part of Great Britain, notwithstanding the many insults and oppressions which we most sensibly resent, yet nevertheless, from our affection to his Majesty, which we have at all times evidenced we are determined to act merely upon the defensive, so long as such conduct may be vindicated by reason and the principles of self-preservation, but no longer. . . .
  • 17. That this county confiding in the wisdom and integrity of the continental congress, now fitting at Philadelphia pay all due respect and submission to such measures as may be recommended by them to the colonies, for the restoration and establishment of our just rights, civil and religious, and for renewing that harmony and union between Great Britain and the colonies so earnestly wished for by all good men.
  • 18. That whereas the universal uneasiness which prevails among all orders of men, arising from the wicked and oppressive measures of the present administration, may influence some unthinking persons to commit outrage upon private property; we would heartily recommend to all persons of this community not to engage in any routs, riots or licentious attacks upon the properties of of any person whatsoever, as being subversive of all order and government; but by a steady, manly, uniform and persevering opposition, to convince our enemies that in a contest so important, in a cause so solemn, our conduct shall be such as to merit the approbation of the wise, and the admiration of the brave and free of every age and of every country. . . .

Saturday, Sept. 17, 1774.

The [Continental] Congress taking the foregoing into consideration

Resolved unanimously,

THAT this assembly deeply feels the suffering of their countrymen in the Massachusetts Bay, under the operation of the late unjust, cruel, and oppressive acts of the British Parliament; that they most thoroughly approve the wisdom and fortitude with which opposition to these wicked ministerial measures has hitherto been conducted, and they earnestly recommend to their brethren a perseverance in the same firm and temperate conduct as expressed in the resolutions determined upon at a meeting of the delegates for the county of Suffolk, on Tuesday the 6th inst. trusting that the effect of the united efforts of North America in their behalf, will carry such conviction to the British nation of the unwise, unjust, and ruinous policy of the present administration, as quickly to introduce better men and wiser measures.

Resolved unanimously,

That contributions from all the colonies for supplying the necessities and alleviating the distresses of our brethren at Boston ought to be continued, in such manner, and so long as their occasions may require.
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View the original document from the Journals of the Continental Congress in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.