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The American Revolution
First Shots of War
Suffolk County to General Gage, September 9, 1774

Suffolk County, Massachusetts, surrounds Boston geographically. In September 1774, its citizens wrote to British General Thomas Gage. What concerns does the letter raise? What solutions do the writers propose?

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To his excellency Thomas Gage, Esq. captain-general, and commander in chief of his majesty's province of Massachusetts-Bay

May it please your excellency,

The county of Suffolk, being greatly, and, in their opinion, justly alarmed at the formidable appearances of hostility, now threatening his majesty's good subjects of this county, and more particularly of the town of Boston, the loyal and faithful capital of this province, beg leave to address your excellency, and represent, that the apprehensions of the people are more particularly encreased by the dangerous design, now carrying into execution, of repairing and manning the fortifications at the south entrance of the town of Boston, which, when completed, may, at any time, be improved to aggravate the misereis of that already impoverished and distressed city, by intercepting the wonted and necessary intercourse between the town and country, and compel the wretched inhabitants to the most ignominious state of humiliation and vassalage, by depriving them of the necessary supplies of provision, for which they are chiefly dependant on that communication. We have been informed, that your excellency, in consequence of the application of the select men of Boston, has, indeed, disavowed any intention to injure the town in your present manoeuvres, and expressed your purpose to be for the security of the troops and his majesty's subjects in the town, we are therefore at a loss to guess, may it please your excellency, from whence your want of confidence in the loyal and orderly people of this vicinity could originate; a measure, so formidable, carried into execution from a pre-conceived though causeless jealousy of the insecurity of his majesty's troops and subjects in the town, deeply wounds the loyalty, and is an additional injury to the faithful subjects of this county, and affords them a strong motive for this application. We therefore intreat your excellency to desist from your design, assuring your excellency, that the people of this county, are by no means disposed to injure his majesty's troops; they think themselves aggrieved and oppressed by the late acts of parliament, and are resolved, by Divine assistance, never to submit to them, but have no inclination to commence a war with his majesty's troops, and beg leave to observe to your excellency, that the ferment now excited in the minds of the people, is occasioned by some late transactions, by seizing the powder in the arsenal at Charlestown; by withholding the powder lodged in the magazine of the town of Boston, from the legal proprietors; insulting, beating, and abusing passengers to and from the town by the soldiery, in which they have been encouraged by some of their officers; putting the people in fear, and menacing them in their nightly patrole into the neighbouring towns, and more particularly by the fortifying the sole avenue by land to the town of Boston.

In duty therefore to his majesty and to your excellency, and for the restoration of order and security to this county, we the delegates from the several towns in this county, being commissioned for this purpose, beg your excellency's attention to this our humble and faithful address, assuring you, that nothing less than an immediate removal of the ordnance, and restoring the entrance into the town to its former state, and an effectual stop of all insults and abuses in future, can place the inhabitants of this county in that state of peace and tranquillity, in which every free subject ought to be.
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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.