Circular Letter to the Governors in America, 1768

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The Earl of Hillsborough sent the following letter to Colonial Governors in the 13 American Colonies, responding to a letter from the colony of Massachusetts expressing concern about the taxations from Parliament. Parliament had begun looking for taxation opportunities in the colonies to repay debts from the French & Indian War, but the colonies had traditional been ruled directly by the King of England.

Circular Letter to the Governors in America; April 21, 1768

I have his Majesty's commands to transmit to you the enclosed copy of a letter from the speaker of the House of Representatives of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, addressed by order of that House to the speaker of the assembly of each colony upon the continent of North America.

As his Majesty considers this measure to be of a most dangerous and factious tendency, calculated to inflame the minds of his good subjects in the colonies, to promote an unwarrantable combination, and to excite and encourage an open opposition to and denial of the authority of Parliament, and to subvert the true principles of the constitution; it is his Majesty's pleasure that you should immediately upon the receipt hereof exert your utmost influence to defeat this flagitious attempt to disturb the public peace by prevailing upon the Assembly of your province to take no notice of it, which will be treating it with the contempt it deserves.

The repeated proofs which have been given by the Assembly of [       ] of their reverence and respect for the laws, and of their faithful attachment to the constitution, leave little room in his Majesty's breast to doubt of their showing a proper resentment of this unjustifiable attempt to revive those distractions which have operated so fatally to the prejudice of this kingdom and the colonies; and accordingly his Majesty has the fullest confidence in their affections. But if, notwithstanding these expectations and your most earnest endeavours, there should appear in the Assembly of your province a disposition to receive or give any countenance to this seditious paper, it will be your duty to prevent any proceeding upon it by an immediate prorogation or dissolution.


Source: The Avalon Project, Yale Law School