Meeting of the Inhabitants of the District of Pepperell, January 11, 1773

In November 1772, the inhabitants of the Town of Boston led by Sam Adams established a Committee of Correspondence to cultivate dialogue with the other towns in Massachusetts. Specifically, the Committee wanted to inform fellow colonists of what they perceived to be serious encroachments on their civil liberties made by the British Parliament and the British forces then occupying Boston. One of the first actions of Boston's Committee of Correspondence was to create and distribute the "Boston Pamphlet," referenced here in Pepperell's records from January 1773. It is clear from the correspendence from Pepperell back to Boston, cited below, that this pamphlet created considerable anxiety and concern in Pepperell. These Pepperell records do not show any overt call for independence in 1773, but rather a desire for justice and proper, respectful treatment by the British crown. However, these records clearly mark Pepperell's attention to and engagement in the struggles that would ultimately lead to the the American Revolution.
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"To the inhabitants of District of Pepperrell qualified by law to vote in District affairs you are required (in His Majesty's Name) to assemble and meet at the public meeting house in said District on Monday, ye 11th day in Jan at one o'clock in the afternoon then and there to act on the following articles:

"1st To choose a Moderator to regulate said meeting.

"2nd To see if the District are so generously inspired with the true patriotical spirits as to propose any method in order to retrieve and recover the constitutional Liberties that have been extorted from us contrary to the royal charter and in order to prevent any further unjust taxes, Tonnage and Poundage and the like or act thereon as shall be thought proper and most conducive to the happiness of all the true sons of Liberty and to American subjects in general.

"3rd To see if the District will make any alternation relative to place where the South Schoolhouse was prefixed by the district or act thereon as shall be thought proper.

"4th To see if the District will abate which Abel Lawrence Esq of Groton (deceased) was rated in Mr. Nathanial Lakin's and Mr Henry Woods's rates or act thereon as shall be thought proper.

"At a legal meeting of the Inhabitants of the District of Pepperrell, assembled and met January 11th, 1773.

"Chose Capt Prescot Moderator and

"Voted to read the Pamphlet (that was sent from Boston) in this meeting.

"Voted to act upon the second article....

"Voted to chose a Committee to communicate the sentiments of this District to the committee of Boston.

"Voted that this Committee consist of,
             Capt William Prescot
                     Nehemiah Hobart
             Capt Edmund Bancroft
                     Charles Witherell
                     Henry Woods
                     Phinehas Parker
                     William Green
                     Isaac Woods
                Dr Ephraim Lawrence

"Voted to adjourn the meeting till next Monday 12 O'clock.

"Met on Monday 18 day according to adjournment...

"The transactions of the District of Pepperrell...

"January 11th 1773. The District very generally met agreeable to a warrant issued out by the Selectmen at the desire of by far the greater part of the freeholders and other inhabitants.

"After choosing the Moderator; voted unanimously that the Pamphlet sent by the Town of Boston should be read at this meeting, whihc was accordingly read by ther Moderator and        Chose"

 

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"Chose nine men to be a committee to consider what it is proper for this District to do at this alarming time respecting the encroachments which have been made upon our civil privileges, to make their report at the adjournment.

"Then adjourned for one week...

"January 18th met on adjournment; the meeting very full. The committee delivered the following report.

"'We a Committee chosen by the District of Pepperrell Jan 11, 1773 to consider which is proper for ye District to do at this alarming time, respecting the encroachments made upon our civil privileges, having maturely considered the matter, beg leave to make the following report,

"'1st that the Committee be chosen to correspond with the Committee of Correspondence at Boston, and other Towns, who shall from time to time, lay before the District such intelligence of importance they receive, and,

"'2nd We humbly propose that following Draught of a Letter to be sent to the Committee of Correspondence at Boston, to be signed by the Town Clerk in the name of the District, and also a letter of instruction to our Representative...

"'To the Committee of Correspondence at Boston...Gentleman,

"'You will be to good as to inform the town of Boston that we have received their kind letter, together with the Pamphlet setting forth our liberties as men, as Christians, as Subjects, with the infringements which have been made upon them; Desire them to accept of our hearty acknowledgements for their vigilance over our common interests, and remitting to us your particular account of the innovations made upon our Charter privileges; Assure them that we are greatly alarmed at the larger strides, which have been made by the enemies of our excellent constitution, toward enslaving a people. We of this place are unanimous – no less than one hundred and ____ signed a request to the Selectmen to call a meeting, tho' we consist of but about one hundred and sixty families, and when met the fullest meeting that was ever known upon any occasion, and not a descenting vote or voice.

"'We feel for our brethren thro' the continent. We tremble at the thoughts of slavery, either civil or ecclesiastical, and are fully sensible of the near connection there is between civil and religious liberty, if we lose the former the latter will not remain.

"'Our resentment (not to fay our indignation) riseth against those, let them in what station cower, who have invaded our natural or constitutional right. Tell our brethren at Boston that we entirely agree with them in their sentiments transmitted to us, both with respect to what are our rights, and those infringements which have been made upon them, and stand ready to cooperate with them in all measures warranted by the constitution, or the law of nature for the recovery of those privileges, which have been unnecessarily and unconstitutionally wrested from us, and for the establishment and security of those we do enjoy - Offering up our unfeigned desires ti the Almighty God that he would in this day of darkness be a lamp to our feet, a light to our path, and graciously direct to those measures which may be effectual for this purpose...'

"To James Prescot Eqs, Representative of the Town of Groton and of the Districts of Pepperrell and Shirley...

"Sir,

"We his Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the freeholders and other inhabitants of the District of Pepperrell legally assembled Jan 18, 1773. Being ever ready to give due assistance and encouragement to government in a constitutional way, at the same time greatly concerned that the rights and privileges of British subjects (our birth-right and the noblest inheritance left us by our fathers) may be securely enjoyed by us and transmitted entire to our prosperity; cannot but be greatly affected at the frequent innovations which have been made on our happy constitution; The particulars of the encroachments made on our liberties, we shall not at this time enumerate, but refer you to a Pamphlet sent from Boston to every town in the Province, which we think very justly states our rights and the encroahments made on them. We therefore, who are no small part of your constituents, desire and request that you exert yourself, in the great and general assembly, to the upmost of your ability for the regaining of such privileges as have been unjustly wrested from us, and the establishing those we do enjoy. We trust you will be ever watchful that you be not induced by any means to consent to any vote or votes in the great and general assembly that may have a tendency to weaken our constitutional rights and privileges, or ever in time to come be made a president of to the disadvantage of us or our prosperity.

"Presenting the above instructions to your wise consideration, we wish that you and all true friends to the English constitution, may be under the divine

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"Direction that you may be led into the pathes of truth and equity, and never be driven aside from seeking the welfare of your Country...

"The above respectfully offered to the consideration of the District by your Humble Servants.

             Capt William Prescot
                     Nehemiah Hobart
             Capt Edmund Bancroft
                     Charles Witherell
                     Henry Woods
                     Phinehas Parker
                     William Green
                     Isaac Woods
                     Ephraim Lawrence

"Voted unanimously to accept of the report of the Committee; and accordingly chose Capt William Prescot, Lieut. Henry Woods, and Major William Green as a Committee of Correspondence; Ordered the Clerk to record the letter of instructions to the Representative, and to send an attested copy to James Prescot, Esq; as soon as may be:

"Voted that our Committee of Correspondence be desired to transmit to the Gentlemen Committee of Correspondence at Boston, the whole transaction of the District both at the former and at this meeting.

"The above is a true representation of the transactions of the District of Pepperrell.

"Voted to abate Abel Lawrence. Esq's rates, rated in Mssrs Henry Woods and Nathaniel Lakin's rates the Constables to collect.

"Attest Josiah Fisk District Clerk."