« ZurückWeiter »
in charge of the ex-Judge of Probate, Foster Hutchinson, points to their being Probate Records only. Further there is a letter of Governor Parr in Halifax to Governor Hancock now in a private collection in Boston which I am permitted to copy, as follows:
Halifax, 12 Nov. 1784. Sir, I should have done myself the honor of answering your Excellency's letter long ere this, but delayed from day to day until I could get the Records of Probate out of Mr. Hutchinson's hands. He has at last delivered them to Mr. Kent who forwards them to Boston by this conveyance. If any should be wanting you will be pleased to inform me.
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Excellency's most obedient and most humble servant,
J. PARR. His Excellency Governor Hancock.
The files at the State House, Boston, show the correspondence relating to these Records, and their proper return and receipt given. There is no reference to anything but Probate Records, yet Winslow's letter says the entire records taken away were returned.
As to the Records of Deeds there is nothing whatever to indicate that any of them were ever sent to Halifax. At the session of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts November 21, 1776, the following resolve was passed :
Whereas by a late Act of the General Court the Town of Dedham was made the Shire Town for the County of Suffolk in consequence of which the Register's Office for that County with the Books and Papers thereto belonging were Removed to the said Shire Town, by which Removal two Volumos of Records were lost and several others much defaced. And whereas the Removal of the said Books of Records to the Town of Boston, where (by the Repeal of the said Act) the said Office and Records ought now to be kept, would be attended with much Risque and Danger in this unsettled State of public Affairs: Therefore,
Resolved, That the Register of Deeds for the County of Suffolk for the time being, be and he hereby is directed and impowered to keep said Office, together with the Records and Papers belonging in the Town of Dedham, within the said County of Suffolk, until the further Order of the General Court; any law to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Dedham had been made the Shire Town of the County of Suffolk by an Act in 1775. The Records were subsequently
returned to Boston and, except those two volumes lost in the
Investigations at Halifax at the official request of the
It is not probable now that any further light will be thrown upon the subject, but it is suggestive that within a few years a volume of in ward and foreign entries of that period was discovered in a junk shop near Salem. It is possible that the Customs Records, though stated to have been sent to Plymouth when the Port of Boston was closed, may in fact have gone with the Commissioners to Salem, and perhaps not have been returned before the evacuation, and so have been lost or destroyed; they may have gone to Plymouth and not have been returned, or in the confusion and practical anarchy upon the eve of the evacuation, they may have been destroyed in Boston, instead of being shipped to Halifax as Winslow thought.
If they really existed at Halifax at the close of the Revolution, it is hardly conceivable that they should have been overlooked, or no reference made to them during the period of the correspondence and arrangement for the return of the Probate Records. My conclusion therefore is that they never were sent to Halifax at all, and that their fate will never be determined unless, by accident, portions should turn up like the volume at Salem,
Two FORGOTTEN PAMPHLETEERS.
1 Dedham Hist. Reg., v. 153; 2 Proc. xiv, 60-62.
that time the privy council and the board of trade had become alarmed at the freedom with which the province had been emitting bills of public credit by way of loans to counties or towns as well as for the purpose of meeting the current expenses of the government. Very shortly after taking charge of affairs of state Belcher called the attention of the assembly to the sixteenth and eighteenth of the royal instructions given him when he assumed office. These were in effect that he should not give assent to any act whereby bills of public credit were to be issued unless such act contained a clause requiring the approval of the board of trade before it could become operative. Annual issues to the extent of £30,000 were, bowever, permitted without approval being first obtained, provided they were made for the current expenses of the government. Not more than £30,000 of such bills were thereafter to be current at one time, and all outstanding bills were to be called in at the times specified in the acts of emission. In the year 1730 £13,000 were emitted, the fund for the redemption of which was the most remote of all the then existing funds.
The bills emitted at that time were not to be called in until 1741. The effeet, therefore, of these royal instructions was that during the next ensuing eleven years all the outstanding currency, in amount probably something like £300,000, was to be called in, and that thereafter the province was to get along with £30,000 of bills of public credit as a medium of trade unless more were specifically authorized by the board of trade. It was supposed by observers of the period that the total amount of silver in use in the four New England colonies at the time when the paper money was first put in circulation was about £200,000, and the impending conditions which would result from the enforcement of the royal instructions, unless there should be some organized effort to supply coin to fill the vacancy which would thus be created in the circulating medium, were little short of calamitous. Men of speculative temperaments began to suggest remedial plans, and beginning with the year 1738 the pamphleteers took a lively hand in the debate. One result of the discussion was the emission of bills of public credit couched in a different form of phraseology from those that were already in circulation. These latter, which from that date onward were known as “old tenor,” were declared on their face to be
“in value equal to money.” The new bills, known thereafter as "new tenor,” had a specific value stated in troy weight in silver or gold, and were made receivable for taxes, public dues and in payments generally on the basis of one of the new tenor for three of the old tenor. The efficacy of the new tenor bills was thereby greatly magnified, and as this ratio could be approximately maintained through the different rates at which they were received for taxes, they greatly aided the government in coping with the situation for a few years.
In 1738 and again in 1739 two abortive attempts were made to return to specie payments, through schemes to secure from the province five and ten year loans to merchants who would agree to pay back the sums borrowed in silver or gold, on the terms proposed. The schemes fell through in consequence of the failure to procure the requisite subscriptions to the loans, but the proposed borrowing in 1738 brought forth a publication from the pen of one of the pamphleteers with whom we are concerned which precipitated a discussion between him and Dr. Douglass, a man whose reputation is well known, not only to the medical profession of our day, but also to our economists.
The pamphlet in question was anonymously published in Boston in 1738 and was entitled,
Some observations on the scheme projected for emitting 60,0001, in bills of a new tenour, to be redeemed with silver and gold. Shewing the various operations of these bills, and their tendency to hurt the publick interest. In a letter from a merchant in Boston, to his friend in the country,
Boston : Printed and sold by S. Kneeland and T. Green in Queen Street, MDCCXXXVIII.
It was a small octavo, twenty-five pages in length, and was, as its title indicates, written for the purpose of opposing the scheme of the Boston merchants which had been inaugurated in the hope that through and by means of it the province might be brought to a specie basis.
“ Some observations " was in the form of a letter, and this letter was dated " Boston, Feb. 1. 1737, 8." Its publication was followed by the appearance of an anonymous pamphlet without date, issued by the same publishers and bearing the following title:
An Essay concerning silver and paper currencies, more especially with regard to the British Colonies in New England.
This was from the pen of Dr. Douglass and was evidently inspired by the appearance of the former pamphlet. The doctor, althongh he did not approve of the scheme of the Boston merchants, nevertheless felt called upon to expose and refute some of the heresies contained in “Some observations." The Essay is twenty-three pages in length, and the first fourteen pages of it are devoted to the discussion of silver currencies. Then paper currencies are taken up, and finally the last nine pages contain criticisms of separate paragraphs extracted from “Some observations.” The Essay was obviously written in 1738, immediately after the appearance of the pamphlet which brought it forth, and was unquestionably published at once, the probability being that this took place in the fall of that year.
Dr. Douglass, through his work on the Essay, evidently became much interested in the subject of the currency, and in 1740 when the Land Bank and the Silver Bank engaged in their struggle to secure, each for itself, a charter from the province under which they might respectively emit bills of credit, he again entered the field as the defender of hard money and in addition thereto as the denouncer of the Land Bank and the exposer of its iniquities. His contribution this time, through the same publishers, was
A Discourse concerning the currencies of the British plantations in America. Especially with regard to their paper money; more particularly, in relation to the province of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New England.
The pamphlet was forty-seven pages in length, was anonymous, and the place and date of its publication were given as Boston, 1740.
The author of “Some observations" was prompted by the cavalier way in which his pamphlet was torn to pieces by Dr. Douglass in his “Essay concerning silver and paper currencies” to return to the field of battle and defend himself as best he could. He was deliberate in his motions and published in 1740, through S. Kneeland and T. Green, a pamphlet entitled,
An Inquiry into the nature and uses of money ; more especially of the bills of publick credit, old tenor. Together with a proposal of some proper relief in the present exigence. To which is added, a reply to the Essay on silver and paper currencies.