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The Correspondence of Thomas Hutchinson
November 1770-June 1772Volume 4
Thomas Hutchinson. Edited by John W. Tyler
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The fourth volume of The Correspondence of Thomas Hutchinson covers a twenty-month period extending from the acquittal of the soldiers standing trial for the Boston Massacre in November 1770 through the return of the General Court from Cambridge to its traditional meeting place at the Town House in Boston in June 1772. Some historians refer to this interval as the "quiet period" in the events leading up to the Revolution, but one would have had trouble convincing Thomas Hutchinson of the accuracy of that phrase. He continued to butt heads with Samuel Adams. No longer acting governor after March 1771, but governor-in-chief in his own right, Hutchinson was now free to use the patronage at his disposal to reward his political adherents and divide the opposition. Even though John Hancock ultimately declined the offer, Hutchinson attempted to separate him from the political tutelage of Samuel Adams, by dangling the prospect of a socially prestigious seat on the Governor's Council before the young merchant. At the same time, the Hutchinson also sought to sow seeds of suspicion and resentment between the Massachusetts House of Representatives and their new agent, Benjamin Franklin. Adams had long resisted Hutchinson's claim to summon the General Court to meet anywhere he chose, but in the spring of 1772, cooperation with Hancock enabled Hutchinson to end a long-standing impasse and return the Court to Boston without surrendering any his gubernatorial prerogative. Despite this seeming success, Hutchinson could have no idea of the crises that lay ahead in 1773 (the publication of his private letters and Parliament's efforts to aid the financially troubled East India Company) that would effectively end his governorship.

Distributed for the Colonial Society of Massachusetts

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