In 1774, Parliament passed the Boston Port Act as punishment for the Boston Tea Party. The Act closed the Port of Boston. When the news of the Act reached Boston, the Committee of Correspondence sent this Circular Letter to the Committees of Correspondence in Philadelphia and other cities. Samuel Adams wrote this letter on May 13, 1774.
THE COMMITTEE OF CORRESPONDENCE OF BOSTON TO THE COMMITTEE OF CORRESPONDENCE OF PHILADELPHIA.
Boston May 13, 1774
We have just received the Copy of an Act of the British Parliament passed in the present Session whereby the Town of Boston is treated in a Manner the most ignominious cruel and unjust. The Parliament have taken upon them, from the Representations of our Governor & other Persons inimical to and deeply prejudiced against the Inhabitants, to try, condemn and by an Act to punish them, unheard; which would have been in Violation of natural Justice even if they had an acknowledged Jurisdiction. They have ordered our port to be entirely shut up, leaving us barely so much of the Means of Subsistence as to keep us from perishing with Cold and Hunger; and it is said, that [a] Fleet of British Ships of War is to block up our Harbour, until we shall make Restitution to the East India Company, for the Loss of their Tea, which was destroyed therein the Winter past, Obedience is paid to the Laws and Authority of Great Britain, and the Revenue is duly collected. This Act fills the Inhabitants with Indignation. The more thinking part of those who have hitherto been in favor of the Measures of the British Government, look upon it as not to have been expected even from a barbarous State. This Attack, though made immediately upon us, is doubtless designed for every other Colony, who will not surrender their sacred Rights & Liberties into the Hands of an infamous Ministry. Now therefore is the Time, when all should be united in opposition to this Violation of the Liberties of all. Their grand object is to divide the Colonies. We are well informed, that another Bill is to be brought into Parliament, to distinguish this from the other Colonies, by repealing some of the Acts which have been complained of and ease the American Trade; but be assured, you will be called upon to surrender your Rights, if ever they should succeed in their Attempts to suppress the Spirit of Liberty here. The single Question then is, Whether you consider Boston as now suffering in the Common Cause, & sensibly feel and resent the Injury and Affront offered to her? If you do, (and we cannot believe otherwise) May we not from your Approbation of our former Conduct, in Defence of American Liberty, rely on your suspending your Trade with Great Britain at least, which, it is acknowledged, will be a great, but necessary Sacrifice, to the Cause of Liberty, and will effectually defeat the Design of this Act of Revenge. If this should be done, you will please to consider it will be, though a voluntary Suffering, greatly short of what we are called to endure under the immediate hand of Tyranny.
We desire your Answer by the Bearer; and after assuring you, that, not in the least intimidated by this inhumane Treatment we are still determined to maintain to the utmost of our Abilities the Rights of America we are.
your Friends & Fellow Countrymen,
This version of the letter, written by Samual Adams, is from the “Writings of Samuel Adams, Volume III, 1773–1777” by Henry Alonzo Cushing, pages 109-111, published in 1904.
NOTE: According to Cushing, this letter was also “intended also for the Committees of Correspondence of New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Portsmouth.”
NOTE: For clarity, we have expanded abbreviations and modernized the spelling of some words.