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Thomas Hutchinson (governor)

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Collection: 1711 Births, 1780 Deaths, American Loyalists from Massachusetts, British Historians, Colonial Governors of Massachusetts, Deaths in London, Harvard University Alumni, Justices of the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature, Lieutenant Governors of Colonial Massachusetts, Loyalists in the American Revolution, Members of the Colonial Massachusetts Governor's Council, Members of the Colonial Massachusetts House of Representatives, People from Colonial Boston, Massachusetts, People from Milton, Massachusetts, People from North End, Boston, People of Massachusetts in the American Revolution
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Thomas Hutchinson (governor)

Thomas Hutchinson
Portrait by Edward Truman, 1741
Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay
In office
2 August 1769 – 17 May 1774
Acting until 14 March 1771
Lieutenant Andrew Oliver
Preceded by Francis Bernard
Succeeded by Thomas Gage
Acting Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay
In office
3 June 1760 – 2 August 1760
Preceded by Thomas Pownall
Succeeded by Francis Bernard
Personal details
Born 9 September 1711
Boston, Massachusetts Bay
British America
Died 3 June 1780(1780-06-03) (aged 68)
Brompton, Middlesex
Great Britain
Political party Loyalist
Profession politician, businessman
Religion Anglican

Thomas Hutchinson (9 September 1711 – 3 June 1780) was a businessman, historian, and a prominent Loyalist politician of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in the years before the American Revolution. A successful merchant and politician, Hutchinson was active at high levels of the Massachusetts government for many years, serving as lieutenant governor and then governor from 1758 to 1774. He was a politically polarising figure who, despite initial opposition to Parliamentary tax laws directed at the colonies, came to be identified by John Adams and Samuel Adams as a proponent of hated British taxes. He was blamed by Lord North (the British Prime Minister at the time) for being a significant contributor to the tensions that led the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.[1]

Hutchinson's Boston mansion was ransacked in 1765 during protests against the Stamp Act, damaging his collection of materials on early Massachusetts history. As acting governor in 1770 he exposed himself to mob attack in the aftermath of the Boston massacre, after which he ordered the removal of troops from Boston to Castle William. Letters of his calling for abridgement of colonial rights were published in 1773, further intensifying dislike of him in the colony. He was replaced as governor in May 1774 by General Thomas Gage, and went into exile in England, where he advised the government on how to deal with the Americans.

Hutchinson had a deep interest in colonial history, collecting a large number of historical documents. He wrote a three volume History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, whose last volume, published posthumously, covered his own period in office. Historian Bernard Bailyn wrote of Hutchinson, "If there was one person in America whose actions might have altered the outcome [of the protests and disputes preceding the American Revolutionary War], it was he."[2] Scholars use Hutchinson's career to represent the tragic fate of the many Loyalists marginalized by their attachment to an outmoded imperial structure at a time when the modern nation-state was emerging. Paralysed by his ideology and his dual loyalties to America and Britain, Hutchinson exemplifies the Loyalist-as-loser. He sacrificed his love for Massachusetts to his uncritical loyalty to Great Britain, where he spent his last years in unhappy exile.[3]


  • Early life 1
  • Legislator and councillor 2
  • Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts 3
    • Writs of assistance 3.1
    • Taxes and the Stamp Act 3.2
    • Mob violence 3.3
  • Governor of Massachusetts 4
    • Letters affair and Tea Party 4.1
  • Exile 5
  • Legacy and memory 6
  • Publications 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11

Early life

Thomas Hutchinson was born on 9 September 1711 in the North End of Boston, the fourth of twelve children of Thomas and Sarah Foster Hutchinson.[4] Descended from early New England settlers (including Anne Hutchinson by her son, Edward Hutchinson), his parents were both from well-to-do merchant families. His father was involved in the family mercantile trade, but was also active in political, military, and charitable circles and served on the provincial council.[5] {Ironically a sister of Thomas Hutchinson married a descendent of Rev Increase Mather; likewise Hutchinson was also distantly related to general Israel Putnam and the Massachusetts Winslow family}.

Young Thomas entered

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Pownall
Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay (acting)
3 June 1760 – 2 August 1760
Succeeded by
Francis Bernard
Preceded by
Francis Bernard
Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay (acting)
2 August 1769 – 14 March 1771
Succeeded by
himself as governor
Preceded by
himself as acting governor
Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay
14 March 1771 – 17 May 1774
Succeeded by
Thomas Gage
Legal offices
Preceded by
Stephen Sewall
Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature
Succeeded by
Benjamin Lynde, Jr.
  • Official Massachusetts biography

External links

  • Tyler, John W. and Elizabeth Dubrulle (eds.), The Correspondence of Thomas Hutchinson: Volume 1: 1740-1766. Boston: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 2014.

Further reading


  1. ^ Bailyn, p. 5
  2. ^ Duffy, p. 2
  3. ^ Cheng, Eileen, "On the Margins," Early American Studies (2013) 11#1 pp. 98–116
  4. ^ Hosmer, p. 1
  5. ^ Bailyn, pp. 9–10
  6. ^ Hosmer, p. 2
  7. ^ Bailyn, p. 12
  8. ^ Hosmer, p. 3
  9. ^ Bailyn, pp. 12, 30
  10. ^ Bailyn, p. 29
  11. ^ Hosmer, p. 4
  12. ^ Hosmer, pp. 21–22
  13. ^ Bailyn, p. 14
  14. ^ Hosmer, pp. 25–26
  15. ^ Hosmer, p. 26
  16. ^ Hosmer, pp. 27–30
  17. ^ Hosmer, p. 36
  18. ^ Walmsley, p. 27
  19. ^ Brands, p. 237
  20. ^ Walmsley, p. 28
  21. ^ Walmsley, p. 29
  22. ^ Walmsley, p. 30
  23. ^ Bailyn, pp. 41–42
  24. ^ Waters and Schutz, p. 557
  25. ^ Bailyn, p. 44
  26. ^ Bailyn, p. 45
  27. ^ Bailyn, pp. 47–51
  28. ^ Bailyn, p. 54
  29. ^ Hosmer, pp. 72–73
  30. ^ Hosmer, pp. 74–75
  31. ^ Walmsley, pp. 50–54
  32. ^ Hosmer, p. 81
  33. ^ Bailyn, p. 65
  34. ^ Hosmer, p. 82
  35. ^ Walmsley, pp. 60–63
  36. ^ Morgan (1948), pp. 459–492
  37. ^ Bailyn, pp. 66–67
  38. ^ Bailyn, pp. 68–69
  39. ^ Bailyn, p. 10
  40. ^ Hosmer, pp. 91–94
  41. ^ Hosmer, pp. 123,351–361
  42. ^ Hosmer, p. 98
  43. ^ Hosmer, p. 116
  44. ^ Hosmer, p. 117
  45. ^ Galvin, pp. 178, 180–182, 188
  46. ^ Walmsley, pp. 102–103
  47. ^ Bailyn, p. 149
  48. ^ Bailyn, p. 157
  49. ^ Bailyn, pp. 158–162
  50. ^ Bailyn, p. 164
  51. ^ Bailyn, pp. 164–166
  52. ^ Bailyn, p. 169
  53. ^ Bailyn, p. 171
  54. ^ Bailyn, p. 173
  55. ^ Galvin, p. 232
  56. ^ Bailyn, p. 211
  57. ^ Ferling, pp. 79–80
  58. ^ Penegar, p. 27
  59. ^ a b Morgan (2003), p. 187
  60. ^ Wright, p. 225
  61. ^ Alexander, p. 150
  62. ^ Galvin, p. 254
  63. ^ Bailyn, p. 240
  64. ^ Bailyn, pp. 240–245
  65. ^ Bailyn, p. 269
  66. ^ Bailyn, pp. 226–227
  67. ^ Bailyn, p. 228
  68. ^ Penegar, p. 32
  69. ^ Ferling, pp. 80–81
  70. ^ Bailyn, pp. 244–246
  71. ^ Galvin, p. 258
  72. ^ Bailyn, pp. 258–259
  73. ^ a b Isaacson, pp. 275–278
  74. ^ Knollenberg, p. 71
  75. ^ Labaree, pp. 46–51
  76. ^ Labaree, p. 102
  77. ^ Bailyn, pp. 259–260
  78. ^ Bailyn, p. 262
  79. ^ Bailyn, pp. 262–263
  80. ^ Hosmer, p. 312
  81. ^ Hosmer, pp. 314–315
  82. ^ Galvin, p. 280
  83. ^ Bailyn, p. 279
  84. ^ Bailyn, p. 334
  85. ^ Walmsley, pp. 154–158
  86. ^ Bailyn, pp. 344–355
  87. ^ Galvin, p. 298
  88. ^ Walmsley, pp. 155–157
  89. ^ Bailyn, pp. 359–369
  90. ^ Bailyn, p. 373
  91. ^ Memoir of Thomas Hutchinson, p. 310
  92. ^ Bailyn, p. 2
  93. ^ Bailyn, p. 3
  94. ^ Walmsley, pp. xiii–xv
  95. ^
  96. ^ Cited in
  97. ^ Duffy p 10
  98. ^
  99. ^
  100. ^ Walmsley, p. xiii



Remnants of Hutchinson's country estate in Milton have been preserved. The main piece, a parcel of land known as Governor Hutchinson's Field, is owned by The Trustees of the Reservations, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open to the public, and a nearby property features a ha-ha constructed for Hutchinson in 1771. The ha-ha is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and both properties are part of the Milton Hill Historic District.[98][99] Boston, which had landmarks named after the Hutchinson family, took pains upon his departure to rename them.[100]

Margaret Sanford Hutchinson, wife of Thomas Hutchinson (1750)
Hutchinson painting (1750)

Biographers in the 20th century have, however, rehabilitated his reputation, seeking to explain how and why he came to be demonized in this way.[94] In recent decades historians have typically portrayed Hutchinson as a tragic figure torn between his rulers in London and his people in Massachusetts. Barbara Tuchman, for example, portrays Hutchinson as an "ill-fated" and "tragic figure."[95] British scholar David Kenneth Fieldhouse says his tragedy emerged because he was “a victim of the clash of two ideologies, his own archaic and static, that of his opponents contemporary and dynamic."[96] Carl L. Becker, a prominent American historian wrote: "Nothing would have pleased him [Hutchinson] more than that New England should have shown its emancipation from provincialism by meriting the good will of the King. His irritation with America in general and Boston in particular was the irritation of a proud and possessive father with a beloved but wayward child who fails to do him credit in high places." Bailyn has changed his own interpretation over the years. In the 1970s he saw Hutchinson as a bewildered pragmatist. By 2004 he portrayed Hutchinson as a premodern thinker locked in an old mindset at a time when Enlightenment ideas were taking hold thanks to thinkers such as Adam Smith and Tom Paine.[97]

Because of his central role as the main focal point for the opposition to royal rule, Hutchinson's reputation in Americas was generally quite poor. He was often seen as a traitor to his native Massachusetts and to the cause of freedom. John Adams was characteristically harsh in his assessment of him, calling him "avaricious" and describing him as a "courtier" who manipulated those at higher levels of power to achieve his aims.[92] He was also criticized by British political figures: Thomas Pownall continued to disagree with Hutchinson after the latter's exile, Francis Bernard (despite working on Hutchinson's behalf) disapproved of some of his actions, and Lord North believed the publication of his letters to be responsible for the outbreak of the war.[93]

Legacy and memory

Bitter and disillusioned about his forced exile, and grieving the loss of his daughter Peggy in 1777, Hutchinson continued to work on his history of the colony which was the fruit of many decades of research. Two volumes were published in his lifetime: Volume 1 of the History of Massachusetts appeared in 1764, and Volume 2 in 1767. The third volume would be published posthumously, and included his own tenure as lieutenant governor and governor. At the same time he worked to complete a history of the Hutchinson family, in which he encapsulated details on political affairs not found elsewhere.[89] He suffered a stroke and died at Brompton, a part of London, on 3 June 1780, aged 68, and was buried at Croydon.[90][91]

As the war progressed, Hutchinson was criticised by the Whigs in Parliament, which he answered in an unpublished manuscript. He continued to be treated favourably by the king, but was compelled to refuse the offer of a baronetcy because most of his fortune was lost due to his exile,[85] and became marginalised from power as prosecution of the war took center stage.[86] On 4 July 1776, Hutchinson was awarded an honorary doctorate of law by Oxford University. His enemies in Massachusetts continued to attack his reputation, and his exile made it impossible to effectively dispute the charges they made. His properties, like those of other exiled Loyalists, were seized and sold off by the state; his Milton home was eventually purchased by James and Mercy Otis Warren (the latter being the sister of his long-time enemy James Otis, Jr.)[87][88]

Upon his arrival in London, Hutchinson was granted an audience with the king, who questioned him on affairs in North America, and he was well received by Rockingham, Dartmouth, and Lord North, the prime minister.[82] In his interview with North he expressed dismay at the terms of the Massachusetts Government Act, and sought to establish a basis for the eventual repeal of the Boston Port Act, whose enactment by Governor Gage had a crippling effect on the province's economy. One part of the Government Act, the appointment by the crown of the governor's council, was something he had long opposed without formal hearings on the matter, but even colonial authorities sympathetic to his view believed events had by 1774 gone too far for the British political establishment to support alternatives.[83] At the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in April 1775 his Milton mansion was seized for use as an army barracks, and a trunk containing copies of much of his correspondence fell into rebel hands.[84]


When the Board of Trade met to consider the assembly's petition to recall Hutchinson, it also discussed the tea party. Franklin, as colonial agent, was forced to listen to a barrage of criticism, and was dismissed as colonial postmaster general. The assembly's petition was dismissed as "groundless" and "vexatious", but Hutchinson's request for leave was granted.[73][80] In May 1774 General Thomas Gage arrived in Boston to take over as governor, and to implement the "Coercive Acts" Parliament had passed as punishment for the tea party. Hutchinson, believing he would only be away from Massachusetts temporarily, sailed for England on 1 June 1774.[81]

Hutchinson justified the hardline stance that contributed to the crisis by claiming it was his duty as governor to uphold the revenue laws, while American opponents such as James Bowdoin observed that he could have just as easily refused to accept the tea when it was clear that popular sentiment would make it impossible to land the tea. British critics complained that he should have asked the British troops in Boston to intervene. After it became known that other tea ships sent to North America had turned back, Hutchinson continued to justify his actions in letters to England, anticipating hearings on the matter once he arrived there.[79]

[78].dumped the tea into the harbour Other cargo was unloaded from the ships, but armed protestors patrolled the docks to ensure the tea was not landed. Hutchinson took a hard line, refusing to allow the tea ships to leave the harbour despite city-wide protests that the tea be sent back to England, and insisting that the duty be paid and the tea landed. When the twenty-day deadline arrived on 16 December, protestors (some in Indian disguise) boarded the ships that night and [77] In Massachusetts the arrival of ships carrying tea in November 1773 brought about a crisis, since duties were to be paid on dutiable cargo within twenty days of a ship's arrival. Hutchinson and his sons were among the businessmen to whom the company had consigned its tea, although Hutchinson disclaimed any official role in the choice of consignee.[76] In the meantime, Parliament had repealed most of the Townshend taxes (keeping only the one on tea), and passed the

Benjamin Franklin at the Privy Council hearing in 1774

The Massachusetts assembly drafted a petition to the Board of Trade demanding Hutchinson's removal from office, and Hutchinson, concerned with the effect the letter publication and the assembly petition would have in London, requested permission to come to England to defend himself.[71] The letter authorizing his return did not reach Boston until November 1773, too late for him to depart that year;[72] his request and the assembly's petition would not be heard until early 1774.[73]

Although much of what Hutchinson wrote in the letters was not particularly new, Samuel Adams masterfully manipulated the contents and implications of some of the statements by Hutchinson and Oliver to suggest they were conspiring with officials in London to deprive the colonists of their rights.[69] Hutchinson was defended in print by provincial attorney general Jonathan Sewall, who claimed that Hutchinson was not actually expressing desired changes in the state of affairs, but ruminating instead on possible consequences of present conditions.[70]

Hutchinson's letters, written between 1767 and 1769 to Thomas Whately, a retired former leading member of the British government, included the observation that it was impossible for colonists to have the full rights they would have in the home country, essentially requiring an "abridgement of what are called English liberties".[66] He made no specific proposals on how the colonial government should be reformed, writing in a letter that was not among those published, "I can think of nothing but what will produce as great an evil as that which it may remove or will be of a very uncertain event."[67] Letters by Andrew Oliver, in contrast, specifically proposed that the governor's council, whose members where then elected by the assembly with the governor's consent, be changed to one whose members were appointed by the crown.[68]

The Massachusetts debate reached a pitch in 1772 when Hutchinson, in a speech to the assembly, argued that either the colony was wholly subject to Parliament, or that it was effectively independent. The assembly's response, authored by John Adams, Samuel Adams, and [59] He insisted to Cushing that they not be published or widely circulated, because he was not "at liberty to make the letters public."[60] The letters came into the hands of Samuel Adams, then serving as the clerk of the assembly, who engineered their publication in June 1773.[61][62][63] Franklin's belief was only partially vindicated: the publication of the letters unleashed a torrent of vitriol against Hutchinson, but did nothing to lessen opposition to Parliamentary policy: instead the opposition saw the letters as confirmation of a conspiracy against their rights.[64] The letters were reprinted throughout the colonies, and Hutchinson was burned in effigy in places as far away as Philadelphia during the uproar.[65]

Engraving by Paul Revere depicting British reaction to the Boston Tea Party

Letters affair and Tea Party

One of Hutchinson's instructions was to relocate the provincial assembly from Boston to Cambridge, where it would be less under the influence of radical Boston politics. This modest demand, accomplished by executive order, resulted in howls of complaint of gubernatorial arbitrariness in the assembly, and an exchange of arguments, rebuttals, and counterarguments between Hutchinson and the assembly that ran for thousands of pages and lasted until 1772.[53] The nature of the affair furthered the radical cause, whose proponents painted Hutchinson's action as a bold and devious attempt to further the executive prerogative.[54] The radicals were further outraged when Hutchinson announced in 1772 that his salary, which had previously been subject to appropriation by the assembly, would be paid by the crown instead. This was seen by the radicals as a further usurpation of power that rightfully belonged in the province.[55] Written debates with the assembly extended to the role of Parliament in governing the policies, and further deepened the divide between it and Hutchinson. They also raised flags elsewhere in the colonies and in England, where observers noted that Hutchinson's arguments had effectively driven moderates in the province to join with the political hardliners.[56]

Governor Bernard had, in the mean time, taken up Hutchinson's cause in London. In March 1771 Hutchinson's commission as governor arrived in Boston, having been approved by the king while his resignation letter was going the other way. (Colonial secretary Lord Hillsborough rejected his resignation.)[51] The instructions sent with the commission were fairly strict, and left Hutchinson relatively little room to manoeuvre politically. Instructions that particularly galled Samuel Adams included one restricting the meetings of the governor's council, and another limiting the appointment of colonial agents to individuals having the governor's approval.[52]

Hutchinson was still acting governor when protests over the Townshend taxes erupted into the Boston Massacre on 5 March 1770, when British soldiers fired into a crowd, killing five people.[48] Hutchinson went to the scene in the aftermath of the shooting, and promised that justice would be applied fairly. He had all of the British soldiers involved in the incident arrested the next day, but ongoing unrest in the city compelled him to request the withdrawal of British troops from the city to Castle William.[49] Hutchinson was able to postpone the trial for almost 6 months to allow anger to settle and for Adams to prepare a solid case. The soldiers were eventually tried, and two were convicted of manslaughter, although their sentences were reduced. The episode shook Hutchinson's confidence in his ability to manage affairs in the province, and he penned a resignation letter.[50]

Because of the controversy over the Stamp Act, the radical faction came to control both the assembly and the governor's council in 1766, and Hutchinson was denied a seat on the governor's council.[44] Amid increased furor after the passage of the 1767 Townshend Acts, Governor Bernard requested and received British Army troops to protect crown officials. Letters written by Bernard describing conditions in the province were acquired by the radical opposition and published, leading to his recall. Bernard left for England on 1 August 1769, leaving Hutchinson as acting governor.[45] Hutchinson was unsuccessful in his attempts to distance himself from the unpopular Bernard administration, and he continued to be attacked in the assembly and the local press.[46] Despite this, he continued to lobby for a formal appointment as governor. He categorically refused to again serve as lieutenant governor under another governor, preferring instead a posting elsewhere, or to resign the lieutenant governorship.[47]

A proclamation issued by Hutchinson in 1771

Governor of Massachusetts

Twelve days later, on the evening of 26 August, a mob again formed outside of his mansion, and this time they would not be denied. Described by one architectural historian as "the first developed example of provincial Palladianism in New England,"[39] the house was broken into (Hutchinson and his family narrowly escaping), and systematically ransacked. The house finishings (wainscoting and other decorative woodwork) were effectively destroyed, and even the building's cupola was taken down in violence that lasted the entire night. The family silver, furniture, and other items were stolen or destroyed (although some items were eventually returned), and Hutchinson's collection of historically important manuscripts was scattered. Hutchinson was then working on the final volume of his three volume history of the Massachusetts Bay colony. Many pages of the work were lost that night and had to be recreated.[40] Hutchinson's detailed inventory (reprinted by biographer James Kendall Hosmer) valued the damage done at more than £2,200, and he eventually received over £3,100 from the province for his troubles.[41] Hutchinson and his family temporarily took refuge at Castle William,[42] and thereafter took up primary residence at Hutchinson's estate in Milton.[43]

Hutchinson's brother-in-law, colonial secretary Andrew Oliver, was given the job of "stamp master", with responsibility for implementing the act in the province. Although Hutchinson apparently had no hand in this assignment, his opponents were quick to accuse him of further duplicity.[36] His attempts to explain his position only fuelled the opposition, who recounted his early unpopular acts and questioned his motives in those deeds.[37] On 13 August 1765, mobs descended on Oliver's home and office, ransacking both. The next night Hutchinson's Boston mansion was surrounded, and the crowd demanded that he formally deny arguing in favour of the Stamp Act in his correspondence with London. He refused, and only the intervention of a moderate leader prevented any action that night.[38]

Hutchinson house, Garden Court Street, North End, Boston

Mob violence

In debates leading up to the passage of the 1765 Stamp Act, both Hutchinson and Bernard quietly warned London not to proceed. Hutchinson in particular wrote that "It cannot be good to tax the Americans ... You will lose more than you gain."[32] When the assembly met to draft a petition to London on the matter in October 1764, Hutchinson opposed the inclusion of the radicals' language, and eventually pushed through a more moderate statement of opposition. However, the Massachusetts petition was seen as weak in comparison to those prepared by other colonies, and Hutchinson was claimed to be secretly seeking to promote the Stamp Act. He was also accused of "treachery" and "betraying his country".[33] News of the act's passage propelled one of the most vocal opponents of Parliamentary supremacy, Samuel Adams, into a larger role in provincial politics.[34] Hutchinson privately supported calls for its repeal, but his unwillingness to publically oppose the act merely provided additional fuel for his opponents.[35]

When the Sugar Act was being discussed in Parliament in 1763, proposals were put forward to send Hutchinson to England to represent the colony's opposition to the proposal. Governor Bernard, however, objected to sending the sitting lieutenant governor, and the bill was enacted. Much colonial protest followed, and Hutchinson was in agreement with vocal opponents like the Otises (who around this time began using the phrase "no taxation without representation") that the law harmed the Massachusetts economy.[29] In the ensuing debates, however, differences emerged between Hutchinson and others over Parliament's supremacy and the feasibility of having formal colonial representation there,[30] which were exacerbated by the personal animosity that had developed between Hutchinson and the Otises. Led by James Otis, Jr. and Oxenbridge Thacher, the anti-Parliament faction seized on every minor dispute to rail against Hutchinson and his faction's monopolisation of power. Hutchinson was at first dismissive of these ongoing political attacks, believing that his opponents were either misguided or misled. Biographer Andrew Walmsley observes that Hutchinson at this stage seriously underestimated the impact of these attacks in building a coherent opposition to crown control, and in the damage it was doing to his own reputation.[31]

John Adams (portrait by Charles Willson Peale) was opposed to Hutchinson's ascent to the highest judicial post in the province.

Taxes and the Stamp Act

[28] In 1761 Hutchinson brought upon himself a storm of protest and criticism by issuing

One of Bernard's early acts was the appointment of Hutchinson instead of James Otis, Sr., as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature. This action by itself turned the province's populists, whose vocal leaders included Otis and his son James Jr., against both Hutchinson and Bernard, with long term consequences to Hutchinson's reputation. Hutchinson, with no legal training, had not sought the post, and some emerging legal thinkers, notably a rising young lawyer named John Adams, were also outraged.[27]

Writs of assistance

When Governor Shirley's political opponents engineered his recall in 1757, Hutchinson sought and received the endorsement of the British military leader Lord Loudoun in an effort to succeed Shirley as governor. During this time Hutchinson was the leading politician in the province due to the age and infirmity of Lieutenant Governor Spencer Phips.[22] Hutchinson's application was unsuccessful, but he did receive an appointment as lieutenant governor in 1758, serving under Thomas Pownall. Hutchinson's relationship with Pownall was awkward, for Pownall was at the center of political activities that dislodged Governor Shirley, under whose patronage Hutchinson had risen in power and influence. Pownall cultivated relations with the populist factions in the state, and sought to remove the influence of Shirley supporters, sometimes asking Hutchinson to turn against people he (Hutchinson) had earlier supported. This Hutchinson refused to do, since he saw these actions as harming the province's stability and taking place at "the caprice of the governor".[23] Pownall, whose mistrust of Hutchinson was reciprocated, requested to leave to return to England in late 1759. The political opposition of Shirley supporters and the death of some of his leading populist supporters may have contributed to this decision.[24] He departed the province on 3 June 1760, leaving Hutchinson as acting governor.[25] Several months later Pownall's replacement, Francis Bernard, arrived to take the reins of power.[26]

Governor Thomas Pownall

Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts

Hutchinson's wife died quite suddenly in 1754; Hutchinson thereafter threw himself into his work.[20] His work was not entirely of a political nature: in a humanitarian streak he supported Acadian refugees who had been expelled from their Nova Scotia homelands, even though this support of Roman Catholics did not gain him friends in Protestant Massachusetts. He was also sensitive to the needs of the military men involved in the war, often giving aid to needy families of veterans.[21]

Despite the success, Hutchinson was voted out of the assembly in 1749. He was, however, immediately appointed to the Governor's Council.[17] In 1749 he headed a commission to arrange a treaty with the Indians in the District of Maine,[18] which was then part of Massachusetts, and he served on boundary commissions to settle disputes with Connecticut and Rhode Island. In 1752 he was appointed judge of probate and a justice of the Common Pleas. Following the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754, he was a delegate to the Albany Convention. In that meeting he took a leading part in the discussions, working with Benjamin Franklin to draft a plan for colonial union. Hutchinson agreed with Franklin that the present disunity endangered the British colonies, and that decisive action must be taken to knit the too-often-competing colonies into a coherent whole. Most important, the report drafted by Hutchinson concluded that the colonies must be encouraged to establish "a Union of His Majesty's several governments on the continent, that so their councils, treasure, and strength may be employed in due proportion against their common enemy".[19]

In 1742 Hutchinson was again elected to the General Court, where he served until 1749, being the body's speaker from 1746 to 1749.[14] His continued advocacy of currency reforms so annoyed the populist faction that the need to guard his properties in Boston and Milton from possible mob action was discussed.[15] When the British government was convinced to refund the province's expense for mounting the 1745 Louisbourg expedition, Hutchinson seized upon the idea of using the massive payment (about £180,000 in gold and silver) to retire the province's paper currency. Despite significant opposition, Hutchinson successfully navigated a bill implementing the idea through the assembly's general court in 1749; it received the agreement of the Governor's Council, and also the signature of Governor William Shirley. Many of the bill's opponents were pleasantly surprised when the exchange of paper for specie did not cause any financial shocks, and Hutchinson's popularity soared.[16]

Governor William Shirley

In 1737 Hutchinson entered politics, being elected as a New Hampshire which significantly favored New Hampshire. Hutchinson's embassy was unsuccessful, although he returned with a bequest to Harvard for the construction of a new chapel; Holden Chapel, built with these funds, still stands today.[13]

Legislator and councillor


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