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The Correspondence of Thomas Hutchinson
July 1772-May 1774
Thomas Hutchinson. Edited by John W. Tyler
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Volume Five covers the last years of Hutchinson’s governorship. The proliferation of committees of correspondence throughout the province in late 1772 prompted Hutchinson to make a major speech at the opening of the General Court in January 1773, laying out his understanding of the relationship between the colonies and Parliament. The speech prompted a series of rejoinders and counter rejoinders that dragged on throughout the winter. No sooner had the matter died down, then Samuel Adams announced he had in his possession “letters of an extraordinary nature” written by Hutchinson and others who sought to undermine the liberties of the citizens of Massachusetts. When eventually published, the letters, which appeared to have been stolen from the files of a highly-placed English official after his death, did not support the wild rumors Adams and others had promulgated, yet the damage was done and the legislature petitioned the crown for his removal. Hutchinson asked for leave to go to England to defend himself, but before permission arrived, news of the Tea Act reached Boston, precipitating a new controversy. Hutchinson’s refusal to allow the tea to be returned to England led directly to the Boston Tea Party and, in turn, to the passage of Coercive Acts by Parliament. Hutchinson felt powerless before the storm of controversy he had aroused and left Massachusetts on June 1, 1774, ostensibly to report on American affairs in London, but, in reality never, to return. 
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