Lot 244

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Thanksgiving Broadside

MA Bay Gov. Thomas Hutchinson Proclaims "Publick Thanksgiving" 6 Weeks Before Boston Tea Party


An incredible document from Boston, Massachusetts, on the eve of the American Revolution!


Printed broadside, "By the Governor. A Proclamation for a Publick Thanksgiving" signed in print by Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor Thomas Hutchinson (1711-1780) as "T. Hutchinson" at bottom right. The proclamation was issued on October 28, 1773 from Boston, Massachusetts. Printed by official government printer Richard Draper. Minor bleed-through from scratch paper notations verso (the inscription "The Revd Smith of Weymouth," a letter draft to "Betsy," and math calculations.) Expected toning, paper folds, and minor edge chipping, else very good to near fine. Three mounting/framing tabs at top. 13.5" x 16.5". Accompanied by a note indicating the proclamation was de-acidified by the Library of Congress in November 1983.


English Short Title Catalog lists three copies of this Proclamation in American libraries, two at the American Antiquarian Society, and one at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The broadside features a massive British Royal coat of arms at top, crowning 31 lines of text in various print sizes and styles.


In part:


"By the Governor.


A PROCLAMATION for a Publick Thanksgiving.


Whereas it is our incumbent Duty to make our frequent publick thankful Acknowledgement to Almighty GOD our great Benefactor, as well for the Mercies of his common Providence as for the distinguishing Favours which at any Time he may see meet to confer upon us: AND WHEREAS among many other Instances of the Favour of Heaven towards us of a publick Nature in the Course of the Year past, it hath pleased God to continue the Life of our Sovereign Lord King GEORGE - of our most Gracious Queen CHARLOTTE and of the rest of the Royal Family - to succeed His Majesty's Councils and Endeavours for Preserving Peace to the British Dominions - to continue to us a good Measure of Health - to prosper our Husbandry, Merchandize, and Fishery:


I HAVE therefore thought fit to appoint, and I do, with the Advice of His Majesty's Council, appoint Thursday the Twenty-fifth Day of November next to be a Day of Publick Thanksgiving throughout the Province, exhorting and requiring the several Societies for Religious Worship to assemble on that Day, and to offer up their devout Praises to GOD for the several Mercies aforementioned, and for all other Favours which He hath been graciously pleased to bestow upon us, accompanying their Thanksgivings with fervent Prayers that, after they shall have sang the Praises of God, they may not forget his Works.


And all servile Labour is forbidden on the said Day.


GIVEN at the Council-Chamber in Boston, the Twenty-eighth Day of October, in the Fourteenth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord GEORGE the Third, by the Grace of GOD, of Great-Britain, France, and Ireland, KING, Defender of the Faith, &c. Annoq; Domini, 1773.


By His Excellency's Command,                                                  

THO'S FLUCKER, Secr'y.                    T. Hutchinson.


GOD Save the KING."


Governor Hutchinson's day of Thanksgiving was scheduled to take place on November 25, 1773, around the same time that British tea arrived in Boston, and three weeks before the Boston Tea Party took place. On November 29, 1773, patriot firebrand Samuel Adams called a general meeting in Boston (first at Faneuil Hall, and then at Old South Meeting House) to discuss the despised Tea Act. On December 16, 1773, the tea, which was a symbol of British monopoly and imperial abuse of power, was dumped into Boston Harbor. The impending public relations disaster puts Hutchinson's comments about "Preserving Peace [in] the British Dominions" in an interesting context.


Governor Hutchinson's gubernatorial proclamation was certainly motivated by a desire to remind his constituents of their true political loyalty during an era of increasingly worsening relations between Great Britain and the Massachusetts Bay Colony.


Hutchinson, a successful businessman, had been involved in the highest levels of provincial government since the 1750s. In fact, Hutchinson was wrapped up in many of the unpopular legislative acts that precipitated the American Revolution, in his capacities as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court, Lieutenant Governor, Acting Governor, and Governor of Massachusetts. Opposition to Hutchinson may have even helped coalesce the latent revolutionary movement in Boston. From his mandate of arbitrary customs searches in 1761, to his relocation of the seat of colonial government from Boston to Cambridge, Hutchinson polarized Massachusetts Bay politics. The Sugar Act (1763), Stamp Act (1765), Townshend Acts (1767), and the Boston Massacre (1770) only deepened mistrust and resentment of Hutchinson, a leading Loyalist.


Governor Hutchinson fled the Massachusetts Bay Colony eight months later, in June 1774; his successor was British General Thomas Gage.



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