In the spring of 1774 Thomas Hutchinson, governor since 1771 of His Majesty's more or less loyal Province of Massachusetts Bay, was superseded by Lt. Gen. Thomas Gage at the head of four regiments of British troops and a powerful fleet under orders to enforce the Boston Port Act and other punitive measures. On the first day of June, Hutchinson sailed for England on what he thought would be a temporary leave from his native province, but he never returned. Just before his departure he received testimonials from his friends and other supporters of royal government in various Massachusetts towns, including an Address from the “Merchants and Traders of the town of Boston, and others,” dated 28 May, which ventured to declare that “Had your success been equal to your endeavours, and to the warmest wishes of your heart, we cannot doubt that many of the evils under which we now suffer, would have been averted, and that tranquillity would have been restored to this long divided Province” (Peter Force, ed., American Archives, Washington, 1837–1853, 4th series, 1:361–363).
The approximately 125 signers of the Boston Address formed a beadroll of persons most objectionable to the patriotic party. Within a few weeks two broadside listings, both probably produced by Edes
& Gill, printers of the Boston Gazette
, were circulated (Charles Evans and others, comps., American Bibliography
, Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959, Nos. 13279 and 13767; Worthington C. Ford, comp., Broadsides, Ballads &c. Printed in Massachusetts, 1639–1800
, Boston, 1922, Nos. 1699 and 1700), in which not only the names but the residences or shops of the “Addressers” were given, together with contemptuous characterizations of many of them. John Adams heard about the broadsides while he was traveling what proved to be his last Superior Court circuit in the District of Maine early in July; see his letter to his wife, 7 July 1774
, and a note
there (p. 130–132, below). Quite a few of the Addressers turn up in Adams' Diary and in the family correspondence now being printed, in roles obnoxious to the Adamses and their circle. Note, for example, the Winslows, Benjamin Davis, Harrison Gray, Ezekiel Goldthwait, William Jackson, Byfield Lyde (“Powder-Monkey”), and Sheriff David Phips. On the other hand, “John S. Copley... Portrait Painter,” was, with his tory wife, to be present at the private wedding of the younger Abigail Adams at the United States Legation in London, June 1786.