ATTACKS CORRUPTION IN GOVERNMENT
(Introductory note and edited document contributed by Dr. Mary Gallagher)
“Novanglus” (New England) was a pen name John Adams used in replies to essays published by Daniel Leonard, a “tory” lawyer who wrote under the pseudonym “Massachusettensis” Leonard defended Governor Francis Bernard, who served as governor of Massachusetts from 1760-1769, for advising the British ministry that a Anew regulation of the American governments was both necessary and desirable. Adams considered Bernard’s recommendations indefensible. The governor’s suggestions, Adams alleged, had been instigated by a “junto” whose most important members were Thomas Hutchinson, lieutenant governor at the time, and Andrew Oliver. In this excerpt, Adams describes the motives which, he suspected, guided its operations and the strategy he believed it was employing to achieve its objectives. Like many republican writers, Adams was quick to charge his political opponents with self-aggrandizement, greed, corruption, and conspiracy, which were considered to be among the greatest threats to liberty. Republicans maintained vigilance against such tendencies throughout the revolutionary period.
January 30, 1775
intention of the junto was, to procure a revenue to be raised in America by act
of parliament. Nothing was further
from their designs and wishes, than the drawing or sending this revenue into the
exchequer in England, to be spent there in discharging the national debt, and
lessening the burdens of the poor people there. They were more selfish.
They chose to have the fingering of the money themselves.
Their design was, that the money should be applied, first in a large
salary to the governor. This would gratify Bernard's avarice; and then, it would
render him and all other governors, not only independent of the people, but
still more absolutely a slave to the will of the minister.
They intended likewise a salary for the lieutenant-governor.
This would appease in some degree the gnawings of Hutchinson's avidity,
in which he was not a whit behind Bernard himself. In the next place, they intended a salary to the judges of
the common law, as well as admiralty. And
thus, the whole government, executive and judicial, was to be rendered wholly
independent of the people, (and their representatives rendered useless,
insignificant, and even burthensome) and absolutely dependent upon, and under
the direction of the will of the minister of state.
They intended, further, to new-model the whole continent of North
America; make an entire new division of it into distinct, though more extensive
and less numerous colonies; to sweep away all the charters upon the continent
with the destroying besom of an act of parliament; and reduce all the
governments to the plan of the royal governments, with a nobility in each
colony, not hereditary indeed, at first, but for life.
They did indeed flatter the ministry and people in England with distant
hopes of a revenue from America, at some future period, to be appropriated to
national uses there. But this was
not to happen, in their minds, for some time.
The governments must be new-modelled, new-regulated, reformed, first, and
then the governments here would be able and willing to carry into execution any
acts of parliament, or measures of the ministry, for fleecing the people here,
to pay debts, or support pensioners, on the American establishment, or bribe
electors, or members of parliament, or any other purpose that a virtuous
ministry could desire.
as ill luck would have it, the British financier, was as selfish as
themselves, and, instead of raising money for them, chose to raise it for
himself. He put the cart before the
horse. He chose to get the revenue
into the exchequer, because he had hungry cormorants enough about him in England
whose cawings were more troublesome to his ears than the croaking of the ravens
in America. And he thought, if
America could afford any revenue at all, and he could get it by authority of
parliament, he might have it himself, to give to his friends, as well as raise
it for the junto here, to spend themselves, or give to theirs.
This unfortunate preposterous improvement of Mr. Grenville, upon the plan
of the junto, had well nigh ruined the whole.
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by Charles Francis Adams, vol. 4 (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown. 1851), 23-25.