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"OVERPOWERED BY THE NUMEROUS BODY OF THE LOWER SORT" (AMERICAN REVOLUTION--PRELUDE.) Herries, Michael. Letter offering fresh intelligence on the Continental Congress. Autograph Letter Signed to Richard Oswald at his Cavens estate in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. 2 pages, 9 x 7 1/4 inches, plus integral address leaf with no postal markings; minor wear. London, 4 August 1774
Herries reports on very early news on the Massachusetts efforts toward a Continental Congress and the implementation of the Massachusetts Government Act which revoked the colonial charter--news which had just arrived in London by private letter and had not yet been seen in newspapers. "Their assembly having met 1 July at Salem as had been appointed, the first business they went on was to chuse a committee w/ proper powers to meet a general Congress of the other colonies & to raise money for defraying their expence. The Gov on hearing this sent his secretary to let them know if they did not begin the other business of the colony, he would be obliged to dissolve them, but they locked their doors & woud not admitt him . . . meantime their clergy doing all they can in their sermons &c to spirit them up & not to submitt &c. The merch'ts & better sort of people are for acquiescing & submission, but are overpowered by the numerous body of the lower sort. . . . I have heard of this today only from private letters." The recipient, Richard Oswald, would later serve as the British negotiator for the Treaty of Paris in 1782.