BOSTON, October 20, 1774.
To: Peyton Randolph, Esquire Sir, Representations should be made with candour, and matters stated exactly as they stand. People would be led to believe, from your letter to me, of the 10th instant, that works were raised against the town of Boston, private property invaded, the soldiers suffered to insult the inhabitants, and the communication between the town and country fancied up and molested. Nothing can be further from the true situation of this place than the above state. There is not a single gun pointed against the town, no man's property has been seized or hurt, except the king's, by the people's destroying straw, bricks, etc. brought for his service. No troops have given less cause for complaint; and greater care was never taken to prevent it, and such care and attention was never more necessary from the insults and provocations daily given to both officers and soldiers. The communication between the town and country had been always free and unmolested, and is so still. Two works of earth have been raised at some distance from the town, wide off the road, and guns put in them. The remains of old works, going out of the town, have been strengthened, and guns placed there likewise. People will think differently, whether the hostile preparations throughout the country, and the menaces of blood and slaughter, made this necessary, but I am to do my duty. It gives me pleasure that you are endeavouring at a cordial reconciliation with the mother country, which, from what has transpired, I have despaired of. Nobody wishes better success to such measures than myself. I have endeavoured to be a mediator, if I could establish a foundation to work upon, and have strongly urged it to people here to pay for the tea, and send a proper memorial to the king, which would be a good beginning on their side, and give their friends the opportunity they seek to move in their support. I do not believe that menaces and unfriendly proceedings will have the effect which too many conceive. The spirit of the British nation was high when I left England, and such measures will not abate it. But I should hope that decency and moderation here, would create the same disposition at home, and I ardently wish that the common enemies to both countries may see, to their disappointment, that these disputes between the mother country and the colonies have terminated like the quarrels of lovers, and encreased the affection they ought to bear to each other. I am, Sir, Your most obedient, Humble servant, THOMAS GAGE.
Virginia Gazette (Pinkney) November 10, 1774
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About this entry:
At the time this letter was written, Peyton Randolph was president of the First Continental Congress and a respected leader of colonial opposition to Great Britain's oppressive policies. Thomas Gage was commander in chief of His Majesty's forces in North America. Married to an American (Margaret Kemble of New Jersey), he tried to appease both sides of the growing controversy. His ineffectiveness as a military man was evident in his false assessment of the will and strength of Massachusetts militia and their support from other colonies. After the incidents at Lexington and Concord in April 1775 and later at Bunker Hill, he was recalled to England and was replaced by William Howe. Even his opponents considered him an honorable man, more a politician than a general, who was caught in a set of circumstances beyond his control.