May 27, 2020 Founders & Patriots
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/27/2020
FRANCIS BERNARD (1712-1799) as governor of Massachusetts Bay, JAMES OTIS, JR. (1725-1783) as Speaker of the "General Court" or Assembly, and ANDREW OLIVER (1706-1744) as Secretary of the province. "AN ACT PROVIDING FOR LEVYING AND COLLECTING TAXES IN PLANTATIONS THAT ARE NOT INCORPORATED." Document signed, large vellum sheet (17 x 23 inches), bearing Massachusetts seal on top center, flanked by Latin inscription "Anno Regni Regis Georu Tertu Primo", roughly translated "In the First Year of King George III's Reign." This appears to be the original of the tax act, signed, sealed and dated at Boston on July 11th, 1761. This formal enacting of a new taxation law by the Governor's Council and House of Representatives delineaed by whom and by what means taxes were to be collected within the unincorporated communities in the province, as well as dealing with the evaluation of estates therein and determination of voter eligibility among property holders in such communities. The appearance of this original colonial act, signed by leading opposition figures in the volatile politics of pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts, is an unique opportunity for an institution or individual focused on the key events and historical figures that led to American independence. Although initially welcomed upon arrival as royal governor in 1760, Bernard's rigid enforcement of the Navigation Acts (in part because crown officials, including Bernard himself, received shares of the sale of ships and cargoes seized from violations of the acts) led to his growing unpopularity among much of the populace of Massachusetts Bay. Bernard also made an early opponent of James Otis, Jr. by appointing Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson to be chief justice of the province's highest court, a post that had been previously promised to Otis' father. The younger Otis was a 1743 Harvard graduate who was already a leading lawyer in the province. In 1760, Otis received a prestigious appointment as Advocate General of the Admiralty Court, which he promptly resigned over the snub to his father and the appointment of Hutchinson, a political opponent. In 1761, a group of Boston businessmen retained Otis to challenge the legality of "writs of assistance" before the Superior Court, which enabled Crown officials to enter any home with no advance notice, no probable cause, and no reason given. Otis failed to win the case, but his efforts galvanized opposition to the Crown's colonial policies. These early actions during Bernard's tenure drew a clear dividing line between the "popular party" (as exemplified by Otis) opposed to British colonial policy and the "court party" (exemplified by Hutchinson and ally Andrew Oliver) who supported it. Four years after countersigning this tax act, Oliver was commissioned to administer the unpopular Stamp Act, for which he was hanged in effigy from Boston's Liberty Tree, his home and offices looted by an angry mob, and eventually he was forced to publicly resign. In contrast, James Otis's activities as a lawyer, pamphleteer, and elected member of the Massachusetts provincial assembly established him as the leading advocate of the Patriot views against British policy, epitomized by his well-known catchphrase "Taxation without Representation is tyranny." He also asserted that "The colonists are by the law of nature freeborn, as indeed all men are, white or black" and he favored extending the freedoms of life, liberty, and property to colonial slaves. How this original of the 1761 act came into Artemas Ward's possession is likely due to his service on the taxation committee of the assembly, along with Samuel Adams and John Hancock. On the floor, he was second only to James Otis in speaking out against the acts of parliament. His prominence in these debates prompted the Royal Governor Francis Bernard to revoke his military commission as colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Militia in 1767 and in the next election in 1768, to void the results for Worcester and ban Ward from the assembly. CONDITION: period folds, otherwise very good with strong signatures and good impression to seal. JLK Provenance: General Artemas Ward and by descent in the Ward-Brigham Family until 2012; private collection to present.
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $4,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $6,000.00
Estimate: $8,000 - $12,000
Number Bids: 7
Auction closed on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.
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