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Lot 69: 1769-Dated Colonial Pre-Revolutionary War THOMAS POWNALL Autograph Letter Signed
Historic Autographs, Civil War Encased Postage Stamps, Colonial, Revolutionary War, Federal Era, Coins, Currency, Medals
December 10, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
Thomas Pownall Autograph Letter Signed as the Colonial Governor of Massachusetts Lauding the American Cause!
THOMAS POWNALL. British politician and Colonial Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay (1757-1760), opposed Parliamentary attempts to Tax the Colonies, and was a minority advocate of colonial positions until the Revolution.
June 26, 1769-Dated Colonial Pre-Revolutionary War, Important Content, Autograph Letter Signed, "Th. Pownall," 3 pages, measuring 7.25" x 8.75", London, Choice Very Fine. An excellent period content in this Letter, written to Sir William Johnson, who has docketed on the verso: "London, June 26th, 1769, Govr. Pownall's Letter." Expected transmittal folds and light marginal tone, with the writing dark and bold, easily readable and clear. Pownall was an intimate friend of Benjamin Franklin, had been the Colonial Governor of Massachusetts until 1760, and continued to be an ardent champion of American causes in the British Parliament. John Adams wrote, "Pownall was the most constitutional and national Governor, in my opinion, who ever represented the crown in this province." This histoical Letter reads, in part:
"Although there has been an interruption in our correspondence, there has been none in our friendship. I am now in a situation independent not only of Gov but also independent of all the Parties & Factions with which our Affairs are preplext. ... When I left America I saw things getting into factions amongst ye Officers & King's Servants there. I saw some of my friends (some that I most esteemed, yourself amongst those) not treated so well as they deserved both of ye Crown, of ye Public & of Particulars who raised themselves upon merits no their own. ... When ye Disputes first arose betwixt ye Mother Country & her Colonies, I was not in a Situation to take that part which I could have wished - & therefore in like manner wd take none. When I thought I saw ye Colonies pressed harder upon that I could acquiesce in, even upon ye Idea I had fixed to myself of not interfering, I threw out those Ideas & took those measures which (if attended to) might have prevented matters from coming to ye Difficulties which they are now under. I did this at a time even when I was connected with ye Ministry. But now I have none nor ever will have again, I shall give Scope to every sentiment of Friendship which I have for ye Colonies - & to every Sentiment of Affection & regard which I have for particular people therein...".
Thomas Pownall (September 1722 - 25 February 1805) was a British politician and colonial official. He was governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1757 to 1760, and afterward served in the British Parliament. He travelled widely in the North American colonies prior to the American Revolutionary War, opposed Parliamentary attempts to Tax the colonies, and was a minority advocate of colonial positions until the Revolution.
Classically educated and well-connected to the colonial administration in London, Pownall first travelled to North America in 1753, and spent two years exploring the colonies before being appointed Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey in 1755. He became governor of Massachusetts in 1757 after helping engineer the recall of longtime Governor William Shirley. His administration was dominated by the French and Indian War (called the "Seven Years War" in England) in which Pownall was instrumental in raising Massachusetts provincial militia for the war effort. He opposed military interference in colonial administration, including attempts to quarter British troops in private homes, and had a generally positive relationship with the colonial assembly.
Returning to England in 1760, he continued to be interested in colonial affairs, publishing widely read materials on conditions in the colonies, including several editions of The Administration of the Colonies. As a Member of Parliament he regularly advocated for colonial positions without much success, but supported the war effort once the Revolutionary War began. In the early 19th century he became an early advocate of the reduction or removal of trade barriers, and the establishment of a solid relationship between Britain and the United States. Several writers have proposed that Pownall was Junius, a pseudonymous writer of letters critical of British governmental practices.
John Adams wrote, "Pownall was the most constitutional and national Governor, in my opinion, who ever represented the crown in this province."