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THE flattering reception with which the first volume of this work, covering the period of the Colonial History of Massachusetts, was received, has encouraged the continuance of the author's labors ; and the present volume, the second of the series, covering the period of our Provincial History, is now offered to the public. The distinction between the Colonial and the Provincial history of Massachusetts is strikingly marked. During the former period, a large share of independence was enjoyed by the people, who chose their own rulers, and managed their own affairs. Acknowledging their dependence on Great Britain for the charter they held and for the privileges it secured, they yet claimed exemption from the paramount authority of Parliament, and the right to enact their own laws and shape their own policy. Hence the prosperity of the country rapidly increased ; commerce was enlarged ; industry was fostered ; and the simplicity of manners which so generally prevailed threw such attractions around the country, and augured so well for its future advancement, that the jealousy of the statesmen of England was aroused ; and to check the spirit of freedom, which was abroad, was urged as the only means by which the people could be kept in subjection. Hence the old charter was overthrown; a new charter was granted, and Massachusetts, from a colony, became a province of England. Under the new charter the governor and a number of other officers were appointed by the king, and were removable at his pleasure; a supervision was exercised over the legislation of the province, and the paramount authority of the crown was asserted. In accepting this charter, however, the people of Massachusetts did not relinquish their natural rights, nor did they yield, without opposi
tion, to innovations upon the customs which had long been established among them. Hence the position of the governors was exceedingly embarrassed ; and the contests between them and the statesmen of the province, so far from resulting in the subjection of the people, tended only to strengthen and develop their love of liberty. The provincial history of Massachusetts is a record of this development; and these pages are designed to sketch the progress of that struggle, the seeds of which were early sown, and which, when matured, led to a rupture between the colonies and the crown. The prominent characters who figure in our annals were men of unwavering fidelity and courage; and it was owing to their earnest and persevering efforts, that the tide of oppression was successfully stayed, and the liberties of the people were eventually secured.
All who are acquainted with the difficulties attending the preparation of a work like the present, will readily excuse any trifling inaccuracies, of style or of statement, which may be discovered in its perusal. Such inaccuracies can never be wholly avoided ; and the wide range of subjects brought under discussion, and the perplexities attending the adjustment of rival claims and discrepant authorities, preclude the hope that in all cases the conclusion to which the author has arrived will meet the entire concurrence of his readers. Candid criticism, however, will never be deprecated ; and should mistakes be discovered, no one more cheerfully than the author will acknowledge his indebtedness to those who shall be the means of pointing them out.
The thanks of the author are tendered to those gentlemen who have so kindly encouraged his labors, and to the societies which have afforded him access to their historical treasures. To enumerate these gentlemen, and to specify these societies, would only be to repeat the names given in the first volume. In the hope that the present volume will meet with as favorable a reception as the former, and will prove as acceptable to the people of Massachusetts and to their descendants, it is sent forth on its mission with the diffidence and hesitancy which must ever be felt by one who assumes to write for the benefit of others, and who is conscious of the responsibility attaching to such a position.
Acts rejected by the King - Acts approved by the King – Observance of
call — Change in the House of Representatives — Administration of William
Arrival of Shute - Commerce of Massachusetts — Complaints against the
Appointment of Shirley - The Great Awakening — Character of the Con-