Call for Essex County Political Convention, Ipswich 1776

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Anticipating that the Massachusetts Bay Colony would form a new government, officials from Middleton, Marblehead, and Salem proposed a meeting of Essex County town representatives to discuss how to fairly determine representation in a new government. 

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April 17th 1774

County of Essex, Colony of Massachusetts-Bay

As the [Connection] between Great-Britain and this Continent in growing every day more and more loofe and uncertain, and (whether it be eligible or not) as we may soon be obliged to make up Independency for ourselves, and upon this supposition, as undoubtedly Republic or Commonwealth will be our Form of Government, it therefore becomes more serious and important that every Man should have equal Liberty, and equal right to Representation in the Legislature.

Now as the mode of Election in this Colony, has for a long while been in some measure unequal, but especially by the Regulation of our late honorable Provincial Congress, it is presumed, has been made much more so, by allowing every Town and District containing thirty Freeholders or upwards, to send a Representative to the General Assembly, and yet not extending the Privilege, by enlarging the number of Representative for those Towns, that contain from three hundred to three thousand Freeholders: And as it cannot by many Persons be conceived, that if any 30 Freeholders should, and do send a Representative to the General Assembly, why any 60 Freeholders should not have the right to send two Members, and 360 the right to send 12 and so on, and though if this was practiced, great inconveniences might arise from so numerous a representative Body yet as this may be remedied, and as great Inconveniences do arise in Fact, form so undue and unequal a Representation, as at present subsists in this Colony, and much greater are to be feared, should the Matter thus go on, while a new State, as it were, (if not to be formed) is at least to be regulated, and one that ought to give equal Liberty to every Member of it:

It is therefore proposed to the Committees of the several Towns in this Count, and they do as soon as may be, procure a Town-Meeting to be assembled in their representative Towns, for the purpose of choosing Delegates for County Convention, to be held at Mr. Treadwell’s Tavern in Ipswich, on the 25th Month, (April) at 12 o’Clock at Noon (if foul weather that day the next fair day) there to consider on what is premised, and to fall upon some Method by which they may obtain an equal Representation, by every Man’s having a like Voice in the Election of the legislative Body.

That the number at this Convention may not  be too large to be accommodated at Ipswich, it is proposed that each Town should send a like number of Delegates, as they now send Members to the General Assembly.

[Signed by]

April 17th 1776

Joshua Ward [Chairman] P: Tem

of the Committee Salem

Joshua Orne Chairman

of the Committee Marblehead

To the Committee of
Correspondence, Inspection 
& Safety
Middletown

Citation

“Call for Political Convention to be Held at Ipswich, April 25, 1776 (Broadside),” (Essex Institute historical collections. Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1900), p. 104.