GAGE, Thomas (1721-1787), British Military Governor of Massachusetts-Bay. "By His Excellency, The Hon. Thomas Gage, Esq. Governor, and Commander in Chief, in and over his Majesty's Province of Massachusetts-Bay...A Proclamation. Whereas the Infatuated Multitudes...have at last proceeded to avowed Rebellion...I avail myself of the last Effort within the Bounds of my Duty, to spare the Effusion of Blood, to offer, and I do hereby in His Majesty's Name...his most gracious Pardon to all Persons who shall forthwith lay down their Arms...excepting only...Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offences are of too flagitious a nature...Given at Boston, twelfth day of June...[Boston: Margaret Draper], 1775."
Folio, 500 x 388 mm. Large woodcut royal coat of arms at top. A very large copy, with original deckle edges preserved, the paper evenly age-toned, two small punctures in blank portion, small hole at fold intersection, upper right-hand corner with small piece trimmed away, neatly backed with linen, in a fine giltwood frame.
GAGE'S INFAMOUS JUNE 12 PROCLAMATION OF MARTIAL LAW IN MASSACHUSETTS, IN THE WAKE OF THE BLOODSHED AT LEXINGTON AND CONCORD
A very important--and quite rare--American broadside, issued from Boston by General Gage, who since 19 April had been closely confined with his sizeable garrison within Boston by armed American rebels occupying fortifications on all land points of access. Five days after this proclamation, the bloody contest at Bunker Hill effectively rallied anti-British sentiment throughout the colonies and made reconciliation with the Crown even more unlikely. In this proclamation, Gage officially acknowledges that a state of open rebellion exists in the colony, in spite of "the Patience and Leniency of the King's Government," and asserts that "the infringements...upon the most sacred Rights of the Crown and people of Great Britain, are too many to enumerate;" these rebellious acts show "Marks of Premeditation and Conspiracy." The agents of this rebellion have not dared to "trust their Cause or their Actions, to the Judgement of an Impartial Public," while "the Press, that distinguished Appendage of public Liberty,...has been prostituted to the most contrary Purposes."
Gage then gives the British view of the recent alarms at Lexington and Concord: "The minds of Men having been thus gradually prepared for the worst Extremities, a Number of armed Persons...assembled on the 19th of April last, and from behind Walls, and lurking Holes, attacked a Detachment of the King's Troops, who, not expecting to consummate an Act of Phrenzy, unprepared for Vengeance, and willing to decline it, made use of their Arms only in their own Defence. Since that period the Rebels...have added added Insult to Outrage; have repeatedly fired upon the King's Ships and Subjects...have possessed the Roads...and with a preposterous Parade of Military Arrangement, they affect to hold the Army beseiged..."
In this state of emergency, Gage is forced to take the last step possible, and he offers, in His Majesty's name, to pardon all who will lay down their arms--except the notorious Samuel Adams and John Hancock, "whose offences are of too flagitious a Nature to admit of any other Consideration than condign Punishment." He vows that punishment shall be meted out not just to those who incite and carry out the rebellion, but also to those who "protect or conceal such Offenders, or assist them with Money, Provision...Arms, Ammunition,...or shall hold secret Correspondence with them by letter, Message, Signal, or otherwise..." And, since "Justice cannot be administered by the Common Law of the Land," Gage, "by Authority vested in me, by the Royal Charter does "hereby publish, proclaim and order the Use and Exercise of Law Martial, within and throughout this Province."
He concludes with assurances of protection and support to all who "shall manifest their Allegiance to the King, and Affection for the parent State," until God "in his Mercy shall restore to his Creatures, in this distracted Land, that System of Happiness from which they have been seduced, the Religion of Peace and Liberty founded upon Law."
Very rare. The present is the only copy offered at auction in 25 years. Known copies include examples at Massachusetts Historical Society, the Huntington Library, and Williams College. Evans 14184; Ford 1814; Lowance & Bumgardner, Massachusetts Broadsides of the American Revolution, 20.