VOLUME 3 DUE FOR PUBLICATION IN MARCH 2013


The Papers of Francis Bernard, Governor of Colonial Massachusetts, 1760-69: Volume 3 (1766-67). Edited by Colin Nicolson. 6 vols. Boston: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts; distributed by the Univ. of Virginia Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9852543-1-5.

As governor of colonial Massachusetts between 1760 and 1769, Francis Bernard's main task was to shore up British imperialism during the first period of sustained American opposition to the authority of the King-in-Parliament. The documentary record of the middle years (1766 and 1767) of Bernard’s troubled administration reveals a governor at odds with his American charges and discomfited by the knowledge that his British  masters did not appreciate his predicament.

That he succeeded in persuading ministers of the weakness of imperial power had enormous ramifications for British-colonial relations. In Bernard’s correspondence of 1766 and 1767 historians will find explanations about two major causes of the Revolution. The first is why British policymakers were prepared to take a firmer line with the Americans and send British Regulars to Boston in 1768. The second is why many Americans convinced themselves that the British government was predisposed to ignore their aspirations and grievances. The Bernard Papers assists historians in negotiating these processes, whilst providing hard evidence of how British imperialism was itself negotiable in the decade before the War of Independence.

Volume 2, published 2012, details American opposition to the British Stamp Act during 1764 and 1765. It can be purchased from online stores or ordered direct from the distributors the University Press of Virginia, P.O. Box 400318, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4318, 1-800-831-3406, upressva@virginia.edu.

The Papers of Francis Bernard, Governor of Colonial Massachusetts, 1760-69: Volume 2 (1764-65). Edited by Colin Nicolson. 6 vols. Boston: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts; distributed by the Univ. of Virginia Press, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0979466298

 . . . The Stamp Act controversy was the beginning of a ten-year contest which radicalized the American colonists, leading them to question and then to challenge imperial authority. This is the process that we may label the Imperial Crisis, for at its zenith in 1775, it brought forth a revolutionary movement. An essential ingredient in that transformation, which has often been ignored, was the role of British imperial officials like Francis Bernard in alienating the colonists. Most other governors crumbled in the face of overwhelming resistance to the Stamp Act, but Bernard did not retreat gracefully, and fought and berated the colonial radicals most every step of the way. Bernard’s story is worth retelling, not only for its own sake but for it what it reveals about the lives and times of Britons and Americans caught up in one of History’s true turning points . . .