Title Page, Committee of Correspondence Account Book, 1776, Cambridge Committee of Correspondence Records (0130).
The Committees of Correspondence were organizations formed by colonial civic leaders prior to the American Revolution. They coordinated responses to England and shared their plans with each other. The committees rallied opposition to British authority and established plans for collective actions. In November 1772, Dr. Joseph Warren and Samuel Adams formed a committee in response to the Gaspée Affair and the British decision to pay the salaries of the royal governor from the Crown rather than by the colonial assembly, which removed the colony of it’s means to control public officials. The ideas of the committee in Boston would spread to other New England towns that set up their own committees, including Cambridge. Cambridge elected a committee on December 14, 1772, with its members: Capt. Samuel Whittemore, Capt. Ebenezer Stedman, Capt. Ephraim Frost, Capt. Eliphalet Robbins, Capt. Thomas Gardner, Joseph Wellington, Abraham Watson Jr., Nathaniel Sparhawk, and Samuel Thatcher Jr. The Committee was active in communicating with surrounding towns and coordinating efforts with townspeople to oppose British restrictions on their rights. In Nov. 1773, Cambridge met with other towns in Boston to jointly oppose the importation of tea, which resulted in the Boston Tea Party the following month. As the revolutionary crisis continued, Committees of Safety superseded Committees of Correspondence as they took control away control from royal officials.
This collection contains one 11”x 5” account book inscribed inside with “Committee of Correspondence, 1776”. The author is unknown. Within the book is handwritten entries regarding whose land was seized or forfeited by Loyalist Cambridge residents. On March 17, 1776, British soldiers set sail for Halifax leaving Boston and its environs with residents loyal to the Crown on board. Names included in the account book include the last Royal Lt. Gov. Thomas Oliver, Major William Brattle, Widow Vassall, and others. Each estate is given a monetary value, which was assigned to the Committee for their use. The proceeds from their forfeiture helped fund the American Revolution.