At a time when some of our sea-port Towns are cruelly and wantonly laid in ashes, and ruin and devastation denounced against others; when the arms are demanded of the inhabitants, and hostages required, in effect, to surrender their liberties; when General Howe, by proclamation, under the threat of military execution, has forbid the inhabitants of Boston to leave the Town, without his permission first had and obtained in writing...it is evident that the most tyrannical and cruel system is adopted, for the destruction of the rights and liberties of this Continent, that ever disgraced the most despotick Ministry, and ought to be opposed by every means in our power.
I therefore desire that you will delay no time in causing the seizure of every officer of Government at Portsmouth who have given pregnant proofs of their unfriendly disposition to the cause we are engaged in; and when you have seized them, take the opinion of the Provincial Congress or Committee of Safety in what manner to dispose of them in that Government. I do not mean that they should be kept in close confinement. If either of those bodies should incline to send them to any of the interior Towns, upon their parole not to leave them till released, it will meet with my concurrence.
For the present I shall avoid giving you the like order in respect to the tories in Portsmouth; but the day is not far off when they will meet with this or a worse fate, if there is not considerable reformation in their conduct. Of this they may be assured.
Sir, your most obedient servant,