ABSTRACT

Thomas Hutchinson served as acting governor for nearly two years before becoming governor in his own right. He was still in that interim position at the time of the massacre. It is as much a commentary on historical memory as on Hutchinson that he is normally thought of only in connection with executive power, because he began his political career in the Massachusetts House. But that was in the 1730s, when he was a young man. He was nearing sixty at the time of the massacre and had become a lightning rod for controversy, like Bernard before him. If that hardly seems fair for a native son of Massachusetts who always considered himself as loyal to the colony as he was to the empire, he knowingly chose the wrong side in the imperial dispute: knowingly, in that he could see that he was out of step with political leaders in both town and province; wrong, in that his view could be sustained only by a London unwilling, perhaps even incapable, of doing what needed to be done for him to prevail.38