Rev War-Era Archive Related to Samuel Holten, MA Statesman & Delegate to the Continental Congress

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Collection of 23 papers related to Samuel Holten (1738-1816) spanning from 1751-1814, including: land deeds, requests to pay debts, notes to Holten concerning legal cases, receipts, documents signed and written by Holten, and more.

Physician by trade and politician by passion, Samuel Holten was a zealous Whig who dedicated his life to public service. He began his political career serving as a member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress from 1774 to 1775 and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety in 1775. A curious portion of a document in the lot simply labeled A draft concerning grievances reads:

The King of Britain is our Sovereign, we bear true allegiance to him and are pleading for his just [illegible] expecting the colonies- That part of the government of the colonies, which of right belongs to the crown ought to be unrestrained and free from every their check but what arises from that share of the Government which our own Houses of Assembly hold of exercise by charter, and should be left to the free exercise of all that [illegible] granted to them by charter there would be no danger of Indepency on the crown. Our charter gives great Power to the crown in its Representative fully sufficient to alliance analogous to the [illegible] all the Liberty privileges reserved to the People--not alaw can pass not a penny of public money can be raised or disposed of by his consent, and should any act of assembly that may be disagreeable to the King accidentally obtain the Governor's consent it may be annuled in time three years by the King. The government has appointment of all executive officers with the Consult of council and solely all of the military officers. He has a negative upon the choice of counsellors, upon the speaker of the House and upon the few civil officers, that are chosen by both Houses,….

The document is not in Holten’s hand. However, an annotation on the margin of the document appears to be written by him. His annotation suggests that another individual drafted the proposal and either sent or gave it to Holten to review. The draft of grievances was most likely produced for either the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Massachusetts Committee of Safety, or at a local Town Meeting prior to the American Revolutionary War. For entire document, please go to

On May 20, 1774 the Parliament of Great Britain passed the Massachusetts Government Act and revoked the Massachusetts Charter of 1691. The 1691 Charter established English rule of the colony by appointing a governor, deputy governor and secretary, to be elected by members of the council. It rescinded many of its rights of self-government previously enjoyed by Massachusetts and Plymouth authorities by moving power from elected officials to royally appointed governors. By annulling the charter, the crown reduced Boston to a crown colony, installing a military government and forbidding unapproved town meetings. The charter mentioned in the document is most likely the Massachusetts Charter of 1691. Unable to tolerate the oppression from the crown, Massachusetts men organized the Massachusetts Provincial Congress to discuss whether or not they should rebel. Headed by its President John Hancock, it began meeting in secret on October 7, 1774. Other members of the body included Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and Samuel Holten. Prior to the first meeting, on October 4, 1774, the people of Worcester elected Thomas Bigelow as their representative for the Provincial Congress.

Holten acted as a representative for Massachusetts for the Continental Congress from 1778-1780, 1783-1785, and 1787. During his terms, he signed the Articles of Confederation and acted as its president pro tempore in August 1785. He held many other important political positions at the state level. On May 27, 1796 the first Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, John Avery Jr., wrote to him, Agreeable to the directions of the two branches of the Legislature I have to inform your Honor that you have been elected by them a Counsellor to advise the Governor in the executive part of Government the ensuing year (Boston, May 27, 1796). That same year, he was elected judge in Essex County Probate Court. He kept that position until old age forced him to resign. Holten left the bench in 1815. He died at the beginning of the next year, January 2, 1816, at the age of 77.

The documents in the lot relate to Holten's long life of public service and personal life. For a more complete listing, please go to

Provenance: N. Flayderman and Co., Inc.

Condition: Range in condition, most have folds and toning but the ink remains dark and legible. There are some brittle folds and edges on some of the documents.

EST $ 1000 - 1500

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This item is part of Historic Firearms & Militaria 2-Day Live Auction
 Wednesday, Nov 2, 2016 | 10:00 AM  Eastern
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Rev War-Era Archive Related to Samuel Holten, MA Statesman & Delegate to the Continental Congress
Rev War-Era Archive Related to Samuel Holten, MA Statesman & Delegate to the Continental Congress
Lot number: 3
Seller: Cowan's Auctions
Event: Historic Firearms & Militaria 2-Day Live Auction
Ends: Wednesday, November 2 | 10:00 AM  Eastern

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