m. 24 Dec 1703
Facts and Events
Thomas Hutchinson (9 September 1711 – 3 June 1780) was a businessman, historian, and a prominent Loyalist politician of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in the years before the American Revolution. A successful merchant and politician, Hutchinson was active at high levels of the Massachusetts government for many years, serving as lieutenant governor and then governor from 1758 to 1774. He was a politically polarising figure who, despite initial opposition to Parliamentary tax laws directed at the colonies, came to be identified by John Adams and Samuel Adams as a proponent of hated British taxes. He was blamed by Lord North (the British Prime Minister at the time) for being a significant contributor to the tensions that led the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.
Hutchinson's Boston mansion was ransacked in 1765 during protests against the Stamp Act, damaging his collection of materials on early Massachusetts history. As acting governor in 1770 he exposed himself to mob attack in the aftermath of the Boston massacre, after which he ordered the removal of troops from Boston to Castle William. Letters of his calling for abridgement of colonial rights were published in 1773, further intensifying dislike of him in the colony. He was replaced as governor in May 1774 by General Thomas Gage, and went into exile in England, where he advised the government on how to deal with the Americans.
Hutchinson had a deep interest in colonial history, collecting a large number of historical documents. He wrote a three volume History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, whose last volume, published posthumously, covered his own period in office. Historian Bernard Bailyn wrote of Hutchinson, "If there was one person in America whose actions might have altered the outcome [of the protests and disputes preceding the American Revolutionary War], it was he." Scholars use Hutchinson's career to represent the tragic fate of the many Loyalists marginalized by their attachment to an outmoded imperial structure at a time when the modern nation-state was emerging. Paralysed by his conservative ideology and his dual loyalties to America and Britain, Hutchinson exemplifies the Loyalist-as-loser. He sacrificed his love for Massachusetts to his uncritical loyalty to Great Britain, where he spent his last years in unhappy exile.