John Adams

The Beginning
of the
Movement
toward Independence
of the
United States

Quincy, Mass., 9 March 1809, to Jedediah Morse

"The Writ of Assistance ought to be distinctly marked as the first Proof of a design in the Government of Great Britain to tax the Colonies, and of the Resolution of the People of America to resist such Taxation. That Argument convinced me that Great Britain was setting up a Claim that She never would abandon and the Colonies were commencing an opposition in which they would forever persevere, and that the Consequence must be Sooner or later a separation of the two Countries."

"We shall never hear the last of this."

The "Writs of Assistance" eliminated the need for a specific search warrant. The purpose was a surprise search of a merchant's records to determine if he were cheating on the amount of taxes due. Moreover, the courts of appeal were located in Halifax and were not a jury of American peers but, instead, no jury … only a set of biased English judges.