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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive
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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 17 of 53, September - October 1774


for retaining and insisting on it, The other great as a Resource to which We might be driven, by Parliament much sooner than We were aware. The other great question was what Authority We should conceed to Parliament: whether We should deny the Authority of Parliament in all Cases: whether We should allow any Authority to it, in our internal Affairs: or whether We should allow it to regulate the Trade of the Empire, with or without any restrictions. These discussions spun into great Length, and nothing was decided. After many fruitless Essays, The Committee determined to appoint a Sub committee, to make a draught of a Sett of Articles, that might be laid in Writing before the grand Committee and become the foundation of a more regular debate and final decision. I was appointed on the Subcommittee, in which after going over the ground again, a Sett of Articles were drawn and debated one by one. After several days deliberation, We agreed upon all the Articles excepting one, and that was the Authority of Parliament, which was indeed the Essence of the whole Controversy. Some were for a flatt denyal of all Authority: others for denying the Power of Taxation only. Some for denying internal but admitting [external] Taxation. After a multitude of Motions had [been] made, discussed [and] negatived, it seems as if We should never agree upon any Thing. Mr. John Rutledge of South Carolina, one of the Committee, addressing himself to me, was pleased to say "Adams We must agree upon Something: You appear to be as familiar with the Subject as any of Us, and I like your Expressions necessity of the Case and excluding all Ideas of Taxation external and internal. I have a great Opinion of that same Idea of the Necessity of the Case and I am determined against all taxation for revenue. Come take the Pen and see if you cant produce something that will unite Us." Some others of the Committee seconding Mr. Rutledge, I took a sheet of paper and drew up an Article. When it was read I believe not one of the Committee were fully satisfied with it, but they

all soon acknowledged that there was no hope of hitting on any thing, in which We could all agree with more Satisfaction. All therefore agreed to this, and upon this depended the Union of the Colonies. The Sub Committee reported their draught to the grand Committee, and another long debate ensued especially on this Article, and various changes and modifications of it were Attempted, but none adopted. The Articles were then reported to Congress, and debated Paragraph by Paragraph. The difficult Article was again attacked and defended. Congress rejected all Amendments to it, and the general Sense of the Members was that the Article demanded as little as could be demanded, and conceeded as much as could be conceeded with Safety, and certainly as little as would be accepted by Great Britain: and that the Country must take its fate, in consequence of it. When Congress had gone through the Articles, I was appointed to put them into form and report a fair Draught for their final Acceptance. This was done and they were finally accepted.
The Committee of Violations of Rights reported a sett of Articles which were drawn by Mr. John Sullivan of New Hampshire: andfrom These two Declarations, the one of Rights and the other of Violations, which are printed in the Journal of Congress for 1774, were two Years afterwards recapitulated in the Declaration of Independence in 177 on the fourth of July 1776. The Results of the Procedings of Congress for this Year remain in the Journals: and I shall not attempt any Account of the debates, nor of any thing of the share I took in them. I never wrote a Speech beforehand, either at the Bar or in any public Assembly, nor committed one to writing after it was delivered, and it would be idle to attempt a Recollection, of Arguments from day to day, through a whole session, at the distance of thirty Years. The Delegates from Massachusetts, representing the State in most immediate danger, were muchfrequent visited, not only by the members of Congress but

by all the Gentlemen in Phyladelphia and its neighbourhood, as well as Strangers and Occasional Travellers. We took Lodgings all together at the Stone House opposite the City Tavern then held by Mrs. Yard, which was by some Complimented with the Title of Head Quarters, but by Mr. Richard Henry Lee, more decently called Liberty Hall. We were much caressed and feasted by all the principal People, for the Allens, and Penns and others were then with Us, though afterwards some of them cooled and fell off, on the declaration of Independence. We were invited to Visit all the public Buildings and places of resort, and became pretty well acquainted with Men and things in Philadelphia.
There is an Anecdote, which ought not to be omitted, because it had Consequences of some moment, at the time, which have continued to operate for many Years and indeed are not yet worn out, though forgotten the cause is forgotten or rather was never generally known. Governor Hopkins and Governor Ward of Rhode Island came to our Lodgings, and said to Us, that President Manning of Rhode Island Colledge and Mr. Bachus [Backus] of Massachusetts were in Town, and had conversed with some Gentlemen in Philadelphia who wished to communicate to Us a little Business, and wished We would meet them at Six in the Evening at Carpenters Hall. Whether they explained their Affairs more particularly to any of my Colleagues I know not, but I had no Idea of the design. We all went at the hour, and to my great Surprize found the Hall almost full of People, and a great Number of Quakers seated at the long Table with their broad brimmed Beavers on their Heads. We were invited to Seats among them: and informed that they had received Complaints from some Anabaptists and some Friends in Massachusetts against certain Laws of that Province, restrictive of the Liberty of Conscience: and some Instances were mentioned in the General Court and in the Courts of justice, in which Friends and Baptists had been grievously oppressed. I know not how my Colleagues felt, but I own Iwas Some was greatly surprized and somewhat indignant, being like my

Friend Chase of a temper naturally quick and warm, at seeing our State and her Delegates thus summoned before a self created Trybunal, which was neither legal nor Constitutional.
Israel Pemberton a Quaker of large Property and more intrigue began to speak and said that Congress were here, endeavouring to form a Union of the Colonies: but there were difficulties in the Way, and none of more importance than Liberty of Conscience. The Laws of New England and particularly of Massachusetts, were inconsistent with it, for they not only compelled Men to pay to the Building of  [illegible Churches and Support of Ministers but to go to some known Religious Assembly on first days &c. and that he and his friends were desirous of engaging Us, to assure them that our State would repeal all those Laws, and place things as they were in Pennsylvania. A Suspicion instantly arose in my Mind, which I have ever believed to have been well founded, that this artfull Jesuit, for I was then had been before apprized of his Character, was endeavouring to avail himself of this opportunity, to break up the Congress, or at least to withdraw the Quakers and the Governing Part of Pensilvania from Us: for at that time by means of a most unequal Representation, the Quakers had a Majority in their House of Assembly and by Consequence the whole Power of the State in their hands. I arose and spoke in Answer to him. The Substance of what I said was, that We had no Authority to bind our Constituents to any such Proposals: that the Laws of Massachusetts, were the most mild and equitable Establishment of Religion that was known in the World, if indeed they could be called an Establishment: that it would be in vain for Us to enter into any Conferences on such a Subject, for We knew before hand our Constituents would disavow all We could do or say, for the Satisfaction of those who invited Us to this meeting. That the People of Massachusetts were


Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 17 of 53 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776. Part 1 is comprised of 53 sheets and 1 insertion; 210 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 3. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.
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