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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 18 of 53, September 1774 - May 1775

as religious and Consciencious as the People of Pensylvania: that their Consciences dictated to them that it was their duty to support those Laws and therefore the very Liberty of Conscience which Mr. Pemberton invoked, would demand indulgence for the tender Consciences of the People of Massachusetts, and allow them to preserve their Laws. That it might be depended on, this was a Point that could not be carried: that I would not deceive them by insinuating the faintest hope, for I knew they might as well turn the heavenly Bodies out of their annual And diurnal Courses as the People of Massachusetts at the present day from their Meeting House and Sunday Laws. -- Pemberton made no Reply but this, Oh! Sir pray dont urge Liberty of Conscience in favour of such Laws! -- If I had known the particular complaints, which were to be alledged, and if Pemberton had not broke irregularly into the Midst of Things, it might have been better perhaps to have postponed this declaration. However the Gentlemen proceeded and stated the particular Cases of Oppression, which were alledged in our General and executive Courts. It happened this that Mr. Cushing and Mr. AdSamuel Adams had been present in the General Court, when the Petitions had been under deliberation, and they explained the whole so clearly that every reasonable Man must have been satisfied. Mr. Paine and myself had been concerned at the Bar in every Action in the executive Courts which was complained of, and We explained them all to the entire Satisfaction of impartial Men: and shewed that there had been no Oppression or injustice in any of them. The Quakers were not generally and heartily in our Cause, they were jealous of Independence, they were then suspicious and soon afterwards became assured, that the Massachusetts Delegates and especially John Adams, were Advocates

for that Obxious Measure, and they conceived prejudices, which were soon increased and artfully inflamed, and are not yet worn out. In some of the late Elections for President, some of the Quakers were heard to say "Friend, the must know that We dont much affect the Name of Adams." This Sentiment was not however Universal nor General, for I have had Opportunities to know that great Numbers of the Friends in all parts of the Continent, were warmly attached to me, both when I was Vice President and President. I left Congress and Philadelphia in October 1774, with a Reputation, much higher than ever I enjoyed before or since.
Upon our Return to Massachusetts, I found myself elected by the Town of Braintree into the provincial Congress, and attended that Service as long as it sat. About this time, Drapers Paper in Boston swarmed with Writers, and among an immense quantity of meaner productions appeared a Writer under the Signature of Massachusettensis, suspected but never that I knew ascertained to be written by two of my old Friends Jonathan Sewall and Daniel Leonard. These Papers were well written, abounded with Wit, discovered good Information, and were conducted with a Subtlety of Address Art and Address, wonderfully calculated to keep Up the Spirits of their Party, to depress ours,and to spread intimidation and to make Proselytes among those, whose Principles and judgment give Way to their fears, and these compose at least one third of Mankind. Week after Week passed away, and these Papers made a very visible impression on many Mind. No Answer appeared, and indeed, some who were capable, were too busy and others too timorous. I began at length to think seriously of the Consequences and began to write, under the Signature of Novanglus, and continued every Week, in the Boston Gazette, till the 19th. of April 1775. The last Number was prevented from impression, by the Commencement of Hostilities, and Mr. Gill gave it to judge William Cushing, who now has it in Manuscript. An Abridgment of the printed Numbers was made by some one in England unknown to me, and published in a Supplement to Almons Remembrancer for

the Year 1775 under the Title of Prior Documents, and afterwards reprinted in a Pamphlet in 1783 under the Title of History of the Dispute with America. In New England they had the Effect of an Antidote to the Poison of Massachusettinsis: and the Battle of Lexington on the 19th of April, changed the Instruments of Warfare from the Penn to the Sword. A few days after this Event I rode to Cambridge where I saw General Ward, General Heath, General Joseph Warren, and the New England Army. There was great Confusion and much distress: Artillery, Arms, Cloathing were wanting and a sufficient Supply of Provisions not easily obtained. Neither the officers nor Men however wanted Spirits or Resolution. I rode from thence to Lexington and along the Scene of Action for many miles and enquired of the Inhabitants, the Circumstances. These were not calculated to diminish my Ardour in the Cause. They on the Contrary convinced me that the Die was cast, the Rubicon passed, and as Lord Mansfield expressed it in Parliament, if We did not defend ourselves they would kill Us. On my Return home I was seized with a fever, attended with allarming Symptoms: but the time was come to repair to [illegible] Philadelphia to Congress which was to meet on the fifth of May. I was determined to go as far as I could, and instead [of] venturing on horseback as I had intended, I got into a Sulkey attended by a Servant on horseback and proceeded on the journey. This Year Mr. Hancock was added to our Number: I overtook my Colleagues before they reached New York. At Kingsbridge We were met by a great Number of Gentlemen in Carriages and on horseback, and all the Way their Numbers increased till I thought the whole City was come out to meet Us. The same Ardour was continued all the Way to Philadelphia.
Congress assembled and proceeded to Business, and the Members appeared to me to be of one Mind, and that mind after my own heart. I dreaded the danger of disunion and divisions among Us, and much more among the People. It appeared to me, that all Petitions, Remonstrances and Negotiations, for the future would be fruitless and only occasion a Loss of time and give Opportunity to the Ennemy to sow divisions among the States and the People. My heart bled for the poor People of Boston, imprisoned within the Walls of their City by a British Army, and We knew not to what Plunder or Massacres or Cruelties they might be exposed. I thought the first Step should ought to be, to recommend to the People of every State in the Union, to Seize on all the Crown Officers, and hold them with civility,

Humanity and Generosity, as Hostages for the Security of the People of Boston and to be exchanged for them as soon as the British Army would release them. That We ought to recommend to the People of all the States to institute Governments for themselves, under their own Authority, and that, without Loss of Time. That We ought to declare the Colonies, free, Sovereign and independent States, and then to inform Great Britain We were willing to enter into Negotiations with them for the redress of all Grievances, and a restoration of Harmony between the two Countries, upon permanent Principles. All this I thought might be done before We entered into any Connections, Alliances or Negotiations with forreign Powers. I was also for informing Great Britain very frankly that hitherto we were free but if the War should be continued, We were determined to seek Alliances in with France,Spain and any other Power of Europe, that would contract with Us. That We ought immediately to adopt the Army in Cambridge as a Continental Army, to Appoint a General and all other Officers, take upon ourselves the Pay, Subsistence,Cloathing, Armour and Munitions of the Troops. This is a concise Sketch of the Plan, which I thought the only reasonable one, and from Conversation with the Members of Congress, I was then convinced, and have been ever since convinced, that it was the General Sense, at least of a considerable Majority of that Body. This System of Measures I publicly and privately avowed, without Reserve.
The Gentlemen in Pensilvania, who had been attached to the Proprietary Interest and owed their Wealth and Honours to it, and the Great Body of the Quakers, had hitherto acquiesced in the Measures of the Colonies, or at least had made no professed opposition to them; many of both descriptions had declared themselves with Us and had been as explicit and as ardent as We were. . . . But now these People began to see that Independence was approaching they started back. In some of my public Harrangues in which I had freely and explicitly laid open my Thoughts, on looking round the Assembly, I have seen horror, terror and detestation, strongly marked on the Countenances of some of the Members, whose names I could readily recollect, but as some of them have been good Citizens since and others went over afterwards to the English I think it unnecessary to record them here. There is One Gentleman however whom I must mention in Self Defence, I mean Mr. John Dickinson then

Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 18 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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