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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 19 of 53, May - July 1775

of Philadelphia, now of Delaware. This Gentleman had been appointed a Member of Congress by the Legislature of Pensilvania about a Week before the Close of the Congress of 1774 and now in 1775 made his Appearance again at the Opening of the Congress of 1775. The Quaker and Proprietary Interests in Pennsilvania now addressed themselves to Mr. Dickinson, who as well as his Wife were Quakers, and in various Ways stimulated him to oppose my designs and the Independence of the Country: and they succeeded so well that they made him although they could not finally prevent any one of my Measures from being carried into compleat Execution, they made him and his Cousin Charles Thompson, and many others of their Friends, my Ennemies from that time to this 2 April 1805. Hence one of the most considerable Causes of Mr. Jeffersons Success in 1801. In some of the earlier deliberations in Congress in May 1775, after I had reasoned at some Length on my own Plan, Mr. John Rutledge in more than one public Speech, approved of my Sentiments and the other Delegates from that State Mr. Lynch,Mr. Gadsden and Mr. Edward Rutledge appeared to me to be of the same Mind. Mr. Dickinson himself told me afterwards, that when We first came together, the Ballance lay with South Carolina. Accordingly all their Efforts were employed, to convert the Delegates from that State. Mr. Charles Thompson, who was then rather inclined [to] our Side of the Question, told me, that the Quakers had intimidated Mr. Dickinsons Mother, and his Wife, who were continually distressing him with their remonstrances. His Mother said to him "Johnny you will be hanged, your Estate will be forfeited and confiscated, you will leave your Excellent Wife a Widow and your charming Children Orphans, Beggars and infamous." From my Soul I pitied Mr. Dickinson. I made his case my own. If my Mother and my Wife had expressed such Sentiments to me, I was certain, that if they did not wholly unman me and make me an Apostate, they would make me the most miserable Man alive. I was very happy that my Mother and my Wife and my Brothers, My Wifes Father and Mother, and Grandfather Col. John Quincy and his Lady, Mr. Norton Quincy, Dr. Tufts, Mr. Cranch and all

her near Relations as well as mine, had uniformly been of my Mind, so that I always enjoyed perfect Peace at home. . . . The Proprietary Gentlemen, Israel Pemberton and other principal Quakers, now united with Mr. Dickenson, addressed themselves with great Art and Assiduity to all the Members of Congress whom they could influence, even to some of the Delegates of Massachusetts: but most of all to the Delegates from South Carolina. Mr. Lynch had been an old Acquaintance of the Penn Family particularly of the Governor. Mr. Edward Rutledge had brought his Lady with him, a Daughter of our former President Middleton. Mr. Arthur Middleton her Brother was now a Delegate in place of his Father. The Lady and the Gentlemen were invited to all Parties and were visited perpetually by the Party, and We soon began to find that Mr. Lynch, Mr. Arthur Middleton, and even the two Rutledges, began to waver and to clamour about Independence. Mr. Gadsden was either, from despair of success, never attempted: or if he was he received no impression from them. I became the dread and terror and Abhorrence of the Party. But all this I held in great contempt. Arthur Middleton became the Hero of Quaker and Proprietary Politicks in Congress. He had little Information and less Argument: in rudeness and Sarcasm his fort lay, and he played off this Artillery without reserve. I made it a rule to return him a Rowland for every Oliver, so that he never got and I never lost any thing from these Rencounters. We soon parted never to see each other more, I believe without a Spark of malice on either Side: for he was an honest and generous fellow with all his Zeal in this cause. The Party made me as unpopular as they could, among all their connections, but I regarded none of these Things. I knew and lamented that many of these Gentlemen, of great Property, high in Office, and of good Accomplishments, were laying the foundations, not of any Injury to me, but of their own ruin, and it was not in my Power to prevent it. When the Party had prepared the Members of Congress, for their purpose, and indeed had made no small impression on three of my own Colleagues,

Mr. Dickinson made or procured to be made a Motion for a second AddressPetition to the King to be sent by Mr. Richard Penn, who was then bound on a Voyage to England. I was The Motion was introduced and supported by long Speeches. I was opposed to it, of course; and made an Opposition to it, in Ans as long a Speech as I commonly made, not having ever been remarkable for very long Harrangues, in Answer to all the Arguments which had been urged. When I satt down, Mr. John Sullivan arose, and began to argue on the same side with me, in a strain of Wit, Reasoning and fluency which allthough he was always fluent, exceeded every Thing I had ever heard from him before. I was much delighted and Mr. Dickinson very much terrified at what he said and began to tremble for his Cause. At this moment I was called out to the State house Yard, very much to my regret, to some one who had business with me. I took my hat and went out of the Door of Congress Hall: Mr. Dickinson observed me and darted out after me. He broke out upon me in a most abrupt and extraordinary manner. In as violent a passion as he was capable of feeling, and with an Air, Countenance and Gestures as rough and haughty as if I had been a School Boy and he the Master, he vociferated out, "What is the Reason Mr. Adams, that you New Englandmen oppose our Measures of Reconciliation. There now is Sullivan in a long Harrangue following you, in a determined Opposition to our Petition to the King. Look Ye! If you dont concur with Us, in our pacific System, I, and a Number of Us, will break off, from youin New England, and We will carry on the Opposition by ourselves in our own Way." I own I was shocked with this Magisterial Salutation. I knew of no Pretensions Mr. Dickenson had, to dictate to me more that I had to catechise him. I was however as it happened, at that moment, in a very happy temper, and I answered him very coolly. "Mr. Dickenson, there are many Things that I can very chearfully sacrifice to Harmony and even to Unanimity: but I am not to be threatened into an express Adoption or Approbation of Measures which my judgment reprobates. Con

must judge, and if they pronounce against me, I must submit, as if they determine against You, You ought to acquiesce. . . ." These were the last Words which ever passed between Mr. Dickinson and me in private. We continued to debate in Congress upon all questions publickly, with all our usual Candor and good humour. But the Friendship and Acquaintance was lost forever by an unfortunate Accident, which must now be explained. The more I reflected on Mr. Dickinsons rude Lecture in the State house Yard the more I was vexed with it, and the determination of Congress, in favour of the Petition, did not allay the irritation. A young Gentleman from Boston, Mr. Hitchbourne, whom I had known as a Clerk in Mr. Fitch's office, but with whom I had no Particular connection or Acquaintance, had been for some days soliciting me, to give him Letters to my Friends in the Massachusetts. I was so much engaged in the Business of Congress in the day time and in consultations with the Members on Evenings and Mornings that I could not find time to write a Line. He came to me at last and said he was immediately to sett off, on his journey home, and begged I would give him some Letters. I told him I had not been able to write any. He prayed I would write if it were only a Line to my Family, for he said, as he had served his Clerkship with Mr. Fitch he was suspected and represented as a Tory, and this Reputation would be his ruin, if it could not [be] corrected, for nobody would employ him at the Bar. If I would only give him, the slightest Letters to any of my Friends, it would give him the Appearance of having my Confidence, and would assist him in acquiring what he truly deserved the Character of a Whigg. To get rid of his importunity, I took my Penn, and wrote a very few Lines to my Wife and about an equal Number to General James Warren. Irritated with the Unpoliteness of Mr. Dickinson and more mortified with his Success in Congress, I wrote something like what has been published. But not exactly. The British Printers made it worse, than it was in the Original.

Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 19 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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