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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive
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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 35 of 53, 11 April - 16 May 1776


Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to enquire into the Truth of the Report respecting Governor Tryons exacting an Oath from Persons going by the Packet, and to ascertain the Fact, by Affidavits taken before a Chief justice, or other Chief Magistrate. The Members chosen Mr. Jay,Mr. Wythe and Mr. Wilson. This helped forward our designs a little.
Resolved That it be recommended to the several Assemblies, Conventions and Committees or Councils of Safety of the United Colonies, to Use their best Endeavours in communicating to foreign nations, the Resolutions of Congress relative to Trade. -- This also was a considerable Advance. But it would now be scarcely credited if I were to relate the Struggle it cost Us to obtain every one of these Resolutions.
No Committee of the whole.
No Committee of the whole. April 15. No Committee of the whole.
Whereas Information has been this day laid before Congress, from which there is great reason to believe that Robert Eden Esq. Governor of Maryland, has lately carried on a Correspondence with the British Ministry highly dangerous to the Liberties of America:
Resolved therefore that the Council of Safety of Maryland be earnestly requested immediately to cause the Person and Papers of Governor Eden to be seized and secured, and such of the Papers as relate to the American dispute, without delay conveyed safely to Congress: and that Copies of the intercepted Letters from the Secretary of State be inclosed to the said council of Safety. A similar Resolution relative to Alexander Ross and his Papers. No Committee of the whole.
No Committee of the whole.
Resolved that a Committee of seven be appointed to examine and ascertain the Value of the several Species of Gold Coins and Silver Coins current in these Colonies, and the Proportions they ought to bear to Spanish milled Dollars. Members chosen Mr. Duane, Mr. Wythe,Mr. John Adams, Mr. Sherman,Mr. Hewes,Mr. Johnson and Mr. Whipple.
The Committee to whom General Washingtons Letter of the 15th. instant, as well as other Letters were referred brought in their report, which being taken into Consideration, was agreed to whereupon resolved -- See the Journal.
One Resolution was that the Resignation of James Warren, as Paymaster General of the Army be Accepted. -- This Gentleman had been appointed at my Solicitation. Mr. Samuel Adams and Mr. Gerry concurring. Our other Colleagues notwithstanding.


The Committee to whom were referred the Letter from General Washington of the 4th and the Letter from General Schuyler of the second of this month, brought in their report. Adjourned to Monday.
A Letter from the Canada Commissioners, one from General Washington of the 19th, one from General Schuyler,inclosing sundry Letters and Papers from Canada, and one from the Committee of Inspection of West Augusta with sundry Papers inclosed, were referred to Mr. R. H. Lee, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Jay, Mr. Braxton and Mr. Johnson.
The Committee to whom the Letters from General Washington, General Schuyler and the Letters from Canada &c. were referred brought in their report.
Mr. Thomas Heywood [Heyward] Junr.Esqr. a new Member from Carolina, and an excellent one, appeared in Congress from South Carolina. On him We could always depend for sound Measures, though he seldom spoke in public. Thomas Lynch Junr.Esqr. also appeared.
Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, but came to no resolutions.
Two Letters from General Washington of the 22 and 23 were referred to Mr.R. H. L. [Lee],Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Hewes. Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration the Letter from General Washington of the 27th. of March last and the Papers therein enclosed, butMr. Harrison reportedno Resolution that the Committee had come to a Resolution, on the matters referred to them, which he read and delivered in. Report read again and postponed.
Postponed.Ditto.
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Report of the Committee on General Washingtons Letter of the 19 and came to sundry Resolutions which may be seen in the Journal.
Congress took into Consideration the Report of the Committee on General Washingtons Letter of the 24 of March, whereupon resolved as in the Journal. Of some importance but nothing to the great Objects still kept out of Sight.


The Delegates from New Jersey having laid before Congress a number of Bills counterfeited to imitate the continental Bills of Credit
Resolved that a Committee of six be appointed to consider of this matter and report thereon to Congress.
The Members chosen Mr. W. Livingston, Mr. McKean, Mr. Sherman, Mr. J. Adams,Mr. Braxton and Mr. Duane. Adjourned to Thursday.
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Report of the Committee on General Washingtons Letter of the 24 of March last and after debate
Resolved That it be recommitted; and as the members of the former committee are Absent, that a new committee be appointed. The Members chosen Mr. Dickinson, Mr. W. Livingston and Mr. Rutledge. The Recommitment and the names of the new Committee shew the design.
A Petition from Peter Simon was presented to Congress and read. Ordered that it be referred to a Committee of three. The Members chosen Mr. McKean, Mr. Wythe and Mr. J. Adams.
The Committee to whom the Report on General Washingtons Letter of the 24. of March last was recommitted, brought in their report which was read. Ordered to lie on the Table.
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Report on General Washingtons Letter of the 24th. of March, and thereupon came to the following resolution:
Whereas General Washington has requested directions concerning the Conduct that should be observed towards Commissioners said to be coming from Great Britain to America
Resolved That General Washington be informed that Congress suppose if commissioners are intended to be sent from Great Britain to treat of peace, that the practice usual in such cases will be observed, by making previous Application for the necessary Passports or Safe Conduct, and on such Application being made, Congress will then direct the proper measures for the Reception of such Commissioners.
It will be observed how long this trifling Business had been depending, but it cannot be known from the Journal how much debate it had occasioned,and or how much time it had consumed. It was one of those delusive Contrivances by which the Party in Opposition to Us

endeavoured, by lulling the People with idle hopes of Reconciliation, into Security, to turn their hearts and thoughts from Independence. They endeavoured to insert in the Resolution, Ideas of Reconciliation, We carried our point for inserting Peace. They wanted Powers to be given to the General to receive the Commissioners in Ceremony. We ordered nothing to be done till We were solicited for Pasports. Upon the whole We avoided the Snare and brought the Controversy to a close, with some dignity. But it will never be known how much labour it cost Us, to accomplish it.
Then a Committee of the whole on the State of the Colonies: Mr. Harrison reported sundry Resolutions, which as they stand on the Journal will shew the Art and Skill with which the Generals Letters, Indian Affairs, Revenue Matters, Naval Arrangements and twenty other Things, many of them very trivial, were mixed, in these Committees of the whole, with the Great Subjects of Government, Independence and Commerce. Little Things were designedly thrown in the Way of Great Ones. And the Time consumed upon trifles which ought to have been consecrated to higher Interests. We could only harrangue against the misapplication of time, and harrangues consumed more time: so that We could only now and thensnatch a transient Glance at the promised Land.
The Instructions from the Naval Committee to Commodore Hopkins being laid before Congress and read:
Ordered That they be referred to a Committee of seven, and that it be an Instruction to that Committee to enquire how far Commodore Hopkins has complied with the said Instructions, and if upon Inquiry they shall find that he has departed therefrom, to examine into the Occasion thereof; also to inquire into the Situation of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Providence and the other Officers brought from thence, and report what in their Opinion is proper to be done with them. That the said Committee have power to send for Witnesses and Papers. The Members chosen Mr. Harrison Mr. J. Adams,Mr. McKean, Mr. Duane,Mr. Lynch, Mr. Sherman and Mr. W. Livingston.


There were three Persons at this time, who were a standing Subject of Altercation in Congress. General Wooster, Commodore Hopkins and a Mr. Wrixon. I never could discover any reason for the Bitterness against Wooster, but his being a New England man: nor for that against Hopkins but that he had done too much: nor for that against Wrixon, but his being patronized by Mr. Samuel Adams and Mr. R. H. Lee. Be it as it may, these three consumed an immense quantity of time and kept up the Passions of the Parties to a great hight. One design was to divert us from our main Object.
A Committee of the whole, Mr. Harrison report no resolution. Leave to sit again.
A Committee of the whole: Mr. Harrison reported a Resolution, which he read and delivered in.
The Resolution of the Committee of the whole was again read, and the determination thereof, at the Request of a Colony was postponed till tomorrow.
Congress resumed the Consideration of the Resolution reported from the Committee of the whole, and the same was agreed to as follows:
Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective Assemblies and Conventions of the United Colonies, where no Government sufficient to the Exigencies of their Affairs, hath been hitherto established, to adopt such Government as shall in the Opinion of the Representatives of the People best conduce to the Happiness and Safety of their Constituents in particular, and America in general.
Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to prepare a Preamble to the foregoing Resolution. The Members chosen Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Rutledge and Mr. Richard Henry Lee.
Marshall in his Life of Washington says this Resolution was moved by R. H. Lee and seconded by J. Adams. It was brought before the Committee of the whole House, in concert between Mr. R. H. Lee and me, and I suppose General Washington was informed of it by

Mr. Harrison the Chairman or some other of his Correspondents: but nothing of this Appears upon the Journal. It is carefully concealed like many other Things relative to the greatest Affairs of the Nation which were before Congress in that Year.
This Resolution I considered as an Epocha, a decisive Event. It was a measure which I had invariably pursued for a whole Year, and contended for, through a Sc ne and a Series of Anxiety, labour, Study, Argument, and Obloquy, which was then little known and is now forgotten, by all but Dr. Rush and a very few who like him survive. Millions of Curses were poured out upon me, for these Exertions and for these Tryumphs over them, by the Essex Juntoes, for there were such at that time and have continued to this day in every State in the Union; who whatever their pretences may have been have never forgotten nor cordially forgiven me. By this Term which is now become vulgarly and politically technical, I mean, not the Tories, for from them I received always more candour, but a class of People who thought proper and convenient to themselves to go along with the Public Opinion in Appearance, though in their hearts they detested it. Although they might think the public opinion was right in General, in its difference with G. Britain, yet they secretly regretted the Seperation, and above all Things the Connection with France. Such a Party has always existed and was the final Ruin of the Federal Administration as will hereafter very plainly appear.
A Committee of the whole again. Mr. Harrison reported no Resolution. I mention these Committees to shew how all these great questions laboured. Day after day consumed in debates without any Conclusion.
A Petition from John Jacobs in behalf of himself and others was presented to Congress and read. Ordered that it be referred to a Committee of three. The Members chosen Mr. John Adams,Mr. Lee and Mr. Rutledge.
A Committee of the whole. Mr. Harrison reported no Resolution. This days Journal of this Committee shews, with what Art other matters were referred to these Committees of the whole, in order to retard and embarrass the great questions.


Sundry Petitions were presented to Congress and read, viz. one from Dr. Benjamin Church, and one from Benjamin,Samuel and Edward Church, with a Certificate from three Physicians respecting the health of Dr. B. Church. Here I am compelled, much against my Inclination to record a Fact, which if it were not necessary to explain some things I should rather have concealed. When this Petition was before Congress, Mr. Samuel Adams said something, which I thought I confess too favourable to Dr. Church. I cannot recollect that I said any Thing against him. As it lies upon my Mind I was silent. Mr. Hancock was President, and Mr. Harrison Chairman of the Committee of the whole and a constant confidential Correspondent of General Washington.Neither of them friendly to me. I cannot suspect Mr. Samuel Adams of writing or insinuating any Thing against me to the Friends of Dr. Church, at that time. But Mr. Samuel Adams told me that Dr. Church and Dr. Warren, had composed Mr. Hancocks oration on the fifth of March, which was so celebrated, more than two thirds of it at least. Mr. Hancock was most certainly not friendly to me at that time, and he might think himself in the Power of Dr. Church. When Mr. Edward Church printed his poetical Libel against me at New York in 1789 or 1790, I was told by an Acquaintance of his that he was full of Prejudices against me on Account of Dr. Church his Brother. I leave others to conjecture how he came by them. I know of no other Way to account for his Virulence, and his Cousin Dr. Jarvis's Virulence against me, having never injured or offended any of them. Misrepresentation at that day was a Pestilence that walked in darkness. In more modern times it has stalked abroad with more impudence at Noon day.
A Letter of the 11th. from General Washington inclosing sundry Papers; a Letter of the 3d from General Schuyler; and a Letter of the 9th. from Daniel Robertson were readlaid before Congress and read. Resolved that they be referred to a Committee of three. The Members chosen Mr. W. Livingston,Mr. Jefferson and Mr. John Adams.
William Ellery Esqr. appeared a Delegate from Rhode Island, in the place of Governor Ward, and being an excellent Member, fully supplied his place.


The Committee appointed to prepare a Preamble, thought it not necessary to be very elaborate, and Mr. Lee and Mr. Rutledge desired me as Chairman to draw something very short which I did and with their Approbation.
reported the following which was agreed to
Whereas his Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the Lords and Commons of Great Britain, has, by a late Act of Parliament, excluded the Inhabitants of these united Colonies from the Protection of his Crown; and whereas no Answer whatever to the humble Petitions of the Colonies for redress of Grievances and reconciliation with Great Britain has been or is likely to be given, but the whole force of that Kingdom aided by foreign Mercenaries is to be exerted for the destruction of the good People of these Colonies; and whereas it appears absolutely irreconcileable to reason, and good Conscience, for the People of these Colonies now to take the Oaths and Affirmations necessary for the support of any Government under the Crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the Exercise of every kind of Authority under the said Crown should be totally suppressed, and all the Powers of Government exerted under the Authority of the People of the Colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, Virtue and good order, as well as for the defence of their Lives, Liberties and Properties against the hostile Invasions and cruel depredations of their Ennemies; therefore
Resolved That it be recommended to the respective Assemblies and Conventions of the United Colonies, where no Government sufficient to the Exigencies of their affairs hath been hitherto established, to adopt such Government as shall in the Opinion of the Representatives of the People best conduce to the happiness and Safety of their Constituents in particular and America in General.
Ordered that the said Preamble, with the Resolution passed the 10th. instant, be published. -- Mr. Duane called it, to me, a Machine for the fabrication of Independence. I said, smiling, I thought it was independence itself: but We must have it with more formality yet.
The following Letters were laid before Congress and read.


Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 35 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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