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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive

John Adams diary 24, 15 September 1775 - 3 January 1776

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[The preceding text was added in the handwriting of Charles Francis Adams]

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Archibald Bullock and John Houstoun Esquires, and the Revd. Dr. Zubly, appear as Delegates from Georgia.
Dr. Zubly is a Native of Switzerland, and a Clergyman of the Independent Perswasion, settled in a Parish in Georgia. He speaks, as it is reported, Several Languages, English, Dutch, French, Latin &c. -- is reported to be a learned Man. He is a Man of a warm and zealous Spirit. It is said that he possesses considerable Property.
Houstoun is a young Gentleman, by Profession a Lawyer, educated under a Gentleman of Eminence in South Carolina. He seems to be sensible and spirited, but rather inexperienced.
Bullock is cloathed in American Manufacture.
Thomas Nelson Esquire, George Wythe Esqr., and Francis Lightfoot Lee Esq. appeared as Delegates from Virginia.
Nelson is a fat Man, like the late Coll. Lee of Marblehead. He is a Speaker, and alert and lively, for his Weight.
Wythe is a Lawyer, it is said of the first Eminence.
Lee is a Brother of Dr. Arthur, the late Sheriff of London, and our old Friend Richard Henry, sensible, and patriotic, as the rest of the Family.

Deane says, that two Persons, of the Name of De Witt of Dutch Extraction, one in Norwich the other in Windham, have made Salt Petre with Success -- and propose to make a great deal. That there is a Mine of Lead at Middletown, which will afford a great Quantity. That Works are preparing to smelt and refine it, which will go in a fortnight. There is a Mine at Northampton, which Mr. W. Bowdoin spent much Money in working, with much Effect, tho little Profit.
Langdon and Bartlett came in this Evening, from Portsmouth. 400 Men are building a Fort on Pierce's Island to defend the Town vs. Ships of War.
Upon recollecting the Debates of this Day in Congress, there appears to me a remarkable Want of judgment in some of our Members. Chace is violent and boisterous, asking his Pardon. He is tedious upon frivolous Points. So is E. Rutledge. Much precious Time is indiscreetly expended. Points of little Consequence are started, and debated [with] warmth. Rutledge is a very uncouth, and ungracefull Speaker. He shruggs his Shoulders, distorts his Body, nods and wriggles with his Head, and looks about

with his Eyes, from side to side, and Speaks thro his Nose, as the Yankees Sing. His Brother John dodges his Head too, rather disagreably, and both of them Spout out their Language in a rough and rapid Torrent, but without much Force or Effect.
Dyer is long winded and roundabout -- obscure and cloudy. Very talkative and very tedious, yet an honest, worthy Man, means and judges well.
Sherman's Air is the Reverse of Grace. There cannot be a more striking Contrast to beautifull Action, than the Motions of his Hands. Generally, he stands upright with his Hands before him. The fingers of his left Hand clenched into a Fist, and the Wrist of it, grasped with his right. But he has a clear Head and sound judgment. But when he moves a Hand, in any thing like Action, Hogarths Genuis could not have invented a Motion more opposite to grace. It is Stiffness, and Aukwardness itself. Rigid as Starched Linen or Buckram. Aukward as a junior Batchelor, or a Sophomore.
Mr. Dickinsons Air, Gate, and Action are not much more elegant.

Walking to the Statehouse this Morning, I met Mr. Dickinson, on Foot in Chesnut Street. We met, and passed near enough to touch Elbows. He passed without moving his Hat, or Head or Hand. I bowed and pulled off my Hat. He passed hautily by. The Cause of his Offence, is the Letter no doubt which Gage has printed in Drapers Paper.
I shall for the future pass him, in the same manner. But I was determined to make my Bow, that I might know his Temper.
We are not to be upon speaking Terms, nor bowing Terms, for the time to come.
This Evening had Conversation with Mr. Bullock of Georgia. -- I asked him, whether Georgia had a Charter? What was the Extent of the Province? What was their Constitution? How justice was ad ministered? Who was Chancellor, who Ordinary? and who judges?
He says they have County Courts for the Tryal of civil Causes under 8. -- and a C. [Chief] Justice, appointed from Home and 3 other judges appointed by the Governor, for the decision of all other Causes civil and criminal, at Savanna. That the Governor alone is both Chancellor and Ordinary.

Parson Gordon of Roxbury, spent the Evening here. -- I fear his indiscreet Prate will do harm in this City. He is an eternal Talker, and somewhat vain, and not accurate nor judicious. Very zealous in the Cause, and a well meaning Man, but incautious, and not sufficiently tender of the Character of our Province, upon which at this Time much depends. Fond of being thought a Man of Influence, at Head Quarters, and with our Council and House, and with the general Officers of the Army, and also with Gentlemen in this City, and other Colonies. -- He is a good Man, but wants a Guide.
Mr. Smith, Mr. Imlay and Mr. Hanson, breakfasted with us. Smith is an Englishman,Imlay and Hanson N. Yorkers.
Heard Sprout [Sproat], on 3 Tit. 5. Not by Works of Righteousness, which We have done, but according to his Mercy he saved us, through the Washing of Regeneration and the Renewing of the holy Ghost.
There is a great deal of Simplicity and Innocence in this worthy Man, but very little Elegance or Ingenuity. -- In Prayer, he hangs his Head in an Angle of 45 over his right Shoulder. In Sermon, which is delivered without Notes, he throws himself into

a Variety of indecent Postures. Bends his Body, Points his Fingers, and throws about his Arms, without any Rule or Meaning at all. He is totally destitute of the Genius and Eloquence of Duffil [Duffield], has no Imagination, No Passions, no Wit, and very little no Taste and very little Learning, but a great deal of Goodness of Heart.
This Morning John McPherson Esq. came to my Lodging, and requested to speak with me in Private. He is the Owner of a very handsome Country Seat, about five Miles out of this City: is the Father of Mr. McPherson, an Aid de Camp to General Schuyler. He has been a Captain of a Privateer, and made a Fortune in that Way the last War. Is reputed to be well skilled in naval Affairs. -- He proposes great Things. Is sanguine, confident, positive, that he can take or burn every Man of War, in America. -- It is a Secret he says. But he will communicate it to any one Member of Congress upon Condition, that it be not divulged during his Life at all, nor after his Death but for the Service of this Country. He says it is as certain as that he shall die, that he can burn any Ship.
In the afternoon Mr. S.A. and I made visit at Mrs. Bedfords to the Maryland Gentlemen. We found Paca and Chase and a polite Reception from

them. Chase is ever social and talkative. He seems in better Humour, than he was before the Adjournment. His Colony have acted with Spirit in Support of the Cause. They have formed themselves into a System and enjoyned an Association, if that is not an Absurdity.
This Morning Mr. Henry Hill with his Brother Nat. Barrett came to visit us.Paine introduced him to Mrs. Yard as one of the Poor of Boston. He is here with his Wife, on a Visit to her Brother. P. cries You H. Hill, what did you come here for? Who did you bring with you? ha! ha! ha!
Took a Walk in Company with Govr. Ward, Mr. Gadsden and his Son, and Mr. S. Adams, to a little Box in the Country, belonging to old Mr. Marshall, the father of three Sons who live in the City. A fine facetious old Gentleman, an excellent Whigg. There We drank Coffee. A fine Garden. A little Box of one Room. Very chearfull and good humoured.
The famous Partisan Major Rogers came to our Lodgings to make Us a Visit. He has been in Prison -- discharged by some insolvent or bankrupt Act. He thinks We shall

have hot Work, next Spring. He told me an old half Pay Officer, such as himself, would sell well next Spring. And when he went away, he said to S.A. and me, if you want me, next Spring for any Service, you know where I am, send for me. I am to be sold.
He says the Scotch Men at home, say d--n that Adams and Cushing. We must have their Heads, &c.Bernard used to d -- n that Adams -- every dip of his Pen stung like an horned Snake, &c. Paxton made his Will in favour of Ld. Townsend, and by that Maneuvre got himself made a Commissioner. There was a great deal of Beauty in that Stroke of Policy. We must laugh at such sublime Strokes of Politicks, &c. &c. &c.
In the Evening Mr. Jona. Dickinson Sergeant of Prince Town, made a Visit to the Sec. and me. He says he is no Idolater of his Name Sake. That he was disappointed when he first saw him. Fame had given him an exalted Idea: but he came to N. Jersey upon a particular Cause, and made such a flimsy, effeminate, [illegible Piece of Work of it, that he sunk at once in his Opinion.
Serjeant is sorry to find a falling off in this City -- not a third of the Battalion Men muster, who mustered at first.
D. he says sinks here in the public opinion. That many Gentlemen chime in with a spirited

Publication in the Paper of Wednesday, which blames the conduct of several Gentlemen of Fortune, D., Cad.,R., and J. Allen &c.
Mr. Gordon spent the Evening here.
Mr. Gordon came and told us News, opened his Budget. --Ethan Allen with 500 green mountain Boys, were entrenched half Way between St. Johns and Montreal, and had cutt off all Communication with Carlton, and was kindly treated by the French. A Council of War had been held, and it was their opinion that it was practicable to take Boston and Charlestown: but as it would cost many Lives, and expose the Inhabitants of Boston to destruction it was thought best to postpone it for the present.
Major Rogers came here too this Morning. Said he had a Hand and an Heart:tho he did not choose by offering himself to expose himself to Destruction.
I walked, a long Time this Morning, backward and forward, in the Statehouse Yard with Paca, McKean and Johnson. McKean has no Idea of any Right or Authority in Parliament. Paca contends for an Authority and Right to regulate Trade, &c.
Dyer and Serjeant of Princetown, spent the Evening here. S. says that the Irish Interest in this City has been the Support of Liberty.Maes [Mease ]&c. are leaders in it. The Irish and the Presbyterian Interest coalesce.

Dyer is very sanguine that the 2 De Witts, one of Windham, the other of Norwich, will make Salt Petre in large Quantities. He produces a Sample, which is very good.
Harrison is confident that Virginia alone will do great Things from Tobacco Houses. But my faith is not strong, as yet.
Ld. North is at his old Work again. Sending over his Anodynes to America -- deceiving one credulous American after another, into a Belief that he means Conciliation, when in Truth he means nothing but Revenge. He rocks the cradle, and sings Lullaby, and the innocent Children go to Sleep, while he prepares the Birch to whip the poor Babes. One Letter after another comes that the People are uneasy and the Ministry are sick of their Systems. But nothing can be more fallacious. Next Spring We shall be jockied by Negociation, or have hot Work in War. Besides I expect a Reinforcement to Gage and to Carlton, this fall or Winter.
Heard Mr. Smith of Pequay [Pequea], at about 40 Miles towards Lancaster, a Scotch Clergyman, of great Piety as Coll. Roberdeau says: The Text was Luke 14:18. And they all with one Consent began to make excuse. -- This was at Duffills Meeting. In the afternoon, heard our Mr. Gordon, in Arch Street. The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him.
Call'd upon Stephen Collins who has just returned.

Stephen has a Thousand Things to say to Us, he says. A Thousand observations to make.
One Thing he told me, for my Wife, who will be peeping here, sometime or other, and come across it. He says when he call'd at my House, an English Gentleman was with him, a Man of Penetration,tho of few Words. And this silent, penetrating Gentleman was pleased with Mrs. Adams , and thought her, the most accomplished Lady he had seen since he came out of England. -- Down Vanity, for you dont know who this Englishman is.
Dr. Rush came in. He is an elegant, ingenious Body. Sprightly, pretty fellow. He is a Republican. He has been much in London. Acquainted with Sawbridge,McCaulay, Burgh, and others of that Stamp.Dilly sends him Books and Pamphletts, and Sawbridge and McCaulay correspond with him. He complains of D. [Dickinson] Says the Committee of Safety are not the Representatives of the People, and therefore not their Legislators; yet they have been making Laws, a whole Code for a Navy. This Committee was chosen by the House, but half of them are not Members and therefore not the Choice of the People. All this is just. He mentions many Particular Instances, in which Dickenson has blundered. He thinks him warped by the Quaker Interest and the Church Interest too. Thinks his Reputation past the Meridian, and that Avarice is growing upon him. Says that Henry and Mifin both complained to him very much about him.

But Rush I think, is too much of a Talker to be a deep Thinker. Elegant not great.
In the Evening Mr. Bullock and Mr. Houstoun, two Gentlemen from Georgia, came into our Room and smoked and chatted, the whole Evening. Houstoun and Adams disputed the whole Time in good Humour. They are both Dabbs at Disputation I think. H. a Lawyer by Trade is one of Course, and Adams is not a Whit less addicted to it than the Lawyers. The Q. was whether all America was not in a State of War, and whether We ought to confine ourselves to act upon the defensive only. He was for acting offensively next Spring or this fall if the Petition was rejected or neglected. If it was not answered, and favourably answered, he would be for acting vs. Britain and Britains as in open War vs. French and frenchmen. Fit Privateers and take their Ships, any where.
These Gentlemen give a melancholly Account of the State of Georgia and S. Carolina. They say that if 1000 regular Troops should land in Georgia and their commander be provided with Arms and Cloaths enough, and proclaim Freedom to all the Negroes who would join his Camp, 20,000 Negroes would join it from the two Provinces in a fortnight. The Negroes have a wonderfull Art of communicating Intelligence among themselves. It will run severall hundreds of Miles in a Week or Fortnight.

They say, their only Security is this, that all the Kings Friends and Tools of Government have large Plantations and Property in Negroes. So that the Slaves of the Tories would be lost as well as those of the Whiggs.
I had nearly forgot a Conversation with Dr. Coombe concerning assassination,Henry 4.,Sully, Buckingham &c. &c.Coombe has read Sullys Memoirs with great Attention.
Rode out of Town and dined with Mr. Macpherson. He has the most elegant Seat in Pensilvania, a clever Scotch Wife and two pretty daughters. His Seat is on the Banks of Schuylkill.
He has been Nine Times wounded in Battle. An old Sea Commander, made a Fortune by Privateering. An Arm twice shot off, shot thro the Leg. &c. -- He renews his Proposals of taking or burning Ships.
Spent the Evening with Lynch at the City Tavern. He thinks the Row Gallies and Vesseau de Frize inadequate to the Expence.
Wrote to Mrs. A. and Mr. and Mrs. W.

Mr. Bullock and Mr. Houstoun, the Gentlemen from Georgia, invited S.A. and me to spend the Evening with them in their Chamber, which We did very agreably and socially. Mr. Langdon of N. Hampshire was with us.
Mr. Bullock after Dinner invited me to take a ride with him in his Phaeton which I did. He is a solid, clever Man. He was President of their Convention.
The Congress, and the Assembly of this Province were invited to make an Excursion upon Delaware River in the new Row Gallies built by the Committee of Safety of this Colony. About Ten in the Morning We all embarked. The Names of the Gallies are the Washington, the Effingham, the Franklin, the Dickenson, the Otter, the Bull Dog, and one more, whose Name I have forgot. We passed up down the River by Glocester where the Vesseau de Frize are. These are Frames of Timber to be fill'd with Stones and sunk, in three Rowes, in the Channell.
I went in the Bull Dog Captn. Alexander Commander. Mr. Hillegas,

Mr. Owen Biddle, and Mr. Rittenhouse, and Capt. Faulkner [Falconer] were with me. Hillegas is one of our Continental Treasurers, is a great Musician -- talks perpetually of the Forte and Piano, of Handell &c. and Songs and Tunes. He plays upon the Fiddle.
Rittenhouse is a Mechannic, a Mathematician, a Philsosopher and an Astronomer.
Biddle is said to be a great Mathematician. Both are Members of the American Philosophical Society. I mentioned Mr. Cranch to them for a Member.
Our Intention was to have gone down to the Fort but the Winds and Tide being unfavourable We returned by the City and went up the River to Point no Point, a pretty Place. On our Return Dr. Rush,Dr. Zubly and Counciller Ross, Brother of George Ross, joined us.
Ross is a Lawyer, of great Eloquence, and heretofore of extensive Practice. A great Tory, they say, but now begins to be converted. He said the Americans were making the noblest and firmest Resistance to Tyranny that ever was made by any People. The Acts were founded in Wrong, Injustice and Oppression. The great Town

of Boston had been remarkably punished without being heard.
Rittenhouse is a tall, slender Man, plain, soft, modest, no remarkable Depth, or thoughtfullness in his Face -- yet cool, attentive, and clear.

Mr. Duane told me at the Funeral of our late virtuous and able President that he, Mr. Duane, had accustomed him self to read the Year Books. Mr. De Lancey who was C. [Chief] J. [Justice] of N. York he said advised him to it, as the best Method of imbibing the Spirit of the Law. De Lancey told him that he had translated a Pile of Cases from the Year Books, altho he was a very lazy Man.
Duane says that Jefferson is the greatest Rubber off of Dust that he has met with, that he has learned French, Italian, Spanish and wants to learn German.
Duane says, he has no Curiosity at all -- not the least Inclination to see a City or a Building &c.
That his Memory fails, is very averse to be burthened. That in his Youth he could remember any Thing. Nothing but what he could learn, but it is very different now.
Last Evening Mr. Hewes of N. Carolina, introduced to my Namesake and me, a Mr. Hog from that Colony, one of the Proprietors of Transylvania, a late Purchase from the Cherokees upon the Ohio. He is an associate with Henderson who was lately one of the Associate Judges of N. Carolina, who is President of the Convention in Transylvania.

These Proprietors have no Grant from the Crown nor from any Colony, are within the Limits of Virginia and North Carolina, by their Charters which bound those Colonies on the South Sea. They are charged with Republican Notions -- and Utopian Schemes.
Paine brought in a large sample of salt petre, made in this City, by Mr. Ripsama. It is very good, large and burns off, when laid upon a Coal like moist Powder. I tried it.
Heard Mr. Carmichael, at Mr. Duffils, on "Trust in the Lord and do good, so shall yo dwell in the Land and verily thou shallt be fed."

Having Yesterday [asked and] obtained Leave of Congress to go home, this Morning I mounted, with my own Servant only, about twelve o Clock, and reached the red Lyon about two where I dine The Roads very miry and dirty, the Weather pleasant, and not cold.
Rode from Bristol to Trenton, breakfasted, rode to Princetown, and dined with a Captain Flahaven, in Ld. Sterlings Regiment, who has been express to Congress from his Lordship.
Flahaven's Father live in this Province. He has lived in Maryland.
Says that the Virginia Convention granting the Scotch Petition to be neutral has done all the Mischief and been the Support of Lord Dunmore. He says the Scotch are in some Parts of Virginia powerfull -- that not only their public Proceedings but their private Characters. He has heard them decrying the Characters of the Maryland Delegates particularly Chase and the Virginia Delegates particularly Lee,Henry and Washington.

Last Evening, when I dismounted at Bristow, the Taverner shewed me into a Room, where was a young Gentleman very elegantly dress'd, with whom I spent the Evening. His name I could not learn. He told me, had been an Officer in the Army but had sold out. I had much Conversation with him and some of it very free.
He told me, when We had two valuable Prizes among the Prisoners, taken at Chambly and St. Johns -- a Mr. Barrington Nephew of Lord Barrington, and a Captain Williams who he says is the greatest Officer in the Service. He gives a most exalted Character of Williams as a Mathematician,Phylospher, Engineer, and in all other Accomplishments of an Officer.
In the Evening Mr. Baldwin came to see me. We waited on Dr. Witherspoon the President of the Colledge where we saw Mr. Smith and two other of the light Horse from Philadelphia goin to the Camp with a Waggon.

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Inside Back Cover
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Captn. Isaac Sears
Thos. Randall
John Hanson
Christopher Miller
John Harrison.
Dudley Saltonstall
Eseck Hopkins.
Abraham Whipple.
James Dougherty
Thomas More.
Charles Alexander.
Michael Corbitt.
Clement Lempriere. S.C.
John Lawrence.
Simeon Sampson. P.

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Cite web page as: John Adams diary 24, 15 September 1775 - 3 January 1776 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams diary 24, 15 September 1775 - 3 January 1776. 60 pages. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 2. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.