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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive

John Adams diary 26, notes on Continental Congress, 16 February - April 1776

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

Inside Front Cover
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Any Goods or Commodities, except Staves for Sale, may be exported, from the united Colonies to any other Part of the World, not subject to the Crown of G.B.

In Committee of the whole.

Cant we oblige B. to keep a Navy on foot the Expence of which will be double to what they will take from Us. I have heard of Bullion Sp. [Spanish] Flotas being stoppd least they should be taken -- But perishable Commodities never were stopped. Opressing Open your Ports to Foreigners. Your Trade will become of so much Consequence, that Foreigners will protect you.

Wilson. A Gentleman from Mass. thinks that a middle Way should be taken. That Ports should be Trade should be opened, for some Articles, and to some Places, but not for all Things and to all Places.

I think the Merchants ought to judge for themselves of the danger and Risque. We should be blamed if We did not leave it to them.

I differ from the Gentleman of Massachusetts. Trade ought in War to be carried on with greater Vigour. By what means did B. carry on their Tryumphs last War? The United Provinces their War vs. Spain.

If We determine that our Ports shall not be opened, our Vessells abroad will not return. Our Seamen are all abroad -- will not return, unless We open our Trade. I am afraid it will be necessary to invite Foreigners to trade with Us, altho We loose a great Advantage, that of trading in our own Bottoms.

Sherman. I fear We shall maintain the Armies of our Enemies at our own Expence with Provisions. We cant carry on a beneficial Trade, as our Enemies will take our Ships. A Treaty with a foreign Power is necessary, before We open our Trade, to protect it.


Harrison. We have hobbled on, under a fatal Attachment to G.B. I felt it as much as any Man but I feel a stronger to my Country.

Wythe. The Ports will be open the 1st. March. The Q. is whether We shall Shutt em up. F ce Romuli non Republica Platonis. Americans will hardly live without Trade. It is said our Trade will be of no Advantage to Us, because our Vessells will be taken, our Enemies will be supplied, the W.I. will be supplied at our Expence. This is too true, unless We can provide a Remedy. Our Virginia Convention have resolved, that our Ports be opened to all Nations that will trade with us, except G.B., I. and W.I. If the Inclination of the People, should become universal to trade, We must open our Ports. Merchants will not export our Produce, unless they get a Profit.

We might get some of our Produce to Markett, by authorizing Adventurers to Arm themselves, and giving Letters of Mark -- make Reprisals.

2d. by inviting foreign Powers to make Treaties of Commerce with us.

But other Things are to be considered, before such a Measure is adopted. In what Character shall We treat, as subjects of G.B. -- as Rebells?

Why should We be so fond of calling ourselves dutifull Subjects.

If We should offer our Trade to the Court of France, would they take Notice of it, any more than if Bristol or Liverpool should offer theirs, while We profess to be Subjects. -- No. We must declare ourselves a free People.

If We were to tell them, that after a Season, We would return to our Subjection to G.B., would not a foreign Court wish to have Something permanent.

We should encourage our Fleet. I am convinced that our Fleet may become as formidable as We wish to make it. Moves a Resolution.

Resolved that the Committee of Secret Correspondence be directed to lay their Letters before this Congress.

Resolved that be a Committee to prepare a Draught of firm Confederation, to be reported as soon as may be to this Congress, to be considered and digested and recommended to the several Assemblies and Conventions of these united Colonies, to be by them adopted, ratified and confirmed.

3. Jer. 12. Go proclaim these Words towards the North. Return thou backsliding Israel and I will not cause my anger to fall upon you, for I am merciful and will not be angry forever.

Resolved, That it be recommended to the several Assemblies, Conventions, Councils of Safety and Committees of Correspondence and Inspection, [illegible Colonies that they use their utmost Endeavours, by all reasonable Means to promote the Culture of Flax, Hemp, and Cotton and the Growth of Wool in these united Colonies.

Resolved That it be recommended to the Assemblies, Conventions, and Councils of Safety, that they take the earliest Measures for erecting in each and every Colony a Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and that a Correspondence be maintained between such Societies, that the numerous natural Advantages of this Country for supporting its Inhabitants may not be neglected.

Resolved that it be recommended to the said Assemblies, Conventions and Councils of Safety that they consider of Ways and Means of introducing the Manufactures of Duck and Sail Cloth into such Colonies where they are not now understood and of increasing and promoting them where they are.

Resolved that be a Committee, to receive all Plans and Proposals for encouraging and improving the Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures and Commerceboth foreign and domestic of America, to correspond with the several Assemblies, Conventions, Councils and Committees of Safety, Committees of Correspondence and of Observation in these united Colonies upon these interesting Subjects.

That these be published.

How is the Interest of France and Spain affected, by the dispute between B. and the C. [Colonies]? Is it the Interest of France [to] stand neuter, to join with B. or to join with the C. Is it not her Interest, to dismember the B. Empire? Will her Dominions be safe, if B. and A. [America] remain connected? Can she preserve her Possessions in the W.I. She has in the W.I. Martinico, Guadaloupe, and one half of Hispaniola. In Case a Reconciliation should take Place, between B. and A. and a War should break out between B. and France, would not all her Islands be taken from her in 6 Months?
The Colonies are now much more warlike and powerfull than they were, during the last War. A martial Spirit has seized all the Colonies. They are much improved in Skill and Discipline. They have now a large standing Army. They have many good officers. They abound in Provisions. They are in the Neighbourhood of the W.I. A British Fleet and Army united with an American Fleet and Army and supplied with Provisions and other Necessaries from America, might conquer all the french Islands in the W.I. in six Months, and

a littleless more Time than that would be required, to destroy all their Marine and Commerce.

Resentment is a Passion, implanted by Nature for the Preservation of the Individual. Injury is the Object which excites it. Injustice, Wrong, Injury excites the Feeling of Resentment, as naturally and necessarily as Frost and Ice excite the feeling of cold, as fire excites heat, and as both excite Pain. A Man may have the Faculty of concealing his Resentment, or suppressing it, but he must and ought to feel it. Nay he ought to indulge it, to cultivate it. It is a Duty. His Person, his Property, his Liberty, his Reputation are not safe without it. He ought, for his own Security and Honour, and for the public good to punish those who injure him, unless they repent, and then he should forgive, having Satisfaction and Compensation. Revenge is unlawfull.
It is the same with Communities. They ought to resent and to punish.

Is any Assistance attainable from F.?

What Connection may We safely form with her?

1st. No Political Connection. Submit to none of her Authority -- receive no Governors, or officers from her.

2d. No military Connection. Receive no Troops from her.

3d. Only a Commercial Connection, i.e. make a Treaty, to receive her Ships into our Ports. Let her engage to receive our Ships into her Ports -- furnish Us with Arms, Cannon, Salt Petre, Powder, Duck, Steel.

Whereas, the present State of America, and the cruel Efforts of our Enemies, render theupmost exertions of the strength of and union of the most perfect and cordial Union of the Colonies and the utmost Exertions of their Strength, necessary for the Preservation and establishment of their Liberties, therefore

Resolved. That it be recommended to the several Assemblies and Conventions of these united Colonies, who have limited the Powers of their Delegates in this Congress, by any express Instructions, that they repeal or suspend those Instructions for a certain Time, that this Congress may have Power, without any unnecessary Obstruction or Embarrassment, to concert, direct and order, such further Measures, as may seem to them necessary for the Defence and Preservation, Support and Establishment of Right and Liberty in these Colonies.

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Inside Back Cover
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Back Cover
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Cite web page as: John Adams diary 26, 16 February - April 1776 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams diary 26, 16 February - April 1776. Stitched sheets in leather cover (14 pages, 39 additional blank 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.