Papers of John Adams, volume 3

Guide to Editorial Apparatus

From Edward Dilly

To Joseph Palmer, 2 May 1775 JA Palmer, Joseph To Joseph Palmer, 2 May 1775 Adams, John Palmer, Joseph
To Joseph Palmer
Hartford1 May 2, 1775 Dr sir

We are very anxious to know the State of Things at Boston, Cambridge, Watertown and Roxbury.2 The Accounts We have here are very confused and uncertain. I hope the News Papers, will come now.

Our Accounts from N. York are very well. That Province is getting into a Train, which will Secure the Union of the Colonies, and Success to their Efforts. The little, dirty, ministerial Party there, is humbled in the Dust.3

Certain military Movements of great Importance, and with the Utmost Secrecy have been set on foot in this Colony of Connecticutt,4 which I dare not explain in writing, but refer you to Coll. Foster, Danielson and Bliss.5

I know very well the Multiplicity of your Business, but as it is of great Consequence that We should be minutely informed of every Thing, I must beg you to write as often as possible and perswade others to write me. Mr. Cooper, Mr. Ward, any Body that can write Facts.6 The Letters will follow us and reach us, at last. I am sensible you must have a Multitude of Applications. But I am advised by Coll. Hancocks just to hint to you a Request in Behalf of my Brothers, if Either of them should have an Inclination to engage in the Army.7 I have never Said any Thing to them, because I choose to leave them, in a Case of such interesting Importance, to their own Inclination and Discretion. I am your Friend and sert

John Adams

RC (ICHi); addressed “To Coll Joseph Palmer Braintree”; docketed: “John Adams Esqr. 1775.”


On his way to the Second Continental Congress, JA arrived in Hartford on 29 April. He had left Braintree probably on 26 April, riding in a sulky and attended by a mounted young servant (JA to AA, 30 April, Adams Family Correspondence , 1:188–189; JA's list of expenses from 26 April, Diary and Autobiography , 2:162). None of JA's extant correspondence for this period refers to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, but in his Autobiography he mentions his visit to Generals Ward, Heath, and Warren, the confusion he found in Cambridge, and his journey to the scenes of battle, where he talked to people about what had occurred ( Diary and Autobiography , 3:314).


The Second Provincial Congress, which had begun its meetings in Cam-2bridge, had moved to Concord on 22 March and from there to Watertown on 22 April (Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours. , p. 108, 147). Part of the hastily gathered army that had arisen to oppose Gage had been stationed in Roxbury under the command of Dr. John Thomas with the mission of keeping the British from moving from Boston via the Neck (Arthur B. Tourtellot, Lexington and Concord, N.Y., 1959, p. 221).


In a letter to AA, also dated 2 May, JA described the situation in New York, mentioning the flight of Myles Cooper, president of Kings College and an ardent loyalist, to board a British warship ( Adams Family Correspondence , 1:191).


No doubt a reference to the scheme of Samuel Holden Parsons to send a Connecticut force aided by Massachusetts men to capture Fort Ticonderoga, a stronghold of the north possessing cannon that Americans desperately needed. Parsons had probably exchanged ideas with Benedict Arnold. Arnold won the approval of the Committee of Safety of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, which on 2 May voted to furnish him with ammunition, horses, and £100 (French, First Year , p. 149–150; Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours. , p. 530, 531)


Col. Jedediah Foster, Timothy Danielson, and John Bliss were members of a committee sent by the Provincial Congress to Connecticut to report on measures being taken for defense by Massachusetts and to urge that colony to contribute troops for the general defense of New England. Similar committees were sent to Rhode Island and New Hampshire (Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours. , p. 135–137).


Pleas for information about events in Massachusetts became regular features of JA's letters while he was at the congress. His reference here is to Rev. Samuel Cooper, pastor of the Brattle Street Church, and Maj. Joseph Ward, both of whom exchanged several letters with JA later in 1775.


As a member of the Committee of Safety of the Provincial Congress, Palmer had influence over the appointment of officers (same, p. 89–90). In a letter to AA , JA advised his brothers to apply to Col. Palmer and Dr. Warren if they wanted commands. AA applied to Joseph Warren in behalf of JA's brother Elihu on 13 May ( Adams Family Correspondence , 1:191, 196).