Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

227 John Adams to Abigail Adams, 28 April 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 28 April 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Ap. 28. 1777

There is a Clock Calm, at this Time, in the political and military Hemispheres. The Surface is smooth and the Air serene. Not a Breath, nor a Wave. No News, nor Noise.

Nothing would promote our Cause more, than Howes March to this Town. Nothing quickens and determines People so much, as a little Smart.—The Germans, who are numerous and wealthy in this state and who have very imperfect Ideas of Freedom, have a violent Attachment to Property. They are passionate and vindictive, in a Degree that is scarce credible to Persons who are unacquainted with them, and the least Injury to their Property, excites a Resentment and a Rage1 beyond Description. A few Houses and Plantations plundered, as many would be, if Howe should come here, would set them all on Fire. Nothing would unite and determine Pensilvania so effectually.

The Passions of Men must cooperate with their Reason in the Prosecution of a War. The public may be clearly convinced that a War is just, and yet, untill their Passions are excited, will carry it languidly on. The Prejudices, the Anger, the Hatred of the English, against the French, contributes greatly to their Valour and Success. The British Court and their Officers, have studied to excite the same Passions in the Breasts of their Soldiers against the Americans, well knowing their powerfull Effect.

We, on the Contrary, have treated their Characters with too much Tenderness. The Howes, their Officers and Soldiers too, ought to be held up to the Contempt, Derision, Hatred and Abhorrence of the Populace in every State, and of the common Soldiers in every Army. It would give me no Pain, to see them burn'd or hang'd in Effigy in every Town and Village.

RC and LbC (Adams Papers).


Preceding three words, probably inadvertently omitted in RC, supplied from LbC.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 29 April 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 29 April 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Ap. 29. 1777

This days Post brought me yours of 17th. inst. and Miss Nabbys obliging Favour of the 16.1 This young Lady writes a very pretty Hand, and expresses her Thoughts with great Propriety.


I shall hardly excuse Miss from writing to me, so long as I have done, now I find she can write so well. I shall carefully preserve her Letter and if she neglects to write me frequently I shall consider this Letter as Proof that it is not Want of Abilities, but Want of Inclination.

The Death of Mrs. Howard I greatly and sincerely lament. She was one of the choice of the Earth.

The Account you give me of the Evasions of your Regulations surprizes me not. I detest the Regulations as well as the Embargo. I find it is necessary for me to resign, for I never, of late, think like my Constituents. I am bound by their Sense in Honour and Principle—But mine differs from them every day. I always knew the Regulations would do more Hurt than good.

The inclosed Speculations upon the Health of the Army, were written I suppose by Dr. Rush,2 as the former ones I know were done by him.

There is a letter of 20 Feb. from Dr. Lee, which says that Boston was to be attacked by Ten thousand Germans and three thousand British under Burgoin.3 But Circumstances since may have altered Cases.

RC (Adams Papers). Enclosure missing, but see note 2.


AA's letter is printed above; AA2's has not been found.


This was a remarkable article entitled “Directions for Preserving the Health of Soldiers” which was first printed in the Pennsylvania Packet, 22 April 1777, signed “R.” It was reprinted as a pamphlet, with a long subtitle and textual changes and additions, by order of the Board of War early in 1778 (Lancaster: John Dunlap; Evans 16064). This brief but pioneering essay in military hygiene was reprinted again and again until as late as 1908 and proved one of the most influential among all of Benjamin Rush's voluminous writings. An annotated text will be found in Rush's Letters , 1:140–147.


This was clearly some version of Arthur Lee's letter from Bordeaux, 18 Feb., of which a text is printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 2:272–273.