Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 July 1777 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 2 July 1777 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
July 2 1777

I sit down to write you a few lines this morning as I am loth the post should go, without telling you that I am well, as usual. Suppose you will be more anxious for me this month than common. I shall write as often and as long as I am able, tho I do not expect that it will be more than two or 3 weeks more at furthest. You will not fail writing me by every opportunity, receiving Letters once a week from you serves to keep up my Spirits and cheer my Heart, which of late does not feel the gayest. I rejoice to find by your last that your Health is better. I should have known it from the stile of your Letter if you had not told me so. The dates run june the 2d, 4th and 8th. Since I wrote last we have had frequent reports of How's sitting out for Philadelphia. I have not been very uneasy about it. I confess I had rather He should make a visit to you than to me, at this time, more especially since you seem so desirous of it. Our last accounts are of a Skirmish in Brunswick and the burning of that Town and of the Troops retreat to Amboy. I think they make no valient appearence this season.—We have an other account from Halifax, that the Gov-273ener there has orderd every House to be cleard and Barrack for that he expects them there immediately.

Yesterday our Tories so calld appeard in Boston to be tried before the worshipfull justices Quincy and Hill; they had engaged counsel Mr. T——r, who soon let the Court know that Mr. Q——y was not qualified to try them as he had never taken the oath since the declaration of independance, and that the recognisances were not signed—so they all marchd back again.1

They are pretty much netled and fear being sent on board the guard ship. Seven are condemnd at Bridgwater.

As to Goverment I can not tell you more than Gen. Warren has wrote you. I hope in time we shall be able to sit down quietly—am sorry to see so much bickering about it in Pensilvana.

You inquire how our season is here. We have had a very fine one rather the coldest. There is a prospect of good crops of Grass and Grain. The fruit will suffer much by the frosts. Not much cider I fear.

Pray write to Dr. Tufts by the first opportunity. Our young ones are all well. We have enjoyd great Health since the small pox, for which we cannot be sufficently thankfull. Tis very Healthy every where. We have had a vast deal of thunder and lightning this Summer.—Adieu most Sincerely Yours.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia. Ans. July 16.”


The justices were Edmund Quincy, identified earlier, and John Hill, Harvard 1756. The counsel who defended the Braintree loyalists was almost certainly JA's former student William Tudor, who had recently left the army to resume his law practice in Boston. There is, however, a little mystification concerning Tudor's resignation, or resignations, from military service. On 10 April Tudor had written to JA from camp in New Jersey: “I am just going to mount my Horse for Boston. The offer made me by Genl. Knox of a Post in the Artillery I have declined, and shall return to my Books once more with Pleasure” (Adams Papers). On the same day Washington's general orders at Morristown stated: “John Laurence [i.e. Laurance] Esqr. is appointed Judge Advocate, in the room of William Tudor Esqr. who has resigned” (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 7:382). No letter of resignation has been found, but that Tudor was in Boston thereafter, and practicing law there, is clear from, among other things, his appointment by the town on 17 May as its agent “to procure Evidence that may be had of the inimical Dispositions, towards this, or any of the United States, of any Inhabitants of this Town” (Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report , p. 280). Yet all the biographical sketches of Tudor that touch on the matter, and all the compilations on Continental officers' service, record the termination of Tudor's military service as in 1778. Heitman's Register of Officers , for example, gives his resignation as 9 April 1778, just a year after he had left camp—a coincidence so striking as to suggest a mistake. To complicate matters, Tudor was appointed judge advocate in Jan. 1778 specifically for the trial by court martial of Col. David Henley, in Boston, on charges by Gen. Burgoyne; see Tudor's letter to AA, 26 June 1778 (Adams Papers). The explanation appears to be that Tudor's commission as a lieutenant colonel in 274one of the additional Continental regiments, beginning Jan. 1777, ran a year after he originally gave up his post as advocate general in April 1777; see Washington to Heath, 25 March 1778, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 11:144–145.

John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d, 5 July 1777 JA AA2 John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d, 5 July 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d
My dear Daughter Philadelphia, July 5th, 1777

Yesterday, being the anniversary of American Independence, was celebrated here with a festivity and ceremony becoming the occasion.

I am too old to delight in pretty descriptions, if I had a talent for them, otherwise a picture might be drawn, which would please the fancy of a Whig, at least.

The thought of taking any notice of this day, was not conceived, until the second of this month, and it was not mentioned until the third. It was too late to have a sermon, as every one wished, so this must be deferred another year.

Congress determined to adjourn over that day, and to dine together. The general officers and others in town were invited, after the President and Council, and Board of War of this State.

In the morning the Delaware frigate, several large gallies, and other continental armed vessels, the Pennsylvania ship1 and row gallies and guard boats, were all hawled off in the river, and several of them beautifully dressed in the colours of all nations, displayed about upon the masts, yards, and rigging.

At one o'clock the ships were all manned, that is, the men were all ordered aloft, and arranged upon the tops, yards, and shrowds, making a striking appearance—of companies of men drawn up in order, in the air.

Then I went on board the Delaware, with the President and several gentlemen of the Marine Committee, soon after which we were saluted with a discharge of thirteen guns, which was followed by thirteen others, from each other armed vessel in the river; then the gallies followed the fire, and after them the guard boats. Then the President and company returned in the barge to the shore, and were saluted with three cheers, from every ship, galley, and boat in the river. The wharves and shores, were lined with a vast concourse of people, all shouting and huzzaing, in a manner which gave great joy to every friend to this country, and the utmost terror and dismay to every lurking tory.

At three we went to dinner, and were very agreeably entertained with excellent company, good cheer, fine music from the band of Hes-275sians taken at Trenton, and continual vollies between every toast, from a company of soldiers drawn up in Second-street before the city tavern, where we dined. The toasts were in honour of our country, and the heroes who have fallen in their pious efforts to defend her. After this, two troops of light-horse, raised in Maryland, accidentally here in their way to camp, were paraded through Second-street, after them a train of artillery, and then about a thousand infantry, now in this city on their march to camp, from North Carolina. All these marched into the common, where they went through their firings and manoeuvres; but I did not follow them. In the evening, I was walking about the streets for a little fresh air and exercise, and was surprised to find the whole city lighting up their candles at the windows. I walked most of the evening, and I think it was the most splendid illumination I ever saw; a few surly houses were dark; but the lights were very universal. Considering the lateness of the design and the suddenness of the execution, I was amazed at the universal joy and alacrity that was discovered, and at the brilliancy and splendour of every part of this joyful exhibition. I had forgot the ringing of bells all day and evening, and the bonfires in the streets, and the fireworks played off.2

Had General Howe been here in disguise, or his master, this show would have given them the heart-ache. I am your affectionate father,

John Adams

MS not found. Printed from (Journal and Correspondence of Miss Adams, . . . Edited by Her Daughter, New York, 1841–1842, 2:8–10.)


Probably should read “ships,” meaning the ships of the Pennsylvania navy. There was no fighting vessel that bore the name Pennsylvania at this time.


More detailed accounts of this first and very hurriedly gotten-up anniversary celebration of the Fourth of July appeared in the Philadelphia papers (Penna. Gazette, 9 July; Penna. Journal, same date), but JA's is the fullest account by a participant that is known to the editors. At least one delegate took a much less enthusiastic view of it. William Williams of Connecticut, who had recently resumed his seat, wrote to Gov. Jonathan Trumbull on 5 July:

“Yesterday was in my opinion poorly spent in celebrating the anniversary of the Declaration of Independance, but to avoid singularity and Reflection upon my dear Colony, I thot it my Duty to attend the public Entertainment; a great Expenditure of Liquor, Powder etc. took up the Day, and of Candles thro the City good part of the night. I suppose and I conclude much Tory unilluminated Glass will want replacing etc.” (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 2:401).