Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 20 July 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 20 July 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Phila. July 20th. 1777

The little masterly Expedition to Rhode Island has given Us, some Spirits, amidst our Mournings for the Loss of Ti. Barton conducted his Expedition with infinite Address and Gallantry, as Sir Wm. has it.1 Meigs and Barton must be rewarded.2

Although so much Time has elapsed since our Misfortune at Ti, We have no particular Account from General Schuyler or Sinclair St. Clair. People here are open mouthed, about the Disgrace and Disaster in that Quarter, and are much disposed to Censure.—For my Part I suspend my Judgment, untill I know the Facts. I hope the People with you will not be too much dejected at the Loss. Burgoine is a wild Man, and will rush into some inconsiderate Measures, which will put him in our Power, but if not, his Career will be stopped.

The Loss of so many Stores is more provoking than that of the Post.

Before this reaches you, I hope you will be happy in the Embraces of a little female Beauty. God bless her. Pray let me continue to hear from you, every Week. When you cant write, make some other Pen do the Duty.

We have had here a few hot days, when Fahrenheits Mercury was at 88, but the Weather has in general been very cool. Such a July was scarcely ever known, which is a fortunate Circumstance for the Health of our Army.

We have The four Months of August, September, October and November, before Us, for the Armies to Act in. There is Time enough to do a great deal of Business. I hope, that the Enemy will not do so much Mischief as last Year, altho their Exploits then have not done them much Good, nor the united States as a Community, much harm.

The Examples of Meigs, and Barton, will be followed I hope, by Numbers. The Subtlety, the Ingenuity, the Activity, the Bravery, 286the Prudence, with which those Excursions were conducted, are greatly and justly admired.

Connecticutt has the Honour of one, Rhode Island of the other.—Will Mass. be outdone?

RC (Adams Papers).


On 10 July Lt. Col. William Barton with a party of forty Rhode Island militia made a night raid on Maj. Gen. Richard Prescott's headquarters near Newport, captured Prescott and his aide, and almost reached the mainland before an alarm was raised. See Washington to Hancock, 16 July ( Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 8:415–416), and a minutely detailed account, with a map of the terrain, in Frederick Mackenzie, Diary, Cambridge, 1930, 1:148–151.


On 25 July Congress voted that both officers be presented with swords—Meigs for his conduct in the raid on Sag Harbor at the end of May ( JCC , 8:579–580).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 21 July 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 21 July 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My best Friend Philadelphia July 21. 1777

I have long sought for a compleat History of the Revolution in the low Countries, when the Seven united Provinces seperated from the Kingdom of Spain, but without the Success that I wished, untill a few days ago.

Sir William Temples Account is elegant and entertaining, but very brief and general.1

Puffendorfs, I have not yet seen.2 Grotius's I have seen, and read in Part, but it is in Latin, and I had it not in my Possession long enough, to make myself master of the whole.3

A few days ago, I heard for the first Time, of an History of the Wars in Flanders, written in Italian by Cardinal Bentivoglio, and translated into English by the Earl of Monmouth. The Cardinal was a Spaniard and a Tory, and his History has about as much Candor towards the Flemish and their Leaders as Clarendon has towards Pym and Hampden, and Cromwell. The Book is in Folio, and is embellished with a Map of the Country and with the Portraits of about Thirty of the Principal Characters.4

Mr. Ingersol, who lent me the Book, told me, that in the Year 1765 or 6, being in England, he was invited together with Dr. Franklin to spend a Week in the Country with a Mr. Steel a Gentleman of Fortune, at present an eloquent Speaker in the Society of Arts, descended from Sir Richard Steel.5 Upon that Visit Mr. Steel told them that the Quarrell which was now begun by the Stamp Act would never be reconciled, but would terminate in a Separation between the two Coun-287tries.—Ingersol was surprized at the Praediction and asked why and how?—I cant tell you how says he, but if you want to know why, when you return to London, enquire at the Booksellers for Bentivoglios History of the Wars in Flanders, read it through, and you will be convinced that such Quarrells cannot be made up.

He bought the Book accordingly and has now lent it to me. It is very similar to the American Quarrell in the Rise and Progress, and will be so in the Conclusion.

RC (Adams Papers).


Observations upon the United Provinces of the Netherlands, London, 1672, a brief work but long the principal authority for most English readers on the history and government of the Netherlands. It went through numerous editions and was translated into several languages. JA could have read it in the first volume of his own copy of Temple's Works, 2 vols., London, 1731, which is among his books in the Boston Public Library.


The German jurist Pufendorf (1632–1694) wrote An Introduction to the History of the Principal Kingdoms and States of Europe . . ., which is not among the works by that writer listed in the Catalogue of JA's Library .


Hugo Grotius (1583–1645), Annales et historiae de rebus belgicis, Amsterdam, 1657, likewise not entered in the Catalogue of JA's Library .


Guido, Cardinal Bentivoglio's History of the Warrs in Flanders was first published in English in this translation by the Earl of Monmouth, London, 1654. Despite his enthusiasm for this book, which led him to copy the entire list of 24 portraits into his letter to JQA of 27 July, below, JA does not seem to have acquired a copy of it, though the Catalogue of JA's Library enters two other works by Bentivoglio.


Jared Ingersoll of Connecticut, though a loyalist, was living quietly in Philadelphia at this time; see JA to AA, 16 March, above, and Lawrence H. Gipson, Jared Ingersoll, New Haven and London, 1920, p. 355 ff.Joshua Steele (1700–1791) was an Irishman who lived many years in London, was a friend and correspondent of Franklin, wrote treatises on prosody and music, and spent his last years attempting to ameliorate the condition of the slaves on his estates in Barbados ( DNB ; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 2:100; 3:349).