Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 20 August 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 20 August 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My best Friend Philadelphia August 20th. 1777 Wednesday

This Day compleats three Years since I stepped into the Coach, at Mr. Cushings Door, in Boston, to go to Philadelphia in Quest of Adventures.—And Adventures I have found.

I feel an Inclination sometimes, to write the History of the last Three Years, in Imitation of Thucidides. There is a striking Resemblance, in several Particulars, between the Peloponnesian and the 321American War. The real Motive to the former was a Jealousy of the growing Power of Athens, by Sea and Land. . . .1 The genuine Motive to the latter, was a similar Jealousy of the growing Power of America. The true Causes which incite to War, are seldom professed, or Acknowledged.

We are now afloat upon a full Sea: When We shall arrive at a safe Harbour, no Mariner has Skill and experience enough to foretell. But, by the Favour of Heaven, We shall make a prosperous Voyage, after all the Storms, and Shoals are passed.

5. o Clock afternoon

It is now fair sunshine again and very warm. Not a Word, yet, from Hows Fleet. The most general Suspicion, now, is that it is gone to Charlestown S.C.—But it is a wild Supposition. It may be right however: for Howe is a wild General.

We have been hammering to day, upon a Mode of Tryal for the General Officers at Ti. Whether an Enquiry will preceed the Court Martial, and whether the Enquiry shall be made by a Committee of Congress or by a Council of General Officers, is not determined, but Enquiry and Tryal both I conjecture there will be.2

If How is gone to Charlestown, you will have a little Quiet, and enjoy your Corn and Rye and Flax and Hay, and other good Things, untill another Summer.

But What shall We do for Sugar, and Wine and Rum?—Why truly I believe We must leave them off. Loaf Sugar is only four Dollars a Pound here, and Brown only a Dollar, for the meanest sort, and Ten shillings for that a little better. Every Body here is leaving off loaf Sugar, and most are laying aside brown. As to Rum and Wine—give me Cyder and I would compound. N.E. Rum is but 40s. a Gallon. But, if Wine was Ten Dollars a Bottle, I would have one Glass a Day, in Water, while the hot weather continues, unless I could get Cyder.

RC (Adams Papers).


Suspension points in MS.


See JA to AA, 4 Aug., above, and note 1 there.

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

This Morning, We have heard again from the Fleet. At 9 o Clock at Night, on the 14. Inst. upwards of an hundred Sail were seen, standing in between the Capes of Cheasapeak Bay. They had been seen 322from the Eastern shore of Virginia, standing off, and on, for two days before.—This Method of coasting along the shore, and standing off, and on, is very curious. First seen off Egg Harbour, then several Times off the Capes of Delaware, standing in and out, then off Sinepuxent, then off the Eastern shore of Virginia, then standing in to Cheasapeak Bay. How many Men, and Horses, will he loose in this Sea Ramble, in the Heat of Dog days. Whether he is going to Virginia to steal Tobacco, to N. Carolina to pilfer Pitch and Tar, or to South to plunder Rice and Indigo, who can tell? He will seduce a few Negroes from their Masters let him go to which he will. But is this conquering America?

From the Northward We learn that Arnold has marched with about 2000 Men to the Relief of Fort Schuyler.

Our People have given Sir John Johnson and his Regulars, Tories and Indians, a very fine Drubbing. The Indians scarcely ever had such a Mauling. The Devils are so frightened that they are all run away to howl and mourn.

The Papers, inclosed with this, will give you, more particular Information.—Can nothing be done at Rhode Island at this critical Time.—Opprobrium Novangliae!

What is become of all the Massachusetts continental Troops. Every Regiment and every Man of them is at the Northward, under Gates—and yet We are told they have not 4000 Men fit for Duty Officers included. And there are 3 Regiments there from N. Hampshire too.

10 o Clock at Night

Just come in from Congress. We have within this Hour, received Letters of Generals Schuyler and Lincoln, giving an Account of the Battle of Bennington, wherein Gen. Starks has acquired great Glory, and so has his Militia. The Particulars are to be out in an Hand Bill, tomorrow Morning. I will inclose you one.1

RC (Adams Papers). Enclosed newspapers not found or identified; as to the “Hand Bill” JA said he would enclose, see note 1.


The news of Brig. Gen. John Stark's defeat of Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum at Bennington, Vt., 16 Aug., reached Congress in a letter from Schuyler of the 18th enclosing one from Gen. Lincoln of the same date ( JCC , 8:663). Though its Journal does not mention it, Congress ordered the pertinent documents published in a handbill and widely distributed: Philadelphia, August 22, 1777. By an Express arrived last Evening from General Schuyler to Congress, we have the following important Intelligence . . . [Philadelphia:] John Dunlap ( JCC , 9:1086; Evans 15686; see Committee of Intelligence to Washington, 2 Sept., Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 2:473). A copy of the broadside is in MHi, but none has been found in the Adams Papers.