Papers of John Adams, volume 2

From James Warren, 19 December 1774 Warren, James JA From James Warren, 19 December 1774 Warren, James Adams, John
From James Warren
Dear Sir Plymo: Decr. 19th:1774

It always gives me pleasure to hear of the Existence and Health of my Friend and his Family and more especially to have it from his own hand.

The partiality discovered in yours of the 13th Instant1 is a strong Evidence of Friendship. I am sorry it should give you any Uneasiness, if the Elections you refer to are not Just such as you and I should Approve.2 I am Inclined to think they would not have been mended in the way you now think off. The drudgery of Application, with some little Experience may qualifie a man to make a tolerable, or at least not a despicable figure in my small Circle, but nothing can supply the want of those Abilities and that perticular Genius that alone must support his Character in the Other Station and perhaps be necessary to preserve even his Memory from Contempt if not Infamy. I have therefore no Uneasiness myself but what Arises from pride, which in An Officer may assume the Title of military Honour and may reduce me to the Dilemma of either forfeiting my Character by not doing my duty, or lessening it by doing it under Certain Curcumstances. I am pleased to find your Town makes such a figure in the military way, the Spirit is Catching and spreads into every Corner and Bids fair to Cherish the seeds and support the Stock of a riseing 204Empire. The last Vessel from England Arrived here last Fryday, left Bristol 8th Nov. I am told the Master says that near two thirds of the Members Chose are new ones, that the general Expectation was that the American Greivances would be redressed.3 He dined in Company with Mr. Burke 2 or 3 days before he came away, who was in high Expectation of A Committee from your Congress, which was looked for every day, and that Doctor Franklin had postponed his Voayge to America on the same Account. However they may be disappointed in this. I presume before now they have seen your demands, Extending so far beyond the repeal of the Acts of the last Session, that it will be hard work to Cure the wounds, without leaving A Splinter behind, and I hope if there be one left it will rankle till Extracted. Will the Continent be satisfied short of their demands? I hope not but sometimes hope with fear and Trembling.

I have been Extreamly Engaged since my return as a Citizen and Soldier.4 Civil and military matters Engage my whole Attention and Engross all my Time, to Execute the Resolves of the Congress, to settle my military matters and prevent the feuds and dissentions that generally arise from the Folly of some and the Ambition of Others, is my whole Business and has superceded the Delightful study of Agriculture and scarce left a Trace in my mind of Tulls, fine Phylosophical System of Vegetation.5 If these matters Continue I may as well Beat my plowshares into Swords and pruneing Hooks into Spears. I am sorry to find you half resolved not to Attend our Anniversary.6 Your Company would give me the greatest pleasure and Add much to the festivity of the day.

Do resolve to Come. Mrs. Warren gives her Love to Mrs. Adams, would be glad to see you both. She is well pleased with her letter7 and will Ask the favour of you to Inclose an Answer.

I wish Mrs. Pollys News was True but have not Abundance of faith in such Intelligence.8 I will form some Expectations of seeing you on Wednesday and am with Sincerity and Esteem Yr Friend and Humbl. Servt.,

Jas. Warren

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To the Honbl. John Adams Esqr. att Braintree”; docketed in an unidentified hand: “Warren '74 Dec 19.”


Not found.


Judging from Warren's following remarks, which assess his own military qualifications, the reference is to the voting in the recent Provincial Congress for two general officers. Col. John Thomas and Col. William Heath were chosen (Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours. , p. 65). Apparently JA had expressed his sorrow that Colonel Warren was not promoted. Thomas was from Warren's county.


On 30 Sept. 1774, in an effort to strengthen the ministry's position, the 205King dissolved Parliament and called a new one for 29 Nov. The outcome of the elections had little effect on the position or policies of the ministry (Gipson, Empire before the Revolution , 12:270–271).


That is, his return from the Provincial Congress.


Jethro Tull, The New Horse-Houghing Husbandry: or an Essay on the Principles of Tillage and Vegetation, London, 1733. Highly controversial at first, Tull's system of pulverizing the soil between rows won gradual acceptance, particularly after the French took it up. His work appeared in several English and French editions, but not, apparently, in an American one in the 18th century ( DNB ). JA owned a copy of the 4th London edition ( Catalogue of JA's Library ).


See 22 Dec. 1773, note 6, above.


Not found. Probably an invitation to attend the Plymouth anniversary.


The reference remains obscure.

To James Burgh, 28 December 1774 JA Burgh, James To James Burgh, 28 December 1774 Adams, John Burgh, James
To James Burgh
Sir1 Braintree Decr. 28. 1774

I have had the Honour of receiving from you a most valuable desirable Present, in two Volumes of Political Disquisitions. The very polite and obliging manner, in which this Present was conveyed to me, demands my gratefull Acknowledgements: But the Present itself is invaluable.

I cannot but think those Disquisitions, the best Service, that a Citizen, could render to his Country, at this great and dangerous Crisis, when the British Empire Seems ripe for Destruction, and tottering on the Brink of a Precipice. If any Thing can possibly open the Eyes of the Nation and excite it to exert itself, it must be such a sight of its Danger, and of the imperceptible Steps, by which it ascended to its present hazardous Height to it.

I have contributed Somewhat to make the Disquisitions more known and attended to in several Parts of America, and they are held in as high Estimation by all my Friends as they are by me, and the more they are read the more eagerly and generally they are sought for.

We have pleased ourselves in America, with Hopes, that the Publication of those Disquisitions, the Exertions of the remaining other Friends of Virtue and Freedom in England, together with the Union of Sentiment and Conduct of America, which appears by the Proceedings of the Congress at Phyladelphia, would have had their full operation and Effect upon the Nation, during this Fall and Winter, while the People were canvassing for Elections, and that in Spight of Bribery, Some alteration in the House of Commons for the better might have been made. But the Sudden Dissolution of Parlia-206ment and the impatient Summons for a new Election, have blasted all these Hopes. We now see plainly, that every Trick and Artifice of sharpers, Gamblers and Horse Jockies is to be played off against the cause of Liberty in England and America: and that no Hopes are to be left for Either but in the sword.

We are in this Province sir, at the Brink of a civil War. Our Alva Gage,2 with his fifteen Mandamous Councillors, are Shutt up in Boston, afraid to Stir, afraid of their own shades, protected with a Dozen Regiments of Regular soldiers, and strong Fortifications, in the Town, but never moving out of it. We have No Council, No House, No Legislature, No Executive. Not a Court of Justice, has sat Since the Month of September. Not a Debt can be recoverd, nor a Trespass rebufed nor a Criminal of any Kind, brought to Punishment.

What the Ministry will do next, is uncertain—inforce the Act for altering our Govt. they cannot. All the Regiments upon the Establishment would not do it. For juries will not serve, nor Represent. Whatever Alva and his Troops may think of it, it has required great Caution and Delicacy in the Conduct of Affairs, to prevent their Destruction. For my own Part I have bent my chief Attention to prevent a Rupture, and to impress my Friends with the Importance of preventing it. Not that I think the Lives of 5 or 10 thousand Men, tho my own should be one of them, would not be very profitably Spent, in obtaining a Restoration of our Liberties. But because I knew, that those Lives would never go unrevenged, and it would be vain ever to hope for a Reconciliation with great Britain afterwards. Britains would not easily forgive the Destruction of their Brethren, I am absolutely certain that New England men never would that of theirs. Nor would any Part of America ever forget or forgive, the destruction of one New England man in this Cause. The Death of 4 or 5 Persons, the most obscure, and inconsiderable that could have been found upon the Continent, on the 5th March 1770 has never yet been forgiven by any Part of America. What then would be the Consequence of a Battle in which, many Thousands must fall of the best Blood, the best Families, Fortunes, Abilities and moral Characters in the Country?

America, never will Submit to the Claims of Parliament and Administration. New England alone has 200,000 fighting Men. And all in a Militia, established by Law, not exact soldiers, but all used to Arms.

Dft (Adams Papers); in CFA's hand at the head of the letter: “To H. De Burgh”; along left margin of the first page: “Warren.”

207 image 208 1.

Whether a fair copy of this letter was ever sent remains unknown.


Duke of Alva (1508–1582), Spanish suppressor of revolt in the Low Countries.