Papers of John Adams, volume 3

24 From James Warren, 11 June 1775 Warren, James JA From James Warren, 11 June 1775 Warren, James Adams, John
From James Warren
Watertown June 11. 1775 My Dear Sir

Since my last I have waited with Impatience to hear from you. I mean Individually. The public Expectation to hear from the Congress is great. They dont Complain but they wonder that the Congress should set a month without their receiveing something decisive with regard to us. I presume we shall have it in due time, at least that nothing will be wanting in your power to relieve the distresses of your Country. I Intended to have devoted some great part of this Day to write to you but have been diverted by Calls that I could not dispence with. Since I knew of this opportunity I have not been able to get a minute till now when the Express is just going off. You will Collect from the publick Letter by this Express our Sentiments with regard to the necessity of assuming Civil Government Constantly Increasing upon us, what we apprehend to be the strength of our Enemies, and what have been and still are the subjects of some of our Contemplations.1 I have not time to Add any thing more with regard to our own proceedings or the state of the Army. I can only say we have difficulties enough to struggle with. I hope we shall do well at last. It is said General Howe gives out that he Intends soon to have a frolick with the Yankees. They are ready for him, and wish for nothing more. Their Grenadiers, and Light Infantry have been Exempted from duty for Ten or Twelve days. We were greatly Elated this Morning with an Account that you had voted 70,000 Men, and 3,000000 sterling to be struck off in Bills for their support.2 Our Joy was damped at 10 O'Clock by a Letter from your Brother Cushing. I wish it had miscarried that I might have Enjoyed the pleasure a little longer, of Contemplateing the dignity of your Conduct, as well as the riseing Glory of America. His Letter was dated the 1st Instant and if he had been in the Clouds for seven Years past, I think he would have had as Just Ideas of our situation and necessities as he had Expressed to his Friend Hawley.3 He thinks a very Inconsiderable reinforcement is to be Expected, and when Arrived that Gage will not have more than 5 or 6,000 Men, and queries whether we had not better discharge part of our Army to prevent Involving ourselves in an Immense Debt. A hint that we are to Expect no support from the Continent, but at the same time talks of an Union and the Day is our own, as saith Dr. Franklin.4 I leave him and only add, I Breakfasted with Mrs. Adams last Wednesday. She and the Family were very well. She Came to this Town with her Father, Sister, Coll. Quincey, and 25Lady, and Daughter, Parson Wybart5 &c. with me that Day, and was greatly disappointed to hear of a Letter from Coll Hancock, when I was not able to find one for her. I could wish She knew of this opportunity. I must Conclude and am with Sincere Wishes for your Happiness, and regards for my Friends—perticularly Mr. Adams. Your Sincere Friend and Humbl. Servant, Jas: Warren

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honbl: John Adams Esqr Att Philadelphia”; docketed: “Warren June 11, 1775.”


On 11 June the Provincial Congress adopted an address to the Continental Congress prepared by Joseph Hawley, Walter Spooner, James Warren, and Jedediah Foster (Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours., p. 318–320). It apparently arrived in Philadelphia a day or two before 19 June, when “sundry letters from the Conventions of Massachusetts bay and New York . . . were read,” because JA in a letter to Elbridge Gerry of 18 June (below) answers most of the questions posed by Warren in his letter ( JCC , 2:97–98).


The congress did not vote its first issue of bills of credit until 22 June (same, 2:103).


Not found. Thomas Cushing's reluctance to use strong measures against Great Britain led to his removal as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776 ( DAB ).


Franklin had advocated a union of the colonies since 1754, when he was a delegate to the Albany Convention.


Rev. Anthony Wibird, minister of the First Congregational Society of Braintree (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 12:226–230).

To Elbridge Gerry, 18 June 1775 JA Gerry, Elbridge To Elbridge Gerry, 18 June 1775 Adams, John Gerry, Elbridge
To Elbridge Gerry
Philadelphia, 18 June, 1775 Dear Sir

I have at last obtained liberty, by a vote of Congress, to acquaint my friends with a few of the things that have been done.1

The Congress have voted, or rather a committee of the whole house have unanimously agreed, that the sum of two million dollars be issued in bills of credit, for the redemption of which, in a certain number of years, twelve colonies have unanimously pledged themselves.2

The Congress has likewise resolved that fifteen thousand men shall be supported at the expense of the continent; ten thousand at Massachusetts, and five thousand at New York; and that ten companies of riflemen be sent immediately; six from Pennsylvania, two from Maryland, and two from Virginia, consisting of sixty-eight privates in each company, to join our army at Boston. These are said to be all exquisite marksmen, and by means of the excellence of their firelocks, as well as their skill in the use of them, to send sure destruction to great distances.

General Washington is chosen commander-in-chief, General Ward the first major-general, and General Lee the second, (the last has not 26yet accepted,) and Major Gates adjutant-general.3 Lee and Gates are experienced officers. We have proceeded no further as yet.

I have never, in all my lifetime, suffered more anxiety than in the conduct of this business. The choice of officers, and their pay, have given me great distress. Lee and Gates are officers of such great experience and confessed abilities, that I thought their advice, in a council of officers, might be of great advantage to us; but the natural prejudices, and virtuous attachment of our countrymen to their own officers, made me apprehensive of difficulties. But considering the earnest desire of General Washington to have the assistance of these officers, the extreme attachment of many of our best friends in the southern colonies to them, the reputation they would give to our arms in Europe, and especially with the ministerial generals and army in Boston, as well as the real American merit of them both, I could not withhold my vote from either.

The pay which has been voted to all the officers, which the Continental Congress intends to choose, is so large, that I fear our people will think it extravagant, and be uneasy. Mr. Adams, Mr. Paine, and myself, used our utmost endeavors to reduce it, but in vain.

Those ideas of equality, which are so agreeable to us natives of New England, are very disagreeable to many gentlemen in the other colonies. They had a great opinion of the high importance of a continental general, and were determined to place him in an elevated point of light. They think the Massachusetts establishment too high for the privates, and too low for the officers, and they would have their own way.4

I hope the utmost politeness and respect will be shown to these officers on their arrival. The whole army, I think, should be drawn up upon the occasion, and all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war displayed;—no powder burned, however.

There is something charming to me in the conduct of Washington. A gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the continent, leaving his delicious retirement, his family and friends, sacrificing his ease, and hazarding all in the cause of his country! His views are noble and disinterested. He declared, when he accepted the mighty trust, that he would lay before us an exact account of his expenses, and not accept a shilling for pay. The express waits.

Reprinted from (JA, Works , 9:357–359.)RC offered for sale by Parke-Bernet Gall., N.Y., Gribbel sale, pt. 1, 30 Oct.– 1 Nov. 1940.


The JCC contains no reference to this vote, but it probably came on 17 June, for various letters written by members of the congress contain essentially the same information (Eliphalet Dyer to Joseph Trumbull, 17 June; James 27 Duaneto the New York Provincial Congress, 17 June; and John Hancock to Joseph Warren, 18 June, Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:127–130, 134–135).


The formal vote of the congress was not taken until 22 June, but the committee of the whole reached agreement on 15 June ( JCC , 2:103, 91). JA writes of only twelve colonies agreeing, because Georgia was not officially represented in the Congress until 20 July. On 13 May the congress had admitted a representative from St. John's Parish in Georgia, but he could not speak for the whole colony (same, p. 192–193, 45).


Washington was appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army on 15 June after considerable maneuvering by various delegates and factions at the congress (same, p. 91; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:321–323). Although present in Philadelphia, Lee did not immediately accept his commission because he wanted to be assured of indemnification if he lost his Irish estate for supporting the American cause. On 19 June a committee of three, of which JA was a member, met with Lee to learn his decision, but he asked that a committee from the congress composed of one member from each of the colonies meet with him to hear his request for indemnification. After a meeting with the new committee, its recommendation to accept his condition was promptly supported by the congress. Only then did Lee accept his commission ( JCC , 2:98–99; Alden, General Charles Lee , p. 73–77).


The congress set the pay of major generals and brigadiers at $166 and $125 per month respectively, with lesser amounts for the paymaster and commissary generals ( JCC , 2:93–94). On 29 April the Provincial Congress set the pay for colonels, lieutenant colonels, and majors at £12, £9 12s, and £8 respectively; these sums were a reduction by one-fifth from the original scale, the change being justified by the reduced size of regiments that had been decided upon (Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours. , p. 167–168). In dollars at 6s equal to one Spanish dollar, the salaries become $40, $32, and $26 2/3. The Provincial Congress left the payment of minutemen up to the several towns, but recognized that a general muster would require payment from the province (same, p. 71). Braintree established pay for its minutemen at 1s 4d for a day of exercising with their arms from two to six o'clock each week; ordinary militiamen were to receive 1s per half-day if they exercised no more than once a week from three to six o'clock ( Braintree Town Records , p. 461, 454). No record for monthly pay for privates on general muster has been found. These rates were set at a time when the average daily wage for farm laborers was 2s per day (Jackson T. Main, The Social Structure of Revolutionary America, Princeton, 1965, p. 70). Connecticut, which offers fuller records on pay scales, paid privates during the French and Indian War 36s per month of 28 days; in 1776, it was paying 40s per calendar month ( Conn. Colonial Records , 11:94, 15: 297). Roughly, then, we may say that New England privates were getting between $6 and $7 per month. This estimate is confirmed by James Warren in his letter to JA, 20 Oct. (below).